September 11, 2004

Four Words

Here we are on the third anniversary of September 11, 2001, and John Kerry is getting clobbered in the polls. Is anyone really surprised? Does anyone think the odds of him winning are greater than 50 percent?

Bush's post-convention bounce seems to be sticking.

Here is the latest from Time:

Last week’s seismic voter shift to George W. Bush showed no signs of dwindling in this week’s Time Poll. Bush continues to lead Democratic challenger John Kerry among likely voters by double digits, 52% - 41%, in the three way race, with Nader at 3%, the same as last week.
Yesterday Mark Poling said in my comments section that John Kerry could easily beat George W. Bush with a platform that looked something like this:
Good war, bad occupation, but I'll make Iraq right, and I won't make the same mistakes with our other enemies...
Yep.

You could reduce it even further, all the way down to four words:

Good war, bad occupation.
That's it. Done. Some people would argue with that. But independents and swing voters wouldn't.

It amazes me that neither Kerry nor any of his highly-paid advisors could come up with these four simple words.

If you want to appeal to the middle, you have to know where the middle is. Centrists may be "wishy washy" when it comes to our two political parties. But that doesn't mean centrists are wishy-washy on terrorism. Bush beats Kerry by a whopping and insurmountable 23 points on this issue.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 11, 2004 02:57 PM
Comments

Say what? That's exactly Kerry's position.

Over and over he's said that he supported military action, but would have done it differently.

Posted by: Oberon at September 11, 2004 03:20 PM

A bounce that sticks is not a bounce, it's a shift. Bush breaking 50 percent in the national polls is a sign of pending victory. ABB was never a viable candidate; Kerry is the candidate trying to replace Bush, and he hasn't presented a viable case to unseat the incumbent.

Posted by: Zacek at September 11, 2004 03:21 PM

"Good war, bad occupation"--- MJT

Once again I am impressed that there appears to be a wilful intent on the part of 'centrists' to misconstrue reality and indeed to AVOID reality.
You seem to believe that all Kerry has to do is SAY something different from what he has been saying.Say this;say that;just make it sound good and everything will be all right.Do you really mean that? Is that all you want;to have something 'said'?
Kerry's problem and the problem of his dysfunctional party is that what they believe is fundamentally opposed to what you want them to say.The party does NOT believe that is was a 'Good War'.It largely believes that it was a 'Bad War',and the whole DNC was an exercise in trying to conceal that little fact.What,if anything,Kerry believes is basically unknowable.I frankly think he believes only in JFK and nothing else.
It is not what is not being said that has destroyed Kerry's campaign;it is the moral and intellectual decay that underlies the current Democratic Party.Whether understood implicitly or merely 'sensed'by the electorate,it is that flaw,not the lack of some insincere verbal gymnastic,that has made him into a pandering loser(a well deserved loser,IMHO,as well).

Posted by: dougf at September 11, 2004 03:24 PM

To respond to my own comment, Kerry's position has been fairly consistent, but woefully inadequate -- he has not explained HOW he could have done things differently (the French and Germans were never going in with us), nor is he saying how he would fix the situation going forward(except to get more international support, which ain't gonna happen).

"Good war, bad occupation" isn't nearly enough of a platform.

Posted by: Oberon at September 11, 2004 03:30 PM

Kerry doesn't know how he would have done, or will do, things differently. The few times he's opened his mouth on the subject have only exposed his folly.

A few months back he was saying that HIS policy would call for our allies to help us carry the load. Then days later, the Germans said they wouldn't send any troops to Iraq under any circumstances. The Arabs too rebuffed the possibility. Well that pretty much shut Kerry up in a hurry about that.

Then Kerry started talking about how he was going to pull troops out in x number of months, and the folly of that was self-evident because now he'd told the terrorists/insurgents that they only had to hold out for another 6 months and then the U.S. would leave, giving them a run of the place.

Kerry has been mostly ambiguous about his Iraq policy because DOESN'T KNOW what he would do differently.

Posted by: David at September 11, 2004 04:06 PM

"Dougf" has it right. It's not enough to "say" something in this campaign or any campaign, really.

In a democracy, we vote for people to represent us and in whom we can trust to make the day to day decisions in running the government since we can't all vote on every single item that is needed to get things done. This is why we vote for senators and representatives. We vote for the person who best matches our own philosophies in life.

That's the point when we should leave them the heck alone and allow them to make decisions. If we don't like those decisions, we have an opportunity to vote again at the end of their term.

It's largely the same way for the president, only MUCH more important. We want to see a president who has a strong sense of right and wrong, of being able to distinguish between just and unjust... etc. In other words, someone who has a strong, principled outlook on life.

Senator Kerry has seemed to vacilate on his "principles" way too much for most people. Allow me to break this down to a simple analogy. (Way over simplified, but I think you can see what I mean.) Bush seems to be the parent that is loving, yet unyielding when it comes to appropriate disciplining of his children. When he says, "no candy until after supper"... he means it and God help you if you sneak some candy.

Senator Kerry on the other hand, seems to be the type of parent that under the same scenario of telling his child, "no candy until after dinner" he could be manipulated into allowing the candy because mommy doesn't mind, or because he doesn't want to deal with the fall out of the crying... etc.

During these unsure and dangerous times, we want and crave a leader that knows wrong from right and doesn't equivocate on the subject matter. Someone who isn't afraid to stand up to the rest of the world when it comes to our security and quite frankly, can see the forest for the trees when it comes to short-sighted appeasement of anti war demonstrators and the like.

I only wish the liberals of this country would have just left him alone to make the decisions that he was elected in office and given authority to make. Our country would have been much less divided had that occured. (Now and back in the Vietnam era.)

Posted by: Dan Sherman at September 11, 2004 04:10 PM

Dougf: Is that all you want; to have something 'said'?

Well, no. I would have to assume Kerry meant what he said. Obviously it is too late for that now. Even if he does say what I think he should say, it won't stop me from assuming he's just positioning himself yet again.

Oberon, a few days ago Kerry said Iraq was the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is a very different thing from "good war, bad occupation."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 11, 2004 04:11 PM

Michael,

The only thing I can see that is problemmatical is how would the occupation be done better? Not listen to the Iraqi government and the Shi'ia leadership, leveled Fallusha and the Ali Mosque?

IMHO, John Kerry is clueless. At least the President and his guys have some ideas (however bad) and are seeing some results.

Regards,

Jim Bender

http://dreadnought-cruisers.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Jim Bender at September 11, 2004 04:26 PM

Jim: The only thing I can see that is problemmatical is how would the occupation be done better?

Oh, I know. That is extremely complicated and hard. But this isn't a post about military strategy, it's about campaign strategy.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 11, 2004 04:30 PM

"Good war, bad occupation" might be attractive to centrists but it would horrify the Deaniac base. That's why Kerry keeps sending out mixed signals about Iraq. If he comes out unequivocally in favor of the war, he'll alienate all the lovely people who were marching in the streets here in my hometown ten days ago.

Posted by: Allah at September 11, 2004 04:33 PM

Not so fast!
Time poll might be right, but it strikes me as an far outlier.

Newsweek has it at 5.
Zogby has it at 2.
Fox has it at 2.
Rasmussen has it at 1.

You can take the average. Or you can guess that one or several are working off a bad model. Who knows for sure? The CW likes the dramatic story, but we'll just have to see....

Posted by: Tano at September 11, 2004 05:35 PM

A fundamental blunder, Kerry's failure to move to the center. With Edwards on the ticket, he's in a perfect position to do so. But it looks as though they're going with, "We'll just energize our lefty base, and win by getting a big turnout of true believers." How positively Dukak-esque.

The Deaniacs are not going to vote for Bush or Nader no matter how horrified they may be by centrist talk. It's past time (going on two weeks past) to stop preaching to the choir.

Posted by: Jack Bog at September 11, 2004 05:55 PM

A lot of people who are "anybody but Bush" are simply not going to vote this year. They want Bush out, but they don't really like Kerry, and are liking him less and less by the week.
So rather than give Kerry a stamp of approval that they don't feel, many won't vote.
Not voting says "none of the above," no one excites them as a voter. And secretly, many are scared to death of a Kerry presidency.

Posted by: Marvin Thulenberg at September 11, 2004 06:09 PM

There is only one question that voters are going to be asking themselves when they go to vote in November. In 2000 I voted for Al Gore simply because I liked him and couldn't really stand Bush. I thought Bush was arrogant and a total ass. I also went through a time when I felt the Florida polls were rigged. But, 3 years ago on this very night, sitting in a motel room, while out of town on business,I became grateful for the people who didn't vote the same ticket as what I had. When 9/11 happened I knew instantly that Gore wouldn't have been up to what we were going to have to do.

Bush IS arrogant, but, maybe thats part of what makes him so determined to do what he feels is best for us, regardless of who he pisses off. He doesn't change his mind or back down when the pressure is on. He marches forward and to hell with you if you don't like it. We need his strength and his perserverance.

I think our enemies would love for us to elect Kerry. I think we would be fools to give them what they want..

Not any of the things that we think is important will mean anything on Election day. We won't give a crap about what anyone did or didn't do 30 years ago. We won't be electing who we think it is that might do the most for stem cell research, we won't elect who we think will give us tax breaks, and I absolutely won't ever vote my heart instead of my mind again..

We are at war and as a country we are still very vulnerable. So, on election day, that will be what's on our minds. Do we want a President whose capabilities we know and who has proven that he backs up his words with actions? Or, do we want a President that noone knows anything about?

Posted by: Cathy at September 11, 2004 06:42 PM

The Bush-Kerry gap in the polls will probably narrow ( apparently that is already happening ), but I predict it will widen again as we get closer to the election and people REALLY focus on Bush vs Kerry.

I think Michael is correct regarding the proper message for Kerry. But I think it is too late. He has already been tagged correctly as a flip-flopper and an elitist, northeastern, wind-surfing "liberal" ( leftist really ) with his finger to the wind.

But as I have stated before, the problem is not just the candidate, but the fact that Kerry is himself a reflection of the intellectual bankruptcy of the Democrat Party.

The Democrats have spent decades building and pandering to coalition of interest groups in order to maintain and expand their power, and as a result, they have find themselves in the position of being unable to do anything bold, lest they piss off one of their "groups". Democrats are no longere about ideas. They are about power for the sake of power. To compound problems for Democrats, the belief in social engineering and centralized statist decision-making has largely evaporated in the past 30 years, save the clueless people in academia, almost all of whom are Democrats.

Meanwhile, Republicans have spent the past 30 years cultivating ideas and presenting a clear philosophy of government to the American public..a philosophy which harkens to and reflects the essence of our greatness, and our uniqueness as a nation : individual liberty, accountability, and boundless opportunity. Hence Republicans have captured the flag and the American imagination.

Now Kerry finds himself in a box. He appeals to the hard-Left base of the Democrat Party and he alienates swing voters. Then he appeals to swing voters and alienates the base. Either way he loses. Bush does not have this problem, because Bush is articulating a few themes built around a few BIG IDEAS, and he is hitting those ideas over and over and over.

People know where Bush stands. Not so with Kerry. Kerry could still win, but if he does it will be by default because something unexpected happens in the next 7 weeks. Baring such, I expect a decisive Bush win...maybe even a landslide.

Posted by: freeguy at September 11, 2004 06:48 PM

I think freeguy has it exactly right. It was obvious from 2002 that the Democrats had decided it was more important to try to regain power than to maintain national unity in the war on terror. The tragedy is that had they stood with the Republicans on what they have to know was a just war, the mainstream Democrats would have been in a position to constructively criticize the problems of the post-war period. Instead because their cravenness was apparent nearly from the start, their criticisms seem political. If only a genuinely talented man of substance and talent was running this year (Lieberman had the substance but not the talent), many of us could be considering a Democratic vote. As it is I stand by my earlier statement. A Kerry victory means we broadcast to the world that the war on terror was a mistake and we capitulate. It didn't have to be that way but that's the way it is. The vast middle understands this and that is why Bush is going to win big. It will be a mandate to carry on the war against our enemies. I hope he will be bolder and wiser as well in the second term.

Posted by: Doug at September 11, 2004 07:26 PM

geez Cathy,
What about the obvious point. That he is strong, resolute, determined and WRONG. That he is utterly incompetent as a war leader. He started well, but left the job undone. Taliban controls SE Afghanistan as we speak. Al-Q metastasizing. He then started a major war against the wrong enemy. And did so without a clue as to what he was getting us into, or what he would do once we arrived in Baghdad.

Gore, Kerry, even Nader would have done the same in Afghanistan after 9/11. The course was obvious, and had unanimous support. Bush handled himself well those days, but many others could have as well. It was afterward, in the framing of the larger struggle, and its execution, that he has proven totally at sea. But hey, he goes in straight lines!

Yeah - he is a known quantity all right. And resolute. I prefer someone less likely to take us off a cliff.

Posted by: Tano at September 11, 2004 07:30 PM

It's not the "four words" that are lacking MT. It is the delivery. Kerry is incapable of making anyone believes he will stick to his guns about ANYTHING.

He just has no history of doing so. What Kerry needs can't be acquired now. He needs a history of sticking to an unambiguous position, on couple of issues, over time, in the face of a barrage of criticism. He has no such history.

The four words are insufficient.

Posted by: spc67 at September 11, 2004 07:37 PM

spc67: The four words are insufficient.

At this point, yeah probably. It's a coulda, woulda, shoulda deal now.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 11, 2004 07:48 PM

freeguy,
I cant believe you can write that sanctimonius crap.

You seriously believe that the GOP hasnt been building an alliance of interest groups? You think the Christian fundies arent an interest group? You think the corporate elites are not an interest group? You think the K street crowd, who is now not only getting most of what they want, but getting to write the legislation itself - you think that is something other than interest politics?
And what are the great ideas of the GOP? Tax cuts! And pass the debt onto our kids! How many times do we have to go through this? Reagan managed to quadruple the deficit in 8 short years. Bush has gone from a projected 10 year surplus of 5 trillion bucks to a deficit of 5 trillion. Can you wrap your mind around that? 10 trillion bucks! And dont give me this war explanation - all the wars and dislocation from 9/11 dont cost a fraction of that amount.

THe GOP big idea is actually the flip side of the scam that democrats used to run - I'll give you something for nothing. Dems used to propose all manner of programs, and not pay much attention to where the money came from. Now republicans promise the great free lunch of tax cuts, but dont slow down spending one bit, and hope that you care so little about your children's future that you will take the money and run.
Cuz thats all that they are doing....

Posted by: Tano at September 11, 2004 07:53 PM

Tano

Your partisan tendency to argue everything through the biased lens of the here and now without regard to historical comparison is staggering. In historical terms, which War did we fight with fewer mistakes? Point it out and explain it.

The Civil War? Hell no! General McClelland desired to avoid risking casualties and as a result never would have won. Lincoln recognized this and turned to General Grant because he had one thing the other Generals didn’t RESOLVE. At this point mistakes is not the main measure Bush supporters use in making their decisions to support him RESOLVE is. Our choices are limited, nuanced arguing can’t cover the spread.

If one could convince us Kerry where more like a Robert E. Lee, the Confederate General who if he had the resources available to the North no doubt would have kicked Grant and everyone else’s asses (Lincoln begged for him first with good reason), then you could make the sale. Unfortunately Kerry looks more like McClelland to me and most others, Kerry blew that chance.

So Tano, our choices are Bush, the bungling man with steely RESOLVE, or Kerry the man like McClelland who is too nuanced and self interested to be trusted. At this point I see it thus, I’m sure most who see Bush’s flaws yet support him agree. That is the threshold you are dealing with, Kerry’s window is fast closing.

Posted by: Samuel at September 11, 2004 10:12 PM

Huh,
Samuel, you really dont get it do you?

Conflating the Iraq situation with the war on islamic jihadis was the mistake. Investing 140K troops, many of them reservists, in a war to oust a secular dictator, when we were attacked by islamist fundamentalists was the mistake. Putting the real war on the back burner was the mistake.

I dont give a damn how resolved you are if you are marching down the wrong road. In fact, when going down the wrong road, resolve is your worst enemy. Judgement, wisdom, intellegence - those are mighty handy attributes in a leader as well.

Capece? Its not the mistakes IN the war that I am concerned with - its the larger mistake about who the enemy is that is the problem. Grant had resolve, and he also knew that the enemy was to the south, not in Canada.

And I am not saying that Saddam should have been ignored. He was in a box, pressure could have been applied more. We had the ability to, perhaps, resolve that situation, without war, and while carrying on the real war. But from the perspective on the overall WoT, it was not anywhere near a high priority, especially for putting the bulk of our military force there for several years.

Posted by: Tano at September 11, 2004 10:38 PM

My God, I think I actually just agreed with Tano. What is the world coming to? And I think he's making the strongest case, quite honestly. The one Kerry should have made from the start: That Iraq and the War on Terror are two entirely different things and that, maybe, the former is hurting the latter. If he would have said this from the start, that the decision to invade Iraq was detrimental to the War on Terror, things would be a whole hell of alot different right about now.

We were attacked by radical Islamic fundamentalists. There are alot of countries that support radical Islamist fundamentalism. Iraq wasn't one of them. Nor was the situation with Saddam Hussein in any way a crisis. We dicked around with the guy for years and years all through the 90's and I don't think the situation would have changed a whole lot.

I think if Kerry had picked this line of argument from the start and stuck with it...that the invasion hurt the War on Terror and that we should have stuck around in Afghanistan to finish the job instead...he'd be making a pretty strong argument for why George Bush needs to go. It doesn't say much about what he would do in Iraq today, which is a major flaw, granted, but it seriously challenges Bush in a way he's not really being challenged otherwise: At the heart of his presidency.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at September 11, 2004 11:57 PM

PS...

Can we call this fantasy campaign strategy "Howard Dean for Grownups"?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at September 12, 2004 12:00 AM

Well Grant and Tano we live in different worlds don't we?...

That Iraq and the War on Terror are two entirely different things and that, maybe, the former is hurting the latter.

These are two different things? Yea and Korea and Vietnam had little to do with the Cold War. Daniel Ortega was a freedom fighter and equally laughable is "we had Saddam in a box". Well hooray for us, we had him in a box! Man that is diminished reasoning to me, excuses for accepting the unacceptable.

Not a high road perspective from those who take much more for granted then I. WBut what the hell, who gives a damn about the genocide we finally put an end to in Iraq? Further, perching ourselves astride Iran and lateral to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria etc., is just something I think is not only relevant, but necessary and ingenious in this generational struggle with Islamo-Fascism. A Marshall type plan of generational change requires our presence for a long time in each State we suceed in. Disagree all you want but guys I painted Bush in the worst light and you gladly chose and pounced. For me Bush is more a Lincoln then Grant yet, I could only imagine what you would say about Lincoln.

He lied! He was only going to "Preserve the Union" and now he says it is about "Freeing the Slaves"! Well excuse me, we went into Iraq for many reasons and those that choose to view it through supporting eyes see the reasons clearly. I hate to sound pompous but the lives of the Iraqis are more precious to me then to be so overlooked in the reasoning and excuses coming from the do nothing left. This is why I can't find comfort in such ranks anymore. Bush gave his reasoning’s and there were many. Yet the cynical focus on the more legalistic one by the left is not credible and insulting, especially when everyone bought thet argument.

It is Saddams fault for deceiving the World and not abiding by the terms to prove himself clean of such weaponry. To me in a post 911 world having "Saddam in a box" just isn't good enough when the breach of a ceasefire and his menacing ways gave us more then cause. The WMD's could have been there just as much as not and it would have been the height of irresponsibility to not assume the worst in a Post 911 world. You guys preach détente and appeasement... YUUK! Bush rightly said those days were past and thank God, I am sorry you can’t agree with that.

My true question went unanswered. What war in our history have we prosecuted with fewer errors? Also when someone refers currently to Iraq as "going after the wrong enemy" or “he had nothing to do with 911” I say to you such people get very little anyway. Else why such mischaracterization of policy?

Didn't us sitting back letting Saddam thumb his nose at us for the whole world to see do much to feed the notion to Osama and others that we had no stomach or resolve for the fight? Also even more over your heads is going after Iraq proved to the World the more critical lesson. That lesson is that vengeance for 911 was not the main point, the policy of pre-emption was. I am sorry Iraq is not worthy of such pre-emption to some. I mean Iraq only breached the Ceasefire, kicked out the inspectors, attempted to assassinate a President, and made War against our aircraft in the no-fly zone, so what is the bar? Must it be the even more dangerous members of the Axis of evil?

Look our President chose to go where it would be hardly accepted, arguing Korea or Iran isn't credible because those in opposition to Iraq would have been more opposed to the others. I feel Iraq was the obvious choice as the first implementation of the policy of pre-emption. Perhaps Bush will go after Iraq next, fine with me, we had grown so used to such a world that a “Saddam Exception” would have to rule for him to stay in power. Also now his basturd Son’s will never have the opportunity to rule. But what's that to those willing to simply keep him "in a box" in apost 911 world.

The real truth is what makes this President a hero to me, you two see as reasons to denigrate… no thanks!

Posted by: Samuel at September 12, 2004 01:11 AM

Kerry is losing because he is running a totally awful campaign.

For an excellent disection of it, and the losers working on it, see here

"Pretty much everything's off the table except for some Kerry rhetoric which no one believes about a health plan and taxing people who make more than $200,000. As Bush told the crowds in Ohio, the Kerry plan will never fly because everyone knows the rich don't pay taxes anyway"...

"At a quick count, off the agenda of debate this year are the role of the Federal Reserve; trade policy; economic redistribution; nuclear disarmament; reduction of the military budget and the allocation of military procurement; the role of the World Bank, IMF, WTO; crime, punishment and the prison explosion; the war on drugs; corporate welfare; forest policy; the destruction of small farmers and ranchers; Israel; Cuba; the corruption of the political system. The CIA is on the table but not in encouraging way since Kerry touts the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission which wants to back to the era before the Church hearings of the mid-70s. The Senate and House Democrats are now backing off opposition to Bush's nominee as CIA director, Rep Porter Goss, seemingly on a signal from the Kerry Campaign...."

Are the Democrats pathetic?

Don't ask stupid questions.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 12, 2004 01:55 AM

Who said this?

"Political campaigns are the graveyard of real ideas and the birthplace of empty promises."

Teresa Heinz, just before she married Kerry! :-)

Posted by: Benjamin at September 12, 2004 02:02 AM

MJT,

Good war, bad occupation

There are two problems with this. First, Kerry would have problem reconciling "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time" with your proposed theme.

Second, the base of the Democratic party would choke on the "Good war" half of your formulation. Among the left-wing activists, intellectuals and media elite, by definition any American war is a BAD war because America itself is an evil nation built on slavery, genocide, sexism and imperialism. Unless of course we have the moral cover of the Soviets as allies.

The Democratic base is willing to bite their tongue and accept Kerry's ambiguities, waffling and lies in order to defeat Bush. But if Kerry should win, they will turn against him and will openly advocate for immediate withdrawal.

How do you think Kerry would react when the anti-war left starts throwing Kerry's 1971 views in his face? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for the wrong war in the wrong war at the wrong time? Confronted with this paraphrasiing of his own words, would Kerry have the resolve to stay the course in Iraq, or would he cut and run?

I think Kerry would cut and run. Just as he advocated in Vietnam. And just like in Vietnam, there would be a bloodbath. The only difference between the bloodbath in the wake of Vietnam, and the one that would occur in Iraq is that the Iraq bloodbath would follow the troops home.

Posted by: HA at September 12, 2004 04:45 AM

Kerry's quote "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" came in response to an audience question, so there's no transcript available to check the context.

But if you read Kerry's speech that day, his talk on Iraq is 100% limited to criticizing the way it was handled. In every speech, every public pronouncment, Kerry has said that he favored taking on Hussein, but if in charge he would have done it all differently.

Bush occasionally goes off message too (war on terror is unwinnable, anyone?)

I guess you'd prefer to hear Kerry argue more that this war was "Good." Certainly if you read his speech he doesn't not argue about the "goodness" of invading Iraq.

But I tell you one thing, if Kerry ever said "good war, bad occupation," his opponents would scream "flip-flop".

Posted by: Oberon at September 12, 2004 05:19 AM

Michael: Good war, bad occupation?

How about:

Coalition of the coerced and bribed
A more sensitive war
How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time

These are the memes associated with Kerry. Probably fairly earned too as this is when 'his flatness' actually showed signs of life.

Here is my favorite prediction for Kerry and the Dems:
This magnificent epithet was posted by a psychic on July 29, 2004

As far as I can see it is going to be massive: a Tsunami of rejection; a battering of the Bozos with no ref to stop the fight in the sixth round; a comet impacting dead center in the Democratic Fantasy World and smothering all but the deepest burrowing small rodents in a layer of ash half a mile thick; ... ...an "L" branded on the forehead of the Democratic party so large and so deep that travel agencies from Japan will divert a whole season of Grand Canyon tours to the nearest Kerry Compound just so they can marvel and photograph themselves standing at the brink.

Cheers

Posted by: jdwill at September 12, 2004 06:57 AM

Oberon,

But I tell you one thing, if Kerry ever said "good war, bad occupation," his opponents would scream "flip-flop".

Are you claiming that Kerry is NOT a flip-flopper? Are you claiming that Kerry's multitide of positions are principled and consistent?

A yes or no answer would suffice. But I suspect you won't be so candid. I suspect you will use the concept of "nuance" as a blunt instrument to have it both ways. Just like Kerry does.

Posted by: HA at September 12, 2004 07:08 AM

I think people on both sides who're predicting the outcome are doing wishful thinking.

It's reached the point that there aren't all that many undecideds. It will probably be decided more by how many people who say they've chosen, don't care enough to get to the polls. (And maybe by trickery, Diebold etc) The opinion polls don't tell us that much because we can't really tell which people will actually vote.

I tend to think it will still be decided more by who's for Bush or against Bush, than by who's for Kerry. Bush has gotten a lot of fanatical supporters and fanatical enemies. If you're strongly against Bush then you'll go out of your way to vote against him provided Kerry doesn't look even worse -- and maybe even if Kerry does look even worse. Because Kerry hasn't proven it yet.

The various arguments about who'll be for or against Bush are mostly flawed. Democrats say that the military ought to vote against Bush. They point out the various ways Bush has shafted the military. But they forget that our soldiers understand that they've volunteered for sacrifice. They're ready to die if necessary for Bush's war. Are they going to vote against him just because he took money that was promised them and gave it to a bunch of rich people? Maybe. But what's a little money sacrifice when they're already risking their lives? So the VA hospitals aren't getting funding, is that a reason to vote against Bush? Bush saddled them with Rumsfeld, who threw away the army's TPFD and nearly got us mangled the first week of the war. The only thing that saved us was the iraqis were just as incompetent to run a war as Rumsfeld was. And Cheney saddled the army with Halliburton, who got the contract to provide a whole lot of support services in a war zone, things the army maybe should have done for itself. Halliburton was the only one that could do the job, so it was an expensive no-bid contract. Then it turned out that Halliburton wasn't up to doing the job either.

After vietnam we got the truly bright idea of sending in the reserves with every large operation. Vietnam had too many professional officers who painted a rosy picture of the war because they cared about their own service records. The reservists would give a more honest picture. It's working, or something is working. We are trying out new ideas and seeing that they don't work and trying out more new ideas a whole lot faster than in vietnam. We got down the list to Vietnamization in barely a year. The reserves aren't giving us a consistent story about iraq, some of them say that we're making very good progress. So it's pretty much up in the air which way the army will vote.

We have a million fewer guys employed than we did when Bush took office. Is that a million votes for Kerry? No, for one thing they might not blame it on Bush. Bush has given us the biggest fiscal stimulus in american history, along with the biggest deficit in history, and the biggest monetary stimulus in history. And what we got from it is the weakest recovery since the depression. No mainstream economists say Bush did it well, except for some government employees who've sacrificed their professional reputations. But the professional economist vote is very small, and how many others believe them? People who're considerably worse off now than they were 4 years ago might not blame Bush for it. And it isn't that we have a million people who got fired and haven't found jobs. We have a lot of job turnover, and some people who've been out of work for 3 years, or 2 years, or a year have gotten worse jobs that they're happy to get, while other people have lost jobs recently. If you lose your job a month or two before the election you'll feel like you can get another one pretty quick and you certainly won't blame Bush for it. So just having a bad employment record may not hurt him at all.

Then there's security and anti-terrorism. It's hard to tell how well we're doing because it's secret. We probably did very well at getting rid of al qaeda cells in the USA because there have been no publicised terrorist attacks in the USA since 9/11. We have done essentially nothing to make the USA more defensible, no port safety etc, and the major part of the money that should have gone to such things got ssent to Montana and other unlikely terrorist targets that happen to be red states. Attempts to take the war to the enemy have mostly not worked well. We did disrupt the al qaeda training camps in afghanistan and kill several thousand al qaeda infantrymen; those gains are history now -- there could easily be new al qaeda training camps in the parts of afghanistan we can't visit; we wouldn't know. Other countries have captured a collection of senior al qaeda members who are apparently easily replaced. We haven't done well, but not so terribly that it's obvious to everybody that ABB would be better. Security and antiterrorism get announced as a Bush plus. By rights they ought to be a wash. No telling how it will really translate to voters getting to the polls.

Given Bush's record in office, any marginally-adequate politician should be able to beat him on an ABB ticket. Maybe it will turn out that Kerry can't. We'll have to see who bothers to vote.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 12, 2004 08:10 AM

'In historical terms, which War did we fight with fewer mistakes? "

Gulf War I comes immediately to mind.

The last panama incursion, though it was much smaller.

The spanish-american war, up to the point we double-crossed the filipino insurgents and started a bloody occupation.

The giant mistake in this war, though, was letting Rumsfeld micromanage it. That's a fundamental mistake.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 12, 2004 08:36 AM

Of course Kerry is a flip-flopper.

He fought in Viet Nam, and he then he opposed it.

Case closed.

Posted by: Oberon at September 12, 2004 09:03 AM

HA: on second thought, my previous post wasn't fair. I'll try again. Pick anyone of these answers:

1. Kerry is not nearly as much of a flip-flopper as his opponents claim.

2. Kerry's multitide of positions are at least as principled and consistent as Bush's multitude of positions.

3. If by "flip-flopper" you mean he as ever changed his mind, then my answer is yes. But if by "flip-flopper" you mean he lacks character or strong principles, then no.

Posted by: Oberon at September 12, 2004 09:14 AM

J Thomas
I think people on both sides who're predicting the outcome are doing wishful thinking

Maybe, but the link I provides addresses your points and then some

1) 95% of everybody who voted for Bush in 2000 is going to vote for him again. The other 5% will proclaim they won't but will split 60/40 for once they're in the booth and confronted with the name "John Kerry."

2) A significant number of Libertarians outside of the hard core is going to vote for Bush.

3) Some of the people who voted for Ralph in 2000 are going to vote for Bush, out of sheer dementia.[kinda like Palm Beach voters]

4) A jumbo chunk of those "swing' voters are going to vote for Bush. You can swing in your lifestyle but not in the voting booth. That's an either/or.

5) The most significant block of new votes will be the "stealth" Democrats who are now, or shortly will be, lying about voting for John Kerry. There are going to be a lot of these and neither the polls, nor the party, nor the friends or family of these voters will be detect them. Remember that the essential nature of the ballot is that it is "secret." You think they'll tell the exit pollers? Think again.

I think (5) will be complemented by disgusted and disheartened Dems who will stay home.

Your graf 2 looks like a lot of unfocused whining, so I'll leave it alone.

Part of the cost cutting and downsizing of the military after Vietnam did involve pushing certain support competencies into the Guard and Reserve. We are paying for that now, and reconsidering it.

I just watched John O'Neill and Robert Patterson (Reckless Disregard) on C-Span2 today (at a 9/10/04 event in CA) taking Kerry apart by the numbers. One of the facts that was discussed was that Bush 41 started a 10-15% 'peace dividend' cut on the military and Clinton put the pedal to the metal and went for 50%. Kerry supported this, I believe.

graf 3: Agreed in part - some of the bad news you cite is MSM spin with unseating Bush in mind. Some is structural changes forced on us by NAFTA, Chinese growth and manufacturing shift to Asia. Big stuff, not so easy to put on one party. But my biggest problem is an untrustworthy MSM - how can I know the real facts?

Security - I will defer to $lick on that. Also, this is a REALLY BIG war if you look at the percentage of the Muslim population that is infected with Islamism (the politicized Islam that lends itself to support of Jihadis) - it will be a long haul as advertised by Bush 43 early on.

Given Bush's record in office, any marginally-adequate politician should be able to beat him on an ABB ticket.

That's what the Dem primary looked like to me, too. Talk about your wishful thinking. ;->

Posted by: jdwill at September 12, 2004 09:27 AM

J Thomas

Gulf War I, if one measures by casualties alone could be considered a auccess, but that is just not credible. It was an abject failure because we left the tyant in power, allowed genocide ro prevail and taught both foe and ally that we could be pressured to "not finish". In fact those who point to this as a means to criticize Dubya prove as truly shory on understanding our policies in 2004 and why such changes in policy are necessary.

During Gulf War I we did not finish the job because the coalition would have "fallen apart". If that doesn't explain enough why deferring to supposed allies as a measure of our resolve and will as flawed then nothing will.

In short the result of Gulf War I was akin to Korea without the casualties, if that is success then we measure success differently and will never see eye to eye on the WOT. The Civil War, our most flawed endeavor from a casualty standpoint, was vastly more succesful then the first Gulf War because the final result exceeded the original objective. Not only was the Union preserved but the Slaves were freed.

Dubya is now in the process of correcting such wrongs. What people on the left see as success is why Ed Koch correctly notes the Democratic Party has niether the stomach or the will for the fight. People who now view Gulf I as "the model" live in a pre 911 mindset.

Posted by: Samuel at September 12, 2004 09:43 AM

I need to attribute what I posted earlier:

the link I provided

1) 95% of everybody who voted for Bush in 2000 is going to vote for him again. The other 5% will proclaim they won't but will split 60/40 for once they're in the booth and confronted with the name "John Kerry."

2) A significant number of Libertarians outside of the hard core is going to vote for Bush.

3) Some of the people who voted for Ralph in 2000 are going to vote for Bush, out of sheer dementia.[kinda like Palm Beach voters]

4) A jumbo chunk of those "swing' voters are going to vote for Bush. You can swing in your lifestyle but not in the voting booth. That's an either/or.

5) The most significant block of new votes will be the "stealth" Democrats who are now, or shortly will be, lying about voting for John Kerry. There are going to be a lot of these and neither the polls, nor the party, nor the friends or family of these voters will be detect them. Remember that the essential nature of the ballot is that it is "secret." You think they'll tell the exit pollers? Think again.

Posted by: jdwill at September 12, 2004 09:49 AM

Dubya is now in the process of messing up one of the clearest victories America ever had. Bush rallied the entire world to our cause, gave the military a specific mission that the military was designed to do, and routed and defanged the enemy without getting us stuck trying to run Iraq.

But W. is stuck in the pre-9/11 mindset -- he took the focus off our 9/11 enemies, Al Qaeda and the Wahhabist fundamentalists, in order to invade an old enemy which was not involved in 9/11, had pathetic WMD programs, and was not a prime supporter of terrorism.

Posted by: Oberon at September 12, 2004 09:59 AM

I fear I see a future in the comments here. If Kerry loses (if), then the ABB's will blame it on Kerry. No need to question basic assumptions, no need to wonder if they are wrong and (horrors) Bush might be right, no need to change their minds.

Of course, this has been the basic thrust of US intellectual activity for the last 30 years--don't actually do anything (why are activists oppossed to action?) but whatever you do for god's sake save the critique!!

jeez, I'm taking the dog hiking.

Posted by: lancer at September 12, 2004 10:10 AM

Samuel,

Yes. Iraq was a separate matter. And yes, the fundamental problem in Vietnam was that we viewed it as a battle in the larger cold war, while the actual people fighting us saw it as the final chapter in their decades-long fight against colonialism and foreign domination. And, of course, that was the truth. When we left, there was no influx of Soviet troops, or Soviet bases established, as we were constanly told that there would be by the hawks at the time. They were fighting for their freedom from having their national history determined by outsiders. And, interestingly enough, when left to their own devices, it took them less than a generation to work themselves out of the economic model that they had thought was best.

There was no ongoing "genocide" in Iraq. There was a brutal murderous regime, as there is today in many other countries. They persist, while you relax in comfort here in America. You allow those situations to persist and do nothing. Why are you not beating the drums for war in Zimbabwe, or Burma, or North Korea? Are those lives less precious than Iraqi lives? The point is, of course, that decisions about United States intervention in foreign countries, even for humanitarian reasons, need to be made in light of larger contextual questions. As you perfectly well know. Which is why you are not beating the drums for war in those other countries. And when you consider the context for an invasion of Iraq, I find the strong humanitarian case for war disintegrates.
It is not a legalistic critique. It is a critique based on strategic questions related to the war against islamic jihadists. And it further touches on the larger issues of how one goes about bringing freedom and democracy to a country that has never had it. I do not believe that democracy can be imposed, especially by an outside force. Being a good liberal, and campaigning for the spread of democracy does not necessarily lead to support for armed intervention in every non-democratic state. What you are espousing is not liberalism by itself. It is liberalism combined with profound ignorance about how the world works, and with the heady intoxication that comes with being a citizen of the uncontested superpower. Just because we can kick anyones ass, does not mean that we can remake the world by force. There is nothing less democratic than imposing political situations, even good ones, by force.

Placing the US military in the strategic position between Iran and the mediterranean middle east, and on top of the oil reserves, seems like a wonderful idea, in principal. Except that it seems increasingly unlikely that we are going to be able to stay there. It shouldnt be especially surprising. We were not invited in there by the people in the first place. Most of them were glad to be rid of Saddam, but that sure as hell doesnt mean that they want us to be there. Given their nationalism (a factor that exists in many countries, and one that we seem to have the habit of overlooking), and given their extreme wariness about our power (if we can decide to get rid of Saddam, and then do it, then we can decide anything about their future and proceed to do it - how do you think that makes them feel?), I would suspect that priority number one of any truly democratic government there would be to get us out.

As to your question: what war have we waged with fewer errors - I would answer: all of them.

Even Vietnam seems not to have suffered from so many and so catastrophic a set of errors as this one. Face reality Samuel. As things stand now, we are in the process of losing this war. I hope we dont. But after a year and a half, in a country with one-tenth of our population, and no standing army left, we do not control any of the major cities in the central sunni regions, we do not control even half of the capital city, the infrastructure is being blown up as quick as we rebuild it. And in a country where the islamic fundamentalists were under a very heavy thumb beforehand, we now have a situation where the most popular and powerful spiritual and political leaders are - islamic fundamentalists with strong ties to iran. And they achieved that popularity and standing wholly as a function of their oppostion to us. What a smahing success!

Do you even remember who we are supposed to be fighting? Do you remember who took down the towers?

Posted by: Tano at September 12, 2004 10:12 AM

"They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety." Benjamin Franklin.

America is less free than it was, and yet New York police commissioner Bernie Kerik (and others) say Al Qaida are as much a threat today as it they were on September 10th, 2001.

We have daily terrorist attacks in Iraq, we have had attacks in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Indonesia, Russia, Pakistan, Afganistan.

Did the invasion of Iraq really make the world a safer place?

Posted by: Benjamin at September 12, 2004 10:50 AM

Benjamin: Did the invasion of Iraq really make the world a safer place?

Not yet, no.

But to quote Mark Steyn:

You can't turn Saudi Arabia and Yemen into New Hampshire or Sweden (according to taste), but if you could transform them into Singapore or Papua New Guinea or Belize or just about anything else you'd be making an immense improvement. It's a long shot, but, unlike Putin's plan to bomb them Islamists into submission or Chirac's reflexive inclination to buy them off, Bush is at least tackling the "root cause". If you've got a better idea, let's hear it. Right now, his is the only plan on the table.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 12, 2004 11:41 AM

MJT

If that's what you believe, fine; then it's a matter of judgment.

I don't think Bush is tackling the root cause.
Where Al Qaida's roots in Iraq, anyway?

And it's somewhat difficult to take Mr. Steyn seriously when he comes out with the following, regarding Iraq:

"Another six weeks of insurgency sounds about right, after which it will peter out"
Spectator 27 December 2003.

"In a years time, Iraq will be, at a bare minimum, the least badly governed state in the Arab world and, at best, pleasant, civilised and thriving"
Daily Telegraph, 12 April 2003.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 12, 2004 11:52 AM

Benjamin, Was our world a safer place prior to 9/11? Of course not, we were alot more at risk then than we are now. Prior to 9/11 we lived with tunnel vision as some of you would still like to be living. Ah, it was a great world. The world where Terrorist attackes were as foreign to us as we could ever have imagined..What was a terrorist attacke? We had no idea what one was because we had never lived through or been effected by one. Were we given warnings of things bigger to come? Yeah, we sure were and we ignored them...I'm not talking about a month of warnings I'm talking about 11-12 years of warnings that we pretty much ignored and walked away from.

Maybe for some people not rocking a boat EVER is the right answer. Most people know that to continue leaving ourselves vulnerable would have led to greater attackes in our future..Maybe if we would have just kept to ourselves and tried to continue being the nice guy that's everyones friend we might have been able to have Saddam Hussein as our President one day! You know some where down the line when our grandkids are grown and we will be gone and they can be ruled by terrorists.

One more thing, if you or Tano haven't done so, please get educated about all the meetings prior to 9/11 and meetings post 9/11 between Saddam and Al-Quada...Read about every meeting you can find and then make a determination in your own mind if you think Saddam and his govt. had strong connections to Bin-Laden.

Posted by: Cathy at September 12, 2004 11:54 AM

I just read Steyn's article, and I have no idea what "plan" he's talking about.

AFAIK, the "root cause" of Islamic terrorism is a despicable version of Islamic fundamentalism. You destroy it by capturing or killing the practioners at its core, cutting off funding and support, and stopping it from attracting new adherents.

Bringing freedom to Iraq is truly a laudable and noble goal, but it does not fundamentally affect terrorism. As Bush says, they hate our freedom.

Posted by: Oberon at September 12, 2004 12:00 PM

Did the invasion of Iraq really make the world a safer place?

What MJT said, and also: Iraq had the WMD, it had the technology, it had the chemical weapon labs, and it had the will to hurt the USA.

All Michael Moore [they weren't a threat] arguments have to disagree with this. You have to stand there with your dick in your hand and say that Iraq was secular and wouldn't have sold/given such weapons to Islamist Jihadis.
So either you accept that or you don't. If you don't, further discussion is pointless.

Posted by: jdwill at September 12, 2004 12:09 PM

JD WILL

I don't see the utilty in your vulgarian language. Furthermore I realise Iraq, at some time in the past (1980s mainly) was developing atomic weaponry, but at NO time in the past did it have the bomb, nor did it have a nuclear weapons programme for much of the 1990s, or the noughts, certainly not anytime near the invasion.

As for chem and bio, nothing substantial has been found - not any new material, some residues of old weapons programmes. Much of the dismantling took place in the 1990s.

As for fear of an Islamic bomb - the hard, clear evidence (such as it is) points to Pakistan, not Iraq (indeed, a leading Pakistan scientist has admitted this.)

Needless to say Pakistan is a US ally, and a dictatorship.

As for Saddam allying himself to Jihadists - this is plain daft. There is no history of this whatsoever - Saddam kept a tight lid on all fundamentalism in Iraq during his rule - he simply played off different sections of his population, and his government was essentially secular.

Furthermore any alliance with Jihadists would lead to disaster - one of the fundamentalist aims is to get rid of many of the govts in the Middle East, or at least transform them into more fundamentalist rulers. Saddam would be a prime target, in fact it was stated on various occasions that he was. Of course the fundamentalists may have been able to draw on a well of hatred of Saddam particularly by the Shias, who Saddam abused during his rule.

Practically the only time where there would be an alliance (of convenience) would be under extreme US pressure (ie. during the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.)

And of course, as was predicted, terrrorism has increased massively in Iraq now.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 12, 2004 12:58 PM

Cathy

If you can give me some links to information regarding the meetings, I will read them.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 12, 2004 01:02 PM

Benjamin, I will give you a link that I have referenced many times when trying to find a particular story or link to something I was looking for. There are many many reports of meetings connecting Iraq to terrorism and AL-Queda. I have made my own chronological list over the last year but I wont post all of it here.

Make sure you read the link all the way through so that you will get the reference information at the end and can then research each article it speaks of if you wish to do that. This is a chronological guide to Iraq's sponsorship of terrorism beginning in 1990 and goes through many events up to either April or May of 2003.

I could give you a direct link from my own site but on Michaels site I will just have to give you the site and you can access it.

http://www.worldthreats.com/al-qaeda_terrorism/Iraq%20Terror.htm

If you can read all that and make something different of these meetings than what I have done then you and I just see things totally different..

Posted by: Cathy at September 12, 2004 01:41 PM

Benjamin, I will give you a link that I have referenced many times when trying to find a particular story or link to something I was looking for. There are many many reports of meetings connecting Iraq to terrorism and AL-Queda. I have made my own chronological list over the last year but I wont post all of it here.

Make sure you read the link all the way through so that you will get the reference information at the end and can then research each article it speaks of if you wish to do that. This is a chronological guide to Iraq's sponsorship of terrorism beginning in 1990 and goes through many events up to either April or May of 2003.

I could give you a direct link from my own site but on Michaels site I will just have to give you the site and you can access it.

http://www.worldthreats.com/al-qaeda_terrorism/Iraq%20Terror.htm

If you can read all that and make something different of these meetings than what I have done then you and I just see things totally different..

Posted by: Cathy at September 12, 2004 01:42 PM

Benjamin, I will give you a link that I have referenced many times when trying to find a particular story or link to something I was looking for. There are many many reports of meetings connecting Iraq to terrorism and AL-Queda. I have made my own chronological list over the last year but I wont post all of it here.

Make sure you read the link all the way through so that you will get the reference information at the end and can then research each article it speaks of if you wish to do that. This is a chronological guide to Iraq's sponsorship of terrorism beginning in 1990 and goes through many events up to either April or May of 2003.

I could give you a direct link from my own site but on Michaels site I will just have to give you the site and you can access it.

http://www.worldthreats.com/al-qaeda_terrorism/Iraq%20Terror.htm

If you can read all that and make something different of these meetings than what I have done then you and I just see things totally different..

Posted by: Cathy at September 12, 2004 01:42 PM

Benjamin, I will give you a link that I have referenced many times when trying to find a particular story or link to something I was looking for. There are many many reports of meetings connecting Iraq to terrorism and AL-Queda. I have made my own chronological list over the last year but I wont post all of it here.

Make sure you read the link all the way through so that you will get the reference information at the end and can then research each article it speaks of if you wish to do that. This is a chronological guide to Iraq's sponsorship of terrorism beginning in 1990 and goes through many events up to either April or May of 2003.

I could give you a direct link from my own site but on Michaels site I will just have to give you the site and you can access it.

http://www.worldthreats.com/al-qaeda_terrorism/Iraq%20Terror.htm

If you can read all that and make something different of these meetings than what I have done then you and I just see things totally different..

Posted by: Cathy at September 12, 2004 01:42 PM

Benjamin

You are playing sophist with life and death, real vulgarities will result - See Breslan.

Read the Kay report. All the precursors were there. Site after site was found to be recently scrubbed. Years of deception were documented by the UN. I have to stop here or more evil language will escape due to the frustration with your willful denial.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia aren't real allies, we are in a devils bargain. This is not an excuse for ignoring such as Hussein and his sons or calculating that they were 'contained'.

Just watched another thoughtful person - Jessica Stern on CSPAN today telling us that Islamists will make practical alignments with secular groups, and between Sunni and Shia, and so on (Shias in Iran were giving money to Sunnis in Pakistan who were then killing Shia's in Kashmir! - so much for those neat compartments).

You are disingenuous at best when you maintain that there was no collusion between Saddam and Islamist terrorists. Slipping them money, technology, and weapons is not the same as letting them thrive inside his country. This is not some game where you can specify a rule based on word definitions and it must be followed. You need to come up with a real cause and effect case to prove to me that Saddam wouldn't collude with Jihadis. Feh on you, I don't need to chase your leftist 'no evidence' bleat any further.

Our fundamental disagreement is based on your implicit argument that making war on Iraq 'riled them up'. To twist the crocodile eating you last analogy -- you can be eaten slowly, or you can fight and maybe get eaten qucikly OR maybe kill the crocodile. If you wait and are ineffective in stopping Islamist indoctrination in the Middle East, demographics indicate that you will be eaten eventually. You will eventually be isolated in a sea of crocodiles.

Either you accept that we have a global struggle against Islamist Fascism or you don't. You are not going to stop IslamoFascism with foreign aid and UN resolutions – that has been tried. For those that accept this, Iraq has a logic, not risk free, but a logic based on at least three goals:

1. Eliminate Hussein and the WMD factories
2. Attempt to begin draining the swamp
3. Cow the others (Libya, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia)

Bush and all of the politicos spread the 'keep you safe' message, but to mistake this as a prime strategy instead of a goal is a mistake. We have a war to fight, and some people will get hurt. But to fail to fight it because 1000 soldiers are dead or the enemy is stirred up is a penny-wise pound-foolish error of stellar proportions.

Posted by: jdwill at September 12, 2004 01:43 PM

MJT, I did not mean to do that! Im no spammer. I kept getting a message that my post didn't go through and now I have somehow posted it many times. I'm very sorry!:(

Posted by: Cathy at September 12, 2004 01:45 PM

JD Will

Well, I can't buy the WMD argument. I take what you say on board, but I think its a very weak argument. It's hypothetical at best.

For example, you say "Years of deception were documented by the UN." Well, fine, but the UN also documented their dismantling of the WMD programmes.

You talk about the link between Saddam and terrorists. Well, I am quite prepared to read up more on that, to see if any real links can be established.

As for Beslan, I offer you a QUIZ QUESTION:

Which organisation said the following:

1. That the conflict between Russia and Chechnya is about Chechen nationalism, not terrorism.

2. Savaged Russia for the atrocities its forces have committed in the Caucuses, said President Vladimir Putin was “ridiculous”.

3. Said Russia was more “morally” to blame for the bloodshed than Chechen separatists and played down links between al-Qaeda and the “Chechen resistance”.

4. Said the continuation of the “brutalising tactics” of Russian forces would only lead to “the resistance employing more brutal tactics” like the assault on School Number One in Beslan. He claimed one of the so-called “Black Widows” decided to become a suicide bomber after being forced to watch Russian troops “boil her three-year-old child alive”.

5. Said "“This is a very brutal war. There have been knocks in the night, people have disappeared. It’s an endless cycle of violence in which everyone has lost their sanity. It is not surprising the Chechens have resorted to the same level of violence.”

6. Said they “understood what it feels like to be under the Russian yolk”.

7. Said “The al-Qaeda link [to the Chechen conflict] is overstated. Russia plays that up to show that it is part of the war on terror. There are some Arabs there but only a handful – this is a 400-year national struggle between the Russians and the Chechens.”

8. Says the West, which is heavily dependent on foreign energy, has strategic interests in the area to which it cannot afford to turn a blind eye.

9. Said that Russia should be told by the West to talk to Chechen leaders to bring about peace. He claimed there was also a “moral case” to invoke sanctions against Russia for its activities in Chechnya.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 12, 2004 02:39 PM

Cathy

Thanks for the link, I will have a look.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 12, 2004 02:41 PM

Benjamin

I noted Breslan to show the ruthlessness of the Islamfascists (who have infected the Chechnyan struggle) not to send you on a dizzy chase into the roots of that conflict. I agree Chechnya is tragic, murkey, and unclean from both sides. But it does not form an excuse for inaction.

Address Iraq as a valid/invalid action in a war against Islamist Jihadis.

Address whether or not you believe we are in a war with said Islamists.

Posted by: jdwill at September 12, 2004 02:56 PM

JD Will:

Iraq: I don't believe the invasion of Iraq helped in defeating terrorism, and its currently making it worse - that is self evident surely.

Do we need to address extremism? Yes, and in many ways - not just through military means.

So, who do reckon made those statements on Beslan I posted?

Posted by: Benjamin at September 12, 2004 03:03 PM

JD Will

(BTW I am not American, not sure if that explains my slightly less partisan position?)

Posted by: Benjamin at September 12, 2004 03:07 PM

Again, I'm wholeheartedly agreeing with Tano. WTF?!!! This is getting creepy.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at September 12, 2004 03:18 PM

And I second whoever it was who said that the Presidential race is far from over. Kerry is in a bad way right now, but the gap is closing to a sustained 3-5 points w/ 6 or 7 percent still undecided. The debates are coming up. One really strong performance or mere headline-stealing moment can easily trump a 3-5 point lead, and the way it's reported matters. Right now, all everyone is hearing about is how Kerry is slipping which only reinforces the idea in people's minds. It is crucially important to understand that when the press reports the "story", they make the news. Point is, if he comes out of the debates "reborn" in the eyes of media, if that's the story they run with...anything could happen.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at September 12, 2004 03:36 PM

Grant McEntire

Well, I admire your optimism.

But if Kerry wins, I will eat my hat.

Without even a salad garnish.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 12, 2004 03:39 PM

Benjamin,

Probably plenty of people, in particular the US State Department, lets say Colin Powell.

I don't believe the invasion of Iraq helped in defeating terrorism, and its currently making it worse - that is self evident surely.

Well I think it is a valid strategy from a geopolitical point of view and from a clash of civilizations view.

1. Its right between Syria and Iran. Iran is now more isolated because of Iraq and Afghanistan.

2. You can be cynical and call Iraq a puppet, or Wilsonian and see it as a Democratic experiment. In either case, there is a chance for a stable, less despotic regime and it is said regimes that are causing the cycle of humiliation and rage that is such fertile ground for Islamofascism.

Yes, and in many ways - not just through military means.

OK fine, so you allow for military usage. When? do you accept pre-emption?. What combination do you suggest?

As to partisanship, once the election is over, then I will pay attention to what members of the other party say. There are actually some quite savvy people there. The vitriol of the contest draws from the US culture war and judicial appointments more than some allow.

Posted by: jdwill at September 12, 2004 03:51 PM

JD Will

The statements I posted were from the The American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC)
whose members include:

Richard Perle
Elliott Abrams, head of Middle East affairs at the National Security Council.
Elliot Cohen of the Pentagon’s Defence Policy Board.
Frank Gaffney, president of the conservative Centre for Security Policy.
Robert Kagan and William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, the house journal of Washington neo-cons.
Former CIA director James Woolsey.
Former Reagan defence secretary Caspar Weinberger.

Funny old world, isn't it?

Military means: Well, sometimes I wonder that is what they precisely want. If they use asymetric warfare, the war, in military terms alone, may be unwinnable.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 12, 2004 04:06 PM

Benjamin

I think you just named most of the neocon hawks. Also a bunch of cold warriors that would take a dim view of Russia anyway.

I still haven't heard from you any definition of the size or nature of the problem or any plan for how to deal with it. One thing I know for certain, when I saw the towers fall, the existing plan (stability, whatever) was null and void.

And yes, their stated goal is a greater conflagration. I highly recommend Professor Habeck (The 08/12/04 talk is best)

The idea is to fight them on our terms and timetable, not theirs. The generation(s) that have trained in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya are probably going to have to be killed, while the next generation is given some other options.

Posted by: jdwill at September 12, 2004 04:37 PM

Tano,

"I do not believe that democracy can be imposed, especially by an outside force."

Japan, Germany, Italy, South Korea?

Democracy can be imposed if one uses a big enough stick and is willing to stay the course in building civil institutions.

"As to your question: what war have we waged with fewer errors - I would answer: all of them."

All of them? Really? So if you had the choice of being a foot soldier in Manassas or in Bagdad, you'd choose the former? Or Korea, we nearly got pushed into the sea by the Chinese. Or Burma?

Posted by: bob at September 12, 2004 04:58 PM

Grant,

One more reason to hope that Kerry will get his act together is to remember that he's barely spent any $$$ in the past month.

Remember, the candidates can't spend private money after nomination. Since the Democrats foolishly scheduled their convention a month earlier, Kerry has $74.5 million for a 3-month campaign, and Bush has $74.5 million for a 2-month campaign.

Last month, Kerry let the [supposedly] independent 527 and party organizations do all spending. No wonder his message looks completely out of control -- it is.

Posted by: Oberon at September 12, 2004 06:09 PM

I am a pro-war Democrat. I dislike Bush's apparent position on every single policy issue except those related to the GWOT. The people in my life are mostly Democrats, and they are beating up on me. I am dying for a reason to vote for Kerry. I am sure I am not alone in this, but he's going to have to do something to convince me of his sincerity on this issue. It is very difficult to believe in him when he has not yet confronted the Left with anything resembling resolve.

Posted by: jj at September 12, 2004 08:51 PM

Oberon,

3. If by "flip-flopper" you mean he as ever changed his mind, then my answer is yes. But if by "flip-flopper" you mean he lacks character or strong principles, then no.

I'll give you a fourth option. Kerry's flip-flopping is rhetorical because if he openly stated his principles he wouldn't stand his chance of winning this election. Kerry has to cloak his principles in order to politically viable. He has to pretend he is committed to national defense in order to be elected, but he also has to toss out the occasional bone for the extreme socialist left in order to assure them he is still one of them. His real principles are displayed by his post-Vietnam activities and his voting record.

If Kerry has principles, what are they? Let's see if you can outline Kerry's supposed principles in a way that can pass the laugh test.

Posted by: HA at September 13, 2004 03:09 AM

HA,

sorry, there's just no point when you think Kerry is one of the "extreme socialist left."

Posted by: Oberon at September 13, 2004 03:40 AM

Sanity from Andrew Sullivan's blog:

His brilliance as a war-leader, so heralded at the New York convention, bears new fruit. The Iraqi government is beginning to lose control of Baghdad now. I think the Rove political strategy must now be simply to hope that no one notices anything that is happening in Iraq before they vote in November. Just say after me: 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. If anyone brings up Iraq today, just put your fingers in your ears and start singing loudly. Thank God the campaign is more focused on what Bush did in the National Guard thirty years ago and what Kerry's votes were in the 1980s. Otherwise we might have to debate reality.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/13/international/middleeast/13iraq.html?hp

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 13, 2004 07:27 AM

It's September 13 and everyone (including everyone here) is arguing about what Kerry's policies should be or actually are. Was this everyone's expectation back in June with regards to Kerry become the next President of the United States? That Kerry's ideas on Iraq and the War on Terror would still being formed (at worst) or still being explained (at best) in the middle of September?

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 13, 2004 08:06 AM

"Good war, bad occupation"

If you think that then I really doubt your credentials as a 'centrist'. You're starting to sound more and more like a Bush aplogist (NOTE: until this election, I have voted for the Republican in every election since voting for Reagan in '84 - I will not be doing so this time because I do not think Iraq is a 'good war').

How is the war in Iraq a 'good war'? I can concede that the war in Afganistan is a justifiable war with the aim of getting Bin Laden & co. But I definately don't understand why going to Iraq made any sense at all and I do not see why going there helped us be more secure. On the contrary, we're less secure because we're pissing off the even more people in the Middle East. And, this whole situation will likely devolve into a 3-way civil war between the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Who do you think the Shiites will side with? (hint: they just got nukes or are very close to getting them and they're neighbors).

No, this Republican (actually, former Republican now) believes that Bush screwed up royally by going into Iraq and for doing this he should be fired! I do not believe that Ronald Reagan would have done something so foolish as to invade Iraq - he was too smart to be caught in a trap like that.

BAD WAR, BAD OCCUPATION, BAD PPRESIDENT

Posted by: Anon E. Mouse at September 13, 2004 09:55 PM

Kerry gains nothing by presenting a clear strategy for iraq or for the WoT. Bush has done neither. Whatever Kerry said would have people picking it apart, finding things to disagree with. This is part of why Bush hasn't given us anything too. Beyond not having a strategy....

I will present a WoT strategy, since I have nothing to lose.

For WoT, put more effort into defense. This is a long-term project. We should try to foster industries that are less susceptible to terrorist attack, and tax industries that are more susceptible.

Plus we should look for things we can do to reduce the effect of attacks. We should for example have more fiber-optic lines that stay a reasonable distance from Salt Lake City. Too much of our communications go through that one area, if anything happened there the west coast would be partly isolated.

We should reduce the amount of foreign trade. We say it's more efficient to get the full benefit of comparative advantage. But that doesn't include the cost in terrorism and terrorism-prevention. If we put a tax on each container for the cost of searching it for WMDs, we'd lose a whole lot of the comparative-advantage advantage. We only get that advantage when we can trust the rest of the world not to ship us WMDs. Less foreign trade is good for us, or at least less imports. We'd be less wealthy, we'd have to work harder for what we had (more jobs, less stuff to buy). Less terrorism.

Commercial air travel is a stupid luxury. It costs too much. It's too dangerous. Do more teleconferencing and more staying home. If we really need fast travel do a rail network or something. We could do it if we wanted to, and it would use less oil.

Making our society less vulnerable to terrorism doesn't just protect us from al qaeda. It also protects us from the next Timothy McVeigh and Shining Path and puerto rican nationalists and state-terrorists and anybody else who wants to sabotage us. It's a long-term project but it's worth doing.

There's nothing wrong with going after al qaeda too. They've done little terrorist incidents in a variety of other countries, and we have nothing to lose by cooperating with the rest of the world to hurt al qaeda as opportunity arises. But they're only one little terrorist group among many. If we get every al qaeda there is, our security won't be much better off considering all the others.

There's the argument that they're trying to win the whole middle east, or all the arabs, or all the muslims. OK, and the KKK is trying to win all of Dixie. When we turn them into media celebrities (villains, whatever) we are giving them a whole lot of free publicity. That's stupid. They're just one more nutcase bag of terrorists. They aren't that important. They want to take over the world for islam, there are still international communists who want to take over the world for communism, and there are neocons who want to take over the world for the USA/israel/free-trade/empire/whatever. Which of these is actually having some success taking over the world?

Our problem is that we built our technological infrastructure without terrorism in mind. So we're vulnerable to any terrorists who want to take advantage of us. We're less vulnerable to al qaeda than to any of the others because that's the one we've paid attention to. But if terrorists start going after us it's going to be one little group after another that nobody heard of, with no particular connection to al qaeda. We can't take the war to them, they're located in random places where people have a grudge against us including inside the USA. (Timothy McVeigh, again?)

Islamism now is no more accepted among islam than the KKK is here. If black africa got together into a reasonably-powerful nation and started sending in hit teams to assassinate KKK leaders and blow up KKK members' houses and trying to organise american blacks to start a separatist state etc, don't you think the KKK would get a little sympathy? Their prejudices would be turning out true. It's utterly stupid of us to make the islamists' fantasies come true. When we act like islam is the enemy, we drive muslims into becoming islamists. Just don't do it. It's stupid. What we do to pound on islamists makes them stronger. Better to let the muslim religious authorities argue out that what they're doing is wrong and unmuslim. In public, treat their attacks as simple criminal matters. When we talk about war we legitimise them! It isn't a war, it's a few criminals who've broken the law. All civilised nations will do what they can to held catch the criminals so they can get their proper punishment. Don't let them be political prisoners or martyrs! It's OK to do a secret war on them, but publicly we shouldn't admit it. They are deluded criminals, they represent no government and no nation, they are rats skulking in the drainpipes who might get caught and might not -- they are not seriously changing cultures and societies, we won't (publicly) believe they have any serious chance of taking over a muslim nation until we see serious evidence that they have a chance. Sure it's fun to talk about being at war with all islam. But it makes it a lot harder to fight the terrorists. Don't do it.

I'll repeat my iraq strategy later if somebody wants to hear it.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 13, 2004 11:09 PM

I think people on both sides who're predicting the outcome are doing wishful thinking.

Maybe, but the link I provides addresses your points and then some

Maybe so. It looks to me like more wishful thinking.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 14, 2004 10:03 AM

Ms. Mouse, quick: who was the Republican VP candidate in '96?

Moby.

Posted by: Mark Poling at September 20, 2004 06:09 PM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member



Testimonials

"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

"Terrific"
Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

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

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

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


Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com


News Feeds




toysforiraq.gif



Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button

totten_button.jpg


Tip Jar





Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

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

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

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

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn