October 19, 2004

For and Against Bush

Here is yet another endorsement of George W. Bush from a lifelong British lefty who now lives in New York: Sarah Baxter in the Times of London, a Democrat for Bush.

I don't know if there are enough of us to become a movement, but I think we're at least a stastistic.

Meanwhile, Chris Johnson at Mayflower Hill writes a cogent rebuttal of my own Liberal Case for Bush. He doesn't quite convince me, but he makes a reasonable case that I understand. I'm glad some Kerry-supporters think as he does.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 19, 2004 02:46 PM
Comments

I do not want the global jihadists and women-hating fundamentalists to be celebrating Bush’s defeat. They do not deserve to win, even if Bush deserves to lose, a position I am not quite willing to concede.

Bravo. Exactly my thoughts. But I would also add all the hate-spewing Leftists of Michael Moore's ilk who did more to drive people into Bush's camp than Karl Rove ever did.

There are so many money quotes in that article it's ridiculous. A fantastic expose of the Left she's been a part of all her life. Read it.

Posted by: David at October 19, 2004 03:10 PM

I am hoping for a Bush landslide, but not for any kind of wish to see the Republicans score.

I am afraid of the outcome for the Democratic Party if Kerry wins. The extremists will feel vindicated, and the Party will move even farther away from what most Americans want to see government do.

We need to have the DNC move back toward center, and I only see that happening with a big Bush win.

Posted by: Mike at October 19, 2004 03:31 PM

To echo Mike's comments, I'd love to see a GOP landslide. I feel that the DNC needs a serious smack-down. Personally, I'd prefer to vote for Co-AG Ken Salazar over CEO Pete Coors. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the only way MacAuliffe will get the message that they (DNC) are tragically out of step with the US is with a full on repudiation.

Posted by: bains at October 19, 2004 03:54 PM

If Kerry loses, the antiwar faction will blame it on Kerry's vote FOR the war. Dean will claim that his doubts about Kerry have been vindicated.

The way to get a more reasonable party is to elect a President that will have to work with a Republican House, at the very least, in order to be able to run for reelection in 2008. These circumstances, and the world situation, will force Kerry to move toward the center. Most, but not all Dems will follow.
Vote Kerry.

Posted by: markus Rose at October 19, 2004 03:59 PM

There are a lot of good reasons why it's important that the GOP win big this year. Mike touched on one - a DNC move back to the political center. In order to do this, they need to jettison the Angry Left and the Conspiratorial Left.

Another important reason is to demonstrate that the MSM can no longer be a major factor in electoral outcomes. RatherGate is just one example of this; anyone following the biases of the MSM can name several other examples.

A third good reason is to show that the "politics of personal destruction" will no longer work. Savaging family members will become de rigeur following a Kerry victory because both sides will see that claiming candidates' family members as "fair game" actually works to sway voters. If you think politics in 2004 is nasty now, imagine what it will be like in 2008 if Kerry wins.

Posted by: pianoman at October 19, 2004 03:59 PM

Mike-

You sound silly. Every time a Democrat makes a play for the whitehouse, the strategists and the Repub pundits throw out that gloom-and-doom term "liberal" and run scary commercials telling the populous that we can't risk a huge government takeover of our rights and decision making power. Maybe you have never noticed that pattern.

I would love to hear a list of the outrageous things you think would happen if John Kerry was elected president. Who are the "extremists" that have the ear of Kerry?

Posted by: Jeff at October 19, 2004 04:02 PM

Pianoman-

So that I can understand what you mean without assuming, can you please describe what the DNC's move to the political center would look like in terms of policy positions, etc.? Thanks ahead of time.

Posted by: Jeff at October 19, 2004 04:05 PM

All the bad guys love Bush -- the KKK, the Nazis, and now Iran:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20041019/ap_on_el_pr/iran_us_elections

Posted by: ts at October 19, 2004 04:29 PM

...the strategists and the Repub pundits throw out that gloom-and-doom term "liberal" and run scary commercials telling the populous that we can't risk a huge government takeover of our rights and decision making power."

Perhaps you haven't noticed the pattern, Jeff... activist judges, soverignty handover to the UN, regulation (of all kinds) at any cost to our economy, politics of political correctness.

There are reasons only 2 Dems have been elected President since Lyndon Johnson. 1) Jimmy Carter was the anti-Nixon, but then ran the country into the ground; Clinton ran as a moderate Republican and did very little but ride the dot-com bubble.

It is interesting you defined "Liberal" as a "gloom and doom term". Liberals really hate being called liberals for some reason. Conservatives don't seem to mind it and libertarians even relish the label. What is it about being called liberal that makes liberals so uneasy?

Posted by: Nostrildogmas at October 19, 2004 04:38 PM

Nice try TS: Check your history again --

From a Craiglist Posting:

Democratic Senator Robert Bryd, of West Virginia, was a grand wizard in the KKK. While in the army, he wrote his draft board and said he would go awol if the army integrates. In 1964, he filibustered the Voting and Civil Rights Act of 1964. Byrd, Al Gore Sr., and Senator William Fulbright, Bill Clinton's mentor from Arkansas, all voted against the Voting and Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 2000, on Meet the Press, Bryd said that while growing up in West Virginia, he would refer to poor whites as 'white niggers'.

Senator Ernest Hollings, of South Carolina, said that African countries send their leaders to the UN so that they will not starve. As governor of South Carolina, he raised the confederate flag over the statehouse. He said that we went to war in Iraq to appease Jews.

Hilary Clinton, campaigning this year in Missouri for a Senate candidate, said that before Gandhi led India to independence, that he was a gas station attendant in East St. Louis.

Former Democratic Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamente, running for the governor's recall election in California, referred to African-Americans as 'niggers' in a campaign rally.

All of the Jim Crow laws were implemented under Democratic governors.

And the Nazi's were fascists, a far more democrat party tendancy than a republican one.

Its not for me to defend the Republican Party (I'm not big fan of them either), but this is no place for your KKK/Nazi democrat pablum cheapshots.

Posted by: Nostrildogmas at October 19, 2004 04:50 PM

That was a joke, wasn't it? A cogent rebuttal?

(from the Kerry camp):

"Of course we believe it was worth removing Saddam Hussein from power." No you don't think it was worth it - why else call it the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time? Don't tell me that if Al Gore - or Mr Paralysis himself ( sorry - can't help the Botox metaphor) had been at the helm these past few years that either would have deposed Saddam Hussein. Of course they wouldn't have. To do so took tremendous political guts. If it was a mistake don't claim in retrospect that it was worth it as if you would have ever had the guts to do it in the first place.

"..the Washington Post has reported that, according to senior Bush administration officials, the President has decided to postpone the necessary assaults against Falluja and other areas within the Sunni Triangle because he fears taking large numbers of casualties running up to the American presidential election"
Excuse me - but where have you been this past week? I've noticed how the press plays this - if we don't attack we're trying to avoid casualties for political reasons. If we do attack - its because we're trying to clean up the Sunni triangle before the elections. Laughable at this point to refer to "spinelessness". Hello?? Kerry has now said (OK said and then not said) that he would have never gone into Iraq - and now you're calling Bush spineless over his decisions in this one battle? What is that about?

The equipment charge? Yeah OK - and I'll graciously skip over the "voted for the 87 billion before he voted against it" because I understand where that was coming from (i.e Biden's amendment to roll back the tax cuts on the wealthiest to pay for it - of course Biden encouraged Kerry and Edwards to vote for it but they played politics with the war instead - and too bad Biden wasn't the Democratic nominee)) but then can you possibly lay off the attacks on the costs of the darned war - including the "closing the firehouses in NY while opening them in Bagdad")shtick?

"If Kerry is more capable of securing Iraq and planting the seeds of liberty, then, as far as liberal hawks are concerned, this is an open and shut case." And this is said because in armchair quarterbacking a war he never would have fought, he is now coming to the right of Bush on the specifics? This is really laughable - considering that Fallujah in particular is an example of working with our allies - namely Allawi and the interim Iraqi government- to give local diplomacy a chance before resorting to overwhelming military force. There is no way in hell that if Mr. Multilateral were calling the shots as Commander in Chief ( which he wouldn't be - as this is a war he would obviously never have taken on) that he wouldn't also be handling Fallujah just as Bush has done - first giving diplomacy a chance. This is arm-chair quareterbacking. It is actually quite insulting, coming from Kerry of all people.

Posted by: Caroline at October 19, 2004 05:02 PM

Nostrildogmas-

Listen to the way the word liberal is used in the "conservative, right wing" political and infotainment arenas. It is used as a all encompasing pejorative. If you have been politically aware for some time, then you have seen how the word has been defined by the right. You hear it most often from the mouths I just mentioned and it is almost never(read never) used to correctly describe a large group (as it is contextually used by this crowd). Inevitably, its use is followed by distortions and citations of the radical (scary) acts of a few meant to be associated with the word. If you haven't seen this, you are asleep at the wheel. It would be the same as me calling some crackpot that downs an abortion doctor a "conservative".

There is a move to reclaim the word liberal, often used with the word progressive. Until that is successful and people quit being afraid of people that are different than they are and pull their heads out, the word "liberal" will be accompanied by dark, ominous music and bad black and white photographs of the dems. It has happened for years. Turn on your TV during the news.

Posted by: Jeff at October 19, 2004 05:19 PM

Nostrildogmas-

"...activist judges, soverignty handover to the UN, regulation (of all kinds) at any cost to our economy, politics of political correctness."

To this, I ask for examples. This paragraph sounds like a Bush stump speech. I would like you to cite the historical occasions that go along with these descriptions so I know what you are talking about. Then I can address them or accept your argument that Dem Presidents have been responsible.

Also, can you address what policies of Carter's drove the country into the ground? I need to know what you are basing this characterization on. Thanks.

Posted by: Jeff at October 19, 2004 05:26 PM

Of all the reasons to vote for Bush, it seems to me that absolutely the worst is because you think that terrorists might have a positive emotional reaction to Bush being defeated.

I mean, (and leaving aside whether the prediction is correct or not, and I can think of some pretty cogent reasons to conclude that it is not) of all the issues confronting America, is whether or not terrorists experience a transitory moment of happiness the most pressing?

What a trivial person.

Posted by: Mork at October 19, 2004 05:27 PM

I suspect there will be more Democrats for Bush than Republicans for Kerry. I'd like to see a Bush victory for the reasons noted above by others: to induce the Democrats into cleaning house, though I suspect this isn't going to happen; if Bush wins, the DNC will remain an LLC of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: Zacek at October 19, 2004 05:41 PM

I can think of some pretty cogent reasons to conclude that it is not) of all the issues confronting America, is whether or not terrorists experience a transitory moment of happiness the most pressing?

Mork,

what makes you think their happiness would only be "transitory"?

Posted by: David at October 19, 2004 05:54 PM

What I remember from those four years during the Carter adminstration were the gas lines, high unemployment, hyper-inflation, shoving the poor into crappy constructed hi-rise ghettos then forgetting about them, the pinnacle of the Welfare State.

That said, what I remember most about Carter was the day our embassy in Iran was seized, Americans taken hostage and President Carter implemented the tragic policy of appeasement which has haunted us for over two decades.

Carter was a defeatist, an apologist and an appeaser. Carter reminds me of Senator John Kerry.

Posted by: syn at October 19, 2004 06:32 PM

Nazis hate George Bush. David Duke says Anybody but Bush:

THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IS right around the corner and -- guess what -- the American people once again have no real choice for President of the United States of America. No candidate is really worth the vote of one American but I can say without the least hesitation that no candidate deserves defeat more than George Bush, who is the clearest example of a traitor to the American people since the time of Benedict Arnold...

While Chris Johnson's argument is reasonable, I have no reason to believe that Kerry has any interest in hunting down terrorists. His past actions and his lack of enthusiasm for the war on terror convince me that Kerry hopes to be another man of peace, like Jimmy Carter.

Speaking of Carter, he believes that the Revolutionary War was an unnecessary war. More than ever, I'm ashamed that he was once our president.

Posted by: mary at October 19, 2004 06:41 PM

A leopard doesn't change its spots. Here's just part of Kerry's record:

- Called for UN control over US military deployments even before he became a senator.

- Collaborated with the enemy by 'consulting' with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegations during the Paris peace talks while holding an officer's commission in the US Navy Reserve.

- Gave the enemy valuable propaganda points by publicly accusing our servicemen in Viet Nam of committing widespread atrocities.

- Evicserated investigations of American POWs possibly being held by North Vietnam and Cambodia after 1972.

- Supported Daniel Ortega's Communist regime in Nicaragua.

- Repeatedly voted for massive cuts in the defense and intelligence budgets.

- Voted against the first Gulf War even though it had UN approval and the huge Coalition that included both France and Germany.

- Voted against a bill authorizing funding of the Iraq war, funds needed to provide equipment and material to our troops in contact with the enemy.

- Selected a junior senator as his running mate, a man with virtually no experience in government other than a yet-to-be-completed first
term in office. This man is to be one heartbeat away from the Presidency??

- Dismissed our allies in Iraq as a coalition of the bribed and coerced while claiming that he could get new allies to come on board, 'allies' that have unequivically stated that they would under no conditions send forces to Iraq.

- Accused Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi of not understanding what's going on in his own country, the same Prime Minister with which he would have to work were Kerry to become President.

- Called for a 'Global Test' before taking pre-emptive military action against our enemies (sound familiar?)

- Failed to do his job as a United States senator. Recently the Senate voted overwhelmingly, 96 to 2, in favor of reorganizing the national intelligence community. Neither Senator Kerry nor his running mate could be bothered to be present for this important vote - not that they've been present in the Senate much at all over the past year.

BTW, the 'People's Daily', the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, has endorsed Kerry for President.

This is the man to which some would entrust the security of the United States?

Posted by: Al Superczynski at October 19, 2004 06:49 PM

Chris's post is great. I would also refer folks to Stuart Benjamin's post on the Volokh Conspiracy for a good post by a conservative who's voting for Kerry. The Shrill Blog is a good place to get similar info.

Baxter's article was troubling for many reasons. Given Bush's actual performance as opposed to giving good speeches I find it incredible that anyone would vote for him based on dealing with terrorism.

Changing the Middle East would be nice but we aren't going to do it alone and we aren't going to do it soon. Can't see that anyone else will want to play with us as long as GW is President.

"Hunting and killing" seems like a good way to proceed with culture changing put in its proper place.

Like many who visit this site I was repulsed by the shallowness and mendacity of much of the opposition to going into Iraq. In retrospect I wish that we had been given a realistic assessment just what our military can do. It appears now that, by ourselves, we just don't have the numbers for a proper occupation. Trouble is that now the whole world knows it.

As a liberal I'm also troubled by those like Sarah and MT who would put at risk over a century of social progress in this country in order to re-elect a man who has proven himself so inept at the very thing that that they propose as a reason for voting for him.

In the end grand concepts will count for little or nothing - I thought we had learned that in the last century. Kerry has pledged to "hunt and kill" those who would thresten us and I'm willing to take him at his word. If he doesn't measure up we have another election coming up in four years.

Posted by: alan aronson at October 19, 2004 07:06 PM

Alan,

Typical John Kerry defeatist attitude. "We can't win in the middle east" blah blah.

Also, several of our real allies (as opposed to John Kerry's imagined allies -- France and Germany -- who were actually paid Saddam allies) have specifically mentioned that they want Bush re-elected, most recently Howard in Australia. I guess he didn't care for Kerry's sister telling Aussies they were fools for supporting the US in Iraq.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at October 19, 2004 07:45 PM

Alan,

Instead of spouting off the DNC talking points as if you were a paid Soros minion, why not address Al C's arguments on why John Kerry is a catastrophic choice for CiC?

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at October 19, 2004 07:48 PM

As a liberal I'm also troubled by those like Sarah and MT who would put at risk over a century of social progress in this country in order to re-elect a man who has proven himself so inept at the very thing that that they propose as a reason for voting for him.

As an empiricist, I'm confused by people wanting to re-elect a person whose incompetence has discredited the very ideas they claim to hold dear.

It's kind of like being a communist pre- and post-1956. Before the invasion of Hungary (and the subsequent revelations of Stalin's depradations), you could arguably be excused for believing that communism was a noble attempt to put the world's injustices to right. But anyone with any shred of morality who remained a communist after 1956 could only do so if they convinced themselves that there was no reason to modify their ideology just because of what they'd been told by their lying eyes.

Posted by: Mork at October 19, 2004 07:49 PM

Mork,

Conflict does not equal failure. Tattoo it on your forehead.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 19, 2004 09:16 PM

No, Michael, in this particular case, you're 100% wrong. The war in Iraq could only be justified by the establishment of a free, stable and democratic Iraq.

The current conflict reveals that goal to be a virtual impossibility.

Therefore, the continuing conflict pretty much exactly equals failure.

Posted by: Mork at October 19, 2004 09:22 PM

Mork,

To hear you talk, every war we've ever fought was a failure because there was conflict in every war.

Read some military history.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 19, 2004 10:34 PM

Matt, I'm not going to write a book so I'll take a couple of items and as I would hate to be held to everything I said and did 30 years ago as, I'm willing to wager, so would you and as this is America and redemption is always possible, let us pass over actions of a young activist on the one hand and a young lush on the other.

"Alan,
Instead of spouting off the DNC talking points as if you were a paid Soros minion, why not address Al C's arguments on why John Kerry is a catastrophic choice for CiC?

Al SuperC wrote:

"- Evicserated investigations of American POWs possibly being held by North Vietnam and Cambodia after 1972."

McCain was a part of this so you have moderately liberal (check the Overall record) Dem and a conservative Rep who seem to agree with each other on this. All Al did is make an unbacked assertion.

"- Repeatedly voted for massive cuts in the defense and intelligence budgets."

Again a raw assertion unbacked by fact. I've used opposition research before so I know how this works. This charge is mostly untrue and what about Cheney's record using the same standards? He might have mentioned taxes also. This comes from multiple counts on the same bills and votes on procedural matters.

"- Voted against the first Gulf War even though it had UN approval and the huge Coalition that included both France and Germany."

Well I guess he isn't in the thrall of France and Germany. Hey, I'm not happy about that but then I'm not happy about the way that war turned out either. We may have a wash here.

"- Voted against a bill authorizing funding of the Iraq war, funds needed to provide equipment and material to our troops in contact with the enemy."

I really don't get this one, Bush had threatened to veto this same funding if it was done out of current revenue as opposed to borrowing. This seems like six of one half a dozem of the other to me - why does Bush get a pass on this?

"- Called for a 'Global Test' before taking pre-emptive military action against our enemies (sound familiar?)" Bogus, the Declaration of Independence has the same "global test" as Kerry's statement (read it).

" BTW, the 'People's Daily', the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, has endorsed Kerry for President."

And I have read that Putin (former KGB spy, future dictator, it appears) likes GW. Let's get serious.

Kerry's record also includes the BCI investigation - a good thing. Look, I don't expect folks with those sorts of views to like Kerry. My concern is liberals who are stuck on 9/11 and who have bought into what is working out to be a non-productive world view.

Adopting the notion that the only thing that counts in this election in the GWOT and hence we must elect GW is a non-sequitur. I'm not inclined to roll over and play dead on domestic policy out of some primal survival fear. Seems to me that lets the terrorists win and that the likes of Bush, Rove, and DeLay are unwilling to set THEIR domestic agenda aside to persue this GWOT reveals it as a cynical manipulation. Shame on those who buy into it.

Posted by: alan aronson at October 19, 2004 11:27 PM

To hear you talk, every war we've ever fought was a failure because there was conflict in every war.

Michael - let me take you through this one step at a time. In every conflict, you have certain goals, the prospect of achieving which makes fighting the war appropriate or necessary in the first place.

If you achieve your goals, you succeed. If you don't achieve them, to some extent, at least, you fail.

Now, Iraq was a voluntary war fought because we thought that we could use military force to achieve a set of goals at an acceptable cost. Do you agree so far?

So:

Success = achieving those goals at an acceptable cost.

Failure = failing to achieve those goals, or achieving them in a way that leaves us worse off than if we had never tried.

Still with me?

Applying the theory to the facts, the goal in Iraq was to establish a free, stable democratic society. Right?

We would probably disagree on what was an acceptable cost, so let's leave that to one side apart from observing that no-one on the pro-war side ever publicly countenanced that the cost in lives and injuries, money, American prestige and drain on American military capacity would be anywhere near so great as it has been, which probably tells you all you need to know on that score.

But I digress - to resume:

"Success" would be achieved in Iraq - despite there being conflict! - if we had managed to establish a free, stable and democratic Iraq.

"Failure" would be if we were not able to do so.

Now, we here may part ways again, but I hold the view (which coincidentally is also the view of most people with expertise in middle-east conflict, nation-building or Iraqi society) that the prospect of establishing a free, stable and democratic society in Iraq has dwindled to somewhere between remote and impossible.

Once you reach that point, you have no choice but to conclude that there has been a failure: we cannot reach our goals.

Finally, to circle back to the point of the lesson: it is the fact of the ongoing high level of conflict that is the clearest evidence that we will not be able to achieve our goal. Therefore, as I said, the conflict demonstrates the failure.

Read some military history.

Riiiight. So what's your reading list?

Here's a couple for you: "A Bright Shining Lie", by Neil Sheehan and "In Retrospect" by Robert McNamara. Read them and weep. Literally.

Posted by: Mork at October 20, 2004 01:31 AM

Alan

Sarah and MT who would put at risk over a century of social progress in this country in order to re-elect a man who has proven himself so inept at the very thing that that they propose as a reason for voting for him

Now that is spot on.

Bush has failed as a War President and wants to roll back much social progress for everyday Americans.

There is no case for voting for Bush, let alone
a particular conservative one or a particular liberal one.

Neil

Posted by: Neil W at October 20, 2004 01:42 AM

And further to annoy me this morning the US Army has just accused the British Army of 'institutional cowardice'.

Thanks 'Allies'.

This same British Army that has got the South of Iraq working on a fraction of the expense and manpower. And before some GOPer bleats about the Sunni Triangle etc, a good proportion of the people opposing you in Falluja and in Sadr City are Shia too.

The real difference are in the nuances of tactics and attitude. Thats why we're better at it and further more this is the same 'institutional cowards' who had OBL (Remember him, GWB certainly doesn't much remember much about him) cornered in Tora Bora before Gen. Franks and the WH shat themselves over US casulaties and bottled out.

Allies? I sometimes wonder.

Posted by: Neil W at October 20, 2004 01:52 AM

I must ask a provocative question: why are so many people, especially American Jews, ignoring the not so subtle anti-Semitism of the Kerry campaign? Probably at least a third of his supporters believe that Israel victimizes the Palestinians. It is very fair to describe George Soros, for instance, as either a thoroughly guilt tripped Jew---or a self hating one. I am non-Jewish and perhaps it takes an outsider to bring up such an awkward issue. Needless to add, I’m willing to do so. Well, let’s hear it. What’s going on?

Posted by: David Thomson at October 20, 2004 04:14 AM

Seems pretty subtle to me.

Posted by: Mork at October 20, 2004 05:13 AM

David Thomson -- I doubt that a third of Kerry's supporters are knowledgable enough to know that Israel does in fact victimize Palestinians. (That's only half the story, but since its a half that you and alot of people reading this are willfully blind to, I'll keep hammering it here.) Nevertheless, assuming they do:
1) how is this a reflection of the Kerry campaign, anymore than, say, the creationist or pre-dispensationalist (that means Armageddon is coming) views of a whole bunch of Bush supporters is a reflection upon the Bush campaign?
2) what has Kerry said that could be construed as anti-Israel?
3) what does ANY of this have to do with antisemitism? If its so unsubtle, spread it out for us all to see.

Posted by: Markus rose at October 20, 2004 07:16 AM

So 18% of the British (our major allies) want to see GWB reelected. Now, as I have said many times, no American should vote based on the opinions of non-americans.

However, it does tell us something about our allies.

The rebuttal wasn't bad, I think it was a bit biased to the left; but what can one expect? I think MJT initial article was a bit biased to the right.

Finally, I have yet to hear anyone tell us what the hell our goal is over there. If its regieme change, we've done that. Saddam is behind bars, Iraq has been handed sovrignty. So, there must be a goal beyond that. Is it a stable, safe Iraq? How do we define such a thing? Is Iraq stable and secure if 80% of the country is pacified? 90%? Surely, none of us are still looking through those old rose tinted glasses, thinking that we'll win the hearts and minds of the whole country, right?

We know that the administration went into Iraq planning for a best case scenario. Why this was decided is beyond me. I usually tend to plan for the worst-case scenario and hope I'm pleasently surprised. In fact, I jokingly call my job "Managing Murphy's Law". Why didn't the administration plan for Murphy? Your guess is a s good as mine.

In the end, I still don't understabnd why hawks are still supporting Bush. We haven't succeeded, we have made things worse in Iraq, through our mismanagement of the invasion.If we had planned for the worst, we would have had the necessary troops to quell this insurgency when it started. We could haver succeeded.

I don't think anyone has even made clear what we consider victory conditions to be at this point.
=

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 20, 2004 07:25 AM

Ratatosk:
So 18% of the British (our major allies) want to see GWB reelected. Now, as I have said many times, no American should vote based on the opinions of non-americans. However, it does tell us something about our allies

In what way do you mean that? (Am asking as a Brit?)

thanks
Neil

Posted by: Neil W at October 20, 2004 07:52 AM

Sarah's argument is interesting but one of her main theses is completely wrong:
"But, if Bush is ousted, there will be victory celebrations across the undemocratic Arab world. "

Really? Other than celebrations in Palestinian camps and Iraq, where else will people be celebrating? Does anyone believe for a moment that the Saudis want Kerry to win? The Jordanians and Syrians are happily using Iraq as an example to frighten their own people - "look, democracy means chaos and crime, you don't want that." Libya seems to be getting on swimmingly with the US, they don't want a human-rights focused Democratic government in power. The Iranians, according to AP today, have already endorsed a Bush victory (Yes, I know they're not Arabs, but I assume Sarah would include them as part of the Muslim theocracies we are trying to defeat). Money quote from Hasan Rowhani, head of the Iranian Suprememe National Security Council:
""We should not forget that most sanctions and economic pressures were imposed on Iran during the time of Clinton, and we should not forget that during Bush's era — despite his hard-line and baseless rhetoric against Iran — he didn't take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran."

Keeping the populace distracted through hatred of the US and Israel is perhaps the only thing that keeps the Egyptian government in power, they certainly want Bush to win. Is it a good thing that Islamic political influence is much stronger in US allies like Turkey, Pakistan and Indonesia than it was 4 years ago? Bush has probably set back democracy in the Middle East by a generation.

Posted by: vanya at October 20, 2004 08:05 AM

Neil,

When only 18% of the populace wants to see Bush as President for another four years, we must consider what that might mean for the future of our alliance.

Can we truly have a useful ally if 82% of the populace is against our leader?

I think that is very much a factor, considering what the Brits are now being asked to do (redeploy troops), and I think it highlights the reason that the British government are not all that thrilled with the idea.

But, I could be wrong.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 20, 2004 08:12 AM

Bush has probably set back democracy in the Middle East by a generation.

I doubt I've seen a sillier comment on any blog I've been to in the last 3 years. You must have been on Mars last week when the Afghans had the first democratic election in the history of their country. You'll probably be on Mars early next year when Iraqis have the first elections in their country's history.

In case you didn't know, Arab despots have been using the American boogeyman to frighten their sheeple populace for decades, and they didn't need George Bush to do it. Saddam Hussein thought it was business as usual too, and look where that got him. Look where it got the Taliban. This time the American boogeyman is REAL, and the Iranian people are salivating at the prospect of an American invasion to free them from under the mullahs.

Setting back democracy indeed.

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 08:23 AM

Pay attention David. The Mullahs LIKE Dubya. They know there is no chance the US will be invading Iran anytime in the near future. Dubya's already promised there won't be a draft so it is clear we won't have an army large enough to invade. Iranians do hate the mullahs, but don't make Rumsfelds mistake - if we did try to invade they wouldn't be welcoming American troops with flowers. In Afghanistan you're confusing elections with Democracy. It's not the same thing. They hold elections in Iran and Pakistan as well and those are not democratic countries. If Iraq does not get straightened out soon than it will end up serving as a counterexample to the rest of the Middle East, the same way that the chaos of the Yeltsin years has convinced many Russians that authoritarian dictatorship is the only form of governance they can trust. Bush has shown that he is not capable of straightening out Iraq therefore he needs to go before he does more damage.

Posted by: vanya at October 20, 2004 09:06 AM

Yes, indeed, David. If Kerry is elected I'm sure the various Islamic militants and insurgents (I describe them in pure NPR-speak) will turn to each other and say well now the Americans have put up a serious guy, who wields the terrible sword of nuance, and possibly subtle irony, which we fear like the plague, and we'd better change our tactics pronto. Praise Allah, it is time now for the brethren to engage in conciliation and consultation with the enemies of the Faith; let us renounce our arms in favor of interest-based negotiation.

Posted by: Zacek at October 20, 2004 09:06 AM

Zacek, do you really think Islamic terrorists are trembling in their boots at the prospect of a Bush second term? The Iranians know Bush will deal with them, the Saudis are confident they still have a friend in Washington, and the Arab despot in Egypt, Syria and Algeria can now "encourage" troublesome Islamic fundamentalists to leave them alone and go off to Iraq. On the bright side there may be enough action in the Middle East to keep jihadists busy there, very good news for us Americans at home for the next few years. But it's not clear that any long-term progress is being made towards democratizing the Middle East.

Posted by: vanya at October 20, 2004 09:16 AM

Zacek, do you really think Islamic terrorists are trembling in their boots at the prospect of a Bush second term?

Yes Vanya, many of them are, but in their sandals, not boots.

And the ones that weren't trembling are probably dead right now, and they'll keep dying as long as they aren't trembling. The more terrorists not trembling, the more terrorists will die in their efforts to expel the Great Satan.

Therefore, I don't really care if they're scared or trembling; I just care if they're dead. John Kerry won't kill terrorists, he'll buy them off. Bush will kill terrorists, and keep killing them for as long as it takes; like we beat the Soviets, we'll beat Arab terror. Time is NOT on their side.

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 09:24 AM

No, I agree, it is not clear that any long-term progress is being made toward democratizing the ME; but neither is it clear these efforts are entirely futile, and it is clear to me that during the previous 40 years, very little progress if any was made, and the region engendered the terrorists who threaten the West now. I do not expect terrorists to tremble in their boots, I only hope they die in their boots, preferably there and not here, and like Ms. Baxter I anticipate they would be jubilant if Bush loses and would interpret this, wrongly or rightly, as a victory for jihad.

Posted by: Zacek at October 20, 2004 09:30 AM

In the unlikely event Bush is elected my guess is that there will be a serious dirty bomb attack on an American city after the election. The AQ terrorists are politically sophisticated. If we are dumb enough to elect the guy that invaded Iraq, they'll hit us hard. This is my biggest fear. If Kerry gets elected there'll be a slight reprieve while they size him up, and that could buy us crucial time to implement some of the border safeguards the current administration hasn't seen fit to secure.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 09:31 AM

Mara,

opinions are like assholes, everybody's got them. Can you provide any basis in fact for yours? Statements like this one:

The AQ terrorists are politically sophisticated. If we are dumb enough to elect the guy that invaded Iraq, they'll hit us hard.

have no basis in fact, unless you mean they'll attack us to punish us for electing George Bush, in which case I might agree with you that yes, they'd prefer we elect John Kerry.

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 09:37 AM

"David Thomson -- I doubt that a third of Kerry's supporters are knowledgable enough to know that Israel does in fact victimize Palestinians."

I almost cannot believe my own eyes. Your comments are added evidence that John Kerry's campaign is indeed highly tinged with anti-Semitism. You should be deeply ashamed of yourself. I also encourage Michael Totten to address this issue. It must not be avoided.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 20, 2004 09:48 AM

I think there definitely will be a "dirty bomb" attack on the U.S. on election day, but instead of radioactive waste or shrapnel the bomb will be composed of very lethel and partisan lawyers, and it will be detonated by the Democrats in key battleground states, part of the jihad in revenge for the loss of Iman Al-Gore in 2000 in Florida.

Posted by: Zacek at October 20, 2004 09:53 AM

The fact that they are politically sophisticated is self-evident, David. They've gotten the most powerful country in the world to do exactly what they want: ignore the home ground of the terrorists (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria), while going after a tin horn dictator in Iraq which helps them prove their case that we really are only after their oil despite all the high minded talk of freedom and democracy. George Bush is their recruitment poster boy. Electing Kerry won't buy us protection because Kerry will fight them way smarter than Bush has, but it will buy us a little time while they size him up.

What you are failing to consider in your analysis is that we are fighting an assymetric battle. Bush is like a bull in a china shop, and he made several major mistakes: first, he assumed the war on terror was a nation state problem and could be solved by an invasion. Wrong. This is like fighting the third world war with second world war tactics. It's always a big mistake to fight a war like you fought the last one. I thought we learned that in Vietnam. Evidently not.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 09:57 AM

Mara,

I understand what you're saying about assymetrical war; but even kind of war could not have been fought in Afganistan without invading. So you see, they go hand in hand.

(That still doesn't address why you think a dirty bomb after the election is more likely if Bush is elected than if Kerry is elected; unless you mean that they'll take revenge on us for not electing the wimp.)

The main benefit I now see in the invasion of Iraq is that we don't have to invade Saudi Arabia now because all their terrorists are now coming to fight us in Iraq. Like I said before, I don't care if they're not terrified, I just care if they're dead.

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 10:08 AM

Just finished reading Chris Johnson's article Michael cites over on Mayflower Hill and I quote, "Bush may have been a visionary when it came to defining the War on Terror as a sort of Clash of Civilizations where liberal modernism is pit against theocratic fascism," . One doesn't need to go any further than this as an indictment of Bush's decision to invade Iraq. Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, was a secular dictatorship. Hussein spent years and years suppressing the very Islamic fundamentalists that we are fighting today in Iraq. Without a firm understanding of this, we are already off on the wrong track. Iran is theocratic fascism. Saudi Arabia is theocratic fascism. Pakistan is very close. Syria is not, but does support terrorism. It is a mistake to lump all these countries under one umbrella - it is a fundamental misreading of the situation on the ground in the Middle East, and something that this administration has misread over and over and over again.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 10:13 AM

David Thomsen -- please explain why I "should be deeply ashamed of myself, and at the same time answer the questions I previously posed to you.

Posted by: markus rose at October 20, 2004 10:30 AM

David,
Why couldn't an "even kind of war be fought in Afghanistan"? Why not? Why not in Iraq? I don't think I buy your point.

I don't think "they're terrified", David. I think we're terrified. They don't have a damn thing to lose anymore. Your post bespeaks a basic misunderstanding of the "war on terror", and it is, sadly, echoed by this administration. Your comment that you just want "them dead" is also telling. They'll never be dead, David. For every bomb we drop, for every innocent Iraqi that gets killed in crossfire, there'll be more recruits. We have to fight them, make no mistake, but not like this. Invading Iraq was just plain stupid, and they are glad we did. Saddam was no friend of the Islamic fascists. We couldn't have done anything to make them happier.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 10:40 AM

Mara,

my point is that an assymetrical war requires at the very least special forces troops on the ground; and that in turn requires free access to the foreign soil in question. Without toppling the Taliban, i.e., INVASION, we would not have had that access, and we would have been reduced to lobbing cruise missiles and using foul language to attack the enemy. That's the Clinton model, and it's a joke. Invasion was necessary.

Re Iraq, I'm not convinced that killing terrorists isn't a good thing. The more jihadists arrive in Iraq, the less we'll have to hunt down in Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan, or Jordan. That's my informed opinion, and I'm sticking to it. If you disagree, vote for John Kerry, that's all.

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 10:46 AM

David Thomson,

I see no anti-Semitism in the Kerry campaign. None whatsoever. You are going to have to point to something specific.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2004 10:46 AM

Mara: George Bush is their recruitment poster boy

Al Qaeda recruitment was based on the idea that Americans don't fight back when attacked.

Whoops!

It's harder to find new recruits when you can't say that anymore.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2004 10:53 AM

Michael,
It's your opinion that AQ recruitment was based on us not fighting back. Frankly, I don't think that's the case. AQ recruitment is based on feelings of victimization - the siege mentality that the world is against all Moslems, and the only thing to do is fight back - don't forget it's an honor based society.

By all accounts, recruitment in AQ has increased since the invasion of Iraq which flies in the face of your assertion.

Look, the first rule of war is "know your enemy". We have shown ourselves to be woefully ignorant in this regard. According to Bush it's "they hate us 'cause we're free". This is nonsense, and I hope - I hope, no one on this site believes that pablum. If you don't know your enemy how the f*&@ can you defeat them? We've got to fight them a lot smarter than we're doing now. Bush is playing into their hands.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 11:02 AM

Mara: We have shown ourselves to be woefully ignorant in this regard.

Yes, you have.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2004 11:21 AM

Mara,

Have you ever heard of Sayyid Qutb? He is the ideological godfather of modern-day Islamofascism.

I suggest you read his books. If you can't be bothered, at least read Paul Berman's summary of them in the New York Times.

Take your own advice. Know your enemy.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2004 11:28 AM

According to Bush it's "they hate us 'cause we're free". This is nonsense,

Pray tell Mara, why exactly do islamic terrorists hate us? Is it because of our "foreign policy"? Is it because we're so eeeeeevil? I doubt you know our enemy any more than the average Lefty does.

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 11:31 AM

Michael,

Where does Qutb say the West won't fight back? That does not seem to be Qutb's point at all. I believe it was Bin Laden (and Saddam) who liked to proclaim the West was weak. Isn't there a contradiction within a movement that glorifies martyrdom, struggle and death and than on the other hand proclaims its enemy won't fight back? It certainly seems a stretch to say that al Qaeda recruitment was based on the notion that the US wouldn't fight. What is the point of martyring yourself to destroy a weak enemy? Where's the glory? I'll grant you that Islamofascism, like most fascism, is not an intellectually coherent philosophy. But judging by their actions, not their words, it is apparent that Islamic terrorists have spent most of their energy attacking the US, a country that will fight back, rather than attacking Germany or Great Britain, countries Al Qaeda despises for their weakness. Terrorists thrive on conflict, whether they are Islamic, IRA or Tamil. Of course this should not stop us from engaging directly with terrorism, but it is naive to fail to recognize that terrorists, over the short-term, will not be immediately dissuaded by engagement and may even be temporarily emboldened. Of course for anyone to claim they know Al Qaeda because they've read Qutb is a little like someone in 1917 saying they understand the Bolsheviks because they've read Karl Marx.

Posted by: vanya at October 20, 2004 11:55 AM

Vanya: Where does Qutb say the West won't fight back? That does not seem to be Qutb's point at all.

No, that was bin Laden's point. And he was wrong.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2004 12:05 PM

Vanya: Of course for anyone to claim they know Al Qaeda because they've read Qutb is a little like someone in 1917 saying they understand the Bolsheviks because they've read Karl Marx.

Of course. But what would you say to a naive liberal in the 1950s who said "don't tell me you actually think the Russians hate capitalism." You might cite the Communist Manifesto.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2004 12:07 PM

Michael,
Citing someone who was executed by his fellow Muslims in 1966 won't tell you much about AQ 38 years later, and if you are relying on his books to tell you something about AQ on the ground now it won't get you very far. I do know the enemy - I've lived in the middle east for many years, and know them very, very well.

I'll restate my point: the west has misunderstood the fundamental dynamics of the Islamic fundamentalist threat, and we do so at our own peril. Bush has played into their hands, and unless we get a lot smarter quickly (preferrably before Nov. 3) we're going to be in a lot more trouble.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 12:45 PM

To answer David's question: "why do they hate us". They hate us because they think we are out to destroy them. They draw this conclusion based on long standing feelings of victimization at the hands of western countries going back to the crusades, but for more recent events see David Fromkins's book,"A Peace to End All Peace".

In an "eye for an eye world" we end up with a world full of blind men.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 12:56 PM

High Stakes

Quite simply, Kerry must be stopped; and Bush must win

PAUL JOHNSON

The great issue in the 2004 election - it seems to me as an Englishman
- is, How seriously does the United States take its role as a world
leader, and how far will it make sacrifices, and risk unpopularity, to
discharge this duty with success and honor? In short, this is an
election of the greatest significance, for Americans and all the rest
of us. It will redefine what kind of a country the United States is,
and how far the rest of the world can rely upon her to preserve the
general safety and protect our civilization.

When George W. Bush was first elected, he stirred none of these
feelings, at home or abroad. He seems to have sought the presidency
more for dynastic than for any other reasons. September 11 changed all
that dramatically. It gave his presidency a purpose and a theme, and
imposed on him a mission. Now, we can all criticize the way he has
pursued that mission. He has certainly made mistakes in detail, notably
in underestimating the problems that have inevitably followed the
overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, and overestimating the
ability of U.S. forces to tackle them. On the other hand, he has been
absolutely right in estimating the seriousness of the threat
international terrorism poses to the entire world and on the need for
the United States to meet this threat with all the means at its
disposal and for as long as may be necessary. Equally, he has placed
these considerations right at the center of his policies and continued
to do so with total consistency, adamantine determination, and
remarkable courage, despite sneers and jeers, ridicule and venomous
opposition, and much unpopularity.

There is something grimly admirable about his stoicism in the face of
reverses, which reminds me of other moments in history: the dark winter
Washington faced in 1777-78, a time to "try men's souls," as Thomas
Paine put it, and the long succession of military failures Lincoln had
to bear and explain before he found a commander who could take the
cause to victory. There is nothing glamorous about the Bush presidency
and nothing exhilarating. It is all hard pounding, as Wellington said
of Waterloo, adding: "Let us see who can pound the hardest." Mastering
terrorism fired by a religious fanaticism straight from the Dark Ages
requires hard pounding of the dullest, most repetitious kind, in which
spectacular victories are not to be looked for, and all we can expect
are "blood, toil, tears, and sweat." However, something persuades me
that Bush - with his grimness and doggedness, his lack of sparkle but
his enviable concentration on the central issue - is the president
America needs at this difficult time. He has, it seems to me, the moral
right to ask American voters to give him the mandate to finish the job
he has started.

This impression is abundantly confirmed, indeed made overwhelming, when
we look at the alternative. Senator Kerry has not made much of an
impression in Europe, or indeed, I gather, in America. Many on the
Continent support him, because they hate Bush, not because of any
positive qualities Kerry possesses. Indeed we know of none, and there
are six good reasons that he should be mistrusted. First, and perhaps
most important, he seems to have no strong convictions about what he
would do if given office and power. The content and emphasis of his
campaign on terrorism, Iraq, and related issues have varied from week
to week. But they seem always to be determined by what his advisers,
analyzing the polls and other evidence, recommend, rather than by his
own judgment and convictions. In other words, he is saying, in effect:
"I do not know what to do but I will do what you, the voters, want."
This may be an acceptable strategy, on some issues and at certain
times. It is one way you can interpret democracy. But in a time of
crisis, and on an issue involving the security of the world, what is
needed is leadership. Kerry is abdicating that duty and proposing,
instead, that the voters should lead and he will follow.

Second, Kerry's personal character has, so far, appeared in a bad
light. He has always presented himself, for the purpose of
Massachusetts vote-getting, as a Boston Catholic of presumably Irish
origins. This side of Kerry is fundamentally dishonest. He does not
follow Catholic teachings, certainly in his views on such issues as
abortion - especially when he feels additional votes are to be won by
rejecting Catholic doctrine. This is bad enough. But since the campaign
began it has emerged that Kerry's origins are not in the Boston-Irish
community but in Germanic Judaism. Kerry knew this all along, and
deliberately concealed it for political purposes. If a man will mislead
about such matters, he will mislead about anything.

There is, thirdly, Kerry's long record of contradictions and
uncertainties as a senator and his apparent inability to pursue a
consistent policy on major issues. Fourth is his posturing over his
military record, highlighted by his embarrassing pseudo-military salute
when accepting the nomination. Fifth is his disturbing lifestyle,
combining liberal - even radical - politics with being the husband, in
succession, of two heiresses, one worth $300 million and the other $1
billion. The Kerrys have five palatial homes and a personal jet, wealth
buttressed by the usual team of lawyers and financial advisers to
provide the best methods of tax-avoidance. Sixth and last is the Kerry
team: who seem to combine considerable skills in electioneering with a
variety of opinions on all key issues.

Indeed, it is when one looks at Kerry's closest associates that one's
doubts about his suitability become certainties. Kerry may dislike his
running-mate, and those feelings may be reciprocated - but that does
not mean a great deal. More important is that the man Kerry would have
as his vice president is an ambulance-chasing lawyer of precisely the
kind the American system has spawned in recent decades, to its great
loss and peril, and that is already establishing a foothold in Britain
and other European countries. This aggressive legalism - what in
England we call "vexatious litigation" - is surely a characteristic
America does not want at the top of its constitutional system.

Of Kerry's backers, maybe the most prominent is George Soros, a man who
made his billions through the kind of unscrupulous manipulations that
(in Marxist folklore) characterize "finance capitalism." This is the
man who did everything in his power to wreck the currency of Britain,
America's principal ally, during the EU exchange-rate crisis - not out
of conviction but simply to make vast sums of money. He has also used
his immense resources to interfere in the domestic affairs of half a
dozen other countries, some of them small enough for serious meddling
to be hard to resist. One has to ask: Why is a man like Soros so eager
to see Kerry in the White House? The question is especially pertinent
since he is not alone among the superrich wishing to see Bush beaten.
There are several other huge fortunes backing Kerry.

Among the wide spectrum of prominent Bush-haters there is the normal
clutter of Hollywood performers and showbiz self-advertisers. That is
to be expected. More noticeable, this time, are the large numbers of
novelists, playwrights, and moviemakers who have lined up to discharge
venomous salvos at the incumbent. I don't recall any occasion,
certainly not since the age of FDR, when so much partisan election
material has been produced by intellectuals of the Left, not only in
the United States but in Europe, especially in Britain, France, and
Germany. These intellectuals - many of them with long and lugubrious
records of supporting lost left-wing causes, from the Soviet empire to
Castro's aggressive adventures in Africa, and who have in their time
backed Mengistu in Ethiopia, Qaddafi in Libya, Pol Pot in Cambodia, and
the Sandinistas in Nicaragua - seem to have a personal hatred of Bush
that defies rational analysis.

Behind this front line of articulate Bushicides (one left-wing
columnist in Britain actually offered a large sum of money to anyone
who would assassinate the president) there is the usual cast of
Continental suspects, led by Chirac in France and the superbureaucrats
of Brussels. As one who regularly reads Le Monde, I find it hard to
convey the intensity of the desire of official France to replace Bush
with Kerry. Anti-Americanism has seldom been stronger in Continental
Europe, and Bush seems to personify in his simple, uncomplicated self
all the things these people most hate about America - precisely because
he is so American. Anti-Americanism, like anti-Semitism, is not, of
course, a rational reflex. It is, rather, a mental disease, and the
Continentals are currently suffering from a virulent spasm of the
infection, as always happens when America exerts strong and unbending
leadership.

Behind this second line of adversaries there is a far more sinister
third. All the elements of anarchy and unrest in the Middle East and
Muslim Asia and Africa are clamoring and praying for a Kerry victory.
The mullahs and the imams, the gunmen and their arms suppliers and
paymasters, all those who stand to profit - politically, financially,
and emotionally - from the total breakdown of order, the eclipse of
democracy, and the defeat of the rule of law, want to see Bush
replaced. His defeat on November 2 will be greeted, in Arab capitals,
by shouts of triumph from fundamentalist mobs of exactly the kind that
greeted the news that the Twin Towers had collapsed and their occupants
been exterminated.

I cannot recall any election when the enemies of America all over the
world have been so unanimous in hoping for the victory of one
candidate. That is the overwhelming reason that John Kerry must be
defeated, heavily and comprehensively.

Posted by: Barney at October 20, 2004 01:00 PM

In the unlikely event Bush is elected my guess is that there will be a serious dirty bomb attack on an American city after the election

Ooh, you’re really scaring me here. Please, not the dirty bomb attack. Maybe I should vote for Kerry!

In fact, a dirty bomb attack would cause less destruction than al Qaeda’s old tactic of blowing up already-existing buildings using gas or fuel.

Unless you have some inside knowledge about impending attacks (in which case, you should probably talk to the FBI), why the pathetic attempt to scare us?

By the way, where in the Middle East did you live?

Posted by: mary at October 20, 2004 01:06 PM

They hate us because they think we are out to destroy them.

Mara,

last I heard, we are trying to destroy them. That's why they call it WAR.

You cite feelings of victimization by the West. These aren't new facts Mara. And you cite the Crusades, also not a new revelation. Perhaps us ignorant conservatives know the enemy better than you give us credit for?

Yet though are facts are the same, our conclusions are vastly different.

For instance, simply because they perceive themselves to be "victims" doesn't make us victimizers. Simply because they cite "the Crusades" doesn't negate their own history jihad beginning in 700 A.D. when they conquered the christian provinces of Palestine, Syria and Antioch. The "Crusades" doesn't negate the fact that their jihad ended only recently at the gates of Vienna in 1786. They can cry VICTIMHOOD all they wan't; but if they bomb us, we should still CRUSH THEM.

I think we understand each other just fine.

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 01:13 PM

Barney --
"I cannot recall any election when the enemies of America all over the world have been so unanimous in hoping for the victory of one candidate. That is the overwhelming reason that John Kerry must be
defeated, heavily and comprehensively."

Then you are saying that our votes should be based on the wishes of the rest of the world, rather than considerations of our own. Rather than electing Bush because he is the better man for the job, we should elect him because it will piss off all the right people. That's the most idiotic thing I've read in ages.

Posted by: markus rose at October 20, 2004 01:16 PM

Barney,
Your personal attacks on Kerry are just silly, and I'm not going to waste time responding to them. He is, after all, running against a guy who hasn't succeeded at anything, anytime, anywhere in his entire life. Besides, personal attacks on Kerry, or against Bush simply don't add to the conversation.

I will respond, however, to your suggestion that this is a high stakes election and what happens on Nov. 2 could determine this country's future. I agree with you, and it is because of the spectacular failure of the current administration to 1) address the threat of terrorism at its source, 2) secure this country's borders and infrastructure 3) and their gross mishandling of the war in Iraq that I believe that if Bush wins this election we will experience far worse than we have already from Islamic terrorists. Thanks to this administration we no longer enjoy close ties to our former allies nor do they share their intelligence networks with us as before. Our "go it alone" attitude has lost us the close working relationships that we once enjoyed. It is this bunker mentality that keeps us swatting away reactively. We aren't ahead of the game here, folks. They're ahead of us, and we're just reacting.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 01:20 PM

David -- I want to clarify: when you say "if they bomb us, we should still CRUSH THEM" do you part company with those like me who insist on not violating the laws of war in doing this? Meaning specifically, that there can be no deliberate targeting of civilians in the enemy country; and also that any refugees created in that or any subsequently ensuing wars must be given the right to return to their homes after an armstice or cease fire? I can very easily see Israel getting drawn into a full-blown conflict, and it is important to establish that any Palestinians involuntarily displaced under such circumstances would have the full right of return to the West Bank or Gaza, in accord with the Geneva conventions.

Posted by: markus rose at October 20, 2004 01:28 PM

Mary,
I'm thrilled if a dirty bomb attack would cause less damage than blowing up buildings. This, however, does not necessarily advance your argument. Either way, they're not good things to happen.

I've lived in several middle eastern countries. I saw that they are every bit as afraid of Islamic fundamentalism as we are.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 01:31 PM

Mara: They hate us because they think we are out to destroy them.

We are out to destroy them. ("Them" being Islamofascists, not your average Muslim.)

This is war, Mara. We are not fucking around. Co-existence is neither possible nor desirable. You had better get used to it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2004 01:33 PM

That's right, Michael, this is war, and that gets to the heart of what I'm trying to say. We should be fighting Islamic terrorism - wherever that may be, and we aren't doing that. We went after Saddam Hussein who'd spent his entire life suppressing Islamic fundamentalism in his own country, too. I'm not sorry to see the end of him - he was a nutjob of the first water, but he wasn't an Islamic terrorist. No amount of explanations from anyone can claim that he was.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 01:53 PM

Yes, Mara, I know Saddam was not an Islamic terrorist. He was a Baath Party fascist. He needed to go, too, for a host of other reasons.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2004 01:57 PM

If I am not mistaken, the long post above from Barney is verbatim essay from British historian Paul Johnson. Responders seem to be under a different impression. Markus, I suspect you not only misreading the source of the quotation you reproduce, but its sentiment, too.

Posted by: Zacek at October 20, 2004 01:57 PM

Mara - my argument is that you are trying to scare us (using fairly pathetic tactics).

My question was 'Why?'

Posted by: mary at October 20, 2004 01:58 PM

Meaning specifically, that there can be no deliberate targeting of civilians in the enemy country; and also that any refugees created in that or any subsequently ensuing wars must be given the right to return to their homes after an armstice or cease fire?

Markus,

those are interesting questions. Re "rules of war", I'm a bloodthirsty and evil conservative, it's true; but I'm still in favor of minimizing civilians casualties at almost every cost. We should only target combatants when at all possible, not the people that are supporting them, unless even that becomes absolutely necessary.

re "refugees", that all depends. If someone attacks me, and in my counterattack I'm able to capture the agressor's territory, all bets are off. If they want that land back, they'll have to pay a high price for it.

In the case of current palestinians getting displaced in the event of a war, I favor the status quo and would not look kindly upon Israel creating a humanitarian crisis. But Markus, it's so unlikely as to be irrelevant.

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 02:03 PM

Rather than electing Bush because he is the better man for the job, we should elect him because it will piss off all the right people. That's the most idiotic thing I've read in ages.

Markus,

you mustn't misunderstand; that's just the icing on the cake, an added bonus, the fringe benefit.

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 02:08 PM

Mary,
Why am I trying to scare you? I'm not. I'm pointing out something fairly obvious: Bush invaded Iraq (a huge mistake in my estimation because they are not AQ, but they are Moslem). If we decide to reward Bush for this by electing him, terrorists will hold us culpable for this blindingly obvious miscalculation, too. I'm all for fighting AQ, Mary, but there's such a thing as keeping your powder dry, and fighting the right battles. We've blown our wad on Saddam Hussein, and AQ is still out there. Just waiting.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 02:23 PM

And you base your 'warnings' on what verifiable evidence?

It's a fact that al qaeda has been at war with us for many years. Iraq didn't change that.

During a time of 'peace', before 9/11, Al Qaeda had 20,000 fighters.

They have 18,000 now. From that evidence, I'd guess that peace, not war, promotes terrorism.

Posted by: mary at October 20, 2004 02:31 PM

Mary,

where did you get your numbers from.

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 02:32 PM

David - from MSNBC, under the misleading title:

Think tank says network boosted by U.S. conflict in Iraq

"The estimate of 18,000 fighters was based on intelligence estimates that al-Qaida trained at least 20,000 fighters in its training camps in Afghanistan before the United States and its allies ousted the Taliban regime. In the ensuing war on terror, some 2,000 al-Qaida fighters have been killed or captured, the survey said."

Actually, 'peace' doesn't promote terrorism - but the idea that we should be able to let our defenses down does historically, tend to encourage violence against us. 9/11 was a peacetime attack.

Posted by: mary at October 20, 2004 02:53 PM

Michael,

"We are out to destroy them. ("Them" being Islamofascists, not your average Muslim.)

This is war, Mara. We are not fucking around. Co-existence is neither possible nor desirable. You had better get used to it."

Arguably Bush is fucking around, that's the problem with Bush. As to your first point, how do we know who "they" are? This is not a war in any conventional sense. In WWII the enemy gnerally wore uniforms and carried party cards. In the Cold War it was fairly clear who the enemy was. But there is no "islamofascist" party and no independent state that is unambiguosly "islamofascist," at least not since the Taliban fell. You don't want to destroy average muslims but unfortunately many average muslims draw the line between believer and fascist further down the continuum than most Westerners. When you say destroy "them" are you proposing surgical attacks against known leaders and sympathizers with islamofascist type organizations? Or a full-scale war against Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Yemen? We cannot fight a war effectively until our leaders clearly and unambiguosly tell us with whom we are fighting and why. This is where both Bush and Kerry are abdicating.

Posted by: vanya at October 20, 2004 03:03 PM

Mara - don't know if you're a regular reader of the Belmont Club but he had an excellent post re network or systems theory and its implication that terrorist groups are reduced to operating units of around 100 or less unless they have the sanctuary of a nation state from which to operate and coordinate (I am butchering the Belmont Club analysis here but that was the general idea). Bush's strategy grasps this point.
Secondly - you dwell on the "grievance" argument of AQ in stating why invading Iraq will result in an increased number of terrorist recruits. That may be true in the short run but don't forget that among his initial grievances UBL listed the sanctions on Iraq - because of the death toll to ordinary Iraqis (which means that indefinite containment of Saddam by sanctions was not in fact an option). Another oft-cited grievance was America's historical support for dictators in the ME, which Bush has done a 180 on in overturning both the Taliban and Saddam. It is obviously no short term prospect but until the ME joins the modern world and becomes a region full of economic development, scientific inquiry, open expression of ideas etc etc - in other words a place of PRIDE - (the psychology of humiliation, shame, pride, revenge being so central to the terrorist mentality - not to mention a major cause of the resentment of Israel) - nothing will change. You are thinking too short term. But short term thinking will lead to long term tragedy. Bush is being far sighted about this. Plus - he is simultaneously putting pressure on the ME to reform from within. Kerry has said virtually nothing about pressing for reform in the ME. This is a fragile process which has already begun. Ignore the grumblings. People in the ME are already listening despite their annoyance that the US is pressuring them. Kerry is too focused on the superficial grumblings.

Posted by: Caroline at October 20, 2004 03:05 PM

And also - as someone pointed out above - Iraq, given its recent secular history, its educated middle class etc etc actually has a good chance of making a go at prosperity. It is the perfect place to plant the seed. (ditto iran). In contrast, Pakistan, Syria and Saudi Arabia simply don't have these advantages. Just another good reason among many why the Iraq war was a good idea from a long-term strategic point of view. Why does the left insist on dumbing itself down and chanting the WMD mantra. Thankfully we got rid of Saddam before he actually had the WMD or our hands would be tied. I assume the left would agree as they are the ones most loudly indicting the Bush administration for a nuclear NK ( and soon to be) nuclear Iran.

Posted by: Caroline at October 20, 2004 03:20 PM

Caroline,
Thanks for your comments. I do think, however, that you've got it backwards. I think Bush is the short term thinker. He hasn't understood the roots of Islamic terrorism, (as evidenced by his invasion of Iraq), and until that happens we're sunk.

Long term strategizing about reform in the ME is little more, I fear, than a reheated version of the "white man's burden" imperialist thinking of the last century. They called it "the great game" back then. Britain came to grief in the ME, and I fear we will, too. Who was it said "those that don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it?"

We do have people on the inside of the CIA who understand this. I'm thinking of the book put out recently by an anonymous writer called "Imperial Hubris". It's well worth a read.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 03:26 PM

think Bush is the short term thinker. He hasn't understood the roots of Islamic terrorism,

Mara Mara Mara,

What would those "roots" be? the "Crusades"? some imagined "victimhood"? That's War on Terror 101.

Based on your own analysis of the situation, I'm willing to bet Bush knows far more about AQ than you do. He only has highly paid experts advising him, and you only have one highly biased book you've read on the subject, if that.

It's more likely that Bush does know what the roots of AQ terrorism are and doesn't care. Why should it matter? He wants to kill them, not win them over.

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 03:36 PM

David (x3),
It's obvious that your mind is closed on the subject, and I'm certainly not going to engage in a sandbox debate with you. You haven't read the book so you're not in a position to judge whether it's biased or not.

You say Bush wants to kill them not win them over.
I don't want to "win them over" either. I'm for fighting them smarter, a response we're not likely to see from the Bush administration any time soon.

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 03:42 PM

I just couldn't say it any better than this article from Time.

Why al-Qaeda Thrives
President Bush says Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, but security experts say Iraq is the reason Bin Laden's movement is growing
By TONY KARON

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,642825,00.html

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 03:58 PM

Mara,

the Israelis said it best right after they took out Hama's leadership: although palestinian terrorists are now temporarily more motivated; they are now less capable.

The same applies to AQ. Let's say AQ's numbers have increased since the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm willing to concede it's a possibility, though it's unproven. But nobody can argue that AQ's capabilities have been drastically reduced.

And by the way, you don't strike me as so open-minded yourself.

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 04:10 PM

But nobody can argue that AQ's capabilities have been drastically reduced.

I'm afraid I couldn't agree with you more, David.
Open minded? I'm here, aren't I?

Posted by: Mara at October 20, 2004 04:15 PM

Mara,

did you mean DISagree?

Posted by: David at October 20, 2004 04:17 PM

Mara - I had to scroll back a bit to find a post where you explicitly stated your view as to the "root causes" of Islamic extremism. You trace it to longstanding feelings of victimization dating back to the Crusades and their belief that we are out to destroy them. I haven't read the book you recommend but a loose understanding of history certainly tells me that the Muslims have been quite successful inperialists over the course of history (they could certainly take credit for more imperialism historically than the US has shown). Also, there have been quite a few examples in recent US military history where we came to the aid of Muslims, which to the impartial eye would indicate that we have most certainly not been out to "destroy" them. But I want to go to your central point - which I think is correct - and that is the sense of victimization that Muslims feel. This gets once again to the heart of the shame/pride/revenge psychology which is so evidently prevalent in the modern Muslim culture. And it seems to me that the best way to approach that in the long term is not to coddle that sense of victimization - but rather to genuinely help the Muslim world transcend it. Right now what I see is false pride. And false pride is a dangerous thing because it is not based in reality (are you familiar with narcissistic personality disorder and how destructive it is?). Rather the only long-term antidote is REAL pride. Pride which is based not in some remote historical past and in narcissistic fantasies of restoring that glorious past - but based in the NOW - in real achievements in the present. That means innovation, scientific inquiry, the arts and so on. In other words real achievements that exist in the present and that can only thrive in an open society. You are talking about enabling a sense of victimhood. It never works. Once again - I think Bush is the one with the long term vision here. Call it tough love if you will.

Posted by: Caroline at October 20, 2004 04:45 PM

Al Qaeda recruitment was based on the idea that Americans don't fight back when attacked.

Whoops!

It's harder to find new recruits when you can't say that anymore

There are so many things wrong with that justification:

1. It's based on a single statement of OBL back in what, 2000?

Seriously, do you really think that the pitch is still "join us to fight America, because they won't fight back? Of course it's fucking not, it's "join us to defend Islam against the Crusaders".

BTW, which do you think is more effective?

2. We had already proved that we were prepared to fight back against Islamicist terrorists in Afghanistan. And while a large part of the American population may have been fooled into believing that Al Qaeda was in Iraq, I think it's safe to assume that they were not.

3. Is there any evidence at all that Iraq has reduced Al Qaeda recruitment. Any at all?

Seriously, do you honestly believe that the ground for recruitment of extremists in the ME is less fertile now than it was pre-Iraq? I want to hear you say it.

Posted by: Mork at October 20, 2004 04:55 PM

Mork - I'll answer you. No - not in the short run necessarily. Although hopefully in the short run they're heading to Iraq where we can dispose of them (sorry for how harsh that sounds). But again - thats a very short term view of the conflict. I happen to agree with Daniel Pipes that in the long term we as westerners cannot possibly defeat this enemy. In the long term it will have to be moderate Muslims who defeat this enemy. And if you have been following the news in Iraq surely you can see that the extremists constantly blowing up innocent Muslim Iraqis - who are sick of 30 years of tyrrany and want to live in peace -are quite distinctly turning against their own extremist Muslim brethren. Give these guys enough rope to hang themselves and they will. At the same time - give their moderate Muslim brothers something to care about and defend against the extremists and they will be the ones proffering the rope. That appears to me to be what is already happening.

Posted by: Caroline at October 20, 2004 05:16 PM

Whoops - should have said they (the Iraqis) will be the ones tightening the noose. We're the ones proffering the rope. Oh well - I'm not a writer - metaphor's not my strong suit. Hopefully you get my point.

Posted by: Caroline at October 20, 2004 05:23 PM

Caroline - I'd like to believe you, but my eyes and my ears tell me that your post is nothing but wishful thinking.

The null hypothesis here is the number of people that would have resorted to violence in the Islamicist cause if the invasion of Iraq had occurred. Even if, as you say, the actions of Islamicists are provoking a counter-reaction that will eventually result in some sort of civil war, the fact of the matter is that the intensity of the conflict has resulted in a manyfold increase in the number of individuals who are personally engaged in the Islamicist struggle. In short, you have more people, more intensely engaged.

Now, the real problem is that once that genie's out of the bottle, it's very hard to put away. The flow-on effects from giving a diffuse movement something around which to coalesce are one of the key lessons of the role that the Afghan resistance to the soviet union had in creating a viable Islamacist movement in the first place. This particular branch of Islam was nothing before the Afghan resistance gave it purpose, and from purpose flowed organization, and thus a movement was born that became the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

It's just not realistic to think we can create this monster and then destroy it, because monsters like that can't be destroyed by military means alone.

Posted by: Mork at October 20, 2004 05:30 PM

No one posting so I will take the liberty of asking whether anyone has seen the mountain climbing movie "Touching the Void" - out on DVD. Its about 2 British climbers on an impossible Peruvian mountain in the late 80's - Joe and Simon. They get into serious trouble and Simon cuts Joe's rope, leaving him in a hopeless situation on the edge of a crevice in the snow for several days with no hope of rescue (and with a broken leg). He realizes that there is no hope and takes the bold (and seemingly suicidal) decision to lower himself further into the dark and deep crevice - not knowing if that will lead to the way out but knowing that he can't just remain on the edge of the crevice. He finds the way out at the bottom of the crevice and survives. I bring this up because what Bush is doing is incredibly bold and risky. But we have been sitting on the edge of the crevice for a long time and there is no obvious rescue coming. For many Americans the situation is not yet so dire that it warrants descending into the crevice to find a way out. I personally might have once thought that way but I have close friends and family in the direct line of fire because they work or live around both the DC Capital and in the heart of NYC - as so may Americans do and I myself work in a prominent "soft" target. It is not an abstract concept any more - the idea of vanishing in an instant. That means that each of us has something to say about this that we wouldn't have been able to say before - when we were sitting safely on the sidelines, out of harm's way. I look around now and see us sitting on the edge of the crevice and perhaps the fact that I am sitting there personally makes me more reckless. The left certainly seems to think that Bush is being reckless. I happen to agree with him that the only way out is going down deeper - into the crevice.

Posted by: Caroline at October 20, 2004 05:46 PM

Mork - hasn't it actually been a brief lull in histiorical terms that Islam Has NOT been on the march? Are you aware that the origins of al Queda - in the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt - were created by the Nazis 50 years ago? What was the lapse between that and the Ottoman empire? A very brief historical interlude actually. War was declared on us. We showed up for the fight. Now we are surprised and fearful to see that the enemy is there on the battlefield? Are you saying that by showing up we created all those guys arrayed before us on the field? What is the alternative? Suffer endless grenades aimed at the locker room while we hunker down, thinking we can endlessly delay showing up on the field? Is there any way to know with certainty? I completely understand the logic of staying in the lockers. But is that really a viable long term strategy? Especially if you consider that we have the better team by all objective measures and also if you believe - as I do - that we have more to offer if we win than they do if they win?

Posted by: Caroline at October 20, 2004 06:05 PM

Caroline - no one is suggesting doing nothing. The question is what is the most effective response.

There's a fundamental test whether we are killing more terrorists than we're creating.

By creating a propaganda and a rallying point for Islamic extremists, in an action that was not even aimed at the terrorists or their networks, we have been badly failing that test.

In other words, we've given the terrorists a freebie - we don't so much care about giving them propaganda if what we're doing actually reduces their capacity to fight - but here, we've handed it to them on a plate.

Posted by: Mork at October 20, 2004 06:21 PM

Mork - did Spain fail that test? Didn't they pass with flying colors - electing Zapatero and then pulling their troops out of Iraq, in response to the terrorists demands? Then please explain to me why the Spaniards just foiled a plot against extremists planning to blow up their government? Have the Spaniards correctly understood the grievances and the psychology of AQ? How does what Kerry offers - with his talk of dialogue with the clerics and mullahs - differ? I really don't think you have an answer to that. You believe in reason and fairness. I see zero evidence that Kerry better understands the psychology of AQ and will fight a more effective war on terror. He is actually missing the root causes - as are you and Mara. I stand with the "tough love" approach - which Bush is executing - and which I mention in a previous post.

Posted by: Caroline at October 20, 2004 07:19 PM

Caroline - I don't think we have a sufficiently common understanding of the facts to continue a useful dialogue.

Posted by: Mork at October 20, 2004 07:31 PM

Mork - fair enough - and I agree with you - we have created a "propoganda and a rallying point for Islamic extremists". It's called the United States. It's not precisely that they hate our "freedoms". Its that our freedoms are the cause of our success and cultural ascendancy which serve as a constant and bitter reminder of their failure. So in their impotence and narcissistic rage they dream of the glorious past. The only long-term antidote to their bitterness and rage is to bring them into the present and give them something to be genuinely proud of. I hope the Iraqis will make a good start of it.

Posted by: Caroline at October 20, 2004 08:02 PM

I hope the Iraqis will make a good start of it.

And I hope that the Yankees rebound from their 7-run deficit.

But it ain't gonna happen, and wishing won't make it so.

Posted by: Mork at October 20, 2004 08:11 PM

“David Thomson,

I see no anti-Semitism in the Kerry campaign. None whatsoever. You are going to have to point to something specific.”

The very words of Markus Rose provide ample evidence:

“"David Thomson -- I doubt that a third of Kerry's supporters are knowledgable enough to know that Israel does in fact victimize Palestinians."

What more do you require? At least a third of John Kerry’s supporters are members of the far Left. They perceive Israel as a criminal government victimizing the Palestinians. Do we reside on the same planet? On top of it, why was Al Sharpton allowed to give a major speech to the Democratic convention?

Is Markus Rose perhaps Jewish? If so, is he an Uncle Tom, a self hating Jew like George Soros?

Posted by: David Thomson at October 20, 2004 08:35 PM

Mork: it ain't gonna happen

I wish I could see the future. It must be pretty cool to have that talent.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2004 08:55 PM

David Thomson: Is Markus Rose perhaps Jewish? If so, is he an Uncle Tom, a self hating Jew like George Soros?

Knock it off. I'm serious.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2004 08:56 PM

I wish I could see the future. It must be pretty cool to have that talent.

No, Michael, you don't need to see into the future. You just need to be able to calculate probablities based on available data.

Posted by: Mork at October 20, 2004 09:08 PM

"David Thomson: Is Markus Rose perhaps Jewish? If so, is he an Uncle Tom, a self hating Jew like George Soros?

Knock it off. I'm serious."

I've obviously have touched a nerve. What other conclusion should one reach concerning Mr. Rose?

Posted by: David Thomson at October 20, 2004 09:28 PM

David: I've obviously have touched a nerve

Markus has been a regular around here for a long time. I enjoy his commentary whether I agree with him or not. He's a smart guy who argues honestly and honorably. That's the "nerve" you touched. I have no idea if he's Jewish (self-hating or not) but I can definitely say he is not anti-Semitic.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2004 09:35 PM

“I have no idea if he's Jewish (self-hating or not) but I can definitely say he is not anti-Semitic.”

The facts are not on your side. Here is the evidence:“"David Thomson -- I doubt that a third of Kerry's supporters are knowledgable enough to know that Israel does in fact victimize Palestinians."

Mr. Rose is entering David Duke territory:

http://davidduke.org/

The charge that Israel victimizes the Palestinians is a slander. There’s no other way to look at the matter. Oh by the way, David Duke is advocating against George W. Bush.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 20, 2004 09:44 PM

David Thomson -- Every responsible observer recognizes that Israel victimizes Palestinians to some extent, whether or not they agree on whether Israel has any choice in the matter. If a seven or eight year old Palestinian kid playing in his backyard is killed by a missle fired from a helicoptor, intended for the Hamas member who lives next door, is NOT a victim, then what the hell is he.

Lots of Jews and Israelis also, are critical of Israeli policy toward Palestinians, settlers, etc. If you won't read Tikkun, then read the online version of Tikkun, Israel's liberal leaning paper.

It takes a lot of chutzpah, I must say, to tell the 75-80% percent of the American Jewish community, including me, that we are all such incredibly stupid idiots that we are actually supporting a candidate for President who is running an "unsubtle" antisemitic campaign.

Seriously, I thought you were going to mention Kerry's suggestion to appoint Jim "fuck the Jews" Baker (who is of course much closer to Bush and much more involved with his campaign than Soros will ever be for Kerry), as envoy to the Middle east or something. (The candidate with the unsubtle antisemitic campaign revoked that suggestion within 24 hours.)

Seriously, you don't put up much of a counterargument. Are you in high school? If so, don't be discouraged, your passion is appreciated, you just need to read more books, on all sides of this issue.

Posted by: markus rose at October 21, 2004 08:06 AM

Typo: I meant to say, David, if you're not willing to read Tikkun (published by American Jews), then read Haaretz, the liberal leaning Israeli newpaper.

http://www.haaretzdaily.com/

Posted by: markus rose at October 21, 2004 08:09 AM

This gets once again to the heart of the shame/pride/revenge psychology which is so evidently prevalent in the modern Muslim culture. And it seems to me that the best way to approach that in the long term is not to coddle that sense of victimization - but rather to genuinely help the Muslim world transcend it.

I'm back, and wanted to respond to Caroline's comments above. I couldn't agree with you more - I, for one, don't want to coddle Islamic fundamentalism. There seems to be a knee jerk reaction that if you criticize the Bush administration's ham handed approach you are automatically against hitting back. That simply is not the case. I am for hitting back - smarter. This is not happening right now. I'll go back to my original assertion that invading Iraq was just plain stupid because it leads right into my next point.

You write in another post: In the long term it will have to be moderate Muslims who defeat this enemy. And if you have been following the news in Iraq surely you can see that the extremists constantly blowing up innocent Muslim Iraqis - who are sick of 30 years of tyrrany and want to live in peace -are quite distinctly turning against their own extremist Muslim brethren. One of the major problems with the invasion of Iraq is that it has alienated moderate Muslims from us. I absolutely disagree with your assertion that extremists blowing up innocent Iraqis are turning against their own extremist brethren. This just isn't happening. Years ago when we applied sanctions in Iraq in an effort to force Hussein to comply with weapons inspections we made similar arguments. It's not us - it's Hussein you should blame for your dying children. It didn't work. They wanted those sanctions lifted and they blamed us for imposing them. It's the same now. They want us out of there and they blame us for the mess that Iraq is in now. They don't like the violence of extremists, but they point to us and say, "you started it".

I cannot say this strongly enough: invading Iraq was completely the wrong way to fight Islamic terrorism. Now that we've opened this pandora's box we have wounded ourselves critically in this war.

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 08:52 AM

Mara -- I think the only thing we can say about Iraq is: we don't know, and the jury is still out. We really need to give them five or ten or twenty years without sanctions. There are some indications that Islamic fundamentalist elements, particularly of the Shiite variety, have already consolidated a lot of control and influence on the ground in certain towns and cities, and will do quite well initially in elections. The demands of federation, as well as the Baathist legacy of mostly promoting secularism and opportunity for women -- its only two slightly positive aspects as far as I can tell -- will hopefully limit such theocratic excesses. There are also indications that people in places like Fallujah for instance are starting to express dissatisfaction with the strict Islamic rule they are being subjected to by many of the foreign jihadists running their cities.

Iraq is a messy disaster right now, it could get worse, and a lot of people have lost their lives in fighting a war that was really not necessary from the standpoint of defending or protecting America. But just because it wasn't necessary does not mean it cannot sooner or later turn out for the better on balance. As far as I can see, the Iraqis had no hope or opportunity under Saadam and Qusay. It could all turn to shit, if it hasn't completely done so already, but at least they will have a chance.

Posted by: markus rose at October 21, 2004 09:55 AM

After Chris Johnson rebutted Michael, I did a long fisking of Chris, at
Kerry supporter wrong wrong wrong

The language of the future is probability, chances of one event or another. I think it's about 51/49 for Bush right now. In chances. Low odd events do happen, all too often.

Mork, what are your probabilities on Iran getting nukes in the next 4 years? (perhaps you missed my late challenge on the coffeshop thread -- your content has gone up!)

How to support moderate Iraqi Muslims -- and motivating them into taking action against Iraqi and (non-Iraqi) Arab terrorists? Nobody knows the answer. The Iraqi people are the only ones who can give themselves freedom -- from Iraqi and other terrorists fighting against it.

But Bush's big success, and huge competence in Afghanistan, looks quite likely to be successful enough in Iraq, in January.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 21, 2004 10:22 AM

I don't necessarily disagree with your assessment that the jury is still out on Iraq even if it does reduce the entire argument for Iraq to "any means justifies the end", in a situation where the end is unknown and years away.

However, let me reiterate that we have now committed ourselves to an expensive (in terms of misery and money) enterprise that does little or nothing towards winning the battle with Al Queda, and which, in fact, may hurt us, not only in the short run, but in the long run as well.

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 10:42 AM

But Bush's big success, and huge competence in Afghanistan, looks quite likely to be successful enough in Iraq, in January.

I sure don't know where you're getting this information from. What big success?

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 10:45 AM

Mara -- I can argue both sides of this issue, and I do so, not to be a smartass, but because I think the truth encompasses both sides.

Invading Iraq has resulted in:
1. no troops in Saudi Arabia
2. no more sanctions
Both of these should REDUCE arab and muslim animosity.
3. one fewer mortal enemy for the state of israel, which could allow us to put more pressure on Israel until it offers the Palestinians a more just settlement. Unfortunately, likudniks continue to rule the roost everywhere in Washington DC but the State Department.
4. a signal sent to rulers of other countries to avoid associating with and to crack down on al-qaeda and similar groups. In autocratic police state like countries, this is a power they CAN exercise.
5. a possibility (and nothing more) of a more affluent, modern, tolerant, democratic and western-influenced future for the people of Iraq. Or something very different from this vision, but which for the first time they will have chosen through ballots, not through bullets.

There's a bunch of things that have gone wrong and could get worse in the future, and some bad consequences of the invasion. The two worst by far are the fact it has probably caused Iranians to speed up their nuke program, and it has probably helped radical Islamist recruiting shortterm.

Basically, I support President Bush's agenda for the Middle East, but I want it combined with his father's more evenhanded policy toward Israel, and I want it implemented by a competent, non-obnoxious leader like John Kerry. I'm not holding my breath for this, but its where I stand.

Posted by: markus rose at October 21, 2004 11:20 AM

I can't find much to argue with in your summary, Markus. I feel pretty much the same way, given that Bush did invade Iraq. I still hold that was a huge mistake, but now that it's a fact, I feel we have to do the best we can.

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 11:34 AM

Every responsible observer recognizes that Israel victimizes Palestinians to some extent, whether or not they agree on whether Israel has any choice in the matter. If a seven or eight year old Palestinian kid playing in his backyard is killed by a missle fired from a helicoptor, intended for the Hamas member who lives next door, is NOT a victim, then what the hell is he.

Markus,

of course they must be "responsible"; to YOU.

On the macro level, paleostinians are their own biggest victimizers. Historically as a people every decision they've made has turned right around and bit them in the ass-- turning down the U.N. partition plan in '48, to walking out of Oslo. If paleostinians are being victimized, it's largely a result of their own doings.

On the micro level, if paleostinian children are getting killed in Israeli strikes, it's probably because paleostinian terrorists are hiding behind them. Please don't deny that paleostinian fighters and terrorists have a HISTORY of hiding behind U.N. peacekeepers, and women and children.

Posted by: David at October 21, 2004 12:44 PM

David,
The persistence of the Palestinian people to see themselves as victims despite having made many wrong choices for themselves should give you pause as you think about the current attitude of moderate Iraqis towards US troops today. They will not see extremists within their midst as responsible for the current mess. They'll hold us responsible, and they'll go on feeling like that for a long, long time.

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 12:56 PM

Mara,

it does give me pause. That's why I think we need to get the job done and then get the hell out of there.

Posted by: David at October 21, 2004 12:59 PM


A good article out today in The New Republic
by Spencer Ackermann outlining why Kerry will do a better job of fighting terrorists than Bush has done. Well worth reading if you have an open mind.

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 01:07 PM

David,
It's getting the job done that's the hard part, isn't it? That's why I think we better vote for Kerry.

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 01:09 PM

bad link Mara

Posted by: David at October 21, 2004 01:10 PM

Here's an excerpt from Ackermann's article for those of you who can't be bothered to read the whole thing.
</>"Even if the United States overthrew every regime that so much as batted an eyelash at bin Laden, Al Qaeda's lethality in the three years after losing its Afghanistan sanctuary proves that a policy focused on ending "state sponsorship" will never destroy the network.

With such an inappropriate focus--which, in practice, has meant little more than a (deceptive) rationale for invading Iraq--it's no wonder Bush's record against Al Qaeda itself is so meager. At the first debate, Bush boasted that "seventy-five percent of known Al Qaeda leaders have been brought to justice." This is an achievement, especially as Bush's efforts with the Musharraf government have netted Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, eclipsed only by bin Laden and Zawahiri in his importance to Al Qaeda. But, even if Al Qaeda weren't able to replenish its leadership positions, and even if Al Qaeda weren't able to attract new terrorist recruits, this figure would still not represent a significant diminution in the network's latent potency. According to iiss's analysis, which is based on intelligence estimates from American and European officials, 20,000 "potential terrorists" received training in Al Qaeda's Afghanistan camps; 2,000 have been killed or captured. This means that, even under the incorrect assumption that the number of jihadists is static, Al Qaeda will survive Bush's first term with 90 percent of its potential manpower intact."

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 01:21 PM

Sorry, try copying this into your browser.
http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?pt=Ng2OKuVc%2Fg9b8LnRVJDJDx%3D%3D

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 01:22 PM

Another brief excerpt (sorry - it's really a good article).
In a rare moment of candor, Bush conceded in an August interview, "I don't think you can win" the war on terrorism. But Al Qaeda is not invincible. It has to denounce mainstream Islamic clerics to give its religious pronouncements credibility. Its jihadists can be isolated, captured, and killed. If elected president, Kerry will inherit the Iraq occupation, a revitalized Al Qaeda, and a surge in anti-American sentiment, all of which will make prosecuting the war on terrorism extremely difficult. But he will be armed with a strategy that attacks Al Qaeda both ideologically and militarily--something the Bush administration has failed to do. Bush probably echoes many Americans when he wonders if the war on terrorism can in fact be won. A Kerry administration just might show him how to do it.

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 01:29 PM

Mara,

he forgot low-income housing. And providing an "education fund" won't stop enemy governments from harboring training camps for terrorists.

Kerry's "plan" for fighting the war on terror amounts to a Liberal style war on poverty, and we know how much that solved--- it didn't even solve poverty; so what makes you think it will solve terrorism.

Terror can only exist when enemy governments do nothing to stamp it out on their own soil. As long as they believe we'll just lob a few cruise missiles ala Clinton, or threaten them with an "education fund" ala Kerry, they'll continue to allow terrorists to operate from their soil. That's the status quo before Bush, and it failed.

Posted by: David at October 21, 2004 01:43 PM

Terror can only exist when enemy governments do nothing to stamp it out on their own soil.

You clearly do not understand Kerry's position if you reduce it to the points you raise above. Why would I waste my time arguing with you when you so clearly distort his position? At least, get it right, then disagree with it.

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 01:57 PM

Mara,

"Kerry promises not to be distracted by the supposed state-sponsors of terrorism that have fixated the Bush administration. In planning both to kill the jihadists and to prevent new ones from taking their place,"

Mara,

clearly I don't understand, and I'm close-minded, because I don't agree with you. That's how it works.

According to the article, Bush's strategy is top down, i.e., hammering any government that supports terror, and this is an accurate assessment. The article then goes on to say that Kerry's strategy is down up, i.e., creating social conditions that make terrorism less attractive. That's why he doesn't want to be distracted by the "state-sponsors of terror" (see quote above).

I think I've addressed the crux of the article, which basically did amount to nothing more than a war on poverty.

This is a war on poverty.

Posted by: David at October 21, 2004 02:10 PM

Right, David, a war on poverty. I quote from the article,
Kerry proposes to redouble U.S. military efforts to "defeat, capture, and kill those who commit terror"--and promises not to be distracted by the supposed state-sponsors of terrorism that have fixated the Bush administration. In planning both to kill the jihadists and to prevent new ones from taking their place, Kerry is presenting the victory strategy for the war on terrorism that has eluded Bush.

Bush's only strategy is to whack nations sponsoring terror, (unless it's Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran or Syria, of course) only to find, whoops, they've slipped off elsewhere.

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 02:32 PM

Kerry proposes to redouble U.S. military efforts to "defeat, capture, and kill those who commit terror"--and promises not to be distracted by the supposed state-sponsors of terrorism that have fixated the Bush administration.

Mara,

explain to me how you can reconcile the first part of that sentence with the second part. How do you capture terrorists on foreign soil without first getting past their state sponsors? I'm not saying they ALL have to be invaded, but invasion is certainly an option that needs to be on the table. Kerry's already removed that option in the second sentence.

John Kerry is so not believable. It's more talking out of both sides of his mouth; he's very good at that, but that only works for people who hate Bush.

Posted by: David at October 21, 2004 02:40 PM

How do you capture terrorists on foreign soil without first getting past their state sponsors? Is that what you're asking me to explain? Well, first you grab them by the balls and say very quietly, "we're going to put our special forces in, and if you don't like it we'll fuck you, too."

What you don't do is swagger up to the microphone and say, "we're gonna hunt you down! we're gonna smoke 'em out! Bring it on!" This is what I call the big hat, no cattle approach. An approach Bush epitomizes.

Posted by: Mara at October 21, 2004 03:23 PM

Mara,

What do you mean by "no cattle"? I think Bush clearly has shown vast herds of cattle in the last 4 years. That's why the Left hates him so much.

Yet Kerry hasn't shown even a single cow in all his years in politics. That's why his campaign platform was about "viet nam", not his record (until it backfired on him).

That's why he's not believable, even on his proposed war on poverty for terrorists.

Posted by: David at October 21, 2004 03:36 PM

No Osama. Lots of noise, very little to show for it other than a mess in Iraq.

Gotta go. More tomorrow.

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Paul Berman, The American Prospect

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Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

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