March 15, 2004

Yes, It Was Appeasement

It looks like terrorism works, at least in Spain.

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- The leader of Spain's victorious Socialists said Monday he will withdraw his nation's support for the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, restating a campaign promise a day after his party won elections overshadowed by terrorist bombings.

The fact that the Socialist party won Spains election isnt appeasement per se. And it certainly wasnt a vote for Al Qaeda, as some have alleged in my comments section. The Socialists are not a pro-Osama party.

Besides, the fact that a peaceful transfer of power followed an election in a country that was recently ruled by General Francos fascists is itself a rebuke to the totalitarian ideology of the killers.

What counts as appeasement is that the new Spanish prime minister vows to retreat from Iraq just days after the worst terror attack in Spains history. The general consensus in Spain seems to be that by joining the coalition to oust Saddam Hussein they were drawn into a fight that wasnt theirs, that they made themselves a target when they should have stayed neutral. The bombs dropped in Iraq explode in Madrid sums up the thinking rather nicely.

Some people arent happy with the appeasement charge. Here is Randy Paul:

it is a special type of odious arrogance that will accuse an entire nation of being cowards simply from the comfort of your keyboard in San Diego because they decide to exercise their rights as citizens in a democracy, the same rights that you claim that we are fighting for in Iraq.
Spaniards arent being called cowards for exercising their democratic rights, Randy. No one Im aware of has said Spain cant vote for a left-wing party or that it doesnt have the right to pull its troops out of Iraq.

The voters of Spain have every right to do both. But that doesnt change the fact that what Spain has done is appeasement.

Lets look up appeasement in the dictionary so were all on the same page.

appeasement
n. The policy of granting concessions to potential enemies to maintain peace.
Appeasement is not the same thing as treason or surrender. An appeaser recognizes that he has an enemy, or at least a potential enemy. In this case, Spain properly recognizes Al Qaeda as the enemy. The concession granted is the troop pullout from Iraq. The voters of Spain think this will take them off Al Qaedas enemies list and that Spain will then be at peace.

Some have called this a surrender. It is not. For Spain to actually surrender to Al Qaeda they would have to evacuate Andalucia and give it back to the House of Islam.

The problem with appeasement is that, from the point of view of the enemy, its not good enough. Al Qaeda wont leave Spain alone unless Spain does surrender. Throwing the enemy a bone wont cut it. Spain might get bumped down a notch on the target priority list, but that will not solve the problem.

Winston Churchill described the futility of appeasement best.

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
The implication, of course, is that the appeaser still gets eaten.

For those who think pulling out of Iraq immediatly after a huge terror attack isnt appeasement, Ill have to ask them what they think would qualify as appeasement (as opposed to surrender). If this doesnt qualify as a textbook case, what does?


UPDATE: Let me just add that I think calling Spain a nation of cowards is obnoxious. (I do agree with Randy Paul about that.) Appeasement is a mistake, and it's a mistake motivated by fear. It's also a mistake that the US made repeatedly in the 1990s. (See Somalia.) And we weren't a nation of cowards then.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 15, 2004 08:49 PM
Comments

The fact that the Socialist party won Spain’s election isn’t appeasement per se. And it certainly wasn’t a vote for Al Qaeda, as some have alleged in my comments section. The Socialists are not a pro-Osama party.

No, the Spaniards aren't pro-Al Quaida per se, but they did vote for Osama as surely as a vote for Ralph Nader is a vote for Bush. In that way, Spain voted for Osama. The rest of your post I agree with.

Posted by: David at March 15, 2004 08:58 PM

so was it appeasement for the US to pull its troops out of Saudi Arabia? That, after all, was one of Al Qaeda major demands.

Posted by: roublen vesseau at March 15, 2004 09:03 PM

Well though out Michael, indeed it is pure appeasement.

Its important that you made the distinction and defined appeasement as opposed to outright surrender or treason. Its entirely justified to apply it to the Spaniards who voted for the socialists.

And lets be clear, the entire election platform of the socialists was to withdraw troops from Iraq. A vote for them was almost certainly a vote for an action that appeases Al-Qaeda.

Posted by: Jono at March 15, 2004 09:06 PM

Roublen: so was it appeasement for the US to pull its troops out of Saudi Arabia? That, after all, was one of Al Qaeda major demands.

It would have been appeasement if it was the first thing we did after we were attacked on 9-11.

We had to leave Saudi Arabia eventually, and we did it after a show of force on our terms. Spain was expected to leave Iraq eventually. It was the timing and the rationale that made this appeasement, not the action itself.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 15, 2004 09:07 PM

Roublen,

I think it had more to do with Saudi objections than it did to caving in to Osama's demands. The Saudi's couldn't support our invasion of Iraq, so we found a more willing partner. That's what we do; we go where we are welcome, despite all the propaganda to the contrary.

Posted by: David at March 15, 2004 09:07 PM

roublen vesseau:
so was it appeasement for the US to pull its troops out of Saudi Arabia? That, after all, was one of Al Qaeda major demands.

Its not appeasement if you don't grant concessions. What benefit was there for America to keep troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, given that all of them can be stationed inside Iraq ?

I don't think America gave up any concessions. It was in America's best interest.

Posted by: Jono at March 15, 2004 09:10 PM

The problem with that definition of appeasement is that it describes a policy that 95% of the time is going to be the right move. If we went to war over every disagreement with an adversary, our species would become extinct pretty quickly. "The policy of granting concessions to potential enemies to maintain peace" not only describes Allied policy towards Nazi Germany from 1936-9, but also British policy towards the U.S. from 1815-1914, Allied policy towards the Soviet Union during WW2, and U.S. policy towards China after 1972. In each case, "appeasement" was followed because policy makers realized that there were more important things at stake (to wit, trans-Atlantic trade, winning WW2, and winning the Cold War, respectively) than whatever issue happened to be in dispute. The voters in Spain seem to have come to a similar conclusion: that it is more important to actually fight terrorism than to be a willing servant of American foreign policy. If the timing of the decision to withdraw makes it look like "appeasement", so be it.

Posted by: Steve Smith at March 15, 2004 09:45 PM

About 90% of the Spanish people (no exaggeration) opposed Spanish involvement in Iraq from the get-go. The Socialists announced their desire to withdraw those troops long before 3/11. Meanwhile, there is no intention of withdrawing Spain's troops from Afghanistan, Kosovo and Bosnia, where they also serve.

It's insulting and ridiculous to equate the realization of a goal the vast majority of the people wanted beforehand with appeasement.

Posted by: Mithras at March 15, 2004 09:58 PM

"Terrorism works" seems a little shrill. I think the outcome would have been much the same without the murders of 3/11.

Posted by: Jack Bog at March 15, 2004 10:05 PM

Good point Steve. Of course for all our tough talk, we negotiate all the time. No we do not, as you say: "go to war over every disagreement with an adversary."

However, labelling al-Qaida and its allies as just another advesary as if it were just another global player with an outstanding dispute doesn't make for a real argument. Almost no one, except ANSWER et al, thinks that al-Qaida should be negotiated with in any form. Are they not an implaccable enemy? The question then just reverts back to the old arguments about whether Iraq has (or had) anything to do with al-Qaida.

Pulling our army out of Saudi Arabia was, to some extent, an appeasement - from the al-Qaida point of view. But I think this message of concession was drowned out by the noise of tanks and helicopters as the army (af & marines too) steamrolled the die-hard remanants of Saddam's army and their fedayeen /foreign jihadi colleagues who were blocking the retreat from Saudi Arabia.

I notice that the withdrawal of the Great Satan's troops from the sacred soil/sand or Arabia has not stopped the terrorist attacks there, in any event.

As I said, there's no use in negotiating with these people.

Posted by: John in Tokyo at March 15, 2004 10:15 PM

Mithras, I find it hard to believe I actually agree with you. I'm seeing that 90% number in a number of places I trust, so it really does look like the Spanish people wanted Spain out of Iraq.

The problem of course is timing, and operant conditioning. The polls say the socialists were going to lose despite strong support for the withdrawal plank in their platform. Then terrorists blew up a bunch of Spaniards, and voila! 10-20% of the electorate changes sides.

What this says to the rational terrorist is that elections can be decided by bombs. How can this be anything but pure, sweet terrorist-chow? For the people who switched, that hasn't been a concern; instead they've responded to the negative stimulus, and jumped the way Al Qaeda wanted. I understand the switch; it pisses me off, but it is certainly understandable.

For the Socialist Pary leadership, and for those who pushed for withdrawal before now, this has to be a bitter victory. They win because of bloodshed. And now by withdrawing from Iraq they reward the people who killed their contrymen. The elction results and the subsequent withdrawal also make future election bombings much more likely.

So yes, Mithras, we need to acknowledge that the Spanish presence in Iraq wasn't popular in Spain. But I question whether the new Spanish government's decision to stick to principal is all that principled. Seems to me the smart and honorable thing would be to stay the course, in defiance of the killer's wishes. But considering the 10-20% who jumped, I'm afraid the bad example has been set.

I am not looking forward to November.

Posted by: Mark Poling at March 15, 2004 11:34 PM

Calling the results of the Spanish election appeasement is just part of the overall absurdity associated with considering our present security situation at all analogous to what we faced during WWII.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 15, 2004 11:35 PM

Kimmitt,

World War II was not the only time in history anyone appeased an enemy. Did you read the definition of appeasement? Do you have anything to say about it?

The shoe fits. And Spain will wear it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 15, 2004 11:44 PM

I'd say the appeasement had already taken place--the Spaniards decided they had had enough of it, and ordered up a government that wouldn't respond to fear by shrinking away and going along to get along. Thus US appeasement was ended.

Really, the code here for "al-Qaeda won today" is "US policy lost." People don't honestly give a rat's ass about Spain's participation in Iraq. Be serious. But while the hat tip to terrorism is infinitely more cloudy, there is no doubt that it's a big middle finger to George Bush. And that, IMO, is a big reason why much of the frothy right has been frothing in this vein over the last 24 hrs.

Posted by: Torridjoe at March 16, 2004 12:12 AM

Mark Poling-
I find it hard to believe I actually agree with you.

faint Really, am I that unreasonable?

Seriously, based on a completely non-random sample of my friends in Barcelona, Spain has not suddenly flown to Munich. They just don't think Iraq = WoT, and they don't appreciate the PP hyping the ETA theory without evidence.

As for this being terrorist-chow, I suppose they are getting some satisfaction ... from watching the American right running around in hysterics. But as an operational matter, it hasn't improved their position a whit. Face it, they're on the ropes and getting pummeled from all sides. They can kill but they can't win. They just took an opportunity to make it seem like they were driving events. I think the best thing to do generally is to ignore what the terrorists want, and just do what we were going to do anyway. Spain seems to understand that.

Posted by: Mithras at March 16, 2004 12:25 AM

Torrid Joe: Thus US appeasement was ended.

We are not Spain's enemy. You know that. Please see the definition of appeasement.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2004 12:47 AM

The terrorist attack is obviously bad news. The subsequent policy change in Spain is perhaps less obviously good news. This IS appeasement. It WILL fail to protect Spain and/or Europe from further terrorist attacks. Those of us who support the WOT know this. Those who don't--don't. Here is a test case. I agree with Torridjoe, on one point. Spain's participation in the WOT per se, was not all that important. The inevitable failure of appeasement will be perhaps more valuable to the long term prosecution of this war than their aid which was mostly symbolic anyway.

When you are right, there is no need to fear reality. Those of us who support the WOT are, and shouldn't.

Posted by: Rocketman at March 16, 2004 01:13 AM

so was it appeasement for the US to pull its troops out of Saudi Arabia? That, after all, was one of Al Qaeda major demands.
*************************************************
Is it appeasement to move troops out of a geographical cul-de-sac and relocate them to the single most strategic position in the region?

Try reading some history or look at a map.

Posted by: Daniel Kauffman at March 16, 2004 03:30 AM

UPDATE: Let me just add that I think calling Spain a nation of cowards is obnoxious. (I do agree with Randy Paul about that.)
************************************************
A tad too much hot air. Might I point out the entire Nation of Spain did NOT vote Socialist?

Be nice to see a colored map of the election demographics similiar to the Bush/Gore map of the 2000 election.

Anyone no if there is such a construct?

Posted by: Daniel Kauffman at March 16, 2004 03:32 AM

The overthrow of Saddam is a historical fact, and cannot be undone. The troops there now are working to provide security and stability. To pull out of Iraq at this point is morally indefensible, regardless of ones opinion about the invasion.

Posted by: Rick W. at March 16, 2004 03:37 AM

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/?CartoonDate=3/16/2004

Posted by: Daniel Kauffman at March 16, 2004 03:43 AM

I have read that the Poles will make up for any losses of Spanish troops. Ironic. The invasion of Poland was the result of an earlier appeasement, and one of the more cynical alliances between the fascist right and communist left.

Posted by: Zhombre at March 16, 2004 03:43 AM

Pulling out troops IS, and will be felt to be by AQ, appeasement. But it hasn't happened, yet -- and it seems that there is even a good possibility of self-NEGATING prophesy.
First, Aznar's group will certainly be accusing the socialists of appeasing the terrorists, and as the new Spanish Gov't looks at Chamberlain's historical judgment, they might want to find some face-saving way of avoiding appeasement.

Like, accepting a US transfer to an Iraq temp gov't as legitimate, and accepting an invitation to stay. Plus, the new gov't WILL be under intense pressure to increase effective police/ national security intelligence gathering and sharing.

And the fact that some prior "terrorist sympathizer" was known, and released, and became a full terrorist, will help to put on the table what the "law enforcement" option means. Are terrorists presumed innocent until AFTER they kill?

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 16, 2004 04:26 AM

Is Spain a nation of appeasers? No. They still have roughly 37% who made the right choice. Do they have a roughly 10% swing vote that switched sides from the Popular party to the Socialist party in direct response to this attack? Yes. Was this an act of cowardly appeasement on the part of that 10%? Absolutely.

As for the roughly 32% that was with the Socialists from the beginning, I think they are well represented by these two women:

http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=4274

Whose side do you think they're on? Its the Red-Green alliance united by a common enemy. They are worse than appeasers. They are collaborators.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 04:31 AM

And if this "law enforcement" / presumed innocent option is open to discussion, it's fair to mention what it means in application to Saddam.
No invasion until AFTER he uses WMDs.
How long were sanctions going to last?
How long, after sanctions, would it take for him to get nukes? (Before or after Iran???)

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 16, 2004 04:33 AM

Let's get a one thing straight about that Saudi Arabian military base. Its purpose was to protect Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein. Once Saddam was removed, the base's raison d'etre disappeared. Result: no base.

This is not appeasement. It is expediency.

Posted by: average joe at March 16, 2004 04:46 AM

Torridjoe,

If this is not appeasement and Al Qaeda agrees with your assessment, then it would be reasonable to predict that there will NOT be any additional terrorism prior to elections in other countries.

Will you go on the record that we will not see more acts of terrorism by Al Qaeda in an attempt to influence the outcome of elections in other countries?

It is all very logical for an appeaser to make a case that appeasement isn't appeasement. One would expect that. If you really believe your own spin, then you should be fully prepared to go on the record that Al Qaeda will not follow through on their victory with the next logical step.

What do you think the Islamists would view as a greater prize, Jerusalem or al-Andalus and Paris? Which is the easier prize?

Wretchard put it best:

A division of labor has been established in which the Left provides the paralyzing injection on Western society leaving the jihadis a clear field within which to operate.

http://belmontclub.blogspot.com/2004_03_01_belmontclub_archive.html#107921898009995819

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 04:49 AM

Al Qaeda knows its enemy well. They developed a strategy to exploit their alliance with the socialist left of Spain. They executed their strategy. They achieved a tremendous victory.

http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/03/15/spain.invest/index.html

Hard core Western socialists today are allied with Islamic fascism just as Stalin was allied with Hitler prior to Operation Barbarossa. They are allied against the common enemy of free-market liberal democracy. It is a natural alliance until they both claim the same prize. Today, the socialists believe they hold the prize of al-Andalus. Al Qaeda knows better. They now know that Spain will be a secure staging ground for further attacks on Europe.

Its time to wake up. When will we understand our enemy as well as it knows us?

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 05:10 AM

Michael J. writes: "Appeasement is a mistake, and it's a mistake motivated by fear. It's also a mistake that the US made repeatedly in the 1990s. (See Somalia.) And we weren't a nation of cowards then."

Exactly! (And, if I need to say it, we aren't now.)

Bravo Michael.

Posted by: gmroper at March 16, 2004 05:19 AM

HA, I think it's going to far too call the socialists ally's of terrorists, but they are certainly following policies that the terrorists find more favourable.

I don't think it really matters why spain voted for them. Those who committed this attack will see it as a success because it fits their view of what they think of their enemy.

Even if the main motivation to vote out the conservatives was anger at what seemed like attempts to pin the blame on ETA for political reasons, and had nothing to do with appeasement, to Al-Quaeda they will view it as weak westerners who cower in fear when attacked, because that matches what they think they know of westerners and what they want to believe of them.

Which means that whatever the reason for the vote, they will try it again in the UK, Poland, the US and here in Australia. It also means that they will try it again in Spain even if it fails elsewhere because they will now view Spain the way they viewed the US after Mogadishu.

Posted by: Dave at March 16, 2004 05:32 AM

And for all you Democrats that are still spreading the BIG FUCKING LIE that taking out Saddam was a "distraction" to the war, here are the facts:

http://www.hudson.org/files/publications/murdocksaddamarticle.pdf

Why do Democrats continue to spread this BOLD-FACED LIE? Markus? Torridjoe? Kimmitt? Any answers?

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 05:33 AM

Dave,

I think it's going to far too call the socialists ally's of terrorists

Not its not. Do you think ANSWER is on the side of the terrorists? Of course they are. The only question is how deeply the views of ANSWER and similar ilk have penetrated the left. And the portion of the left that doesn't share the views of ANSWER is in denial about how far ANSWER's views have penetrated the Democratic party.

ANSWER whispers smoothly into John Kerry's ear every day through his wife's lips.

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=12187

And if you are wondering why ANSWER has taken to the streets to support Aristide, and why John Kerry said he would have intervened to support the Aristide regime, then follow the money:

http://www.suntimes.com/output/novak/cst-edt-novak11.html

The money leads straight from Aristide to the Kennedys and the Congressional Black Caucus and ANSWER and John Kerry's Haiti policy.

Rank and file Democrats have no idea of the degree to which the Democratic leadership has been penetrated by the extreme socialist left.

If anything, the situation is worse in Europe.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 05:57 AM

1)re:Is it appeasemnt?

The problem with the Spanish elections is not that us right-wing maniacs will interpret it as appeasement.

The problem is that the terrorists will interpret it as appeasement.They will conclude that terrorism works and populations can be cowed into submission.

It does not matter how many arguments the Left can muster in favor of the Spanish people's vote.Those arguments will not be heard by the Jihadis.

Posted by: Jussi Hmlinen at March 16, 2004 06:05 AM

2)Will appeasement work?
The next question is,could these policies buy Spain (and the rest of Europe) peace?It is ironic,to say the least,that Spain has for years been so unbending with ETA,who demand so little.If Spain granted the Basques independence,admittedly against the wishes of majority of Basque people,the whole ETA threat would disappear overnight.

The Jihadis,on the other hand,don't just want Spain out of Iraq and Afghanistan.They want nothing less than full re-reconquista:the return of the land of al-Andalus under Islamic rule.

If killing 200 people with one operation was so effective,why wouldn't the Jihadis go for the gold?

The collective reaction of Europe to the Madrid atrocities reminds me of a small businessman who's just gotten a proposal from the Mafia:give the nice men a stake in your shop and they will guarantee that no one will harass you again.

As you may know,there's no happy ending to this story,ever:in time,the men with guns will take over the man's whole business and bleed it dry.Just because they can.

If ETA is like a small-time criminal doing holdups of little shops,then al-Qaeda is the Corleone family.As long as they're around,they'll call back to you.Over and over again.

Posted by: Jussi Hmlinen at March 16, 2004 06:06 AM

And to all you BOLD-FACED LYING DEMOCRATS who claim France is an ally, how do you explain their war games with China immediately prior to Taiwanese elections?

http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=4565433

Remember this when Kerry claims that foreign leaders support him. Ask yourself what policy changes Kerry will give Jacques Chirac in order to gain Chirac's support. And ask yourself if those policy changes are in America's interests or Chirac's.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 06:28 AM

The news of France threatening a democracy on behalf of a dictatorship is the most depressing thing I've heard since last week's turn of events in Spain, which were the most depressing thing I've heard since 9/11/01. I guess WW III has a shot at having a Pacific theater. It's going to be a long, horrible war.

Posted by: Jim at March 16, 2004 07:06 AM

Really, HA. A big lie?

The big lie is the distortion of information in your link from the loonies at Hudson.

It's been known for years that Saddam has given money to Hamas, just like every other corrupt Arab regime in the region did. But the al-Qaeda connection simply does not exist, and no "evidence" has ever surfaced.

Hudson cites Ansar-al-Islam as a Saddam-supported
terrorist group, just like Colin Powell did. And yet Ansar operated in KURDISH Iraq, which was under US control. The entirety of the Saddam-Ansar connection hinges on one visit by Zarqawi to a hospital in Baghdad, under an alias. You could use the same standard of "connection" to prove that President Bush was connected to the 9/11 hijackers.

And it's really funny that Hudson chose to list the PKK as a terrorist organization with connections to Saddam. The PKK was known for committing terrorist acts in Turkey. It was also based in Kurdish Iraq, operating under the protection of the US no-fly zone. You can just as easily implicate President Bush or President Clinton for aiding those terrorist attacks. Christ, the PKK are the same damn people we're accusing Saddam of using chemical weapons against in the 1980s. Can't Hudson get it's facts straight?

The CIA and the DoD have rejected the accuracy of reporting by right-wing goons like your friends at Hudson on the imaginary connections between Saddam and al-Qaeda.

"CIA Director George Tenet on Tuesday rejected recent assertions by Vice President Dick Cheney that Iraq cooperated with the al-Qaida terrorist network and that the administration had proof of an illicit Iraqi biological warfare program."

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/8145154.htm

"News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate."

http://www.dod.mil/releases/2003/nr20031115-0642.html

Speaking of "distractions" caused by the Iraq war, how do you respond to this?

"NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger."

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4431601/

Saddam, like all other dictators in the Middle East, had some connections to Palestinian terrorists. Getting rid of Saddam was certainly beneficial to the security of Israel. But Saddam was a much lesser threat to the US and the world than al-Qaeda, and there is absolutely no excuse for pulling troops out of Afghanistan to attack Saddam while the al-Qaeda network was still in place. It was a mistake, and our troops are paying for that mistake, as are the people of Madrid.

I would imagine, as they woke up on election day to learn that their Prime Minister had been blaming the wrong people for the attack for his own short-term political gain, most Spaniards decided it was time to strike a blow against corrupt, dishonest leadership. That's not appeasement. That's honor and courage.

http://www.calpundit.com/archives/003492.html

I certainly hope the people in this country will do the same in November.

Posted by: Violet at March 16, 2004 07:28 AM

Question: If terrorists conclude from what happened in Spain that their tactics work, has terrorism become more likely and is the world less safe?

Question: If the War on Terror has nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq, why would terrorists (instead of ousted Iraqi Baathists) bother punishing Spain over Iraq?

Posted by: Cosmo at March 16, 2004 08:13 AM

I understand how disappointing this must be to those who look at the Iraq invasion as part of the war ofn terror, and I think I understand why some have interpreted the Spanish announcement as appeasment.

I think that in order for this to be properly regarded as appeasement, the government would have to be doing this because they were trying to prevent further attacks. But this party has always opposed the Iraq invasion, as have most of the Spanish public, and they indicated way before the bombings that if elected, they would pull their forces out.

I don't see how this is "...granting concessions to potential enemies to maintain peace."

Posted by: Stu at March 16, 2004 08:13 AM

"Question: If terrorists conclude from what happened in Spain that their tactics work, has terrorism become more likely and is the world less safe?"

Of course. Which is why it is very important for the socialist government in Spain to take a hard-line against terrorism. Turning Iraq over to the UN, freeing up resources to pursue a policy that actually targets al-Qaeda, could ultimately cause this al-Qaeda tactic to backfire.

This isn't "appeasement". It's a retreat from support for Bush's strategy of fighting terrorism by focusing on Iraq, which the majority of Spaniards opposed from Day One, and the events of 3/11 made it all too clear that bringing down Saddam did not bring down al-Qaeda.

Retreat only leads to defeat if it isn't followed up by a smart counter-attack. If you're getting pounded, retreat is a wiser course than sticking with a bad plan and getting slaughtered. Only time will tell whether this was a victory for al-Qaeda.

Posted by: Violet at March 16, 2004 08:30 AM

Stu,

IMHO, Jussi above addressed the issue correctly. The relevance of the Spanish elections on terrorism has to do with the perception by al-Qaeda as to what effect the bombings had on the course of Spain's foreign policy.

The new Socialist government has announced that they intend to withdraw out of Iraq and are claiming to embrace the "leadership" of Germany and France. (Good luck to them and the Red Sox).

They did this one day after the election, knowing full well that al-Qaeda was responsible for the bombings and hoping for this change of policy. It is unbelievably reckless and short-sighted and will provoke similar bombings during political cycles for years to come. If this was not appeasment than the word should be banished from the dictionary.

bob

Posted by: bob at March 16, 2004 08:42 AM

"They did this one day after the election, knowing full well that al-Qaeda was responsible for the bombings and hoping for this change of policy. It is unbelievably reckless and short-sighted and will provoke similar bombings during political cycles for years to come."

If I were in Spain's position, I'd take my forces out of Iraq as well. I'd want to free up the resources to actually fight al-Qaeda and their minions. Apparently, they're not based in Iraq.

Posted by: Stu at March 16, 2004 08:49 AM

Really, the code here for "al-Qaeda won today" is "US policy lost." People don't honestly give a rat's ass about Spain's participation in Iraq.

Torrid,

you're right, we can live with the 1,500 Spanish troops, and it is a symbolic blow only to the Bush doctrine.

FAR MORE IMPORTANTLY however, is the message that it has sent to terrorists, be they Al-Quaida or otherwise; and the message is this--terrorism pays. And the Spaniards will be to blame for the bombs that now will go off in Rome, London and Warsaw.

Why can't you see that? Take off your blinders man!

Posted by: David at March 16, 2004 08:50 AM

The AQ affiliated terror group that claimed credit in its video said that "This is a response to the crimes that you have committed in the world and specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan." These terror groups will "crimes" in visiting a nightclub in Bali and form alliances whereever they can find common ground to defeat the Great Satan.

Posted by: d-rod at March 16, 2004 08:50 AM

Interesting that all the conservative press have focused on Zapatero's comments about Iraq, and not his comments about terrorism:

"Tonight I commit myself to commence a tranquil government and I assure you that power is not going to change me," affirmed Zapatero between the applause of hundreds of people who congregated to celebrate the triumph. . 'My most immediate priority is to fight all forms of terrorism (Mi prioridad mas inmediata es combatir toda forma de terrorismo). And my first initiative, tomorrow, will be to seek a union of political forces to join us together in fighting it.'

http://www.juancole.com/2004_03_01_juancole_archive.html#107942407001890750

How this is a victory for terrorism is beyond me.

What's disturbing is the tendency now for pundits to claim that a Socialist victory was precisely what al-Qaeda intended to happen. But what evidence did the terrorists have that an attack right before an election would lead to the OUSTER of a hawkish leader. Consider Bush's popularity rating after 9/11.

Indeed, prior to the elections the same pundits all seemed to think this would GUARANTEE an Aznar victory. Why wouldn't al-Qaeda anticipate a rally-'round-the-leader response in Spain?

This is not to say that al-Qaeda wanted Aznar to win. Merely that we can't say for sure what the desired outcome was.

Posted by: Violet at March 16, 2004 08:52 AM

d-rod:"The AQ affiliated terror group that claimed credit in its video said that "This is a response to the crimes that you have committed in the world and specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan." (Emphisis added)

Is Spain pulling out its troops from Afghanistan? If not, then there's no appeasement, just a disagreement on the tactics of fighting terror.

Posted by: Stu at March 16, 2004 09:26 AM

Mike,

Thanks for making these distinctions. This post is more sane than most of the media this week.

K

Posted by: karrie at March 16, 2004 09:41 AM

Mithras, thanks for reducing my cognitive dissonance:

As for this being terrorist-chow, I suppose they are getting some satisfaction ... from watching the American right running around in hysterics. But as an operational matter, it hasn't improved their position a whit. Face it, they're on the ropes and getting pummeled from all sides. They can kill but they can't win.

You're assuming that Al Qaeda and the Wannabes don't see the Spanish elections as a victory. I don't know, maybe they think they just won one. You know, Yanquis take Iraq, Al Qaeda takes Spain. I'm not saying that's my perspective, but it may be theirs.

You also assume the killing isn't in-and-of itself a victory. Infidels dead and in hell, martyrs enjoying 72 virgins. Win-win, baby!

And besides, God is on their side. The weakness of the infidels will make them bow down before the righteous. Numbers mean nothing. Haven't you listened to the tapes?

And to whomever characterized the election results as "Spain" giving the finger to the US, gloat away, but it's a shame that finger was covered in so much Spanish blood....

Posted by: Mark Poling at March 16, 2004 09:44 AM

If this is not appeasement and Al Qaeda agrees with your assessment, then it would be reasonable to predict that there will NOT be any additional terrorism prior to elections in other countries.

Will you go on the record that we will not see more acts of terrorism by Al Qaeda in an attempt to influence the outcome of elections in other countries?

I'm not sure I understand the connection you're trying to make. You seem to be trying to make a link between how people respond to terrorism, and what al-Qaeda does. Two points on that:

1) Spain's election was a response to failed policy, not terrorism. To assess your logic above, if Spain's participation in Iraq were the proper way to fight terrorism, and we believe US assertions that it's working, then we should assume that al-Qaeda would NOT attack Spain. One might imagine that many Spaniards came to see what a majority of Israelis now believe--attacking a state edifice as a way to clamp down on small-group violence doesn't work either.

2) Relatedly, there is a major presupposition inherent in the appeasement argument: that terrorism is somehow squelchable, and that free nations can direct the tactics and strategy of terrorist networks--so by failing to "stand up to them," Spain now appears weak. Hog. Wash. Terrorists strike to sow confusion and fear. They do so from strength, and they do so from weakness. They do so in the lands of infidels, and they do so in their own holy lands. They do so against Jews and Christians, and they do so against Muslims. The idea that there is a proper "message" to send terrorists, that will abate their crimes and cause their demise, is frankly just absurd.

Posted by: Torrid Joe at March 16, 2004 09:44 AM

Stu,if Spain won't withdraw its troops from Afghanistan,then the obvious conclusion,from the al-Qaeda's point of view,is that at least one more attack is necessary to achieve that.

Now,I believe that would be a misestimate of the Spanish people,and it may even be a misestimate of the Socialists.But the point is,how can the terrorists not conclude that they're on the right track?

Posted by: Jussi Hmlinen at March 16, 2004 09:46 AM

Oh, I get it.

B after A, therefore B because of A. Brilliant. Flawless.

In reality, Spain's recent electoral actions are best understood in the context of residual voter ire at an administration that chose a course of action that 90% of the people opposed. If polls are to be believed, then the bombing resulted in somewhere between one in 5 and one in 10 spaniards changing their mind's about the current government's effectiveness and representativeness. Those are the dynamics in play, so
let's not overreact just because the timing is poor.

You don't have to be an appeaser just because you felt invading Iraq was not the wisest way to carry the war on terror forward. Quarreling about the means to a goal is something reasonable people can disagree about. Many have repeatedly argued that agressively confronting terror is important, but that invading Iraq was not a sensible step in furtherance of this goal.

Whether or not Spain is in fact adopting a policy of appeasement towards terrorists is doubtful at best, and unwritten at least. So while I think it's fine to remind Spain that appeasment has a poor track record, it's ugly and intemperate and in equally poor timing to accuse them of appeasment right now.

Some of our country's supporters have accused many of our past allies of repeatedly casting aspersions upon America, of being anti-American. And yet these selfsame people feel quite free to cast aspersions themselves.

If we want allies in the war on terror, we're going to have to listen to their points of view instead of tearing them a new one every time they disagree with us.

Posted by: bk at March 16, 2004 09:49 AM

Violet:check out this story from the CNN detailing just such a plan by al-Qaeda:

Quote:"We think the Spanish government will not stand more than two blows, or three at the most, before it will be forced to withdraw because of the public pressure on it," the al Qaeda document says.

"If its forces remain after these blows, the victory of the Socialist Party will be almost guaranteed -- and the withdrawal of Spanish forces will be on its campaign manifesto."

Posted by: Jussi Hmlinen at March 16, 2004 09:50 AM

FAR MORE IMPORTANTLY however, is the message that it has sent to terrorists, be they Al-Quaida or otherwise; and the message is this--terrorism pays. And the Spaniards will be to blame for the bombs that now will go off in Rome, London and Warsaw.

Why on earth would you be letting al-Qaeda off the hook for the bombs?? I've got news for you: the bombs that will go off in Rome, London and Warsaw were going to go off anyway, and they will be the fault of those who built and planted them.
Terrorists sow fear. They do it where there is no fear to create some, and they do it where there is fear already. Germany was against the war. They have taken what many here would classify as the appeasor's strategy. So why are they gearing up their security to protect against terrorist attack? They're safe, right? Why would they bomb a supposed ally or willing bystander?

BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THEY DO. They kill people. It doesn't matter where, when or how.

Trying to send "the right message" to terrorists is fruitless. Terrorists do what they want to do. Spaniards were less concerned with "how it will look to al-Qaeda" than they were with receiving the government they desired and felt they deserved. I don't care how excited bin Laden will be to see Kerry elected President; current US policy has been a near-total failure in the matter, and it must be changed.

Posted by: Torrid Joe at March 16, 2004 09:52 AM

Gosh,some people are fast learners:Reuters:France Says It Received Threat by Islamist Group

" PARIS (Reuters) - France has received threats of a possible attack against French interests from an Islamist group, the Justice Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

The ministry said it had received a warning which spoke of possible attacks within France and against French interests abroad from a group called "Servants of Allah the Powerful and Wise."

"These are threats articulated in such a way that they are being taken very seriously," a judicial source told Reuters. "

Of course,it is probably just an empty threat,this time.But I wonder.

Posted by: Jussi Hmlinen at March 16, 2004 10:02 AM

It's GREAT that Roublen Vesseau noticed that pulling US troops out of Saudi Arabia was one of Al Qaeda's primary demands. Most antiwar posters forget this, and it's important -- not because we finally did so once Saddam was gone, but because we put them there as a substitute for removing Saddam the first time, and that was a prime motive for Al Qaeda's emnity in the first place.

Inarguably, those troops were Al Qaeda's main complaint about the US -- the reason they started attacking Americans. Support of Israel and anger over the 600,000 or so Iraqis the UN and Saddam killed with sanctions (the "peaceful" approach) were only secondary fundraising bulletpoints.

Since US troops were only in Saudi Arabia to contain Saddam, Roublen no doubt agrees with me that it's likely that had Saddam not invaded Kuwait in 1991, American troops would not have had to fight him, they would not have been left in Saudi Arabia after 1991, and Al Qaeda would have been too busy agitating for a Saudi civil war to kill 3000 Americans on 9/11. Nor would 600,000 Iraqis have died via sanctions. Nor would we be unearthing mass graves that were filled during the Shiite revolt.

In other words, leaving dictators in power and containing them has its own costs, and sometimes they're even higher and less morally defendable than those of war. After all, the sanctions killed roughly as many civilians each month as the second Iraq war did. So why is the UN held up is a paragon of diplomatic virtue?

Posted by: RD at March 16, 2004 10:11 AM

Torrid Joe, I see that a lot, that US policy against terrorism is a failure, but I don't see a lot to back it up. Could you post references? Yes, Spain shows the terrorists still exist. And while I expect terrorism on US soil in the future, we must have been Big Fat Target #1 for years now, and it hasn't happened (knock on wood and other things). Why do you think? Maybe somebody's doing something right?

Corrolary question: if there is no way to deter terrorism, what strategy would work? Again, suggestions or references would be appreciated.

Posted by: Mark Poling at March 16, 2004 10:12 AM

All that said, it is not appeasement -- the Socialists are doing what they always said they'd do. But it will result in more attacks nevertheless. Semantics.

Posted by: RD at March 16, 2004 10:15 AM

Violet

It's a retreat from support for Bush's strategy of fighting terrorism by focusing on Iraq ...

Actually, Violet, I'd say it is the Left that is obsessed with Iraq. Like Al Qaeda, the Left knows what is at stake. For Al Qaeda the existence of a representative democracy in Iraq, and the possibility of it catalyzing a democratic domino effect throughout the ME, is a gigantic threat to their viability. For the Left, being proved spectacularly wrong re:Iraq also represents a great threat to their worldview and thus their longer term political viability. After all, when you rant and rave, protest and carry on, scream and scare, pontificate on the coming armageddon and the absolute certitude of your convictions, you’ve put much on the line. To be proved wrong about something in which you’ve dispensed so much hyperbole is to be proved a spectacular fool, and thus never again to be taken seriously on issues of foreign policy (and to raise serious doubts about other issues, as well). In the end, in the West, this is the true source of Leftist obsession with Iraq -- fear of being wrong.

You’ll deny this of course. It's simply impossible for what I've described not to exist in some way, shape, of form, and yet not once have I seen a Leftist/liberal admit it. Just once I'd like to see a Leftist admit they're more interested in being proved right than in prosecuting the war on islamofascism.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 16, 2004 10:23 AM

Torrid: " I don't care how excited bin Laden will be to see Kerry elected President; current US policy has been a near-total failure in the matter, and it must be changed."

Given the chaotic situation in the Middle East right now, and the numbers of new recruits that al-Qaeda must be receiving, and the fact that US troops are bogged down in police action in Iraq instead of combing the hills where Osama is holed up, and that despite two years of the war on terror he can still pull of crap like Madrid, I imagine he's probably wearing a "four more years" button.

Posted by: Stu at March 16, 2004 10:24 AM

Had to come back and comment again.

Although I do not agree with everything you say, Mike, I am glad to see someone making fine distinctions, taking a more nuanced approach.

Some questions: Are you saying the election of this party was appeasement? Or the policy this party is enacting? Because the party's policy is not in response to the attack - it is the policy they always promoted (I think). Just another distinction. Would the votes, then, be appeasement? I do not know if a democratic election can be viewed so simply, but I can see the point.

I heard an interesting report on NPR, in which the man-on-the-street (in Spain) was asked about the Spanish election. These people said they were already unhappy with their government and considering a vote for the opposing party - even before the attack. The attack was the proverbial straw. So even that is not simple.

But good to see a discussion going here. Interesting to read.

Posted by: karrie at March 16, 2004 10:31 AM

"For Al Qaeda the existence of a representative democracy in Iraq, and the possibility of it catalyzing a democratic domino effect throughout the ME, is a gigantic threat to their viability."

Absolutely right. Which is probably why OSL and AQ are doing so much to mess up the situation in Iraq.

"For the Left, being proved spectacularly wrong re:Iraq also represents a great threat to their worldview and thus their longer term political viability."

Absolute nonsense. This is tinfoil hat territory. You mistakenly assume that the left is more concerned about being right than they are about being secure, or about the security of the Iraqi people and stability in the MidEast. Instead, there's the possibility that those of us on the left who opposed the invasion did so because we felt that there was inadequate planning for a post-war situation, and that Bush et al had an overly simplistic view about installing democracy in the region, and that failure to properly create a democracy in Iraq (or even cause civil war in the region) might actually strengthen the terrorist's cause rather than weaken it.

But we might be wrong. If so, I'll be first in line to admit it.

Posted by: Stu at March 16, 2004 10:35 AM

This whole concept of appeasement seems to be based on the fear that AQ will start a campaign of bombings before elections in order to drive the results in the way they desire. To follow up on what Violet said, why should we think that AQ had any idea these attacks would lead to the ouster of the PP in Spain? From the reports I've been reading, it appears the election results were less a reaction to the bombings themselves as to the governments attempts to blame ETA and play down the AQ angle even after the investigation had shown their statements to be false. How could AQ have predicted this? Depending on the governments reaction to them, the bombings could very well have bolstered Rajoy's chances.

Also, MJT's definition of appeasement requires that the appeasing actions are undertaken in order to maintain peace. Given that the removal of troops from Iraq has been a long-standing position of the Socialists, I find it very difficult to imagine how you can claim that it was done as a reaction to the bombings.

And for the idiots (yes, I mean you, HA) ranting about the axis of evil betweent the "socialists" in Spain and elsewhere and terrorism, bwahahaha! These are the same Socialists whose brutality in supressing ETA terror was a major scandal when they were in power, right? Oh right, the left is Soft On Terror. No more thought required. Must be nice.

Posted by: Smokey at March 16, 2004 10:45 AM

Violet,

The big lie is the distortion of information in your link from the loonies at Hudson.

You have not refuted a single point raised in the Hudson report. You have not refuted a single point in the Feith memo. You didn't even attempt to. Your argument boils down to "is not."

And then you continue the BOLD-FACED LIE by taking a small portion of the DOD statement on the Feith memo out of context.

For the record, here is the full text of the DOD statement:

News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate.

A letter was sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Oct. 27, 2003, from Douglas J. Feith, under secretary of defense for policy, in response to follow-up questions from his July 10 testimony. One of the questions posed by the committee asked the department to provide the reports from the intelligence community to which he referred in his testimony before the committee. These reports dealt with the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

The letter to the committee included a classified annex containing a list and description of the requested reports, so that the committee could obtain the reports from the relevant members of the intelligence community.

The items listed in the classified annex were either raw reports or products of the CIA, the National Security Agency or, in one case, the Defense Intelligence Agency. The provision of the classified annex to the Intelligence Committee was cleared by other agencies and done with the permission of the intelligence community. The selection of the documents was made by DoD to respond to the committee’s question. The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, and it drew no conclusions.

Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious harm to national security; such activity is deplorable and may be illegal.

The memo authenticates the source of the information in the Feith memo and only disputes news reports characterizing this information is "new" information. The fact that this information was not new is signficant because Democratic leaders were or should have been well aware of all this information. Yet they continute to repeate the BOLD-FACED LIE that Saddam had no ties to Al Qaeda.

So not only does your link to the DOD release shatter your own lies, it proves my argument that the Democratic leadership is repeating the BOLD-FACED LIE when they obviously know better.

The simple truth is that the Democratic leadership is engaged in a systematic campaign of distortions, half-truths and BOLD-FACED LIES in order to undermine the war effort and attack President Bush. The only distraction is their lies - and yours.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 10:52 AM

Catalonia,

After all, when you rant and rave, protest and carry on, scream and scare, pontificate on the coming armageddon and the absolute certitude of your convictions, you’ve put much on the line.

then:
It's simply impossible for what I've described not to exist in some way, shape, of form,...i>

You were saying about the absolute certitude of ones convictions? Also the ranting and raving, screaming, and pontificating?

Irony: Try it, you'll like it!

Posted by: Smokey at March 16, 2004 10:53 AM

Violet,

Turning Iraq over to the UN, freeing up resources to pursue a policy that actually targets al-Qaeda

You must be kidding. Turn it over to the UN? One bombing and the ran away with their tail between their legs. And what resources are going to be freed up by turning it over to the UN? You are not a serious commentator. You sound like a typical internationalist left-wing wacko determined to undermine American national sovereignty.

If you want to fill the Iraqi people with fear, tell them the UN will be taking over. I have faith that they'll do as good a job as they did in Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo. What a joke. Kofi is too busy counting the kickbacks he skimmed from the oil-for-palaces programs.

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/rosett200403101819.asp

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 11:01 AM

HA says:
The memo authenticates the source of the information in the Feith memo and only disputes news reports characterizing this information is "new" information.

Actually, as you cite, it notes that the items are raw reports, not analytical ones with substantive relationships detailed.

"The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, and it drew no conclusions."

In other words--"that wasn't vetted information."
DoD is not standing behind the Feith memo as evidentiary support, why are you?

Salman Pak has also been dropped by the administration. Ansar was oppositional to Saddam. Documentation shows Saddam's government rejecting specific cooperation with al-Qaeda. The NIE gives no credence to the idea that Saddam planned to sell weaponry to terrorists, unless attacked pre-emptively.

You should seek other source material. It frankly isn't very credible.

Posted by: Torrid Joe at March 16, 2004 11:10 AM

Violet,

Zapatero:

My most immediate priority is to fight all forms of terrorism

Yasser Arafat:

I, as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, hereby once more declare that I condemn terrorism in all its forms...

Notice any similarities in the rhetoric? Want to know the common source? Try the KGB:

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=12387

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 11:13 AM

Stu,

You mistakenly assume that the left is more concerned about being right than they are about being secure, or about the security of the Iraqi people and stability in the MidEast.

More accurately I am claiming there is a dynamic on the Left that has not entered the national dialogue. What I describe is simple human nature. Nothing more.

But we might be wrong. If so, I'll be first in line to admit it.

And if I’m wrong I’ll admit it, as well. But let’s not pretend the simple psychological dynamic I described is not at play, or that there are not whole swaths of the population that will not admit it under any circumstances (particularly for those who have entwined their personal identity with their positions on public policy). The liberal lumpenproletariat are as prone to psychological failings as anybody, sanctimonious posturing on matters of domestic policy notwithstanding. On the surface it appears ad hominem. In truth it is the very core of the matter.

Smokey,

You were saying about the absolute certitude of ones convictions? Also the ranting and raving, screaming, and pontificating?

Irony: Try it, you'll like it!

Yes, quite right. My post constitutes ‘ranting and raving’, ‘screaming and pontificating’, with pontificating connoting near-religious conviction. And regarding the certitude of my convictions, it is not I who denies the progress in Iraq, Spanish obsequiousness notwithstanding.

Vocabulary. Try it; you’ll like it.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 16, 2004 11:15 AM

Violet,

What's disturbing is the tendency now for pundits to claim that a Socialist victory was precisely what al-Qaeda intended to happen.

What is disturbing is for leftists to deny that this a tremendous Al Qaeda victory. Al Qaeda stated that this was their strategy, they executed their strategy and got the desired result. What is disturbing is that Al Qaeda can so easily get the electoral outcome they desire.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 11:18 AM

Torrid Joe,

You should seek other source material. It frankly isn't very credible.

You should provide links. Your assertions aren't credible.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 11:20 AM

what would you like to see links concerning? You've read the NIE, I assume. What else are you looking for, specifically?

Posted by: Torrid Joe at March 16, 2004 11:24 AM

Catalonia,

Yes, of course. Claiming that the left's opposition to Bush's Iraq policy is simply a matter of not wanting to be wrong is not "pontificating." What was I thinking? Constructing ridiculous strawmen to demolish and claiming that their succesful destruction proves you right is so not pontificating. Dogmatic insistence on the correctness of one's views? I don't see any of that in your post at all. It's not like you claimed that it was impossible that you be wrong. And the ranting and raving? Sorry about that. Ascribing false and absurd motives to your ideological opponents is the very opposite of ranting and raving. Silly me. Can you ever forgive me? Maybe help me out with my obviously deficient vocabulary?

Posted by: Smokey at March 16, 2004 11:38 AM

HA-
"You have not refuted a single point raised in the Hudson report. You have not refuted a single point in the Feith memo. You didn't even attempt to. Your argument boils down to 'is not.'"

The Hudson article claimed that there was a rock-solid connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda. It presented as "evidence" the connection between Saddam and Hamas, an organization which is not part of al-Qaeda. It presented unsubstantiated and frankly nonsensical claims that Saddam was connected to Ansar and the PKK. I can't "refute" these claims any more than I can "refute" the claim that George W. Bush is an 11-foot-tall lizard from outer space pretending to be a Texan. All I can do is point out that the claim is stupid and ridiculous and unsupported by evidence. These organizations were operating in the part of Iraq controlled by US allies. Period. That is a fact you cannot dispute.

I honestly don't see how the rest of the text in the DoD report is any less damaging to your silly argument than the part I printed:

"The selection of the documents was made by DoD to respond to the committee’s question. The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, and it drew no conclusions."

Your loony friends seized upon the Feith memo as new evidence of a connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam. Safire claimed it was a new "smoking gun." But it was simply a list of old, unconfirmed intelligence reports that drew no meaningful conclusions.

Did it escape your attention that the Administration has not presented any verified evidence for a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, other than Zarqawi's trip to the hospital? Considering how quick they were to report the bogus Niger uranium crap and the irrelevant hospital trip, and how willing they were to release classified information in order to punish Joe Wilson, why wouldn't they report some of this top-secret intelligence-confirmed information to get the press off their backs? What do they gain through secrecy?

For that matter, why did they pass up the chance to attack Ansar al-Islam in order to focus on Saddam? This is a clear indicator that Iraq was a distraction.

You're pretty much all squawk and no meat, HA.

Posted by: Violet at March 16, 2004 11:40 AM

HA,

Al Qaeda stated that this was their strategy, they executed their strategy and got the desired result.

So Al Quaeda has said that they attacked Madrid in order to sway the election in favor of the Socialists? News to me. In your own words:

You should provide links. Your assertions aren't credible.

Posted by: Smokey at March 16, 2004 11:42 AM

Torrid Joe,

DoD is not standing behind the Feith memo as evidentiary support

The DOD confirms that the Feith memo is raw data. The DOD has not disputed the evidence in the memo. Like all raw data, it is open to interpretation. Why do you avoid the obvious interpretation of the raw data? Do you have another interpretation?

I don't believe that your statements about the Bush administration's policy in Iraq are made in good faith. I believe you have other issues that drive you to opposing Bush. If you have other issues that you disagree with the Administration on, that's fine. But you shouldn't participate in the campaign of BOLD-FACED LIES to undermine the war effort in order to get an administration that is more sympathetic to some other issue you might hold dear.

The only "distraction" from the war on terror is the Democratic campaign of lies, distortions and smears designed to undermine the war effort in order to attack Bush. If the Democrats were a loyal opposition, they would support the Administration in the war and fight the election out on other issues.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 11:42 AM

Smokey,

So Al Quaeda has said that they attacked Madrid in order to sway the election in favor of the Socialists? News to me.

A lot of things are news to you. Try reading the thread next time before running your mouth. Here is the link again:

http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/03/15/spain.invest/index.html

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 11:45 AM

"But let’s not pretend the simple psychological dynamic I described is not at play, or that there are not whole swaths of the population that will not admit it under any circumstances..."

Possibly. If so, it's not restricted to just one side of the political spectrum. There are those on the right that have bet their entire ideological bundle on the Iraq invasion being a success, and routinely smear anyone opposed to it as either being an America-hater, or soft on terrorism.

Posted by: Stu at March 16, 2004 11:47 AM

Two seemingly divergent points from previous posters strike me as getting to the heart of the matter: (a) the Spanish election results were notappeasement; Spaniards were voting for a change in a failed policy, and the bombings were gruesome and graphic testament to the failure of this policy, namely following the U.S. as it shifted from fighting the "War on Terror" to fighting a political war against a secular Iraq. Criticizing Spanish voters for exercising their franchise is insulting. Remember this when you are all getting indignant over the criticism from Europeans if we re-elect GeeDubya in November.

(b) Regardless of the Spanish electorate's intent, the bombings and their aftermath will be seen by the terrorists as a victory, and that's a problem. To take the argument to its extreme, one could say that the "appeasement" finger-pointers are exacerbating this problem by giving credence to their own argument instead of standing with Spain as they stood with us after 9-11.

Ask yourself this question. What if 9/11/01 was 9/11/04 and the American people still decided to un-elect George Bush and his band of craven loons in favor of someone dedicated to fighting the real war on terror. Would the "appeasement" shoe fit then?

Posted by: crockmeister at March 16, 2004 11:50 AM

HA sez:

"Like all raw data, it is open to interpretation. Why do you avoid the obvious interpretation of the raw data? Do you have another interpretation?"

Well, like all raw intelligence data it's also subject to verification. Much of the information contained in that memo comes from the OSP via the INC, headed by Chalabi--who has essentially admitted that many of the charges are simply made up. Before it can be interpreted, it's helpful to begin by attempting to validate it. Intel has been largely unsuccessful in this regard.

"If you have other issues that you disagree with the Administration on, that's fine. But you shouldn't participate in the campaign of BOLD-FACED LIES to undermine the war effort in order to get an administration that is more sympathetic to some other issue you might hold dear.

Not sure I understand. Are you indicating that I actually agree with the administration here, but because I don't like his other policies I'm willing to distort my views on Iraq policy? Let me assure you, the administration's foreign policy goals and execution are foremost among things I do not like about George Bush's performance. They are not a lagging indicator of my opposition--trust me on that one.

Posted by: Torrid Joe at March 16, 2004 11:57 AM

HA: "If you want to fill the Iraqi people with fear, tell them the UN will be taking over."

ABC News Poll of Iraqis today:

Confidence in Institutions:

UN: 40%
US/UK Occupation forces: 25%

Posted by: Stu at March 16, 2004 12:03 PM

Catalonia:

Few deny that there has been progress in Iraq. The Constitutional proceedings are promising. It's entirely possible that the Administration might actually stumble their way into successful nation-building, thanks entirely to the fortunate happenstance that Sistani has decided to cooperate with Bremer rather than launching a sequel to the Iranian Revolution.

However, everyone on the Right from the President to Rush to Glenn Reynolds to Totten continually trumpets the progress in Iraq as retroactive justification for the war, even though the war was sold to the public on the following grounds:

1) Iraq was an immediate threat.
2) Inspections weren't working.
3) Iraq has connections to al Qaeda.
4) We will be welcomed as liberators.
5) This won't tie up half our military for years and divert resources from the hunt for Bin Laden.
6) Saddam is a bad, bad man.

And every single one of those arguments except #6 has turned out to be wrong.

So we've now spent upwards of $200 billion borrowed dollars and 500+ American lives, postponed the "new aggresive hunt for bin Laden" long enough for al-Qaeda to launch a massive attack on a key ally, and we JUST MAYBE have accomplished something useful in the world. Gee, I can't possibly imagine why anyone wouldn't want to re-elect this guy.

Oh btw... much of the news from Iraq is still troubling.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2004/03/14/international0458EST0417.DTL

http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/Opinion.asp?ArticleID=113479

http://www.dailytrojan.com/article.do?issue=/V151/N38&id=01-impre.38c.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1164429,00.html

Posted by: Violet at March 16, 2004 12:06 PM

http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/03/15/spain.invest/index.html

The source for CNN's story? An internet chat room. We all know how accurate THOSE are. ;)

Posted by: Violet at March 16, 2004 12:09 PM

Smokey,

Yes, of course. Claiming that the left's opposition to Bush's Iraq policy is simply a matter of not wanting to be wrong is not "pontificating."

Actually, I said the Left has much at stake in being proved right re:Iraq in that to be proved wrong is a threat to their worldview and their political viability. Your reading comprehension is severely lacking, as you don’t seem to understand the difference.

What was I thinking? Constructing ridiculous strawmen to demolish and claiming that their succesful destruction proves you right is so not pontificating.

Yes, quite right. Postulating that the left may be more concerned with validating its own worldview than in prosecuting the WoT, which it often considers illegitimate, is quite the strawman. And speaking of strawmen …

Dogmatic insistence on the correctness of one's views? I don't see any of that in your post at all.

Whatever. I speak of a dynamic that has been playing out for over a year, since the Great Media Quagmire predictions were proved spectacularly wrong, and yet you claim a single post is ‘dogmatic.’ You’re wasting my time.

It's not like you claimed that it was impossible that you be wrong.

Actually, I said the following to Stu: “And if I’m wrong, I’ll admit it.” You seem to miss quite a lot in just a few sentences. Makes me wonder how much else you’re missing concerning much more complicated issues, or more accurately how rationally you approach these issues. Like I said, the liberal lumpenproletariat are as prone to psychological failings as anybody.

And the ranting and raving? Sorry about that. Ascribing false and absurd motives to your ideological opponents is the very opposite of ranting and raving.

This is the pot calling the kettle black, except that the kettle isn’t even black. Like I said previously: “It's simply impossible for what I've described not to exist in some way, shape, or form, and yet not once have I seen a Leftist/liberal admit it.”

Silly me. Can you ever forgive me? Maybe help me out with my obviously deficient vocabulary?

Sticking with the kettle theme, if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. If you can’t handle sarcasm, then adopt another rhetorical tactic. And by the way, a deficient vocabulary usually indicates deficient reading comprehension skills, as well. ;-)

Posted by: Catalonia at March 16, 2004 12:17 PM

Violet, Torrid Joe, Smokey:

If you people want to have any credibilty in this argument, you then you must come up with specific proposals to deal with terrorism.

None of this "turn it over to the UN to free up resources" bullshit. I want to see a credible comprehensive proposal. A simple link will do. I checked out Kerry's web site and found this:

http://www.johnkerry.com/pressroom/speeches/spc_2004_0227.html

This is is nothing more than the usual anti-Bush bullshit and wishful thinking about unamed allies that have been "driven away" lumped in with a few vague proposals that are contradicted by Kerry's own voting record in favor of gutting our military and intelligence services:

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comstock200403100835.asp

And when Kerry does get into specifics, he comes up with this gem that undermines his whole argument:

It was local law enforcement working with our intelligence services which caught Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramsi Bin al Shibh in Pakistan and the murderer known as Hambali in Thailand. Joining with local police forces didn’t mean serving these terrorists with legal papers; it meant throwing them behind bars. None of the progress we have made would have been possible without cooperation – and much more would be possible if we had a President who didn’t alienate long-time friends and fuel anti-American anger around the world.

If Bush had been distracted and ruined our alliances, how did we achieve these successes?None of this would have been possible if Kerry's arguments were truthful.

I wonder what which allies Bush has "driven away." Kerry won't say. When asked he says - and I quote - "That's none of your business."

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/2449342

Kerry's idea of maintaining an alliance is doing whatever his Parisian puppet-masters feel is in their interests. I wonder if Kerry will issue a statement on France's war games with China on the eve of the Taiwan election? I won't be holding my breath.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 12:21 PM

Violet: everyone on the Right from the President to Rush to Glenn Reynolds to Totten continually trumpets the progress in Iraq as retroactive justification for the war

Excuse me? I'm supporting the war for the same reason I supported it before it began. Read my archives. It's not my fault you weren't paying attention to the war hawks a year and a half ago.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2004 12:22 PM

Stu,

There are those on the right that have bet their entire ideological bundle on the Iraq invasion being a success, and routinely smear anyone opposed to it as either being an America-hater, or soft on terrorism.

Agreed, mostly. The soft on terrorism charge is fair enough (and I’d argue true, as well, as a viable alternative strategy is rarely offered), but very few describe those who opposed the war as America-haters. That charge is usually leveled against the ANSWER types. ‘Conservative-haters’ would probably be more accurate, although it is seldom characterized that way.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 16, 2004 12:26 PM

Stu,

Confidence in Institutions:

UN: 40%
US/UK Occupation forces: 25%

You had to look pretty hard to find some bad news in that article. But you managed to find it. I encourage everyone to read the full article.

Do you think the Iraqi's 40% faith in the UN is justified?

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 12:33 PM

HA,

If the meaning of raw data were blindingly obvious, we wouldn't need the thousands of analysts employed by the CIA, NSA and other agencies. Much of the "raw intel" in the Feith memo consists of simple assertions by unnamed sources, with no information about the identity or reliability of these sources. Are these the same "sources" provided by Chalabi and the INC to vouch for the reality of Saddam's bioweapons program? Because that worked out well...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31591-2004Mar4.html
As you say, raw intelligence has to be interpreted. Why is it that the only ones who have interpreted it in a way you approve of are your ideological allies in the OSP and at the Weekly Standard? If this intel was available to the CIA, DIA, and State Dept., why did they come to different conclusions? If this is solid intelligence, why is the only person in the administration citing it Dick Cheney? The same Dick Cheney that George Tenet has testified he had to correct on several occasions for publicly misrepresenting intelligence?

Posted by: Smokey at March 16, 2004 12:33 PM

Torrid Joe,

Are you indicating that I actually agree with the administration here

No. I'm only saying that I don't believe your arguments are made in good faith that they are in the best interests of the United States.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 12:37 PM

Smokey,

Much of the "raw intel" in the Feith memo consists of simple assertions by unnamed sources, with no information about the identity or reliability of these sources.

Fine. Then show me a link to a reputable source that refutes the data in the Feith memo point by point. Show me a link to a reputable source that refutes the Hudson report point by point.

All that Tenet/Cheney bullshit is vague innuendo and a lame attempt to change the subject.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 12:44 PM

HA: You had to look pretty hard to find some bad news in that article. But you managed to find it.

Um, no, I wasn't looking for bad news. I noticed the poll was released, and looked for either confirmation or refutation of your wild and partisan speculation that the Iraqis were afraid of the UN.

Just lucky, I guess.

BTW, did you notice who was rated highest in the "Confidence in Institutions" section?

Posted by: Stu at March 16, 2004 01:01 PM

To all you people spreading the BOLD-FACED LIE that Saddam had no ties to Al Qaeda, tell it to the judge:

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/05/08/1052280380297.html

A United States federal judge has ruled that Iraq provided material support to Osama bin Laden and his terrorist group al-Qaeda for the September 11, 2001, attack and is liable to pay $US104 million ($163 million) in damages to two victims' families.

The ruling, by Manhattan District Judge Harold Baer, is the first court decision stemming from the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Judge Baer is a Clinton appointee. So do give me the "right-wing goons" bullshit.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 01:07 PM

Throwing the enemy a bone won’t cut it. Spain might get bumped down a notch on the target priority list, but that will not solve the problem.

It won't even do that. Bombing America had one set of consequences. Bombing Spain had another. If you were bin Laden looking to do a repeat performance, which enemy would you choose?

Posted by: Rob at March 16, 2004 01:08 PM

Steve Smith

That was an excellent point above about appeasement. This has become a dirty word since WWII which Churchill used effectively to wage war(justifiably) on Nazi Germany. However, appeasement need not be a dirty word in all cases. If the alternative option is to stubbornly maintain a stance no matter how wrong, immoral or illegitimate then I guess I choose appeasement. In the case of the spaniards, the alternative was an illegitimate option since 80-90% of the country's citizens opposed going to war in Iraq under the circumstances it took place. That is just called "ignoring the electorate" and Aznar's hand-picked replacement paid the price for his decisions.

When Totten writes the following: "Al Qaeda won’t leave Spain alone unless Spain does surrender." I can't possibly take him seriously. Not that I do anyway. Does Michael suddenly know the mind of the enemy? Does he know Osama's plans? Does he believe their rhetoric? If you don't know something as fact, please don't pretend to know.

Posted by: Graham at March 16, 2004 01:24 PM

The election of the Socialists in Spain wasn't appeasement. There was no desire to give Al Qaeda what it wants, and there is no desire to do so now. What it represents is a people tired of being lied to. The PP government tried to pin the attacks on Basque separatists, the latest in a series of prevarications, and a batch of swing Spanish voters decided that enough was enough.

Spain is perfectly capable of both sustaining a 1,300 member force in Iraq and vigorously pursuing its security threats (just as the US would have little difficulty sustaining a 13,000 member force and devoting appropriate energies to dealing with Al Qaeda); the purpose of pulling out the troops is to act as a vote of no confidence in the Bush Administration's handling of the war and its aftermath.

This isn't appeasement. It's democracy. The socialists aren't pulling out of Iraq in the hopes of avoiding Al Qaeda attention. They're doing so because they see Spanish soldiers dying for a cause which makes no sense to them

No one is getting the Sudentenland here. All that's happening is the Right's continuing attempt to equate action in Iraq with action against Al Qaeda.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 16, 2004 01:29 PM

It's not my fault you weren't paying attention to the war hawks a year and a half ago.

And it's a pity for you that the war hawks and the White House had very different rationales. Because it wasn't Michael J. Totten who went to war in Iraq; it was George W. Bush.

Anyway, it's nice to see you showing your true colours, along with others of your party, with the knee-jerk 'appeasement' comments. The Iraq policy of the PSOE didn't change one iota in response to the Madrid attacks; the Iraq policy of the PP was one that the ruling party tried to diminish during the campaign. Aznar refused to debate on the issue of Iraq. The PP's website contains hardly a mention of the Iraq policy.

For the Spanish to re-elect the PP, especially after its immediate, lying response to the Madrid attacks, would have been to appease the right-wing of American politics.

Appeasement is fine for the Tottens of this world, as long as it's their own ideas and policies that get appeased.

Posted by: ahem at March 16, 2004 01:45 PM

1) Iraq was an immediate threat.

If you repeat a lie often enough, does it become the truth? I'm sure you (and everyone else here) are quite familiar with Bush's SOTU 2003 language which directly contradicts this statement. Stop wasting everyone's time with this talking point.

2) Inspections weren't working.

After the immediate post-1991 period, they weren't. Now, maybe there weren't any WMD in Iraq after 1994 or maybe they are now hidden in Syria or destroyed, but since everyone from France to the United Nations admitted that Saddam had biological and chemical agents at the time of the first Gulf War and since Iraq refused to confirm that these WMD had been destroyed before kicking the inspectors out in 1998, is it really logical to assume that inspections were working?

3) Iraq has connections to al Qaeda.

Maybe, maybe not. But considering the nexus of anti-American terrorists who have vowed to explode a nuclear weapon if given a chance with an anti-American dictator who has vowed to obtain said nuclear device, did we really want to take that chance? It also seems the Feith memo posits a number of connections, which have been only strengthened by the fact that no one has bothered to contradict them.

4) We will be welcomed as liberators.

Check out the latest poll of the Iraqis. It seem that 47% do think they are better off, as opposed to 37% who think we're worse off. At what point, do percentages prove the point above? But beyond polls, how do you think a people who've never known anything other than brutal dictatorship are going to act? The whole "throwing flowers in the streets" expectations makes about as much sense as a sexually-abused girl suddenly becoming the belle of the ball. We are overseeing a years-long transition to democracy. Don't expect France 1944 overnight.

5) This won't tie up half our military for years and divert resources from the hunt for Bin Laden.

Well, it's been a year so far. Let's see how it goes. There were some 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan before the invasion of Iraq, and there are that many now. The hunt for bin Laden is and always has been a Special Forces operation in conjunction with Afghan and Pakastani forces. The hunt has been full-bore since long before the Madrid bombings, as the weeks-old talk about bin Laden sightings attests. How has the occupation of Iraq affected our pursuit of Al Quaeda?Afghanistan, a mountainous land with a small population, is a totally different country than Iraq. It doesn't require large amounts of American troops. John Kerry is right in one regard: the War on Terror does require a lot of police action by Special Forces and police and intelligence agents working with sympathetic governments. The U.S. is now involved in such a fashion everywhere on the globe from Indonesia to North Africa. How have our responsibilities in Iraq affected our global pressuring of the terrorists?

6) Saddam is a bad, bad man.

Agreed.

I think the strategy of trying to nurture democracy in Iraq will be difficult and possibly doomed. But it is bold thinking that takes the battle to the enemy and really goes at the root cause of Islamic terrorism -- the lack of democracy in the Arab world.

I, along with a lot of people who support our toppling of Saddam Hussein, would love to hear a detailed plan for how else to combat Islamic terrorism.

Posted by: Matt Ward at March 16, 2004 01:48 PM

Goddamn Ha, and that fucking google.

Posted by: mnm at March 16, 2004 01:48 PM

The operative issue here is whether or not this is perceived as appeasement by al-Qaeda.

Simple question to folks here:

Do you believe al-Qaeda perceives the Spanish vote as appeasement as Michael defined it in his essay? And please don't go into adolescent mode and pretend that because none of us are omniscient we can just shrug our shoulders and defer the question. Misjudging this question is going to cost many innocent lives in both Europe and America. We have to take an educated guess.

IMHO, if this is not perceived as appeasement by al-Qaeda then we can assume that there will not be subsequent AQ related attacks during upcoming elections. I think we will see election related attacks for anyone who confronts these cretons.

Posted by: bob at March 16, 2004 01:54 PM

Ahem: Appeasement is fine for the Tottens of this world, as long as it's their own ideas and policies that get appeased.

You need to look at the definition of appeasement again because you don't know what it is.

Appeasement is what you want your enemy to do. Spain is not our enemy.

Libya appeased the US by shutting down it weapons production. And you're goddamned right that I want our enemies to appease us. Don't you?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2004 01:58 PM

Catalonia,

Actually, I said the Left has much at stake in being proved right re:Iraq in that to be proved wrong is a threat to their worldview and their political viability. Your reading comprehension is severely lacking, as you don’t seem to understand the difference.
If that is the only point you were trying to make, it is an exceedingly banal one. Doesn't everyone have an interest in being proven right? Or is the right somehow immune to this? It would seem to me that being proven wrong by events would also be a threat to their political viability. In claiming that the left is somehow uniquely susceptible to this, you are simply bloviating. I stand by my accusation of pontification.

Postulating that the left may be more concerned with validating its own worldview than in prosecuting the WoT, which it often considers illegitimate, is quite the strawman
Well, yes, actually, it is so long as you insist on saying "the Left." Is it possible that some on the left are blinded by ideology? Undoubtedly, as are some on the right. Is your postulate likely to be true for the majority of leftists, and thus an accurate description of "the Left"? I think not. Thus, strawman.

When I said "It's not like you claimed that it was impossible that you be wrong," I was referring to your original post in which you blithely assert: It's simply impossible for what I've described not to exist in some way, shape, or form, and yet not once have I seen a Leftist/liberal admit it. But of course, it is possible for what you describe not to exist in any meaningful sense, so why should anyone admit it? As I said above, is there any reason to think that the left is more susceptible to the fear of being wrong than the right is? It's not as if the right has nothing to fear, events have not exactly gone according to their predictions.

You say: Just once I'd like to see a Leftist admit they're more interested in being proved right than in prosecuting the war on islamofascism. This is akin to saying: "Just once, I'd like to see a Leftist admit that he's quit beating his wife." You seem to be arguing that the fact that no leftist will admit to being a baby-eating satanist is proof of the utter mendacity of leftists, because you just know that some of them are baby-eating satanists. If they'll lie about this, what won't they lie about!? Most leftists, myself included, simply don't agree that there is a "war on islamofascism," at least not in the sense that the invasion of Iraq was a necessary component of the War on Terror. So why would I agree that I'm "more interested in being proved right than in prosecuting the war on islamofascism"? I'd like to be right and prosecute the war on terror. After all, being proved right is a good thing, isn't it?

Posted by: Smokey at March 16, 2004 01:58 PM

Perhaps I'm just in a pissy mood but I take great offense at this
type of sarcasm.

"6) Saddam is a bad, bad man."

Saddam murdered 300,000 of his own people. Reasonable people might disagree on our intervention in Iraq, but don't for a moment marginalize the moral case for intervention, even if it was high risk and was not the driving arguement by the Bush administration.

Posted by: bob at March 16, 2004 02:00 PM

Kimmit,

So let me get this straight. Spaniards sharply reversed course and elected the Socialists because the Conservatives said 3/11 was fault of the ETA, meaning the populace clearly believed it was the fault of Islamist terrorists. You also claim that Iraq has little to do with the War on Islamofascism, which also reflects the position of most Spaniards.

That being the case, why then did the Islamists bomb Spain? If you say it was to get Spain to withdraw from Iraq, then it would appear failure in Iraq is important to Al Qaeda, or perhaps more broadly a failure in the alliance against terror is important to Al Qaeda. This means success in Iraq runs counter to al Qaeda’s goals. If, however, 3/11 had nothing to do with Iraq, then it’s a random slaughter, meaning withdrawing from Iraq won’t make any difference anyway, as it was simply random. Either way, withdrawing from Iraq is the wrong way to go, so the decision of the electorate was faulty and wrongheaded.

You can’t have it both ways. Failure in Iraq is as important to the Islamists as it is to you, though for quite different reasons, and Spanish withdrawal initially from Iraq and perhaps later from the WoT is a huge issue, since it may be a harbinger of things to come.

And you best not sing Democracy's praises, as the only thing that brought democracy to Iraq was the war. If you were so enamored of it you’d be posting articles highlighting positive developments in Iraq so as not to undermine the effort going on there. Shouldn’t it be number one on your list of advocacy?

Posted by: Catalonia at March 16, 2004 02:07 PM

Smokey,

You're trying too hard. Please, I haven't been in university for decades and I'm in no mood to grade your attempts at coherency.

Suffice it to say that your reaction to my postulation says much about a deep-seated pathological need to be proved right, when your only interest should be in developing/implementing effective policy. Apply your behavior in this discussion with me to the broader national dialogue -- i.e., neurotically deconstructing arguments to 'win' points -- and hopefully you'll see what I'm getting at. What you've just done is the Left in microcosm, and it is profoundly unserious.

Try to remember it's not about you smokey. It's one thing to be against something, it's quite another to engage in puke-fests, naked parades, endless hitlerum ad reductio arguments, and various other forms of nincompoopery that were on display in the run-up and aftermath of the war. The Right may prove to be incorrect, but they have not risked making themselves look like puerile idiots if they are wrong. The difference is not that the Right is not afraid of being wrong, it is that the Right has not prepositioned itself in quite the same manner as has the Left.

If the Left claims the sky is falling it had damn well better fall.

Posted by: Smokey at March 16, 2004 02:28 PM

I take this all to be a warm-up for the conservative line for this November. If there are any attacks against Americans before then, Bush-backers will argue that to elect Kerry represents "appeasement." Because, obviously, the terrorists want the Democrats to win.

Totten, I thought it was you who wanted a "serious debate" on the war. Is this what you meant?

Posted by: Mithras at March 16, 2004 02:33 PM

HA,

Fine. Then show me a link to a reputable source that refutes the data in the Feith memo point by point. Show me a link to a reputable source that refutes the Hudson report point by point.

Umm, perhaps you'll recall from the DOD release you cite above that the information in the annes was classified? More than likely, any information which would refute or call into doubt any of the raw intel in the annex, such as names and histories of sources, is also classified, and would require further leaks to reveal. It's a nice trick, to break the law to leak the memo, then use the oppositions failure to break the law in turn to refute it to claim that the evidence is uncontradicted. Tricky.

As for the Hudson report, I'll echo an earlier poster to whom you made the same request. I haven't seen a point-by-point refutation of the Weekly World News' latest headline (Strange Breed of Cats Found on Mars), yet I see no reason to expect that there might actually be bizarre felines stalking the surface of Mars, coughing up red hairballs and sharpening their claws on the Mars Rover. Other posters have noted some of the problems with the Hudson report, how about you address those before you ask for more.

Posted by: Smokey at March 16, 2004 02:35 PM

Mithras,

I didn't say electing the Socialists was appeasement. I said pulling out of Iraq after a huge terror attack is appeasement. And it is.

If the new prime minister changes his mind and keeps the troops there, great. I'll note it and withdraw the charge.

I couldn't care less which political party governs Spain. It's not my business, and it has nothing to do with my point.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2004 02:40 PM

Mithras,

I'm quite sure you would agree that the Democrats and Republicans have different strategies for dealing with islamofascism. That being the case, al Qaeda has probably evaluated these different strategies and reached a conclusion about which one is preferable, meaning which one is least likely to keep them from reaching their goals.

So which party is it? They cannot be equal.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 16, 2004 02:48 PM

so much to comment on!

for HA:

If you people want to have any credibilty in this argument, you then you must come up with specific proposals to deal with terrorism.

Nice try. You presented a viewpoint with badly sourced information, which I and others--and more importantly, the US government--have debunked as to its legitimacy. The credibility issue is yours to deal with at this point. As for needing to come up with specific proposals as the only way to repudiate the ones you support, I think that's pretty absurd. Consider this example: You have a bad cold. You have been applying leeches and performing medieval bleeds for a couple of days now, and not only is your cold not gone, you are now much weaker and less immune than before. At this point, I suggest that leeches and bleeding may not be the answer. Does it sound like a smart response for you to refuse to quit your treatment, on the basis that I have brought with me no cure for the common cold?

Your comments on Kerry "gutting" military and intelligence budgets needs backup. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you're not citing (for example) the 1.5bil refund of unused intelligence funds that Bush claimed "gutted" the intelligence budget by 1%.

Your Baer decision is tainted by Salman Pak's illegitimacy as a 9/11 training ground. Even WOLFOWITZ isn't standing behind that one.

Your Kerry quote on prosecutorial aims against terrorism, specifically the last line of it, nicely answers the question you pose afterwards. As for allies who have left Bush, aren't we talking about one such ally right now?

The "Parisian puppet masters" line is where you begin fashioning that tinfoil hat. How's it look?

Posted by: Torrid Joe at March 16, 2004 02:54 PM

HA says "If you people want to have any credibilty in this argument, you then you must come up with specific proposals to deal with terrorism"

Joe's analogy

"You have been applying leeches and performing medieval bleeds for a couple of days now, and not only is your cold not gone, you are now much weaker and less immune than before. At this point, I suggest that leeches and bleeding may not be the answer. Does it sound like a smart response for you to refuse to quit your treatment, on the basis that I have brought with me no cure for the common cold?"

Continue using the leeches? Maybe not, but if you are claiming to be a doctor, I would expect you to at least give me some advice or better means to defeat the cold.
And something more specific than "medicate it" would be nice.

Posted by: mnm at March 16, 2004 03:10 PM

For Matt Ward:

1) is no lie. Several administration officials including Bush verified the urgency and immediacy of the threat. Fleischer did so explicitly on at least two occasions, Bush used the word "urgent" at least once that I know of, Cheney I believe parroted the British claim that Saddam could be up and running with WMD in 45 minutes, and the pervasive analysis was that we simply could not wait for UN inspections to run their course.

2) It's entirely logical to assume inspections worked, since IRAQ HAS NO WMD. It would appear that only you, Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney believe otherwise. The UN was able to destroy 90-95% of WMD stockpiles by their estimation, the rest were believed to be low grade chemicals like mustard gas left over from the Iranian war (and very likely unusable, certainly by now), and the Clinton bombings in 1998 finished off what remaining structural production capability the Iraqis possessed (according to Kay). Inspections in 2002/03 failed to produce any evidence of either stockpiles or production, findings which have been completely validated after the war.

3) There is currently very little "maybe" in the al-Qaeda connection. The ONLY verified connection is Zarqawi's hospital stay in Baghdad. Documentation was produced after the war showing that Hussein rejected bin Laden's advances on the grounds of incompatible aims. Atta's Prague meeting is a bust. The Feith memo has been trashed by the very people who fed them the information in the first place. The US National Intelligence Estimate gave no credence to the idea that Saddam would ever transfer WMD to terrorists, unless he was attacked.

4) You seem to undercut your own argument here, by admitting that no one could have expected France '44. Except that's exactly what the civilian heads of the Pentagon did--expected handkerchiefs and Iraqi women lifting their burqas to kiss GIs. Which explains why there really was no plan for pacification--they expected none to be necessary. The polling you cite is useful, but be very clear: it falls largely upon ethnic lines. The Kurds were in favor of the invasion, and consider themselves better off. What a surprise! The Sunnis, not so much.

5) I think is pretty self-evident based on troop rotation expectations and force predictions. DoD expects troops there at least into 2006. We'll see what the Iraqis have to say about that on July 1st, however.

Posted by: Torrid Joe at March 16, 2004 03:13 PM

MJT--what, specifically, is the concession Spain is making to al-Qaeda by withdrawing from Iraq? What is Spain conceding to them?

Also, this should have been brought up long ago: The new leadership in Spain has NOT said they will withdraw troops from Iraq. They have said that they will no longer support the occupation of Iraq by a unilateral force.

Posted by: Torrid Joe at March 16, 2004 03:21 PM

Torrid Joe: They have said that they will no longer support the occupation of Iraq by a unilateral force.

There is no unilateral force. Spain is there. That makes it not unilateral. So let's not be silly.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2004 03:23 PM

MJT--I apologize if you object to the non-literal use of the word "unilateral." By that I mean without multinational bodies (UN, NATO, SEATO, whatever) involved. To say that Spain is there and that makes it multilateral is kind of absurd. This is a US show all the way. No country except the US has any formal influence on Iraqi policy. This is not a coordinated multinational force led by Americans--this is the US military machine running things, with anyone who wants favors down the road free to latch on.

Posted by: Torrid Joe at March 16, 2004 03:28 PM

Roublen: so was it appeasement for the US to pull its troops out of Saudi Arabia? That, after all, was one of Al Qaeda major demands.

It would have been appeasement if it was the first thing we did after we were attacked on 9-11.

We had to leave Saudi Arabia eventually, and we did it after a show of force on our terms - Totten
___

What incredibly warped reasoning. So it's not appeasement if you put up a blustery "show of force" (against an unrelated entity) and wait x months?

Garbage.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 16, 2004 03:28 PM

Michael-
I didn't say electing the Socialists was appeasement. I said pulling out of Iraq after a huge terror attack is appeasement.

Since the Socialists' policy of withdrawing troops from Iraq was announced before the attacks, how can it be a "policy of granting concessions to potential enemies to maintain peace"? You say, "It was the timing and the rationale that made this appeasement, not the action itself." There's a logic disconnect there - the Socialist policy is not intended to "maintain peace", its rationale is that the invasion of Iraq was unjustified. Is that not a crucial distinction? If not, then (other than timing) how is the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Saudi Arabia materially different?

Your assertion that timing matters is also perplexing. If the election had been delayed two months, all else being equal would you have then claimed it was appeasement if the Socialists won then? On the other hand, if a fearful desire to appease the enemy animated the entire period between the attack and the election, what difference would it make how long it was?

Posted by: Mithras at March 16, 2004 03:36 PM

Did anyone see this? Any thoughts?

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/03/15/spain.invest/index.html

Posted by: karrie at March 16, 2004 03:37 PM

Karrie,

Yep I saw that. I don't know what to make of it. I have no idea how authentic that message is.

If it IS authentic, then Al Qaeda just "voted" with bombs in Spain.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2004 03:39 PM

Catalonia (I assume that's you posing as me),

The Right may prove to be incorrect, but they have not risked making themselves look like puerile idiots if they are wrong. The difference is not that the Right is not afraid of being wrong, it is that the Right has not prepositioned itself in quite the same manner as has the Left.

Honestly, I have no idea what this means. What prepositioning on the part of the left are you talking about? The right has made numerous claims about Iraq with the potential to make them look foolish. In fact, some of them already have. The claims that Iraq presented a grave and immediate threat to America? The claims by many on the right that we would be welcomed as liberators? That reconstruction would be cheap? The idea that Chalabi was a viable candidate to lead Iraq? You are certainly free to think that the left will look foolish should events proceed differently than they have predicted, but your inability to accept the converse bespeaks a certain partisan blindness. Not to mention unseriousness.

It's one thing to be against something, it's quite another to engage in puke-fests, naked parades, endless hitlerum ad reductio arguments, and various other forms of nincompoopery that were on display in the run-up and aftermath of the war.

?????

If the Left claims the sky is falling it had damn well better fall.

Again, ????. Who's claiming the sky is falling? Is Chicken Little a leftist radical, or what exactly is your point? You talk a lot about the claims of the left, but your rhetoric is seemingly devoid of the claims of any actual leftists.

Posted by: Smokey at March 16, 2004 03:41 PM

Catalonia-
So which party is it? They cannot be equal.

A good strategist makes a plan to win no matter what contingencies occur. And if nothing else (other than their extreme brutality), al Qaeda has shown itself to be run by master strategists. Give the devil his due.

For example, after the 9/11 attacks, America could have reacted in a number of ways. I believe that al Qaeda had plans to capitalize on America's reaction, no matter what it was. Were some potentional reactions more favorable to their plans than others? Certainly. But remember: they made their plans without regard to who was in the White House. They began planning before the 2000 elections, so they had no idea who would be President when the attack happened.

What all this tells me is they could not care less if George Bush or John Kerry runs our government. Why would they? Both are leaders of their enemy. But their strategy is clever in this way, too: they've imposed high political costs on us as a country. The bottom line is that Republicans are now arguing that a victory for the political party that represents about half the country's voters would promote terrorism. (The figure I am citing here is those who voted for Gore, not those registered Democrat.) Republicans say the Democrats are doing al Qaeda's work for them, without realizing the same argument could be made about them, with more justification.

Again, I ask you and Totten, is this the road we want to go down in the 2004 election? If Bush's supporters continue to make these "Democrats are appeasers" arguments, it might be very good for Republicans while being very bad for the country.

Posted by: Mithras at March 16, 2004 03:51 PM

Michael Totten-
Al Qaeda just "voted" with bombs in Spain.

Did you also see this in that story?

"I don't think the Spanish people are any more inclined to give any encouragement to terrorists or to give terrorists the slightest impression that they are not going to be engaged fully by the Spanish government -- no matter who is prime minister."

Powell added that he was not sure if the Madrid bombings affected the outcome of Sunday's elections: "But the one thing I'm quite sure of is that Spanish people remain committed in the war against terrorists."

Posted by: Mithras at March 16, 2004 03:55 PM

"Who's claiming the sky is falling? Is Chicken Little a leftist radical, or what exactly is your point? You talk a lot about the claims of the left, but your rhetoric is seemingly devoid of the claims of any actual leftists"

by D'Ann Johnson, Friends Meeting of Austin

On a sunny day in December, the children in the courtyard of St. Teresa's Caldean Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq turned their eyes skyward, looking for the next falling object. Suddenly, they ran, falling over each other, scrambling. A small child whimpered, barely noticed among the chaos and high-pitched cries of the children.

The children's screams shattered the stillness of the church as the Americans dropped yet another object from the sky. The children didn't know which way to run, and the frenzy increased as the children ran helter skelter into one another. Until a few minutes before, the courtyard in Basra was peaceful. But peace in Basra is short-lived.



Basra is an old city, near the birthplace of civilization and the Biblically-renowned Garden of Eden. Because it is near the border of Iran, the city was hard hit during the Iran-Iraq war. The Gulf War likewise took its toll, adding a million refugees to the city and leaving skeletons of people and jeeps and environmental hazards the world does not yet comprehend along the Highway of Death. The sanctions followed war.

Now the bombs are falling again to remind the people that peace and life are temporary. Bombs, you learn, are a part of the daily routine of the people of Basra. They are an evil that cannot be avoided. God willing and the bombs cooperating, Basra will be here tomorrow. Or it may not. No family has escaped their terror since the United States resumed attacks in 1998. And the rubble and black abayas of the women in mourning are a constant reminder of their deadly power.

But in the churchyard that day, the sky was falling on the children because the Americans were dropping balloons, not bombs, and the cries of the children were from delight not fear. The Americans were visiting as members of the Iraq Peace Teams to bring messages of hope to the people of Iraq.

All paused when the air raid siren sounded. The siren warns of a deadly falling object. The momentary freeze frame gave way to the floating balloons, tapped upward by the taller children standing on their tiptoes, while the little ones ran, laughing, screaming to reach the red and blue and purple objects and forget, for a little while, the other things Americans drop. How much better is the world when little children have nothing to fear because what falls from the sky is only balloons.¬

Author D'Ann Johnson was in Iraq in December 2002 with Iraq Peace Teams.

Brethren of yours Smokey? This is an old but typical.

f'n google

Posted by: mnm at March 16, 2004 04:02 PM

Mithras: I ask you and Totten, is this the road we want to go down in the 2004 election? If Bush's supporters continue to make these "Democrats are appeasers" arguments...

Look. Appeasement is something very specific. If John Kerry doesn't propose any appeasement policies, I will not call him an appeaser. Okay?

What else can I say? I have never called John Kerry an appeaser.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2004 04:03 PM

Mithras,

A good strategist makes a plan to win no matter what contingencies occur.

Is that how it works? Funny. I have an MBA, which is to say I’m trained to run businesses, to create sophisticated plans for a living. I don’t ever remember sitting down and thinking: “I’m going to make up a plan that wins no matter what occurs.” Last I checked, you do far more adjustments on the fly than you do actually following a plan step-by-step. Something tells me never been in a position of leadership.

And if nothing else (other than their extreme brutality), al Qaeda has shown itself to be run by master strategists. Give the devil his due. For example, after the 9/11 attacks, America could have reacted in a number of ways. I believe that al Qaeda had plans to capitalize on America's reaction, no matter what it was.

Funny. If I remember correctly, bin Laden spoke of Somalia as an example of what would happen if America was attacked. Bin Laden was not planning on losing Afghanistan as his base or he would have skedaddled when the bombs came. He expected us to capitulate and withdraw from the Middle East, not eliminate his base of operations. Everything that followed has been largely a reaction to U.S. policy activity, which is to say al Qaeda has most definitely NOT been in the driver’s seat.

What all this tells me is they could not care less if George Bush or John Kerry runs our government. Why would they?

Don’t be an idiot. You’re trying to weasel out of admitting that the Democrats/liberals are the preference of the terrorists by pretending that al Qaeda consists of master strategists who are going to win anyway. Can you be any more disingenuous? (As I’ve said, in certain circles the need to be proved correct is more powerful than the need to address the problem.) You know damn good and well there are significant differences in the strategies articulated by the parties, and that those differences will have significant consequences. Realizaton that the enemy prefers you to your political opposition is a devastating critique of the Left's worldview, at least in regards to how it addresses threats such as islamofascism.

Both are leaders of their enemy. But their strategy is clever in this way, too: they've imposed high political costs on us as a country.

Mullah Omar and Saddam Hussein might have something to say about what constitutes a ‘high political cost’.

The bottom line is that Republicans are now arguing that a victory for the political party that represents about half the country's voters would promote terrorism.

The bottom line is that Democrats are now arguing that another victory for the political party that represents about half the country’s voters would make terrorism worse.

Republicans say the Democrats are doing al Qaeda's work for them, without realizing the same argument could be made about them, with more justification.

Democrats say the Republicans are doing al Qaeda’s work for them, without realizing the same argument could be made about them, with more justification.

Again, I ask you and Totten, is this the road we want to go down in the 2004 election?

Again, I ask you and [fill in Leftist name here], is this the road we want to go down in the 2004 election?

If Bush's supporters continue to make these "Democrats are appeasers" arguments, it might be very good for Republicans while being very bad for the country.

If anti-conservative bigots continue to make these “there is no such thing as appeasement” arguments, it might be very good for Democrats while being very bad for the country.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 16, 2004 04:34 PM

Catalonia-
You have an MBA? So does Bush. What do you want, a cookie?

Something tells me never been in a position of leadership.

Heh. Think again. Why do you think I blog anonymously, because no one has ever heard of me?

Anyway, the rest of your post just dissolves in the ad hominem arguments that I am talking about. Bin Laden loves it when you say the Democrats are the terrorists' choice. So, why do you hate America so much?

Heh.

Posted by: Mithras at March 16, 2004 04:53 PM

Michael Totten-
What else can I say? I have never called John Kerry an appeaser.

That's true. But I am asking why your logic doesn't apply to the US presidential election. I am drawing a parallel between your arguments about Spain and the arguments that, for example, Catalonia is making. Do you accept the premise that bin Laden wants Kerry to win?

Posted by: Mithras at March 16, 2004 04:57 PM

Guess I am pretty late to this. Apologies to all those 124 other comments I havent bothered to read.

Just want to chime in to say: bad show Micheal, all around.

Two ways of handling stories like this. Go for the facts, or go for the appropriate spin.

Lets try the facts first.
Fact: 90% of the Spanish people opposed the war. Aznar led them into it anyway. So he puts himself out on the razors edge. There will be those who say that any leader doing something like this violates the underlying principle of democracy - the people rule. Others will say that this is what you elect leaders for - make the tough and unpopular decisions. Both sides have some validity. Hence the razors edge. Polls showed (pre-blast) the race even - meaning the PP was going to take a hit in any case (they won last time in a solid way). Exit polls also show NO dimunition in PP support. The big shift came from record turnout - those resigned into apathy suddenly deciding to make their voices heard.

Another fact: The second big story in Spain, not covered here all that much, was that the gov't was two-faced and lying in the immediate aftermath. Playing up the possibility of ETA culpability in a big way, and in a nakedly political way. WHen that all came undone, all those apathetic, but pissed off masses decided that enough was enough - we aint gonna take this anymore. That was the real grievance being punished.

OK, thems the facts. The Spanish people didnt decide to indulge in a fit of appeasment. THey had a government that did something that they didnt want, then mishandled a big crisis, and suddenly its "kick the bastards out".

But maybe you prefer the appropriate spin over the facts.

I've heard mentioned that it isnt really so important what the voters were saying - its the impression it all leaves. Just seems to look like appeasement, and that in itself gives al-Q a victory.

So I ask. Who is making it look like appeasement (even though it really isnt)? Folks like dear Michael here, and the vast American right-wing. Doing al-Q's bidding, it seems to me.
(And, for the record, I assume and accept that they would be horrified at the notion).

None the less....

Posted by: tano at March 16, 2004 05:05 PM

Catalonia,

So, if a domestic terror group engaged in a massive campaign of bombings and assassinations to protest gay marriage and civil unions, should everyone vote Democratic to avoid appeasing the terrorists? After all, the terrorists would see that the policies of the Republicans were much more in line with their goals. Realization that the enemy prefers you to your political opposition would be a devastating critique of the Right's worldview, no? Of course, this is ridiculous, as is your little screed about the Democrats being the "preference of the terrorists." Why should we give the terrorists a say? I'd rather let the voters decide which candidate's platform on terror is better than have them attempt to divine Osama's preference and then reflexively vote for the opposite. You know, democracy? Maybe we could try that.

Posted by: Smokey at March 16, 2004 05:14 PM

Mithras,

Not acceptable. You were caught in the act of sophistry. You know al Qaeda isn't as clever as you claim. You know there is a difference in the strategies articulated by the parties. You believe strongly that some strategies will be more effective than others (as you make abundantly clear on your blog). You know al Qaeda is least concerned about those strategies articulated by liberals. And deep down you know it says much about your position. In fact you know it’s a devastating critique of your position. Thus you twist into a rhetorical/semantic pretzel and hope somebody doesn’t notice.

And yes, I prefer chocolate chip cookies, particularly since blogging is certainly not equivalent to a 'leadership position' and since you cannot run an organization of any size while blogging. There are simply too many demands on your time. Don't play games with me, Mithras. You’re just a “harmless Philadelphia pervert with a law degree” suffering from hereditary anti-Republicanism (aka, political bigotry), assuming you are who you say you are.

And oh by the way, and this is for the benefit of smokey, it’s interesting that on your blog you post a satirical Bush/Cheney poster that says “Don’t change horsemen in mid-apocalypse” even while smokey claims Leftists never say the sky is falling. Delicious. And you also state: “Bush and his administration represent a real threat to the future of our economy, our civil liberties, our standing in the world, and even our physical safety and the well-being of people everywhere". Are you listening, smokey?

And oh by the way, since you are clearly a partisan, it was a mistake to link to your blog. It means it’s quite easy to triangulate your true positions on issues and thus much easier to catch you in the act of dispensing Bravo Sierra, a-la your previous posts. Not to mention, of course, that you reveal your pathologies -- the true source of everyone’s politics. Just some friendly advice.

All that aside, sorry to hear about your dad.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 16, 2004 05:47 PM

Sorry to threadjack but reading in the blog circles leads me to this question...can one be against israel and not anit-semetic?

Posted by: jean at March 16, 2004 05:48 PM

Smokey,

Let's try it again:

Do you have a preference in the strategies articulated by the parties as represented in Bush/Kerry?

If you do, then don't you think al Qaeda has a preference, as well?

If al Qaeda has a preference, which is it, and why?

Simple questions. Devastating answers.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 16, 2004 05:53 PM

Jean,

Sorry to threadjack but reading in the blog circles leads me to this question...can one be against israel and not anit-semetic?

Yes.

And answer me this: Can one be anti-semitic and claim to be anti-Zionist? More apropos, how often does this happen? Better yet, let's not that ALL anti-semites will claim to be anti-Zionists, and thus I ask: Are not the true anti-Zionists required to purge the anti-semites from their ranks to avoid the appearance of rank bigotry?

Posted by: Jean at March 16, 2004 05:59 PM

Catalonia-
You know al Qaeda is least concerned about those strategies articulated by liberals.

No, that's your conclusion. But you're wrong. I think what al Qaeda wants most of all is to destabilize Middle Eastern governments by fomenting a war of "Crusader v. Islam". Bush is more likely to deliver that for them; even so, I wouldn't dream of accusing Republicans of consciously promoting the terrorists' aims. However, as I said, I believe al Qaeda does have a plan to do something whatever we do. I never said I believed their plans would work.

You say you've read my blog, but as far as I can recall, I have not make any explicit comparisons between the parties' policies. I have commented on various aspects of the Bush policy which I believed is making the situation worse. And I have argued for ways to make it better.

you cannot run an organization of any size while blogging.

Really? Now I know. I will have to fire everybody and close up shop tomorrow, I guess. My partners will be very disappointed. Seriously, where do you get this stuff? Do you actually, you know, have a blog?

you post a satirical Bush/Cheney poster ... while smokey claims Leftists never say the sky is falling.

Hmmm. Did they teach you the meaning of "satire" in MBA school? What did you do your thesis on - humorlessness as a business plan?

All in all, I can't see how anything I've said here contradicts stuff I've said on my blog. (I mean, if you want to catch me out, go look at the posts where I said Dean/Clark was going to be the ticket for sure.) But keep on digging!

And thanks for the condolences.

Posted by: Mithras at March 16, 2004 06:10 PM

Personally, I would think that if Osama had a vote, he would vote for Bush.

Thats the way terroists think. I know that the usual spin is that they want to "break our will", force us to become "appeasers" and all that. We have heard all that incessantly. My point of departure from all that comes from investigating the mindset of terrosits throughout modern history. I sense a different motivation at work.

Terrorists come from the ranks of the relatively powerless (not necessarily poor). They know full well (and far more directly than even we do) how powerless they are in the face of the power that they strike against. They tend not to harbor illusions that a few well placed bombs can break their enemy. Quite the contrary. The whole point of terrorism is to bring retriubtion upon themselves. But not just themselves. What they count on is the ignorance and the blind rage of the wounded superpower. They count on the hope that the retribution will fall mainly on those innocents who happen to be nearby the terrorists, to be related to the terroists, to look like the terrorists. In other words, the very people they hope to recruit.
I seem to recall that it was Lenin who raised this to an artform, or who at least wrote extensivly about it. Provoke the enemy. Cause him to rain down retribution on the community. Then recruit the wounded innocents who know nothing of the greater issues, but only know that suddenly, for some strange reason, they are viewed by the high and mighty as collateral damage.

So what does a terroist dream of? How about someone who reacts to the murder of his people, by Saudis, harbored in Afghanistan, by starting a war in Iraq? Them damn A-rabs all look alike anyway.

Would they prefer a candidate who has a thorough understanding of the full range of issues faced by the "people". Who understands that arabs, africans, as well as folks in the USA are interested in jobs, education, hope? Would they really prefer someone who just might fulfill the great liberal agenda of dealing with root causes? Who might counter islamofascism the way we countered communism in the west - give the peasants and the workers their due, but within the context of liberal democracy?

I think John Kerry (big "if" here, - IF he lives up to the promise of the proud tradition that he exists in) would be their worst enemy.

Posted by: tano at March 16, 2004 06:16 PM

I seem to recall that it was Lenin who raised this to an artform....

Yes, Lenin worked with the Germans to defeat his country, Russia, during WW I, so that disillusioned Russians would side with the Bolsheviks against the Tsar.

Lenin wasn't getting hunted and killed by the enemy, though. Al Qaeda is, and I think they'd prefer otherwise.

Would they really prefer someone who just might fulfill the great liberal agenda of dealing with root causes? Who might counter islamofascism...within the context of liberal democracy?

No, which is why they don't want Bush to win. Bush will kill them and free their people.

Posted by: Jim at March 16, 2004 06:34 PM

Tano has it completely backwards. The War on Terror is centered in Iraq. That’s why the terrorists are trying to split the Coalition. Spain just provided them a tremendous victory and morale boost.

If Bush wins, he will keep a real presence in Iraq, as the success of a Democratic Iraq will be his legacy (and the beginning of the end for the Islamofacists). If Kerry wins, he’ll try to hand Iraq to the UN. That is in the terrorists’ interest.

Kerry is a pacifist. He was for the Nuclear Freeze and voted against the first Gulf War. He only voted for the recent war because he is also an opportunist and knew he’d be running for office. Look, Kerry doesn’t want to bother with the War on Terror. He wants to turn to domestic issues. He’d be like Clinton – asleep at the wheel.

Posted by: Machine at March 16, 2004 06:36 PM

Do you have a preference in the strategies articulated by the parties as represented in Bush/Kerry?

Yes, and it is Kerry's.

If you do, then don't you think al Qaeda has a preference, as well?

Yes, and it is Bush's. But what's more important is that it is irrelevant. Bin Laden is just as likely to be wrong about the likely geopolitical results of any set of strategies as I am. He's a nutcase; I'm not as knowledgeable as he is about terror. The two cancel out pretty well.

It doesn't matter what bin Laden wants. It matters what we want.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 16, 2004 06:49 PM

Mithras,

I'm not buying it. If you blog anonymously to keep people from knowing who you are (presumably because you are in a position of authority), then why did you post a picture of your father? Doesn't sound anonymous to me. Please explain. (I think I already know the answer.)

Now I have to go. I will say, however, that your only beef with my argument appears to be that you don’t believe al Qaeda prefers the liberal solution because they wish to foment a war of the West vs. Islam, which means that Bush plays into their hands and thus they prefer Republicans. Fair enough. That’s only part of the story, however, a story that’s changed post-9/11, and since you don’t seem to understand that plans get shot to hell you can’t possibly understand that al Qaeda’s strategy has probably changed. The Muslims are not rising up, and democracy in Iraq and the spectre of it arising throughout the greater Middle East represent a serious threat to the West v. Islam conflict ever occurring in the way OBL envisions. Thus al Qaeda screwed up big time (hardly the ‘master’ planners you believe they are), thus they seek to sabotage the effort to remedy their gigantic mistake, thus they will support those who are most likely to aid in Iraq’s failure, thus President Bush was correct and the anti-war dead-enders are wrong. Thus your boy Kerry is wrong.

Nice try though.

End note: Yes I understand satire. However, when you state seriously that the physical safety of everyone in the world is at stake and follow it with a ‘humorous’ flyer about the apocalypse, I find it hard to believe that you are not serious about both. Perhaps you need to modify your language, as you seem often to say what you don’t REALLY mean. Then again, you are a lawyer (Just kidding. I think.;-).

Posted by: Catalonia at March 16, 2004 06:59 PM

Torrid Joe,

so much to comment on!

And you manage to do so little with it. I challenge you to give me an argument and you give me a spiel about leeches. You're losing it.

You make yet another unsubstantiated claim that the intelligence linking Saddam and Al Qaeda is "badly sourced." And yet the one analysis of intelligence linking the two that was made in the legal domain rather than the political domain found that the evidence was credible.

So who is more credible on this issue? Torrid Joe with his torrid leeches or a Clinton appointed judge? I'll take Clinton's judge over your leeches.

Check mate.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 07:00 PM

tano:
against. They tend not to harbor illusions that a few well placed bombs can break their enemy. Quite the contrary. The whole point of terrorism is to bring retriubtion upon themselves

tano I agree with you that Islamic terrorists, by their very nature, like to inflame and enlarge the conflict.

They mostly do not wear uniforms and present themselves on the battlefield - or else they would be slaughtered by our technology and firepower.

They live and operate amongst civilians, which is a gross violation of the Geneva convention. They invite combat and violence to civilian areas and yes they would love to see the enemy bring retribution and anger the civilian crowds amongst which they are cowardly hiding themselves.

HOWEVER, you go too far in suggesting that this is the main point of terrorism.

There are terrorist groups that don't want to enlarge the conflict, such as the IRA. They simply want their political goals acheived, and to pressure other governments.

The best way to oppose them is to avoid making any overt concessions until they abandon terrorism.

You seem to be suggesting that the best way to oppose terrorists is to not exact retribution upon them - and just lie down.

That is sickening.

Posted by: Jono at March 16, 2004 07:10 PM

Smokey,

yet I see no reason to expect that there might actually be bizarre felines stalking the surface of Mars, coughing up red hairballs and sharpening their claws on the Mars Rover.

Martian cats? I thought we hit a low point with the leeches argument.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 07:18 PM

Kimmitt:
It doesn't matter what bin Laden wants. It matters what we want.

I think I speak for everybody here when I say:
1) We want Al-Qaeda to lose. To disband, to surrender, and to be discredited.

2) We want every single country in the world to fight them and condemn them.

We also don't want them to acheive victories.

3) We don't want them carrying out succesful attacks, especially by acquiring WMDs.

4) If they do, we don't want them acheiving their political goals as a result.

Posted by: Jono at March 16, 2004 07:24 PM

Torrid Joe

By that I mean without multinational bodies (UN, NATO, SEATO, whatever) involved.

To achieve your definition of multilaterism at the UN and NATO, we would have to get the support of France. Yet France wouldn't even agree to letting NATO take defensive measures on behalf of Turkey prior to the war:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/02/17/iraq/main540829.shtml

Your BOLD-FACED LIE that there were no ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda has been shot down in flames. So out comes the unilateralism BOLD-FACED LIE. If you want credibility, you need to tell us in specific terms what reasonable actions we could have taken to get France's support.

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 07:33 PM

jono,
lets be clear here. What is sickening is the use of outrageous, dishonest argumentation in an effort to avoid dealing with the issues. And on that score, je t'accuse, as the Poles would say.

Did I say anything about lying down? Why the recourse to such hyperbole in such short order? What is the process going on between your ears to lead you to surmise that that is what I was suggesting? Could it be nothing more than the seductive lure of an easy cheap shot? A way to walk away feeling tough and superior, without having actually had to think very much? Can we get beyond the playground,,,,please?

I thought my comments were doing the great circling movement around the obvious point. That the smart way to deal with terrorists is not to be sucked into their game. To defeat them with force, yes of course, but to focus that on just them. And at the same time, to use our enormous advantages, in every other conceivable sphere, to win the political battle for the hearts and minds, of the potential recurits, of wavering clients, and of allies who look to us for intellegent leadership, not just brute force.

When the shots were flying, JFK knew what to do, and did it magnificently. I dont have any concerns on that score. But he also has a sense of the enormous palette at our disposal. And is tied in to the tradition of those who have made great art with it. W seems a reluctant and bumbling sort when it comes to the arena that will be decisive in the long run.

Posted by: tano at March 16, 2004 07:34 PM

Appeasement? Please. This is worse than that. Screwing an ally during a war is betrayal, flat-out.

Posted by: B. McManus at March 16, 2004 07:40 PM

Dear Mr. HA HA,
Perhaps if you were to put your ENTIRE MESSAGE in bold caps, then we all might be compelled to submit to the great force of your argumentation, irrespective of course, of our merely rational minds.

Just for the record, I will take my stand with those who hold to the obvious. There was no connection between Saddam and al-Q. No matter what Chalabi says.

Oh, and by the way,,,why is it that this guy, who has probably passed more disinformation to our intel services and our news media than the entire KGB working over a decade, is still being supported with our tax dollars to fund his "militia", and sits on the CPA? Why not just turn the louse over to the Jordanians so he can start serving his sentence? Save us the expense of a trial....

Posted by: tano at March 16, 2004 07:59 PM

Here is what an ally looks like:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/ap/20040316/ap_on_re_au_an/australia_terror_target

Here is what an appeasing socialist back stabber looks like:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/spain/article/0,2763,1170284,00.html

Here is what appeasement earns:

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20040316/wl_nm/france_threat_dc_4

Posted by: HA at March 16, 2004 08:01 PM

Catalonia-
Quickly, then work in the morning. I don't have a lot of identifying personal detail on my blog, and what is there is about half lies. For example, I am actually a married black woman with two children living in Phoenix, Arizona.

your only beef with my argument appears to be that you don’t believe al Qaeda prefers the liberal solution because they wish to foment a war of the West vs. Islam

No, my beef is that the right is using the argument "the terrorists want the liberals to win" as a means to shut down argument on "who has the best plan."

The Muslims are not rising up, and democracy in Iraq and the spectre of it arising throughout the greater Middle East represent a serious threat to the West v. Islam conflict ever occurring in the way OBL envisions.

The 9/11 attacks were the product of some very good strategic thinking. I have serious doubts that they will succeed in achieving their objectives, but let's not knock it for all that. For $250,000 or so, al Qaeda knocked the entire world chess board over. I don't think they'll achieve their objectives because I don't think Muslims will rise. But a bellicose strategy that emphasizes manichean, totalizing rhetoric, coupled with military action against a Muslim country that had nothing to do with 9/11, makes it more likely they will rise.

G'night.

Posted by: Mithras at March 16, 2004 08:15 PM

C'mon, HA. You got nothing here.

http://www.hillnews.com/marshall/111903.aspx
(Marshall)

http://slate.msn.com/id/2092180
(Benjamin)

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3660169/
(Newsweek--shows INC-Cheney-Feith connection)

As for the leeches, I tried to entertain you with a colorful metaphor in hopes that the obviousness of the logic would not be missed. It seems it only confused you. I'll remove the metaphor for your benefit, and repeat:

It does not take the solution, to identify a suggested solution that is not doing the job.

The US has been threatened many times since 9/11. I'm sure you recall several orange alerts. They weren't for France, they were for us. Does the fact that terrorism threats were made against us, mean that we have earned them through appeasement?

Posted by: Torridjoe at March 16, 2004 08:37 PM

Mithras,

To answer your question about Kerry. I would only characterize voting for him as appeasement IF he puts an appeasement plank in his campaign. Otherwise, I'd say the Democrats are, at worst, being soft on terror. Then again, some people who plan on voting for him are NOT soft on terror. (Like my wife, for instance.) So it's complicated, and my characterization of his campaign has and will continue to acknowledge that fact.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2004 10:02 PM

When the dittoheads received their weekly marching orders from the Borg Collective this week, it clearly included the following task: Challenge Kerry supporters to present their ideas for how to fight terrorism. HA and all of his fellow cyber-Birchers have been parroting this line all week.

Truth be told, it's a fair challenge. Kerry has been long on critique and short on ideas thus far. The short answer is to say that we shouldn't have gone into Iraq. But it's too late for that now. Though I am merely an armchair campaign strategist, here's Violet's comprehensive policy paper on how to fight terrorism and clean up the President's messes.

1. Stabilize Afghanistan and Iraq

We simply need to get more international support to fund and secure the rebuilding of these two countries, allowing our troops to do what they do best-- hunting down the scumbags in the Afghan/Pakistani border area and the Sunni Triangle. There is no excuse for our elite troops to be doing MP work, and no excuse for so much of the National Guard to still be overseas at all. If we have to go through the UN, then we need to be able to suck up our pride and ask for help. With the Taliban still controlling swaths of Afghanistan, we need to take real action to support the Karzai regime. Afghanistan needs an all-out Marshall Plan, and yes Virginia, we're going to need to repeal some of the Bush tax cuts to pay for it.

We also need to create more Army/Marine units that are specifically trained in peacekeeping to prevent the sort of problems that transpired in Somalia and post-war Iraq from ever happening again, and to give us more flexibility for deployments in other trouble spots on short notice.

2. Attack terror networks at all levels. Not just the top.

Bush has chosen to focus on ending state support for terrorism. He invaded Afghanistan to get rid of the Taliban support for al_Qaeda, and went after Iraq to control their nonexistent WMDs. And this seems to be the entire Bush plan. Now we're cutting a deal with Libya and dealing with North Korea... but we mostly seem to be at a standstill.

We can't invade and occupy all our enemies. We need to be focused on disrupting the supply and finance networks. Go after the bank havens with lax security that hold terrorist assets. Go after the poppy trade in Afghanistan. Go after the rich Saudis and their "charities" that fund these monsters. Demand that these countries get serious about confronting the madrassa schools that teach kids to hate America and worship terrorists.

Publicly exposing clandestine support for terrorism and demanding that the nations involved clean up the problem is a key first step. We might need to threaten the House of Saud to force real change, and that would require full cooperation from Europe. This might result in high gas prices, but if it starves al-Qaeda, it's worth it.

Where are all these explosives coming from? Someone is manufacturing them. And someone is selling them to terrorists. Why aren't these arms dealers and smugglers being dragged through the street? Sudan, Somalia, and Algeria were major locations for terrorist training. What are we doing on that front? If there's a single terror camp in these countries, it should be tasting our cruise missiles.

(Note to trolls, I'm well aware that Bush has made efforts in some of these areas. But I'm not convinced that much emphasis has been placed on these priorities.)

3. Get serious about WMD proliferation.

For all the bluster about Saddam's non-existent WMDs being a grave and gathering threat, we aren't doing much of anything about countries that actually are a risk for WMD proliferation. Pakistan dealt technology to the entire evil axis, and we have allowed them to pin the entire blame on one man and pardon him? WTF? Have we done anything about decommissioning and securing Russian weapons?

We need to rid the entire world of chem and bio weapons, tightly control the conventional arms trade, stop the flow of nuclear technology, and track every single warhead through an international non-proliferation program. All of this is going to require us to work through multilateral negotiations and not run around pissing off the entire world.

4. Get serious about intelligence and civil defense.

This whole color-coded, underfunded homeland security business is a sham. Our port security is still a joke, and our railways are utterly unsafe. Protection will cost big bucks, but it's worth it. Cutting taxes for the rich while underfunding civil defense is a crime against America.

And the politicization of intelligence is the other great crime of the Bush Administration. This stuff should be vetted by career agents, not political appointees. We need more field agents. If we aren't funding and training hundreds of people in friendly Arab nations' security forces to infiltrate terror operations, we damn well should be.

5. Change the culture.

Bush announced a nice plan to promote American values in the Middle East a couple of weeks ago, but it's about two years too late and he doesn't seem very serious about it.

By now there should already be an independent Voice of America type Arabic-language cable/radio news network beamed into the Middle East, presenting a moderate pro-democracy, pro-Islam, anti-terror angle and de-spinning the local propaganda. We should have formed a regional mutual security pact with nations that are willing to fully cooperate against terror groups, offering loans to support the formation of secular schools, small businesses, free press, better roads and sewers, etc. All the seeds of a healthy, functioning free society. Reject nations that are insufficiently tough on terrorism. Nations that support us get carrots, nations that don't get the stick. Right now we only seem to have a stick. Give the general public something to lose by cooperating with the terrorists.

I'm sure some people would consider that appeasement. Too damn bad.

Posted by: Violet at March 16, 2004 10:34 PM

Violet: When the dittoheads received their weekly marching orders from the Borg Collective this week

Grow up, willya? I didn't read past that sentence, and I doubt very many other people did, either.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2004 10:43 PM

Holy Crap! 152 Comments for this?! Is there really that much up for debate on the subject?!

Seems pretty cut and dry to me:

Michael says the Spanish pulling out of Iraq under Socialist Party rule is a victory for al Qaeda when it drives a wedge between the US and her Coalition partners. Michael follows up by saying that the Socialists are not pro-terror, just more appeasing in combatting it. Follows by pretty much saying it's not cowardly, just very misguided for them to act as they're acting and that even the United States has done it before. Defines appeasement and surrender, well. Adds a great Churchill quote, recently quoted by Rumsfeld I might add, to illustrate the folly of pacifism.

As usual, he's clearly in the right on all of it. Does this REALLY deserve 152 comments?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 17, 2004 12:09 AM

PS...

Nope, didn't read past it. You start talking about the Borg and I'm tuning out. I can appreciate the STNG reference, though, I really can.

Oh, and kudos on the appeasement riff, Michael. I'm so sick of hearing people chant on and on about "Peace on Earth". When places like Saudi Arabia and Iran exist in the world, peace has got to take a back seat to justice every time in my book. Some things are simply more important than non-violence. Some things are worth fighting for.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 17, 2004 12:15 AM

Violet: When the dittoheads received their weekly marching orders from the Borg Collective this week

Grow up, willya? I didn't read past that sentence, and I doubt very many other people did, either.

I read the whole thing. However, Totten lacking the intellectual stamina couldn't. I had some shred of respect for Michael but, it seems that his willingness to spin and ignore good arguments because he doesn't like the sarcasm is a little like the pot calling the kettle black. I remember a couple "Fuck yous" thrown my way. Is this language a grown up uses Michael? You should read the post. There were a couple good ideas in there. Anyway, don't give up your day job... there's only so much room for the left to right pundits in the world.

Posted by: Graham at March 17, 2004 12:17 AM

Graham...

Dude, she made a freaking Borg reference for God's sake! If you were running a website and trying to actively keep up with and respond back to 150 some odd posts, separating the serious from the amatuerish...you'd be overlooking it in a heartbeat, too. SHE STARTED OFF HER POST WITH A STAR TREK REFERENCE!!! Come on.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 17, 2004 12:25 AM

I guess this is how a pretty cut-and-dry subject gets running up to over 150 comments though, huh? When computer nerds like ourselves start talking about Star Trek. ;)

Oh, who am I to talk!

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 17, 2004 12:34 AM

Violet,

Though I am merely an armchair campaign strategist, here's Violet's comprehensive policy paper on how to fight terrorism and clean up the President's messes.

I don't have time to go through your comments right now. I disagree with a lot of what you said, but I give you a lot of credit for putting them together. They demonstrate a more sincere and mature thought process than the vast majority of Bush's critics. It is awfully easy for Bush's arrested adolescent critics to heckle from the balcony at the actors putting on the show. Its another thing entirely to get up on stage. So you deserve a worthy response. Time permitting, I'll respond to your post tonight.

Posted by: HA at March 17, 2004 04:18 AM

Um, guys? Violet is doing parody. Sheesh, if the "dittoheads" line didn't tip you off, then this should have:

Bush announced a nice plan to promote American values in the Middle East a couple of weeks ago, but it's about two years too late and he doesn't seem very serious about it.

By now there should already be an independent Voice of America type Arabic-language cable/radio news network....

I mean, come on, this is some funny stuff.

Posted by: Jim at March 17, 2004 04:40 AM

Dear Jim. Pray enlighten me on why you think that's not a serious statement. I'm serious as a pre-emptive invasion on that issue.

As for you, Totten. The Borg comment was aimed at HA and all those who recite scripted political diatribes... which apparently doesn't bother you when it comes from your own side. But despite the richly deserved sarcasm aimed at a person who has already accused me of being a liar, I paid HA the respect of answering the question seriously, since it happens to be a good question. And HA paid me the respect of a serious response. Maybe there's hope for the world after all.

For someone such as yourself, who bandies around historically-charged words like "appeasement," to get all fussy about the use of biting rhetoric... let's just say that's awfully self-serving.

I popped into this discussion because the direction of the discussion pissed me off. I thought the article itself was perfectly reasonable (although misguided, imo.) But then you jumped in and started whining. I'd never heard of you before yesterday and I'm starting to understand why I hadn't. I'm perfectly willing to have a civil, respectful debate in the appropriate environment, but I didn't walk into a civil and respectful debate on your site, now did I?

Au revoir,

Violet

Posted by: Violet at March 17, 2004 06:52 AM

I don't have a lot of identifying personal detail on my blog, and what is there is about half lies. For example, I am actually a married black woman with two children living in Phoenix, Arizona.

That’s OK, because I’m actually Bob Dole.

No, my beef is that the right is using the argument "the terrorists want the liberals to win" as a means to shut down argument on "who has the best plan."

No, your beef is that the terrorists DO want the liberals (Socialists in Spain) to win, and that this speaks poorly of the Liberal Solution, which speaks poorly of the liberal worldview, which speaks poorly of your worldview (presumably), at least in terms of effective foreign policy. This is what stings the most, and why the ‘appeasement’ moniker in particular is so vociferously denied. (To listen to some people here there is no such thing as appeasement.) Worse yet, your opposition to the war is probably mostly due to reflexive political partisanship – i.e., political tribalism -- than to any deeply reasoned position. You don’t strike me as an ideologue, thank the Heavens, but nevertheless partisanship is ideology-lite. For many the fact that the war is being prosecuted by non-Democrats is enough to fuel their rank opposition.

I also believe you are projecting. Since I am not a partisan, I’m not really interested in shutting down my contrarians. Your characterization of the Right is reflexive, and it will be why you’ll argue yourself into more corners if you keep having a discussion with me. Hopefully you understand why.

The 9/11 attacks were the product of some very good strategic thinking. I have serious doubts that they will succeed in achieving their objectives, but let's not knock it for all that. For $250,000 or so, al Qaeda knocked the entire world chess board over. I don't think they'll achieve their objectives because I don't think Muslims will rise.

The 9/11 attacks were the product of some very good TACTICAL thinking. The strategy thus far looks faulty, although by no means has it been played out. Otherwise I agree with you.

But a bellicose strategy that emphasizes manichean, totalizing rhetoric coupled with military action against a Muslim country that had nothing to do with 9/11, makes it more likely they will rise.

Ah. The Mythical Arab Street argument. Again. Arabs are quite comfortable with Manichean language and thus it doesn’t set off any alarm bells the way does amongst liberals in the West. Bombast is a part of Arab culture (Mother of All Battles, anyone?). Regarding totalizing rhetoric (totalizing is a horrible word, by the way), almost everybody recognizes preprocessed political blather when they hear it. The “Axis of Evil” speech, which was not blather and rather was an accurate statement of policy, was a long time ago. Most ‘totalizing’ rhetoric since that time has largely been ignored. In any case, if we’re going to deal in possibilities rather than likelihoods, it’s possible that bellicosity makes the Arab Street LESS likely to rise, as Arabs also respect strength infinitely more than they respect tolerance, which they deem weakness.

All that said, I’m glad you didn’t devolve into Mad Mad Linking. The people who gain the upper hand in MML discussions are those who have a lot of time, and a lot of time I don’t have.

Peace.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 17, 2004 09:25 AM

Violet,

I read your post. thanks for responding. My observations.

1. Some good ideas. The Bush Administration is doing about 80% of them already.

2. The U.S. has sought U.N. help in Iraq, before and after the war. The sticking point is who holds ultimate authority. If you want to say anything different than everyone else on this site, that's the point to argue.

3. There comes a time when you either have to do something without the approval of multilateral institutions or do nothing at all. That was obviously the situation with the U.N. from Sept. 2002-March 2003. It's quite obvious that much of Europe and the U.S. have radically different philosophies for how to counter Islamic terrorism. Saying we have to get the approval of multi-lateral institutions is tantamount to saying France has a veto on American foreign policy.

4. The carrot part of "carrot and stick" only works if it's quite obvious that the stick will be used. The U.S. has (in Iraq), and that's why the carrot approach is working (in Libya). If one listens to Roman Prodi, both the carrot and the stick are out. I can't imagine Al Quaeda really cares much about either French or German bribes or threats right now.

5. I think you underestimate how much the Bush administration sees military force as only one arm of the War on Terror. (See Point #1.) And I don't think that's trollish to point out.

Posted by: Matt Ward at March 17, 2004 09:51 AM

Catalonia,

Since I am not a partisan, I’m not really interested in shutting down my contrarians.
No, you're not at all partisan. You just believe that liberals are tools of the terrorists and that only the conservatives can save us. I think it unlikely that someone who claims to be non-partisan would complain about "anti-conservative bigots" and try so hard to impugn the left by insinuating that Al Quaeda likes liberals. Further, you make all sorts of claims about the imagined sins of liberals, such as our claims that "the sky is falling", our supposedly "foolish" position on Iraq, and our purported desire to be right at all costs and damn the consequences, all while completely ignoring that your side might be vulnerable to the same criticisms, as I said in an earlier post (to which you didn't bother to respond, other than to make snide remarks about coherency and pathology and to accuse me of being unserious. Not a partisan response at all.) I do not think liberals are saints, some of them are idiots. Some conservatives are also idiots. If you wish to criticize the left for idiocy, it would behoove you to provide examples of this, rather than simply using the strawman of "the Left", and to show that only those on the left are making the category of mistakes you decry. Your failure to do so reveals you as a partisan, and your refusal to admit the same only compounds your error. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Posted by: Smokey at March 17, 2004 09:56 AM

Smokey,

Partisanship = Political Tribalism = Strongly Democrat or Republican = Strongly Anti-Democrat or Anti-Republican.

Partisanship does not apply to the world of ideas, although a political cause or political party certainly have bases in certain ideals. Thus a someone can hold strong, well-founded ideas and not be a partisan because he is not attached to any particular party or cause. Take these ideas into the realm of dogmatism, however, and you become an ideologue.

Capiche?

Smokey, you're outmatched. You do not read people's posts closely enough, and I think your reading comprehension skills are severely lacking. This will be the last time I'm going to address you.

You've lost. You have been properly identified and categorized. Now get over it.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 17, 2004 10:09 AM

Catalonia,

I'm quite familiar with what partisanship means, and I have no problems with my reading comprehension. Perhaps you have some problems with your writing comprehension. You also seem to be confused about the meaning of partisanship. Partisanship is not limited to political parties, as you seem to think, but rather to the devout attachment to a cause or idea. Thus, it most certainly does apply to the world of ideas, and you have quite clearly identified yourself as one by your fervent and unsupported attacks against the left. Rather than throwing accusations at me, and blithely asserting that you aren't a partisan, maybe you should address some of the points I've made. Remember, it isn't all about you, Catalonia.

I'm outmatched? Don't make me laugh. Now go run away, and live to bullshit another day.

Posted by: Smokey at March 17, 2004 11:47 AM

Violet,

I don't know if your still paying attention, but here's my reply anyway.

As Matt said, most of the positve suggestions you made are being done by Bush already. But there are three key problems I see in the proposals you've made. First, you fail to understand that the war in Iraq was essential. Secondly, you are overlooking the tremendous gains we've made due to the war in Iraq. Thirdly, you are profoundly naive about what it would take to secure the cooperation of the UN and hostile regimes in the war on terror.

First, the war in Iraq was essential for many reasons:
1) Saddam had been in violation of the 1991 surrender agreement even before the ink dried. He was firing on US and British jets on an almost dailiy basis.

2) He tried to assasinate Bush Sr. The fact that he is the father of the current president in no way diminishes the importance of this fact.

3) There is substantial evidence of his involvement in the 1993 WTC bombing including the facts that Ramzi Yousef had entered the US on an Iraqi passport and Abdul Rahman Yasin fled to and was given refuge in Iraq after the attack.

4) Saddam had fooled the UN from 1991 to 1995 about his WMD program. It wasn't until his son-in-law defected in 1995 that we realized that Saddam had a massive program that the UN inspectors had failed to detect.

5) He kicked out the UN inspectors in 1998 and we have been blind about his WMD efforts ever since. The WMD's he was known to be in posession of in 1998 and had been documented by the UN inspectors were the primary basis for Bush's WMD claims. Only a fool would assume he had discarded his WMD's and abandoned his programs in the years since.

6) He was a major agitator and sponsor of the Palestinians which is one cause of hostility towards America in the Arab world.

7) The containment regime was breaking down by 2001. France, Russia, China, Germany and the Arab states were leading efforts at the UN to dismantle the sanctions regime and the Bush administration was getting ready to throw in the towel prior to 9/11 (remember "Smart Sanctions?").

8) The need to station our troops in Saudi Arabia in order to contain Saddam was a major cause of hostility in the Arab world and was the original basis for the formation of Al Qaeda.

9) Saddam's presence was an impediment to the Iranians overthrowing their regime because he would always be a threat to them.

10) Saddam refused to let UN inspectors back into Iraq after 9/11 until we amassed 250,000 troops on his borders. It is not feasible to keep 250,000 troops on a war footing in the desert for another 4 years while Saddam plays another game of cheat and retreat with the UN.

11) Saddam was required under resolution 1441 to either surrender his WMD's or prove he had disposed of them. He failed to do so.

12) If the UN inspectors had announced that Saddam clean of WMD's there would have been overwhelming international pressure to end the sanctions and remove the coalition troops that were surrounding him. Then it would only have been a matter of time before he or his demon offspring successors reconsitituted his WMD programs. This is especially true given what we now know about the international nuclear black market involving Pakistian, NK, Malyasia, Libya and Iran.

13) Finally, Saddam had slaughtered 100's of thousands of his own people. Many of his victims were due to Bush Sr.'s encouragement that the Iraqis rise up against Saddam after the 1991 war. Bush Sr.'s failure to support this uprising was one of the most shameful events in American history. After Bush Sr.'s betrayal during this uprising, we owed it to the people of Iraq to liberate them from Saddam.

Any one of these reasons alone was sufficient cause to overthrow Saddam. Taken together, the case is overwhelming. Anyone who doesn't understand this should not be taken seriously. Our failure over 12 years to take out his regime was one of many factors that had undermined the deterrent effect of American military power. Saddam's continued hold on power was an open invitation by every terrorist sponsoring state and international terrorist group to wage a terror war against America with impugnity. Throw this factor in with the impression left by the Iranian hostage crisis, the Beirut Marine barracks bombing, and our withdrawal from Somolia after Mogadishu, and is it any wonder that Bin Laden was gloating that America was a paper tiger ripe for attack on its own soil? That he had already destroyed the more powerful superpower and it was time to move on to the next?

The war has been a tremendous success. We removed a terrorist sponsor who was a threat to us and the region. We slaughtered 100's if not 1000's of Al Qaeda terrorists who flocked to Iraq to oppose our invasion. We have reestablished the deterrent effect which is the reason Libya capitulated on its WMD program. Libya's capitulation and subsequent cooperation is what led us to what we know about the international nuclear black market. We have been able to remove our troops from Saudi Arabia. The regimes in Iran and Syria have be destabilized. The Palestinians have lost a sponsor. Saudi Arabia is actually killing terrorists. We've secured an intelligance bonanza. And the Iraqi people are far better off than they were under Saddam.

Finally, we uncovered the bribery scandal involving the UN Oil for Food program in which billions were siphoned off into the pockets of Kofi Annan, Chirac, Putin and their politcal and bureaucratic cronies in exchange for their diplomatic protection of Saddam at the UN. The dirt we have on the French, Germans and Russians is what enabled James Baker to force them to forgive their Iraqi debts. This betray's another of the Democrat's BOLD-FACED LIES that the war was unilateral and illegitimate without UN authorization. The UN is a corrupt, failed institution. We will never get UN authorization to act in our own defense because we would need to get the approval of our enemies in Russia and France to do so.

If you are blind to the fact that France is an enemy rather than an ally, and the events surrounding the Iraq war haven't already convinced your otherwise, surely France's war games with China on the eve of the Taiwanese elctions must make you realize this. France is using nations like Iraq, China and Iran as proxies against America. It is time for the Democrats to wake up to the fact that France is an enemy of the United States and Saddam was their proxy. There is nothing we could have done to gain the approval of the UN because of this.

Posted by: HA at March 18, 2004 03:57 AM

Good job HA.

Posted by: mnm at March 18, 2004 03:47 PM

The policy of granting concessions to potential enemies to maintain peace

You have to look at all of the words of a definition. Not just the few that support your bias.

It's no surprise that you have neglected to demonstrate that the reason that they chose to withdraw support for the Iraq war was to mantain peace with those who bombed them. Because you, of course. can't.

In fact, the reason that the Spanish have choosen to witdraw from Iraq is that the Iraq war has been counterproductive to the war on Al-Q. So, since it was Al-Q that bombed Madrid and not representatives of Iraq, this is not appeasement. But rather the opposite.

The Spanish have chosen to spend their resources going after those that harmed them, rather than to waste them in support of Bush's folly.

Posted by: Bones at March 18, 2004 07:27 PM

mnm,

Thanks. At least someone is paying attention. I figured this thread was dead as "Bones."

Posted by: HA at March 19, 2004 02:47 AM

My democratic Spanish friends (different political affiliations) are very upset by the recent talk of appeasement. Remember 1936, remember Guernica? The Spanish republic
faced fascism and the greatest terrorist of all times, Adolf Hitler. Who stood at the sidelines, who sided with the fascists, who were the appeasers? Mr Aznar and his party should examine their own history, and his allies abroad should open their history books (if they have any).

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Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
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