February 16, 2004

Not a Serious Candidate

John Kerry talks as though he could wish the Terror War away through dint of sheer will.

Here he is at the debate two nights ago.

GILBERT: Senator Kerry, President Bush a week ago on "Meet the Press" described himself as a war president. He said he's got war on his mind as he considers these policies and decisions he has to make. If you were elected, would you see yourself as a war president?
This should be a no-brainer.
KERRY: I'd see myself first of all as a jobs president, as a health care president, as an education president and also an environmental president. And add them all together, you can't be safe at home today unless you are also safe abroad.

KERRY: So I would see myself as a very different kind of global leader than George Bush.

What a total ridiculous dodge. It isn’t even a dodge-worthy question.
Would you see yourself as a war president? The answer to that one ought to be obvious. Of course. There’s a war on.

Kerry is certainly free to have a different strategy against terrorism and rogue regimes than the sitting president. I, for one, would love to hear an alternate plan that doesn’t involve running away from conflict or handing responsibility over to the feckless UN. But to answer a simple foreign policy question with “jobs,” “education,” and “the environment” is enough to make me next-to certain that I can never vote for him.

I’ve tried to give Kerry some slack due to the built-in distortions of the primary season. And I will continue, at least in the short run, to do so. He’s not an ANSWER nut, nor is he Howard Dean. But on the single most important question so far he’s a big fat zero. He has no foreign policy whatsoever. He brings nothing to the table and clearly wishes the whole thing would just go away.

It won’t.

UPDATE: Stephen Green comments.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2004 10:46 PM


Have you considered that Kerry may be a serious candidate, but that you're not a serious citizen?

According to CBS
, most Americans believe Bush is a War President by his choice, not by World Events.

A majority of American's do not have confidence in Bush's ability to manage the economy.

More people believe he does not have the same priority as they do, and they believe he has divided groups, not united us.

Almost 60% believe he exaggerated the intelligence to make his case for war.

And more American do not believe the war in Iraq has been worth the costs.

An overwhelming number of Americans believe that Iraq was either not a threat at all, or could have been contained.

Almost 58% of Americans believe the war in Iraq has made us less safer, or has made no difference in our safety. (Think of the opportunity costs!)

Almost 2/3rds of Americans think the economy is no better or getting worse.

Only 16% think the Administration has increased jobs (and of course, we know that Bush will go out with the first net job loss since Hoover.)

And on and on.

According to CBS, the American people are deciding that Bush is not the serious candidate, and a downright deceptive, lying, and incompetent president.

When you write that he has no foreign policy whatsoever, I assume that means you've read his position papers at his website. What did you think of those?

Posted by: anne.elk at February 16, 2004 11:25 PM

Anne: I assume that means you've read his position papers at his website. What did you think of those?

Yep, I've tried to wade through it. It's a bunch of contradictory blather with as much substance as thin cotton candy. It's impossible to take seriously. Sorry.

Have you considered that Kerry may be a serious candidate, but that you're not a serious citizen?


There are some Democrats who take foreign policy seriously. John Kerry most certainly is not one of them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 17, 2004 12:30 AM

I'm sure we can expect a campaign event from Kerry billed as a "major foreign policy speech" some time in the next few weeks. We'll see if he lays out a better vision than Dean did. If Kerry uses the phrase "muscular multilateralism" I'm gonna hurl.

Posted by: Oberon at February 17, 2004 04:29 AM

I am glad that Kerry is downplaying the war angle. Yes, we are at war. Properly so. Against al-Qaida. The bastards who murdered 3000 of us.
But the Bush administration's absurd formulation of a "war on terrorism" is something which should be set aside.

It is, of course, absurd on its face. Terrorism is a method of war, it is not an opponent. Terrorism has always been used, and probably always will be used by various groups or nations. To declare war on terrorism is to effectivly declare a state of permanent war. And that is something which must be strongly opposed.

A state of permanent war basically commits the nation to abandoning the great American project of the 20th century - to build and support the establishment of an international rule of law. It also cedes to the president a disproportinate share of power in our finely tuned constitutional order. We saw some of the tendencies for that in the Iraq war. Not only did Bush not originally want to go to the UN, he didnt even originally want to go to Congress for authorization ("hey, we are ALREADY at war"). Remember how the grownups had to trot out people like Scowcroft and Eagleburger to publicly pressure the president to go to Congress? This is the great danger - if we are in a state of permanent war against some vague and ambiguous enemy ("terrorism") then it allows the president to simply declare some group or some nation as the next target, and have it be seen as merely a tactical move in a larger war - clearly the sole responsibility of the commander in chief.

There are, of course, a whole host of other tendencies and pressures that come along with a state of war - from the need to control information, the tendency to justify the violation of civil liberties, the chilling effects on certain types of political criticism, and generally, the latitude given to those in power that is inconsistent with the American vision of normal life.

Whether you agree or not that the Bush administration has abused the power that flows to a presidency when the nation is "at war", I bet most people can at least percieve the lurking dangers of living in a nation that is permanently at war.

I have no doubt that Kerry will carry on the war against al-Qaida relentlessly. It will be war - they will be blown away when the crosshairs fall on them, not arrested. But for the rest of the world, and the rest of the problems that we face - we need a president who understands that America can deal, and must deal with them in a normal, legal manner - not with an attitude of permanent war.

Posted by: tano at February 17, 2004 04:51 AM

He’s not an ANSWER nut, nor is he Howard Dean.

Could you set the bar any lower, Michael? You make it sound as if passing this threshold almost gets Kerry your vote, if only he would say something, anything, plausible on the war. If that's the case, then you are not nearly the independent political thinker you claim to be, but just another partisan Dem drifting back into the fold after the temporary unpleasantness of 9/11.

Posted by: R C Dean at February 17, 2004 05:23 AM

That anne creature is quoting CBS. Heh. It's like Al Franken's book: "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell them."

I love the Herbert Hoover comparison. Hey anne, ever heard of Jimmy Carter? Gerald Ford? go look at the employment statistics for their administrations.

Oops. That's right, that would consulting facts, not telling lies.

Tano obviously forgets his history. Hey Tano, just what was the cold war then? From 1945-1989 the US was in a 'permanent state of war'. In the Cold war the US suffered 100,000 dead, and another 250,000 or so wounded. And that while the US experienced the greatest growth in its history, both in the expansion of its economy, and expansion of civil rights. Hmmmmm.....

Posted by: eric at February 17, 2004 05:33 AM

No eric, I know this is complicated, but bear with me. THe term "cold war" was a metaphor. It referred to a time of peace. But not some sweet and lovely fantasy peace time - rather a peace in which there was a powerful and loathsome rival that had to be blocked and checked in a sometimes subtle, sometimes raw, usually behind-the-scenes manner.
If you study history, you realize that this is pretty much what "peacetime" usually entails for most human societies.
In the Bush formulation, the "war on terrorism" is NOT a metaphorical war. In fact, a very common theme that you hear, and will hear endlessly this year, is that somehow the dems "just dont get it" - i.e this is a REAL war.

Against al-Qaida? Sign me up (actually we all signed up on 9/11). Against the world, permanently? No thanks.

Posted by: tano at February 17, 2004 05:51 AM

Kerry has to say he won't be a war president because his base wants to stop having a war and live in peace with other nations. If he had said, "Yes, I will be a war president; we must defeat the enemy" straight out, then Dean and Edwards would have gotten a breath of wind in their sails for Super Tuesday.

Posted by: Jim at February 17, 2004 05:59 AM

>>Against al-Qaida?

Oh please. This is just semantic nonsense. Bush has stated our two enemies constantly -- Islamic terrorists (which do exist) and the states that support them. Was it metaphor that attacked us on 9-11? Or supplied the attackers with money, arms and training?

>>Against the world, permanently?

But what if the "world" is on the side of Islamic terrorists and the states that support them?

Posted by: ex-democrat at February 17, 2004 06:01 AM

"Kerry has to say he won't be a war president because his base wants to stop having a war and live in peace with other nations."

Shoot, Jim, so do I. Unfortunately, it takes one to start a war and two to stop it. Call me when Kerry develops enough of a spine to say so - and the fact that this is, indeed, a war - to the Democratic base*.


*Not that I am suggesting that you endorse Kerry's policy opinions, of course. No snark. :)

Posted by: Moe Lane at February 17, 2004 06:06 AM

" Bush has stated our two enemies constantly -- Islamic terrorists (which do exist) and the states that support them."

Yeah, and then he goes to war against Iraq - which was not a state run by radical isalmists, not one that supported them. But all he need do is CLAIM that they are, and as CIC in a nation "at war", he gets all the slack.

"Was it metaphor that attacked us on 9-11? Or supplied the attackers with money, arms and training?"

Stupid, utterly dishonest cheap shot. I referred to the COLD WAR as a metaphorical term to refer to our peacetime competition with the USSR. That has nothing to do with 9/11. And no, it was not Iraq that supplied attackers with money, arms, and training. If anyone, it was Taliban Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. But the Saudis get barbeques in Crawford, for some reason. Go figure....

Posted by: tano at February 17, 2004 06:25 AM

As long as Islofascists are trying to kill us, the War on Terror (also a metaphor) is by far the most important issue. With all due respect, whether or not we have health insurance pales in comparison as an issue. A candidate who is not serious about dealing with our enemies does not deserve to be elected to any office in any way connected with setting foreign policy. In order to have any chance for my vote, Kerry must pass this bar; it's not enough simply to be less unserious than ANSWER.

The subtext of this campaign so far has been how unserious Democrats are about foreign policy. If they are so opposed to the President, they should tell us what they would do instead rather than just criticizing the Administration. "We need more allies" is not a serious policy statement; tell us specifically how you intend to get them. "Bush lied" is not a serious policy statement; tell us specifically how you wouuld prosecute the war instead.

I think the Democrats have only deepened their foreign policy problem that dates from Vietnam. Until they shed this image, they are destined for the political wilderness any time foreign policy trouble is at hand.

Posted by: Ben at February 17, 2004 06:27 AM

"Yeah, and then he goes to war against Iraq - which was not a state run by radical isalmists, not one that supported them."

Iraq was justified for other reasons, but your inability to see the enabling the organized murder of Jewish civilians as somehow not quite counting as supporting Islamic terrorists (which is what ex-democrat said) has been noted.

Posted by: Moe Lane at February 17, 2004 06:40 AM

>>Yeah, and then he goes to war against Iraq

Which was smart, sound political strategy to help us defeat the Islamic terrorists and the states that support them (let us not forget that Iraq was SEEN as a supporter of Islamism and terrorism by other Islamicists).

We can't fight a war with Pakistan and the Saudis for many reasons, so we needed some other way to make STATES bow to our will and cease supporting terrorists (by making them fear us - Machiavelli 101). See Libya's recent actions as an example of how this policy is yielding success.

(Plus Saddam was a genocidal dirtbag, who better to make an example of?)

And reforming Iraq, if it is possible, is only more helpful long term.

Mr. Kerry seems to favor inaction as an alternative. I fail to see the upside of this, and the downside is very frightening (greater possibility of a nuked US city).

I would suggest not letting your hatred of Mr. Bush blind you to only seeing the trees and not the forest.

Posted by: ex-democrat at February 17, 2004 06:40 AM

Moe, I guess I should have used my sarcasm marks!

Posted by: Jim at February 17, 2004 06:58 AM

I see no problem with Kerry's approach to defending America. Actually, I think he would be much better than Bush. He would focus on the real enemy, and marshall the means to oppose them more effectivly than Bush has done.

The call to internationalism can be laughed at and dismissed only by those who fail to realize that international cooperation is crucial to fighting the REAL ENEMY. You will not defeat Al-Qaida, or the often subterranean networks that support them without the WILLING support of other countries. Not the grudging cowed support of those who quietly fear that their "leader" is purusing their own interests instead of the common interests of all democracies.

At least "ex-dem" presents a bit more of an honest case. I agree that the Bush administration went after Iraq because they could. Because they felt that "sending a message" was a valuable thing to do. Personally, I thought that the effort in Afghanistan was a necessary and effective message of that type. It need not have been repeated in Iraq. It is one thing to go after a guilty party in a crushing manner and thereby send a message - it is quite another to make this message-sending the heart and soul of your general strategy. Remeber the iron law of unintended consequences. Sending another "message" in Iraq had smaller marginal gains (after Afghanistan) but also sent a different message to the rest of the world.

So much of the respect and admiration that people around the world have for the US, and which is in precipitous decline these days, is because so many people so desparatly want to believe American rhetoric - that we are a different kind of nation - that we are not simply the latest in a very long line of superpowers with Machiavellian souls. It is, I think, a sign of the emptiness of ones moral center, to sit on top of the mountain, as we as a nation do, and to look around and say - now what? Now what do we do with this power? And to turn to Machiavelli for answers.

Posted by: tano at February 17, 2004 07:23 AM

"A state of permanent war basically commits the nation to abandoning the great American project of the 20th century - to build and support the establishment of an international rule of law." - tano

You say that like it's a Bad Thing. It's an establishment best abandoned.

"I referred to the COLD WAR as a metaphorical term to refer to our peacetime competition with the USSR." - tano

Why, yes, you did - and you were wrong. It wasn't a metaphor, it wasn't peacetime, and it wasn't a "competition". It was a military and political conflict that could have turned into an actual shooting war at any time... and did turn into shooting incidents on numerous occassions.

"In the Bush formulation, the "war on terrorism" is NOT a metaphorical war. In fact, a very common theme that you hear, and will hear endlessly this year, is that somehow the dems "just dont get it" - i.e this is a REAL war." - tano

WHy, yes, it is a real war. It's a war on militant Islam, which has an avwoed goal of establishing a world Calpiphate and imposing Dhimmitude on non-Islam. It's a war on the states that fund and enable them, which unfortunately includes the main body representing the inetrnational law that you're enamored of: the UN. [A body that Kerry seems to still believe has precedence over US sovreinity]

"Yeah, and then he goes to war against Iraq - which was not a state run by radical isalmists, not one that supported them." - tano

I'll give you a historical reffernce: Little Round Tops. Look it up.

"That has nothing to do with 9/11. And no, it was not Iraq that supplied attackers with money, arms, and training." - tano

looks through bookmark folder of two + years worth of news articles and other reports that seem to be indicating multiple ties between Hussein and the Taliban and other terrorist groups Uh huh. You betcha. Whatever you say. It's inetersting how many dominoes seem to be falling in that area becase that "unconnected" exapmle was made.

waves up the thread Hey Moe! Long time. ;]

I see you're still arguing with forum weasels, eh? grin

Posted by: Ironbear at February 17, 2004 08:07 AM

How is following the advice of Machiavelli (as far as using his insight to defeat our enemies) immoral? Machiavelli was an amoralist, he taught what WORKS.

One can be Machiavellian with enemies and moral with friends, as long as the goal of our FP is international peace and liberty. The rest of the "world" (i.e. former empires of Old Europe and the Islamists) are just pissed because we are better at achieving our goals (which they do not happen to share) and they can't pursue their alternatives because they are weaker.

Kerry promises to not follow Machiavelli, to be stupid. I don't doubt that he wants international peace and liberty (though maybe he does not, he did consort with traitors in his past), but he doesn't present a single clue on how he will do it, other than pissing on a strategy that we have seen work -- simply because he is trying to appease people who hate bush.

Kerry and his base are probably not traitors, but they are fools.

PS: We have international cooperation -- Poland, Spain, Netherlands, etc are not the United States.

Posted by: ex-democrat at February 17, 2004 08:37 AM

Michael, I just want to make one thing clear, so you're a.) not surprised, and b.) hopefully not fooled.

As soon as John Kerry wraps up the nomination, of COURSE he'll call himself a "War President." I'm sure he'll do everything in his power to superficially appear as if he is at least reasonably hawkish, credible on defense, etc. I don't he actually will be - we're clearly seeing the real Kerry right now, as it's completely consonant with his voting record of the past 20 years - but he will adopt EXACTLY such a position to get people like you into bed with him. People who, for lack of a better word, want to believe.

The real question (and one which I hope you answer - I'll be checking back for a response) is: what will you do when this inevitably happens? Will you be mollified by his lurch to the center, given his pandering to (and, I believe, ideological simpatico with) the Irresponsible Left on this issue? Will you Believe?

Posted by: Jeff B. at February 17, 2004 08:50 AM

P.S. The reason I'm so certain Kerry will do this is because he knows that he will NEVER lose his far-left base in the general election, regardless of what positions he takes. He knows they're driven by "Anybody But Bush" and hence have nowhere else to go, and THEY know that he'll have to give 'lip service' - with a nod and a wink towards the base, no doubt, to reassure them he's only putting on an act to get elected and doesn't actually mean it - to such ideas in order to capture the votes of independents and undecideds.

I consider this development inevitable. The only question, again, is: will you and others like you buy it?

Posted by: Jeff B. at February 17, 2004 08:53 AM

He wants to raise corp taxes on small business to 45%???

The backbone of the country and he wants to kill the golden goose.

Posted by: Sandy P. at February 17, 2004 09:41 AM

Geez, this really is a replay of 1992.

Americans are going back to sleep, W's done his job.

Kerry Akbar!

Posted by: Sandy P. at February 17, 2004 09:42 AM

we need a president who understands that America can deal, and must deal with them in a normal, legal manner - not with an attitude of permanent war.

Who's law tano? And which of your inalienable and ennumerated rights are you willing to give up to get along and have the world like us?

Posted by: Sandy P. at February 17, 2004 09:45 AM

tano, our "allies" have become more willing, haven't you noticed?

Frankenreich and Britain are starting to wake up.

Posted by: Sandy P. at February 17, 2004 09:48 AM

Who's law tano?

Our law, you silly twit. Who do you think wrote all of the international laws? Its called leadership, of a different kind apparently, than some of you can even imagine.

Posted by: tano at February 17, 2004 10:48 AM

Wow, Michael, you really put anne.elk into a towering snit...

Please do it again.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at February 17, 2004 11:18 AM

You unserious citizen, you.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at February 17, 2004 11:21 AM

Jeff B.: what will you do when this [Kerry's future center-war drift] inevitably happens?

It depends on what Kerry says. He dug himself a hole. If he can dig himself out, I'll be surprised.

I will not be fooled by mere lip service. He has to say the right things and he also has to make me believe that he means them. That will be even harder.

I know that's a vague answer, but there's a certain x-factor involved in this sort of thing that is hard to define.

If I believe his leftward lurch in the primary was phony, that will be good for him. And if I believe his center-ward drift in the general election is phony that will be bad for him.

Kerry's problem is that he has made his positions such an incoherent mess that I don't know if I'll know which is the real John Kerry. Maybe the real John Kerry is simply wishy-washy and therefore untrustworthy. And if that's what I think in the end (which is exactly what I expect) I will vote against him.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 17, 2004 11:54 AM

Jeff B.-

If Ralph Nader decides to get into the election as a third party candidate, there is EVERY chance Kerry could lose a substantial portion of the Left-wing vote. That certainly appears to be what happened in 2000 with Nader/Gore. I do not think the Kerry drift to center is going to be as easy as a lot of Democrats and pundits believe. The Left may be Anyone But Bush, but they certainly don't appear to be in a compromising mood to me.

The one thing MJT overlooks in his assessment above is the possibility that Kerry is simply trying to reconcile a Democratic Party that is not, at this time, reconcilable. To my eyes Kerry is no more or less an incoherent mess policy-wise than Dean, Clark, Gephardt or, for that matter, Edwards. Perhaps the Democratic Party simply cannot, at this time, speak with the semblance of a single voice on foreign policy at this time.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at February 17, 2004 12:26 PM

Perhaps it would be worth reading what John Kerry actually has to say about Iraq and national security. Our options were never the stark binary between doing nothing and doing it the way we did. Bush's diplomacy was perfunctory and incompetent. We built NATO, the UN, and dominate the world today. rebuilding the UN to confront new threats should have been step 2 in our fight, right after destroying the Taliban. But enough of me, here's Kerry:

"But today, we confront a dual danger – two major detours from the true path of American leadership. On one side is President Bush who has taken America off onto the road of unilateralism and ideological preemption. On the other side are those in my own party who threaten to take us down a road of confusion and retreat.

Iraq has been ground zero in that ideological tug of war, with difficult decisions that had to be made, and complicated issues of national security that had to be discussed with Americans honestly and responsibly.

When America needed leadership on Iraq, Howard Dean was all over the lot, with a lot of slogans and a lot less solutions. One moment he supported authorizing the use of force, the next he criticized those who did. He said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, then he said he’d figured out that he didn’t. He said he opposed the war all along, but less than a month before it began he said that if the U.N. wouldn’t enforce its own mandates, then ‘unilateralism is a regrettable, but unavoidable choice.’

And at other times, Governor Dean said that we should not go into Iraq unless the UN Security council gave us authorization. That is a fundamental misunderstanding of how a President protects the United States. I have said many times I believe that America should have worked to get international backing before going to war. Our diplomacy should have been as good as our soldiers. A true international coalition would have been better for our troops, better for our security, better for Iraq’s future. Perhaps it reflects inexperience, but for Howard Dean to permit a veto over when America can or cannot act not only becomes little more than a pretext for doing nothing – it cedes our security and presidential responsibility to defend America to someone else -- a profound danger for both our national security and global stability.

The Democratic Party has always been stronger than that. Woodrow Wilson led America in a fight for self-determination and against old empires. Franklin Roosevelt defended freedom from fascism. Harry Truman contained the expansion of communism and introduced the Marshall Plan. John F. Kennedy pledged a “long twilight struggle” to end the Cold War. Jimmy Carter renewed America’s commitment to human rights around the world. And from Haiti to Bosnia, Bill Clinton placed America’s might on the side of America’s values while he expanded our circle of allies at the same time. And none of them would ever have given others the power to prevent America from defending its interests or its ideals.

To follow the path that Howard Dean seems to prefer is to embrace a “Simon Says” foreign policy where America only moves if others move first. And that is just as wrong as George Bush’s policy of schoolyard taunts and cowboy swagger. Our job is to lead the world to a better place, to convince allies of mutual interest and global responsibilities.

We need a President who will not walk away from a dangerous world – and a President who will not walk alone by choice – but a President who will lead a new alliance of free nations to build a new era of security and peace. A President who will rally democratic countries to join in a lasting coalition to address the common ills of a new century – terrorism, loose nukes, and drug trafficking, environmental destruction and epidemic disease. And with your help, that’s the kind of President I will be."

Pretty encouraging. There is an alternative to the Bush "bomb and run" strategy. It's been laid out in journals and books and if Kerry wins, it will be built in the State Deprt, Defense, and the NSA. To think that Kerry isn't serious about security because of how he answered a question in a debate isn't seriously looking at Kerry.

Posted by: harry at February 17, 2004 01:12 PM

Just where does Kerry's vote against the 87 billion for Iraq's reconstruction fit into this grand vision?

I do remember him justifying his vote with a claim of Bush incompetence. O.K., that's fine. What's next? I do not recall him following up with any suggestions of his own for either the improving of the financing of reconstruction or the reconstruction itself.

To think that Kerry is serious because of what he said in one speech isn't seriously looking at Kerry.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at February 17, 2004 01:31 PM

There is no strategy there harry, only talking points! Just Bush-bashing, platitudes and history lessons. The dirty word for it is propaganda. The PC word for it is "politicking." But it isn't strategy!

All he can do is argue that the salesmenship of the Bush strategy could have been better (I happen to agree). But so what? What is HIS strategy and why is it better than the current one? How will he create this "true international coalition" and what is its purpose?

If you don't care, if Democrats don't care, if all you care about is propaganda/politicking instead of solutions, then I hope to God they continue to marginalize themselves into a minority party.

Posted by: ex-democrat at February 17, 2004 01:37 PM


You quote Kerry as saying "We need a President who will not walk away from a dangerous world – and a President who will not walk alone by choice."

Since when are we walking alone? This criticism doesn't even line up with reality. Sixty countries are with us in Iraq. Adding France and Germany would only make the war roughly three percent more multilateral than it already is.

And what does he mean "by choice"? Does Kerry really think Bush chose to have France stab us in the front at the UN? Blaming Bush for French perfidy is just really bizarre to me. It doesn't take into account that France is absolutely upfront about its goal to bring down the US "hyperpower" and to counter us with their own anti-American global agenda.

Besides, this line of criticism seems to imply that it's better to do the wrong thing in a group than to do the right thing alone. And I just can't buy that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 17, 2004 01:42 PM
Yeah, and then he goes to war against Iraq - which was not a state run by radical isalmists, not one that supported them. But all he need do is CLAIM that they are, and as CIC in a nation "at war", he gets all the slack.

Sure, Iraq never helped terrorists. Those checks to Palestinian suicide bombers were all some "neoconservative" fantasy. Abu Nidal was never in Baghdad. Iraq had no connection to the murder of US diplomat Laurence Foley. Why it would be preposterous to argue that the largely secular Ba'athists would have ever worked with al-Qaeda even though they're doing so right now.

That argument doesn't pass the smell test, let along any rigourous analysis. Either we're at war with all the Islamic terrorist factions or we're simply playing a deadly game of whack-a-mole in which we get rid of al-Qaeda, only to have Ansar-i-Islam blow up the Empire State Building or detonate a dirty bomb in Metro Center DC. Lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseam.

Or we could do things the right way and systematically destroy not only al-Qaeda, but the system of state-sponsored terror that supported them and others so we avoid having to go through another attack like that of September 11, 2001.

I'd prefer the latter, thank you very much, and considering that Kerry has made it clear that he would go with the former, he cannot be considered suitable for the job of Commander in Chief.

Posted by: Jay Reding at February 17, 2004 01:48 PM

Actually, Dennis, he did. Kerry spoke many times on the floor of the Senate about ways to finance the reconstruction. A good example can be found in the Oct. 2, 2003 Congressional Record. Kerry along Foreign Relations ranking member Biden proposed changes to the President's request to guarantee that the $87 billion wasn't drawn from deficit dollars. In addition, Kerry explained why he believed Bush bungled attempts to raised international dollars.

Kerry never opposed rebuilding Iraq and didn't even oppose the $87 billion number. He wanted it funded correctly and he wanted to pressure Bush to seek greater international support.

[I can't seem to get this search engine to work, but I think you can get Congressional record texts here.

Posted by: harry at February 17, 2004 01:54 PM

I know that we have many other countries have pledged to be part of our so called "coalition." But that's not exactly the point. The UN or NATO or a broad coalition was/is important in order to establish legitimacy. This is an important concept: had our actions been seen as measured, patient, and multilateral, we could have tempered the notion that we are on a neo-imperialistic adventure. Or that we don't care what the rest of the world thinks. It means espousing the attitudes we intend to spread. Democratic government rests on legitimacy and if the Iraqis don't trust us, it won't sprout. This isn't an abstract concept. Sistani dictated it to us by forcing Bremmer to accept a UN election review. We will almost certainly be forced to abide by their decision.

As for our partners... they have contributed about 26,500 troops, combined. 11,000 of those belong to the UK. Six countries have committed between 1,000-3,000. Over 70% of our partners have contributed fewer than 500. Now look, I don't mean to degrade the know doubt fine soldiers in any of these units. But let's face it, these are token contributions wrung out to make a token point about coalitions.

This will have long term consequences. Americans will tire of the occupation and the pressure to reduce troop levels will be profound. It will affect whoever is president. As we slowly -- or quickly (we're already committed to a ridiculously optimistic June 30 deadline) Iraq will disintegrate. The war isn't over ... it's hardly begun. Kenneth Pollack's excellent assessment for Foreign Affairs makes plain just how crucial a continued, strong pressence is.

Had we the support of a broader coalition committed to a generally accepted end state of a democratic Iraq, we could have more badly needed troops on the ground, the legitimacy or international approval, and the security Iraqi need to exercise the rights we've made possible. this would have meant acknowledging the need for granting oil and rebuilding contracts to international companies. Yes, we would have had to share the pie. But do we want to make the world a better place, or merely do whatever it is we want?

The French, to be sure, can be bastards. But, it is a seriously wrong to think that France single handedly forced Bush to invade quickly and without a broader, committed coalition. Carrot and stick works, and we have more carrots and bigger sticks than France and Germany combined. Would they have wanted concessions? Sure. But after 9/11 we had the world's attention. It was emotional power to savor, not squander.

Posted by: harry at February 17, 2004 02:19 PM

I am familiar with the Kerry 'constructive criticism' revolving around the reconstruction.

Attempting to force Bush and the Republicans to raise taxes to pay for the 87 billion may be responsible fiscally, but it was meaningless within the context of actuality of ground level reconstruction. It struck me as more inside-the-beltway gamesmanship than 'constructive criticism'.

As to 'seeking greater international support' for financing reconstruction, well, I come down on that about where MJT does on the whole question of 'seeking greater international support' in prosecuting the Iraq War. There is a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking on the subject of 'if Bush had only...'. Well, that's Monday morning quarterbacking.

I have yet to see Kerry (or anyone else) provide an detailed, realistic and concrete alternative course of action that would have plausibly lead to the enlisting of the French, Germans, Russians and Chinese while ACTUALLY eliminating the threat posed to U.S. interests by Saddam Hussein's regime.

At bottom, when push comes to shove in the criticism of Bush's actions, the Democratic Party's answer ALWAYS ends up boiling down to appeasing European interests while leaving a dangerous status quo in the Middle East.

At this point I'm underwhelmed. What you see as 'constructive criticism', I see as political gamesmanship and appeasement.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at February 17, 2004 02:25 PM

Harry: But let's face it, these are token contributions wrung out to make a token point about coalitions.

This might be partly true. But it's also the case that, with the partial exception of the British, European armies have become too outdated to fight with us on the same battlefield. And their armies are miniscule compared to ours at any rate. There was just no way their contribution would have been anything more than token no matter what happened at the UN.

But, it is a seriously wrong to think that France single handedly forced Bush to invade quickly and without a broader, committed coalition.

No, France didn't do it singlehandedly. But, hey, if the American left couldn't get on board with Iraqi regime-change, how can you expect the entire rest of the world to agree and help us out?

Just because the decision to invade wasn't unanimous doesn't make it wrong. Some people didn't agree with our decision. Fine, that's their right. But I think it was the right decision. And if John Kerry is unwilling to do what he thinks is right just because some people don't agree with him, then he is too weak to make tough wartime decisions. He should be happy in the Senate where he isn't expected to lead and where he can play the popularity contest game without hurting anyone.

Anyway, Harry, the single biggest problem with Kerry is that he contradicts himself constantly. You can quote him saying X, and I'll quote him saying the exact opposite the very next day. That kinda makes this discussion moot since no one knows what he really thinks or would do if he were in office. I can't believe anything he says. At least I know Bush will follow through on his stated foreign policy objectives. Kerry is a big fat question mark.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 17, 2004 03:04 PM

harry, first of all, let me say - and I think I speak for all of the commenters here - that I value your thoughtful criticism. It is worlds (WORLDS, I tell you) away from that of a harridan like anne.elk (who is so busy snarking that she's on the verge of derisively snorting her septum straight up into her nasal cavity) and it actually motivates me to engage in serious debate. It is both noticed and appreciated.

Now let me question you about a crucial sticking point in your argument. Kerry's words on seeking 'international coalitions' such as those you have quoted look good in theory - indeed, they're designed specifically to appear sweetly reasonable. But everything he says is predicated upon one linchpin, without which the entire house of cards collapses: what if France, with their Security Council veto (or Russia, for that matter), says NO?

I submit that France would never have given its assent to the second Security Council resolution against Iraq, no matter what wheedling, pleading, or deal-making we offered them (short of some truly unacceptable compromise such as yielding sovereignty over the reconstruction and the awarding of contracts to the UN/France). I do not think this is a controversial proposition. First, do you disagree? If so, I'm interested in knowing what you think it would have taken them to not veto, given a.) their stated long-term policy goal of countering the American 'hyperpower'; b.) their deep financial investment in Saddam's Iraq; c.) their ANNOUNCED plan to veto no matter what (remember that?)

Assuming that, we're left with the fact that despite the fact that Bush went gamely to the UN for a second time - and regardless of the diplomatic mismanagement of the run-up to the war, something which even the most hawkish of hawks won't deny - we NEVER WOULD HAVE GOTTEN the UN seal of approval which Kerry defines as signifying a 'broader [read: legitimate] coalition.'

Now Kerry is no fool: he knows the mood of the American electorate reasonably well, and hence pays lip service to the "no UN veto over US policy" idea (while simultaneously zinging Dean on it). But it's just that: lip service. You must realize that the critera he sets out for deciding whether our war coalition is truly 'broad-based' and 'legitimate' amount - not accidentally, in my view - to exactly the same thing as offering the UNSC a veto over the war. His main objection, as far as I can see, is that we went to war without the UN aegis, which we've already established means little more than that we went to war without France, Germany (which bound itself to France's foreign policy and hence was merely an adjuncy), and Russia. That's two veto powers who would never have given consent. In the end, his prescription is inescapably a prescription for inaction.

So do you see why we find such putatively reasonable speechifying as Kerry's to be intensely disingenuous? Because despite the verbiage, despite the sensible words, his entire policy reduces to: if you can't get France and Russia on board (i.e. if you can't get a resolution out of the UNSC), you shouldn't go. Which means you shouldn't go. Which, for those of us who saw the liberation of Iraq as a security and moral imperative, is utterly unacceptable and bespeaks of a man who just doesn't take any of this seriously.

I look forward to your response - it's rather refreshing to have someone hanging around here who disagrees strongly, yet isn't a troll.

Posted by: Jeff B. at February 17, 2004 03:17 PM

At least I know Bush will follow through on his stated foreign policy objectives.

Actually, I wish I could know this. Hell, if I believed it, I might even, for just a second, think about voting for him. But Afghanistan and the November 11 agreement in Iraq don't look long-term successes to me.

But maybe I'm missing something. You post on 80s video games had me up until 1:00am last night!

Posted by: harry at February 17, 2004 03:18 PM

Jeff B: it's rather refreshing to have someone hanging around here who disagrees strongly, yet isn't a troll.

I second that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 17, 2004 03:33 PM

"I submit that France would never have given its assent to the second Security Council resolution against Iraq, no matter what wheedling, pleading, or deal-making we offered them (short of some truly unacceptable compromise such as yielding sovereignty over the reconstruction and the awarding of contracts to the UN/France). "

Now if you just want to do a little France-bashing, which seems all the rage, then dont let me get in your way. But if you want to get down to something serious, then consider this. They voted for 1441. Why did they do that? Why did they do that if (your premise) their intention was obstructionism all along?
As I see it, they expressed their conviction that Saddam should not be allowed to have WMD, and they actually stated publicly that they thought he might have them. So they voted to send in the inspectors, and to hold him accountable.

They were not prepared to support Bush's march to war. Explain this to me. Why is it that WE voted for 1441, why WE agreed to let the inspectors in, but then went ahead and effectivly curtailed the process and invaded anyway? The inspectors were there. They were not encountering any inability to do their thing. They were not prepared to give up. Everyone talks about how Saddam lied in his declaration, but it seems to me that he declared that he had no WMD. And he didnt.

Could it be that the French got the impression that 1441 was a sham? That Bush had no intention at any point to do anything other than invade? Could it be that the French took him seriously when he proposed 1441, and felt that his move to curtail the process made them out to be suckers?

Could they have been right about all that?

Posted by: tano at February 17, 2004 04:50 PM

"Wow, Michael, you really put anne.elk into a towering snit..."

It doesn't take much, DtP. "Towering snit" is his/her/its natural state, which is why he/she.it is such a target of derision in thread after thread.

About the Bush admin's cooperation with other countries: our various secret services and police forces have been cooperating all along, catching Al Queda operatives and other unsavory characters. Our coalition is genuine and multilateral. Hell, if Japan volunteers to commit money and troops, that's as multilateral as you can get.
And now the UN has agreed that June 30th is too early for elections, which is a major coup for us. It is too early to ensure true representative government can develop, and now we can stay a while longer backed by the UN to make sure democracy takes root.

Posted by: Yehudit at February 17, 2004 05:15 PM

Sullivan fisks Kerry's Wisconsin debate performance.

Posted by: Yehudit at February 17, 2004 05:17 PM

"They voted for 1441. Why did they do that? Why did they do that if (your premise) their intention was obstructionism all along?"

It's easy to vote for something. The UN voted 14 Chap. VII UNSC resolutions against Iraq. It takes guts to enforce them.

"As I see it, they expressed their conviction that Saddam should not be allowed to have WMD, and they actually stated publicly that they thought he might have them. So they voted to send in the inspectors, and to hold him accountable."

The inspectors didn't do that though. Saddam never verified to the satisfaction of the designated inspection process that he had disarmed. Meanwhile the only reason they got as much cooperation as they did (most of which was a sham anyway, if you read the Kay Report) was because out troops were massing on Saddam's border. We couldn't keep that up.

"Why is it that WE voted for 1441, why WE agreed to let the inspectors in, but then went ahead and effectivly curtailed the process and invaded anyway? The inspectors were there. They were not encountering any inability to do their thing."

Saddam was gaming them. At some point it became clear that it was a meaningless exercise.

"it seems to me that he declared that he had no WMD. And he didnt."

See above article by Rice.

Posted by: Yehudit at February 17, 2004 05:41 PM

Jeff and Michael, first off thanks for the kind words. I really, really appreciate it. And I wouldn't be commenting here if I didn't think the quality of debate wasn't first class.

Jeff, you cut right through to an important point: what would it have taken to get Russia, France and Germany on board? If it would never have been possible, should we have gone in anyway? To those simple questions, I just don't have an answer. I doubt we can be sure. Parts of our government were confident enough to agree, briefly, to try another vote. What if we'd swept the security council except for France and maybe Germany or Russia? In that case, I think there might have been enough international pressure to guilt them into a deal. Afterall, we got 1440. I'm optimistic but again, like I said, I have no way of knowing. I'm disappointed that we didn't try harder. From the beginning, I think we played the PR game wrong: we said we're going in and you're either with us or against us. That can be a good argument, but it clearly wasn't the way to approach a proud country like France. Ultimately, France, like most any rational nation, would have acted in a manner most condusive to it's economic and hegemonic position. If we'd sold them a new deal, respective of their desire to feel important and their economic goals, I think we could have done it.

But we didn't. Now that has consequences. I don't want to diminish what've we accomplished in Iraq too much. There have been many successes and I'm still cautiously optimistic. But, while France and Germany and a host of other countries were suspicious of our motives before March 2003, they are unquestionably against our grand plan now. And that's too bad, because we have a lot more work to do in Iraq. Not to mention in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. (And lo, we ought not forget China!)

Our immediate goals will require a good deal of international cooperation. Terrorism, has been pointed out ad nauseum, is a stateless threat. We will have to work in Iraq, in Afghanistan, throughtout the Mideast, and also in Germany, in France, in our own Immigration and Naturalization Agency, on our own shores, on the seaways, and, as we're seeing increasingly, in the airways. This is the sort of threat that calls out for an international coalition, probably run through an international organization strongly controlled by the US (like agencies such as the IMF and the WTO) to track terrorists, shut off their resources, pressure suspected terrorist states, and respond quickly and comprehensively -- on a world wide basis -- to credible threats. We've signalled, by invading Iraq, that our only intention is to fight threats we choose in the ways we want. I don't think this is a smart strategy.

In answering questions about whether we should tried to get France on board, I wish the debate had never been structured this way in the first place. I want to imagine that on 9/12/01 Rumsfeld said, Let's rebuild the world's institutions to fight this enemy, instead of, Let's invade Iraq.

I, like many hawks, have deep reservations about the UN. Libya chairing the human rights committee did it for me. And without question, elements of the charter, especially those that recognize the supremacy of sovereignty, are hopelessly dated. 9-11 was a wake up call, but I think it was a wake up call to change the UN, to reorganize NATO, and to force our allies to recognize that Islamic fundamentalism was not just a threat to the US, but to all Western democracies. France is at least basically cognizent of this. And in 2001, we had the world wide good will necessary to remake international institutions.

Smart people have formulated the particulars of how we could do this. Feinstein's and Slaughter's "A Duty to Prevent," which has been mentioned here before, is good intro sketch. The foreign policy journals have run many, many articles explaining how structuring international alliances could help us achieve our security goals.

Like you and Michael, as a broad proposition, I supported deposing Hussein. But I am also compelled by many other pressing human rights and security situations. As a human rights disaster, North Korea is every bit as bad as Iraq and probably much more dangerous as a proliferator. There are worrisome human rights situations in Liberia, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, to name a small few. Israel/Palestine is a first class disaster begging for strong leadership. I think we'll see some more successes, but we simply don't have a long-term plan, an agenda, to address any of these problems. In many ways, we're adrift in a dangerous world with only our own horse to ride. I've heard a lot of good rhetoric from President Bush, but I haven't seen a cogent plan of action.

Well, that was long. Time to watch 24. In the perfect world, we could ignore all of this and just put Jack Bauer on the case. Ah, well.

Posted by: harry at February 17, 2004 05:41 PM

The postings here make me realize more than ever why I will probably never vote Democrat again. Tano, Why didn't France obstruct 1441? Because they assumed rightly that they could obstruct any further resolution which would be necessary to actually go to war. They were wrong, however, to think that such obstructionism could stop the war. If you think that there was ANY circumstance upon which France would have allowed UN support for the removal of Sadaam Hussein, then you are just ignorant of reality. This is not France bashing. Same with Russia but Russia is not a military ally so we do not have quite the same expectations. If liberals here do not understand the strategic issues involved in the war on Iraq, if they do not see the advantages to having our worst enemies fear us and our allies respect our willingness to protect our own vital interests and not defer to the will of the UN jackals, then they have no place at the table. There are many legitimate things to discuss but the "alienation of our allies" is not one of them. Have you not noticed that our allies seem to be quite cooperative in rounding up Al Quaeda operatives found in their countries? How do you think we are getting all the intell on plots? As for Kerry, he is either a reflexive Carter type or a disembling liar. Either way I am not willing to throw over a team that has been a proven success and clearly "gets it" for anyone else unless they clearly convince me otherwise. We are at a crossroads here and the liberals on this board show it. They do not believe we are at war with a broad network of Islamist fascists and states that support and enable them. They see no danger from the cooperation of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Pakistan and North Korea in the nuclear project. They think Al Quaeda is like Dr. No or Goldfinger or SPECTRE from James Bond, a kind of stand alone supervillian. We supporters of the War on terrorism think otherwise. We think it's a war like the Cold War except more dangerous because the terrorist equation is unstable whereas the Soviet Union was stable and could be deterred. If Bush loses, the war is lost. Period. Kerry has no ideas no plans to fight it better. He will not give over our sovereignty to the UN but he will use it as an excuse to not take action. He and his people will not see the big picture and will revert to a more muscular Sept. 10 policy. If this happens I promise you an American City will go up in Nuclear flames if not now then eventually. BTW, to see the ultimate defense of the War check out theweeklystandard.com for the article by Kagan and Cristol.

Posted by: Doug at February 17, 2004 06:02 PM

"Hell, if Japan volunteers to commit money and troops, that's as multilateral as you can get."

Japan? You want real coalition building? How about Howard Dean? He supports staying there and making a commitment to having it work.

This is not meant as a pro-Dean argument, by any means. My point is that many have mentioned the VAST size of our coalition - but they are talking about NOW. OF COURSE everyone in the world wants things to work out well in Iraq - for reasons of decency and also because it will be one hell of a dangerous place if it becomes a failed state. That is NOT a legitimate argument for the "multinational" status of the Bush effort. The world is coming in to deal with the mess, because they have little choice. The arguments about unilateralism have to do with the going in, not the cleaning up.

Posted by: tano at February 17, 2004 06:08 PM


What unilateralism? There was no unilateralism going into Iraq. Sorry, but you can't just rewrite history that way. A sixty-nation coalition isn't even remotely unilateral.

If you think the US should not act unless we have unanimous approval, then you need to just come out and say that. Also, please explain why this radical and unprecedented policy proposal should be adopted now for the first time ever in history. What has changed, aside from the fact that a Republican is in the White House, that the left is suddenly concerned about this?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 17, 2004 06:19 PM

rewrite history?
A 60 nation coalition?

Michael. I am trying to be serious here. Can you honestly claim that this was anything but a two country invasion? US and UK. Period.

There was almost no support, amongst the people or the leaders anywhere else in the world. (and, for that matter - half the people in the US against - before the invasion, and over 2/3 against in UK).

Sure, the US is the biggest and richest country in the world and can easily put the squeeze on a few countries to say a few supportive words, so long as they dont have to lose any of their young men or pay out any treasure.

And I repeat, the large numbers of the "coalition" that exists now, are those who are trying to help deal with the mess that has been created. They were not there last March.

If you cant justify the Cush diplomatic record without resorting to this type of over-the-top exaggeration, you give the impression that there really is no defense.

Posted by: tano at February 17, 2004 06:43 PM

Many countries sent their boys to die. Italy, Poland, England, Spain, Thailand, Denmark, and Ukraine all lost soldiers in Iraq. Six in a hundred deaths have been non-American and non-UK deaths.

Posted by: Jim at February 17, 2004 06:52 PM

sorry, I was just so ticked at your first paragraph I didnt get to the second.

Sorry to be ever the critic, but this strikes me as over-the-top exageration as well. Why is it that your response must be to pick up my point and drive it to an absurd extreme, and then criticize THAT? Who said anything about unanimity?

Let me be clear. Bush didnt give a damn about unanimity, majority, plurality, or anything else. I'm sure he was very glad to get Blair's support, but even that was not necessary. There is a huge area between a situation in which the US acts completely alone, or the US is tied down to a requirement of absolute unanimity. The huge area between these extremes is where rational world leaders have always tried to work - to build real alliances, to build stable international structures of cooperation and common purpose, to build the notion of an international regime of law and civilized behavior. A constraint to us - yeah, sometimes it might be. It might often be a real pain in the ass as well. But if the leaders arent willing to abide by the rules that they inspire and write, then how do you get anyone else to follow them?

The whole point of building regimes of international cooperation was to get away from the historic pattern of every country pursuing its aims with violence the moment that they felt that they had a military advantage over their competitors or advesaries. We are now in the situation where we have the advantage over everyone - just about over everyone else combined. The world is watching to see what we do with that power. Even if you judge the use of that power was for the good in this case, there are even larger issues at play. If we use our power in a way that runs roughshod over the structures that we have built, then they will mean nothing to anyone else. ANd the work of the last half centruy will be for naught.

Posted by: tano at February 17, 2004 06:54 PM

I know I'm a bit late to this party, but as a conservative, this is where I blame Bush: his demoralizing (for conservatives) domestic agenda might just put this guy in the White House.


Posted by: Ryan at February 17, 2004 10:03 PM

tano, I hate to break it to you, but while we won the major combat operations in WWII, we lost their hearts and minds a couple of decades ago, and frankly, we never had the frogs' to begin with.

UN's over.

We should do what we do best, break it down and build it up better.

Posted by: Sandy P. at February 17, 2004 10:52 PM


He’s not an ANSWER nut

How do you know? There is plenty of evidence of connections between Kerry and the ANSWER cabal.

First, Vietnam Veterans Against the War has many connections with ANSWER. Try blogging VVAW and International ANSWER:


Secondly, his wife is a MAJOR sugar momma for a variety of extreme leftist groups including ANSWER and CAIR via the Tides Foundation:


Thirdly, Kerry was getting donations from the Chicoms:


That's the smoke. The fire is his congressional voting record. Kerry has spent 19 years gutting our intelligence, trying to disarm our miltary and pushing to surrender our sovereignty. Based on his record, one might conclude that Kerry is an ANSWER mole. Now that Dean has dropped out, the Ted Rall endorsement can't be far behind.

The Democrats would be wise to reject Kerry. Judging by the Wisconson primary results, it is not too late to switch to Edwards.

Posted by: HA at February 18, 2004 03:54 AM

Tano is just horrifed that the regime-welfare system we built for the last half-century for kleptocracies, totalitarian dictatorships, terror-states and other people who want to kill us is now over.

How terrible we have "unfair" advantages to clense the world of tyranny while protecting our citizens from being murdered!!!

Boo hoo! Let us all shed a tear for the "international structures of cooperation" that have left thousands dead, leaves millions at risk and subsidizes tyrants and genodical murderers.

I also think it is wonderful how Tano shits on our allies, especially since today our Polish friends were attacked by a suicide bomber. But that must be a "neocon" plot too!

Posted by: ex-democrat at February 18, 2004 05:40 AM


I find it interesting that on the one hand, you find the Iraq War was illegitimate because of lack of support from other nations, but you also find those nations nations which did support the Iraq War were, by and large, of no particular consequence and should therefore be ignored as to their foreign policy stances and wartime (and reconstruction) contributions.

Isn't that just a bit of a double standard? Just what is your cosmic scheme for being a 'consequential' nation within the context of this war? Please outline your criteria for deciding which nations of the world are meaningful in shaping historic events and which are not. Then, please explain why those who do not meet your criteria should be discounted or ignored.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at February 18, 2004 05:43 AM

Wow what a ridiculous debate this is, the fact that Tano refuses to recognize that it is not a unilateral action when you have other countries supporting you, and if France and Germany supported us, would it stiil be a legitimate coalition - it wasn't in 91 according to Kerry. The question that needs to be asked, if we went in alone to Iraq, would that be legitimate, was their a legitimate security concern to warrent evasion. And the answer in my mind is yes. The reason, the big crater in new york. It has become impossible to ignore that a group of people have declared war upon us. They are militant islamic arabs. They are using "friendly" governments for aid and comfort. Those gov'ts of the top of my head were Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Korea, Syria, Libya etc. So what do we do. Disrupt global oil supllies and really inflame Arab hatred and take out Saudi Arabia, while gratifying, extremely stupid. Iran seems to be toppling slowly by itself. We took out Afghanistan and are slowly rebuilding it, you can't undo 50 years of decay and destruction overnight, Pakistan is being brough to heel and has been very helpful (but not perfect) in our little war on the terrorists. North Korea is imploding from starvation and Bush has deftly managed a multilateral coalition, making China and S. Korea more responsible. The bilateral agreement hammered out by Carter and Clinton was a farce that lead us to this. So seeking out bilateral talks with NK seems particularly foolish. So that leaves Iraq, opportune for the plucking. Sponsor Terrorism, yep, WMD (used in past, evidence of ongoing programs, evidence - proven wrong - of weapons), yep, delusions of granduer, yep, aggressive yep, violating cease fire, yep, violating UN binding resolutions, yep. Murderous regime, yep. Oh and large oil fields that are under producing that can be brought on line, making Saudi Arabia less important, oh and getting our bases out of Saudi and into Iraq where they can be pointed at Syria and Iran if needed oh and the added pressure that can be brought to bear on countries, the don't piss me off becuase the 4th ID is pissed that it missed the romp into Baghdad so they are itchin to practice in a live fire exercise, (see Libya). So what part of the strategy, to clean out the cesspool, which was part of the rationale prior to the UN shenanigans, is not working. It is working and its is effective, we have a long way to go, and may have to topple a few more governments before we are done, spend 84 billion a year for the next 10 years rebuilding countries being run for profit by dictators and the like. A small price to pay to remove the real root cause of terrorism, oppression. In this case the best defense is a good offense.

Posted by: Kevin at February 18, 2004 08:52 AM

Ps - I can not type - should preview before posting

Posted by: Kevin at February 18, 2004 08:54 AM

Kevin we don't want common sense.

The goal is to oust Chimpyidiotfratboyliarfascistmonkeyshrub and his neoconwarmongerhaliburnzionist cronies.

That is all we care about, nothing else matters.

Posted by: LeftDem at February 18, 2004 09:01 AM

Do you know what is sad? There is absolutely no way of determining whether LeftDem's post is satire.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at February 18, 2004 09:04 AM


Which is why I hate posting to these because its hard to know if they are just jerking your chain for kicks or they truly believe what they are saying. I can not fathom the mental process of people who think that we should stick with the UN because they add "legitimacy". Can they even think critically about the world around them or did they just go to school to eat lunch. But I am just hoping they are the minority and no matter what you feel about domestic policies, there is only one choice for the next 4 years, GWB. He believes that defending the US is his most impt job, that counts for a lot of mistakes. I never want to see people jumping out of burning buildings again. That was the direct result of 20+ years of law enforcement and hoping the problem would go away.

Posted by: Kevin at February 18, 2004 12:22 PM

I'd have to say it's satire in that it's so over the top. On the other hand, I've seen a number of comments in the last few months that read like satire but, sadly, weren't.

Posted by: Michael Hall at February 18, 2004 12:56 PM

As a New Yorker, whose second son was born a few minutes after midnight on Sept 12, 2001, the fact that Islamofascists would happily slaughter my two boys and dance in the street for joy afterwards mean more than their position on the prescription drug benefit or stepwise marginal tax rates. Anyone who acts as if 9/11 was an aberration, rather than something which changed our world irrevocably, can never get my vote. Kerry's shiftiness and the absurdity of "muscular multilateralism" (Hans Blix will keep us safe!) means that despite my lifelong Democratic roots I'll prpbably reluctantly be pulling the lever for Dubya

Posted by: Daniel Calto at February 18, 2004 01:00 PM

Daniel -- Well said about Kerry.

Posted by: Ben at February 18, 2004 03:56 PM


> rebuilding the UN to confront new threats
> should have been step 2 in our fight, right
> after destroying the Taliban.

I agree with your (repeated) references to rebuilding the UN, but not at all about the timing. Really, the UN is so corrupt that rebuilding it is going to be a lengthy and catastrophic process. Indeed, I think the quickest route will be to simply demolish it and build something entirely new in its place. (Something that has no room whatsoever for the Mugabes of this world, by the way.)

But to insist that this lengthy process must intervene between our whacking the Taliban and anything else is unthinkable--why hand our enemies such a long breathing spell?

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Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere

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Tip Jar


Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn