June 23rd, 2008

Have they mentioned he’s black?

Barack Obama, the candidate who wants to end divisiveness, and who wants to run a clean and honorable campaign without negativity, said the following in a recent campaign speech at a Florida fund-raising reception:

It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy. We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?”

We have here a truly masterful attempt to flames of paranoia on the part of his followers and adopt the mantle of victimization for himself, thus raising rather than lowering the amount of divisiveness and vitriol in the campaign. Pretty good for just a couple of sentences.

Obama is correct in saying that there have been racist remarks against him. These have originated from fringe elements and/or commenters in the blogosphere and/or anonymous email campaigns. They focus on his “funny name,” for example, or the fact that he’s black.

But in this speech he appears to attribute—or to encourage his supporters to attribute—these charges to the entire Republican Party, couched as a threatening “they.” At the same time, he fails to differentiate these attacks—and actually connects them as part of an undifferentiated list—from extremely legitimate concerns that people have voiced about other characteristics of his, such as his inexperience.

In the final sentence of the paragraph he slyly encourages a phenomenon I’ve noticed happening more and more: the charge that any criticism of Obama emanates from racism. If the racism isn’t overt and clear, as in the emails, then it’s covert; “inexperience” (a valid concern based on the objective facts of his history) becomes a code word (wink wink) for hidden racism and fearmongering.

This is dangerous demagoguery.

Because one so seldom hears overt expressions of racism any more, and certainly not from mainstream candidates, there has been a tendency to imagine it is everywhere, but hidden. Here Obama cynically fosters that belief and encourages the definition of his entire opposition as energized by this impossible-to-prove—or, more importantly, impossible-to-disprove—motive.

No, it turns out that most of them haven’t mentioned he’s black, except in approving terms. But they don’t have to nowadays to be racists; Obama has taken care of that.

78 Responses to “Have they mentioned he’s black?”

  1. Trimegistus Says:

    It’s simple, really: preventing a black man from becoming President is racist. Therefore opposing Barack Obama is hate speech. The liberals have achieved their goal — disagreeing with them is now immoral, and will soon be illegal.

    Enjoy this election; there may not be any more afterwards.

  2. Terrye Says:

    Yes, I noticed that charge. So much for innocent until proven guilty. The entire GOP is racist apparently, just because Obama says so. I think Obama is going to end up sitting race relations back decades. I really do.

  3. Good Ole Charlie Says:

    It’s not original with me, but someone remarked that

    White males go 60:40 for Republicans: this proves that they’re racist.

    Black males go 95:5 for BHO: this proves that they’re NOT racist.

    If the bs takes hold, I’m voting for McCain, but definitely.

    And what was Hillary accused of? Racism, for not leaving the campaign trail two months ago.

    Racism lives, but not where you would suspect it to be, a priori.

  4. expat Says:

    James Taranto wrote about this today and translated the message: “If you don’t vote for him because he’s green, you might as well be voting against him because he’s black.”

    Maybe it’s because Winnie the Pooh has been chosen as his foreign policy guide, I thought that “It’s Not Easy Being Green” would be a perfect campaign song. And I would extend the meaning of green to include slimy. He truly is repulsive.

  5. stumbley Says:

    I’ve said it before; BHO’s candidacy has set back race relations in this country by 100 years—and NOT because of “typical white women” either.

    Call me a racist enough and I just might become one. You know, to please you.

  6. njcommuter Says:

    Maybe we someone should run adds showing Pooh Bear with his head in the hunney pot.

  7. SeriouslyWTF? Says:

    Well, you lost me at the third spelling/grammar mistake. After looking through these commments lack of grasp of the English language clearly is not an issue for your fans.

    Freedom = not having to follow pesky rules of grammar and rejecting the so-called “correct spelling” propagated by the secular progressives as a means to destroy the country!

    You people should read the crap you write then honestly decide if you should hang around with people who are so obviosly challenged by simple spelling and sentence construction. You are not doing each other any favors…

  8. Teri Pittman Says:

    I work with too many people that can’t spell, so I guess it doesn’t bother me that much any more.

    As for Friend Obama, I’ve read comments in too many places that suggest that you are racist for even questioning anything Obama might say. You couldn’t possibly be against him because he has no experience and is under the thumb of the Daley machine. At some point, folks are just going to be fed up with this. And yes, let’s imagine what sort of response we may get in the cities if he does not get elected. Places like Detroit and Watts have never recovered completely from the riots in the 60s. Will this be the next thing he threatens us with?

  9. vanderleun Says:

    “Well, you lost me at the third spelling/grammar mistake. After looking through these commments lack of grasp of the English language clearly is not an issue for your fans.”

    Would you like to try that again?

  10. vanderleun Says:

    Or doth thou have a “lack of grasp” for possessive comments these?

  11. Vince P Says:

    I’m so upset that SeriouslyWTF? is going to deprive us of his rattling off the same cliches the Anti-American automatons have been saying all decade.

  12. Rick in NY Says:

    Back on subject.

    How can we expect to eliminate racial discrimination when we continue to count by race? How can we expect justice when a black child, born today, has an automatic grievance against a white child, born today?

    The Dems have trafficked in unwarranted accusations of racism as a matter of policy. And you can bet that any criticism, or for that matter, any question of BHO’s ever changing “policy” will be met with a MoveOn hurling of racial epithets, however transparently false they may be.

  13. Gringo Says:

    vanderleun :
    Or doth thou have a “lack of grasp” for possessive comments these?

    That, or a case of comma aversion syndrome.

    I am somewhat desensitized to “racism” charges. The offspring of a Tuskegee airman informed me years later that in elementary school I was one of only three in the class who “treated me like a human being.” This in the “liberal” north. We still keep in touch.

    When I was a hippie dropout in Berserkeley ( spelling error deliberate) , I lived for a while in an interracial household. A black guest requested that some whites loan him some drug paraphernalia that they didn’t want to loan him.

    The black guy said, “Are you prejudiced?” He then whipped out a gun and put it to my temple, even though I was only a silent observer to the conversation. After all lay down on the floor, he proceeded to tear the place apart.

    So, when I am accused of racism, I roll my eyes.

  14. cSimon Says:

    SeriouslyWTF? doth have a grasp for run-on sentences; neglecting to separate parenthetical phrases with commas, misuse of prepositional phrases, and yeah — SPELLING (oh was that a “typo?”)

    Seriously, you have not a clue. I am relatively new to this website but find it regularly stimulating, informative and enlightening. neo writes wonderfully and can be counted on to provide us with much food for thought. We also have a little fun now and then thanks to neo’s “lighter” contributions.

    If you’re hung up on spelling, ’tis your loss! You miss the wonderful exchange of ideas, information shared (and some communal commiserating when called for!)

    By the way, there are some daunting, amazingly well-read intellects here. Posting ideas, references, and opinions trumps spelling perfection.

  15. mezzrow Says:

    Or doth thou have a “lack of grasp” for possessive comments these?

    Thanks, Gerard. Good work (of an editorial nature) – you can’t hide from your background.

    To SWTF:

    You had me at obviosly.

    Like everyone else here, I’ll go back to reading Stormfront now.

    Y’know, this could lead us to believe that Barack is setting up the template for the punishment (umm… truth and reconciliation) that is to follow his election. There are lots of scores to be settled – I suspect we won’t begin to hear all about them until next March or so.

  16. cSimon Says:

    Rick, good points.

    Interestingly (or ironically), for those who have read anything about Black Liberation Theology (forget about how it affects the attitudes of those who ascribe to it), it is based on the premise that blacks — African-Americans — are oppressed by the evil white man (i.e. all whites) who is (are) racist.

    Further, it explicitly explains that blacks canNOT be racists, because they do not assume superiority in the way ALL whites do when it comes to blacks.

    Obama and his followers would indict all who do not agree with them, and in our overly p.c. culture, what could be worse than bigotry and racism? The cleverness in Obama’s words is that he implies such a negative trait without ever having made a direct accusation. He wants everyone to look at one another and wonder if they are “they.”

    (And damn, now I’m wasting time on commas, quotation marks, and spelling instead of focusing on contributing a coherent idea concisely! And as anyone who’s been reading here since I joined up knows, “concise” is NOT one of my best qualities1)

  17. FredHjr Says:

    The Leftist troll is just flummoxed by the initial posts. The thoughts are clear. Yes, there may be some errors, but one can understand them. The Troll is just upset because nothing was written that could be faulted for reasons of logic, clear ideas, and proper ethics for our Republic. It had to vent, and so it did.

    Neo, nice choice of topic. There is an abundance of ways to expostulate about what Obonga had stated.

    My question is: Are there, according to Obonga and his adoring fans, ANY legitimate ways in which to criticize and critique his candidacy, his voting record, his (few) stated policy positions, his advisers, or his formative intellectual influences from his youth on up to this day?

    Note to the Troll: I deliberately misspelled his name. On a weblog discussion some months ago about him someone had posted a picture of him taking hits from a bong. So, we called him Obonga. His affinity for socialist ideas might as well reflect a man taking bong hits.

  18. gcotharn Says:

    Barack is encouraging voters to believe Republicans are either racist, selfish, greedy, uninformed, or all of the above. We must come together, and heal this nation, indeed.

    I’ve wondered: might this election encourage whites to be less likely to meekly tolerate future false accusations of racism? That would be progress. With Barack + supporters firing off allegations week after week, the manipulativeness of such broad allegations is brightly highlighted.

    What I don’t know is: what did undecided voters think? Do undecided voters want a POTUS who enthusiastically leaps to claim the mantle of virtuous victim? Do undecideds think Barack was encouraging racial anger and paranoia in order to collect some additional votes? What portion of undecided voters believe Repubs will revel in and encourage racist code language?

    In a semi coincidence, I today posted about racial scamming: Weak responses to racial scamming

  19. FredHjr Says:

    I still want to know what is within the foul lines when it comes to questioning, criticizing, and critiquing Obonga and what little he’s thrown out there as examples of “change.” I don’t take kindly to any candidate who would presume to impute a base motive to my skepticism. You see, this is a habit of thought and speech control that one finds in academia now. Now, the kids under 40 may be comfortable with this, but when I was in college (1978-82) there were not yet put in place those kinds of ground rules. There was still a lot of academic freedom on campus.

    It’s a real culture shock to me that when Obonga and his millions of young people tell middle-age old farts like me that my habits of inquiry are retrograde and racist. I have a better quality of education, from kindergarten right on through my masters’ programs – I was cut no slack from a dumbed-down, self-esteem solictitude – than many of you who got degrees from the most elite institutions. I didn’t benefit from the grade inflation at Harvard. On top of that, I’m insulted to be considered a racist, when during my Army enlistment I served proudly and in friendship with black soldiers whom I am proud to have as my fellow citizens.

    I’m starting to get worked up over the hauteur of this slick muzzling of millions of Americans because they are not liberals and socialists. And I used to be a Marxist many years ago, so I reserve the right to scorch them for being brain-dead about a philosophy that has proved a failure everywhere it’s been tried.

  20. Thomass Says:

    Yeah, I was floored by that too when I first read it. That kind of talk is what I expect from the lefty fringe… The people so ‘in the circle’ they no longer think. They just write off any other opinion as a ‘fear’ ‘racism’ et cetera…. Scary.. and I’d also note, the Obama at the start of the nomination run didn’t just claim to be pro Unity and all that. He also didn’t talk like this. He’d say a nice thing about Reagan or McCain before going on to talk about ‘change’ (even though the older Obama, of his books, would talk more like this).

    So, the mask slips. It’s been going in slow motion for awhile now (such as the way he described the recent supreme court decision, his description of the events didn’t seem to leave much room for a the other side to simply have a legitimate difference of opinion)… I wonder what effect it will have on his numbers after people get to know the guy better.

  21. Thomass Says:

    SeriouslyWTF? Says:

    ‘Well, you lost me at the third spelling/grammar mistake’

    Too funny… I spotted two spelling errors in your post with a quick glance. I see some other types of errors too. You are unintentionally funny.

  22. Gray Says:

    You people should read the crap you write then honestly decide if you should hang around with people who are so obviosly challenged by simple spelling and sentence construction.

    In The Spirit of Vanderleun:

    Petard. Ass. Hoist!

    (bilingual pun included at no charge)

  23. Americaneocon Says:

    Actually, to the extent racial slurs have been a factor so far this year, it was on the Clinton side during the primaries – Bill C. trying to paint Obama as the next Jesse Jackson, etc.

    This is demagoguery, for sure…

    And you’re right about the fringe element, which unfortunately includes a lot of extremists on the right:

    See: http://www.texasfred.net

  24. Gray Says:

    You people should read the crap you write then honestly decide if you should hang around with people who are so obviosly challenged by simple spelling and sentence construction.

    Hey, that is just awful construction as well.

    It’s not at all clear that ‘you people’ includes the ‘you’ that should decide or the ‘you’ that wrote.

    Is he addressing the reader?

    I would say:

    “Do you actually read this crap?

    You gotta ask yourself:

    ‘Do I want to associate with people who are challenged by simple spelling and sentence construction?’

    Well do you, punk?!”

    Hahahaha. Dirty Harry….

    The ‘so obviously’ is ‘Weasel Wording’ and actually softens the intended point. Compare:

    “That is so obviously blue”
    and
    “That is blue.”

    The ‘so obviously’ (it’s almost written in ‘Uptalk’, innit?) invites argument.

    The simple declarative sentence “That is blue.” is finite and terminal.

  25. Roy Lofquist Says:

    I people think that that sounds like something Jackson or Shatpton might say then Obama is in deep doo-doo.

  26. Fred Says:

    Using racism as the bait, they are now attempting a complete hijacking of the foreign policy “issue” by clamoring on about how the Iraq war has failed because Obama bin Laden is still free (yes, he is in the south side). It’s a cute attempt to bs around the core issue which is that Iraq is stabilized as a direct result of the surge, but more importantly, this neophyte’s decoupling of the central theme – that a military wedge in Iraq and Aghanistan has created unprecedented regional stability – from the fact that Obama bin Laden is still loose, strikes me not only as paltry but provides a deep insight into the Democrats view of the public’s ability to actually process information. It is a blind bet in my opinion to assume the public won’t put two and two together, however, it is a fascinating strategy to see unveiled. Were I in the opposing camp’s shoes, I would most likely engage in that debate head-on. If Obama wants to make bin Laden’s capture THE benchmark for the Iraq war and as such the litmus test for foreign policy debate in the region, put him up against the folks who see this stuff day in and day out – the folks who have carved the path for an assault on bin Laden. Let Obama tell them that their efforts have gone for naught, that even though Iraq has stabilized, they failed in the ultimate mission: o capture Obama bin Laden.

    The dems spin is actually getting flat out desperate. I think things in Chicago are getting very very tense. It will be interesting to see if and what Clinton actually says on Thursday (if she doesnt bow out at the last minute of course).

  27. FredHjr Says:

    Osama bin Laden, operationally speaking, is nothing and a nobody in the big picture. What matters are: the organization (pretty beat up, if you ask me), the people (being killed in buckets, but the DhimmiCraps and their sheeple don’t get that information, now, do they?), and their networks (denuded quite well, thanks to the waterboarding of three of their top leaders). Osama bin Laden was always a FIGUREHEAD for a coalition. He was never a fighter at any time, ever. Financier, yes. Pep rally leader, yes. But he is replaceable and actually not worth our efforts.

    But the fact that he is important to the DhimmiCraps means a few things to me. For starters, it tells me that they still view this thing in “cops and robbers” mentality. Go out and arrest the bad guy? What? You can’t find him? LOL! What losers! (that’s their inner dialog). The concept of jihad as WAR is elusive to these chuckleheads who think they are too clever by half. No, to them this is just a law enforcement problem and they use The Man At Large as a way to mock the President. It really is a bad faith argument, but then again we are used to that coming from that quarter.

    It is also their way of saying that they think Osama bin Laden is more dangerous than Saddam Hussein and his sons. Evidence of history to the contrary. But historical fact never got in the way of the Great Hegelians.

    I have zero respect for these retards. I can’t believe I used to be a Democrat, but I once was. What’s worse, I once thought that by moving from the Far Left to the Democrats (two decades ago) I was moving into a more pro-American part of the spectrum. But, while I was moving to the Right, the DhimmiCraps were, ala Dean and Soros, moving to the Left.

    This election is not really about John McCain. It’s a referendum about the Left in America. Up or down. And if Up (which the odds at this point are) then I think we are in for Jimmy Carter, Act II. Act II is going to be cataclysmic. I hope the kiddies can learn a lesson from it. I think a lot of them can, but will enough of them learn?

  28. strcpy Says:

    “I have zero respect for these retards. I can’t believe I used to be a Democrat, but I once was.”

    Hey, you know the old saying: “if you aren’t a liberal at 20 you have no heart, if you aren’t a conservative at 40 you have no brain”.

    Me, I’ve always been a conservative since I was politically aware (sometime in my early teens). I’ve always thought like an engineer – study the system and figure out how to game it.

    Liberals have *always* run more on trying to make the system into what they want instead of accepting that the thing is mostly immutable (and thus the “heart not brain” thing). Conservatives have tended to learn human nature is almost impossible to change so work with that (and thus the “brain no heart” thing).

    Obama is a classic liberal in that sense and does *really* well with that side of the thinking. That the system doesn’t work that way or what you are saying is utter claptrap is irrelevant – that it *feels* good and you believe it means that the system will eventually work that way. It feels good to think your opponents are evil creatures bent on destruction and all we have to do is elect this guy and all will be well in the world. Not only does that make you feel good for being superior but it is also a really easy fix to a tough set of problems. It has no bearing in reality and in fact usually makes things worse when enough believe that to get policy enacted, but then that never really mattered anyway so pointing it out will not change any minds. One of my favorite statements is that you can not reason someone out of an idea they used emotion to come up with – that’s true in *any* venue, not just politics.

  29. FredHjr Says:

    After months of watching this guy, I am now convinced that he is actually dishonest. He passes himself off as a candidate of reform and change, when in reality he is just a puppet of Soros and Dean. He decided to go with his own private campaign financing because it was simply more lucrative for him. And that’s all. His excuses and explanations, trying to deflect blame for it to McCain, were pathetic. In many talks and speeches, he reverses earlier statements or revises them to suit his audience or to take the pressure off.

    If he were a Republican, his candidacy would be DEAD. Kaput. But with a fawning mainstream media he gets away with it and he will keep on getting away with it, all the way to November. At this point, I have to admit that John McCain’s chances are slim. Even if more inconsistencies, gaffes, and other boondoggles issue forth from the Obonga campaign, he will survive it. Because the media buries his mistakes. That pattern is unlikely to change.

  30. njcommuter Says:

    After all of the clumsy spinmeistering of this campaign, will the man-in-the-street learn to recognize it for what it is?

  31. SteveH Says:

    What we are seeing in the Obama movement is a desperation in the face of racisms demise. I’d go so far to say that he and others like him are pretty pissed, that the great strides of the past forty years threatens their victim status to the point it MUST BE REVIVED.

    Sorta reminds me of stories i’ve read of how some deaf people became utterly pissed with the invention of cochlear implants.

  32. armchair pessimist Says:

    Blacks and other people of color cannot be racists because they lack political power, or so I understand the argument. Presumably that will change at election time. And then we’ll see whether or not race is a dead issue in America. Something tells me that being booted out of the driver’s seat isn’t going to let people of the honky color off the hook. We are guilty of existing.

  33. Richard Aubrey Says:

    The power of the accusation of racism started, IMO, to weaken with the Willie Horton ads.
    Here was the GOP talking about crime, punishment, and general liberal foolishness. The dems, having no useful response, instead insisted that anybody who wanted to talk about crime, punishment and general liberal foolishness was a racist.
    So the public was treated to the spectacle of the dems accusing (obviously completely unfounded) tens of millions of their fellow citizens of the vile moral crime of racism, in order to win an election. The public knew the dems knew they lied, but they saw the dems go ahead anyway.

    Since that time, the manipulative power of the threat of that accusation has weakened. At this point, nobody is moved, although the public dialogue might yet be affected.

    Good riddance.

  34. Fred Says:

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/06/24/pirates.somalia/index.html

    I imagine the French and Germans are about as convinced of the need to make international security the primary concern as most neocons here in the US. Re: racism, the coalition’s great error as I see it is not pitting racism between whites and blacks, but portraying a sense of entitlement to the idea of ‘Color’ and in the process not only expanding the divide, but alienating key voting blocks, namely Latinos and Asians. Latinos are by and large Catholic; they are more numb to the abortion issue and less suspect of the notion that this country is not a land of opportunity; also, extremely sensitive to the naturalization debate; Asians, on the other hand, do not doubt for a moment that their ethnic origins are not a source of strength and pride and as such suffer no inferiority complex vis-a-vis other ethnicities. The great joke here is the only one playing the racism card is Obama. Sharpton apparently is evaluating a direct response to Imus’ on air comments the other day. Question for Al (who looks great by the way – I see him at Reebok Sports Club in NYC), does your defense of racist innuendo and slander extend to the Wrights and Pflegers of this land, or only when it is politically convenient? My guess is only the latter. So much for inclusiveness…..

  35. Fred Says:

    edit: meant to say, Asians don’t doubt for a moment that their ethnic origin is a source of strength and pride.

  36. Tom Says:

    Barak’s (and Michelle’s) meritless ascendancy is the natural result of a generation-long Affirmative Action, wherein merit is secondary to pigment. This will prove to be the undoing of the Republic, come November. We will then start down the same (populist) path as Argentina. It will be a sociopolitical tsunami, from which, like Argentina, there will be no recovery.

    The new Leftist majority does not and will not trouble itself about the tyranny of the majority; it will revel in it. Oddly, the conservative side has become pacifistic toward the opposition; the McCain crowd subscribes to parts of the Leftist agenda.

    To state the obvious: I am afraid, very afraid, for us all.

  37. John Spragge Says:

    Let’s see… in the last few weeks, we have read posts on this web log complaining that Senator Obama and his wife have tainted themselves by associating with people who actually lack a sense of humour about 245 years of one of the most depraved slave regimes in history, followed by almost a century of economic exploitation enforced by an organized campaign of terrorism. After that, we had a post complaining that Obama, after successfully building one of the strongest campaign fund-raising organizations in history, has actually had the nerve to capitalise on his achievement. And now he has said the Republicans can’t run on their record, and have to use personal attacks and scare tactics.

    Looks to me as though he’s just about got your number.

    So let’s actually take a look at that record. The US external indebtedness has reached the level of a full year’s GDP. A rival power with an authoritarian government (China) holds huge reserves of US government IOUs, making any US moves to defend, say, Taiwan very difficult. Your dollar has lost a third of its value, making it harder to import equipment or attract talented international experts. The US economy has more inequality, and more debt, than any time since the dawn of the great depression. The US has run a trade deficit for every year since Ronald Reagan’s election, and the subprime crisis (and the tech wreck before it) have left international lenders and investors increasingly leary about financing it.

    Your infrastructure remains dependent on imported fuel, and despite repeated warnings, the US government has not made any moves to reduce that dependence, which means many of the governments you like least control a resource you depend on.

    The “stability” American conservatives claim your government has achieved includes regular bombings. Four million refugees have no returned home. Serious conflicts between ethnic Kurds and Arabs over Mosul and Kirkuk remain unaddressed. Iraq’s parliament may well refuse to pass a status of forces agreement with the US. Iraqi politicians certainly regard the initial proposals for a “status of forces” agreement” as a non-starter.

    When Goerge Bush took office, Iran had a lively and powerful dissident student movement and a reformist government. Today, Iran has a nuclear weapons program that the CIA put two or three years away from having the ability to build a bomb (the Israelis, more pessimistic, say one year). The Bush Administration proclaims that Iran “must not” get the bomb, but they appear to lack effective or acceptable means to prevent it.

    Overall, I would say that Americans who say they need a change have some pretty solid evidence behind them, and the arguments against Obama, at least as presented on this web log, look a lot like the arguments Obama spoke of: irrelevant complaints that fail to address the real problems and failures in American governance over the last quarter century.

  38. Tom Says:

    John:
    Criticism of the past is cheap and easy. In the US, we call it Monday morning quarterbacking, an NFL reference that may elude you.
    What troubles us here is the nature and scope of Obama’s solutions and his (manifest dearth of) ability to formulate same.

    P.S.: the Brits were only about 30 years ahead of us in renouncing slavery.

  39. Thomass Says:

    Tom Says:

    “P.S.: the Brits were only about 30 years ahead of us in renouncing slavery.”

    That’s one way to put it. Another is, we had slavery because we were British… then had trouble getting rid of it because it was entrenched as an institution…

  40. Fern Says:

    The Troll is just upset because nothing was written that could be faulted for reasons of logic, clear ideas, and proper ethics for our Republic.

    ‘They’ does not logically imply ‘you’. It is a fact that there are some that are trying to scare people from voting for Obama. Some are using his lack of experience, other his name and others his race. It is also a fact that a majority of these people doing so are Republicans. Obama is not going to run off a list of all the people trying to do this. That would take up time and bring publicity to every person or group he mentioned. It would idiotic to have the news cycle focused on some fringe nuts saying stupid shit all the time. Mentioning names would just fuel the fire and distract from his campaign. What idiot would want to do something like that?

    He is not fear mongering, he is preempting. All of the things mentioned have either happened, is happening, or will happen. Nothing in the Obama quote is false unless you’re stupid enough to think that ‘they’ means ‘you’ specifically.

    An example of a “fringe group” called the Texas Republican Party doing exactly what he says they’re doing is here: http://www.americablog.com/2008/06/gop-state-convention-in-texas-if-obama.html

  41. lumpenscholar Says:

    fern, maybe so. On the other hand, there are some trying to scare people away from voting for McCain because he’s a white male / a Republican / supports the war in Iraq / old. So what? If McCain came out and played the race card that way, I’d think less of him as well.

  42. Thomass Says:

    Fern Says:

    “He is not fear mongering, he is preempting. All of the things mentioned have either happened, is happening, or will happen. Nothing in the Obama quote is false unless you’re stupid enough to think that ‘they’ means ‘you’ specifically.”

    Actually, he does mean me. He is prepping the battle space. Setting the narrative.. et cetera. He means to connect dissent with these negative things.

    I’ve spent the last many years listening to leftists claim that someone mentioning Iraq and 911 in the same speech meant they were tying them… even in speeches where they were really specific about what they meant by both in the same speech (like Rice saying not materially but ideologically they have some links)… But now Obama can use a generality like ‘republicans’ and ‘they’ but he is really really specific and I’m dumb for not seeing that. BS man. B…S….

  43. harry McHitlerburtonstein the COnservative Extremist Says:

    I agree with Thomass. Obama’s warning automatically includes all white people not voting for him for what ever reason. One of the first question out of any Obama supporters mouth when I tell them I’km not voting for Obama is inevtiably “Its because he’s black isnt it?”

    As a matter of fact, Obama himself has given us all the motivation of why we wont vote for him: We are all bitter clinging bigot. He’s actually said so.

  44. John Spragge Says:

    Tom, for anyone to rule out an assessment of a policy as unfair denies the possibility of learning from the past. Even worse, it denies people the ability to even address the question of whether a policy can go on. John McCain has promised to stay in Iraq for a hundred years if need be; at this point, he can only keep that promise if the Chinese agree to finance him, and I somehow doubt they will. Whatever change Senator Obama promises (and looking at his promises, they seem pretty modest to me), a considerable body of evidence suggests the time for change has come.

    As for the British and slavery: in case you didn’t notice, plenty of Africans have angry words for the British, and indeed all Europeans as well. The point remains that given the history of the “white” supremacist system from the fifteenth century onward, anger does not constitute a character flaw so serious that even an association with people who express anger about that history should rule out a candidate for high office.

  45. emmanuelgoldstein Says:

    John Spragge,

    Thanks for the link to the ex-slave narrative. Heartbreaking stuff.

  46. grackle Says:

    John McCain has promised to stay in Iraq for a hundred years if need be; at this point, he can only keep that promise if the Chinese agree to finance him, and I somehow doubt they will.

    Do the Chinese have to finance our troops in Germany which have been there for 50 years? Or France, Great Britain or North Korea? We have troops in many parts of the world without the Chinese having to finance any of them.

  47. grackle Says:

    When George Bush took office, Iran had a lively and powerful dissident student movement and a reformist government. Today, Iran has a nuclear weapons program that the CIA put two or three years away from having the ability to build a bomb (the Israelis, more pessimistic, say one year).

    When George Bush took office, Iran had many years before taken over the US embassy in Tehran and held the employees hostage for 444 days, had sponsored and financed terrorism in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, to include the bombing of the US embassy in Lebanon, the Khobar Towers bombing and had formed Hezbollah as a proxy under its sponsorship.

    All this BEFORE Bush took office. Now the writer wants us to believe that if not for Bush Iran would be a pussycat nation and would NEVER have thought of developing WMD. Whatever nefarious individual or regime is being discussed it can always counted on that someone will show up and vehemently claim the US created them.

  48. njcommuter Says:

    As for the British and slavery: in case you didn’t notice, plenty of Africans have angry words for the British, and indeed all Europeans as well.

    Black slavery began with Africans taking other Africans as slaves, then selling them to the Dutch. Well, that’s how it happened on the Atlantic coast of Africa. Arabs had been taking both Africans and Europeans slaves for centuries, and those who survived the process were often castrated so they could not ‘breed’ and contaminate the purity of Islam. Moreover, estimates have the number of slaves taken by the Arabs at two to ten times the number of Africans sold to Europeans. And Arabs continue to take black slaves, although this is little noted and less reported.

  49. John Spragge Says:

    grackle:

    1) The Chinese finance a good part of your current government deficit. I don’t see any evidence of realistic plans by John McCain to do anything about that. Unless your leadership can find a way to pay for your government, then any future plans (such as a hundred year occupation of Iraq) will depend on the willingness of other countries to finance your government. I don’t see that continuing for a century, and if it doesn’t, you will have to leave Iraq (and Germany, and Korea).

    2) Millions of reform-minded young Iranians constitute most valuable allies in the struggle to convince billions of Muslims that it makes more sense for them to live with us as equals than to try to dominate us. Reform in Iran, aside from the advantages to the Iranian people, would give the proponents of post-enlightenment liberal democracy a decisive argument against the extremists: if the government they seek will last only a generation before its own people reject it, then risking death or imprisonment for al Qaeda doesn’t make much sense.

    To put it mildly, the strategic policy of the United States under George Bush appears to have ignored these considerations in favor of David Frum’s desire for a “clever” turn of phrase and Mr. Bush’s own desire to reach Baghdad on schedule. The US could have done everything reasonably possible to foster the Iranian reform movement, such as promising full trade benefits and the lifting of most technology restrictions in return for democratic reform, and the current Iranian regime might still have repressed the reformers. That would have counted as a defeat. Instead, we got threats against Iran, followed by an invasion of a neighboring country, which, as anyone could have predicted, preceded Iranians rallying around the flag and rejecting the reformers. And that, in my opinion, constituted a strategic blunder.

  50. John Spragge Says:

    njcommuter:

    1) The impetus, and therefore the primary moral responsibility, for the Atlantic slave trade came from the Europeans.

    2) Given the objective historical facts around the Atlantic slave trade and the subsequent system of “white” supremacy, people dispossessed, exploited, and humiliated by that system have a reason for anger. No argument that “Arabs did worse things” (questionable, and a matter of estimate and interpretation) changes that.

    Keep in mind the extreme position that “concern” about Senator Obama’s previous membership in Trinity Church actually represents: that anger over the history of racism in the “west” constitutes a character flaw. Further, that character flaw has such severity that it contaminates everyone who hears it, or associates with anyone who feels it. I simply don’t believe that.

    Keep in mind that the history of slavery, racism, dispossession and exploitation affects the everyday life of the majority of people in the world, and that for all the whining about “affirmative action”, men identified as “white” overwhelmingly dominate positions of power in corporations and governments.

  51. Vince P Says:

    The US could have done everything reasonably possible to foster the Iranian reform movement, such as promising full trade benefits and the lifting of most technology restrictions in return for democratic reform,

    That already is the US policy.

    I see you’re good at complaining about the past, but really poor at saying what the alternative should be.

  52. Vince P Says:

    The impetus, and therefore the primary moral responsibility, for the Atlantic slave trade came from the Europeans.

    Wrong. The African Slave Trade was an Arab/Islamic concern. The Europeans were very late to the game, and only interested because they saw the Arabs doing it.. plus theArabs took Europeans as slaves too.

    Keep in mind the extreme position that “concern” about Senator Obama’s previous membership in Trinity Church actually represents: that anger over the history of racism in the “west” constitutes a character flaw. Further, that character flaw has such severity that it contaminates everyone who hears it, or associates with anyone who feels it. I simply don’t believe that.

    Wrong. The crux of Black Liberation Theology is Marxism.

  53. njcommuter Says:

    Keep in mind the extreme position that “concern” about Senator Obama’s previous membership in Trinity Church actually represents: that anger over the history of racism in the “west” constitutes a character flaw. Further, that character flaw has such severity that it contaminates everyone who hears it, or associates with anyone who feels it. I simply don’t believe that.

    “Your great-grandpappy did my great-grandpappy dirty, therefore I hate you”? Never mind that the average American black has a standard of living far greater than the average African, with access to fourteen years of free schooling, the Miranda ruling and trial by jury (if necessary), and reasonable assurance that the your neighbors will not come to slice you up with a machete, nor will the government turn you out of your home (except as permitted by SCOTUS).

    The real problem for me, and I suspect for others, is that (a) this church is teaching hate, which quite apart from being morally wrong is unproductive: it looks to the past but does not learn from it; it looks to the future only to do violence to things, not to build; and (b) it is a fraud, being as far from the message of Jesus Christ as any act in the history of Nero or Stalin. And it brands as “hate” any attempt to tell the truth about it.

    Keep in mind that the history of slavery, racism, dispossession and exploitation affects the everyday life of the majority of people in the world, and that for all the whining about “affirmative action”, men identified as “white” overwhelmingly dominate positions of power in corporations and governments.

    I hadn’t heard that Robert Mugabe, Hugo Chavez, and the rulers of the Sudan are white. When did this happen?

  54. John Spragge Says:

    Vince P.: On slavery, can you explain what this barrage of excuses has to do with the anger that people of African (and other non-European) origin feel? Europeans transported about 11 million Africans. in inhuman conditions, from Africa to their colonies in the “New World”, destroying African cultures in the process, as well as creating one of the few actual slave economies in history, as well as an enduring legacy of racism. Why they did it, as well as the dubious claims that others did it first and/or worse don’t change that fact.

    On “Marxism”, please produce a quote from a Black Liberation theologian justified by Marxist ideas alone (and not, say, the Hebrew Prophets, the Magnificat, the Sermon on the Mount, or Praxis Apostolion).

  55. grackle Says:

    1) The Chinese finance a good part of your current government deficit. I don’t see any evidence of realistic plans by John McCain to do anything about that. Unless your leadership can find a way to pay for your government, then any future plans (such as a hundred year occupation of Iraq) will depend on the willingness of other countries to finance your government. I don’t see that continuing for a century, and if it doesn’t, you will have to leave Iraq (and Germany, and Korea).

    Oh yes, the US economy is SO bad that millions are lining up from all over the world to suffer under it. True, the US will eventually leave Iraq, except for bases to keep an eye on things, after the enemy has been defeated – as done in Germany after WW2.

    2) Millions of reform-minded young Iranians constitute most valuable allies in the struggle to convince billions of Muslims that it makes more sense for them to live with us as equals than to try to dominate us. Reform in Iran, aside from the advantages to the Iranian people, would give the proponents of post-enlightenment liberal democracy a decisive argument against the extremists: if the government they seek will last only a generation before its own people reject it, then risking death or imprisonment for al Qaeda doesn’t make much sense.

    The Carter/Clinton Template: Dither while the enemy grows stronger and bolder and hope for the best – such as hopeless reform movements in tightly controlled societies. That’s just the foreign policy that got us 9/11. The best way to promote reform in Iran is to win in Iraq. The Mullahs will only gain prestige and power if the US falters. Whatever reform movement that exists there would only be set back by a Mullah victory.

    To put it mildly, the strategic policy of the United States under George Bush appears to have ignored these considerations in favor of David Frum’s desire for a “clever” turn of phrase and Mr. Bush’s own desire to reach Baghdad on schedule. The US could have done everything reasonably possible to foster the Iranian reform movement, such as promising full trade benefits and the lifting of most technology restrictions in return for democratic reform, and the current Iranian regime might still have repressed the reformers. That would have counted as a defeat. Instead, we got threats against Iran, followed by an invasion of a neighboring country, which, as anyone could have predicted, preceded Iranians rallying around the flag and rejecting the reformers. And that, in my opinion, constituted a strategic blunder.

    Toppling Saddam and establishing a friendly democracy in Iraq a blunder? Not the way I see things. A strong presence in key Middle Eastern locations is a necessity if the US is to prevail against the enemy – not a blunder. Giving the Mullahs “full trade benefits” and the lifting “technology restrictions” would benefit the Mullahs, not reformers inside Iran (who have accomplished nothing so far) that the commentor puts his hopes on.

  56. Vince P Says:

    John Spragge:

    I am not the Research Department for ignorant unteachable Leftists.

  57. njcommuter Says:

    What the BLT folks preach is class warfare. That is a central tenet of Marxist thought. It is also an exercise (not merely an expression) of envy, which is one of the seven deadly sins. Not very Christ-like at all.

  58. John Spragge Says:

    Grackle:

    Oh yes, the US economy is SO bad that millions are lining up from all over the world to suffer under it.

    In fact, George W. Bush has left the US (and your economy) considerably less attractive to foreigners than he found it. But in any case, I don’t see the relevance of your immigration line ups to your government debt. In the long run, you have three choices: pay for your own government expenditures as you go, which puts you at an economic disadvantage as opposed to countries that don’t have a half-trillion-dollar high tech military to support, draw down your military commitments, or develop into an exploitative imperial power. Endless borrowing, particularly from your strategic rivals, doesn’t really work as an option.

    …hopeless reform movements in tightly controlled societies.

    I forgot, reform movements can’t work in authoritarian states.
    Except in Poland.
    Oh, right, except in Poland. But other places…
    Like Czechoslovakia,
    Right, but except in Poland and Czechoslovakia
    And the Soviet Union
    OK, except in Poland and Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union
    And India
    Except in Poland and Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union and India, reform movements don’t work in tightly controlled societies.
    Except for South Africa.
    Except in Poland and Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union and India and South Africa…
    And Chile and Spain…
    OK, but it’s the exceptions that prove the rule.

    I hope you get the point. Giving effective support to the Iranian reform movements would have cost you nothing but a commitment to fully welcome a democratic Iran into the community of nations, and postponing the Iraqi invasion for a year. As we now know, that would have done nothing worse than save you up to six hundred billion dollars in occupation costs.

    Toppling Saddam and establishing a friendly democracy in Iraq a blunder? Not the way I see things.

    Well, the new Iraq hasn’t settled into a stable democracy just yet; in most democracies, political parties don’t have their own armed forces. As for “friendly”, the Iraq government doesn’t seem too interested in passing a status of forces agreement, without which you will (legally) have to withdraw all US troops at the end of the year. And the occupation of Iraq has involved a few opportunity costs, such as the money (credibly estimated at three trillion so far), corresponding indebtedness to your strategic rivals, a huge amount of international respect and support (see Spain for a good example), the lives of 4000 of the best patriotic youn Americans and counting, more of your young men and women coming back with serious and life-long disabilities, and the moral stain of Abu Ghraib. The Iraqis have paid a far worse price: a refugee crisis displacing 10-20% of their population, deaths (credible estimates put the Iraqi excess death toll at 2% of the pre-war population), and a serious danger of civil war.

    Giving the Mullahs “full trade benefits” and the lifting “technology restrictions” would benefit the Mullahs, not reformers inside Iran (who have accomplished nothing so far) that the commentor puts his hopes on.

    Please pay attention to what I wrote. I said that promising full trade benefits and the lifting of technology restrictions in the event of democratic reform would have aided the reform movement and, by extension, served US policy. If you want to make an argument against that, I’d like to see it, but please don’t pretend I proposed to give the current religious government everything they wanted.

    As for the reformers, it hardly surprises me they have not accomplished much, not when the Bush Administration’s blunders have done just about everything possible to make their work harder. You may, in fact, have succeeded in closing the door on reform in Iran for this generation. Now everyone from Washington to Tel Aviv agrees the current Iranian government mustn’t gt the bomb, and nobody seems to have the slightest idea how to stop them.

    Backing the reformers in Iran offered no guarantee of success, but it would have cost so little, and you now face such a steep price for your failure, that I reiterate my conclusion that George Bush’s failure even to try to back the Iranian reform movement counts as one more very serious blunder, one that you and the region may well end up paying very dearly for.

  59. grackle Says:

    In fact, George W. Bush has left the US (and your economy) considerably less attractive to foreigners than he found it. But in any case, I don’t see the relevance of your immigration line ups to your government debt. In the long run, you have three choices: pay for your own government expenditures as you go, which puts you at an economic disadvantage as opposed to countries that don’t have a half-trillion-dollar high tech military to support, draw down your military commitments, or develop into an exploitative imperial power. Endless borrowing, particularly from your strategic rivals, doesn’t really work as an option.

    It’s well known that the US has the strongest, most envied economy of any large nation. Folks all over the world clamor to live and work in the US under that economy. I’m sure the US economy, unless ruined by a nuke in New York(a distinct possibility), will continue to prosper. I just got $600 from the US government. Not bad for failed economy, eh?

    …hopeless reform movements in tightly controlled societies.I forgot, reform movements can’t work in authoritarian states. Except in Poland. Oh, right, except in Poland. But other places. Like Czechoslovakia, Right, but except in Poland and Czechoslovakia And the Soviet Union OK, except in Poland and Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union And India Except in Poland and Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union and India, reform movements don’t work in tightly controlled societies. Except for South Africa. Except in Poland and Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union and India and South Africa. And Chile and Spain… OK, but it’s the exceptions that prove the rule.

    None of the reforms mentioned above succeeded because concessions were given to the various pre-reform governments. On the contrary. For instance we know the Soviets failed because of the strong stance of President Reagan. The best way to effect reform in hostile nations is to NOT concede or appease.

    Giving effective support to the Iranian reform movements would have cost you nothing but a commitment to fully welcome a democratic Iran into the community of nations, and postponing the Iraqi invasion for a year. As we now know, that would have done nothing worse than save you up to six hundred billion dollars in occupation costs.

    The toppling of Saddam was postponed for 13 years. That was plenty of time to wait. But the writer thinks that one more year would have made all the difference. and then another year. And perhaps another. In the end Saddam would have still been in power and possibly more secure in that power.

    Well, the new Iraq hasn’t settled into a stable democracy just yet; in most democracies, political parties don’t have their own armed forces. As for “friendly”, the Iraq government doesn’t seem too interested in passing a status of forces agreement, without which you will (legally) have to withdraw all US troops at the end of the year.

    The bulk of US forces should withdraw only when the government of Iraq is strong enough to successfully resist terrorism and when it is in the interests of the US to do so. If after the US leaves Iraq should the leaders of Iraq turn hostile and start committing Saddam-like shenanigans then no doubt it would be necessary to topple another asshole or two. After awhile they may “get it.”

    And the occupation of Iraq has involved a few opportunity costs, such as the money (credibly estimated at three trillion so far), corresponding indebtedness to your strategic rivals, a huge amount of international respect and support (see Spain for a good example), the lives of 4000 of the best patriotic youn Americans and counting, more of your young men and women coming back with serious and life-long disabilities, and the moral stain of Abu Ghraib. The Iraqis have paid a far worse price: a refugee crisis displacing 10-20% of their population, deaths (credible estimates put the Iraqi excess death toll at 2% of the pre-war population), and a serious danger of civil war.

    Unlike the writer I don’t believe Abu Ghraib represents a “moral stain” on the US military. Indeed, the subsequent punishment of the Abu Ghraib perpetrators only proves the morality of the US. When wrong-doing is discovered transgressors are punished – what could be more moral that that?

    The human cost of ANY war is a serious issue but to defer war because of that inevitable cost is to defer war altogether – a ridiculous position. I was young and naive about many things when I joined up but I had seen enough war movies to know that at some point I might be ordered to risk my life.

    As far as hardship of the Iraqis are concerned, they had the bad luck to be brutally ruled by a murderous asshole. I feel sorry for them. Let’s all hope for the Iraqis that they don’t let another despot rise to power – that would be the surest way they could avoid more hardship in the future.

    Please pay attention to what I wrote. I said that promising full trade benefits and the lifting of technology restrictions in the event of democratic reform would have aided the reform movement and, by extension, served US policy. If you want to make an argument against that, I’d like to see it, but please don’t pretend I proposed to give the current religious government everything they wanted.

    I urge the writer to pay attention to this: Whatever reform elements may exist in Iraq have had many years to effect reform yet the Mullahs are as strong as ever as far as I can see. I don’t see how giving the Mullahs trade benefits and technology would benefit reform in Iraq. It would probably be seen as weakness by the Mullahs and the Iranian population.

    Furthermore, I don’t believe the Mullahs would get less murderous and hostile just because the US would concede trade and technology to them. I don’t trust them. And I’m wondering just how the writer is so sure that the US is NOT trying to aid reform elements in Iraq. Such assistance would necessarily be covert and not publicly known – unless of course it was leaked to the NYT – our resident traitors.

    As for the reformers, it hardly surprises me they have not accomplished much, not when the Bush Administration’s blunders have done just about everything possible to make their work harder. You may, in fact, have succeeded in closing the door on reform in Iran for this generation. Now everyone from Washington to Tel Aviv agrees the current Iranian government mustn’t get the bomb, and nobody seems to have the slightest idea how to stop them.

    The above is the US Creates/Causes Bad Regimes meme, a favorite meme of anti-war types. Any vile group hostile to the US is always laid at the US’s doorstep.

    All the Mullahs have to do is abstain from WMD development and terrorism sponsorship and they will be welcomed into the community of civilized nations. But no, they have an agenda and they seem to be sticking to it.

    The writer is enamored of the Carter/Clinton Doctrine: The old appease, concede and hope for the best foreign policy that got the US 9/11.

    Backing the reformers in Iran offered no guarantee of success, but it would have cost so little, and you now face such a steep price for your failure, that I reiterate my conclusion that George Bush’s failure even to try to back the Iranian reform movement counts as one more very serious blunder, one that you and the region may well end up paying very dearly for.

    I still cannot see how the writer is so sure that the US has NOT tried to assist reform in Iraq. Such things are kept secret for good reason. But I guess the writer sees the nebulous hope of internal Iraqi reform as an event that can only happen if the US concedes benefits to the Mullahs. Such a silly action would only solidify the power of the Mullahs and send a harmful message to other despots.

  60. John Spragge Says:

    njcommuter:

    “Your great-grandpappy did my great-grandpappy dirty, therefore I hate you”?

    Please read the slave narrative I provided a link to. A father puts his young (Black) daughter on the auction block naked, for sale, including to people who want to sexually abuse her. I don’t call that “a dirty”, I call it child pornography. In all other slave systems I know of, either law (as in the Islamic system) or social taboo forbade owners to sell slaves whom they might plausibly have fathered. A look at a room full of African Americans today will tell you that masters routinely fathered children by their slaves, and they routinely sold those children. If you really want to heal the wounds left by the “peculiar institution”, you have to face the unprecedented depravity of that time.

    Nor do the offences stop with great grandparents, as much as “white” people in denial might want to believe it. Black Americans suffered economic discrimination backed by unjust laws and outright terrorism up until the nineteen sixties. For most Americans today, that means their parents suffered, perpetrated, or worked to end this abusive system. Given the large role that intergenerational transfers of wealth have in the economic stability of families, that means African Americans today suffer because of the discrimination and exploitation their parents and grandparents suffered.

  61. John Spragge Says:

    njcommuter:

    Black Liberation Theology, according to Wikipedia, has at its core the image of redemption as one of deliverance. In this case, deliverance means the deliverance of Black people from oppression, and the corresponding deliverance of people from the various cultures of Europe and Western Asia from the suffocating pseudo-identity of “white”.

    Now, in that, Black Liberation Theology does not need to rely on Marxism. The divine concern for the poor and the oppressed, and the divine commandment to share God’s creation equitably dates back to Torah and the Hebrew prophets. The Bible does not merely call for justice, it states that the rich who found their wealth and power in fraud and exploitation will face God’s wrath.

    Karl Marx did not write:
    May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
    give deliverance to the needy,
    and crush the oppressor.
    the psalmist did. Nor will you find this an isolated passage: from the old testament prophets theough the Magnificat to the Epistle of St. James, the Bible has a consistent message of justice, one that includes relief for the poor and the oppressed, and corresponding retribution for the oppressor.

    I don’t find those passages pleasant; in world terms, I have a lot of money and a very comfortable life, and while I do a lot of work against oppression and the lies that sustain it, that kind of judgment frightens me, just as it frightened Thomas Jefferson. But I can’t deny this Biblical theme, any more that I can deny that the roots of Black Liberation Theology grow out of it.

    Your claim that Black Liberation Theology depends on the “class war” doctrine of Marx has no real basis; the fundamental premise of Black Liberation Theology, as well as all liberation theology, that redemption entails the relief and vindication of the poor and the oppressed, has profound roots throughout the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions.

  62. John Spragge Says:

    I just got $600 from the US government. Not bad for failed economy, eh?

    You really don’t get it. That $600.00 stands as a symptom of failure; your government borrowed the money, a good bit of it from the Chinese, in order to give it to you in the hope of staving off a recession. You haven’t (yet) got the recession, but you do have rising gas prices, a sinking dollar, and far less freedom of action, as a nation, than you did when Bill Clinton left office.

    The best way to effect reform in hostile nations is to NOT concede or appease.

    Nobody asked you to “concede” anything. An assurance that the US would lift the sanctions against a democratic Iran (meaning an Iran in which the “guardian council” no longer got to decide who could stand for office) might have attracted the support of Iran’s business class, and pushed the reformers over the top. Given the advantages real reform in Iran, making this “concession”, not to the “Mullahs”, but to a post-theocratic regime, makes sense to me. Not making any concessions, projecting a pretty unconditional hostility, establishing major forces on the Iranian border, all seemed calculated to drive the Iranian people into the arms of the theocracy. You could have had a friendly, democratic Iran, if all had gone well. Or, you could have tried and failed. As it happens, the Bush Administration didn’t even try. Talleyrand’s famous epigram comes to mind: it was worse than a crime, it was a blunder.

    In the end Saddam would have still been in power and possibly more secure in that power.

    Or possibly, the Iraqi people, having seen the success of democratic reform in Iran might have started agitating for reform themselves. We’ll never know. We do know that you have an Iranian government cooking up little buckets of instant sunshine, and apparently, no way to either stop them or dissuade them. I don’t call that a good situation.

    The bulk of US forces should withdraw only… when it is in the interests of the US to do so.

    If the government of Iraq doesn’t pass a status of forces agreement, after January 1, 2009 the US government will have exactly as much right, under the UN charter, to station troops in Baghdad as Saddam Hussein had to station troops in Kuwait, or as Kim Jong Il has to station troops in Seoul.

    …it would be necessary to topple another asshole or two. After awhile they may “get it.”

    Unfortunately, the Iranians already understand your attitude (and the attitude of people like you) all too well. Hence the nuclear program in hardened bunkers.

    The human cost of ANY war is a serious issue but to defer war because of that inevitable cost is to defer war altogether…

    An excellent idea! Your country “deferred war” with the Soviet Union for forty-five years, and the Soviets reformed their own system. Not deferring war with Iraq has got you an Iran on the verge of building their own nuclear deterrent.

    I don’t see how giving the Mullahs trade benefits and technology would benefit reform in Iraq. It would probably be seen as weakness by the Mullahs and the Iranian population.

    Again, please read what I write. I did not suggest offering “the Mullahs” any trade or other concessions. OK? Read it again: I did not suggest offering “the Mullahs” any trade or other concessions. I did suggest offering those concessions to a democratic, post-theocratic regime. Got it? A democratic, post-theocratic regime.

    Such assistance would necessarily be covert and not publicly known – unless of course it was leaked to the NYT – our resident traitors.

    Give me a break! If the Iranian government offered “covert” assistance to any group in the United States, and they took it, how would you and other Americans react? Do you really think the Iranians feel any differently about citizens who get “covert” aid from a hostile power?

    The above is the US Creates/Causes Bad Regimes meme…

    More like the strategic blunders don’t do your country any good meme. And, for good measure, the when a party commits strategic blunders that get Americans killed, maybe it makes sense to turf them meme.

    The writer is enamored of the Carter/Clinton Doctrine…

    You seem to use that boilerplate as a substitute for thought. Neither of those name has the effect of stopping my thought processes; the record of George W. Bush, in my judgment, remains one of ill-considered choices, avoidable failures, economic pandering, and general, measurable decline in the American economy and influence.

  63. John Spragge Says:

    Vince P.:

    The core of Black Liberation Theology has Biblical basis.

  64. Ymarsakar Says:

    your government borrowed the money, a good bit of it from the Chinese

    Last time I checked, America’s 11+ trillion GDP didn’t come from the government. And there’s no way “borrowing” money from China’s overinflated 1 trillion GDP could substitute for 11 trillion dollars.

  65. Ymarsakar Says:

    The core of Black Liberation Theology has Biblical basis.

    Genocide has biblical basis. Doesn’t mean you should go out and slaughter the neighbor’s first born.

  66. Ymarsakar Says:

    In all other slave systems I know of, either law (as in the Islamic system) or social taboo forbade owners to sell slaves whom they might plausibly have fathered.

    Link

    A look at a room full of African Americans today will tell you that masters routinely fathered children by their slaves, and they routinely sold those children. If you really want to heal the wounds left by the “peculiar institution”, you have to face the unprecedented depravity of that time.

    When you have faced the “unprecedented deparvity of that time”, perhaps you will realize that what you have seen is very selective and excusing of the Islamic slave trade.

  67. grackle Says:

    You really don’t get it. That $600.00 stands as a symptom of failure; your government borrowed the money, a good bit of it from the Chinese, in order to give it to you in the hope of staving off a recession. You haven’t (yet) got the recession, but you do have rising gas prices, a sinking dollar, and far less freedom of action, as a nation, than you did when Bill Clinton left office.

    Lows and highs. In my lifetime the us economy has been through many lows and highs. A few years ago there was a silly panic about Japanese ‘control’ of the US economy. The sky was falling or so some thought.

    What does the writer think the Chinese are going to do – raise interest rates? Would a finance company do harm to someone who owed them money? Doesn’t this tend to cement US-China relations? We’ve owed money before to others and we still seem to be doing well overall.

    And my freedom of movement is in no way limited – I have no idea what the writer is talking about. Rising gas prices isn’t caused by not giving concessions to the Mullahs or by Bush’s policies unless every other nation on earth which are all faced with rising gasoline prices have been committing the same “blunders” as Bush. Ask the Europeans about their own rising gas prices and I doubt their reply will contain any allusions to Bush’s policies or the toppling of Saddam.

    Nobody asked you to “concede” anything. An assurance that the US would lift the sanctions against a democratic Iran (meaning an Iran in which the “guardian council” no longer got to decide who could stand for office) might have attracted the support of Iran’s business class, and pushed the reformers over the top. Given the advantages real reform in Iran, making this “concession”, not to the “Mullahs”, but to a post-theocratic regime, makes sense to me. Not making any concessions, projecting a pretty unconditional hostility, establishing major forces on the Iranian border, all seemed calculated to drive the Iranian people into the arms of the theocracy. You could have had a friendly, democratic Iran, if all had gone well. Or, you could have tried and failed. As it happens, the Bush Administration didn’t even try. Talleyrand’s famous epigram comes to mind: it was worse than a crime, it was a blunder.

    The writer talks of giving concessions to a “post-theocratic regime” in Iran. If he means a regime that did not sponsor terrorism and gave up nuclear ambitions such concessions as the lifting of trade and travel restrictions and the giving of technology would happen as a natural matter of course – the normal relationship between two friendly nations. Any reform element that might exist in Iran is smart enough to realize this even if the writer isn’t. It’s just generally understood that one doesn’t impose restrictions on friendly nations.

    And he’s now absolutely certain that but for Bush the world “could have had a friendly, democratic Iran,” whereas before he claimed it was only a chance. No problem, after all, people are entitled to change their mind, wrong as they may be.

    The writer is concerned about the ” unconditional hostility ” he claims the US has projected. Iran took over the US embassy and held the employees hostage for 444 days. Carter should have asked Congress for a declaration of war; the hostages would probably been handed over and we would perhaps have a more normal Iran today.

    Or possibly, the Iraqi people, having seen the success of democratic reform in Iran might have started agitating for reform themselves. We’ll never know. We do know that you have an Iranian government cooking up little buckets of instant sunshine, and apparently, no way to either stop them or dissuade them. I don’t call that a good situation.

    Yes, and possibly pigs will fly. Saddam was firmly in power in Iraq and hoping that reformists would overthrow him is abysmally naive. But the writer may be correct in his dire implications in regards to Iranian WMD development. Sooner or later the US will probably get a nuclear 9/11 if Iran nukes up.

    If the government of Iraq doesn’t pass a status of forces agreement, after January 1, 2009 the US government will have exactly as much right, under the UN charter, to station troops in Baghdad as Saddam Hussein had to station troops in Kuwait, or as Kim Jong Il has to station troops in Seoul.

    Iraq is a conquered nation occupied by the US and some others, as happened in Germany after WW2. I believe the US has the “right,” indeed a duty, to stay as long as necessary. Thankfully the UN does not have any authority over this situation and is almost beside the point.

    grackle: …it would be necessary to topple another asshole or two. After awhile they may “get it.”

    Unfortunately, the Iranians already understand your attitude (and the attitude of people like you) all too well. Hence the nuclear program in hardened bunkers.

    I was referring to Iraq, not Iran. Pay attention. But since the writer broaches the subject, if the US were to get into a serious war with Iran hardened bunkers wouldn’t help them. There were hardened bunkers in Iraq but Saddam is still gone.

    grackle: The human cost of ANY war is a serious issue but to defer war because of that inevitable cost is to defer war altogether…

    An excellent idea! Your country “deferred war” with the Soviet Union for forty-five years, and the Soviets reformed their own system.

    The Soviets failed because of actions outside the Soviet Union(thanks mainly to Reagan) that wrecked their economy and had nothing to do with Soviet reform elements but to read the writer one would think a US-assisted coup took place. The present formerly Soviet-controlled governments in place in these regions merely stepped into a political vacuum after the fall of the Soviets.

    Not deferring war with Iraq has got you an Iran on the verge of building their own nuclear deterrent.

    Here it is again. If not for Bush toppling Saddam the Mullahs would be nice peaceful folks who would never even think of developing nukes or sponsoring terrorism. Bush made them do it. I don’t buy it.

    Again, please read what I write. I did not suggest offering “the Mullahs” any trade or other concessions. OK? Read it again: I did not suggest offering “the Mullahs” any trade or other concessions. I did suggest offering those concessions to a democratic, post-theocratic regime. Got it? A democratic, post-theocratic regime.

    But a “democratic, post-theocratic regime” without nukes and not sponsoring terrorism would routinely receive these. They are concessions only if the nation is hostile.

    Give me a break! If the Iranian government offered “covert” assistance to any group in the United States, and they took it, how would you and other Americans react? Do you really think the Iranians feel any differently about citizens who get “covert” aid from a hostile power?

    Does the writer believe that the US giving overt, public assistance to opposition, reform-minded elements in Iran would be possible? What kind of assistance could it possibly be? Printing presses to produce anti-Mullah propaganda? iPhones for talking surreptitiously to fellow conspirators? Somehow I don’t see the Mullahs allowing that. Perhaps we’ll learn in future comments. It is said that patience is a virtue.

    grackle: The above is the US Creates/Causes Bad Regimes meme…

    More like the strategic blunders don’t do your country any good meme. And, for good measure, the when a party commits strategic blunders that get Americans killed, maybe it makes sense to turf them meme.

    The writer calls toppling Saddam a blunder. I call it a good thing for the US. Boilerplate in response to boilerplate.

    grackle: The writer is enamored of the Carter/Clinton Doctrine…

    You seem to use that boilerplate as a substitute for thought. Neither of those name has the effect of stopping my thought processes; the record of George W. Bush, in my judgment, remains one of ill-considered choices, avoidable failures, economic pandering, and general, measurable decline in the American economy and influence.

    Another litany of standard boilerplate. Bush is bad, failure, pandering, etc.

    The writer wants trade restrictions lifted and technology given to Iran. If this happens he believes Iran will forgo sponsoring terrorism and WMD development – perhaps even cease announcing that Israel is soon to be wiped off the face of the earth. But what does all that mean in practical terms? Well it doesn’t exactly mean the Iranians will be shipping Georgia peaches and widescreen TVs into Tehran.

    “Technology” is an euphemism for the latest and best of weapons technology. Oh yes, weaponry is always part of the deal. As soon as trade and travel restrictions are lifted the espionage and smuggling would commence, on top of what they were getting legally. We would be arming and causing to prosper a murderous group, the Mullahs, giving them prestige in the eyes of the Iraqi populace. But we shouldn’t worry – reformists in Iran will save the day. The writer has professed to be concerned with “popular support” in Iraq. I wonder how our Iraqi allies would feel about such an approach. They fought a bloody war against Iran a few years ago.

    Three years ago the US in a consortium of other nations offered to fuel nuclear reactors for the Iranians. Russia had agreed to produce the fuel, which was to be shipped to the reactors in Iran. The idea was that if the Iranians wanted to develop peaceful nuclear technology, as they professed and continue to profess(all the while talking about wiping Israel off the map and chanting “Death to America” at rallies), then their sister nations would provide it to them free of charge. It was refused. The fuel, uranium hexafluoride, could not be used for WMD, you see. That wasn’t the type of technology the Iranians wanted. They don’t need more electricity. They have enough natural gas and oil to last through several lifetimes. So technology has already been offered but was turned aside.

  68. John Spragge Says:

    Ymarsakar:

    And there’s no way “borrowing” money from China’s overinflated 1 trillion GDP could substitute for 11 trillion dollars.

    I think I’ll quote that under how to think about money if you want to get into big trouble fast. You didn’t accumulate your debt to the Chinese all at once. The Chinese economy (which, by the way, has a $3.25 trillion GDP to the 13.8 trillion GDP of the US, according to the IMF) lent you the money a year at a time. The US Federal government has accumulated a nine trillion dollar debt over the last twenty-eight years or so. Of that, about two trillion belongs to foreigners; the Chinese central bankers own a fair proportion of that. They bought your debt at a rate of a few hundred billion a year, well within the ability of the Chinese economy. Nor did you accumulate that much debt overnight. But now, between public and private debt, you owe, in total, more than you earn in three years.

    But of course, because you have a $13 trillion GDP doesn’t mean you have $13 trillion available to pay off your debts. Most of your GDP goes to house and feed your 300 million people. Just to pay off the federal debt held by foreign governments, the US government would have to doubly taxes. Do you have any idea what would happen if the government doubled all federal taxes and levies in one year?

    Genocide has biblical basis.

    If you look really hard, you can find a passage that works out roughly to: God said, kill them all. But that does not carry through the Bible as a moral theme from one end to the other, the way relief for and vindication of the poor does. Jesus never blesses those who kill; indeed, Jesus explicitly calls for peacemaking. The Hebrew Bible, from the Torah to the prophets, calls for care for the poor and justice based on equality.

    …what you have seen is very selective and excusing of the Islamic slave trade.

    Let’s short circuit this discussion. I believe that scholarly studies such as “Slavery and Muslim Society in Africa” and the Journal of Slavery and Liberation have better information than the various anti-Islamic propaganda sites on the net, but the question has little relevance to this discussion. Even if Muslim Arab slavers behaved more brutally than their European counterparts, that would still amount to nothing more than a lame excuse for trans-Atlantic slavery. African Americans still have good reason for anger, and good reason to look for a philosophy and theology of liberation, and a good reason to challenge people of European origin about our history and the sources of our wealth.

  69. John Spragge Says:

    grackle:

    Lows and highs.

    The US now has record high levels of debt (a total of three times your GDP), with government debt at 80% of GDP, and alarming levels of your government debt held by the central bank of a none too friendly country. You pay record high prices for imported oil, partly because your currency has lost 35% of its value since 2002. That doesn’t mean the end of the Republic; it means you have a bad government that you might consider voting out.

    Would a finance company do harm to someone who owed them money?

    A country, unlike a finance company, has interests that go beyond money. In any case, getting your country into record debt involves plain bad management and bad policy. When your policies have undesirable results, it makes sense to change them. When your government fails to deliver the goods, it only makes sense to vote them out.

    And he’s now absolutely certain that but for Bush the world “could have had a friendly, democratic Iran,” whereas before he claimed it was only a chance.

    Please read more carefully. I never expressed any kind of certainty. I said that if the Bush Administration had made a serious effort to reach out to the Iranian people, they might have failed. Not even to try, for the sake of a schedule and a turn of phrase, strikes me as very bad judgment. I’ll write that again: I never said the Bush Administration had any guarantee of success, but that not to try guaranteed failure.

    The writer is concerned about the ” unconditional hostility ” he claims the US has projected. Iran took over the US embassy and held the employees hostage for 444 days. Carter should have asked Congress for a declaration of war; the hostages would probably been handed over and we would perhaps have a more normal Iran today.

    This attitude hardly serves your long range strategic goals, or those of any Western country. I consider hostility over events that happened before most Iranians were born a luxury none of us can afford in the current state of conflict. The majority of young Iranians today like you; that gives (or gave) an advantage that a sensible government could have taken advantage of.

    Does the writer believe that the US giving overt, public assistance to opposition, reform-minded elements in Iran would be possible?

    Try and get your tenses right. I don’t think that anything you can do right now will make the situation much better. I suspect, given the current situation, the window of opportunity for democratic reform in Iran has now closed for at least a decade, if not longer. But if Bush had developed a sensible policy toward the democracy movement in Iran, encouraging it, making it clear he would treat a democratic government in Iran with respect, making it clear that Iranians could expect real ecomomic benefits from a democratic government, then the democracy movement might have prevailed.

    The writer calls toppling Saddam a blunder.

    No, I call toppling Saddam with no thought of what it will do to the democracy movement in Iran a blunder. I call toppling Saddam with no coherent plan for the aftermath a blunder. I call toppling Saddam and not shutting down Abu Ghraib a blunder. I call trying to occupy a West Asian country with a minimum number of translators a blunder. I call leaving those Iraqis who did help you (as translators) hanging out to dry a blunder. I call telling everyone you came to liberate the Iraqis, and then behaving like conquerors a blunder. I call the record of torture at abu Ghraib a grave blunder, and I see no reason the American people should accept any excuses for it.

    But I don’t consider toppling Saddam a blunder. Saddam Hussein gassed his own people. Saddam Hussein perpetrated the worse act of environmental destruction in the service of genocide since Buffalo Bill wiped out the food supply for the plains Indians.

    The writer wants trade restrictions lifted and technology given to Iran.

    Again, kindly get your tenses right. Lifting trade restrictions now would hardly do any good. Cheering on the Iranian reform movement at the height of its strength in 2002, making it clear that democratic reform would lead to material benefits for the Iranian people might have done some good. In any case, it would have cost President Bush nothing to try.

    As soon as trade and travel restrictions are lifted the espionage and smuggling would commence, on top of what they were getting legally. We would be arming and causing to prosper a murderous group, the Mullahs, giving them prestige in the eyes of the Iraqi populace.

    The Iranians don’t have to smuggle anything in. They have what a great many people seem to consider a viable nuclear weapons program. I don’t worry about what people might smuggle in; I do worry about what might get smuggled out.

    But we shouldn’t worry – reformists in Iran will save the day.

    If you mean to ascribe that opinion to me, please try to understand the basic concept of time. Many opportunities you might have had five years ago you probably do not have now. I do not believe that offering to lift trade or technology sanctions against Iran would produce a reform movement, not today. Five years ago, a window of opportunity existed, a window Bush could have exploited at no real cost. Remember, again, I refer to a blunder of five years ago, not a policy you can effectively pursue right now.

    Again, this just relates to the question: has the Republican Party shown itself capable of producing effective leaders in the current situation? A lot of evidence suggests they have not.

    I wonder how our Iraqi allies would feel about such an approach.

    I thought you considered Iraq a conquered nation, and did not consider your government accountable to anyone in its conduct of affairs in Iraq.

    Three years ago the US in a consortium of other nations offered to fuel nuclear reactors for the Iranians.

    Three years ago, the Iranian reactionaries had already consolidated their power.

    Since you insist on answering arguments I did not make, and discrediting suggestions I never advanced, I think I’ll stop blasting the fish in this particular barrel.

  70. grackle Says:

    The US now has record high levels of debt (a total of three times your GDP), with government debt at 80% of GDP, and alarming levels of your government debt held by the central bank of a none too friendly country. You pay record high prices for imported oil, partly because your currency has lost 35% of its value since 2002. That doesn’t mean the end of the Republic; it means you have a bad government that you might consider voting out.

    Yes, I fully intend “voting out” the Democrat majority Congress who has been busy taxing and spending the nation silly and has no doubt helped to produced the tremendous debt the writer refers to. Even though I consider owing money less important than the War on Terror it is still on my list of issues and I intend as a voter to hold the culprits responsible, the Democratic-controlled Congress, when I step into the voting booth and would hope the writer would do the same, considering how important the economy is to the writer.

    The writer frequently refers to high oil and gasoline prices and attributes it to the devaluation of the dollar. Has the whole world also gone through a similar devaluation of its various currencies? Because according to CNN the entire world is now paying the same high price for oil and gasoline.

    A country, unlike a finance company, has interests that go beyond money. In any case, getting your country into record debt involves plain bad management and bad policy. When your policies have undesirable results, it makes sense to change them. When your government fails to deliver the goods, it only makes sense to vote them out.

    I totally agree with the above. Yes indeed, let’s all vote the present majority in Congress out of office, it would serve them right!

    grackle: And he’s now absolutely certain that but for Bush the world “could have had a friendly, democratic Iran,” whereas before he claimed it was only a chance.

    Please read more carefully. I never expressed any kind of certainty. I said that if the Bush Administration had made a serious effort to reach out to the Iranian people, they might have failed. Not even to try, for the sake of a schedule and a turn of phrase, strikes me as very bad judgment. I’ll write that again: I never said the Bush Administration had any guarantee of success, but that not to try guaranteed failure.

    But how would Bush have reached “out to the Iranian people”? Their media was as tightly controlled as in all the other Islamic states, states such as Syria and Libya, where it was and is worth your life to go against the folks in charge. Drop leaflets? Send emails? As usual, the writer does not explain.

    As for the “certainty” of the writer’s views, below is a quote of his from an earlier comment:

    “Please pay attention to what I wrote. I said that promising full trade benefits and the lifting of technology restrictions in the event of democratic reform would have aided the reform movement and, by extension, served US policy.”

    Well, I was paying attention and it sure reads to me that the flat statement above reflects “certainty.” Does the writer now seek to revise the above assertion?

    grackle: The writer is concerned about the ” unconditional hostility ” he claims the US has projected. Iran took over the US embassy and held the employees hostage for 444 days. Carter should have asked Congress for a declaration of war; the hostages would probably been handed over and we would perhaps have a more normal Iran today.

    This attitude hardly serves your long range strategic goals, or those of any Western country. I consider hostility over events that happened before most Iranians were born a luxury none of us can afford in the current state of conflict. The majority of young Iranians today like you; that gives (or gave) an advantage that a sensible government could have taken advantage of.

    But the event referred to, the taking over of the US embassy and holding the employees hostage for 444 days, was only the beginning of a litany of perfidy and acts of war extending up to this very day, where the Iranians are advising the enemy, training the enemy and providing deadly weapons to the enemy that are killing right now the young American soldiers the writer is concerned about.

    Furthermore, if “the majority of young Iranians today like you[like the US, Bush, me personally?],” already then why was it necessary to mount a leaflet drop or send emails to make them “like” us? Wouldn’t this fall under the heading of an unnecessary expenditure and surely have contributed to the debt the writer is so worried about?

    grackle: Does the writer believe that the US giving overt, public assistance to opposition, reform-minded elements in Iran would be possible?

    Try and get your tenses right. I don’t think that anything you can do right now will make the situation much better. I suspect, given the current situation, the window of opportunity for democratic reform in Iran has now closed for at least a decade, if not longer. But if Bush had developed a sensible policy toward the democracy movement in Iran, encouraging it, making it clear he would treat a democratic government in Iran with respect, making it clear that Iranians could expect real ecomomic benefits from a democratic government, then the democracy movement might have prevailed.

    Silly me. Very well, I’ll reframe the question in a tense hopefully more to the writer’s liking:

    Does the writer believe that overt, public assistance to opposition, reform-minded elements in Iran would have been possible?

    I eagerly await the writer’s reply now that the tense is cleaned up.

    To the rest of the concerns above I repeat what I have written before: The writer talks of giving concessions to a “post-theocratic regime” in Iran. If he means a regime that did not sponsor terrorism and gave up nuclear ambitions such concessions(the lifting of trade and travel restrictions and the giving of technology) would happen as a natural matter of course – the normal relationship between two friendly nations. Any reform element that might have existed in Iran was smart enough to realize this even if the writer isn’t. It’s just generally understood that one doesn’t impose restrictions on friendly nations.

    grackle: The writer calls toppling Saddam a blunder.

    No, I call toppling Saddam with no thought of what it will do to the democracy movement in Iran a blunder. I call toppling Saddam with no coherent plan for the aftermath a blunder. I call toppling Saddam and not shutting down Abu Ghraib a blunder. I call trying to occupy a West Asian country with a minimum number of translators a blunder. I call leaving those Iraqis who did help you (as translators) hanging out to dry a blunder. I call telling everyone you came to liberate the Iraqis, and then behaving like conquerors a blunder. I call the record of torture at abu Ghraib a grave blunder, and I see no reason the American people should accept any excuses for it.

    Here I will make a concession to the writer. There have been blunders in the Iraq War and there will probably be more blunders. There were blunders also in WW1, WW2 and Korea. Has there ever been a major war without blunders? I cannot find any example in history, perhaps the writer can. It seems that the only thing certain in war is that there will be blunders. Apparently it is the opinion of the writer that the “democracy movement” in Iran was nipped in the bud by US “blunders” in the Iraq War – but not the war itself he is careful to explain – only the blunders.

    I can only state that I am very happy that Roosevelt and the American people did not dwell on previous blunders that had occurred early in WW2, to name just one example, but vigorously continued the war against the Axis powers and were ultimately victorious. Otherwise we might be writing these words in German or perhaps Japanese.

    But I don’t consider toppling Saddam a blunder. Saddam Hussein gassed his own people. Saddam Hussein perpetrated the worse act of environmental destruction in the service of genocide since Buffalo Bill wiped out the food supply for the plains Indians.

    I am also glad that the writer has made it clear that toppling Saddam was necessary. It seems he is bothered only by the blunders in the war, not the need for the war itself.

    grackle: The writer wants trade restrictions lifted and technology given to Iran.

    Again, kindly get your tenses right. Lifting trade restrictions now would hardly do any good. Cheering on the Iranian reform movement at the height of its strength in 2002, making it clear that democratic reform would lead to material benefits for the Iranian people might have done some good. In any case, it would have cost President Bush nothing to try.

    But how was Bush supposed go about “cheering on the Iranian reform movement” through the controlled media that has existed in Iran since the take over by the Mullahs? Smoke signals? Phone calls? I wish the writer would take a little time and outline what type of “cheering” he would have done had he been in charge.

    grackle: As soon as trade and travel restrictions are lifted the espionage and smuggling would commence, on top of what they were getting legally. We would be arming and causing to prosper a murderous group, the Mullahs, giving them prestige in the eyes of the Iraqi populace.

    The Iranians don’t have to smuggle anything in. They have what a great many people seem to consider a viable nuclear weapons program. I don’t worry about what people might smuggle in; I do worry about what might get smuggled out.

    I point out to the readers that I did not specify that the Iranians might seek to smuggle items into Iran. They wouldn’t have to smuggle items into Iran if trade restrictions were lifted – they could get all they wanted legally. Yes, along with the writer, I also worry what might get smuggled out of Iran. That’s why I want hostile Middle Eastern despots to know there is a price to pay for trying to go nuclear. Talking hasn’t worked. UN sanctions haven’t worked. Offering technology hasn’t worked. What options are left?

    But the writer believes that Bush “cheering” reform elements in Iran early on might have worked. Just how this “cheering” would have been done he doesn’t care at this time to reveal.

    grackle: But we shouldn’t worry – reformists in Iran will save the day.

    If you mean to ascribe that opinion to me, please try to understand the basic concept of time. Many opportunities you might have had five years ago you probably do not have now. I do not believe that offering to lift trade or technology sanctions against Iran would produce a reform movement, not today. Five years ago, a window of opportunity existed, a window Bush could have exploited at no real cost. Remember, again, I refer to a blunder of five years ago, not a policy you can effectively pursue right now.

    Here I have to ask again, in any time-frame of the writer’s choosing, just how was Bush supposed to exploit a reformist movement in Iran?

    grackle: I wonder how our Iraqi allies would feel about such an approach.

    I thought you considered Iraq a conquered nation, and did not consider your government accountable to anyone in its conduct of affairs in Iraq.

    I wrote the above not because of any concern of mine but rather because the writer had earlier expressed his own concern about Iraqi “popular support.” In light of this expressed concern of the writer’s(not mine) I wondered what the Iraqis would feel about the US appeasing and giving concessions to Iran, who a few years before the present Iraq War had fought a bloody war against Iraq. Perhaps the writer will give us his opinion of how the Iraqis would feel about such an approach in a future comment.

    Three years ago the US in a consortium of other nations offered to fuel nuclear reactors for the Iranians.

    Three years ago, the Iranian reactionaries had already consolidated their power.

    I can only conclude from this reply that the writer believes that the US could have offered technology not to Iran’s government but to reform elements hiding somewhere in Iran. Who else could the writer be talking about? It would perhaps help our understanding if his replies were less cryptic. Given this, I am wondering if the Mullahs would have laughed, scratched their heads or merely ignored such a naive, impractical approach of offering technology to clandestine reform elements in their society.

    Since you insist on answering arguments I did not make, and discrediting suggestions I never advanced, I think I’ll stop blasting the fish in this particular barrel.

    I urge the writer to return and restate his viewpoint in unequivocal terms so that the possibility of misinterpretation is lessened. This particular blasted fish will be happy to continue the debate.

  71. John Spragge Says:

    Grackle:

    On the economy: Playing a “gotcha” games with the Bush Administration’s record of reckless borrowing won’t work. from 2003 to 2004, the debt rose by $600 billion; from 2004 to 2005, the debt rose by $500 billion, and from 2005 to 2006, the debt rose by another $600 billion. Throughout this period, Republicans controlled the executive and both houses of congress. Nor does taxation equal borrowing. You may not like paying taxes, but tax rates don’t put huge US currency reserves into the Chinese central bank.

    On the war: I didn’t say I considered the war worthwhile or “necessary”, because I don’t. I very much doubt that, if left in power, Saddam Hussein would have killed as many people or produced as many refugees as the war has. But I don’t consider it a blunder to get Saddam Hussein out of power, and into a courtroom. Yes, I know, you have said you think it takes an invasion to get rid of a thug like Saddam Hussein. People thought that about the apartheid regime in South Africa, the colonial regime in India, and the Soviet regime in Russia, too.

    On Iran: I don’t know why you consider reaching out to the people of Iran so difficult and mysterious. In 2003, reaching out to the people of Iran and supporting the democracy movement would have take three things: a microphone, the White House lawn, and some ordinary prudence. Since President Bush has at least two of these things, and you can’t buy the third, money doesn’t come into it. First order of business: strike out of your speeches a silly phrase that virtually declared war on sixty million people for no better reason than to fill up a number for a shopworn and inappropriate metaphor (the phrase “axis of evil” may well have cost you a trillion dollars a word, so far, and it may yet cost us all a lot more). Second, thank the young people of Iran for their courageous post-911 vigils (Iran had some of the largest in Western Asia, and the Iranian government did not like it). Third, drop a hint with someone who knows the Iranian business community that when democratic reforms do come, you will promptly and without preconditions sit down with them to talk about lifting the sanctions, unfreezing the assets, and so on. Fourth, don’t put a massive army on Iran’s borders until and unless you know the Iranian people can’t or won’t achieve democratic reforms on their own.

    Messages like that don’t always get through, but you do know two things for sure: no medium on Earth can report words you don’t say, and if you do say something stupidly belligerent and alienating, the current Iranian government will make sure everyone in Iran hears about it.

    Finally, you may well have no real options for stopping the Iranian nuclear program any more. Blunders have a cost; the cost of this series of blunders may include a nulear armed Iran, and you may have no way to get out of paying it.

    I don’t expect you to blame George Bush for anything, since you’ve figured out how to blame the Democrats for a debt a Republican president and congress ran up. I just expect you to understand that a significant amount of evidence does exist that the Bush policies have accomplished very little except to leave problems for his successor. In this sense, the blunders of Bush look less like those of Churchill or FDR, and more like the mistakes of Neville Chamberlain.

  72. John Spragge Says:

    Your reference to a “covert” reform movement in Iran in the period right around the Iraq invasion suggests you have limited information about the situation in Iran at that time. I accordingly supply this link from an impeccable conservative. I do not agree with all of his premises, much less his all of his conclusions, but his account makes it clear that Iran had an overt and strong reform movement that came close to achieving its goals.

  73. grackle Says:

    On the economy: Playing a “gotcha” games with the Bush Administration’s record of reckless borrowing won’t work. from 2003 to 2004, the debt rose by $600 billion; from 2004 to 2005, the debt rose by $500 billion, and from 2005 to 2006, the debt rose by another $600 billion. Throughout this period, Republicans controlled the executive and both houses of congress. Nor does taxation equal borrowing. You may not like paying taxes, but tax rates don’t put huge US currency reserves into the Chinese central bank.

    Here I’m not understanding how Bush has “put huge US currency reserves into the Chinese central bank.” Congress supposedly controls every financial area of our system. How did Bush sneak it past them? Bush must be pretty shrewd to pull a fast one like that! Let’s coin a phrase. I got it! Let’s call Bush the ‘apex of shrewdness.’

    On the war: I didn’t say I considered the war worthwhile or “necessary”, because I don’t. I very much doubt that, if left in power, Saddam Hussein would have killed as many people or produced as many refugees as the war has. But I don’t consider it a blunder to get Saddam Hussein out of power, and into a courtroom. Yes, I know, you have said you think it takes an invasion to get rid of a thug like Saddam Hussein. People thought that about the apartheid regime in South Africa, the colonial regime in India, and the Soviet regime in Russia, too.

    I’m confused. Toppling Saddam was not a “blunder,” yet the war was not “worthwhile.” Those two viewpoints seem at odds to me. Oh, well.

    And I don’t recall anyone in authority in the US ever proposing to invade South Africa, India or the Soviet Union. If the writer believes that Saddam could have been toppled without a war I can only say I disagree. I think Saddam would still be happily torturing and murdering folks if not for the war. He was certainly thriving; just the money Saddam bilked out of the UN was a tremendous sum by any standard.

    On Iran: I don’t know why you consider reaching out to the people of Iran so difficult and mysterious. In 2003, reaching out to the people of Iran and supporting the democracy movement would have take three things: a microphone, the White House lawn, and some ordinary prudence.

    The writer believes that Bush should have announced support to Iranian reformists on the Whitehouse lawn. I ask the readers how such encouragement could have been relayed when every organ that could have been used to broadcast such encouragement – TV, radio, newspapers, books – was under the strict censorship of the Mullahs? After all, this is a society where the wrong words can lose you your head.

    First order of business: strike out of your speeches a silly phrase that virtually declared war on sixty million people for no better reason than to fill up a number for a shopworn and inappropriate metaphor (the phrase “axis of evil” may well have cost you a trillion dollars a word, so far, and it may yet cost us all a lot more).

    The writer doesn’t like the phrase, “axis of evil,” because sixty million people might have been upset. Me? I think it is an accurate description of the regimes of the Mullahs, Saddam and Kim Jong-il and I think it is important that any President should characterize such villains accurately even if it pisses off a lot of people. It’s my idea of leadership, calling scoundrels what they are. It’s one of the things that has endeared Bush to me, bless his heart

    Second, thank the young people of Iran for their courageous post-911 vigils (Iran had some of the largest in Western Asia, and the Iranian government did not like it).

    I’ve nothing against the youth of Iran. I wish them well and feel sorry for them. I sure wouldn’t want to be ruled by the Mullahs, what with the imprisonment and head-chopping and all. It must be very difficult.

    Third, drop a hint with someone who knows the Iranian business community that when democratic reforms do come, you will promptly and without preconditions sit down with them to talk about lifting the sanctions, unfreezing the assets, and so on.

    I’m wondering why the writer believes such assurances were necessary. Doesn’t he know that friendly, non-hostile nations do not usually freeze assets and impose sanctions on each other? Why would it be necessary to communicate such obvious, taken for granted facts, known to any junior diplomat or international business leader? Does he think the “Iranian business community” is stupid?

    Fourth, don’t put a massive army on Iran’s borders until and unless you know the Iranian people can’t or won’t achieve democratic reforms on their own.

    The Mullahs have ruled Iran for 29 years. How long should the wait for “democratic reforms” be? 50 years? A hundred?

    Messages like that don’t always get through, but you do know two things for sure: no medium on Earth can report words you don’t say, and if you do say something stupidly belligerent and alienating, the current Iranian government will make sure everyone in Iran hears about it.

    The writer must be back with his anger over Bush’s “axis of evil” phrase, which he believes alienated a lot of folks who would have otherwise wished the US well. Bless you Bush – may you continue calling things what they are.

    Finally, you may well have no real options for stopping the Iranian nuclear program any more. Blunders have a cost; the cost of this series of blunders may include a nuclear armed Iran, and you may have no way to get out of paying it.

    Oh, I think we may have a couple of options left. American stealth bombers are very destructive. Israel has some means, also.

    I don’t expect you to blame George Bush for anything, since you’ve figured out how to blame the Democrats for a debt a Republican president and congress ran up. I just expect you to understand that a significant amount of evidence does exist that the Bush policies have accomplished very little except to leave problems for his successor. In this sense, the blunders of Bush look less like those of Churchill or FDR, and more like the mistakes of Neville Chamberlain.

    If I read the Constitution correctly, taxation, spending and of course the debt that might be earned from financial doings are Congress-related issues. Congress controls the purse strings. I confess to being mystified as to why the writer blames the President instead of Congress for the national debt. Oh, I forgot: Bush sneaked the money past Congress into the Chinese Central Bank.

    The writer compares Bush to Chamberlain. Chamberlain tried and failed to appease Hitler by sacrificing Czechoslovakia. Who has Bush sacrificed to appease the Mullahs?

    Your reference to a “covert” reform movement in Iran in the period right around the Iraq invasion suggests you have limited information about the situation in Iran at that time. I accordingly supply this link from an impeccable conservative. I do not agree with all of his premises, much less his all of his conclusions, but his account makes it clear that Iran had an overt and strong reform movement that came close to achieving its goals.

    But as soon as the above mentioned “reform movement” showed its face and started agitating it was immediately brutally suppressed by the Mullahs. In the sixth paragraph of the article linked to by the writer the author says,

    “But from what I can make out the regime not only did not fall but was not close to falling.”

    Near the end of the article is another interesting quote:

    “If it[the Mullahs' government] won’t collapse the Bush administration will have no choice but to go in and destroy the nuclear facilities directly.” I’m guessing that is one of the things that the commentor did not agree with.

  74. grackle Says:

    Before turning in I will here in the debate admit to the writer that the national debt is huge, that it’s size is a problem and that Republican Congresses are responsible for more than their share of it but I do not believe that the various recent Presidents are very responsible for these basic economic matters.

    The real growth in the national debt started in 1986. It has followed a steep curve upwards since then. From that time there have been 10 years of Democrat House Speakers and 12 years of Republican Speakers – not a lot of difference in the amount of time for each side. Although the Republicans called the shots for about half that time, they seem to account for considerably more than half the rise. So I’ll give the writer some points in that the Republicans have been lousy on the economic front. But the responsibility for this lies squarely on Congress, both morally and constitutionally, not with the various Presidents.

    Yes, war is frequently very expensive, in both lives and dollars – that’s a given. And of course the war has contributed to the national debt but the question to ask when considering war is not how much would it cost in dollars. To do so would trivialize the issue. A nation makes war or doesn’t make war not because of the cheapness or the expense that might be incurred but for more profound reasons. They have a saying in the expensive shops: “If you have to ask the price you can’t afford the merchandise.” I want the US to always be able to afford the merchandise

  75. John Spragge Says:

    Toppling Saddam was not a “blunder,” yet the war was not “worthwhile.” Those two viewpoints seem at odds to me.

    I regard getting Saddam Hussein out of power and into a court as a positive thing, and the war as a very negative means of doing it.

    If the writer believes that Saddam could have been toppled without a war I can only say I disagree.

    How many people believed the communists in Russia would never give up power without a war? How many people believed the “whites” in South Africa would never end the racist regime without a war? How many people believed the British would never give up their colonial empire in India without violence. They all got it wrong. You can never prove that a non-violent approach could not have topples Saddam, at least in part because you never tried it.

    The writer doesn’t like the phrase, “axis of evil,”… I think it is an accurate description of the regimes of the Mullahs, Saddam and Kim Jong-il and I think it is important that any President should characterize such villains accurately….

    The phrase “axis of evil” contains so many distortions, at so many levels, that I have to work hard to count them. For one thing, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea would hardly have counted as an analog to the “Axis” of World War II; the historical “Axis Powers” all now belong to the G8, where George Bush’s “axis of evil” consisted of two of the most marginal nations on Earth, and a third well back in the pack.

    The real axis had a real military alliance; Bush’s “axis” consisted of two sworn enemies, and a third country that occasionally sold missile technology to one of them.

    Then the word “evil” here had some problems. Iraq’s government: evil, as the Kurds can tell. North Korea? I’d call North Korea’s government not guilty by reason of insanity. But at the time George Bush read that speech, Iran had a relatively moderate government, one willing to address American concerns. Claiming that the Iran of that time belonged in a list of the top three “evil” governments on Earth simply ignored the facts.

    Iran’s government did not constitute a greater “evil” than that of Sudan, which has probably practised slavery as well as genocide in Darfur. If “evil” means murder of innocents, far worse evil went on in Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Uganda. If “evil” meant a potential strategic threat to the United States (an abuse of language), then Pakistan, a military dictatorship, serial proliferator, and early sponsor of the Taliban, fits the label better than Iran.

    Heads of state have to utter untruths all the time, but they should not utter silly untruths. If politicians get so enamored over a turn of phrase that they both utter untruths and alienate potential allies, they should think twice.

    Oh, I think we may have a couple of options left.

    I don’t know that you (or the Israeli government) have effective options. If the United States or Israel had a workable plan for attacking the Iranian nuclear program, it would have made sense for you (or them) to execute that plan before John McCain went into an election against Barack Obama. Since your government hasn’t attacked Iran by now, the possibility exists that you may not have an effective way to do it. In the long run, in any case, you have to accept the reality that governments you seriously dislike will obtain the ability to build nuclear weapons. This reality will have, it has to have, a profound effect on your strategic policies. You can either accept the reality that your options to dictate to other countries using military force has to diminish, or you can stop playing the role of King Canute.

    But as soon as the above mentioned “reform movement” showed its face and started agitating it was immediately brutally suppressed by the Mullahs.

    The reform movement lasted six years.

    Although the Republicans called the shots for about half that time, they seem to account for considerably more than half the rise. So I’ll give the writer some points in that the Republicans have been lousy on the economic front. But the responsibility for this lies squarely on Congress, both morally and constitutionally, not with the various Presidents.

    Let’s put that in perspective. Those debts represent deferred taxes, which you and your compatriots will eventually have to pay. So it makes sense for the voters to elect a president and congress with proposals that will reduce the debt. In my judgment, that means, first and foremost, endorsing the pay as you go principle.

  76. grackle Says:

    I regard getting Saddam Hussein out of power and into a court as a positive thing, and the war as a very negative means of doing it.

    I have to assume from the sentence above that the writer would have followed a particular path favored by other anti-war folks. It is the way of knowing of the vile nature of a problem, a problem that was cleverly and ruthlessly thriving in it’s evilness, yet doing nothing about it except for diplomacy, which was ineffective for 13 years in the case of Saddam. We will call this path The Way of Carter.

    How many people believed the communists in Russia would never give up power without a war?

    I’m puzzled. The writer implies in the above sentence that authorities in the US called for war against the Soviets yet I can find no example of such from past American leaders. Maybe he means the US intelligence agencies, who were totally ignorant of the fall of the Soviets, who have made laughably incorrect estimates of the progress of every nuclear development by every nation that has ever gone nuclear. Maybe the writer believes THEY were calling for war with the Soviets behind the scenes.

    These incompetents could conceivably have called for plunging the US into Mutually Assured Destruction and a world-wide war but no one else in authority in the US ever did so. Thankfully, neither did the Russian leaders. It must have been thought by the Soviets and the US leaders of that period before the Soviet breakup that the certainty of Mutually Assured Destruction(MAD) made war between the 2 nations unthinkable. But one thing we know for sure: If early on, before the Soviets had nuked up, the writer had been in charge and been given a chance to topple the Soviets, he, following the Way of Carter, would have done nothing.

    How many people believed the “whites” in South Africa would never end the racist regime without a war?

    Here again, I can find no example of any US leaders calling for war with South Africa. This is not surprising since the South Africans seem never to have pulled the shenanigans that Saddam was fond of and were never repulsed by the US after attempting to take over a neighboring nation that was an important ally of the US. The writer asks, “how many people believed.” The answer seems to be … none at all.

    How many people believed the British would never give up their colonial empire in India without violence. They all got it wrong. You can never prove that a non-violent approach could not have toppled Saddam, at least in part because you never tried it.

    I may never be able prove that a diplomatic approach would not have toppled Saddam but I can observe that such an approach was doggedly attempted for 13 long years without success. As for the British, a nation with by and large humane leaders who have not been hostile toward the US for centuries, they decided to give up their empire instead of murdering the anti-colonialists in India and elsewhere. I wonder what would have happened if Saddam had been the dictator of Great Britain during that period of unrest. Surely he would have murdered Gandhi and all of Gandhi’s followers – as he did every opposition movement that ever confronted him. It seems to be an implied dictum of all the history that I’ve read: The more humane the leader the more chance that change can be resolved by non-violent means. But Saddam could not be described, even by the writer, as in any way humane.

    The phrase “axis of evil” contains so many distortions, at so many levels, that I have to work hard to count them. For one thing, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea would hardly have counted as an analog to the “Axis” of World War II; the historical “Axis Powers” all now belong to the G8, where George Bush’s “axis of evil” consisted of two of the most marginal nations on Earth, and a third well back in the pack.

    Yes, the Axis powers of WW2 are now non-hostile allies. But it took war and the toppling of all their leaders to make them ‘see the light,’ did it not? And Roosevelt and Truman minced no words in describing those various nefarious leaders, bless their hearts. It is perhaps lucky for the world that the WW2 period came well before the era of Political Correctness. It seems to me this example of the writer only reinforces my argument.

    The real axis had a real military alliance; Bush’s “axis” consisted of two sworn enemies, and a third country that occasionally sold missile technology to one of them.

    Does the Japanese making war with England and America against Germany during WW1 count as “sworn”? If it does, then 2 “sworn” enemies a few years later united solidly against the US and its allies. It helps to read history when debating these issues.

    Then the word “evil” here had some problems. Iraq’s government: evil, as the Kurds can tell. North Korea? I’d call North Korea’s government not guilty by reason of insanity. But at the time George Bush read that speech, Iran had a relatively moderate government, one willing to address American concerns. Claiming that the Iran of that time belonged in a list of the top three “evil” governments on Earth simply ignored the facts. Iran’s government did not constitute a greater “evil” than that of Sudan, which has probably practiced slavery as well as genocide in Darfur. If “evil” means murder of innocents, far worse evil went on in Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Uganda. If “evil” meant a potential strategic threat to the United States (an abuse of language), then Pakistan, a military dictatorship, serial proliferator, and early sponsor of the Taliban, fits the label better than Iran.

    In the courts of the US insanity is a defense against crimes, even including murder. But such verdicts only affect individuals, not entire nations, and therefore can be acceptable to a humane society. But to stand by without comment while hostile despots do great global harm seems to me to be poor leadership – more Way of Carter thinking. May American leaders continue calling things what they are.

    The writer chooses to call the Mullahs in Iran a “relatively moderate government” because he believes the Iranians have not murdered as many of its own citizens or practiced slavery as has Sudan and the other examples he has listed. While I am sure that Sudan and the other examples cited are “evil” I don’t believe they have ever risen to the level of threat to the US as have Iran, Iraq and North Korea. And none of them are currently developing or distributing nukes as far as we know. The phrase, “axis of evil” has to do with war-like behavior and intentions toward America than it has to do with the fate of the hapless citizens struggling under the regimes of the various examples cited by the writer. Perhaps he will approve of Bush’s “axis of evil” phrase now that this distinction has been pointed out to him.

    Which brings us to Pakistan, an uneasy ally at best. Russia was also an uneasy ally during WW2 yet Roosevelt, it is agreed by most historians, was correct in allowing the alliance, otherwise WW2 might have been lost by the Allies. Expediency dictates much of what a wartime leader must do.

    At this time Pakistan allows the US to use Pakistan staging areas to get troops and supplies into the Afghan and Iraq theaters. Pakistan also sees fit to kill a few terrorists from time to time. And Pakistan has given the US intelligence that has allowed the US to organize bombing strikes and kill some terrorist leaders hiding inside Pakistan. With these factors in mind I am compelled to relegate Pakistan as only a bit evil and not enough of a threat to the US as to elevate them into the “axis” at this time.

    Heads of state have to utter untruths all the time, but they should not utter silly untruths. If politicians get so enamored over a turn of phrase that they both utter untruths and alienate potential allies, they should think twice.

    The writer calls Bush’s “axis of evil” phrase an untruth. I call it accurate and fitting and applaud Bush for uttering it.

    grackle: Oh, I think we may have a couple of options left.

    I don’t know that you (or the Israeli government) have effective options. If the United States or Israel had a workable plan for attacking the Iranian nuclear program, it would have made sense for you (or them) to execute that plan before John McCain went into an election against Barack Obama. Since your government hasn’t attacked Iran by now, the possibility exists that you may not have an effective way to do it. In the long run, in any case, you have to accept the reality that governments you seriously dislike will obtain the ability to build nuclear weapons. This reality will have, it has to have, a profound effect on your strategic policies. You can either accept the reality that your options to dictate to other countries using military force has to diminish, or you can stop playing the role of King Canute.

    Yes indeed, I am very much afraid that at some time in the future the US may choose to stand aside while governments that are “seriously” disliked obtain WMD. I can easily see an Obama run administration with a Pelosi-led Congress doing just that. They seem determined to adhere to the Way of Carter. That’s why I will not vote for them in November.

    The reform movement[in Iran] lasted six years.

    Six years or sixty years, however long the Iranian reform movement has lasted, the writer cannot escaped the simple fact that the reform movement is still brutally suppressed by the Mullahs at this time.

    Let’s put that in perspective. Those debts[incurred mostly by Republican-controlled Congresses] represent deferred taxes, which you and your compatriots will eventually have to pay. So it makes sense for the voters to elect a president and congress with proposals that will reduce the debt. In my judgment, that means, first and foremost, endorsing the pay as you go principle.

    Yes, it DOES make sense to “elect a president and congress with proposals that will reduce the debt.” Well, Congress anyway, because Congress holds the purse strings, not the President, since the President of the US spends only what Congress approves, as outlined in the very first article of the Constitution. From this opinion I surmise that the writer believes that Pelosi and company will reduce the debt. Well, they haven’t so far – indeed, according to the Treasury charts I peruse they’ve only added to the debt.

    As for “perspective,” unlike the writer I believe the War on Terror to be far more important than debt. Terrorism, an existential threat, could destroy the US economy altogether – just one nuke going off in New York City or an EMP weapon detonated off any coast of the US could do the US economy more harm than any imaginable national debt. But that is very much the attitude of the anti-war folks – to be franticly worried about the deck chairs instead of the sinking ship.

  77. John Spragge Says:

    It is the way of knowing of the vile nature of a problem, a problem that was cleverly and ruthlessly thriving in it’s evilness, yet doing nothing about it except for diplomacy, which was ineffective for 13 years in the case of Saddam. We will call this path The Way of Carter.

    As opposed to the way of Bush, which has led to an ongoing war for five years now, the deaths of between half a million and two million people, the displacement of four million people, the destruction of culture, history, and memory, and the fanning of intolerance and hate. Calling Saddam’s rule “evil” only makes sense if you also accept that worse evils can happen, and the attempt to displace Saddam Hussien by force has certainly led to terrible evils. Or do you consider the deaths of over 4000 of the best of Young Americans a “good”? Do you consider the deaths of at least half a million Iraqis a good? Do you consider the displacement and immiseration of four million people, an explosion of savage religious intolerance, good things?

    If not, can you really point me to some evidence that Saddam Hussien had a realistic chance of inflicting as much misery and harm as the war did, even if he had succeeded in remaining in office for the last five years?

    he South Africans seem never to have pulled the shenanigans that Saddam was fond of and were never repulsed by the US after attempting to take over a neighboring nation that was an important ally of the US.

    Read some history. For many years, the aparheid regime in South Africa maintained an illegal occupation of Namibia, their neighbour to the East; they also supported a terrorist movement aimed at the people of Mozambique.

    It seems to be an implied dictum of all the history that I’ve read: The more humane the leader the more chance that change can be resolved by non-violent means.

    Reading the history of the British in Tasmania or of the murderous terror campaigns the South African Apartheid regime waged hardly brings to mind the word “humane”. The Soviet Regime had one of the worst human rights records in history, and it went down non-violently. In fact, the Danes, who resisted the German occupation non-violently in World War II, succeeded in saving virtually their whole Jewish population; the only occupied nation in Europe to do so.

    Non-violence has a potential for changing minds and hearts that killing does not. Non-violent resistance has succeeded in the face of governments with a record of brutality equal to or exceeding that of Saddam Hussein.

    However you insist that the use of non-violence to remove Saddam Hussein would not have worked, the use of violence to depose him has quite clearly not led to the development of a democratic government allied to the United States.

    Yes, the Axis powers of WW2 are now non-hostile allies.

    Irrelevant to my point. The Axis of World War II consisted of three great industrial powers, an exponentially greater threat to the peace than three impoverished and exhausted nations barely capable (between the three of them) of designing a single rickety weapons system. The implied comparison between the “axis of evil” and the military alliance that faced FDR and Churchill goes beyond risible.

    Does the Japanese making war with England and America against Germany during WW1 count as “sworn”? If it does, then 2 “sworn” enemies a few years later united solidly against the US and its allies.

    That really the best you can do? The Japanese, Italians and Germans had long since put aside their differences of the previous war, and joined in the Tripartate Pact of 1940. Perhaps you could direct me to a copy of the formal military alliance between Iran, Iraq and North Korea? The US must surely have obtained copies of the text when they seized the state archives in Baghdad. Perhaps you could supply a link; neither I nor the contributors to Wikipedia have had much luck finding it.

    …Mullahs in Iran a “relatively moderate government”…

    At the time, a relatively moderate government, under Mohammed Khatami did control the Iranian Maljis (Parliament). These reformers made repeated requests to the United States for talks on outstanding issues between Iran and the United States.

    To put this in simple terms, if you have one enemy, and someone else whom you have had a conflict with in the past approaches you to make up, it makes sense to talk to them, instead of immediately adding them to your list of enemies.

    While I am sure that Sudan and the other examples cited are “evil” I don’t believe they have ever risen to the level of threat to the US as have Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

    To call a nation “evil” because it might conceivably present a threat to you, while at the same time condoning or ignoring another nation that quite probably practices slavery and genocide debases the language, as well as undermining any claim to morality you have.

    If George Bush wanted to talk about strategic threats to the United States, those words exist in the English language (the language I assume Mr. Bush generally uses), and he should have used them in this case. The word “evil” simply abused the language, and in using it, Bush stated a demonstrable untruth.

    And none of them are currently developing or distributing nukes as far as we know.

    Let me remind you that in 2003, Iraq had no remotely viable nuclear weapons program, and no credible plans or resources for reconstructing one. The Iranian government (before and just after the invasion of Iraq) repeatedly offered to negotiate an end to their nuclear weapons program.

    Perhaps he will approve of Bush’s “axis of evil” phrase now…

    You’ve made no argument that could even remotely make me change my mind. Until you stop rolling every Iranian government since 1979 into the catch-all phrase “the Mullahs” and address the evolution of Iranian government and strategic policy since the year 2000, you will not even have begun to address my points about the potential for non-violent reform in Iran. Until you address the sorry reality that the Bush Administration talking points about the Iraqi weapons programs pre-invasion amounted to a tissue of lies, talking about the so-called “axis of evil” as a nuclear weapon threat will contain a basic contradiction.

    …I am very much afraid that at some time in the future the US may choose to stand aside while governments that are “seriously” disliked obtain WMD.

    You persist in assuming that you have a choice. Nuclear weapons can inflict harm out of any proportion to the stakes in any military conflict. That means that anyone possessing it can in practice restrain any adversary, which makes it impossible to obtain a complete victory over a nation with a nuclear option. Every nation and government that feels threatened has a strong incentive to obtain at least the ability to construct a nuclear weapon.

    This means that the role of military power has to diminish, whether we end up with a world purged of nuclear (and most other) weapons, or a world in which most nations have, or can make, a nuclear weapon. Only an omnipotent power could avoid such an outcome, and George Bush and his successors fall well short of omnipotence.

    …the reform movement is still brutally suppressed by the Mullahs at this time.

    The Iranian reform movement has not yet succeeded. Neither have any of the efforts the Bush Administration has made to stop Iranian nuclear development. One difference: the Bush administration arguably squandered the opportunities the Iranian reform movement presented by refusing to talk to them, and by labelling their country part of an “Axis of evil”. By contrast, I know of no efforts in the US Congress to thwart any reasonable and effective measures to discourage the Iranian nuclear program.

    In fact, a double standard exists here at a number of levels; the current administration gets credit for the success of the surge, even though the refugees have not returned home, political reconciliation remains far away, and the militias of the political parties continue to clash. Where success would bolster the position of the Bush administration, success has come, or virtually come, or will come (delayed only by the intransigence of the Left). Where the Bush Administration demonstrably forfeited an opportunity through their own blunders, success never existed as a possibility.

    I believe the War on Terror to be far more important than debt.

    Then agree to taxes to pay the cost. Winston Churchill told the British: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat,” and the British people bled, toiled, wept and sweated for five long and incredibly hard years to complete victory. George Bush told the American people to take the big tax cut he gave them and go shop ’til they dropped. Americans shopped, and with debt levels steadily rising, you may just end up dropping. Almost seven years after 9/11, you have yet to achieve, in a decisive and certain manner, any of your goals. Iraq remains an economic basket case riven by violence; the Taliban continue to operate in Khandahar and Pehawar, Iran has reached the cusp of nuclear status.

    If you call the last seven and a half years a success, I would hate to see your idea of a failure.

  78. grackle Says:

    grackle: It is the way of knowing of the vile nature of a problem, a problem that was cleverly and ruthlessly thriving in it’s evilness, yet doing nothing about it except for diplomacy, which was ineffective for 13 years in the case of Saddam. We will call this path The Way of Carter.

    As opposed to the way of Bush, which has led to an ongoing war for five years now, the deaths of between half a million and two million people, the displacement of four million people, the destruction of culture, history, and memory, and the fanning of intolerance and hate.

    Is the writer asserting that the Coalition Forces have killed millions of Iraqi civilians? The accounts I read claim much fewer than that have died at the hands of US soldiers, as in thousands, never millions. Are these “millions” the writer refers to invasion deaths or post-invasion deaths? Who does the writer believe killed these “millions”?

    It sounds to me that the writer is a pacifist. Pacifists eschew all war, as he does. I can’t see how the US is “fanning” “intolerance and hate.” Perhaps the writer can give examples of this “fanning.” I must ask the writer to be a bit more specific in his litanies. It’s difficult to know how to respond to such banal generalities.

    Calling Saddam’s rule “evil” only makes sense if you also accept that worse evils can happen, …

    Oh but I DO accept a worse evil would have happened had Saddam remained in power. A feckless and hostile UN, after they tired of being his co-embezzlers, would have let Saddam do as he pleased, would never have even attempted to force him to live up to any of the post-Kuwait agreements he persisted in violating. He would have gained in prestige and power as time went by, just as Hitler did.

    Instead the US stands to add new democratic allies in the heart of an area formerly ruled mainly by despots, some of whom are aggressively hostile.

    … and the attempt to displace Saddam Hussein by force has certainly led to terrible evils. Or do you consider the deaths of over 4000 of the best of Young Americans a “good”?

    No, of course I do not consider the death of US soldiers a “good.” Does the writer consider the deaths of US soldiers in WW2 an “evil”? If the writer does then no doubt he would have stood by while the Axis powers prevailed.

    Do you consider the deaths of at least half a million Iraqis a good?

    No, of course I do not consider the deaths of the Iraqis a “good.” In fact I am thankful that our military has done everything possible to spare civilians in this war, even no doubt at the cost of loosing some of our own soldiers in the process.

    Do you consider the displacement and immiseration of four million people, an explosion of savage religious intolerance, good things?

    No. Neither do I consider the refugees of WW2 as “good” but at the same time I’m glad the Allies were victorious in that war.

    Judging from the writers mention of the “explosion of savage religious intolerance” the writer seems to hold the US responsible for the religious intolerance that exists in these societies. I sincerely wish the societies in question were religiously tolerant of their various religious factions, but alas, they seem not to be. Why the writer blames Bush for that intolerance is a real puzzler.

    If not, can you really point me to some evidence that Saddam Hussein had a realistic chance of inflicting as much misery and harm as the war did, even if he had succeeded in remaining in office for the last five years?

    To understand the fallacy inherent in the above statement all the readers have to do is pose a similar question in their minds: Did Hitler have a realistic chance of inflicting as much misery and harm as opposing him did? If the Allies had let Hitler alone to do as he pleased wouldn’t such an acquiescence have resulted in fewer WW2 deaths? For the writer it all seems extremely simple: No war = no deaths.

    We must all ask ourselves: Does the writer believe WW2 was futile and not worth fighting because to do so would and did incur high casualties? Much higher than toppling Saddam will prove to have, I’ll bet. Fifty thousand US soldiers died in one day in the Pacific, with similar casualties for the Japanese. Finally, I disagree with the premise of the question, which seems to be that wars should never be fought because of the inevitability of casualties that would result.

    grackle: The South Africans seem never to have pulled the shenanigans that Saddam was fond of and were never repulsed by the US after attempting to take over a neighboring nation that was an important ally of the US.

    Read some history. For many years, the apartheid regime in South Africa maintained an illegal occupation of Namibia, their neighbour to the East; they also supported a terrorist movement aimed at the people of Mozambique.

    I hate to point out distinctions just as the writer seems to be on a roll, but Namibia and Mozambique were not important allies of the US, that is if I read my history correctly.

    Speaking of history here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Border War between South Africa and Namibia:

    In the mid-1960s, a number of SWAPO bases had been established in neighbouring Zambia. SWAPO’s insurgents began an incursion into SWA in September 1965 and again in March 1966, but it was not until 26 August 1966 that the first major clash of the conflict took place, when a unit of the South African Police (SAP) — supported by South African Air Force (SAAF) helicopters — exchanged fire with SWAPO forces. This date is generally regarded as the start of what became known in South Africa as the “Border War”.

    It seems that Namibian paramilitary forces(SWAPO) wanted to use Zambia as a headquarters from which to strike into South Africa. Sort of like the terrorists use the inaccessible mountainous regions in Pakistan these days from which to launch strikes against Afghanistan. The South Africans didn’t think it was a very nice thing for Zambia to do so South Africa went after the SWAPO paramilitary inside Zambia that were being allowed to use the Zambian border as a shield. What all this has to do with the present Iraq war is murky but I guess the writer is saying that since the US ‘let’ the South Africans invade Zambia that the US should have allowed Saddam to take over Kuwait. In other words, the US had no right to depose Saddam because years earlier the US did not act to prevent or intervene in a conflict in the African hinterlands. It seems a stretch to me, to conflate the two.

    grackle: It seems to be an implied dictum of all the history that I’ve read: The more humane the leader the more chance that change can be resolved by non-violent means.

    Reading the history of the British in Tasmania or of the murderous terror campaigns the South African Apartheid regime waged hardly brings to mind the word “humane”. The Soviet Regime had one of the worst human rights records in history, and it went down non-violently. In fact, the Danes, who resisted the German occupation non-violently in World War II, succeeded in saving virtually their whole Jewish population; the only occupied nation in Europe to do so.

    Naw. If Saddam has been in charge of Great Britain my guess is that Gandhi would have been murdered by him right off the bat. As guilty as the British were of exploitive colonialism, after the 1860′s on up to the time of Gandhi, they were rank amateurs in brutality compared to Saddam, who tortured and murdered on a regular basis – we’ll never know the exact number. And I hate to be a spoilsport but I’m wondering what would have happened to Denmark, the Danes and the harbored Jews if Hitler had remained militarily unopposed and was allowed to take over Europe? Does the writer care to venture a guess?

    Non-violence has a potential for changing minds and hearts that killing does not. Non-violent resistance has succeeded in the face of governments with a record of brutality equal to or exceeding that of Saddam Hussein.

    Colonialism is part of the history of just about all the important nations that have existed in history, certainly all of the powerful Europeans, such as the Germans, the French, the Spanish, the Dutch, etc. The British were no more brutal or violent than the rest. The suppression of the Indian Rebellion of 1857-58 would be the British’s main claim to fame for brutality. The memory of the last atrocity they committed in India, the Amritsar massacre of 1919, almost a hundred years later still sends the British into pangs of conscience. The British were so mild in India by the time of the independence movement that Gandhi’s life was never even threatened by them. Non-violence worked to get the British out of India because the British had come to have no taste for violence. Does the writer believe Saddam had no taste for violence? Would he classify the Mullahs of Iran as non-violent? Or the Taliban?

    However you insist that the use of non-violence to remove Saddam Hussein would not have worked, the use of violence to depose him has quite clearly not led to the development of a democratic government allied to the United States.

    Does the writer really believe that there is no “democratic government” in Iraq? Wikipedia says Iraq is governed by an Islamic, democratic, federal parliamentary republic. Wiki can usually be trusted on basic facts. And the government of Iraq is most certainly “allied” with the government of the US. Does the writer think Talabani, al-Maliki, the National Assembly and the rest are hostile to the US? Where does the writer get these notions?

    grackle: Yes, the Axis powers of WW2 are now non-hostile allies.

    Irrelevant to my point. The Axis of World War II consisted of three great industrial powers, an exponentially greater threat to the peace than three impoverished and exhausted nations barely capable (between the three of them) of designing a single rickety weapons system. The implied comparison between the “axis of evil” and the military alliance that faced FDR and Churchill goes beyond risible.

    Awhile back in the debate the writer declared his dislike of Bush’s labeling Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the “axis of evil,” he said because “the historical Axis Powers all now belong to the G8.” He went on to say, “The real axis had a real military alliance; Bush’s axis consisted of two sworn enemies, and a third country that occasionally sold missile technology to one of them.” The implication(the writer rarely says things directly) is clear that the writer believed “two sworn enemies” were ridiculously incapable of simultaneous hostilities toward the US and thus should not have been mentioned together in Bush’s “axis of evil” phrase. I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned any “military alliance” between Iraq and Iran yet the writer hastens to assure us that no such alliance existed, a fact I believe most of us already knew.

    I then provided the historical example of WW1 and WW2 in regards to Japan and Germany, who were “sworn enemies” in one and allies against the US a few years later in the other. But he maintains my example is “irrelevant” to his “point.” I also offered the observation that those former enemies that now belong to the G8, in other words, that are now allied with the US, required the rough coaxing of WW2 to make them allies – just as we do now in Iraq and Afghanistan. And this too he considers “irrelevant.”

    It is also evident that the writer mistakenly believes that relatively low tech weapons are no threat to the US, derisively describing their joint destructive resources available to the two nations as “a single rickety weapons system.” I must here remind the writer that the 9/11 atrocity was not committed with a weapons system.

    The threat to the US is not that Iran might develop a sleek, complicated missile system with the goal of nuking the US from afar. All Iran has to do is develop one nuclear device and give it to just one of the various terrorist organizations that Iran is in the habit of using. The terrorists will do the rest.

    grackle: Does the Japanese making war with England and America against Germany during WW1 count as “sworn”? If it does, then 2 “sworn” enemies a few years later united solidly against the US and its allies.

    That really the best you can do? The Japanese, Italians and Germans had long since put aside their differences of the previous war, and joined in the Tripartate Pact of 1940. Perhaps you could direct me to a copy of the formal military alliance between Iran, Iraq and North Korea? The US must surely have obtained copies of the text when they seized the state archives in Baghdad. Perhaps you could supply a link; neither I nor the contributors to Wikipedia have had much luck finding it.

    Again, I remind the readers and the writer that I have not claimed that any “formal military alliance” ever existed between Iraq and Iran.

    …Mullahs in Iran a “relatively moderate government”…

    At the time, a relatively moderate government, under Mohammed Khatami did control the Iranian Maljis (Parliament). These reformers made repeated requests to the United States for talks on outstanding issues between Iran and the United States.

    I remember Khatami’s term in office and at the time I had a small hope that he might want to go against the Mullahs and stop the madness. That hope never materialized. Here I must inform the writer that since the days of the Shah the real power in Iran is the Supreme Leader of Iran, now the Grand Ayatollah, Ali Khamenei. This person is the only person who could conceivably enact reforms. All the rest of the political apparatus, the sycophantic Guardian Council, the phony elections, the President, etc., seem to be mere window dressing.

    To put this in simple terms, if you have one enemy, and someone else whom you have had a conflict with in the past approaches you to make up, it makes sense to talk to them, instead of immediately adding them to your list of enemies.

    I don’t think the US should have formal high level talks with a nation that sponsors terrorism and is trying to develop nukes, all the while referring to the impending doom of our ally, Israel, and the US, and causing deadly mischief to our soldiers in Iran. The time for talk is long past unless Iran should happen to abstain from the above behavior for a significant period of time – which would signal to the world that the Mullahs were ready to join the civilized nations of the world.

    grackle: While I am sure that Sudan and the other examples cited are “evil” I don’t believe they have ever risen to the level of threat to the US as have Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

    To call a nation “evil” because it might conceivably present a threat to you, while at the same time condoning or ignoring another nation that quite probably practices slavery and genocide debases the language, as well as undermining any claim to morality you have.

    Strangely enough I don’t remember “condoning” any nation for the practice of “slavery and genocide.” Perhaps the writer could provide a quote from my comments. I will readily admit it don’t think it’s stretching credibility for Bush to have characterized blackguards such as Iran, Saddam’s Iraq and North Korea as “evil.” No, I don’t ignore the misadventures of backwater countries like Sudan. On the contrary I deplore them. But their interior atrocities represent no immediate threat to the US and I am leery of putting US soldiers at risk for the sake of nothing more than the writer’s exquisite sense of morality. Does the writer remember Mogadishu?

    If George Bush wanted to talk about strategic threats to the United States, those words exist in the English language (the language I assume Mr. Bush generally uses), and he should have used them in this case. The word “evil” simply abused the language, and in using it, Bush stated a demonstrable untruth.

    Perhaps the writer will eventually explain how sponsoring terrorism, developing nukes while threatening Israel and the US non-stop since the embassy takeover in ’79, invading Kuwait, defying post-war agreements and selling nuclear technology to terror-sponsoring hostile nations is moral and not “evil.” Does the writer think such behavior is “a good”?

    grackle: And none of them are currently developing or distributing nukes as far as we know.

    Let me remind you that in 2003, Iraq had no remotely viable nuclear weapons program, and no credible plans or resources for reconstructing one. The Iranian government (before and just after the invasion of Iraq) repeatedly offered to negotiate an end to their nuclear weapons program.

    In regards to “developing or distributing nukes,” surely the writer knows that I was referring to Iran and North Korea, not Iraq. If he doesn’t then he needs to review my comments again.

    grackle: Perhaps he will approve of Bush’s “axis of evil” phrase now…

    You’ve made no argument that could even remotely make me change my mind. Until you stop rolling every Iranian government since 1979 into the catch-all phrase “the Mullahs” and address the evolution of Iranian government and strategic policy since the year 2000, you will not even have begun to address my points about the potential for non-violent reform in Iran. Until you address the sorry reality that the Bush Administration talking points about the Iraqi weapons programs pre-invasion amounted to a tissue of lies, talking about the so-called “axis of evil” as a nuclear weapon threat will contain a basic contradiction.

    Here the writer becomes a little cagey. He doesn’t claim that Bush lied, like some do, that is until they are challenged to link to a Bush lie; no, he overcomes that obstacle by claiming that what Bush has said has “amounted” to lies. And he does this without any specific examples to offer us. That’s a bit like claiming a jackass “amounts” to a giraffe.

    Furthermore, I challenge the writer to point out to us just when in Iran’s history since the rule of the Shah that the Mullah’s have NOT ruled Iran. As far as I can tell the Mullahs have called the shots for Iran without a recess since the embassy takeover.

    grackle: …I am very much afraid that at some time in the future the US may choose to stand aside while governments that are “seriously” disliked obtain WMD.

    You persist in assuming that you have a choice. Nuclear weapons can inflict harm out of any proportion to the stakes in any military conflict. That means that anyone possessing it can in practice restrain any adversary, which makes it impossible to obtain a complete victory over a nation with a nuclear option. Every nation and government that feels threatened has a strong incentive to obtain at least the ability to construct a nuclear weapon.

    The writer misunderstands my viewpoint. It is my opinion that Iran should be stopped BEFORE they develop nukes.

    This means that the role of military power has to diminish, whether we end up with a world purged of nuclear (and most other) weapons, or a world in which most nations have, or can make, a nuclear weapon. Only an omnipotent power could avoid such an outcome, and George Bush and his successors fall well short of omnipotence.

    The writer believes the way to limit the nukes and the probable harm caused by having nukes available to rogue nations is to(hold on to your hats) “diminish” our military. I’m sure the Mullahs would love it if this guy was the US President! It’s all part of his theory of the impotence of ever limiting nukes to responsible and civilized nations and the absolute futility of even trying to do so. Me? I say we give it the old college try, just to be able to say we at least tried.

    grackle: …the reform movement is still brutally suppressed by the Mullahs at this time.

    The Iranian reform movement has not yet succeeded. Neither have any of the efforts the Bush Administration has made to stop Iranian nuclear development. One difference: the Bush administration arguably squandered the opportunities the Iranian reform movement presented by refusing to talk to them, and by labeling their country part of an “Axis of evil”. By contrast, I know of no efforts in the US Congress to thwart any reasonable and effective measures to discourage the Iranian nuclear program.

    Is it my imagination or does the writer seem almost gleeful at the prospect of a nuked up Iran? And especially happy and satisfied in his belief that the US can do nothing about it? Eerie. And we can’t very well talk to the reformists in hiding in Iran if for nothing else than the simple reasons that we probably don’t know where they are hiding or exactly who they are. And wouldn’t true reformers in Iraq understand why their nation’s constant sponsoring of terrorism and constant threats against the US and Israel might be considered “evil” and therefore NOT be very offended by Bush’s “axis of evil” phrase? It seems to me that the writer himself is the offended party, not the reformers that may be hiding in Iran.

    In fact, a double standard exists here at a number of levels; the current administration gets credit for the success of the surge, even though the refugees have not returned home, political reconciliation remains far away, and the militias of the political parties continue to clash. Where success would bolster the position of the Bush administration, success has come, or virtually come, or will come (delayed only by the intransigence of the Left). Where the Bush Administration demonstrably forfeited an opportunity through their own blunders, success never existed as a possibility.

    The antiwar folks at first said that the Iraqis were culturally incapable of democratic governance, which in my opinion is a veiled form of racism. Then came the Constitution, and an elected Iranian government that is governing under a democracy.

    Then they said the enemy was unbeatable and that the US military in Iraq would only get bogged down in a “quagmire.” Then came General Petraeus and the Surge. Petraeus’s success must really, really irritate them.

    Somewhere along the time-line they claimed that the Iraqi government would NEVER be able to meet a list of “benchmarks” that they dreamed up. But when the benchmarks started being met they dropped this tact immediately.

    Even after all this the writer has the temerity to decry “double standards.” Amazing.

    The writer claims that the reason Iran is intractable and deadly in its perfidy is because Bush did not encourage reformers who were walking around and operating in the midst of the Mullahs. He cites a past President of Iran, an office that seems to be a figurehead position with no real power, Khatami, as someone who was a reformer. As far as I can tell Khatami enacted no reforms in Iran that would change the Mullah’s stranglehold on Iran’s society, or change the Mullah’s sponsorship of terrorism, or stop Iran’s nuclear development. They have never ceased their threatening of Israel, the US, or their steady development toward nukes. Perhaps if Khatami had shown that he could change these things Bush would have talked to him but Mr. Khatami surfaced and faded away with nary a reform.

    grackle: I believe the War on Terror to be far more important than debt.

    Then agree to taxes to pay the cost. Winston Churchill told the British: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat,” and the British people bled, toiled, wept and sweated for five long and incredibly hard years to complete victory. George Bush told the American people to take the big tax cut he gave them and go shop ’til they dropped. Americans shopped, and with debt levels steadily rising, you may just end up dropping. Almost seven years after 9/11, you have yet to achieve, in a decisive and certain manner, any of your goals. Iraq remains an economic basket case riven by violence; the Taliban continue to operate in Khandahar and Pehawar, Iran has reached the cusp of nuclear status.

    The writer bemoans, or delights, take your pick, in what he terms Bush’s failure to achieve “goals.” Offhand, I would say that Saddam’s deposal to be at least one goal that was met. Free and fair democratic elections have taken place in Iraq. Is that a goal that was not met? The Afghans are no longer run by the murderous Taliban. In its place is a democratic government friendly toward the US. Does that count as a “goal” in the writer’s mind? The US now enjoys the friendship of two nations in the heart of an area formerly populated only by murderous knaves. Is this happy circumstance a thing to ignore or belittle?

    As for the economic arguments, I conceded to the writer already that Congress has failed the nation economically, although for Constitutional reasons and unlike the writer I do not blame the various Presidents that were in office through this long period since 1986 of running up the national debt, since the Congress alone holds the purse strings. The President of the US can’t spend any money not approved by Congress.

    If you call the last seven and a half years a success, I would hate to see your idea of a failure.

    What I call the last 7 1/2 years is a beginning; a beginning that I hope future US Presidents will continue.

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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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