June 25, 2004

Are We Out of Gas?

It looks to me like the Bush Administration, its namesake doctrine, and America’s race to pre-empt terrorism of mass destruction has run out of gas.

Jim Hoagland says in The Washington Post he thinks there will be no more Iraqs.

The threshold for preventive war, for example, will be raised significantly for the immediate future. Intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and the intentions of dictators or terrorist gangs that seem to possess them are unlikely to be sufficiently clear to meet the standards for action demanded by the post-facto doubts and recriminations on Iraq. Intelligence analysis will become even more cautious and ambiguously stated to policymakers. Vulnerability to surprise attack could grow again.

Widespread disillusionment will also seriously undercut idealistic rationales for deploying U.S. forces overseas. The growing acceptance of humanitarian intervention that gave rise to the slogan "No more Rwandas" is marginalized today by the drumbeat of "No more Iraqs." The mishandling and abuses of the Iraq occupation have negated much of the idealism of the liberation in one long, bloody year.

I hope he’s wrong but I don’t think he is.

Look at what’s happening in Iran right now.

Iran made good on recent threats yesterday and announced that it will resume building equipment essential for a nuclear weapons program, despite its agreement with three major European powers.
On the one hand, that’s a counterpoint to what Hoagland said. There should be no doubt whatever that Iran wants nukes. It hardly matters if our intelligence is weak and often wrong. Unlike Saddam, the ayatollahs brazenly announce their intentions.

But it also underscores Hoagland’s point. Iran is getting away with it.

Were we supposed to feel better because Europe was “handling” this problem? Of course the ayatollahs violated their agreement with Britain, France, and Germany. That’s what rogue dictatorships do. Only fools trust murderous psychopaths who killed their way into power and kill to hold onto power to obey the instructions on a piece of paper waved in their faces by appeasement-minded EU diplomats.

Where’s Bush? He just blew away the regime next door for less than this.

We have more than two options here. It’s not a choice between entrusting the safety of the world to Jacques Chirac on the one hand and ramping up for a full-bore invasion and occupation on the other.

We have hard power, and we have a lot of it. A little sabre-rattling would go a long way with Iran if we’d try. Tell them to knock if off or they’re next. If they call our bluff we don’t have to bomb the capital or change the regime. Just a few pinprick strikes on military targets at night would let them know we’re serious. Don’t think for a minute that wouldn’t scare the pants off ’em.

I used to think I would vote for Bush because he wouldn’t let Iran go nuclear and Kerry just might. Well, now it looks like neither one of them, or anyone else for that matter, intend to do much about it. Kofi Annan certainly isn't going to pick up the slack.

The Democrats aren’t much interested in stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction. They seem to have forgotten everything they ever knew about nuclear proliferation as they harrumphed themselves into a corner over Saddam. I’m not hearing much from the right about this either, and my guess is because they trust Bush will handle it. Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m just not seeing it. Bush might as well be off on a bender in the Bahamas right now.

One advantage to a Kerry presidency is this: Terror War hawks won’t sit idly by and assume a problem like this will be taken care of. They’ll scream and demand action. And who knows? Maybe they’ll get it. Hardly anyone is demanding Bush do something about Iran. If this keeps up, the mullahs get nukes.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 25, 2004 12:45 AM
Comments

Have we not got ourselves a little stuck between a rock and a hard place? We've been so threatening that the only rational response of the Iranian regime may be to develop a nuclear deterrent, but we can't actually do anything militarily.

And, Michael, if you think that invading Iran would be anything like invading Iraq, you are absolutely kidding yourself. Surely you understand that it is not a real option?

Posted by: Mork at June 25, 2004 01:15 AM

Mork, Iran's nuke program is not new. It is not a response to anything we did.

Also, I did not advocate a full invasion of Iran. Just a warning followed by strikes if necessary. Those strikes could escalate on and off until we were satisfied they stopped. The mullahs absolutely cannot win a war with us, and they would eventually stand down.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 25, 2004 01:44 AM

As a European I hope our softly softly approach may still work. Who knows at the mo', theres alot of sabre rattling from the Iranians at the moment.

It doesn't look promising tho.
I find it interesting that you think that you can stop the Iranians getting nukes.

You have three options it would seem:
1. Diplomatic
2. Indirect Military confrontation
3. Direct Confrontation.

The US Govt seems to distrust 1 (but that might change), 2 would take along time and would involve civil conflict in a potentially nuclear country. Not a pleasant thought.
3 isn't a goer at the mo because you (the US) is not strong enough militarily.
I suspect that three years from now Iran will be a nuclear player.
Ten years from now I suspect there won't be a theocratic govt, there will be an imperfect democracy - much the same as Iraq, irrespective of who is in the WH.
The lesson the Developing World is learning from this Administration is that without a form of WMD (preferably nukes) you are easily manipulated, with WMD - nukes really, you are part of the International Community.
I don't relish the Ayatollahs with nukes, I just doubt our ability to stop it happening.

Posted by: Neil W at June 25, 2004 02:44 AM

A likely scenario is that Israel will do something, like they did with the Osirak reactor in Iraq, with tacit U.S. approval, and the U.S. will then backstop them diplomatically.

Posted by: MarkC at June 25, 2004 02:46 AM

Also, I did not advocate a full invasion of Iran. Just a warning followed by strikes if necessary. Those strikes could escalate on and off until we were satisfied they stopped. The mullahs absolutely cannot win a war with us, and they would eventually stand down.

Didn't we do something very much like this for about 12 years in Iraq?

I'm not saying it's necessarily the right or wrong solution, although I think you underestimate how much further this kind of policy would inflame the region. Just pointing out that this kind of limited-action military stick-waving sounds a lot like the way we managed the no-fly zone, which didn't seem to do much for Saddam's attitude problem.

Posted by: Catsy at June 25, 2004 03:42 AM

Regime change in Iran should be our highest national security priority. We have the military strength to do it, the only question is if we have the will to do it. The Iranians are testing our will and we appear to be failing. Unless this changes fast, America and the world will pay a terrible price.

I don't think we have the will any more. In order to defeat Bush, the Democrats have successfully undermined the war effort. Now Bush is so battered, even he doesn't appear to have the will to do what needs to be done. Obviously, Kerry won't do what needs to be done. The people that will get him elected won't support another war. Kerry's base is just as likely to blame America for terrorism as they are to blame the terrorists. So now it looks like we will have to learn the hard way.

Frankly, I hope Kerry wins the election. The Democrats broke the war effort and I want the inevitable resulting calamity to happen on their watch. They broke it. Let the Democrats be held accountable for the consequences of their actions.

Posted by: HA at June 25, 2004 03:54 AM

See, this is where it all starts to come apart. This is when everybody who supported Bush on Iraq, because they believed it was part of a larger War on Terror, is forced to realize that it was never about anything but Iraq. Those of us who never bought into it saw it long ago, of course. The shifting rationales for the invasion of Iraq; the near-total lack of comparative belligerence w/r/t North Korea - it was all bullshit, and you were bullshitted. You believed in it because you wanted to, and that reflects, in some ways, a nobility of the spirit that neither I nor George W. Bush possess. The man is not an internationalist, and he never has been. He doesn't give a flying fuck about the state of the world outside US borders. You were able to ride along because internationalist "let's save these people from their despotic leader" sentiments (again, admirable, though they'd probably be just as well applied in Africa) coincided, briefly, with Bush's "gonna go git Saddam" idee fixe. This is exactly like what's going on with Andrew Sullivan. You're looking, and thinking "He can't possibly be so totally bankrupt of principles, can he?" The answer is Yes, he can; yes, he is. Bush wanted to invade Iraq; it didn't matter why; and that dovetailed, briefly, with Bermanesque ideals, so all the Bermanites jumped on the running boards. Well, guess what. The ride stops at Iraq. And the Bush administration doesn't give a fuck if you like it or not.

So whatcha gonna do, Michael? Gonna walk past the polling place in November?

Posted by: pdf at June 25, 2004 04:25 AM

Wait till Bush doesn't have to worry about re-election. I bet that's when he's really going to ratchet things up and we'll see some real changes in SA, Syria and Iran. That's why W still has my vote.

Posted by: Court at June 25, 2004 05:29 AM

There was never anyway that the US was going to invade Iran.

No, Iran will be a job for the UN. But the UN won't be up to it, and the Iranians will get their hands on nukes.

What they then do with them will be the interesting part.

Posted by: Eric Blair at June 25, 2004 05:47 AM

Let's face reality here folks. WE LOST. The mass media, the Left and the politicians have thrown in the towel and the Herd is following. A millionaire film maker is making millions off of Islamist propaganda and the public really is lapping it up. Polls show support for the war is dropping. Terrorists are building bases in Syria and other places. Iran is getting ready to jump in the fray.

This really is Vietnam II (military victory that turns into a political rout).

The anti-war useful idiots were correct. The Iraq War was a mistake. All it did is show how corrupt and spineless the West really is. We could have kept the fraud going a few more years - but now the neocons have forced us to show our hand (which contains two pair at best).

Expect a nuked city in two years. Stock up on canned goods and ammo. If you live in a mid-sized or larger community hope you get lucky.

If you have kids I feel sorry for you. As for me, I am looking at real estate in Alaska.

Later.

Posted by: End is Near at June 25, 2004 06:01 AM

"Iran will be a job for the UN."

I just wonder what this means. Also, Michael's little snide comment about Kofi Annan. Do we need to repeat, endlessly, the obvious fact that the "UN" and Kofi Annan are not military players - that Kofi does not have an army at his command, that the UN can do NOTHING without the consent of the permanent members of the Security Council - that the UN is simply the framework of a potential alliance, and Kofi is merely the executive in charge of the bureaucracy?

As to military action in Iraq - sorry to reduce this to schoolyard language, but - you and what army? Can the US military move from the border to Tehran? Sure. Then what?

Oh yeah - that question.....

You think the mullahs are somewhat problematical? Just what do you propose as an alternative, and how do you think that will become established? We see how easy it is in a much smaller country, where 80% of the people were ethnically excluded from power in the old regime and thus generally inclined to be supportive of some kind of regime change. What about Iran - much larger, more homogenous, and where nationalistic opposition to any invaders would be nearly unanimous?
What are the "seat of the pants" estimates for the number of US troops that might be needed?
How many do we have available?
What planet are y'all living on?

And what makes you think that the mullahs cant do these calculations?

Posted by: Tano at June 25, 2004 06:11 AM

Frankly, I hope Kerry wins the election. The Democrats broke the war effort and I want the inevitable resulting calamity to happen on their watch. They broke it. Let the Democrats be held accountable for the consequences of their actions.

Keep telling yourself that. If you repeat it often enough, you may convince yourself that the Bush administration is absolved of all blame for their mistakes, wishful thinking, deceit, incompetence, ideological inflexibility, and all of the other factors attributable solely to them that contributed to the failures that have occurred.

But you won't convince anyone who isn't already sailing that same river in Egypt.

Accountability, people. That was, at one point, among the foundations of good governance. I would like to think it still is.

Posted by: Catsy at June 25, 2004 06:21 AM

Notice how Catsy's premise is that the War has failed. She is saying WE LOST. How many Catsy's are out there?

See you in Alaska. The canned tuna is on me.

Posted by: The End is Near at June 25, 2004 06:25 AM

An invasion isn't necessary in Iran. As Michael pointed out, a few quick strikes can make things happen diplomatically.

What people who clamor for diplomacy don't take the time to consider is that it requires credible threats of some kind to have an effect. Sanctions certainly have never worked. Invading Iraq gives that credibility. But it loses force when people in the US whine about it.

Blasting the Administration for Iraq only makes it more difficult for a diplomatic solution to be found elsewhere.

Posted by: Mike at June 25, 2004 06:29 AM

Invading Iraq gives that credibility.

That's kind of like saying that stealing a kid's lunch money gives you credibility when you go to rob a bank.

If it's obvious to us how limited our options are, then you can be pretty confident that it is equally obvious to the mullahs.

Posted by: Mork at June 25, 2004 06:37 AM

While we may not have the military capability to invade Iran, we absolutely have the ability to obliterate it. Those who crow over the seeming impotence of the U. S. to prevent the Iran's mullahocracy from obtaining nuclear weapons have confused weakness with forebearance.

Do not for one second suggest that I am recommending this course of action—I am not. I am merely pointing out the obvious.

Posted by: Dave Schuler at June 25, 2004 06:42 AM

The Democrats aren’t much interested in stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction. They seem to have forgotten everything they ever knew about nuclear proliferation as they harrumphed themselves into a corner over Saddam

That's a far reaching claim considering Kerry spent a week discussing stopping the proliferation of WMD's. There's several speeches and white papers on non-proliferation on his website that he's taken pains to highlight over the last few weeks in speeches. If you missed it on TV it doesn't mean it's not important to Kerry or ir didn't happen. http://www.johnkerry.com/issues/foreignpolicy/

Posted by: laddy at June 25, 2004 06:43 AM

Diplomacy and sanctions will not stop Iran from obtaining nukes unless everyone is on board. If even one country (who can supply technology) cheats, this approach is doomed. Since there is no reason to believe that everyone will be on board, this is a non-starter.

Limited military strikes may or may not work. In order to work, it must be clear that we are prepared to follow up with full scale invasion. If we blow up a few things and the mullahs flip us off, we have to be able to come back with more.

Posted by: Ben at June 25, 2004 06:47 AM

Wow, I can't believe I'm going to agree with The End is Near. Well, here goes: I pretty much agree. We won't know for sure until November, but the public seems to have turned against the war, and that spells the end of the non-proliferation regime.

The standard of proof for war is now certainty. The standard of performance is perfection. The anti-war crowd has finally hit on the right formula: war is sometimes moral, but only if there are no civilians hurt, no property damaged, no misbehavior among the troops. In other words, anything short of perfection is unacceptable. Any interruption of social services-- even those that didn't exist prior to the war-- is grounds for regret.

I can't think of any war that America has been in that could survive this level of scrutiny, but that's the point, isn't it? It's a de facto pacifism that satisfies American idealism and doesn't, on the face of it, look like appeasement.

Michael, pinpoint strikes are only frightening because they demonstrate a willingness to escalate still further, a strategy that the anti-war crowd has neatly and preemptively vetoed. In the meantime, such strikes get added to the laundry list of 'legitimate grievances' that are used to apologize for terrorism. We've been through this for ten years with Saddam Hussein, to no avail.

The reality is that with military action ruled out, there's virtually nothing we can do to stop Iran's nuclear program. Covert support for Iran's revolutionaries? I would expect that this is already being done, but if it isn't, by all means. What else is there? Sanctions?

It all boils down to what happens in November. If Bush loses, I can't see anyone blaming this on Enron, gay marriage, or the Kyoto Treaty. This November we'll have a referendum on the War in Iraq. If Bush wins, he'll have the political capital to make a credible threat to Iran, one that could at least conceivably be backed up with force.

Hell, even if Kerry wasn't anti-war, even if he stood by his vote for the war, he's still the anti-war candidate. Noone's going to believe an 11th hour appeal to liberal hawks except those hawks themselves, who are understandably reluctant to support a President they otherwise can't stand. And said appeal is still purely theoretical.

I just don't see an anti-war president running on anti-war fervor caring what the recently ousted neocons say. In fact, it could very well lead to Republicans reasserting their Realist tradition and marginalizing the Idealists. Wouldn't that be grand? Isolationism in both parties, pick your flavor. Either way, Iran would be unlikely to consider any threats Kerry might make to be credible.

Sorry, this is a little rant-y, but it pretty much covers everything.

Posted by: Rob at June 25, 2004 06:49 AM

Laddy,

The problem isn't that Kerry doesn't recognize the severity of the issue. It's that he's ruled out any conceivable remedy.

Sanctions? A joke, as Iraq proved. War? His whole election depends on anti-war sentiment. Pinpoint strikes? Possible, but I don't think they'll accomplish more than quelling Iran's domestic dissent. Strongly worded condemnation? Will the mullahs care?

I suppose we could have B-52's drop Kerry's speeches over iran, but France and Germany would probably veto the idea.

Posted by: Rob at June 25, 2004 06:56 AM

What gives a threat some credibility is the sense that the threat can be backed up. The mullahs know that we are highly unlikely to invade. The Iraq example does not give us much credibility, since we havent seemed to make such a good situation out of it.

The attmepts to blame the mess in Iraq on Michael Moore, or the anti-war crowd in general is pretty pathetic. The republicans control the entire US government. There is not a single thing that they have wanted to do that they have been prevented from doing by the opposition. It is simply not the case that troop levels or funding levels or strategic maneuvering has been curtailed or limited by the opposition. They have had free rein to make of the situation what they could. The "whining" of the opposition has had no practical impact on the course of events.

I would suspect that anyone who was truly committed to the aggressive use of American power to remake the world would be extremely upset at the Bush administration for the manner in which they have used that force. If there is any factor that will limit our use of force in the future, it is the example of Iraq - an example wholly the responsibility of the Bush admin.

Posted by: Tano at June 25, 2004 07:00 AM

One debacle at a time, MT. Air strikes only work if military intervention is seen as a real deterrent, and the difficulty we've had in Iraq, fighting a relatively weak foe for the flimsiest of reasons, makes our position nothing more than a bluff.

Posted by: Steve Smith at June 25, 2004 07:09 AM

The argument for Kerry seems to boil down to him having more room to manuever because the left will cut him slack. Of course, the left did not cut LBJ any slack in Vietnam, and that war is the signal event in John Kerry's life.

Sorry, a vote for John Kerry is a vote for ending the war. You can rationalize it all you want, but at the end of the day if Kerry is elected, we'll be headed towards another sanctions fiasco run by the corrupt group at the UN.

If the Democrats had nominated a Joe Lieberman or an Evan Bayh, I could see the argument. John Kerry is from the pacifist wing of the pacifist party. Don't try to convince yourself that you are voting for him because he would have more freedom to wage the war on terror. It's because you have more affinity to him on the cultural issues, because you want to hear the seven dirty words on primetime broadcast TV, because you want the words "Under God" removed from the pledge of allegiance.

Posted by: Brainster at June 25, 2004 07:23 AM

"If Bush wins, he'll have the political capital to make a credible threat to Iran, one that could at least conceivably be backed up with force."

Hey Rob, A creditable threat with what? If we needed 300 - 500k troops to mak Iraq work, how many would we need with Iran?

The only bombing that would "work" wouldn't be possible as Pakistan, India, et al are downwind, not to mention the end of any possibility of a democratic Iran.

Bush has left us with few options andd the rest of the world knows it. if you reward incompetence you get more of it.

Posted by: alan aronson at June 25, 2004 07:25 AM

Michael,

There are always lots of stuff going on that folks are not keeping their eye on. I remember a stage magician demonstrating some of the tricks of the trade. He had a man from the audience come on stage and then held a rolled up silk handkerchief in his hand. Getting the man's attention completely focussed on the handkerchief, he simply tossed it over the guys head to a waiting assistant. As far as the guy was concerned, it simply disappeared. Wonderful demonstration.

I'm not suggesting that there are all sorts of clever manipulations of public attention going on, but I saw the same phenomenon take place in both Afghanistan and Iraq, where it looked for a while like things were bogged down. This is where the media's attention becomes focussed on the obvious things, while ignoring the scale of the true enterprise, where ton's of things are going on.

The same has been happening vs North Korea, I think. I would be very surprised if stuff wasn't going on dealing with Iran. What about the NSA reading the Iranian mail. What were they learning from it, etc.

It's a big world. There are lots of intelligent folks going to work every day and doing stuff. Do you suppose none of this has any effect? I would be very disappointed if nothing was going on, but frankly, I think it is unlikely that this is the case. Please, try to step back and grasp the scale of the world, not to mention the US. It's far vaster than a few blogs or newspaper columnists. Bear in mind that there is always stuff going on outside the center of your attention.

Re Iraq, the facile conclusion that it is a failure, or the occupation is a failure, yada, yada, yada, is just silly. It looks to me like an astounding success viewed just by the numbers. The only problems I see are folks here at home becoming discouraged for no reason at all. It's strange, really. Why all this handwringing and angst?

Did you ever read "An Incident at Krechetovka Station" by Solzhenitzyn. I love his contrasting the central figure, an intellectual slavishly following the war news on the radio and worrying constantly about everything, to the ordinary person who is actually fighting the war, and just keeping on keeping on.

Posted by: chuck at June 25, 2004 07:29 AM

I think that the main problem is that, no matter what Saddam may have wanted to do, planned to do and hoped to do, he was at the time of the invasion an impotent ruler of a busted country. 12 years of sanctions made for a useless army, no major weapons to contend with and a populace who was worn out. Logic dictated that we would be able to take Iraq (even if the clean up isn't pretty).

Iran, on the other hand is not in such a situation, I would be willing to guess that they currently own and make WMD's (the real ones not just a shell here and there). While there is a large minority trying to fight for democracy, the overwhelming majority seem content with their Islamic rule. Ergo, they will all act like the insurgents in Iraq.

I don't fault Bush for not going into Iraq... a man may be brave enough to euthanize a mad dog, but that doesn't mean he's near ready to hop in a den of Lions.

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 25, 2004 07:32 AM

Tano is right. Folks, its not Kerry and the Dems that are letting Iran get away with building nukes, it's Bush. And the war in Iraq was supposed to scare Iran into not doing this sort of stuff.

I'm still for the war on humitarian grounds, and still hopeful that it MIGHT turn out to help us strategically, and help the Middle East move forward. But what has undermined popular support for interventionism is not Democratic intransigence or rhetoric, but the Administration's arrogance and incompetence.

Posted by: Markus Rose at June 25, 2004 07:32 AM

Good grief.

Listen to yourselves. Especially you, Michael.

What's so epochal about this last week of June? What is new about the the travails of Iran, pivot of the Axis of Evil? Is there anything new happening there? Michael made it a point to highlight the fact that nobody expected the Iranians to deal in good faith with the Euroes, or the U.N.. Later on, he acknowledges that the Dems are less than likely to make the WMD adventures of Iran a priority.

Wondering "where is Bush" on this particular moment strikes me as springing from the same logic vacuum as equatting a lack of Sunday socials, Rotary clubs, and seamless Jeffersonian democracy in Iraq RIGHT THIS SECOND (as has been the case since before the fall of Baghdad for most of the Left) as some de-facto proof of failure.

Has anyone bothered to take a peak at Iraq today? Al Sistani and Butt-boy al Sadr have both identified foreign fighters as the main threat to Iraq's people. Anybody care to ruminate on why Iran released the Brits after a mere two days of PR chain-yanking? Has anyone noticed that while our Marines and soldiers aren't the ones walking the streets in Sadr City or Fallujah we are routinely dropping PGW's on houses in both places daily...with the pro-forma Reuter's reports initially claiming women and children as the primary victims, with the lists of Iranian, Pak, Jordanian, Yemeni, Saudi, etc. dead gomers following hours later to no particular fanfare?

This is a war spanning continents and centuries. It's not going to be won by point victories with sit-com finality ever...and during this political season of sound and fury I think anyone looking at any one day trying to measure strategic progress is cutting off their nose to spite their face.

I see one war priority for today: making sure that Iraq transitions to effective self-government the end of next week. The ongoing Tet exercise is just that - an effort to cut the ankles off of the war effort using our own political divisions. Like Tet, the strategy is costing the opposition large numbers of foot soldiers and commanders; losses that they bet will be made worthwhile by a lessening of our resolve.

The bombs and bullets aren't aimed at Iraqis or even our troops. They are intended to remove the only direct and unshakeable opposition to their agenda of jihad, and that target is the Bush administration. HA and MJT both acknowledge that a Kerry administration (and subsequent U.N. inclusion) can be viewed as nothing less than victories for Islamofascism. Tano and Mork haven't changed script since day one. End is Near is a new voice, but also on the same line.

North Korea is a larger problem for China right now than it is for us; any nuclear test on the part of the Norks that isn't an outright fizzle will bring Japan into the nuclear club and that is a complication to further Chinese plans they emphatically don't want to deal with.

The lesson being taught to developing (not a very accurate label, I think) nations is not as characterized by Neil. Neither Iran nor Korea have arrived at some sort of immunity from attack by pursuing WMD, nor have they positioned themselves to prosper economically from their strategy. Iran is doing business with old Europe but at ruinous rates of exchange and the Norks are literally living the life of victims of a psychopath who enjoys undisputed control of a room full of hostages because he's the one with the gun. Not much opportunity for 'development' in either situation, I think.

Time fills. The objectives of the larger war on terror are unchanged; the key is still draining the swamps that breed the barbarians anxious to strap on exploding underwear. Where we are today is not nearly as important as maintaining the resolve to continue the fight. Electing Kerry would be a clear signal that we aren't. That's why Bush will win in November. Polls showing dissatisfaction with Iraq are seldom crafted to show the "why"; you have to look to find that people want more force applied, not less.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 25, 2004 07:35 AM

Just visited Phil and he has an on-point post for the bottom line here. http://www.intel-dump.com/

Posted by: alan aronson at June 25, 2004 07:44 AM

I think that Utah gives good evidence of the emptiness of the right-wing strategy. His only recourse to a favorable outcome is to escalate the conflict into one of global, decades long proportions. Sure - we could lay waste to vast swathes of the earth's surface, and stop being so wussy about killing people, and then maybe we can turn much of the world into a 1945 Germany or Japan, and just start over from scratch.

It basically comes down to the essence of the Bush approach - permanent war as a means of securing a peace - perhaps someday, centuries from now. I take this as a good indication that we need to look elsewhere for strategic vision.

Posted by: Tano at June 25, 2004 07:56 AM

Mork
Invading Iraq gives that credibility.
That's kind of like saying that stealing a kid's lunch money gives you credibility when you go to rob a bank.

Steve Smith
fighting a relatively weak foe

Oh, Good grief. Here we go again with why [insert opponent X here] is one tough hombre we can't deal with militarily. We heard it about Gulf War I (where we faced "the fourth largest army in the world"). We heard it about Afghanistan, destroyer of invaders for 2000 years (and don't forget The Brutal Afgan Winter™!). And then we heard it about Iraq -- I laughed my ass off when one commentator said it wouldn't be "a cakewalk like Afghanistan".

Here's the bulletin -- compared to us nearly everybody is "a relatively weak foe". See this and scroll down to "by combat power".

Yes there are plenty of other issues, troop strength, political will and even gasp figuring out what the correct response should be. But implying that the full-scale military option should be off the table is just getting so old.

Posted by: curmudgeon in san diego at June 25, 2004 08:05 AM

Here's one for the useless thought experiment file:

Would a strategic set of strikes to neutralize the known nuclear facilities in Iran be enought to tip things? The defeat of the Argentines in the Falklands were enough to overthrow Galtieri. Would this be the straw that sends dislike of the Mulahs into action by the general population?

And if it did, would the BBC cover the student democracy movement this time? Nah...

Posted by: Bill at June 25, 2004 08:06 AM

Sanctions? A joke, as Iraq proved.

A joke, except that it basically worked. Saddam has no significant nuke program and no signficant other WMDs.

Posted by: Oberon at June 25, 2004 08:11 AM

Curmudgeon's curmudgeoness is rather misplaced. No one has denied that we could easily get to Tehran. I ask, once again - what then?

Posted by: Tano at June 25, 2004 08:20 AM

We do, categorically, have (on paper) the force to roll the mullahs. Probelm being is that the vast majority of our land forces are tied up in Iraq, and right now, it takes us something like two years to get a divison up to speed from scratch.

That being said, we certainly have enough reserve naval and air power to squish the regime.

Bottom line, could probably destroy the military, but most certainly couldn't put enough boots on the ground to do anything about holding the country.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at June 25, 2004 08:33 AM

Tano, simple: we do in Iran exactly what we are doing in Iraq.

Bet that one got a BP rise out of you.

In Iran we'll have the advantage of a real grass-roots opposition to the government. (At least, if Blog Iran can be believed.)

And why do you balk at the idea that a War on Terror could last decades? The Cold War certainly did, and considering the way technology advances, the War on Terror could have stakes just as high within the next few years.

You're paranoid, you're just not the right flavor of paranoid.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 25, 2004 08:36 AM

Tano -

Bombings, attacks and assassinations in NYC/DC/Turkey/Bali/Africa/Lebanon/Yemen/Thailand/Spain/Argentina/Yemen/Iraq/Iran/India/London/Germany/ and of course Israel over the last half century...and you seem to think there's something new about this being a global conflict?

You think this is an escalation - something that GW Bush manufactured? No. Most emphatically no; he's just the first president to take the fight to the enemy with the stated objective of ending the killing. Years, yes, decades, possibly...but centuries? Your hyperbole is showing, sir.

Strategic vision defined as what? I can't see John Kerry, MoveOn.org's alternative to Howard Dean, as a 'vision' guy. Sorry.

Four more years of Bush will see the end of the Baathist regime in Syria and the emergence of democracy in Iran. Not necessarily through armed invasion - the existence of a successful and free Iraq on their borders will bring more change to the region than any ten divisions we could insert into the mix. What will be the effect on the Pal/Israeli conflict...especially now that Mubarak is nearing his exit? The Norks may or may not be under new management at the end of that time but without customers for WMD they can go ahead and market their second-line export mainstay, GrassHelper, to nations like Zimbabwe, Cuba, and Venezuela that are determined to embrace dictatorship over development.

Carping and naysaying...but no definition of what alternate strategy might prove more effective. That's the hallmark here.

MJT, you made reference to our power..."We have hard power, and we have a lot of it. A little sabre-rattling would go a long way with Iran if we’d try. "...but miss the point that the mullahs predicate their legitamacy on the contention they are the primary leadership against the Great Satan. Their Koranic virtue code and the cultural constraints of their shame culture remove the possibility that they might capitulate that status in the face of anything but direct removal by invasion. They think long-term and depend on our ambivalence as a nation to give them room to operate.

We are not laying waste to any vast swaths of the earth's surface, either, unlike the previous three rounds of international conflict with fundamentalist Islam. There have been no flattened cities, no decimation of populations.

Instead we have place our bet on the proposition that representative democracy has the inherent strength to trump despotism. That our political minority is eager to abandon that progressive, visionary, and courageous strategy is their own affair.

This war may well end in the deaths of nations but the chance that it will end up that way are increased, not diminished, if we abandon the effort to make the current strategy work before any reasonable time has passed. History is pretty clear on the results of half-measures at the strategic level.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 25, 2004 08:37 AM

BRD,
yeah, well exactly.
So, what is strategic context for even discussing the issue?

Unless someone wants to make the case that taking out the regime and then letting the resulting situation develop as it will, would lead to something better. I'm all ears - I can certainly imagine the result being even worse - lets hear the case that it might be better....

Posted by: Tano at June 25, 2004 08:39 AM

Picking on Tano, part 2:

What gives a threat some credibility is the sense that the threat can be backed up. The mullahs know that we are highly unlikely to invade. The Iraq example does not give us much credibility, since we havent seemed to make such a good situation out of it.

What you're assuming is that the Mullahs give a rat's ass about the "chaos" that you see in Iraq. What they probably cared about was Saddam being pulled out of his hole, and the autopsies of Hussein: The Next Generation.

Libya's Qadhafi became a new man after those events.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 25, 2004 08:40 AM

Oberon says the sanctions were working. What a joke. Where to begin? Oil-for-Palaces scandal? Propaganda about how we were starving Iraq's children? Endless No-Fly Zone patrols? Unknown dangers of Saddam's abilities/plans?

I agree with Utah's comments for the most part. Why the hand-wringing MJT? Despite the left's despicable yet predicatable effort to paint one of the quickest and most decisive military victories in the history of the world as a defeat for their hated country, the plan is going according to schedule. Stay the course and quit letting the dishonest chicken littles turn victory into defeat for the sake of petty politics.

Saddam Hussein will never threaten this country again, people. Every thing else is gravy.

Posted by: Zymurgist at June 25, 2004 08:43 AM

Mark,
"What you're assuming is that the Mullahs give a rat's ass about the "chaos" that you see in Iraq."

Huh?
Dont know what you mean by that. My point was that they can see quite plainly what our ability is to control the ground in a country like Iraq. And I suspect it gives them comfort to extrapolate what our capabilities would be to try that in Iran.

Posted by: Tano at June 25, 2004 08:48 AM

Stay the course and quit letting the dishonest chicken littles turn victory into defeat for the sake of petty politics.

So if you say one fairly negative thing about Iraq or Bush's foreign policy, you're automatically a bed-wetting liberal already waiting in line to vote for Kerry?

Let me know when this "election year" is over with. The anti-war left is just as guilty; this polarization makes any sort of discourse impossible.

Posted by: jrr at June 25, 2004 08:53 AM

Sigh...

The real problem is that we still "don't get it". I think everyone wants to think Sept. 11 was an abberation, like an earthquake that comes and goes. It isn't it is a taste of the future and only a small prelude to the horrors that will come unless we act.

But our political culture is incapable of action now. All my friends are desperate to have the peace of the 1990's back. We're sick of war, Abu Ghraib, missing WMD's, the CPA, etc. All the reporting makes the whole Iraq War seem like a complete farce. Why face the reality of nuclear Iran, unstable Pakistan, and an imploding Saudi Arabia, when we can focus on Rummy's memos or Cheney's Halliburton's schemes?

But the WMD's, the terrorists, the Islamic Fascism is still there, and the threat is still gathering. Will it take a nuclear bomb going off for us to wake up? And then what?

Posted by: Narmer at June 25, 2004 08:56 AM

"Will it take a nuclear bomb going off for us to wake up?"

Leftism of the pacifist variety is so infused with its own sense of moral superiority that it has become almost a religious force. A nuclear bomb atomizing even New York City wouldn't make a dent in that kind of mentality. It would, however, probably cause the rest of the nation to wake up. But it is unclear to what extent the left would refuse to go along with a situation of Total War which existed during WW2. They might get violent, ala Seattle.

"And then what?"

Assuming that the country can deal with the leftism-as-religion brigade, we will pursue the enemy to the ends of the earth, with all forces at out option. As for the left, they might be consigned to history as were the Civil War's successionists.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at June 25, 2004 09:05 AM

I wonder how things would have worked out if the US and UN coalition had concentrated on Afghanistan.

While democracy there would probably take a long, long time to implement as part of the culture, a universal education program, a healthy economy, a growing middle class, and political stability may well have provided much of the groundwork necessary.

If a fraction of the money that has been burned up in Iraq was used for decent housing, agriculture, and infrastructure in Afghanistan, and the burden was borne by a coalition of nations, much of the US's military would still be providing a significant deterrant to the kind of testing of nuclear limits we're seeing in Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran.

On top of that, there would be a much more positive example of what liberal democracy can mean in the region, instead of one nation actually wishing for the good old days when a dictator ensured that people were not being kidnapped or murdered in the streets, and a host of other dictatorships who can point to that nation and say "See, at least we keep you from being killed in your beds by criminals." And we have global diplomacy in such disarray that it's going to take years to patch it together again.

I'm reasonably sure that both the mullahs and the terrorists are hoping for another four years of Bush, but to tell you the truth, I don't think it's going to make a lot of difference if Kerry gets in, as things are FUBAR beyond belief at this point.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 09:05 AM

By the way, Michael, I predict 250+ comments to this post of yours.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 09:07 AM

Tano, think like a despot:

"I don't want to be pulled out of a hole in the ground by a bunch of Marines from West Virginia."

Our ability to "hold" Iraq or Iran may not be what worries your average despot. Our ability to capture or kill their own private asses might.

In the end, all politics is personal.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 25, 2004 09:11 AM

>>>"The Democrats broke the war effort and I want the inevitable resulting calamity to happen on their watch. They broke it. Let the Democrats be held accountable for the consequences of their actions."

The Democrats didn't break squat. They wished it yes, but wishing isn't doing. The invasion was flawless, and the men lost from then to handover is only 800 men. A fraction of what even the most optimistic planners thought it would take to oust Saddam. So what exactly is "broken"? Nothing, unless you choose to believe the incredibly lopsided coverage of the Liberal media, which I don't. Handover is coming in days, our troops will be safe in their bases. The terrorists will be crushed by the Iraqis themselves, and next year a free election. What exactly is "broken"? Don't believe the bullshit hype of the Left. Iraq has been immensely successful.

Posted by: David at June 25, 2004 09:18 AM

"While democracy there would probably take a long, long time to implement as part of the culture, a universal education program, a healthy economy, a growing middle class, and political stability may well have provided much of the groundwork necessary."

Meanwhile in this fictional universe....BOOM! There goes NYC!

Well that will probably happen anyway....but those are the stakes.

On the table is 1 Nuked US City.

I fear that we hold nothing in our hand, that the Left has succeeded in destroying the West and...

...OBL and the rest of the Terrorist Movement are ready to call our bluff.

BOOM!

Posted by: End is Near at June 25, 2004 09:21 AM

Meanwhile in this fictional universe....BOOM! There goes NYC!

Except that in the real world, Hussein had no nuclear weapons to give terrorist. Terrorists are more likely to get nukes from Pakistan, North Korea, or, heaven help us, Iran if they develop them.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 09:32 AM

I agree that our inability to respond is a result of internal opposition, not a lack of military power.

But I question the Terror War hawks won’t sit idly by and assume a problem like this will be taken care of. As I recall, the right screamed about everything Clinton wanted to do, just because Clinton wanted to do it. Now the left screams about everything Bush does, and I don't see it stopping if Kerry is elected.

Bush still offers a better credible threat of force than Kerry.

Posted by: Ron at June 25, 2004 09:34 AM

We or Israel will be bombing Iranian sites within six months.

Posted by: spc67 at June 25, 2004 09:37 AM

I agree that our inability to respond is a result of internal opposition, not a lack of military power.

Wow, that's some impressive fingerpointing. I'd say that the inability to respond is more because the military is completely bogged down, rather than the treasonous liberals complaining about things.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 09:40 AM

"We or Israel will be bombing Iranian sites within six months."

True. I suspect it'll happen after the election. If Bush is ousted, he'll do it as a lame duck, because he'll want to hurry up and make sure Iran can't do squat while John Kerry is president.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at June 25, 2004 09:40 AM

"Except that in the real world, Hussein had no nuclear weapons to give terrorist."

So what? He was supporting the Terrorist MOVEMENT. Other regimes were too. They were betting that we didn't have the will to resist. Iraq was supposed to be that WILL.

I say that past tense, since they now know that Micheal Moore is believed by the American public - Americans have no will.

This is Grand Strategy. Before you dismiss Bush it would be wise to understand his aims, instead of just playing political bullshit games. We are talking about the lives of thousands here (or do you dismiss the threat of a destroyed US city???)

Posted by: The End is Near at June 25, 2004 09:42 AM

I'd say that the inability to respond is more because the military is completely bogged down..."

Are you delusional? Read the news, for once:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20040622-113720-3352r.htm

"The Army's powerful 1st Armored Division is proclaiming victory over Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr's marauding militia that just a month ago seemed on the verge of conquering southern Iraq.
The Germany-based division defeated the militia with a mix of American firepower and money paid to informants. Officers today say "Operation Iron Saber" will go down in military history books as one of the most important battles in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.
"I've got to think this was a watershed operation in terms of how to do things as part of a counterinsurgency," said Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling, a West Point graduate and one of two 1st Armored assistant division commanders, in an interview last week as he moved around southern Iraq. "We happened to design a campaign that did very well against this militia."
When the division got word April 8 that Sheik al-Sadr's uprising meant most 1st Armored soldiers would stay and fight, rather than going home as scheduled, it touched off a series of remarkable military maneuvers.
Soldiers, tanks and helicopters at a port in Kuwait reversed course, rushing back inside Iraq to battle the Shi'ite cleric's 10,000-strong army. Within days, a four-tank squadron was rumbling toward the eastern city of Kut. And within hours of arriving, Lt. Col. Mark Calvert and his squadron had cleared the town's government buildings of the sheik's so-called Mahdi's Army."

Posted by: Sydney Carton at June 25, 2004 09:43 AM

++UG

Except that in the real world, Hussein had no nuclear weapons to give terrorist. Terrorists are more likely to get nukes from Pakistan, North Korea, or, heaven help us, Iran if they develop them.

And in your real world, while we were busy turning Afghanistan into Oregon, the terrorists have set up camp in Syria and bought the damn bomb anyway.

We have a rates problem here folks. How fast can rogue countries like North Korea and Iran ramp up to suitcase nukes, versus how quickly can we gut terrorist support structures.

Tick tock.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 25, 2004 09:43 AM

You know, I read lines like this,

he Democrats aren’t much interested in stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

and have to wonder what planet I'm on. Opposition to the Iraq war is hardly evidence of disinterest. Democratic politicians, like their Republican counterparts, have always taken nonproliferation seriously. They have since 1945. They did during the Clinton administration (need I remind anyone of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)? The Republicans in the Senate quashed the ratification of an international agreement assented to by the whole world and already in principle observed by the U.S. I can't argue with the currently fashionable histrionic opposition to internationalism. Suffice to say, international agreements since at least the NPT in 1968 have served as an international framework for controlling the spread on WMD Some of Reagan's greatest moments were acheived in the historic arms control agreements he negotiated with the USSR).

Iraq is one example of many, many dangerous proliferation threats in the world. Iran, yes, and Pakistan, India, China, North Korea, Russia and former Soviet Republics. Fissle material and ICBM componentry may be available on the open market now from many different sources ... especailly nonstate actors feeding off decaying Soviet systems.

So why isn't everyone getting ready to invade Iran? Well, how could we? We're stretched thin as it is. And as for sabre-rattlinig? With what military credibility? Iran surely knows that we're in no position to invade and occupy another country. And they know just as well how airstrikes would effect the Shiites in Iraq and our prospects for peace. North Korea didn't much flinch at the threats we through their way and here we are back at the negotiating table.

Posted by: harry at June 25, 2004 09:44 AM

And in your real world, while we were busy turning Afghanistan into Oregon, the terrorists have set up camp in Syria and bought the damn bomb anyway.

Why would terrorists not be able to set up camp right now in Iraq, much less Syria?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 09:47 AM

I think it is amusing that the Leftist talking points are now that Bush should have dismissed their opinions completely.

In other words, he should have just ignored the media and critics and did his thing. Of course, he would have been branded a Hitler Part 2. Oh wait, they did that anyway!

So I agree. Bush is an idiot for listening to his critics.

So welcome to Tet Part 2. A military victory turned into a defeat by the media, Left and idiot public and the idiots on the pro-war side who game them the time of day.

Posted by: The End is Near at June 25, 2004 09:47 AM

Sydney, al-Sadr turned his militia loose because he was denied a role in Iraqi politics because he's too extreme, and because he there was an arrest warrant out for him.

He's now being told he can have his political party, and the authorities have assured him that they won't execute their warrant. In exchange, he called off his militia. He's gone from from being a marginal extremist before the insurgency to the second most popular figure in Iraq.

And you think that is a good example of how well the US military is doing in Iraq?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 09:50 AM

Acutally I agree with the anti-war people here.

We should withdraw and put the US Military on every street corner. Admit we are weak and wait to get smacked.

Martial Law vs. nuked city. Take your pick. Cause victory ain't happening.

Posted by: End is near at June 25, 2004 09:52 AM

We are talking about the lives of thousands here (or do you dismiss the threat of a destroyed US city???)

Absolutely not, I believe that an attack on a western (not just US) city by terrorists, Islamic fundamentaists or not, is a very real and dangerous threat. That is why I'm so thoroughly pissed at the Bush administration for doings such a crappy job at dealing with terrorism and nuclear prolifiration among rough nations.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 09:55 AM

As to "spread thin":

Of the 34 combat brigades and Armored Cavalry Regiments in the US Army's active component, some 15 are currently deployed (including the two from the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea), in the process of rotating to and from deployments or having just returned from deployment. Of the two Armored Cavalry Regiments both are also deployed (it should be noted that press and Army officials tend to lump the ACR's in with the Brigades when counting total combat brigades).

[material, including charts, ommitted]

Of the Army National Guards 37 combat brigades 6 are currently deployed with 2 more slated to deploy in the near future. The National Guard has one Armored Cavalry Regiment, it is not deployed but it has been alerted for a possible deployment.

Source: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/global-deployments.htm

Don't know what percentage of the Marines are deployed, but they're always "good to go" if things get tense with Iran.

One presumes the Mullahs also know how to use Google.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 25, 2004 09:59 AM

Wow, many typos in that last post, especially "rough nations" when I meant "rogue nations". Rogue nations are, of course, often rough, but the inverse is not always true.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 10:00 AM

++UG:

Why would terrorists not be able to set up camp right now in Iraq, much less Syria?

Besides for common sense? Nothing. But I'd rather have them wasting time and energy avoiding capture than spending it getting ready for the Next Big Thing. The rates aspect of the problem again.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 25, 2004 10:02 AM

double-plus, I really don't know if the Iraqi government has come to a political agreement with Sadar. The point is that the article entirely refutes your "bogged down" description of the US Military, which apparrently has successfully adopted a revolutionary way to deal with counter-insurgencies.

What would you have the US Military do otherwise?

Posted by: Sydney Carton at June 25, 2004 10:03 AM

OFF TOPIC!

In case you've not heard, there is a serious case of infected web servers across the Internet, simply surfing the web could cause you to be infected.

Make sure you update your virus scan.

This vulnerability (like so many) exists only if you're using Internet Explorer as your web browser. IE has an extremely large number of existing holes, and this one simply adds fuel to the fire. Until Microsoft releases a patch, surfing the web with IE is dangerous.

As a temporary solution, I recommend checking out The Mozilla Project it's based on a complete rewrite of the old Netscape browser and seems very stable to me (I'm running it on Windows 2000, 98, ME, XP and Linux).

The Mozilla project has two browser options: Mozilla 1.7 which includes the browser, mail client, html editor etc etc etc, OR Firefox 0.9 Technology Preview, which is simply the stand alone browser.

The Firefox browser is very small (easy download), its a quick install and it will import all of your IE bookmarks, history etc.

Surfing the web with IE, unpatched is very dangerous. I may disagree with some of the politics people here have, but I'd just as soon none of you get infected :)

OK, end of Off Topic, back to bashing each other.

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 25, 2004 10:15 AM
Mark:
Why would terrorists not be able to set up camp right now in Iraq, much less Syria?
Besides for common sense? Nothing. But I'd rather have them wasting time and energy avoiding capture than spending it getting ready for the Next Big Thing.

That's my point. The US military has its hands full right now, and the rest of the world is sulking, so who exactly are terrorist working so hard to avoid capture by? Seems to me that if the world's number two terrorist is operating freely in occupied Iraq, the rest elsewhere are having parades down Main St.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 10:15 AM

Thanks David -- Iraq is well on a path towards fantastic success, compared to all reasonable expectations. The mullahs are racing to get nukes before Iraq has elections ... because the day AFTER Iraq has elections, all 130 000 battle experienced US troops will be in a country on Iran's border, and could get new orders...

The US Army, at a cost of less than 10 000 US casualties, can militarily effect regime change in Tehran. If the Boss orders it.

Should he? Yes. [when? not sure; prolly best to submit a UN resolution condemning Iran for violating its prior treaty commitments.]

Will he? Prolly not until after Nov.

Almost certainly after terrorists get nukes from the mullahs, and one explodes somewhere--but then it's "too late". For those 10 000 - 10 000 000 who die, in a future WMD terrorist attack, because the US President doesn't pre-empt it. Even Kerry would then attack Iran, and Saudi Arabia afterward, so I'm not worried about Western Civ and peaceful capitalism. I AM worried about those victims, though.

Blaming Bush for Iran continuing its nuke program is horribly dishonest. Bush pre-emptively invading Iraq was the only reasonable way to deter Iran before significant military action against Iran, and deterence doesn't always work.

From Kerry's site, his plan:
to undertake to lead the most global, comprehensive effort in history to deal with proliferation
in other words, talk until after Iran gets nukes; until after terrorists use them...

Michael JT, please consider Anne's critique:
reasonable people can admit that the administration has made serious mistakes, presided over a terrible scandal, and come off as so ideologically driven

Serious mistakes? Where? Really. I see terrible publicity, but regime change in Iraq was great, they're about to be sovereign, on track to be democratic; the US economy is great. What big mistake? That he doesn't walk on water? That Iraq after a year isn't as successfully democratic as Japan after a decade?

Terrible scandal? You mean Abu/ occupation prison treatment is a terrible scandal? I call it a small scandal. Over 100 Iraqi deaths in prisons is a big scandal. Over 1000 Iraqi deaths is terrible. Over 10 is a real, definite scandal; there's maybe been 37? Bush-hate noise, and noise, and noise. What's the standard? 300 000 bodies in Saddam's graves (doesn't count). How about US prison rapes, and pot smokers who get infected by AIDS in Mass. prison? I think there's more, and it's worse than Iraq. How about the 2 Americans murdered on April 17 by the UN (Kerry's pals)? THAT's worse than Abu. Abu is bad, real, but way way overblown.

Ideologically driven? What, against gay marriage? So is Kerry. Bush in favor of an amendment (unlikely to be voted on), instead of merely a law like Clinton? Well, that is forced by the judges, Bush didn't ask for it. Bush stopping partial birth abortions was great (overturned by Leftist judges); nobody stopped supporting him for that.
Bush's huge spending increase? If anything, that is counter-ideological, therefore more centrist. And Bush don' talk s' well, aint able ta ahticulate or apologize enuff. Noise.

Photos & Bush-hate press noise are dominating serious evaluations of his policy results. Yeah, it seems he has a tight inner group, and you're either in or out. I don't like that, and it leads to a lot of bad press, but it's the results that should matter the most. Check results -- and be honest about the comparison standard.

Posted by: Tom Grey at June 25, 2004 10:16 AM

Sydney, have you seen the (a href="http://www.indystar.com/articles/4/157653-3024-010.html">news from Iraq in the last two days? No matter how innovative the tactics are, nor how well-trained and equipped they are, no matter how good the quality of soldier, Iraq is a mess, and the military has its hands completely full.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 10:19 AM

Dammit people, Preview is your friend. Here's that link properly hrefed, sorry about that.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 10:21 AM

I agree that our inability to respond is a result of internal opposition, not a lack of military power.

I admit it. All problems in Iraq are my fault. I'm sorry.

Posted by: Oberon at June 25, 2004 10:24 AM

Iraq is well on a path towards fantastic success

Whoops. Disregard my previous post. There are no signficant problems in Iraq.

Posted by: Oberon at June 25, 2004 10:25 AM

Oberon I admit it. All problems in Iraq are my fault. I'm sorry.

Okay, that made coffee come out my nose.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 10:26 AM

Whoops. Disregard my previous post. There are no signficant problems in Iraq.

Stop it, man, you're killing me here.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 10:27 AM

Chuck and tmjUtah,

Thank you both. Well done.

Tano,

The war is already of global proportions and decades old. The only difference in the past 2.5 years is that we've decided to fight rather than try to pretend it isn't happening. History did not start yesterday (or even the day the current presisent took office or on 9/11/2001). History will not come to a nice, tidy end anytime soon.

There is much going on in the world that doesn't make the nightly news or our beloved blogs. The only pragamatic limit to the ability of the US to escalate is our willingness to inflict and tolerate pain. We can inflict unlimited pain, we have a low threshold of tolerance.

I find it amazing that so many people believe we've run out of options, have accomplished nothing, and painted ourselves in a corner.

Let's see here...

Taliban gone - check
Saddam gone - check
Libya playing nice - check
Pakistani Father of Nukes no longer plying his wares on the black market - check

What's that leave us...

NK - gee, they haven't said boo lately. Any chance that's got anything to do with Ill Kim's trip to the Chinese woodshed? Maybe it was that 'sploding trainful of Syrian misslesitters that rattled the windows on his Wild Wild West inspired private train. Nah, couldn't be. There couldn't be a general or ten over there in NK about now saying something like, "Yo, Kimmie, Boobie, Sweatheart, Boss! Give it a rest here, willya. That saber rattlin' is makin' the boys all nervous and they ain't eatin' so good no more and nervous people spend more calories and they get hungry and start thinkin more about how they ain't eatin so go no more, and, well, you get the picture. Put that thing away for a while, willya."

Syria & Iran... hmmm... gee, they decided not to go down without some form of a fight. Wow. Imagine that. There's hard proof of total failure.

TO: Teheran
FROM: Washington, DC
DATE: 11/3/04

Dear Mistah Mullah,

I know where you get your money (please see enclosed photos of petro facilities). Perhaps you do not believe, despite recent demonstrations, in the efficacy of PGBs. A demonstration can be arranged at your convenience if you like, ours if you insist.

Have a nice day,
Colin.

TO: Damascus
FROM: Washington, DC
DATE: 11/3/04

Dear Princeling,

I mentioned in my last letter that there were some matters of concern I'd like you to give attention to. We've both been busy so I can't fault you for failing to address those concerns - I've been busy myself.

I am, however, wrapping up some business that has kept me occupied and find I have an opening in my schedule quite soon. I can make it a bit sooner if necessary.

Enclosed please find photos of your petro facilites. Geeze, they must rake in the dollars for you, heh? How long does it take to shut all that down? I'll have to ask Dick, he knows about that stuff. He was in the business, or so they say.

If I don't hear from you soon I'll have my people give your people a holler.

All the best,
Rummy

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 25, 2004 10:29 AM

D-p-U:

Well, it's not like arguing was going to change their minds. Might as well poke a little fun. (Violating decency rules of posting, I'll point out there's even more sarcasm on my blog today.)

Posted by: Oberon at June 25, 2004 10:31 AM

Going back to MJT's post:

We have more than two options here. It’s not a choice between entrusting the safety of the world to Jacques Chirac on the one hand and ramping up for a full-bore invasion and occupation on the other.

Exactly. I can't understand why some people think the only options in any given situation are (i) do nothing or (ii) launch full-scale invasion. We have plenty of options against Iran, and I expect Bush will start taking action.

The no-fly zones, bombings, and other sanctions against Saddam were hardly perfect, but Hussein in fact did not have significant WMDs. (Hell, I thought Bush's plan was to act so eager to invade Iraq that Hussein would allow inspectors to return, and we wouldn't have to invade. Silly me.)

Posted by: Oberon at June 25, 2004 10:50 AM

PULL!

From double-plus-ungood:

"I wonder how things would have worked out if the US and UN coalition had concentrated on Afghanistan...While democracy there would probably take a long, long time to implement as part of the culture, a universal education program, a healthy economy, a growing middle class, and political stability may well have provided much of the groundwork necessary."

Afghanistan is a medieval country with no discernable, direct, effect on the economy or politics of its neighbors much less the world. The impetus for war with that regime was the direct hosting and support by the Taliban for OBL and his crew - meaning we had traditional/conventional precedent for action. As a steppingstone in the path to draining swamps, the impact of democracy there is highly laudable on the emotional/humanitarian front (most certainly for the Afghanis themselves) but in the strategic sense cannot have near the impact that accomplishing the same in Iraq will provide. Rule of law, a vibrant economy based on agriculture, energy, and yes, intellectual exports, to the world at large will make the neighbors of Iraq starkly aware of the failure endemic in their societies, maybe even to the point that they may finally look within instead of at the existence of the joooooooos or the infidel as reasons they are living in Earth's subbasement. Couple the example of a sovereign, free and progressive Iraq smack in the center of the swamp with an unquestioned certainty that U.S. force will be employed when and where we find Islamofascism existing or supported over the long term, and not just when politically expedient for whatever transitory political equation exists at home, and you have the impetus for strategic change.

POWDER! That's why stopping for an intermission in Afghanistan didn't make much sense.

Just an aside on the realities of the war:

Read Clausewitz and Sun Tzu before executing the Bush administration's treatment of the mullahs out of hand. The goal of war is to remove the enemy's capability to fight. In the current arena we are being asked to believe that abscence of peace is somehow a measure of failure. Some, like Michael in the post he put up today, question why we have not yet used direct force in the face of evidence that Tehran is on the verge of manufacturing nukes. The same has been said regarding North Korea. I would point out that there used to be three members of the axis of evil: two of them were judged to be unacceptable threats and dealt with directly. The remaining two members must have a pretty clear understanding of what consequences a direct strike traceable to them will have on their assets in terms of our subsequent actions. In the case of the mullahs they have no hope of surviving a direct conventional, much less nuclear exchange, so they race to destabilize Iraq and play interest games with europe in the hope we will just walk away. The insanity and barbarism that drives their foot soldiers is not nearly as prevalent among the dictators themselves - their interest is focused mainly on survival and power. They will foment and intrigue as they have for decades but the day they are connected with proliferation of nukes to terror, their string will run out. The push on our side is to bring the Iranian people to the point where they will free themselves. How many millions of people in Iran live as voiceless victims of the mullahocracy? Enough to the extent that the enforcement arm of the mullahs is comprised mainly of foreign fanatics. They have domestic pressures that make our tiff between right and left look comical. Both sides know that. There may well be less profit in preemption with the mullahs as long as the possibility exists we can achieve our ends through time and pressure. That's a gutsy call to make, by the way.

We can operate in that environment for the present, regarding Iran. Turn the page to North Korea and there are critical differences that we must acknowledge and make allowance for. First and foremost, all executive power there is embodied in one man - Kim Il Sung - and that man is playing solitaire not with a short deck, but without cards at all. My above metaphor for the hostage taker ruling by dint of having the immediate option of shooting the hostages applies in spades. The people of North Korea are (if possible) more thoroughly brainwashed and hopeless than any islamofascist population. The city of Seoul is one fire command away from receiving literally tens of thousands of tube artillery rounds and rockets from hardened positions built by the Norks since the 1950's. Our recent move to place our ROK - based troops beyond the forty-kilometer indirect fire envelope south of the DMZ changed those soldiers, airmen, and Marines from being speedbumps into a dead-bang insurmountable obstacle to any North Korean attempt to blitz their way to the bottom of the peninsuela. Does that in any way make the ROK safe? No, because Kim is a psychotic moonbat in charge of way too many guns and slave soldiers...but maybe his generals will understand that there is no future in following his orders and do the right thing with a pistol before the issue comes to that.

The Chinese want North Korea's continued existence as an economic basket case to continue. They can barely keep ahead of the economic/political pressures of Hong Kong and their own artificial capitalism zones on their control of the country as it is. A free, entrepeneurial unified Korea occupying a huge stretch of border is emphatically NOT in their interest.

Have I sounded the clarion for scorched earth campaigns? I see no profit in piling up bodies if they don't belong to combatants or their political masters. The crux of the Bush doctrine is that the threat we face is the product of regimes or philosophies unaccountable to their populations and incompatible with civilized coexistence.

You cannot negotiate with an enemy whose only victory condition is to see you dead.

We are fighting the cultural inertia of generations...even epochs...and that inertia will be overcome only after enough people in that part of the world see the advantages change will bring. I think there is some relevance to pointing out that the Civil Rights and Voting Acts here weren't the equivalent of flipping a switch and changing every southern white male into Rainbow Coalition member. The National Guard and even federal troops were required to make critical events like the intergration of schools and universal franchise happen. Decades later the last vestiges of institutional racism seem to be concentrated in government and educational institutions...but at the street level, strangely enough, most of us seem to measure our neighbors by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.

Great work takes time. Until I see an alternative strategy proposed - one that rejects toleration of groups or regimes that actively target American lives and interests - I'll support the current doctrine.

Sorry for the length.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 25, 2004 11:04 AM

The islamists admit they want it all, the whole ball of wax. Some people get it, and some don't.

As a lifelong democrat, I dread what will happen if John Kerry is elected. John Kerry doesn't get it, and his backers don't get it.

I can easily see New York City, DC, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago destroyed in a Kerry presidency.

Posted by: Helen at June 25, 2004 11:13 AM

Oops - technical correction to my last:

"I would point out that there used to be three members of the axis of evil: two of them were judged to be unacceptable threats and dealt with directly."

Should read instead ...."one of them was judged to be an unacceptable threat and dealt with directly."

The price tag for engaging in direct confrontation with us is public knowledge, so for now the remaining axis members will fight the covert war as best they can.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 25, 2004 11:15 AM

TmhUtah: Read Clausewitz and Sun Tzu before executing the Bush administration's treatment of the mullahs out of hand.

Oof. That statement probably had both these guys spinning so hard in their graves that we could generate power from it.

No one starts a war - or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so - without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it.
- Karl von Clausewitz

A government should not mobilize its army out of anger ... Act when it is beneficial; desist when it is not. Anger can revert to joy, wrath can revert to delight, but a nation destroyed cannot be restored to its existence, and the dead cannot be brought back to life.
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 11:15 AM

Is it just me, or does Totten attract an unusually large number of people who claim to be committed Democrats that are completely petrified of voting for a Democrat?

Posted by: Oberon at June 25, 2004 11:18 AM

Is it just me, or does Totten attract an unusually large number of people who claim to be committed Democrats that are completely petrified of voting for a Democrat?

I assumed that we were all former liberals, leftists, or Democrats who had seen the light and would, of course, never think of giving the terrorists the green light by voting for Kerry.

Me, I can't vote for Bush because I'm Canadian, dammit.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 11:27 AM

>>>"Sydney, al-Sadr turned his militia loose because he was denied a role in Iraqi politics because he's too extreme, and because he there was an arrest warrant out for him."

double,

What lovely irony to hear Leftists fault Bush for letting Al-Sadr off the hook, while at the same time they fault him for going after Saddam. Straight Bush hatred often leads to such oxymoronic results. Get your story straight will ya.

Posted by: David at June 25, 2004 11:30 AM

Oberon: Is it just me, or does Totten attract an unusually large number of people who claim to be committed Democrats that are completely petrified of voting for a Democrat?

It's probably not you. It's probably me. That's where I've been lately myself, and it's the audience I sought.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 25, 2004 11:32 AM

david What lovely irony to hear Leftists fault Bush for letting Al-Sadr off the hook, while at the same time they fault him for going after Saddam. Straight Bush hatred often leads to such oxymoronic results. Get your story straight will ya.

David, you're reading too fast.

(a) I never faulted Bush for letting Al-Sadr off the hook.

(b) letting al-Sadr off the hook was probably the best option at the time, as I believe I posted on MJT's comment section at the time. Hawks were outraged at my suggestion, yet now claim that this very outcome is a victory.

© the big error was marginalizing al-Sadr instead of co-opting him.

(d) I was opinionating that the military fight against the Sadrist militia was probably not the best example of how well the military was doing, as they were unable to achieve a military victory against a rag-tag army of ghetto kids with guns without causing a more severe uprising.

(e) I don't hate Bush, I just think that he's not doing a particulary good job, and that annoys me, as we're facing a serious crisis that needs competent leadership.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 11:42 AM

double-plus-ungood -

Thanks for making my point.

We did not shoot from the hip at the Taliban, the obvious first target in this war, in spite of having ample resources to inflict substantial injury by merely bombing what passed for government or military facilities. We did not arrive in Afghanistan without an end objective defined. The process was intended to eject the Taliban and leave in its place the first democratic government in the swamp. The effort is ongoing.

Ditto for Iraq. Fourteen months of debate, after twelve years of babysitting? On a purely briefcase/lawyers arguing over the check level, Hussein should have been removed sometime in the nineties for not complying with the resolutions ending the first Gulf War. The armistice we signed halted hostilities based on his compliance with the applicable U.N. resolution...which condition became farce early out of the gate.

"America is a nation with a mission, and that mission comes from our most basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace -- a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman. America acts in this cause with friends and allies at our side, yet we understand our special calling: This great republic will lead the cause of freedom."

State of the Union Address, January 20 2004.

Once again, I reject the absence of peace as a meme for failure. There can be no published schedule of times and dates for success because such a thing is an absurdity when applied to a battlefield, which is where we have stood since 9/11.

Carry on.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 25, 2004 11:42 AM

It's probably not you. It's probably me. That's where I've been lately myself, and it's the audience I sought.

Good point.

BTW, did you try the right-wing blog-generator I posted in your comments a couple of days ago?

Posted by: Oberon at June 25, 2004 11:46 AM

I wish Bush was doing a better job against the terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere. As a democrat I am unhappy with many of his domestic policies.

But I know in my heart that John Kerry would probably create a catastrophe from which our society might not ever recover. John Kerry is a man who will never understand the deadly threat, and so could not possibly take the proper actions to protect the nation.

Posted by: Helen at June 25, 2004 11:47 AM

>>>"the big error was marginalizing al-Sadr instead of co-opting him."

double,

ok, maybe I was reading too fast. But if you don't hate Bush then stop trying to put the worst possible spin on it; it was a Bush victory.

But why do you assume the U.S. wasn't trying to co-opt him? It appears to me that previous to his licking at the hands of our marines he was un-cooptable. Now, because of the marines and the help of Shiite leaders, he's more willing to be co-opted. The carrot didn't work, the stick did.

Posted by: David at June 25, 2004 11:49 AM

TU: The process was intended to eject the Taliban and leave in its place the first democratic government in the swamp. The effort is ongoing.

That "ongoing" is certain a spin-loaded word. Forgive me if my assessment isn't the same as yours, but I really believe that the effort has been largely abandoned.

TU: Ditto for Iraq.

Hmm. Latest polls indicate that over 90% of Iraqis now see US troops as occupiers. Somewhere about 35% indiate that they would like Hussein back in power. The newly appointed Prime Minister is a former terrorist, and was, before that, involved with Hussein's death squads. Assuming he isn't blown up by his former coworkers, one can assume that he'll probably be a strongman, and that much of the popular support he's now receiving is based on the fact that so many Iraqis are sick of the crime and violence that they'd be happy with Adolph Hitler running the show if it meant a return to stability and the departure of foreign troops. Which means that if he decides to manipulate things so that he or his cronies stay in power, most Iraqis will probably not object too loudly.

I think that there are so many ways to derail the democracy effort, and so many things have to line up precisely for it work, and so many players have a vested interest in making it break, that I think the trend shows toward a deeping of the swamp, not a draining of it.

So, I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 12:04 PM

I agree with above. Hang out a white flag. Let's surrander while we can. We can afford to lose a city or two.

Posted by: End at June 25, 2004 12:07 PM

>> I assumed that we were all former liberals, leftists, or Democrats who had seen the light and would, of course, never think of giving the terrorists the green light by voting for Kerry.

I can't speak for the rest, but...

Not a former liberal. An active liberal in the "classic" Scottish enlightment strain, don't care much for the French strain (even before I wrote France off I didn't think much of their strain of classical liberalism)

Never a leftist.

Once upon a time a bonafide Independant who voted for at least as many Dems as Republicans. Took me a long time but I came to the conclusion that the Democratic party is a vile, corrupt, loathesome institution (its possible some of their candidates are decent human beings, but so what) and I will not vote for a Dem until and their either dies or changes (and convincing me its changed will probably take longer than I have to live). You don't even want to see the length of the post I'd have to make to give you all the reasons I came to be an anti-Democrat.

My disgust for the Dem party is so deep that I won't even pretend that I can judge completely honestly whether I'd consider Kerry if he weren't the Dem candidate. But when I try my best to be as "fair" as I can be, he sure seems to be a product of that loathesome machine.

So Kerry would never get my vote because I will not for a Democrat, even if weren't a Democrat he sure walks, talks, and quacks like one, and even if it weren't for that he's a UN-pandering Europhile so he wouldn't get my vote for that. And even after all THAT, I wouldn't vote for him because he just doesn't get it - he still thinks the Islamofascists can be stopped by police and courts. He's a terrible candidate. How he got to be the "apparent nominee" for ANY party (even the insane Dems) is beyond my comprehension. I still suspect the Dems will find a Toricelli option.

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 25, 2004 12:09 PM

Timing is everything.

I'll not be using any more of your bandwidth today, Michael. Excellent discussion.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 25, 2004 12:10 PM

But why do you assume the U.S. wasn't trying to co-opt him? It appears to me that previous to his licking at the hands of our marines he was un-cooptable.

I'm not assuming anything, I've been following what he's been doing since January via Juan Cole's blog. He initially had involvement with the IGC, but there was some political games played, he began to make some demands, and then he was frozen out. He made a couple of fiery speeches about the legitimacy of the governing council, made some demands that certain people quit and be replaced by elected officials, and Bremer decided to play hardball instead of finding a way to include him in the political process.

So now he has pretty much what he originally wanted, except with a great deal more public support.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 12:14 PM

Hi Michael,

and I sense that you are equally petrified of voting for a Republican ;)

Posted by: chuck at June 25, 2004 12:19 PM

++UG

"So now [Sadr] has pretty much what he originally wanted, except with a great deal more public support."

Except that a lot of people who were all for the armed creation of a Mullahcracy (sp?) are now dead, and al-Sadr no longer advocates that philosophy of government.

"Yeah, we're behind you 100%, unless people are shooting at you." That's what I call support.

Basically, a decisive blow against the Iranian model in Iraq.

Worth noting.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 25, 2004 12:22 PM

++UG quoted from the German and the Chinaman:

TmhUtah: Read Clausewitz and Sun Tzu before executing the Bush administration's treatment of the mullahs out of hand.

Oof. That statement probably had both these guys spinning so hard in their graves that we could generate power from it.

No one starts a war - or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so - without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it.
- Karl von Clausewitz

Bush's state goal in Iraq: A free and democratic country. Its on its way. Why don't you quote what Clauswitz said about friction in war?

A government should not mobilize its army out of anger ... Act when it is beneficial; desist when it is not. Anger can revert to joy, wrath can revert to delight, but a nation destroyed cannot be restored to its existence, and the dead cannot be brought back to life.
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War

What was in the ellipsis? Sun Tzu is one of the most overrated and misunderstood pieces of literature ever penned.

Here another Sun Tzu quote:
"All warfare is based on deception"

So, who's being decieved? You? Me? the Baathists? I dunno. I'm not in on the war plans, and more to the point neither are you.

Posted by: Eric Blair at June 25, 2004 12:27 PM

double,

Al-Sadr does NOT have a great deal more public support. His defeat can be attributed to quite the opposite.

Posted by: David at June 25, 2004 12:28 PM

Except that a lot of people who were all for the armed creation of a Mullahcracy (sp?) are now dead, ...

As the roaches used to say when they received casualties in the excellent underground comic Fat Freddy's Cat, "Well, no matter, we have millions more where they came from."

...and al-Sadr no longer advocates that philosophy of government.

That's news. Source please?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 12:29 PM

david Al-Sadr does NOT have a great deal more public support. His defeat can be attributed to quite the opposite.

david, I'm starting to think that you don't read news. Here's Bill O'Reilly last week:
But again, most Iraqis will not fight the terrorists and indeed, are sympathetic to them. According to the poll, 81 percent of the Iraqis surveyed actually approve of or refuse to condemn the killer cleric Al Sadr.
So we Americans are in a bad place, fighting for a people who don't appreciate it.
He was quoting the most recent poll from the CPA itself. Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 12:36 PM

If I had to choose between N. Korea and Iran having nuclear weapons, I's choose Iran. They at least have a somewhat civilized populace who have something to live for. They have to worry about losing their entire civilization if they use or distribute nuclear weapons.

N. Korea on the other hand has no vauled civilization to protect (comparatively). Plus they need to sell nuclear technology to raise cash. I always considered them crude and dangerous, but with nucs, even more so.

Posted by: sammy small at June 25, 2004 12:38 PM

Eric Blair UG quoted from the German and the Chinaman

Point of order. You may not be aware of this, but in my neck of the woods, the term "Chinaman" is about on par with most of the usual other ethnic slurs, including the 'n' word.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 12:51 PM

double,

you have defeated me. carry on.

Posted by: David at June 25, 2004 12:58 PM

david you have defeated me. carry on.

You fought valiantly, sir, and you have my respect.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 01:04 PM

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3799371.stm

Maybe I'm reading too much into this:

Mr Sadr added that the formation of the government was a good opportunity to bury past differences and "forge ahead toward the building of a unified Iraq".

But I'll say it again; 81% may be saying "you may have a point, Sadr" but aproximately 0% were in the trenches with him. (A thousand ? out of 25 million to start with, considerable fewer going home intact.)

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 25, 2004 01:04 PM

D+UG,

According to an even newer poll in Iraq, 68 percent support the new government.

I suspect the "support" for al Sadr is a point of pride for them. Only a miniscule percentage want him running the country.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 25, 2004 01:12 PM

Mark, al-Sadr was marginalized late last year partially because he was calling for immediate elections. The fact is that he knows that in certain constituencies, clerics are going to be elected. And the guy is a believer in theocracy a la Iran, and I believe that he thinks that getting to that stage through democracy if fine, if need be. Constrast this to Sistani, who wants a more secular form of government, as he sees the benefits of such a system if a multi-religious society like Iraq is going to stay together. I think that if Sistani cannot control al-Sadr or his followers, there's going to be some real trouble.

And I think you're vastly underestimating his militia. I've always thought that al-Sadr is more of a figurehead for resistance, rather than a real leader. His militia, which is still extremely powerful, is somewhat unpredicatable.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 01:21 PM

MJT,

I don't know that supporting a free Iraqi government and support a (What may appear to many Iraqis as)religious leader, who bravely fought off the Westerners, forcing them to make peace.

Al Sadr will likely never get a true position of power... but I would be surprised to hear "The Midnight Ride of Al Sadr" someday in Iraqi schools.

;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 25, 2004 01:22 PM

MJT According to an even newer poll in Iraq, 68 percent support the new government.

Like I said, I think they'd support Hitler (or Hussein) at this point if it looked like he'd stop the crime and terrorism. The new leaders are not what I'd call democracy-minded, and they were not the first choice for either the coalition or the UN.

MJT I suspect the "support" for al Sadr is a point of pride for them. Only a miniscule percentage want him running the country.

Maybe, but I think that the love of the Shia for heroic, pious tragic figures struggling against impossible odds may have something to do with it. Kind of like the Western love for the Robin Hood-type situation.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 01:25 PM

Bush will set the jews on iran. Not the american jews who are building new conveyor type ovens to be used on their israeli brothers.

Never underestimate GW.
Never make assumptions about what GW will do regarding iran.

GW's second term will mean the end of NATO and hopefully our committment to the south koreans.

Posted by: Raymond at June 25, 2004 01:28 PM

I see I joined late.....If we are discussing Iran and potential strikes on its nuclear facilities, we cannot ignore the impact of Hezbollah as this is the A team of international terror. Any strike on Iran has to factor in Iran's potential to unleash Hezbollah on American interests at home and abroad. This would make Iran an official enemy, not the quiet enemy it is today. There is no way around this, however, as allowing Iran to go nuclear is not an option. Hezbollah would have access to WMD, and that cannot stand.

Shameless plug alert:
I wrote two small pieces about Iran this week which may be of interest to the discussion:
The Shatt al-Arab discusses the implications of the Iranian grab of the British sailors and what this means in the context of the WoT. Iran's Nukes gives an overview of the nuclear program, the current negotiations with the IAEA and prospects for war. I see no way that Israel will allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, and with the US right next door in Iraq, we can give the Israelis the means to do this.

TmjUtah is correct, this is a global war that will last decades and require great sacrifice. The constant carping over casualties insignificant on the scale of past wars is mind boggling, and the anti-war left's demand for perfect war (meaning no war) is killing our chances of winning.

The thing I find most perplexing is that the antiwar croud does not realize the impact of withdrawing from the battlefield of the Middle East. Isolationism is not an option in the world of nuclear tipped ballistic missiles, and if one goes off in this nation, the demand for immediate and merciless retaliation will not be ignored, even if the president has a (D) next to his name.

This is why we so-called neo-cons fight, to prevent this nightmare scenario.

Posted by: Bill Roggio at June 25, 2004 01:54 PM

It seems to me that our "bogged down" troops are bogged down building schools, passing out toys, and in general doing things that are not under the category of shooting bad guys.

I greatly support this effort by the way.

But all it would take is to say, "OK boys and girls, pick up your rifles and head east".

Posted by: John Davies at June 25, 2004 01:58 PM

Raymond: Not the american jews who are building new conveyor type ovens to be used on their israeli brothers.

What on earth are you talking about, Raymond?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 25, 2004 02:07 PM

MT-

I'm married but separated to a european, have permanent residency there. While in brit about two years ago, I was called a zionist, repeatedly by relatives. I'm not jewish, but it had a real effect on me. I'm 34yo, Israel has always existed in my lifetime, and the concept of zionism seems antiquated. Therefore use of the 'zionist' term seems to me nothing but anti-semitism.

I have a problem with the very wealthy far-left jewish element that funds many anti-semitic organizations. Have you ever watched an anti-war rally on c-span?

Anyways, in my lifetime the israelis have built an economy comparable to a western european country while under siege by several hundred million muslims. The palestinians are just such spectacularly unsympathetic people in my eyes. Zionism was a done deal in 1973. A person like George Soros and those like him give me the creeps, and there are a lot of them.

Posted by: Raymond at June 25, 2004 02:40 PM

Well, I'm glad Raymond cleared THAT up. For a moment, I thought his post was a little bit loony.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 03:00 PM

>>>...the israelis have built an economy comparable to a western european country while under siege by several hundred million muslims. The palestinians are just such spectacularly unsympathetic people in my eyes."

This Raymond is spectacularly sympathetic my own eyes.

Posted by: David at June 25, 2004 03:59 PM

This Raymond is spectacularly sympathetic my own eyes.

What the hell are you people drinking? And can I have some?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 25, 2004 04:11 PM

I absolutely, positively, without equivocation,despise the Iranian theocracy. AND,they should never be allowed to get their nasty little hands on nuclear weapons BUT---
This is an election year guys. The party of moral and possibly physical defeat has first to be re-consigned to the wilderness for another 4 years before GWB can do what has to be done.
MJT PLEASE stop saying that Kerry is better than ANYTHING.I would rather have Dean as CIC than Kerry.At least with Dean I know he is a nutbar and cannot be trusted.With Kerry who can ever say what he might find it EXPEDIENT to do.This is not a time for 'triangulators' or 'nuance'.
First things first then deal with IRAN. We need
to get a better handle on Iraq first so that the troops are not vulnerable to Iranian retaliation.
A 'few pinpricks' won't do it by the way. The maroons in Tehran really don't care too much about a few Iranians being lost.Just martyrs for the gorious cause.If you are talking military actions in Iran you are talking a massive show of air power for a considerable period of time AND lots of 'collaterial damage'. I believe it may be required BUT it won't be pretty and it won't be easy.It might start with a surgical strike but it won't end at one.

Posted by: doug at June 25, 2004 06:19 PM

Should we be surprised that we are losing our will, after months of Bush-bashing by the Leftists in the media, which is most of the media ? Talk about Fox News and talk radio all you want, but you all KNOW that most of the people in media are Leftist.

We are living in a world of bizarre contradiction and implausible yet real political views. Those who benefit the most from this wonderful greatest-ever free nation ( people like Michael Moore and his friends ) seem the least able or willing to face the grave dangers that confront us. Those whose lives are the antithesis of the racist, sexist, theocratic fascists of the world ( artists, the hollywood crowd, journalists ) do now want to liberate the women and homosexuals enslaved by Islamo-fascism. Yet, our brave soldiers, many of whom would disagree vehemently with the lifestyles of the hollywood crowd, are risking their lives to free the women and homosexuals of Iraq from fascists.

Are the young people flocking to Fareinheit 9/11 getting both sides of the story ?

We hate war, and that is a GOOD thing. But we ARE at war ! What will it take to wake us up ? A nuked Cincinnati ?

Does ANYONE SERIOUSLY doubt that Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw or Peter Jennings will vote for Kerry ?

What planet am I living on ? Where is a sane planet, and how do I get there ?

Are we going to have a civil war in this country ?

Posted by: freeguy at June 25, 2004 06:42 PM

The constant attacks by the media and the Democratic party on both the motives and the results of the Iraq action have taken a toll. As Victor Davis Hanson points out, while things are actually moving forward albiet slowly in the overall WOT, naysayers at home may doom the effort. Some of this is Bush's fault for not effectively fighting back. But those who have attempted to hurt Bush by laying into the war over and over again have hurt moral and inevitably made the administration gun shy. Their actions, done for partisan gain, have done great damage to American security. I pray Bush wins a strong mandate in November to carry the effort forward and that it will not be too late to stop the Mullahs.

Posted by: Doug at June 25, 2004 07:24 PM

Freeguy: Are we going to have a civil war in this country?

Hell no. If you want to see dangerous polarization, look at Latin America in the 1970s.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 25, 2004 08:26 PM

Michael,

Thanks. I needed that correction. And I feel a bit ashamed actually.

In case you couldn't tell, I was all hyped up when I made that comment about a "civil war". I was fighting mad when I posted that, having just seen Moore's movie. I don't really think we are heading toward civil war. But trust me, there were some vile, angry Lefties at that movie today. And I live in the heartland ! What is it like at the movie theatres in the blue states right now ? I shudder to think.

If only we could shut-up Michael Moore, Jerry Falwell, Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader all the people who think like them, this nation would be fine. And we could probably get serious about solving our problems.

On the other hand, maybe Moore and his silly movie are a good thing if you are pro-Bush. I think these Loony Left folks have the potential to backfire on Kerry in a big way, just like the Religious Right has backfired on Republicans sometimes.

I just have a feeling that Moore and the people who think like him are going to hurt Kerry. I am a partisan, so maybe I am wrong. Maybe it's just me. But it is a gut feeling I have.

We shall see.

Posted by: freeguy at June 25, 2004 08:59 PM

Michael -

You asked "Are We Out of Gas?".

I propose that we are not. Mr. Hoagland's article reflected a whole lot of traditional pre- 9/11 analysis and skipped over the true weakness in our efforts - the wilfull and conscious campaign of our political minority to exploit (and I'm being generous limiting their intent to mere exploitation; they've gone much further than that) any conceivable political advantage from the burdens, mistakes, and reverses inherent in any war.

They've spent every second of the last three years building momentum for a laughable zero-tolerance meme for success in the conduct of ANY response to global Islamofascism. They've been abetted by a majority of our media and a vocal minority of celebs and pundits.

All the analysis and propaganda and agenda and angst is going to bump up against cold reality for about 200+ million Americans in November.

The most damning thing we hear is "It's Bush's fault"....and I guess it's true. All he's done this last four years is exactly what he set out to do. If one declines to embrace the silly zero-tolerance for reverses/ conflict = defeat memes and look at where we are and what our intended objectives are, I don't think there's much case for changing leadership given the men under consideration.

You will have your answer in November. If we elect Kerry, I'll agree with you. Matter of fact, I'll make a note right now to remind me to email my "you wuz right" message as soon as the decision is final.

I don't think I'll be sending you any mail, honestly. The reason that we are the last superpower is that most of the time when push has come to shove we have made survivable decisions. I don't think a majority of Americans will elect MoveOn.org's second choice. We aren't that fornicated up. Not yet.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 25, 2004 09:04 PM

At this point, I'm still cautiously optimistic that Bush will win reelection. I almost wish that wasn't the case, as I'd feel a lot more confident of ultimate victory with President McCain leading the war effort. But as the only choices I'm being given are an often-clumsy and incompetent Terror War effort, or a total abandonment of said effort (Don't believe me? Remember Jean-Pierre Kerry's frequent statements about "war" being the wrong metaphor, his opinion that the WoT should return to the Clinton "law enforcement" model, etc.), I have to go with Bush - or, as Capt. Jack Aubrey so aptly put it, "the lesser of two weevils."

But I also can't underestimate the ability of the mass media, which is effectively an operating arm of the Quislingcrats, to swing the results their way. I'm doubting there will be another attack on US soil pre-November; what I think is more likely is one or more mass-casualty attacks on our troops in Iraq. If we wind up with, say, a thousand additional dead in a short period right before the election, the media will pull out ALL the stops and propel Jean-Pierre into the White House.

What happens then is anyone's guess. You can just about guarantee a cut-and-run strategy in Iraq, followed by appeasement of the rest of the Islamic rogues' gallery, along with North Korea. I would make one bet, though - if there's a WMD attack on US soil with a five or six figure casualty record, there will be journalists dangling from lampposts. And I won't be shedding a tear for any of them.

Posted by: Ricky bin Ricardo (Abu Babaloo) at June 25, 2004 10:59 PM

If only we could shut-up Michael Moore, Jerry Falwell, Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader all the people who think like them, this nation would be fine. And we could probably get serious about solving our problems.

You know, nobody's going to mistake me for a drooling fanboy anytime of the above names anytime soon, but am I the only person who found this paragraph--and the mindset that lurks behind it--profoundly disturbing?

Moore is shrill and annoying, Falwell a bigoted nutbar, Buchanan a known anti-semite, and Nader an egotistical tool, but they all deserve their say. There's been a sharp rise, over the last few years, in eliminationist rhetoric from people who'd be best thrilled to see their opponents silenced. That's not what this country is about.

Posted by: Catsy at June 25, 2004 11:55 PM

David,

What exactly is "broken"? Don't believe the bullshit hype of the Left. Iraq has been immensely successful.

The deterrent effect. Our victory in Iraq restored the deterrent effect. All the thugs in the neighborhood were wondering who would be next. The purpose of the deterrent effect is to get tyrannical, terror-sponsoring regimes to comply with our demands without having to go to war. Proof of the success of the deterrent effect was that Gaddafi folded his hand in Libya.

Assad and the mullahs kept playing theirs long enough for the so-called "peace" movement and the corrupt Demcorats to undermine domestic morale to the point that the thugs are now believe nobody is next. The result is that Syria and Iran are sponsoring the terrorists in Iraq and the mullahs are on the brink of going nuclear.

The so-called "peace" movement and the corrupt Democrats have made war MORE likely if not inevitable. The left lost the war that was won on the battle field. I want them held accountable for it. The only way to do this flush them out of the rhetorical world of hypotheticals into the real world.

I don't believe that the Democratic coalition can survive a Kerry administration. The Democratic party is approximately 50-50 split between the extreme socialist left that hates America and wants us to lose, and the ignorant loyal center that don't recognize what is really happening. Kerry can't satisfy both wings of the party.

If Kerry governs according to the desires of the treasonous left, the ignorant loyal center will suffer the consquences along with the rest of us and be driven over to the Republicans. If Kerry governs according to the real-world security needs of our nation, he will drive the Democrat's treason-wing into the Greens. By the end of 2008, we would either end up with a 50® 35(D) 15(G) nation or a 55® 35(D) 5(G) nation. Either way, the Democrats are finished as a governing party for a long time if Kerry wins.

Obviously, this country needs a loyal opposition with enough power to constrain the excesses of the Republican right. Right now, our opposition has plenty of power but is not loyal. So we either have to force the Democratic party to reform or kill it off and get a new party. The only way I can see accomplishing this in a democracy is to force the Democrats to govern and hold them accountable after we suffer the inevitable consequences.

The sooner we get this over with the better. Right now, we are still strong and our enemies weak. But with the mushrooming nuclear proliferation in this world, this position of relative strength may not last long. We can force reform on the Democrats by 2006 or 2008 at the latest. A second Bush admistration would postpone this to 2010 or 2012 at the soonest. I don't know if we can afford to wait that long to replace the current treasonous opposition with a loyal one. We have a war to fight.

Posted by: HA at June 26, 2004 05:34 AM

You know, sometimes it's tough to tell whether HA truly believes these screeds he posts, or whether he's parodying the nutty fringes of the right. If it's a parody, it's pretty inspired. And if he's for real... well, that's pretty sad. A little frightening, perhaps, because some people might actually take him seriously, but mostly sad.

I mean, listen to this stuff: The left lost the war that was won on the battle field. I want them held accountable for it.

Comedy gold. Can any thinking person take seriously the notion that "the left", as an aggregate whole, has lost the Iraq War? That is, even assuming that you believe the war is "lost" (a fairly vague assertion to begin with, and one which I do not share), it absolutely /beggars credibility/ to lay the blame for the things which have gone wrong with the war and occupation in Iraq at the feet of the left--even the looniest elements.

It was the left, of course, who decided to disband Iraq's army without considering the effects of puitting a few hundred thousand unemployed and disgruntled soldiers on the streets. The left, of course, who made sweeping promises to the American people about the war's costs and the reactions of the Iraqi people that turned out to be vastly out of touch with reality. The left, of course, who forged ahead with ideologically-driven policies while ignoring the advice of military and ME professionals--advice which turned out to be overwhelmingly correct.

It takes real chutzpah to talk about accountability in the same breath as you try to lay the blame for the failures in Iraq anywhere but on those who made the decisions responsible for them. Accountability? "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Posted by: Catsy at June 26, 2004 06:10 AM

Catsy,

Don't start talking logic! What sort of American are you, emotion and self-righteous indignation are the way to deal with politics.

ROFL

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 26, 2004 08:21 AM

>>>..."it absolutely /beggars credibility/ to lay the blame for the things which have gone wrong with the war and occupation in Iraq at the feet of the left--even the looniest elements."

Catsy,

almost as stupid as all the blame that's laid at Bush's feet; Abu Graib, Al-Sadr, Nick Berg, 9/11, bad weather; I could go on. The same critical eye directed at Bush can more than easily be turned on your precious, non-existent Left.

Posted by: David at June 26, 2004 08:34 AM

almost as stupid as all the blame that's laid at Bush's feet; Abu Graib, Al-Sadr, Nick Berg, 9/11, bad weather; I could go on. The same critical eye directed at Bush can more than easily be turned on your precious, non-existent Left.

"[P]recious, non-existent Left"?

Right. I'll be over here in the corner at my non-existent job, working to pay my non-existent bills and filling my downtime responding to apparently non-existent arguments. Do you actually think about what sentences like these /mean/ before writing them? What do you imagine they contribute?

There is considerable evidence to suggest that the disdain in which the Bush administration holds international institutions and historic notions of the laws of warfare when applied to the context of our current conflicts directly and indirectly enabled the abuses that took place at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and in Afghanistan. You may disagree with that, but it is not an unreasonable position.

Nor is it unreasonable to argue that Bush bears some measure of responsibility for disregarding the outgoing Clinton administration's warnings and priorities for counterterrorism out of an irrational need to reject anything "tainted" by the Clinton administration. I do not share the opinion of the fringe left that Bush should be blamed for 9/11 (or, for that matter, the looney theories about him planning/allowing it), but a president /does/ bear some degree of responsibility for what happens on their watch.

I do not blame Bush for al Sadr's intransigence and insurrection. But I do hold the administration responsible for marginalizing and threatening al Sadr. If it is our goal to set an example of participatory democracy in Iraq, it behooves us to be more tolerant of opposing views; allowing Sadr to vent his spleen and have a voice in the birth of Iraq's sovereign government would have neutralized him by taking away his motivation for causing trouble. Instead, we have created a hero whose support has been inflated far beyond the tiny minority who actually share his ideology.

Nick Berg and bad weather I do not attribute to George Bush--but then, I suspect you were engaging in rhetorical excess. If you can go on, do--but I think you will find that my criticisms are fair. You don't have to agree with them--but they are not the product of blind Bush hatred.

Posted by: Catsy at June 26, 2004 09:05 AM

>>>..."There is considerable evidence to suggest that the disdain in which the Bush administration holds international institutions and historic notions of the laws of warfare when applied to the context of our current conflicts directly and indirectly enabled the abuses that took place at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and in Afghanistan. You may disagree with that, but it is not an unreasonable position."

Catsy,

What do you honestly believe your DNC talking points contribute? Get this, you say "There is considerable evidence to suggest that the disdain in which the Bush administration holds international institutions...etc blah blah."

"Considerable evidence"? This is either very profound, or absolute claptrap. I think the latter. Show me ONE shred of evidence for your pop psychology blame game re Abu Graib.

>>>..."Nor is it unreasonable to argue that Bush bears some measure of responsibility for disregarding the outgoing Clinton administration's warnings and priorities for counterterrorism out of an irrational need to reject anything "tainted" by the Clinton administration."

Is that why he fired Tenet? Richard Clarke? What was Clinton DOING about terrorism that Bush STOPPED DOING in order to "reject anyting tainted"? Specifics please, otherwise you're just listing off talking points (and contributing nothing except the desire to see your own words in writing).

>>>..."But I do hold the administration responsible for marginalizing and threatening al Sadr. If it is our goal to set an example of participatory democracy in Iraq, it behooves us to be more tolerant of opposing views;"

You are correct. Bush did marginalize and threaten Al-Sadr; and a good thing it was considering he was daily calling for insurrection in his paper. But I chuckled as you self-parody, are Liberals famously do, by calling for "tolerance" of our enemies; it was Bush's fault, not Al-Sadr's right? But I won't question your patriotism. I just won't, though you're more a citizen of the world than anything else.

>>>..."Nick Berg and bad weather I do not attribute to George Bush--but then, I suspect you were engaging in rhetorical excess."

Actually, no. Depending on who you ask (99 percent of the times someone on the Left) those orange jumpsuits are proof that Nick Berg, etc, are the fault of Bush and Guantanamo. That's not MY rhetorical excess, I'm merely pointing out the excess of the Left, which even you it seems are surprised by.

Posted by: David at June 26, 2004 10:13 AM

What do you honestly believe your DNC talking points contribute?

An argument for a given position. As opposed to, say, ad hominem insults disguised by a pretense at interest in civil discussion.

"Considerable evidence"? This is either very profound, or absolute claptrap. I think the latter. Show me ONE shred of evidence for your pop psychology blame game re Abu Graib.

Pop psychology? Talking points? Because of course no one could hold an opinion so contrary to yours on the basis of informed and reasonable evaluation of the facts on record. Right. Look, I'm not interested in wasting my time with someone who is more interested in yelling than discussing. It's plain you're here to either have your own opinions reaffirmed or to demonize those who disagree with you.

The "considerable evidence" of which I speak includes, but is not limited to:

- Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism, November 2001, in which the administration argues that the "principles of law and the rules of evidence" in the American justice system do not apply to suspected terrorists deemed to be illegal enemy combatants.
- Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism, March 2003, in which the administration's legal team determined (among other well-documented questionable assertions) that the president's duty to protect the country give him the authority to set aside the law as he deems necessary to national security, and in which it is argued that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to suspected terrorists, and in which the boundaries that define torture are pushed to the breaking point to give interrogators leeway to commit acts unquestionably immoral under an umbrella of legality.
- Rumsfeld's willingness to designate certain prisoners as "ghost" detainees, who are kept out of the system (contrary to law) and hidden from the ICRC.

Note that I said includes, but is not limited to. I don't feel like doing all your Google legwork for you, especially since I don't suspect you're actually interested in my answer beyond your ability to use it to launch your next rant. I provide these as a starting point to support my argument--given the amount of coverage the issue has received recently, you should have no trouble digging deeper, provided you're willing to honestly examine the evidence on record.

I'm gratified that Bush has now publicly disavowed torture. It's a bit empty, since the thrust of the second document above (and others related to it) is to /redefine/ torture so as to be able to engage in it while staying within the letter of the law, but it's important that the rest of the world at least /hear/ that we do not tolerate such things. Those words need to be backed up with action, however, and part of that is taking responsibility for the policies and decisions that created the "ends justify the means" environment in which these atrocities occurred.

Posted by: Catsy at June 26, 2004 10:46 AM

Catsy,

perhaps you're right, you should let me do my own google work. Your own appears to illuminate very little. Your first link has ZERO content that can be connected even minimally to Abu Graib. Yet I still had to slog through it in my search for your elusive shred of evidence. Next time, excerpt what you believe is relevant from your google work instead of wasting my time (but I noticed that you included plenty of your own editorializing in your post, proof or your desire to see your own words in print).

Your next link is 49 pages long. I doubt you've even read it. If you have, excerpt it, lest I waste my time again doing your own work for you.

Posted by: David at June 26, 2004 11:01 AM

Catsy to David: It's plain you're here to either have your own opinions reaffirmed or to demonize those who disagree with you.

Catsy, David and I argue quite a bit, actually.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 26, 2004 11:55 AM

Catsy, while I strongly disagree with you, I think you're honestly trying to criticize Bush constructively, and I appreciate it.

One disagreement: "There is considerable evidence to suggest that the disdain in which the Bush administration holds international institutions and historic notions of the laws of warfare"

First of all, (your man?) Kerry says he doesn't like "war" as a term; so it's no laws of warfare. More importantly, the Geneva conventions require the warriors to wear uniforms, the terrorists don't. THEY do not kill by, nor even accept, the Christian-war history developed rules.

But you quote "in which the administration's legal team determined (among other well-documented questionable assertions) that the president's duty to protect the country give him the authority to set aside the law as he deems necessary to national security, and in which it is argued that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to suspected terrorists,"
Having law-slingers look into it directly contradicts your assertion of disdain. You, like most Leftists, are beating Bush with sticks from both side: he doesn't care about int'l law AND his own side looked into the int'l law ramifications and came up with ... Abu. Well, expect Abu was wrong, in January (MONTHS ago) the Bush team had already replaced a general.
A feminist career general! I suspect, no news about it, that no military force in the world in the last 20 years has replaced a general at a prison because of mild prisoner abuse.

Let me say that again. MILD. Yes, abuse. Criminal. But mostly misdemeanor stuff, not felony stuff. When the Iraqis do start trying Saddam you'll see some real atrocities. Or, maybe the BBC will go to Darfur.

The USA IS running of gas, IS becoming impatient at Bush-hate noise. The LOUD Bush-hate press is supressing the truth: Iraq is moving in a good direction, and Bush has been doing a fine job, in policies. In press, no -- and that includes promises not yet kept.

Al-Sadr is wanted for murder. It's far to early to know if the USA made a mistake in its treatment. The Left, certainly, never consistently advocated any one policy; it was simultaneously Bush too soft AND Bush too hard. As usual with Bush-hate. (My view for Sadr is that he should have been picked up BEFORE his paper was shut down; not certain I'm right and Bush wrong.)

What's gonna put the gas back? Terrorists getting, and using somewhere, nukes. If the Left succeeds in stopping a pre-emptive disarmament regime change in Iran, nukes or WMDs will be used.

AND it will be Leftist opposition that should, and will, be blamed.

Can Bush speech-making put the gas back? Maybe. The handover's coming; the IAEA is making real notices that Iran is getting nukes. Kerry is about to be the official, no Torricili (?) Hilary or anybody else challenger; and Bush will be, too. That will change the positions.

When Kerry is asked whether we should wait until AFTER Iran has nukes, and terrorists have nukes, how is he going to answer?
If he says he would take action, that will be permission for Bush to do so.
If not, if Kerry says wait (law enforcement), Kerry will NOT be elected.

Posted by: Tom Grey at June 26, 2004 05:18 PM

Bill clinton, here is his blog, was about to bomb North Korea in 94, but only stopped because the South Koreans told him they wouldn't fight if the North counter attacked. Result North Korea has nuclear weapons.

Posted by: Lump at June 26, 2004 05:43 PM

Was it not WB Yeats who wrote "the best lack
all conviction while the worst are filled to passionate intensity." Fighting and defeating the terrorists is made doubly hard in the teeth of the snarling duplicitious media, the silly Washington talking heads and the second guessers. After the next 9/11, will the editors of the New York Times submit themselves to the same type of inquisition the Bush Administration put up with the present commisssion ?

Posted by: jedrury at June 26, 2004 06:07 PM

JESUS CHRIST!!! Half of all you guys are talking like the world's going to end if John Kerry wins in November! One of you even mentioned the destruction of damn near every major American city. Just stop and ask yourself how realistic all of this hysteria is. It's flat-out ridiculous and devoid of any hisorical context, whatsoever.

If John Kerry wins in November, you know what'll happen? Life on this planet will continue. I don't really know how good a job he'll do in fighting the War on Terror, but my guess is that it'll be good enough. Maybe not as good as George W. Bush, but good enough as to not get kicked out of office in four years or totally discredit the Democratic Party. To quote David Mayhew, politicians (and Presidents especially) behave as "single-minded seekers of reelection". That's what drives them, above all other concerns. I'll be the first to say that sometimes this isn't the greatest thing, but the vast majority of the time it is.

If it bothers so many of you that the Democratic Party is so unserious about the War on Terror (upon which I agree), than here's my suggestion...put them back in power. Evan Bayh, in response to this unseriousness, posed the following question to his fellow Democrats a while back: Do We Want To Vent Or Do We Want To Govern? Alot of Democrats at the time were giving up hope on the possibility of governing, so they vented and backed Howard Dean. Then, at the last minute, they realized they actually had a shot at governing, and so they backed a more serious candidate.

My point is...if the Democrats win in November, as "single-minded seekers of reelection", they'll be forced to govern so they're sure as hell not going to choose to vent! John Kerry, if elected, will undoubtedly piss off alot of the less-than-serious leftist types. He's a politician. He's not going to choose pissing off the rest of us for their sake!

That's kind of the first rule of politics, isn't it? That politicians want to get reelected? John Kerry, if he becomes President, isn't going to violate this rule and so he'll get serious. How do I know this? Because that's what politicians do...and if there ever was a politician...one who will say or do whatever it takes to gain and maintain power...it's John Kerry. People bitch that he waffles so much. In a way, it's kind of a good thing. Let him waffle to the will of the American people and you'll see the man turn into Harry Truman on defense issues. It's called democracy.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 26, 2004 09:21 PM

Catsy,

or whether he's parodying the nutty fringes of the right

I'm not parodying any nutty fringe. I'm blazing new trails of nuttiness. I'm suggesting someting so wacked out, so crazed, so totally fucking insane that one could even call it EEE-VIL of the most diabolical variety!

Vote for Kerry.

It's time to call them Democrat's bluff. They spent 10 years telling us Saddam supporting terrorists and developing WMD's. They said he was a threat and pushed through the Iraqi Liberation Act to make regime change in Iraq our national policy. There isn't a single Democrat leader who didn't make these claims. But then they were silent during the debate over authorization of the Iraq war. And once the war started all hell broke loose. Saddam had no WMD's! He had no ties to terrorism! He was not a threat! Secular leaders don't sponsor Islamist terrorism! Bush is a liar who misled us into war in order to enrich his friends at Halliburton! Bush is the greatest threat to world peace! Bush the idiot fooled a master of nuance like Kerry to vote for a war he opposed!

Fine. Let's give the Democrats enough rope to hang themselves. I think a Kerry administration would be a complete disaster, but I would love to be proven wrong. So let's see what happens. If a Kerry administration proves to be a disaster as I think it would, the Democrats are finished as a governing party for at least a generation because America will never again trust them with national security. If I'm wrong and a Kerry administation proves to be successful, the I'll be first in line for my helping of crow. Either way America will be better off in the long run.

So does all this sound nutty? You bet. But take a moment to savor the irony of you calling me a nut for calling for a Kerry victory.

Posted by: HA at June 27, 2004 04:41 AM

Catsy,

Instead, we have created a hero whose support has been inflated far beyond the tiny minority who actually share his ideology.

There you go again. Blame America first. We "created" al Sadr? I'm sure al Sadr was a nice guy until we showed up. I'm sure he was a pure reactionary with no hostile intent until we drove him too far. I'm sure his insurgency had no sponsorship from Iran and Syria who would be quite content to stand by and watch a democracy friendly to America blossom next door.

You see Catsy, it is because of this kind ignorance that you've expressed that the Democrats can't be taken seriously on issues of national security. You guys believe that terrorism only exists because America isn't nice enough. You're a damn fool. At best.

Posted by: HA at June 27, 2004 05:04 AM

Grant,

...if the Democrats win in November, as "single-minded seekers of reelection", they'll be forced to govern so they're sure as hell not going to choose to vent!

The Democrats were forced to govern in 1976 too. They were just as single-minded in pursuit of re-election during the Carter administration as they would be during a Kerry administration. We know how that turned out, now don't we? The Carter era was a case study of the Domino Theory in action. This is the reason why the Democrats aren't taken seriously on national security by clear-thinking Americans. The total failure of Jimmy Carter and the Democrats in the 1970's paved the way for Reagan in 1980. As it was with Carter, so it would be with Kerry. Except that Kerry would be even worse.

Carter was like a deer in the headlights during the Cold War. He was frozen in place by the left-wing of the Democrats who had lost their belief in America during Vietnam and Watergate. That wing of the party has only grown stronger in the last 20 years as they have taken over our education system and media.

Carter couldn't win re-election in 1980 because he couldn't satisfy both wings of the party. If he moved left, he would scare the right wing of the party over to the Republicans. If he moved right, the left-wing would stay home. Carter was damned either way. That is why he adopted the Rose Garden Strategy during his re-election campaign.

Kerry would face the same dilemna by 2008. He simply can't satisfy both wings of the party. He will be frozen in place damned if he takes decisive action against terrorism because he will lose his base on the left, and damned if he doesn't because America will suffer terrible consequences from inaction.

We learned this lesson the hard way in 1980 and we would repeat that learning curve during a Kerry administration. But America seems to have forgotten it during the dreamy 1990's when the End of History had been officialy proclaimed.

And just as it was the failure of Carter that made Reagan possible, it was the success of Reagan that made the election of a man-child like Clinton possible. Do you really believe Clinton would have been elected in 1992 if we hadn't already won the Cold War? Not a chance.

Posted by: HA at June 27, 2004 05:57 AM

Hey, I'll go along with ya, HA. Lets elect Kerry and see if your grand theories of American politics are true. I'll betcha a nice fat dinner of crow that Kerry will be a better president, including on terrorism, and will be reelected in 08.

Although I would put some things a bit differently, I basically agree with Grant. Parties in opposition do opposition. Parties in power do governance. That is the way of the world.
Has anyone seen a less serious, more opposition-obssessed party than the GOP in the nineties? Do you find "its all about oil" to be mindnumbingly stupid? What about the GOP response to Clinton's efforts? "Its all about Monica"!

Make no mistake about it. If Kerry wins, not only he, but the demcratic party as a whole will take up the task of governance, with all the seriousess that comes with it. And the republicans will, I guarantee you, take up the mindless obssession with destroying the Kerry presidency - irrespective of the consequences for the nation - that they have proven to be so adept at in the past.

Posted by: Tano at June 27, 2004 08:08 AM

It is too late for the democratic party to change directions. John Kerry certainly lacks the substance to effect such a change.

The party of appeasement will remain the party of appeasement. The United Nations, with its Darfurs and Rwandas, is the authority to which Mr. Kerry has vowed to submit.

Posted by: Fletcher at June 27, 2004 10:16 AM

Except that in the real world, Hussein had no nuclear weapons to give terrorist. Terrorists are more likely to get nukes from Pakistan, North Korea, or, heaven help us, Iran if they develop them.

Yep, and the only to threaten or do a ground invasion of Iran is though Iraq. There is no chance of having a easy or highlly secessfull attack on Iran without Iraqi bases. Iran is harboring a ton of Al Quida memeber and they are killing our troops in Iraq. Will John Kerry have the guts to invade Iran? I am not even sure Bush does, but I doubt Kerry even more.

Derek

Posted by: Derek at June 27, 2004 10:25 AM

Michael,

China, India, Pakistan have all been "getting away with it". And for the same reason that Iran will no matter who is in the White House.

The costs and risks of a military attack far outweigh the potential payback.

Firstly, Iran is a much better governed country than Iraq was:

http://www.preteen.hu/infobycountry/iraq_statistics.html

Child mortality in Iraq went from 50 per 1000 to 125 from 1990 to 2002, in Iran it fell from 72 to 42 over the same time period.

Iran's economy is growing strongly (about 6% last year)

Furthermore, it hasn't yet attacked any neighbour and is strongly opposed to Saddam, the Taliban and Wahhabism.

While Iran's present regime is much better for its own people than Saddam was for Iraq, it has much greater military capability.

In the case of Iran, by far the best strategy is to politely ask them to stay a non-nuclear power, and to accept it, if they choose to get nuclear weapons anyway.

And I bet that both Kerry and Bush will follow this strategy, because all the alternatives are much worse (you aren't seriously saying that the US should start bombing military targets in Iran "to put on pressure"???).

Posted by: Heiko Gerhauser at June 27, 2004 11:29 AM

Unfortunately, I think it will take a really nasty attack--probably nuclear--in the US--to wake people up enough that they will tell the left to "go Fuck yourself" (I assume I can use that word since the Vice President has raised it to the level of acceptable political speech...)
and demand a government that will use the full force of our military, including our nuclear arsenal, to threaten the Arab world with extinction if they do not choose to enter the 21st Century and act like civilized citizens of the world.
my Blog

Posted by: All Things Political at June 27, 2004 11:30 AM

In a few days, the US could enjoy total air supremacy over the skies of Iran. This means that a few thousand under-employed air force and naval aviators could get back into the game.

The US has sufficient justification to attack Iran, based on Iran's interference in Iraq. No other justification is needed.

Bomb their oil infrastructure, bomb their nuclear facilities, bomb their military infrastructure. Destroy all government buildings, all properties of the mullahs.

Posted by: Miguel at June 27, 2004 12:04 PM

HA, it is a very different world from 1976. Based on all the accumulated evidence, I see no reason why the Democrats could not at least do as good a job as the Republicans, and probably a far better one. Just look at nearly every step Bush has made in Iraq, from tying it to AlQaeda (if only by very strong implication), a great plan for winning Baghdad and an awful plan for maintaining order, shockibngly poor judgement re. treatment of prisoners (mostly arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time), touting Chalabi as the next George Washington -- well, you know. Could Kerry possibly do worse? Don't see how, frankly, and he's always been a cooler-headed, better informed, less reactionary, less vengeful man than our current president. We simply can't go on like we're doing now -- we're falling apart at the seams.

Michael, a man of labrythine intelligence and profound insights, sounds like he is slowly but surely coming around. Now he's just got to get over his stereotype of Kerry as weak and indecisive. The man is a hero, a man of action, and a leader. Unfortunately, the way campaigns now work in America (all thanks to Karl Rove), where every syllable Kerry utters is put through a team of lawyers and a battery of computers to spot the slightest contradiction from things he said as far back as 30 years ago (and that is no exaggeration) -- under this kind of pressure, he's got to be painfully cautious with every word he utters. At least while he's campaigning. Don't mistake caution for indecision. I've followed Kerry's career for 20 years, and I have strong confidence in the man. True, his personality can be vanilla and he can appear supercilious at times, though I know that isn't the man's true character. So please open your mind a little more -- you are almost there.

How thrilling, to feel the seismic shift among the bloggers. Oh frabjuous day....

Posted by: richard at June 27, 2004 01:54 PM

It's far from guaranteed that any islamic terrorists will ever nuke New York or Moscow.

Iran and Pakistan with their present regimes are deterrable, and can be dealt with just like Russia and China were/are.

IF a nuclear bomb were to kill a few hundred thousand Americans, then we'd have a situation where the US would have the "moral" clout to force "de-radicalisation" on relatively moderate Muslim nations and back them up with the credible threat of invasion and targeted nuclear strikes.

But the current situation is different. Invading a nation with a ruthless and aggressive, but militarily weak tyrant without a direct threat to US security is hard enough,

invading a by comparison moderate and benign theocracy that is militarily relatively strong, entirely unprovoked and without a direct military threat, would be politically impossible for the US. Virtually all other nations would strongly condemn the action, nearly all Iranians would see it as naked aggression.

Without a nuclear first strike against the US, it's just not going to happen.

Such a first strike is not all that probable and even a nuclear attack must be seen in some perspective when compared to WWI or WWII or the kind of war required to subdue the Muslim world pre-emptively. WWII left 60 million people dead, and countless cities virtually wiped out. A 20 kt nuclear first strike against New York might kill a few hundred thousand, and apart from central New York leave America's infrastructure intact.

Iraq, on balance and on present evidence, I believe was worthwhile (low cost, high humanitarian benefit, good conditions for a relatively secular and wealthy Muslim democracy to develop) to push reform, but the US just cannot and will not and should not forcefully remove the regimes of Saudi Arabia or Iran without clear evidence of an imminent nuclear first strike threat.

Posted by: Heiko Gerhauser at June 27, 2004 03:04 PM

To strike some kind of middle ground between HA and RICHARD...

Truth is, no one really knows what a Kerry Presidency would look like. I study political science and, in American Politics, this is one of the first lessons you learn: That election campaigns tell you next to nothing about what kind of President they will become. I mean, take President Bush for example! A main line of his critique against the Clinton/Gore Administration was that they were TOO interventionist abroad! Candidate Bush suggested that we take up "a more humble" foreign policy in the world. President Bush, on the other hand, is spearheading the least humble and most interventionist foreign policy in generations (not that I'm complaining for the most part).

I don't worship John Kerry the way Richard does and I sure as hell don't think his victory in November would be a victory for terrorism like Ha seems to believe. If you understand politics and you listen to history, you have to admit that none of us really know what a John Kerry Presidency would pan out to be. I happen to think it probably wouldn't be so bad. It'd sure as hell be better on domestic issues and I'm willing to bet Kerry would turn out to be a bit more of a hawk than people expect. The chip on the shoulder of the Democratic Party when it comes to responsible leadership in wartime is so massive, I could even see Kerry going out of his way to prove what kind of "muscular liberal" he is (muscular liberalism a la Truman and Kennedy). If he's a smart politician, which John Kerry is if there ever was one, he'll make a boldly hawkish move in the first months of his Presidency to prove to the rest of us that he takes terrorism seriously and refuses to stay captive to the dovish left-wing of his party. Remember folks..."single-minded seekers of reelection"...it'd go a long way and it's not like Kerry has any kind of bedrock principles to hold him back. Pinpoint strikes on Iranian missile facilities, anyone?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 27, 2004 03:05 PM

Let's face reality here folks. WE LOST. The mass media, the Left and the politicians have thrown in the towel and the Herd is following

You've heard of the "Bush Doctrine" of pre-emptive war? This is its corollary, the doctrine of pre-emptive blame.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at June 27, 2004 03:46 PM

"If you understand politics and you listen to history, you have to admit that none of us really know what a John Kerry Presidency would pan out to be."

Grant, with all due respect, are you serious?

Kerry is a stone liberal politician from a machine democrat state. He's never held an executive job outside of government. In twenty years in the U.S. Senate his track record for leadership is non-existent, which is explained away by a statement attributing his participation as 'influence and involvement'. If his votes had been in the majority on issues like defense and intelligence matters our troops would be fighting without stealth, brilliant weapons, and computerized logistics. We'd have CIA/FBI offices with 286's adorning about every fifth desk.

The man has a track record. The media has tried to equate tenure with accomplishment and it just doesn't wash. He is nothing like an unknown quantity.

His voting record is right out of 1976. Big government social engineering, income redistribution, class warfare, postmod/moral relativist Brahmin elitist limo lib...who thinks that Islamofascism is a law enforcement problem better left to the U.N. He's a decorated vet. Good for him. His entire (living) chain of command signed a letter rejecting him as unfit for the office of president. Some of his peers and crew support him, some don't - and those who don't have been extensively and in my opinion unjustifiably smeared as partisan. There's enough info there, alone to give food for some serious thought.

He did meet with political leaders of an enemy power while still a commissioned officer. I can't let that one go, but hey, that's just me.

Here's a useful link for getting past the noise and smoke of campaign/media bloviation. What you see is what you get. I liked reading up on the voting record.

A pleasure to disagree, as always.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 27, 2004 07:00 PM

Grant -

"If he's a smart politician, which John Kerry is if there ever was one, he'll make a boldly hawkish move in the first months of his Presidency to prove to the rest of us that he takes terrorism seriously and refuses to stay captive to the dovish left-wing of his party."

My personal opinion is that he'll have some truly serious retention problems with the military within a year, should he be elected. If the men and women in our reserve component decide that NCA is not going to prosecute this war, large numbers will probably elect to seperate rather than to subject themselves to deployments. I base this opinion on my contacts with Utah reservists and Guardsmen. We've had over seventy percent of our state's units deployed, some more than once, in the last three years.

The traditional bucket o' cruise missiles approach to PR isn't going to fly, either, especially with service members. Rangel's draft rhetoric may well come back to haunt his party.

We had a smart politician as president, and not that very long ago. I'll just take a president, thanks.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 27, 2004 07:19 PM

How ironic, Utah, that the man you feel is suited for the job is turning to exactly the same people Kerry has recommended -- the UN and the international community. Oil-for-food scandal and all, the UN is still where Bush has to turn. Had he only had the sense back in March a year ago to understand that his unilateral, with-us-or-against-us approach would create far more harm than good and come back to bite us mercilessly in the butt. Well, at least he's learning how the world works.

As to Kerry being part of the liberal "Democratic machine," please give me a break. Bush is far more firmly in the pocket of what former Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips refers to as the "military-national security-industrial complex." He and his VP are so pro-oil, pro-deregulation, pro-everything-that benefits the rich, there's no comparison! The way you talk, Bush is a free agent beholden to no one. Sorry, but in the entire history of this nation, there has never been anyone more beholden to Saudi oil and America's elite than is Bush. (And yes, I know Kerry is rich, but his voting record indicates a far more compassionate and free-spirited mind than Bush's, a greater character and deeper understanding of the obligations of the rich to give back to society, and not just to their rich cronies.) Read American Dynasry, Utah. You may learn something about GWB and to whom he ultimately answers.

Posted by: richard at June 27, 2004 09:40 PM

Freespirited and compassionate?

I'll take competent and capable of making tough calls, thanks. I also happen to be pro-oil, pro-deregulation, and like the fact that there are more rich people being created on a daily basis directly as a result of the economic policy of this president. Rich people tend to create jobs for other people a lot more efficiently than government does, and they have to work for their money, too, unlike government.

What's really rich is your comment on the latest rounds of NATO/euro/U.N. contacts.

You characterize the contacts as an indication of some sort of failure. But wait...wait...wasn't that the kind of diplomacy the left has been calling for? Do not misunderstand me - it's not like we haven't informed or reached out on an ongoing basis to our friends/allies/former friends/western nations too screwed up to admit they are in this war just as much as we are/international organizations - it's that where they decided to go their own way, we acted in our interest, and rightly so. When we acted in Afghanistan we kicked out the hosts of OBL; a perfectly reasonable act of a state responding to an act of war. When we invaded Iraq, we debated the issue for fourteen months BEFORE executing the doctrine defined and approved by the LAST administration on top of enforcing the U.N.'s own R1441 when they decided to pass from landmark international organization to debating society.

Bush gave them the choice. The senators and congressmen who voted on Patriot 1 and 2 and the war resolutions were all privy to the same data as the administration. Yet it is Bush's war...and a failure because it's not all over last week.

So in the latest episode of communications, we get some symbolic support...and you leap to your feat with a sanctimonious and petulant kneejerk condemnation of the administration for DOING WHAT YOU ASKED FOR?

I do not understand the thought process at play on the other side. Mea culpa. Is it all partisan hate...or do they really believe their own press releases?

Free agent? No. He took an oath and has done a fair job of keeping it. CFR we can talk about another day. BTW, given a choice I would take the Sauds and the military industrial complex influence over NEA, MoveOn.org, and the AFL/CIO any day of the week. We have a lot of serious heavy lifting left to do. This isn't 1992; we can't afford the luxury of another Smart Politician right at the moment.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 27, 2004 10:55 PM

Grant,

If he's a smart politician, which John Kerry is if there ever was one, he'll make a boldly hawkish move in the first months of his Presidency to prove to the rest of us that he takes terrorism seriously and refuses to stay captive to the dovish left-wing of his party.

Such as? Lob a few cruise missiles to re-arrange some rocks somewhere? Give me one example of a meaningful "hawkish move" that will pass muster with the insane half of the Democrat party? Good luck. All the mental patients lining up to get their "truth" fed to them from Michael Moore movies will turn on Kerry as ruthlessly as they have Bush. It is America they hate, not Bush. Bush is just a proxy for their hate.

Face it Grant. The Democrats are a "fraudulent coalition" and will some day crack under the weight of their own contradictions. There is no way Kerry can satisfy both wings of the party. If Kerry is elected in 2004, he will be among the most unpopular Presidents in history by 2005 and be thrown out of office in 2008 in a whopping landslide that will alter the political landscape for a generation.

Posted by: HA at June 28, 2004 03:46 AM

Catsy,

Instead, we have created a hero whose support has been inflated far beyond the tiny minority who actually share his ideology.

Here is some more information on the "hero" you claim "we created."

Sadr's Mahdi Army was backed by extensive foreign fighters and a huge amount support. Iran's formidable Al-Quds Army (named for the conquest of Jerusalem, Israel) directly assisted their attacks against us. They trained some 1,200 of Sadr's fighters at three camps they ran along the Iran-Iraq border at Qasr Shireen, 'Ilam, and Hamid. This was backed by what one Iranian defector to us has said was $70 million dollars a month given by Iranian agents to our enemies -- from which Sadr's forces were directly funded in just the past few months by up to $80 million more. The Iranian Embassy distributed some 400 satellite phones in Baghdad to Sadr's forces, while 2,700 apartments and rooms were rented in Karbala and Najaf as safe houses. Sadr's ability to influence the Iraqi people was further enhanced by 300 "reporters" and "technicians" working for his newspaper, radio and television networks -- persons who are actually members of the Al-Quds Army and Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

We also faced Chechen snipers in Sadr's forces who were being paid anywhere from $500 to $10,000, depending on differing accounts, for each American soldier they hit. One sniper hit five soldiers in less then a minute-and-a-half, killing one with a shot in the neck. These mercenaries were sending this money back to Al-Qaeda-allied guerrillas in Chechnya to fight the Russians.

We also have constantly faced Lebanese and Palestinian Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon mixed in the fighting. Their claim to fame for the killing of 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1983 is something we have had to consider every day and on every mission.

http://www.nationalcenter.org/2004/06/here-in-baghdad-we-are-facing-serious.html

More from your "screed":

If it is our goal to set an example of participatory democracy in Iraq, it behooves us to be more tolerant of opposing views; allowing Sadr to vent his spleen and have a voice in the birth of Iraq's sovereign government would have neutralized him by taking away his motivation for causing trouble.

And you want Al Sadr "have a voice." Its a real shame your gift for sarcasm isn't matched by any knowledge of facts. That is how one finds onself playing the role of the fool. This kind of bizarre thinking plagues the whole Democratic party. Now I understand why you guys want to put our national security in the hands of the UN. They would do a better job than the Democrats.

Posted by: HA at June 28, 2004 04:12 AM

As of June 28th, Iraq is offically a sovereign nation. This action completely changes the political landscape in the ME.

Despite what the doom and gloom naysayers are saying, the war on terror is succeeding.

Watch for the people of Iran to rise up and rebel against their oppressive government.

Posted by: syn at June 28, 2004 08:10 AM

HA, you are one funny dude. Bush is allowing al Sadr to have "a voice"! Back in April the talk was, We're going to get SAadr, dead or alive! Now, even though we are calling it a victory(!), Sadr is a free man who will be setting up a political party! That's victory for us? We have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat, as Churchill said back in 1938.

You say "the war on terror is succeeding." Fine. I am willing to believe you. Here's qhat I need to know first:

What paramteters are you using to measure this success? The State Department's re-edited report says terrorism has soared. What are your figures to back you up? If it is indeed succeeding, it follows of course that the world is a safer place. Is it? Would they agree with you in Spain, in Turkey, in Saudi Arabia, in Russia. In Iraq? In Afghanistan? Share with us -- we really want to know.

Posted by: richard at June 28, 2004 10:14 AM

Bravo Bush! This is Zarqawi's worst nightmare, not to mention John Kerry's. An Iraqi government with UN and NATO backing. That's gotta hoit!

Posted by: PJ at June 28, 2004 11:35 AM

Yes, we sure are winning. From today's WaPo:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10539-2004Jun27.html

When the war began 15 months ago, the president's Iraq policy rested on four broad principles: The United States should act preemptively to prevent strikes on U.S. targets. Washington should be willing to act unilaterally, alone or with a select coalition, when the United Nations or allies balk. Iraq was the next cornerstone in the global war on terrorism. And Baghdad's transformation into a new democracy would spark regionwide change....

"Of the four principles, three have failed, and the fourth -- democracy promotion -- is hanging by a sliver," said Geoffrey Kemp, a National Security Council staff member in the Reagan administration and now director of regional strategic programs at the Nixon Center.

The president has "walked away from unilateralism. We're not going to do another preemptive strike anytime soon, certainly not in Iran or North Korea. And it looks like terrorism is getting worse, not better, especially in critical countries like Saudi Arabia," Kemp said.

That's from a Reagan NSC member, not Matthew Yglesias. Just one more disillusioned Republican, fed up with a war on terror that has only made terror worse and more widespread than ever, while bankrupting the US treasury for a generation to come.

Posted by: richard at June 28, 2004 02:48 PM

Richard, what gov't programs will Kerry cut to stop the gov't from taking and wasting so much? If you can't list a few hundred billion in cuts, you're harping about deficits is more just ... envy supporting tax hikes gov't taking & wasting more.
Kerry's site certainly doesn't list cuts that I saw quickly; not worth looking too much.

Democracy in Iraq IS, already, sparking change. But building democratic changes takes LOTS of time. Try planting a sugar maple -- it takes some 40 years before you can get sap for maple syrup.

You do have a good point on terror, on defining the measure. Well, what IS Kerry's measure, the Dem measure, the Leftist measure? Certainly there's been less against Americans in America. But the 25 year rise (from the end of the Shah), intermittent, is not easy to measure.

Does Rwanda count? Does Darfur? Kosovo? If you want to criticize, you should at least put in the effort to define the standard.

Here's an example, if you don't understand. Bremer failed to get local elections in lots of cities, and the caucus style local city councils do NOT have budgetary authority. I think (not sure) this was a mistake; and will be changed soon. How much money Iraqs make decisions on is the measure.

Posted by: Tom Grey at June 29, 2004 01:44 AM

Military action from Kerry? Don't make me laugh. At least I didn't waste any coffee or Diet Cola when I did.

Posted by: David R. Block at June 29, 2004 02:41 PM

Nothing much will happen to destabilize the other terror states until Iraqi oil is seriously ramped up as a replacement for the possible disruption of Saudi or Iranian oil. It's not just the US oil supply that matters, it's the world's oil supplies that must be protected. Our economies are too closely alligned to think a Japan without oil wouldn't seriously damage our economy as well. That's the race we are in with the Mullahs'.

Posted by: Gary B at June 29, 2004 08:44 PM

So are we all going to meet at the recruiting office? No? I didn't think so, you bunch of chicken hawk cowards.

Posted by: gus at June 30, 2004 10:47 AM

Tom Grey -- I can't list a couple hundred billion in cuts that ought to be made, and neither can you. To cut spending, I would cut agriculture subsidies a bunch, certain weapons systems a little, and a good bit of the NASA budget, and probably a bunch of small programs with budgets in the eight and nine figures. And this wouldn't add up to much.
The lions share of government spending is health care and a monthly check for retired seniors, the military budget, and interest on previous deficits. These add up to something like 70% of all federal spending. Add in health care, food stamps and housing subsidies for really, really poor people, and you're up beyond 80%. You can't cut spending meaningfully without saying "screw you" to either a large voting bloc (senior citizens) or to the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society (mostly children). The fact is, we are the most undertaxed industrialized nation on the face of the earth.

Posted by: Markus Rose at June 30, 2004 04:39 PM

Pretty tough talk from Bush-loving wimp.

I left the Marine Corps as a Sergeant. My brother is Lieutenant Colonel now wasting his time in Iraq.

We're the folks you want to "sabre-rattle."

Die, wimp.

Posted by: Mark at June 30, 2004 09:47 PM

where is your brain/ethics, etc? war mongering in the name of the usa is a criminal offense, see
gw bush, 21st century tool of the other peoples money spenders. there is no justification for
killing others for trying to become as we already are, i.e., well armed and able to fend off any challenge with the threat of atomic disaster...
morons without honor or ethics kill for money.

Posted by: xaxx at June 30, 2004 09:54 PM

where is your brain/ethics, etc? war mongering in the name of the usa is a criminal offense, see
gw bush, 21st century tool of the other peoples money spenders. there is no justification for
killing others for trying to become as we already are, i.e., well armed and able to fend off any challenge with the threat of atomic disaster...
morons without honor or ethics kill for money.

Posted by: xaxx at June 30, 2004 09:55 PM

Sorry to double-post this, but I believe this is an important story that isn't getting enough coverage:

U.S. expels 2 guards at Iran's UN mission for filming

The United States has expelled two security guards at Iran's United Nations mission after they were observed filming New York landmark buildings and parts of the city's transportation system, American officials said Tuesday.

"They were asked to leave because we were very concerned about their activities, which weren't compatible with their stated duties," said Richard Grenell, the spokesman for the U.S. mission.

The language is common diplomatic- speak for espionage cases.

The two men were ordered out this last weekend after Iranian guards were seen for the third time in two years videotaping bridges, tunnels, the Statue of Liberty and other landmark buildings, according to an American diplomat who asked not to be named.

He said the pair were not the same two men who had been seen in earlier incidents in June 2002 and November 2003. The men, who were not identified, left Saturday night, the official said.

Does any branch of the military take 40-year old fat guys with bad knees and eyesight? If so, I'll join any of you ostrich doves down at the recruiting center. If not, I'll stay here in reality and try to make the case that we are not out of the fucking woods vis-a-vis state-sponsored terrorism.

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 1, 2004 12:42 PM

"Die, wimp."

Semper fi.

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 1, 2004 12:49 PM
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