February 08, 2004

We Are Not Doomed (Updated)

Nelson Ascher posted a remarkably gloomy mini essay on Europundits. He basically says we are doomed.

It is absolutely, I repeat, ASOLUTELY unbelievable, but the enemies of the war are winning the peace or rather are managing to reverse a brilliant military victory. What took them years to do in Vietnam, they're doing right now in a matter of months. Iraq was defeated in weeks, the axis of weasels was demoralized, Saddam was captured and, even before that, his sons were killed. Yet, the guys whose jobs are in jeopardy are Bush and Blair.
I support the Bush and Blair foreign policy to the hilt. But still I have to sayÖtheir jobs must be in jeopardy. We havenít had an election since September 11, and it is right and proper that their record so far be subject to referendum.

If they both get kicked out of office over the national security question, then I will be shocked and agree it is unbelievable. As it is, we still donít even know who will run against Bush. (Iím leaving Blair out of this discussion from here on out because Iím a little too fuzzy about how this is going to play out in Britain.)

The likely Democratic nominee looks like John Kerry today, and he is alarmingly wishy-washy about the greatest question of our time. But heís still in a primary race which drives American politicians toward the margins. The good news is that the farthest left John Kerry will go is only a half-hearted opposition to the liberation of Iraq. He did vote for the authorization, so even if heís a bit spineless about it, he isnít a peacenik or a reactionary isolationist.

In the meantime Sharon freed hundreds of terrorists [and] declared that he will pull out of Gaza while Arafat, whose tactics and strategy were soundly defeated, runs no risk at all [and] may begin to consider himself a winner of sorts.
Thatís a bit of a bigger problem. But Iíll add that the settlers in Gaza are going to have to pull up their stakes at some point. Itís probably best that they wait until the jihadists are defeated so it doesnít look like a weak Israeli retreat. But do keep in mind that most Israelis donít want to hold onto Gaza. The Israeli advantage is miniscule compared to the diplomatic and security price paid. And nothing, not even Palestinian sovereignty, will stop Israel from plunging back in to stop threats to its people.
All this points to the wiseness of those who, immediately after 9/11, wanted to strike Iraq first.
I couldnít agree more. We waited far too long to take care of Saddam. And for what?
It's hard to remember it now, but in those weeks after the attacks the US had carte blanche to do whatever it wanted: it could have nuked Kaboul, Baghdad, Ryadh, for instance, and nobody would have dared to complain.
Well, I would have complained. Quite loudly in fact. And so would a lot of other people. During the first week after September 11 I greatly feared an American over-reaction. And when I realized the Bush Administration wasnít about to commit an atrocity in the Muslim world, I quickly swung around to a militant hawkish position. If we had committed atrocities, the Bush Administration would be massively, perhaps violently, resisted right here at home.
Instead, possibly convinced by Powell and Blair, Bush opted for a "rational", gradual strategy: Afghanistan first, then the formation of a coalition, then Iraq. We've seen what happened: this gradualism gave the fifth columnists inside the Western camp time to regroup and forge their own, up to now quite, successfull, counterattack.
John Kerry and Howard Dean are not fifth columnists. Leave that designation for the likes of International ANSWER. Kerry and Dean are weaker than Bush and Blair, but they do not hope the enemy wins.

Now is a good time to remind ourselves exactly what a fifth columnist is.

From dictionary.com:

fifth column
n.

A clandestine subversive organization working within a country to further an invading enemy's military and political aims.
Back to Nelson Ascher:
During the run up to the Iraqi campaign I was quite worried: would the US have the nerve to go ahead? It seemed that Bush might well give the whole thing up at any moment. We're in the same situation again: the war on terror seems, outwardly at least, to have stalled. Memories of 911 are as good as dead for most of the world and, as before the invasion of Iraq, the UK is the weak link in a problematic chain. People are saying that Blair's mistake has to do with the 45 minutes claim, and this may well be true, but his much bigger mistake was probably to persuade Bush to postpone the Iraqi campaign in order to get the EU, the UN and who knows who else in the boat. He'll possibly pay for this mistake. The trouble's, however, is that he won't be paying for it alone. Maybe Bush will pay too and, choosing for both England and the US governments unconcerned with the Islamist threat, we'll all end up as losers.
I am very close to being a single-issue national-security voter. But most people are not. If Bush loses the 2004 election it will likely be despite, not because of, his foreign policy. Most Americans support an aggressive response to terror and dictatorship, and a lot of people are troubled with Bushís presidency for domestic reasons. And that includes a large swath of Republicans.

If Bush loses, our enemies will almost certainly see that as a victory, which will be bad, unless the post-primary Democratic opposition matches his hawkishness with their own. But even if a weak-kneed John Kerry moves into the Oval Office, the Democrats will almost certainly grow more hawkish. They will have the burden of responsibility. It could change them as much as it changed the previously isolationist Bush. Mainstream Democrats are not instinctively pacifist. Opposition on the left to Bill Clintonís raids over Serbia was miniscule. Much of the opposition to Bushís foreign policy is pure partisan loathing and gamesmanship which will immediately evaporate if Bush is sent back to Texas. Dean, Kerry, and the rest of them are under a tremendous amount of political pressure to distinguish themselves from Bush. If one of them takes the White House, theyíll have a tremendous amount of pressure of a very different sort.

By the way: do the Islamists know about this? Can it be that their failure to attack Britain or the US itself was no failure at all, but a kind of tactical retreat, a way to allow their fifth columnist allies to weaken each country's defenses from inside before a new huge terrorist onslaught?
Thatís certainly possible. I hadnít thought of it before, and it could well be true. But Al Qaeda isntíthe most sophisticated bunch around, and they seem to have all the restraint of a rabid dog. I imagine they are as likely as Westerners to engage in mirror imaging, the projection of traits from their own culture onto our own. Osama bin Laden thought Americans would think 9/11 was an American military coup, thus showing just how out of touch with our country he is.

Still, these guys arenít stupid, and they very well may be waiting for Bush to leave before they strike us again here at home. But all that will accomplish is a ramp-up in the hawkishness of the Democratic Party, which will leave the jihadists with no viable peace movement to save them.

Are they holding their fire because they expect, in the absence of some new outrage that would re-awake the public opinion, Blair and Bush to fall? If so, they're more dangerous than I've imagined, their alliance with forces inside the Western camp is deeper than I've imagined and, well, we are doomed.
Nelson, Al Qaeda doesnít have an alliance with the Democratic Party. If a Stalinist goon from ANSWER were to run against Bush in the general election, then your fears would be grounded in fact. In the meantime, those on the fringe left who really are in cahoots with jihadists are marginalized. They set the tone at protests and have a corrosive effect on Democratic rhetoric and primary positioning, but so far thatís about it.

The tragedy of the liberals is that too many refuse to denounce the enemies to their left. And they often banish as heretics the moderates who do. The price they pay is that conservatives and some centrists actually fear them. But itís easy to take this too far. The liberal left is much more than the punks in the streets and the cranks at The Nation.

If anybody can prove me that all or most of the above is wrong, I'd be quite grateful to hear about it.
I canít prove it, and I doubt anyone can. If you want to take heart, just remember - you canít prove your gloomy scenario either.

We are not doomed. The worst that can happen with a Democrat in the White House is weíll have a weaker response to the threat than we currently have. Then we will get hit again. And in all probability, that weakness on the left will come to an end. It will have little chance of returning until the new war against fascism is over. The enemies of civilization will be very sorry indeed if thatís how Round Two goes down.

-


UPDATE: Many conservatives are giving me a shellacking in the comments section. Oddly enough, Nelson Ascher, who wrote the original piece I responded to, is not one of them.

He did respond in the comments, though, and I want to post his reponse on the main page where everyone can see it.

I've had no time yet to read most of the comments, but I agree with those, including Michael,who qualified my post as too gloomy. I wrote it under the immediate effect of having read Sunday's British press (where the 45 minutes stuff isn't going away in spite of the Hutton report and the BBC's partial debacle)and some of Melanie Phillips' posts too.

It surely wasn't my intention at all to depict the Democrats as fifth columnists and, if I gave this impression, let me correct it right here: it's not about them that I was thinking when I used the expression (though they may benefit from the work of the real fifth columnists, I wouldn't declare them guilty by association): I had in mind ANSWER, the SWP, part of the Anglo-American media and academia, some Euro governments. That's why I referred to a fifth column inside the Western camp, not exclusively in the USA. (I trust the worst democrats more than the average old European government.)

Actually I'm in Brazil right now and that, in a way, is worse than being in Paris because though I can ge acquainted first hand there with all their ill will, I'm also confronted day in day out by their (the French's) growing economic, diplomatic, political and social weaknessess and isolation, something the balances a bit my gloom.

In Brazil, on the other hand, it is really as if 911 had never happened or were but a relatively "normal" kind of event.

Still, just to reaffirm somewhat my main point: I've never seen people so eagerly trying do reverse the result of a war won by their country as I've been seeing this happen in the UK. It is as if they weren't actually reenacting the Vietnam protests, but rather beginning already from the quite developed stage where the anti-Vietnam war protests had stopped.

Habitually I'm less gloomy than that and, if you read some of my earlier posts, you'll see that I've even tried to find something positive about suicide bombings in Israel, namely that they became the only way the Palestinians could hit Israel, because their earlier and favourite methods, like using booby-trapped cars or truck bombs or kidnaping airplanes weren't working anymore. If I'm right, the suicide bombings are more a sympton of defeat than of victory.

And I also think there's a strong case in stating that the real fifth columnists are not re-fighting the Iraqi war, but really want to stop the WoT, and that they (not the Democrats, really) root for the enemy. Oh, and the idea that the UK was the coalition's weakest link is not mine, but David Warren's, another of those who alternate some moderate optimism with frequent pessimistic gloom.

Thanks, Michael and everybody else, for the comments: I actually wrote that gloomy post expecting to be refuted and I do hope those who did it are absolutely right.

UPDATE: Andrew Olmsted comments.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 8, 2004 04:32 PM
Comments

Excellent post.

Posted by: Peter G at February 8, 2004 04:45 PM

I gotta tell you, Michael, I'm not so convinced of an inevitable "Cold-Warrior" style conversion within the Democratic Party should Kerry win. I'd personally hail such a conversion to be the greatest thing since sliced bread (I'd never have to vote Republican ever again) but I really can't see it happening.

The Democrats haven't been the same since the Vietnam War. Clinton's moral interventions helped to marginalize it for a certain length of time, but this spineless pacifism on the Left is just as strong today as it was 30 years ago.

Democrats used to be the Party of Wilson: For democratization thru the means of collective action. Today they're the Party of Kofi Annan: For collective action, the end.

Somewhere along the line we (yes you Scoop Jackson Democrat, I'm talking to you) kinda forgot what we were fighting for in the first place.

To assume that Kerry's ascension to The White House would somehow move the Democratic Party beyond the jungles of Vietnam is ludicrous. John Kerry is the very poster-child of the problem at hand.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 8, 2004 05:07 PM

Good points all around. I think Nelson's despair is a function of living in Paris. I too shudder at the thought of a Democratic-led return to 90's multilateral accomodation of rogue regimes and half-measures against terrorism, a capitulation to the Chirac/Villepin position. But no matter how annoyed I get with the Democratic candidates, (I left the Democratic party several years ago) calling them 5th columnists is unacceptable - a discredit to hawks everywhere. Intemprate language about nuking Riyahd after 9/11 is also beyond the pale.

The War against Islamic terror and tyrany is a long tough struggle. The situation in the Middle East is conducive to the type of despair that Nelson displays. But such defeatism is totally unwarranted and, in fact, counter productive (I will not charge Nelson with being a 5th Columnist for counselling despair). We are winning in Afghanistan and in Iraq. We will continue to win. There is no way we can lose.

Posted by: John in Tokyo at February 8, 2004 05:18 PM

The Leftists viscerally blamed America for the first 9/11. I see no reason why they wouldn't react just the same the second time around, even with a Democrat in the White House.

Sure, it would likely harden Democratic Party foreign policy, but it would also likely drive the Leftist 8 to 10 percent of the country into the arms of the Greens.

I'd much rather see a Dem hardening without the violent split-causing scenario you laid out further irrationalizing the paleo extremes and handing the Republicans de facto one-party-rule. How that's supposed to happen beats the hell outta me.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 8, 2004 05:27 PM

I'm sorry, but Howard Dean and his supporters do want us to lose. That's the only thing they are for - if that's not a 5th column, I'm not sure what is.

Deaniacs are the same people who read Pilger, Fisk, Chomsky et al. They hate America, and they hate Jews.

Kerry isn't nearly as bad, but in his youth, he did have a fling with the Jane Fonda support the other side of the war party.

There are no hawks in the Democratic party anymore. Gephardt and Lieberman were the only ones, and they have been resoundly defeated.

If a democrat wins, it's only a matter of time before a US city gets nuked by terrorists. And quite possibly the end of western civilization. And we'll deserve it, by not wanting to fight back.

Posted by: Jeremy at February 8, 2004 05:45 PM

I dont know if I agree with your rosy refutation though I'd like to.

The Dems hawkishness seems to be shallow as a puddle. They dont seem to able to sustain the energy and anger that is necessary to see these types of things through.

Part of the problem is that they needs the Stalinist types to vote for them. Lets not fool ourselves, they are a far greater, active, and powerful part of the Dem electoral base than a similar parallel on the right. The GOP booted buchanan for example over a decade ago.

If the Dems would at some point see fit to firmly boot the Vietnam era reactionaries, the Stalinists, and the college anarchists, there might be something to speak about. However, as it seems now, the Dems are the party whose reflex position is that US power is a bad thing and that US military and intelligence should be curtailed in favor of internationalist policies which give vetoes to the likes of Syria and France.

I feel the same dread as the original author though Michael's essay doesnt hurt to cheer me up a wee bit.

Posted by: Dan at February 8, 2004 05:46 PM

Dear Mr. Totten:

What could we reasonably expect from a Kerry presidency? Several alternatives that come to mind are:

1. My experience is that people tend to keep doing what's worked for them in the past. A pol whose built his career on being anti-war could reasonably be expected to keep being anti-war. Hoping that sweet reason prevails, Mr. Kerry does nothing. The severity of attacks at home and overseas increases.

2. We could take Mr. Kerry at his word: he will attempt to gain international support. After four years of Kerry diplomacy the coalition consists of the same members it does right now. The severity of attacks at home and overseas increases.

3. Mr. Kerry reacts about the same way Mr. Clinton did: a few half-hearted attempts following attacks at home or overseas but nothing that would risk any political capital.

4. No American president could stand by when America is attacked and expect to come out with a whole skin. Mr. Kerry is about as tough as Mr. Bush and responds with force when attacks at home or overseas occur.

5. Mr. Kerry doesn't really mean what he's been saying or doing for the last thirty years and is even tougher than Bush. He abandons Wilsonian idealism and retaliates with a full Jacksonian response.

My bet would be 1, 2, or 3.

Posted by: Dave Schuler at February 8, 2004 05:57 PM

I agree with you that Nelson is too gloomy. But I disagree with you regarding the Democratic party turning hawkish. This is not a matter, as you well know, of simply agressively responding to an attack. Bush is trying to head off the certainty of nuclear or biological attack by changing the strategic equation and making state support for international Islamic terrorism impossible. This is the very strategy the mainstream left rejects, even those who don't think the neo-cons cooked the whole war up prior to 2000 in Texas (like Ted Kennedy). Kerry is the worst possible man to be leading the war on terror. He is both a reflexive opponent of the use of American power and a timid politician (I know he fought in a war I mean in the political sense) unwilling to take risks. Michael, the fact that he voted to authorize the use of force is nothing more than political expedience. His whole career shows that that vote was an aberation. And as soon as the winds seemed to change, he didn't even have the decency to stay the course but voted to deny funding for the re-building. I would much rather have a Howard Dean than a John Kerry but both would be catastrophic. There will be a Democrat in office before this war is over. Bush's main effort should he secure a second term must be to institutionalize this policy and this strategy so that it is not so easy to shift. Right now, if Bush loses the election the war on terror is also lost. It will be seen as a re-pudiation of the whole strategy. We have all underestimated him before but I wish the President was more articulate at expressing what we know to be the truth. I wish he had Clinton's gift of gab with his own seriousness of purpose and willingness to take risks. I still think, however, that the public will see through Kerry and will not want to remove the president next year. But he will have to articulate the case. I continue to be shocked by the depths to which the Democratic party has fallen in its willingness to totally play politics with national security. I support Bush's determination not to let investigations be used as a witch hunt by his enemies in the election. Look at how they abused and misused the testimony of David Kay. Although Republicans did much the same to Harry Truman.

Posted by: Doug at February 8, 2004 06:09 PM

I'm not so afraid of Kerry, cause I also don't think he'll win. I'm even less afraid of Edwards, so far, though he has better chances in Nov (as far as I can see).

MJT rephrases, nicely, the two most likely next 5 years: (1) no big WMD attack in the US-- most of what's been done by Bush continues; or (2) a successful WMD attack against the US-- and massive retaliation.

These two, no matter who wins in Nov. Is there a Syrian adventure before Nov.? possible, especially with the Pakistan scientist naming Syria as a client.

But there IS something "inevitable" about democracy: when ALL the world is ruled democratically, international relations will greatly move away from military, and borders will become ever-more sacrosanct -- except for referendums on succession (or joining).

Putin's Russia is almost not a democracy, though, so there is still a lot of questions as to the schedule. Private property is more important than elections!

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 8, 2004 06:13 PM

There seems to be a key condition here for the Democrats to become more hawkish, and that is another 911 or worse event to happen on American soil. It certainly would be a good thing to see the Dems get serious, but that would be too high a price to pay, especially since most of the Dems failed to learn the 911 lesson.

Posted by: JJ Walker at February 8, 2004 06:18 PM

It does make a big difference who wins.
Especially on national security.

The democrat/left meme is still basically that the global war on terror should be fought legalistically and with highest regard for multilateralism.

This is what allowed the Jihadist threat to grow during the Clinton years.

A return to that policy might be devasting.

Voters should ask themselves what in the records of Clinton or Gore or Dean or Edwards or Kerry makes them likely to have responded as Bush did.

I answer that: NOTHING.

If Gore was President, we might have attacked the Taliban but not overthrown them. Ditto Saddam.

Why am I so sure? As a lifelong Democrat (4th generation) - who has drifted steadily to the "libertarian-center," I have become CONVINCED that an overwhelming majority of Democrats are TRAPPED in 1968 memes: All wars are another Vietnam; the CIA cannot be trusted; the UN will save the world; without radical intervention the ecology/environment will be ruined by man-made pollution; medicine should be nationalized.

Needless to say - most of the positions/policies are absolutely WRONG, and would be very harmful to our nation.

Therefore, ANY Democrat President is likely to be ineffective. Doubly so, since it is very very un likely that the DEmocrats willretake either body of Congress.

So I say: WORRY and work hard to re-elect Bush.

Posted by: o'danny boy at February 8, 2004 06:18 PM

I wish I could share Michael's trust that under a Democratic administration's weaker stand on Muslim terrorism, the inevitable second strike would provoke an end to lefty defeatism. He still wants to think well of his comrades. I would be willing to bet money that in such a case, they would blame it on the tough stance of their predecessors and find some way to appease the attackers with a search for the "root cause". I no longer trust them at all. Dubya has done a lot of things I really dislike, but on this one issue, and to me, the only issue, he is the best of the bunch. The rest of the world will see this election in 04 as a referendum on his foreign policy. I want to send them a clear message and will vote for Bush.

Posted by: Stephen at February 8, 2004 06:24 PM

"He abandons Wilsonian idealism and retaliates with a full Jacksonian response"...

Dave, I hate to tell you this but Wilson was no lightweight...in many ways he was the forebearer to the hawkish Dem foreign policy of Truman thru Kennedy. I mean, come on, the guy plunged America into TOTAL WAR! Total War for a good cause, though, I mind you, which is what really matters...the willingness to fight for what's right and not so much the love of engagement. That, in a nutshell, is what seperates the foreign policies of Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt.

George Will went as far as to deem the current administration as being "the Third Term of Woodrow Wilson" the other day. People tend to forget Wilson's hawkishness for his internationalism. Truth be told, he was idealistic in both. Scoop Jackson was a hell of an idealist, as well.

"Wilsonian Idealism" and "Jacksonian Response" are one in the same, my friend.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 8, 2004 06:28 PM

Whether on the Right or on the Left: Long Live Wilsonianism!!!

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 8, 2004 06:37 PM

I have to say that I'm mystified as to Bush's next move here, other than continuing to roll up cells and so forth. There are rumors about an offensive in Pakistan and/or Afghanistan.

Is that so different from what Kerry would do? Nobody's talking about any more invasions at this point, the Iran is in the UN's court right now, and we have a regional approach in North Korea. Is Kerry going to discontinue these policies?

Furthermore, my understanding of Clinton's reticence was that it was primarily due to intrasigence by the Joint Chiefs, who didn't see terrorism as their purview since it wasn't a "war." Would Kerry yank the Pentagon off the beat?

I haven't seen anyone make that case, so I think all this talk about Kerry somehow screwing the pooch is just speculation.

Posted by: praktike at February 8, 2004 06:45 PM

It's a disgrace that the conventional wisdom is that the only way that the Dem's are going to wake up and smell the coffee is to have a catastrophic attack on their watch. This is simply too high a price to pay for that education. 9-11's human loss and economic impact was massive, but will pale in comparison to a WMD attack. We can't afford it.

Posted by: Mike M at February 8, 2004 06:46 PM

The most telling line: A Bush loss is a win for our enemies.

Posted by: JJ Walker at February 8, 2004 06:55 PM

Well the news today is that al-Qaeda has supposedly just aquired a nuclear device.
From the Ukranian black market.

Hmmm,,ya think that maybe those (dems) who have been saying that 1. securing ex-USSR nukes and 2. focussing on al-Q - instead of farting around in Iraq, just might turn out to be a hell of a lot smarter than all of you?

Posted by: tano at February 8, 2004 06:56 PM

Tano,

Do you have a link to the nuke story? I haven't seen it yet...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 8, 2004 06:58 PM

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/392006.html

Posted by: tano at February 8, 2004 06:59 PM

Hello? Anybody home?

Kerry is on record against missile defense.

Wake up and smell the difference -- it's a hell of a lot harder to fight terrorism when a terrorist-harboring nation has nukes, and you have no chips to play.

Posted by: JB at February 8, 2004 07:03 PM

If Bush could speak on this issue like Tony Blair: "The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD, is itself the real lie..." Bush wouldn't face this issue in the election. But it may be the deciding factor.

Posted by: Bleeding heart conservative at February 8, 2004 07:04 PM

We're not doomed? Oh, really? Let me tell you something.

I live in New York City. I saw the Towers fall. I saw the response of the firemen, the citizens rallying for the dead. I saw thousands, literally thousands, of candles lining Broadway during the evenings. It seemed as if people would never forget.

But they did. They have forgotten. They DO NOT CARE. The lesson that Bush was supposed to learn after September 11th was humility, according to them.

I saw hundreds of thousands of people from International ANSWER walking down the streets of my neighborhood. I saw the sympathetic eyes of European tourists who looked on in favor of those militant protestors. And from my next-door neighbors, to the students at the University, to the associates and Partners I work with, I tell you that they fundamentally reject the use of American power. They truly believe that guilt over actions in the past, that the allure of America's might, culture, and economy, make the actions of terrorists understandable.

And I am fully convinced that if Bush loses this election, everyone here in this City will be the victim of another terorist attack that will level the skyline and murder everyone here.

Because the liberals who make up the Democratic party have lost their reason, they are living a dream world. They fervantly believe in the wickedness of American power, and that weakness is the way to win over hearts of murderous terrorists. They have abandoned all reason for madness, the madness of a person too afriad to see evil and so calms himself by saying it doesn't really exist.

If you believe that the democrats will change if they get in power, you are deluding yourself. These people fundamentally believe in their happy, delusional dream, because the waking reality is too hard to bear. They will NEVER accept it. And in that, they will lead us all to our deaths.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at February 8, 2004 07:04 PM

"... Iran is in the UN's court right now, and we have a regional approach in North Korea. Is Kerry going to discontinue these policies?" Unfortunately, I see the short answer as yes. Without strong US pressure and a credible threat to enforce UN resolutions, the UN effort with Iran will likely degenerate even faster than the UN sanctions against Iraq. I also can not envision Kerry or any likely Democratic president resisting the pressure from our "regional negotiating partners" with North Korea to enter bilateral talks with N. Korea and to give the "reasonable" assurance they need to feel safe. That is, back to the Clinton strategy.

No need to officially change policy in either case to turn both areas into major disasters!

Hugh

Posted by: Hugh Nicholas at February 8, 2004 07:20 PM

Wow, Sydney. You have just given voice to my deepest fears. If we are so effete that we cannot even rise to defend ourselves, are we even worth saving?

Posted by: Reid at February 8, 2004 07:24 PM

It is so sad to see such bizarre and over-the-top spewing - is it not possible anymore for anyone to assess the state of the world and of politics with a little clearheadedness?

Most of you here sound as loony as what one hears on DU, only from the other side. Insults, paranoia, an incessant reach down to find ever more extreme sound-bites, as if the intensity of ones disgust at the oppostion is a sign of intellegence. Truly bizarre.

I would, in a heartbeat, trust the average democrat with the security of this country over most of you. (I said, average democrat, not necessarily the extreme cartoon figures ya'll like to point to). If for no other reason than simply mental stability.

Look, it is certainly possible to underestimate dangers, or to lack the resolve to confront them. I would not have any confidence in a Kucinich or a Sharpton presidency. But it is also quite possible to get so spooked by dangers that one reacts wildly - striking out in all directions, embracing war as a mantra, and losing all perspective. Focussing on the one really powerful and obvious tool while putting the intellegent and analytical mind to rest. To paraphrase the old saying - If you got the biggest baddest motherf**kin' hammer in the history of the world, then all problems can end up looking like nails.

I dont have much confidence in a Bush presidency.

Posted by: tano at February 8, 2004 07:32 PM

Followed Tano's link:

"Al-Qaida have possessed tactical nuclear weapons for about six years, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported Sunday."

They got them in 1998, according to the article. So what time warp made the Iraq War in 2003 cause the 1998 purported acquisition? Oh yeah, we diverted resources from the Time Travel project to I MEF and V Corps. My bad.

And dude, this was the first sentence of the article.

Posted by: The Dignified Rant (Brian J. Dunn) at February 8, 2004 07:33 PM

tano,

Quite frankly, I'm not willing to bet New York City on your hopeful delusions. I don't know if there's anything that you can say that can give me the slightest reassurance that the democrats will actually do something resembling defending this country.

Are you willing to bet your life on it? Because that's what you're asking me to do.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at February 8, 2004 07:45 PM

no dude, it was not the first sentence of the article when I read it an hour ago. The entire article was three paragraphs. It was just updated.

Posted by: tano at February 8, 2004 07:46 PM

It doesn't matter who wins. One more 9/11 size attack on US soil and the gloves will come off no matter who stands in the way. Two more such attacks and the Arab culture will cease to exist in a generation.

Posted by: Gary Utter at February 8, 2004 07:51 PM

Well sydny, if there is nothing I can say, then there aint much point in me saying anything, is there? If clutching on to GWB works to give you that all important sense of security, well, then by all means. Ya gotta take care of yourself first.

Posted by: tano at February 8, 2004 07:51 PM

MJT-

You cannot be as complacent as you sound in your last paragraph, can you?

If the "Then we get hit again" is a nuclear device exploding in New York City or Washington D.C., then the realization might come to some that the whole point was to make sure we were NOT hit again. Right? But it's a bit late at that point, don't you think?

The "worst that can happen" with any President (of either party) who refuses to come to grips with the fact that we are a war with a determined, ruthless enemy is the loss of a major U.S. city and its' population. Period.

If the "honorable" Left does not or will not understand that at this time, why would another 3,000+, 30,000+ or 300,000+ deaths suddenly eliminate their "weakness"? Can you honestly tell me where the psychic demarcation between "not enough" and "too much" destruction and death is for these people?

I have always admired your thinking and writing here, but this is a very strange post on your part. Am I misunderstanding that paragraph?

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at February 8, 2004 07:51 PM

Hasn't Kerry clearly stated that the proper response mode to the terrorist threat is primarily intelligence and law enforcement?

As OpinionJournal correctly observed, Kerry wants to go back to the way we did things on September 10th, 2001.

After 3,000 of our countrymen were viciously slain, mainly people said, "September 11th changed everything!"

But for Kerry and many other Democrats, apparently it did not.

This is one of my favorite sayings since 9-11-01:

"America, play OFFENSE!"

---Tom Nally, New Orleans

Posted by: Tomas J. Nally at February 8, 2004 07:56 PM

I share Sidney's fears. The media and the left are like people who pass by a car wreck and then drive carefully for about 5 minutes. Then it's full speed ahead, as if no such bad things happen.

The most mysterious to me is the faith they seem to have in the U.N., as if Saddam's buying off two permanent members of the Security Council,, as well as the bureaucracy its through the Oil for Food Program, hadn't occurred. Don't they remember why NATO had to take over in the shards of Yugoslavia?

It seems that the most awful thing about 9/11 to some people is that it showed their own faith in the New World Order to be childish.

And, of course, what they can never confront seriously is the realization that we were extremely fortunate to have the Bush administration instead of the Gore, when 9/11 occurred.

Posted by: AST at February 8, 2004 07:57 PM

Micahel, in addition to quite a lot of other thoughtful commentary, you say: "The tragedy of the liberals is that too many refuse to denounce the enemies to their left."

I have mixed feelings, here. To a certain extent, I'm upset that leftists haven't been more conscious of the ANSWER stooges on the left. On the other hand, I think the scouge of ANSWER has been ridiculously overplayed by the right. ANSWER doesn't compose any active section of the Democratic party. ANSWER was not campaigning for Howard Dean and doesn't give money to the DNC. There is not a large or active proto-fascist communist movement anywhere visible on the web. The radicals that populate portions of IndyMedia are more likely anti-party anarchists than voting Democrats or leftist leaders. There is, and I think this needs to be said very loudly and very clearly, a deepening and disturbing visceral hatred of Islam formenting on portions of the right. It's evident in the inflammatory remarks of General Boynkin, the crass generalizations of Andrew Sullivan ("Cult of Death") and all too common in the ignorant drivel of the Free Republic. I can acknowledge the idiocy of pro-failure idiots at the Democratic Underground. I'm ready for the hawks to look in their own backyard.

That said, I want to ask for a deeper analysis of Bush's record on terrorism. His hawkishness is not in dispute. Nor is the decisive, quick, and mostly humane victory over the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. As acts alone and as symbols of bold action, I also concede the point. But it's not clear to me, nor should it be clear to anyone who's following the situation on the ground in either Afghanistan or Iraq, that these actions are fighting terrorism.

To start, Afghanistan. The constitution is a good step forward. Not perfect, but plenty of hard work and good guarantees of rights. But unfortunetly, a free and safe Afghanistan innimicable to terrorists only exists in portions of the country. A front page story in last weeks WSJ (unfortunately not available online) lays out just a few of the problems: attacks on foreigners, including U.S. construction teams and aid workers are common. Warlords in the west (Isamil Khan) and the north (Hazrat Ali, various) control huge swaths of land and don't answer to Kabul. The Taliban is reconstituted in the South, and in some cases, nearly controls entire provinces.

The Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, who has covered Afghanistan for over twenty years and written several books on the Taliban and radical Islam in Asia, recently wrote a long article for the NY Review of Books on the state of the reconstruction. He concludes that the lack of progress -- indeed the worsening situation -- is again making Afghanistan safe for al Qaeda:

That the Taliban are returning in force two years after their defeat is testimony enough that the West’s support and strategy for rebuilding Af-ghanistan have so far been a failure. The war against terrorism is still to be won in the Afghan mountains and deserts and among the Afghan people as well. Their nation, the largest and most tragic victim of terrorism, is not being rebuilt. Until that happens there is little incentive for al-Qaeda or extremists elsewhere to lose heart.

As a victory for human rights, the control of radical warlords in the West and North means an absolute disaster. The area is unsafe for aid workers. And the violent, radical leaders are reviving strict religious rule. Women are forced into segregated schools and stopped on the street for "virginity tests." Khan, who we should remember Donald Rumsfeld thinks is a "very appealing person," has reconstituted a Dept. of Vice and Virtue, authorizing violent religious fanatics to terrorize the local population.

The U.S. commitment to securing the country, rebuilding the infrastructure, or dispensing with warlords or even, possibly, Taliban thugs is thin. While we have a force of approximately 130,000 troops on the ground in Iraq, only 11,000 US troops patrol Afghanistan. This no where near that sizable force we need to secure this country. Money for big projects is scarce. A New Republic story summed up the worsening situation:

Law and order is deteriorating across Afghanistan. Conditions have become particularly volatile in the Taliban’s traditional stronghold, the Pashtun south, where former regime remnants have upped the ante against U.S.-led coalition forces since mid-August. Some 500 people, many of them civilians, soldiers, and aid workers, have been killed in Afghanistan in that time period, a sharp rise over last year.

WIth the Taliban metastisizing through the south and ideologically friendly warlords controling the west and north, it's very difficult for me to understand why bin Laden or his terrorist sympathizers would be dismayed at another Bush term. Tellingly, Bush mentioned Afghanistan only twice in his interview this morning, and on neither ocassion did address any of the important concerns the country is facing. The possibility of fair and free nationwide elections this June is a pipe dream.

There are reasons to be cautiously more optimistic about Iraq. Bush's rhetoric, if not all his actions, has been resolute. Though we'll have approximately 20,000 fewer troops in Iraq after the rotations this spring, I haven't heard plans for a more substanative pullout. Kenneth Pollack, in a long and excellent evaluation of post-war prospects, notes many reasons for hope and many reasons for fear. About the need for a long term commitment, however, he is very clear:

[T]here is great danger for the United States in disengaging from Iraq. Without a strong American role, at least behind the scenes, the negative forces in the country would almost certainly produce Lebanon-like chaos and civil war that would quickly spill across Iraq's borders and destabilize politically and economically fragile neighbors such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, and Syria, and possibly Turkey and Kuwait as well.

While I doubt the US coiuld disengage Iraq completely, the November 15 aggreement was a disturbing sign of the administration's eagerness to let Iraq take care of itself. Because Bush, under the influence of Rumsfeld's macho arrogance, never committed enough troops, most of our soldiers spend most of their time either protecting themselves or hunting insurgents. We have neither the man power nor the political will to provide security average Iraqis need. While this may mean safe headlines at home, it means low level chaos in Iraq.

Spencer Ackerman, the New Republic's hawkish liberal writer on foreign affairs, was concerned enough by the November 15 aggreement and Bush's lackluster's post-war performance to start a blog dedicated to the reconstruction. His prognosis of the Bushies commitment is grim:

But then along comes the Bush administration's November 15 Agreement to relinquish sovereignty by June 30, which tells the Iraqis that, owing to election-year considerations, the United States can't be bothered right now to midwife a democracy. You might say you've been Iraq'd.

And no one is more Iraq'd right now than the Iraqis themselves. It's no accident that, as soon as the Coalition Provisional Authority announced its withdrawal plan, the various Iraqi factions immediately began pressing for their maximal demands.... Each faction is fighting hard to impose facts on the ground because it can no longer count on the United States sticking around to ensure that all segments of Iraqi society are represented in a future Iraqi democracy.

Posted by: harry at February 8, 2004 08:00 PM

But don't be too sure about the fallout. Most people see events in light of their own prejudices. Liberals see conflict with al Qaeda in terms of class struggle, no matter how much evidence to the contrary is revealed. Their focus is on the motivations of terrorism.

Conservatives don't really care about the terrorists' motives, except as a tactical consideration. Conservative care mainly about the capabilities of our enemies, and how we might eliminate them.

If a democrat is elected (the two democrat hawks are already out of the running), and if our vigilance is relaxed, and we start trying to give al Qaeda-- and the other groups that so far haven't been successful in attacking us-- then you're right, we'll probably get hit again.

The conventional wisdom will be that this new attack is motivated by our policies. Our war in Iraq, the operations against al Qaeda, the Patriot act, the rift with Europe, our continued support of Israel-- one or more of these things will be identified as a provocation. It will drive further condemnation of a now-deposed Bush Administration, and after a symbolic "get tough" military strike, we'll go back to fighting terror with peace processes and law enforcement.

Posted by: Rob at February 8, 2004 08:01 PM

I dont think we were fortunate to have Bush over Gore at 9/11. I have no doubt that even Ralph nader would have gone after Al-Q in Afghanistan. Their was unanimous support for that from both parties (well perhaps one rep voted no).

If all of you could find your bearings and stop this spewing, you would finally, at long last, come to grips with the real issue. After the Taliban was removed - then what. That is where the divergence between dems and repubs took place. GWB thought that the next step should be to invade Iraq. I aint gonna start the whole debate again - we all know the routine. But it is ludicrous and mindless for all of you to claim, as you seem to claim, that THAT was the only and the obvious next step to take to further secure this country.

Many people, even some republicans, thought that Iraq was a distraction, that it had nothing fundamentally to do with al-Q, and that taking out Saddam would do little to advance the war against them that actually attacked us. The Bushies obviously had a different mindset. It is NOT a question of who will or can vs. who will not, or cannot defend the country. The issue is whether the Iraq war was an intellegent move in the broader effort to secure our country.

There really are sane people who are engaged in this deabate, which is the only real debate. What you guys are doing is just mindelss ranting and posturing. Come back to reality, guys...

Posted by: tano at February 8, 2004 08:08 PM

All of this (much, much, much) too long blather is to say that Bush's national security performance is in many ways an unseen disaster. He put together a majority of Congress and the public behind the idea that we ought to take the war to the terrorists. With that rhetoric, we swept our forces in the Middle East and to commanding and obvious victories. But the initial wins will ultimately be a small part of the world security picture. The prospect of democracy in Iraq is terribly appealing. But if we fail, the prospect will be only terrible. Already, all of our progress in Afghanistan is being swallowed by radical despots our own cabinet cannot recognize as the very monsters we set out to defeat. Military success cannot be judged in a vaccum. Our safety tomorrow has everything to do with our current commitment.

I'm asking, then, that Bush's "successes" come under a critical eye. No terrorist cares one twiddley dink whether John Kerry or George Bush works in the oval office. We're the enemy either way. What any terrorist does care about is the resources, human and capital, to mount an offensive. It's clear to many former serious hawks taht the Bush aministration has failed to follow through on the opportunities afforded by quick military victory.

Posted by: harry at February 8, 2004 08:09 PM

Michael,

I love your travelblogging, but fess up, you've been doing a lot of dope the past few days, haven't you?

Yours in Virtue,

William

Posted by: William Bennett at February 8, 2004 08:45 PM

Nelson may well be too pessimistic, but I fear that you are too optimistic, Michael.

Much of the opposition to Bush’s foreign policy is pure partisan loathing and gamesmanship which will immediately evaporate if Bush is sent back to Texas.

If true, this truly damns the Democrats, because it means that they choose to undermine the prosecution of the war for purely partisan reasons.

Posted by: Fredrik Nyman at February 8, 2004 08:49 PM

i gotta disagree with you harry. any terrorist lucid enough to hijack planes on trans-continental flights because the benefits of more jet fuel hastens the destruction of the wtc can surely know the difference between kerry's dove voting record and the bush doctrine.

Posted by: frendlydude2k at February 8, 2004 08:51 PM

Michael, do NOT let the nay-sayers get to you. Keep up the fine blogging. The more they rant, the stupider they sound.

Posted by: gmroper at February 8, 2004 08:53 PM

I'm simply glad that for once, we have a president who's willing to deal with some hard issues rather than simply worry about re-election and the party.

Posted by: Slim Whitman at February 8, 2004 08:55 PM

Thanks for volunteering to be the thread troll William.

Michael, I have no idea what is coming. But I do think one thing is certain: A lot of people are going to die.

Posted by: FH at February 8, 2004 09:04 PM

Slim, I think that both Michael and I are worried that much of what Bush is doing right now is in fact due to electioneering.

Posted by: FH at February 8, 2004 09:06 PM

For me, it is a simple choice, and voting Kerry in 2004 will NEVER be an option.

Bush has to get reelected. Our lives depends on it.

Oh, and by the way:
I was a registred Democrat, I voted Gore in 2000. 9/11 changed everything...

Posted by: JohnD at February 8, 2004 09:42 PM

harry,

Thank you for your cogent criticism. You raise valid concerns about the Bush team and their notorious distain for nation-building. Here's my take:

I haven't read those pieces but I think Afghanistan's potential for progress was never very promising to begin with. What progress does come, will be very slow, long-term stuff. It will be decades before some areas are ready to accept better standards for women. You cannot impose a different way of life on people that don't want it. They like their vice police and they are still a tribal society. The decision to cooperate with warlords like Khan is similar to the decision to leave Emperor Hirohito in place after WWII. We never did control Afghanistan and to try to do so would've, in all likelihood, provoked a much greater backlash than anything we have to deal with now. I've been hearing about the neglect and how it allows for the "Return of the Taliban" for almost 2 years now and I'm pretty skeptical at this point. Progress will be slow but steady. We're talking decades here. To expect Afghanistan to turn into Switzerland in 3 years is ludicrous.

I don't think we could expect any better from a Democratic administration with a full committment to nation-building. But what do I know?

Posted by: John in Tokyo at February 8, 2004 09:50 PM

Dude! You're in luck Dude!

Ha'aretz is reporting that Al Qaeda has had nukes for six years Dude! Tubular, huh? You hit the trifecta Dude.

Oooh!! Scare people! Ooh dude that'a a heavy karmic trip you're bearing. Dude, I'm just going to go back to my waves Dude, but thanks for the wake up call.

You're a real bummer dude.

Posted by: Crush at February 8, 2004 10:05 PM

I'm sorry Michael, you are weaving in wishful thinking into reality. I have a strong personal memory of the Democratic party all the way back to McGovern, though my first vote was for Carter. Answer this question and you will get an answer to another.

How long has it taken for the Republicans to overcome being viewed as a Party to be trusted on matters of civil rights and what weaknesses still exist and persist?

Bush has put 3 prominent African Americans in the Cabinet and more minorities on staff than any President ever, yet what will his percentage of minority and women votes be?

Now answer this question.

How long has it taken for the Democrats to overcome being viewed as a Party to be trusted on matters of Security and what weaknesses still exist and persist?

When you look at that question one answer is obvious to me. As a Party the Republican are much more progressed on their Achilles Heel issue then the Democrats are on theirs for one simple reason. What effort has the Democrats as a Party done? The Republicans have applied much more effort on their Achilles Heel issue, sure it may not be enough for some, but it is a hell of a lot more by comparison than the Democrats have done. They have not even really made an effort at all! I almost laugh at the prospect.

They were still cutting military in the 90’s and desiring the Intelligence agencies to be hand cuffed in their intelligence gathering tactics. In fact as far as cuts are concerned Bill Clinton balanced the budget almost purely through military cuts. And Bill Clinton’s reputation as being a hawk is eroding by the day despite our best wishes. Especially compared to your average Republican, Ronald Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, add Nixon and Eisenhower (Ford doesn’t count).

My God! This Achilles Heel I would argue is even worse than we think. As long as Security Issues persist, the Democrats are in an uphill battle by a mile. Until they nominate a true hawk from their party, they will not choose on the job training on such an issue. It wasn’t just the economy that did Bush I in. It was the fall of the Berlin Wall and communism that truly paved the way for the “it’s the economy stupid campaign”. We got lucky with Bush II. If there is a God it was manifested in such fortune. I don’t care what the polls say. Bush 53-57% of the vote.

Posted by: Samuel at February 8, 2004 11:04 PM

I've had no time yet to read most of the comments, but I agree with those, including Michael,who qualified my post as too gloomy. I wrote it under the immediate effect of having read Sunday's British press (where the 45 minutes stuff isn't going away in spite of the Hutton report and the BBC's partial debacle)and some of Melanie Phillips' posts too.
It surely wasn't my intention at all to depict the Democrats as fifth columnists and, if I gave this impression, let me correct it right here: it's not about them that I was thinking when I used the expression (though they may benefit from the work of the real fifth columnists, I wouldn't declare them guilty by association): I had in mind ANSWER, the SWP, part of the Anglo-American media and academia, some Euro governments. That's why I referred to a fifth column inside the Western camp, not exclusively in the USA. (I trust the worst democrats more than the average old European government.)
Actually I'm in Brazil right now and that, in a way, is worse than being in Paris because though I can ge acquainted first hand there with all their ill will, I'm also confronted day in day out by their (the French's) growing economic, diplomatic, political and social weaknessess and isolation, something the balances a bit my gloom.
In Brazil, on the other hand, it is really as if 911 had never happened or were but a relatively "normal" kind of event.
Still, just to reaffirm somewhat my main point: I've never seen people so eagerly trying do reverse the result of a war won by their country as I've been seeing this happen in the UK. It is as if they weren't actually reenacting the Vietnam protests, but rather beginning already from the quite developed stage where the anti-Vietnam war protests had stopped.
Habitually I'm less gloomy than that and, if you read some of my earlier posts, you'll see that I've even tried to find something positive about suicide bombings in Israel, namely that they became the only way the Palestinians could hit Israel, because their earlier and favourite methods, like using booby-trapped cars or truck bombs or kidnaping airplanes weren't working anymore. If I'm right, the suicide bombings are more a sympton of defeat than of victory.
And I also think there's a strong case in stating that the real fifth columnists are not re-fighting the Iraqi war, but really want to stop the WoT, and that they (not the Democrats, really) root for the enemy. Oh, and the idea that the UK was the coalition's weakest link is not mine, but David Warren's, another of those who alternate some moderate optimism with frequent pessimistic gloom.
Thanks, Michael and everybody else, for the comments: I actually wrote that gloomy post expecting to be refuted and I do hope those who did it are absolutely right.

Posted by: nelson ascher at February 8, 2004 11:49 PM

As one who supported the war, I am struck by the defensive posture Bush is adopting over the Iraq intelligence issue and the casus belli in general now that the election war machines are gearing up. Having adopted a statesman-like position which appeared to be based on conviction, his ratings soared during the lead-up to war.

I believe he is making himself vulnerable at the polls by hinting to voters that he is not a statesman at heart but an opportunist like all the rest. Contrast this with Blair's admirably unwavering performance under fire. Labour is making noises about holding off the election set for next year in order to repair "damage" caused by the postwar fallout. But I think Blair's message is clear and unequivocal and voters will respond to it.

Should Bush go down to Kerry or any other apparent dove among his opponents, I believe it will be his own fault for cutting across his message and delivering a feeling of insecurity to voters.

If Kerry were to win the White House, the litmus tests would be fairly obvious: whether or not Syria, Pakistan, Iran and Libya would continue to manoeuvre their way cautiously onside -- or backtrack.
If the latter, then America and the rest of us will rue the day voters forgot the West really is at war, whether they like it or not.

Posted by: Dave F at February 9, 2004 12:37 AM

Since most Democrats don't believe Iraq was really part of the WoT, note the comments in this thread, I don't hold out much hope. Iran, Syria, Pakistan, NK, et al would simply breath a sigh of relief. Bush has put them under a heckuva lot of pressure. Hand over terrorists, show us your wmd, start reforms, cut off funding and support. Right now we have Powell's carrot and Bush's stick. With the Dems it would just be carrot.

Besides which we'd lose Rummy and he hasn't finished his job yet. We get Kerry, we lose Rumsfeld.

The Iranian people, the Syrians too, would be disheartened. Not to mention the Iraqis who mostly have a warm fondness for Bush. Hezbollah, however, would cheer. They've already stated their hopes for Bush's removal. And I'm sure we'd agree on who Osama would want.

Bush is doing so darned much! Most of it underneath the media's radar. Demands that the NGO's be accountable...what Dem would even consider that? The Proliferation Security Initiative. And what would happen to the Patriot Act? It's not quite the horror the hysteria makes it out to be. The real fifth column is inside our borders, and no matter what we may think of Ashcroft, he's done a remarkable job so far.

Another thing I think is important. When the 'hawks' in the dem party saw the direction it was taking, they packed their bags and became neocons a couple of decades ago. That says it all for me....a now ex-democrat.

Posted by: Syl at February 9, 2004 01:14 AM

In the upcoming election, each American should ask one question upon entering the voting booth:

Who would Bin Laden vote for?

The answer is obvious. Anybody who disputes the obvious answer is spinning. We should vote accordingly.

Posted by: HA at February 9, 2004 03:42 AM

I think Bin Laden would vote for Bush. Ever seen the Battle of Algiers? Lose the battle but win the war for hearts and minds...

Posted by: praktike at February 9, 2004 05:05 AM

The issue here is simple -- let's not overcomplicate it. Would Kerry have the same long-term strategy for defeating radical, political Islam, as well as protecting the US from hostile states as W.?

The answer so far appears to be a resounding 'no'.

Tano et al, if you want to be willfully obtuse and not see the positive consequences of Iraq (like sudden Libyan cooperation, for one), you go on right ahead. Tactics aren't going to win this -- this is a long-term strategic campaign.

THEY have a strategy and an ultimate goal -- if WE don't, we're playing with one hand tied behind our back. Ponder that.

Posted by: JB at February 9, 2004 05:40 AM

Oh my god! Tell me this isn't true!!!

The NYC City Council has surrendered to the terrorists!

What were they thinking when they passed an anti-patriot act measure?

These FOOLS! DO THEY KNOW NOTHING? Our fine team of liberal arts majors and writers here have offered proof PROOF that we are doomed!!! And yet the NYC City Council votes to opposed PATRIOT!

WE ARE DOOMED WE ARE DOOMED WE ARE DOOMED!!!!

Posted by: breathless in portland at February 9, 2004 06:04 AM

" Would Kerry have the same long-term strategy for defeating radical, political Islam, as well as protecting the US from hostile states as W.?"

I sure hope not. Just what is W's long term strategy for defeating radical islam? So far, what I've seen beyond the good beginning (taking down the Taliban) is to commit a huge chunk of our military resources to taking down a non-islamicist dictator.

The US supported Saddam for all those years precisely because we understood that HE was a buffer against radical islam. We patted him on the back when he crushed internal opposition - because the judgement was that a stable Iraq (even though it is such an artificial country) was necessary for security. We quietly cheered him on in the war with Iran because he was the front-line defense against the spread of radical islam. Yes he was a horrible monster, and yes we had a hand in making him so.

If you now want to say that he is so bad, or that he is a frankenstien monster that got out of control and needed to be taken down - my response would be ---fine. But tell me first how this fits in with the larger strategy of the struggle against radical islam. Let me repeat - he was fighting our fight aginst the mullahs. Take him out and what happens? Well, as we can see, southern iraq is now under the effective control, probably soon to be actual control of a mullah with deep ties to Iran. Sistani himself does not seem to be quite as medival as Khomeni/Khameni, but tell me,,just what do you expect will emerge from the new culture that is taking root in southern iraq? Will we be able to judge it to be a defeat for, or a retreat by the forces of radical islam? Or will it represent new safe ground for the advance of these ideas?

And it is not just the south. We are committed to the continued existence of iraq as a coherent country. And the Shiites make up 60% of the population. How are we going to prevent them (the loyal followers of mullah sistani) from effectivly ruling the entire country? How will we prevent the forces of radical islam from controlling the second largest oil reserve in the world?

One of the true marks of profound ignorance is the failure to discriminate between phenomena that are really quite different, even if they look similar on the surface ("all them xxx are all alike"). Radical islamists tend to be Arab. Saddam was an arab. The war is against radical islam. That does not mean that it is a war against any old arab that we dont like.

The fundamental criticism of the war on iraq is that it is not relevant to the essential war against radical islamism. Bush has constructed the over-arching concept of the "war on terrorism" and all of you here, through your macho posturing and seeming bottomless need to appear tough and smart, are giving him a complete free ride on the question of how he carries out this WOT.

Was Iraq the right move strategically to advance the WOT? I have seen an enormous amount of aggressive hyperbolic venting on this subject from people like you, but almost no critical analysis - no willingness even to seriously engage the question. It is as if these issues are solely the responsibility of GWB - whatever he decides you will support blindly and passionatly, and anyone who raises questions will be viorously painted as a comic-book figure, a commie, a wimp, whatever...

Y'all ae so drunk on the Bush kool-aid that you are no longer serious figures in this debate. But the debate will go on without you. We have lost over 500 lives, thousand injured, and spent 200 billion dollars (just heard that there will be another 100 billion request in the fall - after 11/2 of course). Has all of this advanced our ground in the war on radical islam one inch? Has it possibly made things worse? WHat could that amount of money, or that level of engagement by the military done for us if used in other ways - like focussing on al-Q for instance. What damage have we done to our credibility and standing in the international community - which is and will be absolutely crucial in the real battle against a globel guerrilla movement?

These are serious questions. And I invite all of you to actually engage them.

Posted by: Tano at February 9, 2004 06:28 AM

Gee, Tano. I guess there's really no need to respond to your question, since you've already outlined -- and responded to -- everything you think we might have to say about it, all in a single post. You win.

This was a pretty good thread till now.

Yours,
Straw Man

Posted by: Cosmo at February 9, 2004 07:49 AM

I think we all need to go to the Brookings web site and "read the whole thing."

My husband, still a liberal Democrat (reluctantly supported the war & was overjoyed on the day Baghdad fell) says Kerry's primary blather isn't what matters. What matters is the Democratic Party's "foreign policy elite."

There's a lot of truth to that. He also maintains that Brookings sees the war on terror as a war, not a police action. I think he may be right about that, too. (He invites Brookings people to speak at his institute from time to time, so this isn't just Distance Opinion.)

Thus far both Max Boot and Walter Russell Mead have weighed in saying the Dems aren't going to be appreciably different from the Republicans.

If you read Anne Marie Slaughter in the latest Foreign Affairs & Jed Rubenfeld's amazing essay in the Wilson Quarterly you see that liberal foreign policy elites are singing a very different tune from Michael Moore.

Slaughter argues for a "duty" to prevent terrorism & horrific human rights abuses, not just a "right." Her essay feels as radical to me as anything I'm hearing from Wolfowitz. Check this out: "the biggest problem with the Bush preemption strategy may be that it does not go far enough." That's a liberal talking.

Jed Rubenfeld blew me away. He shows that international law is inherently undemocratic, and that, moreover, this is what Europeans specifically like about international law. Bush's unilaterlism, he says, is based in the core democratic principles of our constitution. Beautiful.

I have no idea how the party faithful respond to and shape the elites and vice versa, but it's exciting to see bold, new thought coming from the folks who are actually going to be setting Democratic policy should a Democrat be elected.

George Will has a column on Rubenfeld's essay at:
http://www.msnbc.com/news/976065.asp (Much better to read Rubenfeld's essay, but Will gives you the flavor.)

Max Boot (who describes Anne Marie Slaughter's essay) is at:
http://theweeklystandard.com/

Posted by: Catherine at February 9, 2004 08:01 AM

I'm just back from a fresh gulp of kool-aid, so let me give this a try, Tano. Warning: VERY LONG

When the WTC attacks occurred, we had a number of options about how to respond. The most common call in the media at the time was to treat this as a law enforcement problem. In other words, someone (bin Laden) organized a conspiracy (al Qaeda) and attacked us. Therefore, we needed to do what we could to track down any guilty offenders and bring them into some kind of court.

The problem is this: this is as much a civilizational conflict as it is a military one. Anyone with more than a passing interest in al Qaeda knows that it is more of clearinghouse for terrorism than an organization. Al Qaeda has supported and been supported by rival sunni groups, radical shiite groups, even secular dictatorships-- all in the name of "the enemy of my enemy". The war is not just with bin Laden's org chart, it is with islamic radicalism as a movement.

And in that war, things are much more grim. Radical Islam gets support from the predictable cast of characters: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, (formerly) Afghanistan. But there are others. Pakistan supported the terrorists because they furthered their conflict with India. Iraq, Libya, and Syria did as well, both to improve their reputations among Arabs and to hurt enemies like Israel and the US in a deniable way. To call the Administration foolish for believing that these countries were involved in terrorism says more about your knowledge than it does about theirs.

Since the terrorist groups have overlapping, competing organizational structures, it's better described as an industry than as a single group. Some groups specialized in media relations and propaganda. Some are popular movements, good at rallying thousands of protestors. Some specialize in a particular region (Israel, the Phillipines, Africa, etc). Many are part of the Money Machine: the system that collects, launders, and distributes billions of dollars to fund weapons, personnel, training camps, propaganda and all the other expensive necessities of a world-wide guerilla war. Some of the money-generators are quasi-legal (like those in the US, or those that funnel money from the Saudis), and some are illegal (like the drug runners). Many of the groups are allies of convenience-- many don't know much more about terror than their own part of it and the occassional copy of the NYT.

The formula we used in the 90's was utterly unworkable. We tried to isolate which one organization among the hundreds of ever-shifting acronyms was 'responsible'. Then, we made token attacks on their leadership. That's the law-enforcement school of thought. The problem is that there's always another label, always another leader. What we're up against is a system, a social movement, a focused group of organizations. In other words, we're fighting a war.

President Bush's strategy is to attack the terrorist groups on all fronts. Their political machines are debunked. Their funding arms are shut down, or monitored and then shut down. Local governments world-wide are given funds and training to defeat local terrorist groups. Terrorist training camps are being destroyed, their weapons taken from them, and they themselves are being apprehended.

National governments which support terrorists are being confronted. This is a complex issue, so it requires further scrutiny. Some countries can be persuaded (through bribes or intimidation) to cut off their support for terrorists and help us shut them down. This has included Pakistan, Libya and (to a degree) the Saudis. Some countries, though, consider themselves irretrievably opposed to us. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran were the big ones. N. Korea can even be lumped in this last group, only because they supply arms to anyone with cash, and that includes terrorists and their supporters.

So how do we confront an entire block of countries? Well, Afghanistan was al Qaeda's primary base, and was so obviously begging to be invaded that obliging was a no-brainer. But Iraq, Syria, and Iran are different stories. By invading Iraq, we eliminated the most confrontational of our enemies, and in one fell swoop flanked Iran (our troops already occupy Afghanistan) and Syria (Israel being on their other border). And our troops will be there for years, on the borders of Saudi Arabia, keeping pressure up there. If democratizing Iraq works (and apart from Lebanon, there is no Arab country with a better chance at democracy), then we have broken the back of the national supporters of terrorism.

Iraq has an educated populace, oil wealth, a secular history, and a mixed sunni-shiite population. YES, there are huge risks. But the greater risk is simply going after the teeth of Terrorism, Inc. without thought towards its larger logistical and political tail.

So what are our next steps? Clearly, we have a long way to go. We need to keep up the pressure on both the core and the periphery of radical islam.

We need to help countries afflicted by terrorism in their fight. I sympathize with the Chechnyans, but it's their own damn fault that they fell in with al Qaeda, and they have to be defeated. It's too much to expect that the US could openly help destroy the Palestinian uprising, but it has to be done, because endless peace processes have only exacerbated terrorism-- some of which is being exported now. We still have to win in Afghanistan. Helping Pakistan and India wind up their conflict is very important. Aid to the Phillipines is important (in fact, our work in the Pacific is both critical and woefully under-reported). Ditto for east Africa.

The money machine is wounded, but there's still billions out there unaccounted for. We need to keep attacking the funding supplies by outing terrorism's "legitimate" backers. We need to expose the money launderers. We have to identify and close the private bank accounts.

We need to be building schools. Nice, beautiful secular schools in the middle of nowhere so that kids can learn to read and write without having radical islam beamed into them. There's nothing magic about the West's economic, political and military success that Islam can't match-- their problem isn't their religion, it's their ideology. Reminding ourselves and them that Europe owes a big cultural debt to the Islamic Empire, and that their science, philosophy, and tolerant culture help jump-start the West's ascendance is something that we aren't doing yet, but we should, because being true, it makes very good propaganda.

In other words, we need a comprehensive, multilevel attack on radical islam as a movement, not a hunt to arrest some utterly replaceable guy in the mountains who happened to order the major attack that succeeded. If trials and jail time were my priority, sure, bin Laden would be my number one priority. Since we're fighting a war, his only significance is to boost our morale and hurt theirs by killing or capturing him.

Posted by: Rob at February 9, 2004 08:16 AM

A nit:

It was an unidentified Shaykh gloating with bin Laden who thought that we were "were terrified thinking there was a coup," not bin Laden himself. It's from the "smoking gun" tape released in December of 2001.

At the time, my thought was, "No, that's how things work in your countries, dumbass."

Posted by: Ian Wood at February 9, 2004 08:18 AM

Praktike,

I wouldn't compare Iraq to the Battle of Algiers until after you read this excellent piece by Christopher Hitchens.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 9, 2004 08:47 AM

The continuing oppression, by our chief ally in the region, of the non-Jewish population that will soon make up a majority of the population in the land west of the Jordan River, undermines our moral standing the same way that US moral authority in the Cold War would have been undermined by segregation and lack of black voting rights in the American South if they had continued into the 70's and 80's. When will you guys get it through your silly little heads: three million Arabs live in Judea and Samaria, but they can't vote because they belong to the wrong religion! That's wrong!

Posted by: markus rose at February 9, 2004 08:48 AM

Catherine has some good points. Slaughter's (and Lee Feinstein's) essay is excellent. Another short argument for an activist and collaborative response to new threats is Joseph Nye's The Paradox of American Power. Nye was an Assistant Secretary of Defense under Clinton. He emphasizes the importance of soft power and the deleterious consequences of an arrogant reliance on hard power. We're just not strong enough to win anything alone.

The idea that Kerry or any other leading Democratic candidate would be a clueless foreign policy stooge is ridiculous. Foreign Policy lists which foreign policy people are advising which Democratic candidate here. A democratic presidency would likely include a number of these people, as well potentially General Anthony Zinni. There is a very cogent realist foreign policy position. The neocons only seem like the only game in town beccause right now, under a Bush administration, they are the only game. Doesn't mean there isn't an alternative. It's been and is being laid out in the journals.

Posted by: harry at February 9, 2004 08:54 AM

Rob,
Thank you for calm and rational discussion.
I agree with some of what you say, but disagree with a fair chunk.
First off, I dispute the notion that there was a law-enforcement mentality AFTER 9/11. THere was effectivly a unanimous support for the war in Afghanistan, and for a war-like approach to al-Q and the islamist web.

I think you have laid out the argument well, and it comes down to this. What is the nature and extent of the enemy that we should be focussed on - that we should be going to war against? You paint the web as very broad indeed - effectivly taking seriously the generalization of a "war on terrorism", as if any group that engages in terrosism is, by definition, a part of the radical islamist enemy.
I think the WOT concept itself is problematical. A "war on radical islamism" is more accurate.

Terrorism is a method used by radical fringes of desparate people, not an ideology in itself. It was used by anarchists and communists in the past, it was used by Catholics against the British in Northern Ireland, it is used by Palestinians who see themselves as fighting for their freedom from an expansionist Israeli state, it was used by right-wing Americans against the evils of a Clintonist American government. Terrorism is a horrendous thing and must be stamped out - but the use of terroism does not make one automatically an ally of al-Qaeda, or part of the specific war on al-Qaeda.

IF one has the courage to speak the truth, one must admit that there are some movements that have valid points even if the extremists resort to terrorism. MAny on the right in this country had the same general types of criticism of Clintonism as did McVeigh. They reject the terrorism of course, they certainly want to rescue the ideas from the hands of the extremists, and to advance the ideas in a responsible way. There are many decent Catholics in NI who wanted their greivances aired and addressed even as they reject the tactics of the IRA. THere are also many Palestinians who wish to advance their legitimate concerns in a responsible way. The danger I see in your approach is that one declares war on all these very different movements in their entirety as well as the legitimate opposition to the methods used. I see some of this coming through in your thoughts about the Palestinians.

This is the danger of over-generalizing the war. Al-Qaeda should be opposed absolutely. The people who fund and supply al-Q must be taken down. Moving beyond the Taliban, that would mean a focus on elements within Pakistan, within Saudi Arabia, and an effort to rally the international community to rout out the cells that are distributed around the world. Some of this is being done of course. But Iraq does not fit directly into this picture at all. Saddam tried to win himself some "Arab leader" points by sending some money to families of Palestinian suicide bombers. This has nothing whatsoever to do with al-Qaeda, their aims and intentions, their goals, their organization. It is "support for terrorism' but it has nothing to do with the war on radical islamicism. It would be like going after the Irish Americans who sent money to the IRA and then claiming you were advancing the fight against al-Q.

Look, if someone can show me that Saddam had anything to do with either 9/11 or the general effort being mounted against us by al-Q, then I would gladly support the war in Iraq. But I dont see any connection whatsoever, except that very specious linkage through the generalized concept of "terrorism".

THe situations that al-Q has most profitably exploited are failed states - those semi, or totally anarchic places where they can take refuge and enlist recruits. Iraq has always threatened to become such a place - it is why we always supported bad-ass repressive regimes like Saddams. Taking him out we have created the perfect example of a potential failed state. Of course, we wont let that happen. But we will spend enormous amounts of treasure, and quite a bit of blood to keep it from happening.

Sorry, this is going on very long. I am not convinced that taking Iraq is a wise move in the war against those who really are after us.

Posted by: tano at February 9, 2004 09:03 AM

Markus: When will you guys get it through your silly little heads: three million Arabs live in Judea and Samaria, but they can't vote because they belong to the wrong religion! That's wrong!

The Bush policy is Democracy in a free Palestine. Europe's policy is cash for the dictator Arafat. Even Clinton never said "Palestinian' and "state" in the same sentence.

Most Palestinians do not want to share a state with Israel, and neither do most Israelis, so the fact that Palestinians can't vote in a democratic Israel isn't our fault it is their fault. Maybe it would be different if Palestinians weren't at war with Israel to push the Jews into the sea. Who knows? Either way, Bush came out for a democratic Palestinian state and the world freaked. The world freaked when he demanded democracy and I found that shocking. It was "arrogant" and "one-sided" blah blah blah.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 9, 2004 09:05 AM

Look, if someone can show me that Saddam had anything to do with either 9/11

What about WTC 1993? And maybe Oklahoma City.

---

And I thought arabs are allowed to vote in Israeli elections and there were arab representatives? And I thought some were muslim????

It's not Israel's fault Arafat hasn't held an election since 1993. Maybe if Arafat could have proved he could run what he's got, he would have gotten most of what he wanted by now.

Posted by: Sandy P. at February 9, 2004 09:31 AM

'Bush came out for a democratic Palestinian state and the world freaked. The world freaked when he demanded democracy and I found that shocking. It was "arrogant" and "one-sided""

What????
Are you seriously trying to make the case that this bears any resemblance to the truth of the Bush admin. policies in Palestine????????

The world did not "freak" when Bush called for a Pal state. They said "geez, finally....". "Great, now what are you going to do to help?" And the answer has been,,,,,nothing. Lets let the godfather of the settlement movement take the lead in proposing an equitable solution.

Posted by: tano at February 9, 2004 09:42 AM

Tano-

Iraq was already a failed state. Sadaam was still strong enough to suppress the Islamists and prevent anarchy, but that's about it.

"Secularists" like Sadaam (he sure built a lot of mosques for a secularist, and who added "Allah Akbar to the Iraqi flag? Sadaam, right...I suspsect that his relationship with Islam was more complex than leftists would have us believe), theocrats like the Iranians, royalists like the Saudis...they are just different sides of the same coin.

Failed governments like these are running the Middle East into the ground. They are impoverishing the populaces and contributing to the rise of fanatacism and hatred.

We need to get rid of this deadwood in order to reform the region. One is pretty much as bad as the other, and they all need to go before change can really take hold in the region.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 9, 2004 09:58 AM

Michael T, thanks, I read the Hitchens piece and want to clarify my reference to La Bataille d'Alger.

Hitchens claims that we cannot compare the current situation in Iraq to that of French colonial Algeria, because the situations are different.

I would argue that we may be in the very early stages of an Algeria-type situation. How closely our situation parallels that described by Pontecorvo doesn't matter. You Iraq hawks are fond of citing the words of the Islamists to make the case that, like it or not, we are in a clash of civilizations. So if you listen to the rhetoric of Moqtada Sadr and his followers, it's clear that it doesn't really matter how nice we are. Even the relatively mild Sistani has made references to past Iraqi uprisings such as that against the British. The fact that we are foreign infidels is good enough for them to want us kicked out. In a land where history is very much alive, our very presence calls to mind less benevolent occupiers.

The truth is that I don't know what's going to happen in Iraq; neither does Hitchens, nor do you, nor does Juan Cole, and nor does Ayatollah Sistani or anyone else. Maybe the resistance will blow over after all. But maybe it will proceed apace, we will be forced to crack down hard, and we'll have lost the battle for hearts and minds. I hope not.

Posted by: praktike at February 9, 2004 10:12 AM

Tano: The world did not "freak" when Bush called for a Pal state.

No, they freaked when he demanded democracy. Arafat must go, and he must go now. Europe would rather prop the bastard up.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 9, 2004 10:45 AM

The "Arafat must go" meme was nothing more than one of Sharons little manuevers to delay doing anything. Taken up by Bush who also had no intention of doing anything. Anyone who is serious about resolving the issue should realize that Arafat is precisely the type of person you want to deal with. He has connections to, and legitimacy with the broad spectrum of Palestinians, at least on the question of the fight for nationhood. IF Arafat agrees to a settlement, it can be sold to even the extremists. If you put in place some "moderate" peace camp person, you still would have the extremists to deal with. It is a version of the old "Nixon in China" idea - it is also why having Sharon as PM could potentially be a good thing - if only he were serious.

You call for democracy, but Arafat would probably win any election, so I wonder about the sincerity of your call. Of course, the minute the Pals actually have their state, the first thing they would probably do is vote Arafat out - for all the reasons having to do with corruption, incompetence etc.

Posted by: tano at February 9, 2004 11:00 AM

Tano,

Are you arguing for the sake of arguing or truly analyzing? When you say

Taken up by Bush who also had no intention of doing anything

When has Bush ever taken up anything with the intention of doing nothing? Talk about misreading of a man’s character!

Posted by: Samuel at February 9, 2004 11:13 AM

If you're flying an airplane into a skyscraper, what difference does it make to you who won the last Presidential election?

Also, do you think the Clinton/Lewinsky BJ led al-Quada to think that we were weak, and that they could therefore fly airplanes into our buildings with impunity (except of course for the dying at the end)? You guys probably have a lot of interesting ideas on this topic.

Posted by: baby at February 9, 2004 11:14 AM

Tano,

Interesting response to my thoughts. One clarification: I didn't associate the radical Islamic movement with the terrorists in North Ireland or Colombia for the very reason you describe.

However, there is good evidence that Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the PLO, the Chechnyan fighters, the groups in the Pacific and east Africa, the revolutionaries in Saudi Arabia, and (of course) al Qaeda are all interrelated, to varying degrees. Their memberships tend to overlap, they share resources and strategies, and they (again to varying degrees) express solidarity with one another. That's why I say it's more of an industry than a corporation: each group is distinct, and even competitive, but heavily interrelated.

Sure, if they ever won real authority somewhere, many would become fierce rivals, but that's simply not going to happen anytime soon. For the forseeable future, they are different vegetables in the same radical islamic salad.

Regarding your point about the Palestinians voting, it behooves me to remind you that the Israeli Arab citizens are the only Arabs in the Middle East who have any vote whatsoever. The Palestinians in the occupied territories don't have a vote because the Arab world tried to destroy Israel, and fought a war about it, and lost. If they hadn't tried to destroy Israel, then their land would still be in Jordan today. Not that they have votes there, either, of course.

Michael is right about Europe's policies. Europe's position since the sixties has been to placate the terrorists. There are several reasons for this, but mostly it boils down to each country's hope that the terrorists will bother someone else (like the United States).

In the 80's, Italy's carabieri (paramilitary police) surrounded US special forces at a NATO base, demanding the release of PLO terrorists who had just been captured. After a brief standoff, four hijackers were arrested, tried, and jailed, but one, Abu Abbas (a major terrorist leader who was finally killed last year), was spirited out of the country by the Italians as a 'diplomat'. This is the mentality we're up against.

Posted by: Rob at February 9, 2004 11:38 AM

Al Gore's speech is evidence to the contrary:

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/005869.php

Posted by: Ernest Brown at February 9, 2004 11:48 AM

Samuel, you post too much before thimking.

Signed,

Marvin the Martian.

Posted by: Marvin at February 9, 2004 12:49 PM

The liberals are not going to be defeated on the battlefields of Iraq nor any other except those of our own home streets. It's in the halls of the Beeb, the editorial floors of newspapers, in street demonstrations, the campuses and on the internet that Western Civilization will stand or fall.

The sacrifices of soldiers in the Global War on Terror have bought us time. What we do with it back home is up to us.

Posted by: wretchard at February 9, 2004 01:42 PM

Spot on, Michael. Good show.

I can't say how much I think we'd all benefit if people realized what the true meaning of "traitor" and "fifth columnist" are, and how serious such charges are, and how very corrosive to civil discourse and consideration of policy the light tossing of such charges are. Being a "traitor" is punishable by the death penalty.

It's beyond a disgrace when people make such a charge lightly. Those who do so should be shunned. They are the Taliban of political discourse.

Posted by: Gary Farber at February 9, 2004 01:57 PM

Michael -- I'm glad Bush speaks out on the need for Palestinians democracy, I wish I thought that he was sincere. I also hope that Palestinians do get rid of Arafat and his corrupt cronies -- he simply has shown no evidence that he can deliver a better life for his people. But I doubt Sharon will let this happen. (He needs Arafat in there in order to have an excuse not to do anything.)

A fundamental problem between Israel and the Palestinians is the basic asymetry of the conflict and the double standard that the United states holds in dealing with the parties to it. This means that despite having roughly the same population sizes, Palestinians are expected to be satisfied with less than 20% of the worst land (much less if Sharon had his way), and an equal or even smaller share of the water rights. Israelis are to be permitted to have nukes (for what purpose?) and the third or fourth best military in the world, while Palestinians must join Costa Rica and Lichtenstein as nations without a military. The people of Israel are allowed to choose whatever arab-hating, rejectionistic political leaders they want to, while Palestinians must submit their ballot to Israeli approval. Palestinian rejectionists seeking to drive the Jews into the sea must not be appeased, while Israeli rejectionists seeking to drive Arabs into Jordan must be accomodated (after all, they're Jews).

Now there is justification for some degree of disparity, based on the fact that the Arabs have lost several wars to the Jews which they started, and that there are other Arab states. There are also UNJUSTIFIED reasons for this disparity, most notoriously the view that the Jews are "our people" or "my people", more deserving, civilized, Western and favored than the Palestinians.

The disparity was even greater BEFORE the second intifada took place (in 1999, NO israeli party was willing to concede ever giving up any part of Jerusalem). To my mind, it is excessive and OVER THE TOP.

Posted by: markus rose at February 9, 2004 02:03 PM

NPR again (from camera.org).

Error (NPR, “All Things Considered,” Peter Kenyon, 1/26/04): In a crushing display of military might, the world’s fourth-largest army swept back into the West Bank cities it had vacated during peace talks with the Palestinians.

Correction (2/5/04): In a story that aired January 26th on the strategy of Israel’s military to head off Palestinian attacks, we said that Israel’s army was the world’s fourth-largest. There are various measures of military strength, but, measured by manpower, Israel ranks 13th according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

Posted by: d-rod at February 9, 2004 04:22 PM

"You call for democracy, but Arafat would probably win any election, so I wonder about the sincerity of your call."

Funny. Debates on Al Jezeera, mud slinging,gaza caucases, Arafats opponent busting off one liners "Mr. President youre no Ayatolla khomeiny".

Posted by: mnm at February 9, 2004 04:27 PM

Gary Farber,

There are numerous groups in significant numbers who are working within our country to further the political and military aims of our enemies. This was true during the Cold War. It is true now. They are mostly the same people. These people can only accurately be described as treasonous whether or not they meet the high legal standard for the crime of treason. They are traitors and they comprise a fifth column. You are in denial if you are blind to these facts. I will continue to characterize these people the way their actions demand whether you like it or not. Those who squeal like pigs when they hear these words do so because they reveal truth. The truth hurts.

The word treason is by no means limited to the actual crime of treason. From Dictionary.com:

trea·son ( P ) Pronunciation Key (trzn)
n.
1. Violation of allegiance toward one's country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.
2. A betrayal of trust or confidence.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=treason

Posted by: HA at February 10, 2004 03:45 AM

This mornings Washington Post has a long, detailed, front-page article about Israeli plans to encircle East Jerusalem with settlements, making it impossible for it to be the capital of a new Palestinian state. Yet another instance of Sharon, the settlers, and their blindly devoted followers here in America helping to do more recruitment for Hamas and Al-Queda. And these are the people who supposedly want to fight the "war on terror." What a joke. This is all about might making right.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27078-2004Feb9.html

Posted by: markus rose at February 10, 2004 06:40 AM

HA -- hearing you talk about treason and "the truth", which we are evidently expected to understand you are uniquely qualified to discern, makes me want to immediately send a contribution to ANSWER. And I disagree with almost everything they stand for. You are saying that disloyalty to YOUR political ideas is equal to disloyalty towards OUR country, a proposition which, though obviously absurd, is still scarier than ANYTHING that ANSWER could come up with.

Posted by: markus rose at February 10, 2004 07:14 AM

HA,

What do you think is the appropriate punishment for treason?

Despite the fact that I hate the death penalty, I'd still say we should probably execute traitors.

I'm curious if you disagree. Do you take a softer line against treason than I do? If you're with me on this, how many Americans do you think we need to round up and put on the electric chair? One percent? One third? Do advise.

Read this piece by Steven Den Beste before answering.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 10, 2004 11:56 AM

Yet another instance of Sharon, the settlers, and their blindly devoted followers here in America helping to do more recruitment for Hamas and Al-Queda. - markus rose

Here's some info about EU styled blindly devoted followers, and it's detailed quite well by a European official with insider info, not someone presenting, at best, half the picture.

Posted by: Michael B at February 10, 2004 01:13 PM

Awright, Michael B, I read the damn speech by Ms. Schroeder. Regarding the continuing Palestinian antisemitism and rejectionism of Zionism, I bet you would reject Jews too if a few of them had taken your property on the Mediteranean coast and you had spent the last fifty five years stewing in UN refugee camps about it.

Boiled down, Ms. Schroeder's article says that the presence of antisemitism and the need for a state that offers refuge for possible future victims of antisemitic attacks justifies everything that Israel has done against the Arabs whose land it has usurped and who it continues to hold in bondage.

I support the continuance of a Jewish majority state in Palestine if that state makes a good faith effort to get along with its neighbors and makes a good faith effort to atone for the sins of its founding, in which tens or hundreds of thousands of Arabs where forcibly evicted from their homes in order to increase the demographic viability of the Zionist enterprise. Good faith means a deal on the lines of the Geneva Accords. Good faith means Jews can continue to live in Hebron if they want, but as citizens of Palestine, not Israel.

Beyond that, I'm sure that the Palestinian Authority is as corrupt as Ms. Schoeder says it is. I'm also sure that Arab rule of the West Bank will turn out to be a great disappointment in many ways, just as black majority rule in Zimbabwe and South Africa has turned out to be a disapointment. But failures and disappointments in South Africa today does not mean that apartheid was not totally wrong.

If Israel doesn't want to turn into South Africa, it needs to get off Palestinian land NOW.

Posted by: markus rose at February 10, 2004 04:07 PM

Markus,

Question for you. Why do you think Israel currently occupies the West Bank when the vast majority of Israelis oppose the settlements, and want peace and a two-state solution? Aren't you, um, leaving out some rather crucial details here?

Did you forget about the Oslo Accords, Ehud Barak's offer of sovereignty in 2000, and the second Intifada?

The Palestinians can have their state any time they want one. All they have to do is say yes, stop acting like little Hitlers, and it's over.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 10, 2004 04:38 PM

Markus,

Your answer is meaningless. Its right out of the postmodern platitude playbook. Let's see:

1) Question objectivity of truth...check
2) Draw moral equivalence...check

You've been well indoctrinated it would seem. Based on the principles expressed in your comments, what basis do you have for opposing ANSWER? Maybe their "truth" is bigger than your "truth?" What drivel.

My ideas of loyalty are not subjective in the sense that they are unique to me. They are found in the U.S. Federal and Military Oath of Office:

''I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.''

Those who violate their duty as citizens to hold allegiance to the Constitution are being treasonous regardless of whether their treasonous acts rise to the level of criminal treason. Care to question that truth?

http://vikingphoenix.com/politics/Election2000/Issues2000/NationalSecurity/oath.htm

Posted by: HA at February 11, 2004 03:38 AM

Michael J.,

In spite of the discomfort the word treason causes for you, you cannot wish it to mean something other than what it means. It is clear from the definition that the act of treason is by no means limited to the crime of treason as defined in the Constitution. There is a far greater range of activity that can be described as treasonous regardless of whether a particular act meets the legal standard for the crime. The bar was set very high in the Constitution because the charge of treason is one that is easily abused. This is an instance where the Founding Fathers rightfully chose liberty over security. In other words, treason - within limits - is Constitutionally protected.

There are those who take advantage their Constitutional protections in order to further or exploit the cause of our nation's enemies. They want to forfeit through the political process the victory we achieved militarily in Iraq. These people tend to believe in transnational socialism. An essential condition for them to achieve their goals is to subordinate the Constitution to international organizations, conventions and protocols. They would undermine our national sovereignty if they could. This is the new Red-Green Alliance:

http://www.zeek.net/politics_0304.shtml

This is undeniable and treasonous. There is only one thing we can do to stop them as long as they stay within the law. We must wage an ideological battle against them and we must win it. Losing is not an option because the future of civilization depends on our victory. These people cannot be silenced as a concession to liberty. I accept this. However, we should not shrink from characterising these people in the harshest of terms.

As for the Den Beste article you linked, I'm not sure what that has to do with me. I'm not calling for censorship for anybody. I encourage the treasonous to speak out so we can judge their motives. I will speak out against them in order to impugn their motives.

I think Den Beste was off the mark in the essay you linked. This is rare for him. Here is a better essay that is right on the mark:

http://denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2002/08/Transnationalprogressivis.shtml

I prefer to call these people "transnational socialists" rather than "transnational progressives" because we know what "socialists" means and "progressives" is an ambiguous weasel word.

Posted by: HA at February 11, 2004 04:19 AM

Markus,

I bet you would reject Jews too if a few of them had taken your property on the Mediteranean coast and you had spent the last fifty five years stewing in UN refugee camps about it

Do you ever question the received wisdom of your indoctrination? The original Zionists did not take anybody's land. They purchased it legally. It wasn't until the Arabs started waging and losing wars against the Zionists that any land was taken from them. Lesson: don't wage war and expect not to pay a price if you lose. The Arabs repeatedly fail to learn this lesson.

As usual no one states more concisely than Donald Rumsfeld:

My feeling about the so-called occupied territories are that there was a war, Israel urged neighboring countries not to get involved in it once it started, they all jumped in, and they lost a lost of real estate to Israel because Israel prevailed in that conflict. In the intervening period, they've made some settlements in various parts of the so-called occupied area, which was the result of a war, which they won.

http://www.israelnewsagency.com/rumsfeld.html

The blame for Palestinians spending 50 years in refugee camps rests squarely on the Arabs and UN member nations who have used them as pawns in their political games. Hundreds of thousands of Jews have been expelled from Arab nations over the years also. What about their rights? Nobody is offering them anything. They are just Jews.

Israel should not surrender an inch of territory to the terrorist savages. If the Palestinians ever capitulate and become a real peace partner then Israel should negotation. Let the Palestinians suffer until then. I have no sympathy for a savage people who danced in the streets on 9/11. Fuck 'em.

Posted by: HA at February 11, 2004 04:52 AM

It said rather more than that, but without opening up the entire topic I really just wanted to counter your simplistic and even silly categorization of those who support Israel against the Arab refugees. I favor reasonable restitutions for many of the refugees who were there in '48 and since, but that needs to be balanced by the now plain and simple real-world fact that the refugees, led by Arafat, have served to promote and sustain and ethos of hate and nihilism, exemplified by the homicide/suicide tactics most prominently, but also by the fascist/totalitarian tactics even within the reign of Arafat's kingdom. Including, for example, summary executions of dissenters within their ranks.

And when I use the term real-world nihilism I'm referring to precisely that, not some academic or religious/moralistic variant thereof that can be treated abstractedly as an aesthetic delectation. They enculturate an ethos of hate from the earliest age groups, then pre-school and on up, throughout their social and institutional frameworks. Oslo, and similar initiatives have shown that they have been entirely insincere in the on-going bargaining efforts. Even Bill Clinton has, at least more recently, taken to outwardly acknowledging precisely that, primarily blaming Arafat for the break-down in potentials for peace. Through Arafat the refugees have very much been used as cannon fodder, pawns, bargaining chips in the on-going effort of the larger Arab/Muslim communities and states to destroy Israel. That is precisely what is going on. Hence the blindly devoted followers have primarily been the Leftists in their support of Arafat's cynical and insincere reign.

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It's strange, Michael T. that you say that From Beirut to Jerusalem was an important book for you in shaping your view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I too bascially formed my viewpoint from the same book, yet we seem to really see things differently. I disagree that Palestinians can have a state whenever they want one, at least a viable one.

The Palestinians have obviously been their second worst enemy, the worst being the other Arab nations. The original UN partition plan accorded them just under 50% of the British Mandate. This was done not out of a bias in favor of the Arabs, but rather because a narrowly demarcated Jewish state was necessary for its demographic survival -- it needed to be small enough to EXCLUDE enough of the million or so Arabs living in the Mandate. Small as it was, it was still not small enough to remain viable as a Jewish state. The Israeli rejection of any right of return for refugees today implicitely acknowledges the supremely ironic fact that if the Arabs had not attacked the nascent Jewish state, then Jews would have been forced within a couple of decades (like Maronite Christians in Lebanon) into either minority status within Israel, or into the transfer of Arabs under some other pretet. Needless to say, I happen to think Israeli would have chosen the latter course. Israel owes its continuing existence primarily to the unintended results of Arab rejectionism! (i recall that you recently posted a link to a benny morris interview in haaretz in which he acknowledges the imperative of Arab tranfer in 1948, and furthermore argues the necessity of another round of tranfer, this time into Jordan, in the near future. Kudos to Mr. Morris for his unflinching honesty, but this is scary shit!)

So...Arabs screwed themselves in 48-49, losing a bunch of additional land and winding up with only 22 percent of the British Mandate. They screw themselves again in '67, winding up with zero percent. Since them, every realistic observer on both sides argues that the best Palestinians can hope for is for the opportunity to right off those '67 losses in exchange for accepting the '48 losses. I agree.

But stressing that Arabs continued to reject Israel AFTER '67 ignores the fact that the vast majority of Israelis rejected it also, until recently, when BUSES AND INNOCENT PEOPLE STARTED TO GET BLOWN UP. In the seventies and eighties, both Labor and Likud strongly supported settlement activity in Gaza and in the land that both parties called "Judea", "Samaria." The annexation of East Jerusalem was almost universally supported in Israel. The most far-reaching Israeli peace proposal prior to Oslo was the Alon plan, which would have returned about half of the West Bank to Jordan. Oslo itself called for an Israeli pullout from Palestinian population centers but at the insistence of Israel did not address "final status" issues. The population of settlers DOUBLED after Oslo. Every single Israeli party to the right of the Arab parties, including Meretz, explicitely stated that Jerusalem was indivisible, and Likud and Labor both declared their opposition to a Palestinian state that was not confederated with Jordan. (US acquiesed in this too: as you point out, Clinton never said the words "Palestinian state.")

Just prior to Camp David in 2000, Barak's governing coalition fell apart over his plans to put the tiniest sliver of Jerusalem on the table. It was this lack of a majority supporting his peace moves that led to his call for the early elections of January 2001 that Sharon, running on an explicit anti- Palestinian statehood platform, won overwhelmingly.

At Camp David, Barak offered one square mile of territory in Israel for every nine square miles of settlement territory that would be annexed. Later, at Taba, that amount was reduced to a 1:3 ratio.

My point is the Israelis have been as unwilling as the Palestinians to agree to a reasonable settlement. Obviously, no Palestinian state will (and should be expected to) emerge without Palestinians firmly giving up the right of return in practice. Unfortunately, my horror at the tactic of suicide bombings is tempered somewhat by the view that if they had not occured, then Israel and their US supporters would never have seriously considered Palestinian demands I consider very reasonable -- part of Jerusalem, and a land area of the new state equivalent at least to the pre-1967 boundaries. What we are really arguing about is whether or not the soon-to-be majority Arabs deserve 22% of the land, or whether they deserve 10 or 15%. I say 22%, plus a chunk of the city that contains the third holiest site in Islam. Sharon, a large number of Israelis, maybe a majority, and whole bunch of Americans strongly disagree. What do you think?

Posted by: markus rose at February 11, 2004 04:10 PM

Markus,

I say 22%, plus a chunk of the city that contains the third holiest site in Islam.

I say 0% and no chunk of any city. We just expended precious blood and treasure to rid the world of two terrorists states. Now you want to create a new one to take their place. Why don't you just call for the restoration of Saddam and the Taliban?

Posted by: HA at February 11, 2004 06:39 PM

I asked earlier who Bin Laden would vote for. Since he isn't returning phone calls these days, we'll just have to guess. But we do have some clues based on the views of like-minded Islamic fundamentalists:

"The resistance movement [against the U.S. in Iraq] may not be able to remove the U.S. from Iraq within a year, but it will be able to remove Bush, [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld and [National Security Adviser] Condoleezza Rice, together with their Zionist friends, from the White House," Nasrallah assured his listeners. Nasrallah's scenario requires no deep understanding: Suicide attacks and sabotage operations against the American forces in Iraq will cause American public opinion to turn against the president and not re-elect him, thus bringing about the disappearance of this group of leaders from the White House.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=324481&contrassID=2&subContrassID=15&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y

Like the North Vietnamese, our Islamist enemy cannot achieve a military victory in this war. So they are dependent on winning the war politically with the help of the American left.

Its eery to hear the similarities between Democratic rhetoric and Nasrallah's when talking about Bush. Is he a Democratic speech writer?

Posted by: HA at February 12, 2004 03:59 AM

HA -- there already are terrorist groups in the West Bank, and there will continue to be as long as Israel remains there. Just after WWII, the British discovered that the only way to get terrorists like Menachim Begin to stop being terrorists (at least toward non-arabs) and to stop bombing British targets like the King David Hotel was to accede to Zionist demands for a speedy British pullout from Palestine. Perhaps the Israelis need to learn the same lesson in the West Bank. Or perhaps the U.S. should help to teach them. Sharon has occasionally sent some mixed signals indicating a willingness to compromise. So has Hamas:

http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/06/26/hamas/

You seem to think there is no problem in the world that force cannot solve. Americans in Iraq today are learning the bloody foolishness of such a view.

Posted by: markus rose at February 12, 2004 07:13 AM

Markus,

You seem to think that there is no problem in the world that appeasement cannot solve. The dead and enslaved throughout history have learned the hard way the bloody foolishness of such a view. What will it take for you to learn?

There will be Palestinian terrorist groups as long as Israel remains and rewards terrorism.

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