March 07, 2005

Winds of Change at Home and Abroad

This image of today's left-wing Independent is just too much fun not to steal from LGF.

independent-050805.jpg

These headlines are becoming more and more common these days.

Rupert Cornell, who wrote the cover story, says "As Syria pulls out of Lebanon, and the winds of change blow through the Middle East, this is the difficult question that opponents of the Iraq war are having to face."

Sorry, I don't mean to gloat, and I shouldn't. It's still possible that the whole thing will blow up in our faces and I'll be the one who has to eat crow. I don't think it will turn out that way, but I don't know that it won't. Nobody does.

What I find interesting here is that this shows the foresight of historians like Victor Davis Hanson. He has long argued that we should stop worrying about anti-American and anti-war jackassery and just win the damn war. If things work out in Iraq and the Middle East, he's been saying, opposition to the U.S. and the war will largely evaporate. I have had my doubts about that since the opposition is often so reactionary and toxic. But this definitely belongs in his evidence column.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 7, 2005 06:46 PM
Comments

Eat crow you Lefties.

Posted by: Carlos at March 7, 2005 07:22 PM

People are also protesting against Algeria in Morocco, abaya clad women in Kuwait demanding rights, Kryz-thingie-stan is having a democratic revolution--hurrah for Bush and strength and idealism and, most of all, hurrah to the people of the world who are just realizing that freedom is indeed a gift from the almighty, and we will defend them as they claim it.

Posted by: Patricia at March 7, 2005 07:31 PM

I am remain unconvinced of any causal Iraq/Lebanon link.

Any true democratic development so far in Iraq (such as it is) has been predicated on peaceful struggle against US wishes. The election in Iraq of 30th January proves that. It took place because Sistani mobilised the majority.

Michael is right to be cautious. Not only is triumphalism very premature as he mentions, and gloating juvenile, it ignores the rather obvious reality that many people struggling for democracy in these countries are not Americans, nor have they necessarily a pro US agenda, nor should they. Any advances by them are too easily blurred right now into a kind of general and lazy pro-Bush propaganda when the reality is these democrats are an independent force. If victory is secured in the future it must be their victory.

Posted by: Benjamin at March 7, 2005 07:55 PM

I think framing the Iraqi elections as a victory "against U.S. wishes" isn't valid, considering the pressure the Bush administration was under from both domestic and foreign sources to delay the elections until such time as stability had been achieved. Without the determination the U.S. showed to have the elections on time, its very doubtful that they happen in January.

We also have to consider this a sharp rebuke to those "realists" who believed that the Middle East wasn't ready for democracy, and that trying to promote such in the region in general and Iraq in particular was a fools quest.

Going by Bush's speeches since 9-11, its pretty obvious that spreading democracy is Bush's agenda. Worrying that any nascent democracies which may emerge may not be totally in step with U.S. goals is the kind of problem I'd love to have there, considering what the contemporary political history of the region has looked like.

Posted by: tagryn at March 7, 2005 08:16 PM

Just like you, I've said I don't want to gloat. But I'm starting to wonder: what's wrong with gloating, at least for the moment? The naysayers have been so unremittingly negative, and that negativity has been so destructive and even costly in terms of lives lost. I think those who supported Bush in this endeavor may well have earned their right to gloat.

Have you noticed how all of these "could-Bush-actually-have-been-right-after-all?" articles engage in what Hitchens calls "throat-clearing"? Even in the Independent article you've highlighted here, author Cornell just can't resist reiterating the same tired old inaccurate accusation, to wit "The 2003 invasion of Iraq may have been justified by a giant fraud..."

"Fraud." "Lie." With no evidence whatsoever that the WMD claims were anything other than an honest mistake. These people are really, really starting (no, not just starting, but continuing) to bug me with their sophistry. They just cannot resist the dig, even (or perhaps especially) when throwing the much-maligned neocons a bone.

And anyway, what's so "difficult" about admitting Bush may have been right, especially when the news about which he may have been right is so wonderful? Maybe even harder than admitting Bush may have been right is to admit that they may have been wrong, and that's the reason for all this "throat-clearing." It's a way to say, "Well, I may have been wrong about one thing--but still, I sure wasn't wrong about everything." And that need--the need to not be wrong--may be one of the most universal human traits.

Posted by: neo-neocon at March 7, 2005 08:18 PM

Benjamin: It took place because Sistani mobilised the majority.

That's true. It's also equally true that the election took place because the U.S., Britain, and others first demolished the Baath regime.

If victory is secured in the future it must be their victory.

That I completely agree with.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 7, 2005 08:46 PM

I was fortunate to be at university in the UK when the Berlin Wall fell and remember looking forward each day to the eclectic, thought-provoking, and generally supportive coverage of the momentous events of that time offered by the Independent.

Perhaps the timid nature of the reaction by the first Bush administration gave the Independent room to think truly revolutionary thoughts. It's never an easy thing finding those we once identified ourselves in opposition to suddenly singing our tune. I'm speaking of the Independent, but the same could be said of advocates of Bush's policies.

Of such tunes and their singers are winning coalitions built.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 7, 2005 08:54 PM

Sadly this means that you and I will probably be on opposite sides of the political in 2008. Although we occasionally butted heads in 2004, I respect you far more than your fellow Democrats.

Posted by: Pat Curley at March 7, 2005 08:58 PM

Smart liberals (few and far between these days) should be rooting for Bush so the whole war on terrorism gets won, and gets won fast. Dems obviously can't win elections when security is at issue - the sooner the nation feels really safe (just like after the Berlin Wall collapsed and the Soviet Union evaporated), the sooner they'll vote for the Democrats. Until then, its Rep wins...

Posted by: Tim at March 7, 2005 09:08 PM

Pat Curley: I respect you far more than your fellow Democrats.

Thanks, but I am not a Democrat. I have absolutely no idea which party I will vote for in 2008. It all depends on which party is dumber during its nomination process.

I will vote for Barack Obama. I will vote for Rudy Giuliani. I will not vote for anyone on the Nancy Pelosi wing of the Democratic Party. I will not vote for anyone on the Rick Santorum wing of the Republican Party.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 7, 2005 09:22 PM

Not only is triumphalism very premature as he mentions, and gloating juvenile,

Benjamin,

If you think it's premature now, then just try to imagine how much fun we'll have when it isn't. Believe me, you won't ever live it down. We won't let you. You'll cringe and wring your hands at every rumour of progress and good news in the middle east and in America. You will be reminded of it at every turn because we're going to hang it around your necks like a burdensome stone. That's what the next few decades hold in store for you Lefties. How sad that you've painted yourselves into such a corner! No, not really sad. You aren't a loyal opposition, and you won't be treated as such. You won't be allowed any face saving nor any easy outs. You're going to eat crow before this is over. I know this must sound malicious, vengeful, eeeeevil. bwahaha! A little. But like neocon said, you've more than earned it.

Posted by: Carlos at March 7, 2005 09:45 PM

Didn't you at one point say that you were going to vote Democratic all the way down the line except for Bush, and Bush only for the war on terror?

I couldn't help thinking that probably meant that if the Democrats nominate somebody who says the right things in the WoT, you'd be back with the Democrats.

Not trying to be confrontational here, just trying to figure out if you've landed on one side of the fence. I like moderates of both stripes. :)

Posted by: Pat Curley at March 7, 2005 09:50 PM

It's funny how in the few weeks I've had a delg
I've had a deluge of emails about how is ruining SS, they've compleltely avoided what I've been saying for at leasta year now: that the invasion of Iraq and itss democratization will spur democratization in the mideast.

Posted by: Moonbat_One at March 7, 2005 10:09 PM

Carlos

Come on. This process should not be about me as as a left of centre Westerner, or your efforts to force crow down my throat or the triumphalism of some in the West, particularly in the US.

It should be about the people of the Middle East.

Posted by: Benjamin at March 7, 2005 10:30 PM

"Sorry, I don't mean to gloat, and I shouldn't. It's still possible that the whole thing will blow up in our faces and I'll be the one who has to eat crow"---MJT

Why?
As in--- why should one not gloat when the 'opposition'to the Bush plans,has made itself so gloat-worthy over these past 2 years?Rubbing salt in the wounds is in poor taste unless the receivers of said treatment have proven themselves to be without any proper intellectual or moral foundation.As they have(and as we have debated ENDLESSLY)for ,well, over 2 years.
As in ---- even if things blow up because of this or that,the absence of any better ideas,makes this sort of a free play.If this fails,there could hardly be need for apologies,when this was seemingly the only decent game in town.Crow is not on the menu.
I wander around with my fingers crossed all the time(which clearly handicaps my typing),but the die is now cast,and this is the game we must now play out.
As to the assertion that "not only is triumphalism very premature... and gloating juvenile",Carlos appears to have responded quite adequately.Not only is gloating over leftist discomfort not juvenile,it might even be considered as required.The view of reality that ALMOST put J*K into the White House needs to be mocked and humiliated endlessly until it hopefully disappears from mainstream history.That the various weasels might be trying to jump on board the train NOW,does nothing to mitigate the fact that had it been them making the decisions,the train would not only have never have left the station;it probably would have been sold off for scrap.Too little,too grudging,too opportunistic,and WAY too late.
We all hope for the best outcome for this great experiment(and yes it IS,GWB's experiment),but any future problems do not preclude the justified derision directed now at the 'oppositionists'.
Gloating is not only permissible;it is perhaps mandatory.
I plan to do my duty.

Posted by: dougf at March 7, 2005 10:53 PM

After reading the article a thought occurred to me. How do you smile and embrace adoration while standing on the corpses of tens of thousands of civilians? On the bodies of kids, of women, of old men? How do you justify it all while dodging the reality that it was undertaken for national security reasons, not the actual emancipation of beleaguered people? If that were the case then there would be British and American troops in Darfur, in Tibet, in Palestine, and in Burma. But there are no foreign armies in those locations come to provide relief from oppression. No, only the people of Iraq and Afghanistan have ‘had the pleasure’ of that gift.

Any way you slice what is occurring right now, the answer remains the same – hegemony. Mask it as they will, what has transpired since the 11th of September 2001 has simply permitted a once marginal foreign policy platform to capitalize on the results of blowback.

Posted by: at March 7, 2005 11:09 PM

It should be about the people of the Middle East.

Benjamin,

If we had a loyal opposition in this country there wouldn't be any triumphalism. There shouldn't be. But like I said, it's come to this because the Left has chosen to spare no effort in seeing the mission fail. So when you say it should be about the people of the middle east, it's too late for that. You've shown no concern for them whatsoever. In fact, you've done nothing but hinder and impede our efforts solely for the purpose of seeing it fail. Your only desire was to see the U.S. withdraw in disgrace, even at the expense of those people just so Lefties could regain power. Nor did you show concern for how that failure would affect your country. Your only thought was regaining power. Give me one reason why you should not be completely and utterly disgraced? You should be and you will be if you get what you deserve.

Posted by: Carlos at March 7, 2005 11:41 PM

How do you smile and embrace adoration while standing on the corpses of tens of thousands of civilians?

Easy. There were more dying under Saddam, and as you can see, we don't have to build any mass graves. Not that you really care. Regaining power is your only concern.

Posted by: Carlos at March 7, 2005 11:44 PM

Uh, no, try again. Human rights and democracy were mentioned repeatedly by the administration, not to mention the Congress when it authorized the liberation of Iraq, and not to mention by folks like Michael.

It is those of you who opposed this very just, very moral war who stand on the corposes of not tens of thousands but hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children--it is you who should feel shame for having opposed doing the just and moral thing and liberating a people from fascism.

Hegemony? It's you who opposed this effort who were acting like the real hegemons.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at March 7, 2005 11:44 PM

the Left has chosen to spare no effort in seeing the mission fail...Give me one reason why you should not be completely and utterly disgraced?

Come on, Carlos. Just now I linked to an article in a left-wing newspaper where the writer says perhaps he was wrong. Try to acknowledge and respect that. It's a hard thing to do in print, and it should be gracefully welcomed and encouraged. Some people on the left want to see the mission fail, but plenty really do not.

What if it does all blow up in our faces? Should you be completely and utterly disgraced? It's okay to be wrong. It happens, and it happens to everybody.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 7, 2005 11:52 PM

But Mr. T, what if someone from the Pelosi wing is running against someone from the Santorum wing? And you have to vote for one of them? And if the dogs with bees in their mouths bark and shoot bees at you?

Posted by: Knemon at March 8, 2005 12:13 AM

Does anyone have a larger version of that map? I would love to see what it actually says. Maybe even put it on my wall...

Posted by: Yasha at March 8, 2005 12:14 AM

"How do you smile and embrace adoration while standing on the corpses of tens of thousands of civilians?"

We managed to do it after WWII.

Patricia - don't forget Tajikistan and Pakistan.

Posted by: Knemon at March 8, 2005 12:17 AM

Michael,

I can respect someone who's willing to eat crow. But I've not seen enough of it yet. If and when I do, then perhaps my feelings will soften. But all I have to do is read some of Benjamin's posts to know you're being played for a sucker.

Posted by: Carlos at March 8, 2005 12:17 AM

Just now I linked to an article in a left-wing newspaper where the writer says perhaps he was wrong. Try to acknowledge and respect that. It's a hard thing to do in print, and it should be gracefully welcomed and encouraged--MJT

Last comment on this topic(I promise).No it should NOT be gracefully welcomed and encouraged.What possible purpose would that serve?Are you saying that the 'opposition'now repents of its behaviour and valueless systems?Are you saying that given the same circumstances,they would behave differently than in the past?Are you saying that these late-to-the-party 'friends' are now reliable allies going forward?
I don't believe that you are saying any of these things;I believe what you are saying is that discretion is the better part of valour, and that it is slightly churlish to be vindictive.
Fair enough,and more power to you,but I hold to a rather different outlook.These people will never be reliable supporters.The current rush to board the train,is not at all related to the 'rightness'of the cause.It is more related to the obviousness of the cause.It is purely tactics.Nothing more.Their support was needed when it really mattered(2004 election anyone?).What you saw then was what you really were going to get.What you see now is what 'they'want you to believe you will get.Not the same thing.
Cynical? You bet.But when even that despicable Teddy Kennedy appears to be toning down his mad ranting,I think that cynicism is more than warranted.
It is ever so nice that the NY Times,and other inhabitants of the swamp,are now saying 'good' things,but it is transitory and will fade once BAD news once again becomes the order of the day.
They DON'T believe,and they DON'T support;they merely can't see anything else to do at this time .

Posted by: dougf at March 8, 2005 12:24 AM
I wonder if you brainiacs actually know what triumphalism is. Like that it can't be premature. It is not a synonym for gloating.

Bush might be a political triumphalist. I'm sure he considers any democratic form of government superior to the autocracies and whatnot in the ME. But since I'm not at all sure Bush thinks that each ME country should adopt a one-size-fits-all form of gov't, I can't conclude that Bush is in fact triumphalist.

I do think he's feeling a little jubilant about recent events. I don't think he's lapsed into a foolish giddiness. And I have NOT seen him gloat.

The NYT has used the word correctly and incorrectly, which probably goes a long way toward explaining the word's broader misuse of late. Their misuse of the word may have been intentional or may have been subconscious. I refuse to believe NYT editors are ignorant of the true meaning.

Intentional misuse implies a nasty sort of sly and subtle undermining. Subconscious misuse isn't too pretty either.

The cocksuckers. (/Deadwood)

BTW Anyone found a Hi-resolution version of the front page yet.

Cuz I don't mind telling you I plan to gloat. Not yet. Not sure when. But one of these days.

Posted by: Stephen_M at March 8, 2005 01:03 AM

Knemon: But Mr. T, what if someone from the Pelosi wing is running against someone from the Santorum wing?

I guess I'll have to vote for Ralph Nader one more time.

(Kidding.)

I guess it would be "lesser evil" time yet again.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 8, 2005 01:48 AM

“Some people on the left want to see the mission fail, but plenty really do not.”

Most do. If President Bush is vindicated---then they end up looking like fools. Their very existential ground of being is threatened. Liberalism is premised upon an optimistic view of human nature. Such foolishness inevitably leads to disaster. Conservatives rightfully embrace the concept that the at least metaphorical reality of Original Sin is alive and well on planet Earth.

Americans deceived themselves after the Cold War. Many of us (and that indeed includes me to a certain extent) bought into the End of History nonsense. This is the primary reason why Bill Clinton became president, and also why our British cousins voted Winston Churchill out of office immediately after WWII. A “war president” is always required. The world will remain a dangerous place until the end of time. Do you desire peace? If the answer is yes, then your country must ceaselessly be ready to kick some butt. The military should never take second place in your scheme of things.

Posted by: David Thomson at March 8, 2005 02:19 AM

Will Twitchy Ralph actually run again, do you think?

Who am I kidding. He'll run 'til he drops.

I too voted for Nader in 2000.
In 2004, I exercised the being-in-Cali-makes-my-vote-meaningless privilege, and wrote in Da Mayor.

With a little (okay, TONS OF) luck, I'll be able to vote for him again next time - but not as a write-in.

Posted by: Knemon at March 8, 2005 02:59 AM

Oh, and Stephen_M: technically, Bush is a "triumphalist" not that there's anything wrong with that! - according to your linked definition, since he has explicitly asserted that liberal democracy is superior to all other forms of government (and is destined to become universal).

Of course, everyone who counts believes the first of those propositions. The second, not so much.

Posted by: Knemon at March 8, 2005 03:02 AM

I confess that I was one of the lefties who wished for US failure in Iraq. I could easily foresee Bush getting into war after war, without end. The last thing the world needs is an Andrew Jackson with nuclear weapons.

Perhaps there are some things that are worse than war. Perhaps. And perhaps history will show that the Bushites had better reasons to go to war than the ones they displayed to the public. Perhaps.

Gloating in this situation is wrong. Much violence is still playing out in the middle east. Much more threatens to break out in Lebanon between factions. If you learn how to bring peace without years of war, perhaps you may gloat.

Posted by: Bob Frank at March 8, 2005 03:28 AM

Some gloating is called for, but I suggest a more targeted type. Whenever an anti-War activista writes or talks, laugh at them. "Why should we believe you?? You're so dumb you couldn't even imagine that Bush MIGHT be right -- before the Iraqi elections, and the Beirut protests pretty much proved he was right."

Michael, that wonderful headline should have been around after your wonderful "Liberals should support Bush's war" article, some 2 years ago. For liberals, who DO care about the Iraqi people, it's been an important question. Any media group which has NOT, seriously, been considering the possibility of Bush being right, is Leftist, and is more interested in politics and power than in freedom. The West doesn't need that kind of idiot -- it's so annoying that there are so many of them, and they get so much air time and column inches.

Bob Frank -- Sudan is the "UN/ global test" alternative to US action. How many innocents will have to be murdered by death squads, whom the UN says are NOT committing genocide, before you agree that Bush's war was better than that? Another 800 000 like Rwanda?

The War on Terror ends ... in a World Without Dictators. (Though terrorism will continue, as will economic rivalry and, prolly, the drug war.)

[And MJT will, 95% likely, vote Dem in 2008 -- because the Dems will be promoting the export of democracy by then, possibly more so than the more cost-conscious Reps. (Before or after 2006?) But the Dems will be down to 30% or less of the pro-life Catholic vote, and with Condi as a VP/Pres candidate, the black vote will not be looking like a 90% lock for Dems. The biggest gap will remain that married folk, especially with kids, vote Rep.]

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 8, 2005 05:07 AM

Well, it's pretty simple really: as MJT says, nobody can be sure that the whole thing doesn't blow up in our face, and even if it doesn't, nobody can be sure that positive results could not have been achieved by peaceful means. It might have taken longer, but it would have cost a lot less lives, it might have failed, but so might Bush's strategy.

Most commenters here seem to view war as a legitimate extension of politics to be employed at will. I view war as a last resort, only permissible as self-defence or to prevent ongoing acts of genocide. Bush tried to sell an at best preventive war as a preemptive action and I wasn't having any of it. As for the humanitarian argument, Saddam was bad and killing people, but his actions were not genocidal at the time. There is a moral distinction between not preventing the killing of civilians at the hands of a dictator and killing them yourself, utilitarian arguments are inherently vague and unprovable and can never erase that distinction.

And if you want to go all "Saddam would still be in power and people would be dying" on me, let me remind you that 3.8 million people have died in Congo since 1998 and nobody, yes nobody, really gave a shit. We were letting it happen.

Posted by: novakant at March 8, 2005 05:48 AM

" let me remind you that 3.8 million people have died in Congo"

Remember, you can't feed the world...so don't donate to charity. What a stupid piece of reasoning.

Is this what liberalism has sunk too? You can't save everybody, so save nobody? Sick.

Posted by: Wasa Liberal at March 8, 2005 06:10 AM

“[And MJT will, 95% likely, vote Dem in 2008 -- because the Dems will be promoting the export of democracy by then”

Oh for heaven’s sake, the odds are better that Shaq O’Neal will beg me for mercy on the basketball court. The Vietnam syndrome has captured the party. Furthermore, as I’ve repeatedly stated numerous times before---the radical left now possesses the veto power over the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. They are going nowhere. It is virtually impossible to marginalize them.

Posted by: David Thomson at March 8, 2005 06:10 AM

"I confess that I was one of the lefties who wished for US failure in Iraq."

Don't worry, we won't question your patriotism....

Sincerely,

Ashamed Tobe Aliberal

Posted by: Wasa Liberal at March 8, 2005 06:12 AM

“...and with Condi as a VP/Pres candidate, the black vote will not be looking like a 90% lock for Dems.”

Condi only has to tear away a mere 20% of the vote of the black vote. I cannot imagine a scenario where the Democrats can give up even that small number of this most indispensable voting bloc and still win the White House.

And what is this stuff about Condi for VP? I want her to be our next president.

Posted by: David Thomson at March 8, 2005 06:16 AM

The last graph was of a preemptive nature and intended for short-fused posters like yourself, Wasa Liberal. It is telling that you fail to address the central points of my post.

Posted by: novakant at March 8, 2005 06:18 AM

Your central point is it is better to do nothing in the face of evil, tryanny, racism againt minorities and oppression of civil rights.

Once long ago we called this "reactionary." Today it is called "liberalism."

Makes me want to cry.

Posted by: Wasa Liberal at March 8, 2005 06:30 AM

I would put that gun down, Wasa Liberal, your foot is screaming for mercy.

Posted by: novakant at March 8, 2005 06:41 AM

It should be about the people of the Middle East

Yes, it should be. Have you heard what the people there have been saying?

Pro-democracy Lebanese and Iraqis are criticizing the Islamist/Ba’thist policy of imperialism and Arabization. Hezbollah and Syria are uniting to fight the pro-democracy Lebanese. Terrorists hate freedom. Who would have guessed?

The left-leaning press and Arab rulers have been telling us that if we bring democracy to the Middle East, the Arabs will just vote for terrorists. This is the equivalent of saying that you shouldn’t give poor people welfare because they’ll just spend it at the track.

When the Left, the press and the Arab rulers were allowed to speak for the people of the Middle East, they said that everyone loved the terrorists and hated the US.

When they’re allowed to speak for themselves, the majority of the people in the Middle East say that they hate the terrorists (And they don’t think we’re all that bad).

Glenn Reynolds this about Arab regimes, but the same thing can be said about the Left and the Press:
Such regimes have little legitimacy, but they spend a lot of effort making sure that citizens don't realize the extent to which their fellow-citizens dislike the regime.
As Michael said, we’re getting tired of reactionary and toxic disinformation. There are a lot of people out there who are tired of it, but you’ll only hear them when they vote.

Posted by: mary at March 8, 2005 07:39 AM

It's hard not to gloat given the pure hatred poured out on Bush just because he did what he sincerely believed was best for this country.

On the other hand, I take the Bush-haters' dilemma as a cautionary tale, for fear I can fall into the same trap and let emotion overcome reason. I have been terribly wrong once before in my life, when I ardently supported Jimmy Carter for President. After voting for him, I went off to Africa in the Peace Corps, and proceeded to watch Carter allow America to fall into a terrible malaise, mainly because he did not believe in our exceptionalism and basic goodness. The experience pretty much shaped my politics after that, and I've always marveled at how completely, sincerely, and wholeheartedly, I was just plain wrong.

So as Johnny Cash sang, "I keep a close watch on this heart of mine."

Posted by: Salt Lick at March 8, 2005 07:41 AM

Sometimes I think Benjamin posts here just to get a reaction. Trouble is, it is "all about you" and the left's (and your) feelings about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, namely, that they are sappy, failed ideas from an unsophisticated, unnuanced past. Life is hopeless, wipe that smile off your face!

As a former Democrat, I can now see that the "nice" guys like Jimmy Carter and Clinton brought the world to this precipitous place and "bad" guys like Bush will get us out of it. Yes, my world view was wrong and I admit it.

And using big accusatory words like militaristic and triumphalist or little Eichmanns does not hide the emptiness of your philosophy.

Meanwhile, more gloating triumphalists!

Posted by: Patricia at March 8, 2005 07:48 AM

MJT -- I also email articles to antiwar friends suggesting that Bush may have been right in some respects on the Middle East. But though you acknowledge that things could go wrong, you would have more credibility if you acknowledged that things HAVE started to go wrong. For instance, this week's Newsweek has a very depressing article on the rise of fundamentalist violence against women in post-Saadam Iraq.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7038038/site/newsweek/
Ignoring this news is just as dishonest as ignoring the POSTIVE news that is also undeniably coming out.

David Thomson -- Condi has a LOT to prove before she shows the she is Presidential material. She is considered by people of all persuasions to have been a medicore NSC chief. A successful term as Sec. of State would, however, change this.

Also, if things DO get better in the Middle east, the Dems will nominate a pro-war candidate in 2008. I'll bet the family farm on it.

And if Democrats were as in thrall to the far-left as you and others seem to think we are, our Democratic senators wouldn't be allowing the obscene "bankruptcy bill" to be signed into law this week. What's happening with this blowjob-to-the-credit-card-industry of a bill is a disgusting example of Democrats joining in or acquiescing to Republican corporate whoring, at the expense of the middle class and the poor. http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/bankruptcy/

Posted by: markus rose at March 8, 2005 07:57 AM

Oops...here's the link:

http://www.cedarland.org/index.html/

Mary and Salt Lick: amen!

Posted by: Patricia at March 8, 2005 07:58 AM

the radical left now possesses the veto power over the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.

Actually, no they don't. If they did, the nominee would've been Dean, Kucinich, or Sharpton. And if they "settled" for Kerry, then I guess they're not so radical.

Posted by: Stephen Silver at March 8, 2005 08:02 AM

MJT,

Add me to the list of people who think that those of us who were right ought to be gracious. If they continue to point out the bad things, we should point out the good things. We should not, however, gloat.

It feels good and many of them have richly earned an "I told you so!" But do you know what? Those that are even a little open minded already know they were wrong as the article points out. Gloating will only make them want to retaliate. Gloating will make it harder to take similar action if it is needed again.

"If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you." I believe the burning coals are what psychologists call cognitive dissonance. We should be looking for allies not vengeance.

Posted by: JBP at March 8, 2005 08:22 AM

I disagree with being gracious in victory, as it will get you nowhere with these ossified relics and thier inheritors.

Ddi we not see the same cycle of events when Regean was president? The called him a bumbling buffon, a chimp, a doddering old fool who had no clue as to what he was doing. Yet somehow this doddering old fool actually had a vision that became reality in the unfication of the German nation.

Funny how today you are hard pressed to find anyone who will not acknowledge that Regean did great things that seemed out of reach at the time. Only the most venomous, calcified, obstinate jackasses still snipe at the man.

Michael you give these people waaaaaay to much credit. The only reason they are starting to change their tune (see Ted Kennedy) is they have no place to go. What politican, journalist, or anyone who wishes to contribute to the public debate will stand up and say "Yes! I opposed the war then, and I oppose it now because nothing good will come from it!" This is in nothing more then saving face, or perhaps political opportunitism at best.

A good deal of self reflection would be needed for this group to truely undergo a "I was wrong moment". If the 2004 election is any indication this people have anything but that. I very much doubt there is anything more painful for this group to do then to say "I was wrong"

So I for one will take the opportunity to gloat that these anti-war, anti-american types have not been right on one thing. I will gloat over the fact that these people had nothing to offer to anyone other then status-quo, while others hads the vision offer something better.

Dont just serve crow, beat them over the head with it!!!

Posted by: HamOnRye at March 8, 2005 09:01 AM

Regardless of which side you may be on in this debate, it is time to reread, and reflect upon, the words of one so much better than any of us in encapsulating the true meaning of prevailing in such a divisive conflict---it is time to bind up the wounds, and care for the widow and orphans, of those who have borne the battle.

It is time for Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address to be studied yet again for its wisdom and inspiraton.

Posted by: veryretired at March 8, 2005 09:10 AM

Come on, Carlos. Just now I linked to an article in a left-wing newspaper where the writer says perhaps he was wrong. Try to acknowledge and respect that.

I have no problem being polite to anyone willing to admit they might have been wrong. On the other hand, those working from the central premise that the United States is an Evil Empire (at least when a Darth Republican is in the White House) need to have their noses rubbed in their excretions as often as possible.

I wouldn't tar Democrats as a group with Benjamin's dark mutterings; I wouldn't feather real progressives with the anonymous commenter's assertion that the only bad deaths are those caused by evil Enlightenment Culture Capitalists; and I don't believe all Universities are cesspools of mediocre hatred just because Ward Churchill has tenure. But the rational Left in general, and the Democratic Leadership in particular, need to distance themselves from these malignant narcissists who somehow seem to dominate that region of the national debate.

Markus Rose I respect. Americans will screw up sometimes; America will screw up sometimes; and unless people are willing to hear about the screwups, the screwups will continue and get wosse. But reflexive denigration of Americans and America (or Republicans or Democrats, for that matter) gets no more respect from me than any other bigoted blather.

So Carlos, I for one enjoy it when you go DennisThePeasant on some anti-(fill-in-the-targeted-value-system-here) ass. Stupidity should hurt.

Posted by: Mark Poling at March 8, 2005 09:22 AM

There has been an effete and shrill little squeeking noise for quite some time now. It drones on and on about some imagined outrage or other. One no longer pays it any attention. I'm not sure why at this juncture one is supposed to be either gracious to it or spiteful to it. It doesn't matter.

Posted by: Jim at March 8, 2005 09:23 AM

Patricia wrote, "as a former Democrat, 'nice' guys like Carter and Clinton brought the world to this precipitous place and "bad" guys like Bush will get us out of it...."

As a former Democrat-turned-Independent, self-styled "nice guy", I second that emotion. Being reasonable and fair are wonderful sentiments- we live in a society that generally rewards these notions. By contrast, there's a sea of thugs out there who don't abide by those rules and would love to see our demise. Victor Hanson gets it; so does our President.

Posted by: craig at March 8, 2005 09:41 AM

It isn't about Vengeance but Justice. Don't look at it as the Golden Rule, but look at it refined.

Treat your inferiors as you would have your superiors treat you. The heart of justice is giving people what they deserve, not an ounce less nor an ounce more.

And therefore it would indeed be an injustice to subliminate the truth in favor of "chilvalry" to our foes, whether American or foreign. It is unjust to give chivalry to the terroists in Fallujah when we know they are torturing innocent lives and perpetuating a crime on an entire nation. Why give mercy to the merciless? Is that Justice? And why should it make us dishonorable to treat people unlike how we would want to be treated, who don't even understand what honor is, let alone something to aspire to?

To those that gave their life, their fortunes, and their sacred honors in the endeavour that was Iraq and Afghanistan, to those men and women of irrecomparable strength and decency, we must not forget.

We cannot allow the fake liberals, the extreme Leftists, the anti-war "protestors" that were in league with organizations that had financial ties to real tyranny, to rewrite history as they did in the Cold War and in Vietnam. It is only our memories and our Will that allows the Truth to be told, if all those are gone then hello to 1984.

"What if it does all blow up in our faces? Should you be completely and utterly disgraced? It's okay to be wrong. It happens, and it happens to everybody."

We have pledged our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor in this endeavour. Some have pledge two out of three, or one out of three for those fighting media corruption in the back lines of the USA. But nevertheless, we will be completely and utterly disgraced regardless of how we act, but we will not only if we win. Because the only thing that matters, the only thing that EVER mattered was Victory. Who gloated in Vietnam that warranted the dishonorable way we treated our military and how we disgraced this nation? I wasn't around in that time, so perhaps there were people who "gloated" that we were winning, but I don't think many people thought at any time in the conflict that the tide had turned the way we believe now about Iraq. Who was wrong about the Tet Offensive? Being wrong doesn't matter worth A CRED. Being on the winning side is everything. The Declaration of Independence should have told us that, if anythng. Being RIGHT is never enough.

I don't give a terroist care about whether I am right, they are wrong, or whatever. I care only for Victory. Because it is only victory that can make the deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, and 9/11 NOT IN vain.

And to do that, I will do everything in my power to destroy the corruptig influence in America that lowers the morale of our fighting forces every single time they speak negatively about America for partisan gains. I will not forget that, and I will not pretend that the morale of our men and women are unaffected by the American public opinion. "Gloating" in the sense some use it, is some hackneyed attempt at boasting of something that isn't true. Whereas what we should and are doing, is commending the efforts of our troops and giving credit where credit is due. Therefore I will give the credit of the vast majority of the tsunami relief efforts to AMERICA and her CARRIER the Abraham Lincoln. It is not GLOATING to give credit where credit is due and to note that if the UN wasn't so busy pocking children in the Congo and in Asia, they might just might have contributed a quarter as much as AMerica contributed.

Morale wins wars. George W. Bush is the closest thing we have to a living Abraham Lincoln. The Union was winning the war through a series of power victories, and this caused everyone to hype the war as "already" over. Then a series of setbacks by the Confederate army pushed the Union back from Richmond, the Confedcapital, thereby delaying the war and KILLING Union morale. Remind you of something, maybe the jubiliation and despair after the March to Baghdad?

It was the Democrats who were for peace and a peaceful reunification via "diplomacy". Have we forgotten some easily that had Antietam been a disaster for Lincoln, that the Democrats would have gained control of the House and therefore the funding for the Union Army?

We have forgotten, we have forgotten that it was only the victory at Antietam that successfully allowed the Republicans to maintain control of the House and therefore keep the war effort going in 1862. A war effort that ultimately culminated in the Emancipation Proclamation.

If we allow ourselves to subliminate victory because it is "uncouth" to yell it out at the steps of the capital and into the internet, then we have given the battle for morale entirely to the enemy and our so called "loyal" opposition. If our morale is not high when defeat comes, we will allow it to defeat us, and ruin everything we have worked for.

We cannot allow that to happen. We must remember, and if you can only remember by gloating, then go ahead.

The military deserves our memory of the injustices committed against him. General Mattis of the Marines, deserves our recognition and respect for how he didn't give a fig what his morale boosting words would be read by the media, so long as his Marines were motivated.

-General Mattis's mistake.

transcript

"PRESS: Oh, come on. Sean, you’re hurting yourself here. Look, this guy is wearing the uniform of the United States. He’s got the responsibility to represent the United States, No. 1.

No. 2, he is responsible for figuring out how to better train our Marines. The message that he’s sending our young Marines is, "Hey, you’re an American. Go over there; have fun, kill people."

HANNITY: That’s not what he’s saying.

PRESS: Here’s what’s sad, Sean.

HANNITY: That’s not what he’s saying.

PRESS: Yes it is, word for word. And here’s — let me finish.

HANNITY: We can’t have it both ways, Bill. We can’t train these guys to be killers.

PRESS: Let me finish a sentence. There are 140,000 of our men and women other there who are doing a heroic job.

HANNITY: Bill Press...

PRESS: And this idiot makes them all look bad.

HANNITY: Bill Press, you cannot treat these guys and train them to be killers and then, when they take pride in defeating evil, you cannot sit there in the comfort of a studio in Washington, or we can’t sit here back in the comfort of our homes in the United States, and judge these guys for doing what is necessary in the dark side of war, and that is confronting and ultimately defeating evil in their time.

I think this guy is a hero. The New York Times (search) said he’s revered by his troops for being a strong leader.

PRESS: I think he ought to be fired. And you know what’s a scandal? Where’s Donald Rumsfeld? Why hasn’t he condemned these remarks? It’s been more than 24 hours.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: It’s really amazing.

PRESS: Where is the commander in chief?

COLMES: It’s really remarkable, Bill. I find this indefensible.

You know, again, you had a great analogy: if it were the converse, what would people be saying? You know, we have a certain moral standard. We love to talk about how moral and just we are and that war is not about revenge. It’s about justice, especially in response to what happened on September 11.

And this is a vengeful comment that you would think would be beneath the dignity of someone defending the United States of America.

PRESS: You know, look, I compare it to Abu Ghraib (search). To me, the same thing with Abu Ghraib. What would we think if our prisoners were being treated like that? We would be up in arms, rightfully so.

The Arab community is going to be up in arms, rightfully so, about what this general said. It is not saying our soldiers don’t do their duty. We want them to do their duty. We want them to defend us. We know that killing is part of warfare. But to go out and say you take lethal pleasure in it?

COLMES: By the way, those who have fought in wars, most of them talk about how ugly it is, how terrible it is, how reprehensible it is, but you do it for your country. I’ve never heard anybody say it’s fun to do it.

And by the way, should we be mocking the manhood of Afghanistan men?

PRESS: Well, no, frankly. But I mean, look, again, this is what you might expect to hear from Usama bin Laden, right? Or you might expect to hear it from Zarqawi, how much fun it is to kill other people. You might expect to hear from, maybe, a gang leader in the inner city. Or a terrorist, a suicide bomber among the Palestinians.

You don’t expect to hear it from a general of the United States of America."

We must remember, because if we do not, we committ an injustice against every single person who has EVER died in the defense of America.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at March 8, 2005 09:57 AM

The problem with the whole nyah nyah thing is that it reduces what should be conversation to partisan self-gratification, which can turn on you pretty fast if things don't work out as you expect.

For example, I'll be happy to eat crow as soon as one or two newly-democratic Middle-Eastern Arab nations propose policy that is counter to US interests, and they are left alone to do so, or when the government in Iraq requests that US troops be pulled out, and they are. That will be the sign of a truly democratic and independent nation, and the test as to whether the Bush administration is serious about the spread of democracy and the end of alliances with dictatorships because they keep the fundamentalists at bay.

The enormous Hezbollah-organized pro-Syrian rally seems to have dwarfed the earlier anti-Syrian rallies. It's difficult to tell what actual popular opinion may be without an election, especially with Syria meddling the political process. So it's very early in the game to be patting yourselves in the back so enthusiastically.

Oh, what the hell, go ahead if it makes you happy :-)

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at March 8, 2005 10:02 AM

General Mattis's mistake

Posted by: Ymarsakar at March 8, 2005 10:04 AM

JPB: You make a good point. If we want to encourage the likes of John Stewart, the editorial staff of the Independant and other "persuadable" war opponents, it probably doesn't do much good to mock them and shout "in your face!" and such when they express doubts about their world view.

However, we also shouldn't let the "Benjamins" get away with claiming credit for the spread of Democracy, or denying credit to BUsh, since here in the US -- for the most part -- it was the war OPPONENTS who wanted to cancel or delay the election, and the SUPPORTERS (including Bush) who fought to keep it on track. Anyone who tries to argue that Bush's actions didn't bring about this change deserves to be duly smacked.

Also, while it might be a good idea to be gracious to those who are conceeding they may have been wrong, there's nothing wrong with gloating to the wars' more stubborn opponents -- and using the (recent) words John Stewart, Chappy and others against them.

Posted by: Sean P at March 8, 2005 10:06 AM

I agree with Michael that it's good to be gracious when someone concedes defeat, and not be overly critical of them as they do it. But that doesn't mean they get a free pass. Articles such as this one by Cornell are great as far as they go, but if you read the fine print, they actually don't go very far, as Scott Burgess observes here.

And what about the fact that Cornell still accuses Bush and Blair of "fraud" about the WMDs? We need to continue to call these people on this sort of "throat-clearing," as I suggested in my earlier comment on this thread. Until they retract charges of "fraud" and "lie" I remain very skeptical as to whether they are actually admitting that they (liberal opposers of the war) have been wrong. It seems to me to be much more likely that they are now giving gradual and partial and reluctant acknowledgement only to those things which it would be utter insanity to deny at this point, because the evidence is so clear. In everything else, they are still spouting the anti-Bush party line.

So, the change may be merely cosmetic, I'm afraid. I'm willing to be gracious and to give some credit even to this partial admission of theirs, but I can't pretend it's anything other than partial and very flawed.

Posted by: neo-neocon at March 8, 2005 10:06 AM

"That will be the sign of a truly democratic and independent nation,"

That'll be a a sign of a nation that gratifies anti-American and anti-Semitical interests because they're taking money in the back steps. Just another tool for the trans-progressivists.

Mutual interests are the interests of like minded and similar people, with shared aspirations, sacrifices, and belief in God, Atheism, or such archaic principles as "honor" or "duty".

A pretty simple reason why Australia and Britain supports the US, is because their interests are mutually inclusive with ours. To align your mutual interests with the contemporary Roman Empire, is both a wise and mutually beneficial relationship.

Those who look to anti-American sentiment as proof of American advocated freedom... still probably thinks Iraq elected a Shia-Iran mullocracy on jan 30.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at March 8, 2005 10:16 AM

"People are also protesting against Algeria in Morocco, abaya clad women in Kuwait demanding rights, Kryz-thingie-stan is having a democratic revolution--hurrah for Bush and strength and idealism and, most of all, hurrah to the people of the world who are just realizing that freedom is indeed a gift from the almighty, and we will defend them as they claim it."

Interesting. And yet, the Kuwait thing has been going on since the mid-90s.

Posted by: praktike at March 8, 2005 10:22 AM

neo-neo con:
"And what about the fact that Cornell still accuses Bush and Blair of "fraud" about the WMDs? We need to continue to call these people on this sort of 'throat-clearing,' as I suggested in my earlier comment on this thread. Until they retract charges of 'fraud' and 'lie' I remain very skeptical as to whether they are actually admitting that they (liberal opposers of the war) have been wrong."

Excuse me, but Bush and Blair WERE wrong about WMD's. And hopefully history will exonerate them for this "noble lie." But a lie it still was.
Wolfowitz admitted as much in that Vanity Fair article, when he said "the truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason."

How about if WAR SUPPORTERS acknowledged this FACT, in exchange for the more honest members of "the Left" acknowledging the good that has/can come out of the implementation of Bush's foreign policy?

Posted by: markus rose at March 8, 2005 10:49 AM

DPU:

For example, I'll be happy to eat crow as soon as one or two newly-democratic Middle-Eastern Arab nations propose policy that is counter to US interests, and they are left alone to do so, or when the government in Iraq requests that US troops be pulled out, and they are. That will be the sign of a truly democratic and independent nation, and the test as to whether the Bush administration is serious about the spread of democracy and the end of alliances with dictatorships because they keep the fundamentalists at bay.

So, the only legitimate stance toward America is opposition. Or am I reading this incorrectly?

And as to patting myself on the back, hell, I'm just happy to see people struggling to get out from under the boot. To my way of thinking, that's a step up in global karma from resigned acceptance of oppression. Seems to me the only legitimate Liberal response is to do what we can to help the oppressed.

Bottom line, if I have to choose between rooting for the anti-Syrian demonstrators or the pro-Syrian demonstrators, I'm not finding the choosing difficult.

Posted by: Mark Poling at March 8, 2005 10:51 AM
Markus Rose:
How about if WAR SUPPORTERS acknowledged this FACT, in exchange for the more honest members of "the Left" acknowledging the good that has/can come out of the implementation of Bush's foreign policy?

Well, according to Bob Woodward (you know, one of the reporters who toppled Nixon) Bush was leery about pushing the WMD angle, but his CIA director (who had been appointed by Clinton, BTW) kept insisting the WMDs were a slam dunk.

So no, I don't belive the "lie" is a FACT. And until you and your compadres get over this kind of hyperbolic, cartoonish style of arguing, expect to keep losing ground to the other side.

Posted by: Mark Poling at March 8, 2005 11:01 AM

It is easy to acknowledge that Bush made a HUGE multilateralist mistake in going for the WMD angle simply because he trusted the French, the British, the Russians, and the Chinese not to work actively against his UN Resolutions or to use their veto. It is very east to admit and acknowledge that Bush was told that it didn't take 6 months to mobilize a force to take Iraq, if the military had been required to do it faster. It is also very easy to admit that Bush imperiled national security by going to the UN and that by allowing Saddam to get a whiff of what we were doing, he dictated the terms on the ground that has cost 1,500 American lives.

It is sooo easy to acknowledge that Bush's multilateralist policies have been the bane and perhaps the ONLY bane, of Bush's Iraq policy.

The military equation for Iraq would have been far easier had we gone it alone. It's not like the British and the Japanese and the French would have lifted our fatalities by 50 or 20 something percent. They were token forces, put into the Kurdish and Shia lands while the real men and women of a real combat experienced force went and held Baghdad from the insurgency that Saddam had 6 months to cook up.

What is not easy to acknowledge, is why people keep saying Bush was too unilateral in his WMD thing... Bit of an oxymoron. Being more multilateral would have just killed more Americans, which I'm sure the military would not have liked but could still have done the job.

In exchange for the Guardian saying that the good things came out of Iraq because of how well they harped and criticized Bush's Iraq policies, I might indeed admit Bush's flaws.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at March 8, 2005 11:11 AM

To Marcus Rose--you couldn't have given a better illustration of my earlier point about the sophistry of the war opponents if you had tried.

Being mistaken is not the same as "lie" and "fraud," and I will not insult your intelligence by assuming you don't know that. And your quote from Wolfowitz clearly has noting to do with admitting a lie, and I assume you know that, also. Saying that the administration chose to highlight this particular reason for going to war, a reason they believed at the time in good faith to be true, has nothing whatsoever to do with lying.

I don't know why you and others persist in clinging to this "lie" meme. It actually puzzles me. I will continue to assume you know the difference between a lie and an error.

Posted by: neo-neocon at March 8, 2005 11:12 AM

I may have supported the war but I am very far from gloat mode. Major worry mode is more like it. Daniel Pipes sums it up well for me today:

Daniel Pipes

My definition of success runs counter to DPU's. But to explain that I'd have to get into my usual Islam bashing, which I'm trying to avoid for awhile.

Incidentally, for those looking for a Lebanese perspective on the pro-Syria rallies today, this is a good blog -

beirut2bayside

Posted by: Caroline at March 8, 2005 11:21 AM

Hey Lefties, your calls for help are being answered:

Thousands Answer Hezbollah Call in Beirut

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&u=/ap/20050308/ap_on_re_mi_ea/lebanon_syria_3

Posted by: Carlos at March 8, 2005 11:28 AM

So, the only legitimate stance toward America is opposition. Or am I reading this incorrectly?

Mark,

it may have only been a freudian slip on DPU's part, but I think you're reading it correctly.

Posted by: Carlos at March 8, 2005 11:31 AM

I strongly suggest that the purpose of articles like these is to take the 'bitter medicine' all at once and move on. I don't expect any of these formerly opposed writers to return to the topic after they've done what they must by means of begrudgingly granting Bush and the Right a modicum of credit. This is a one-time thing and now they can look for something else it is that they can turn into a quagmire and hope that, this next time, the Right will fail.

Regards,

Posted by: Thomas Hazlewood at March 8, 2005 11:38 AM

It's still possible that the whole thing will blow up in our faces and I'll be the one who has to eat crow.

and

I don't think it will turn out that way, but I don't know that it won't. Nobody does.

and

What if it does all blow up in our faces?

and

I have had my doubts about that since the opposition is often so reactionary and toxic.

Wow Michael. That's an impressive display of backbone. I sure am glad it's just your job to right about this stuff.

Posted by: Carlos at March 8, 2005 11:42 AM

neo neo-con:
"a reason they believed at the time in good faith to be true"

I'm not antiwar. Like Thomas Friedman, I believed that Hussein was eminently deterrable. I supported the war for other reasons.

Show me that the above is true, show me that the CIA was CONVINCED that it had solid intelligence showing that WMD's were likely to exist, show me that the UN inspectors were uncovering suspicious materials that tended to corroporate that intelligence.

You can't because they weren't.

Posted by: markus rose at March 8, 2005 11:56 AM

Mark Poling: So, the only legitimate stance toward America is opposition. Or am I reading this incorrectly?

Sorry if it came out that way. What I meant was that these would be legitimate tests of whether the Bush adminsitration values the ideology of spreading democracy over US interests, which is what has lead to support of Middle-Eastern dictatorships in the past and present.

It's like the old test of free speech -- supporting someone's right to say something that makes you sick. It's easy to support free speech when everyone's saying stuff you like.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at March 8, 2005 11:58 AM

Neo-neocon, I think the "no blood for oil" and "Bush lied, people died" memes are pushed by two types of people:

(a) Those who really believe the dogma, and;

(b) Those who believe the masses are too stupid to digest more sophisticated arguments.

Oddly enough, the existence of the first group encourages the fundamental error of the second. The trouble is, the first group arrives at its convictions through a more-or-less religious process; The Right is Evil, and rational (or even humanistic) impulses cannot drive any of Its actions. Therefore, people who are otherwise quite intelligent can believe the most convoluted and illogical arguments about the perfidy of the administration, simply because the alternatives violate their core belief (Republicans=Nazis.)

My feeling is that the masses are freaked out by group (a) and ticked off at group (b). But since group (a) and group (b) don't go to parties that include group ©, they don't see it.

A prime bit empirical evidence supporting this analysis is the low public confidence in mainstream institutions outside of the government and the church. ("Television news" and "Newspapers" rank above only "Big business" and "HMOs"). As a sometime-Libertarian with atheistic tendencies I find this pretty appalling, and I thank groups (a) and (b) above for this sorry state of affairs.

Posted by: Mark Poling at March 8, 2005 12:00 PM

Markus Rose:

"...show me that the CIA was CONVINCED that it had solid intelligence showing that WMD's were likely to exist,"...

What part of George Tenet's "slam dunk" didn't you understand?

Posted by: Mark Poling at March 8, 2005 12:05 PM

Wow Michael. That's an impressive display of backbone. I sure am glad it's just your job to right about this stuff.--Carlos

I am breaking my 'last post'promise,but I plead irresitible impulse.
I have to say that this comment appears somewhat'unkind',and a triffle unworthy,at least in my delusional opinion.MJT has at worst simply stated the obvious,and although I seriously don't agree with him on the benefits of graciousness to the opposition,or on previous occasions ,in the dim past,on his defense of the bankrupt Democratic Party,I don't see how those issues demonstrate his lack of backbone.Perhaps a tad nuanced for my tastes,but that's what makes for discussion,I guess.
He lives in a very blue part of the country,where anti-Bush dogma is SOP,24-7,but he was one of the first to support the WOT,and defend the President when doing so must have caused at least some odd looks from his neighbours and friends.
I think it takes more 'backbone'to strike off on one's own than it does to hold the same position as virtually all of one's social circle.
Just my opinion.

Posted by: dougf at March 8, 2005 12:09 PM

"Show me that the above is true, show me"

I don't know why people can't show me why Saddam is still able to be detered when the people doing the detering were doing business under the sheets, with Saddam.

How Friendman can "still" believe Saddam could be contained or detered when Saddam knew he had bought everyone worth buying, except the US of course, is rather interesting.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at March 8, 2005 12:17 PM

I think it takes more 'backbone'to strike off on one's own than it does to hold the same position as virtually all of one's social circle.
Just my opinion.

Maybe a little bit unkind, but not malicious. We all have our strength's and weaknesses. Michael's an independent after all, and that takes balls of a sort. But he's prone to self-doubt. That's all I'm saying. If he's going to play with the big dogs (like VDH), then he has to show a backbone. Maybe it's unfair to make that judgement based on his comments in the threads, but it's just someting I noticed here. His articles may be different.

Posted by: Carlos at March 8, 2005 12:31 PM

MJT: Just now I linked to an article in a left-wing newspaper where the writer says perhaps he was wrong. Try to acknowledge and respect that. It's a hard thing to do in print, and it should be gracefully welcomed and encouraged.

Ah, Michael, if only that were true... in such a case, I'd be greatly heartened. But from reading the article, I see that this is precisely what they fail to do. The LLL continue to cling desperately to the notion that they were not wrong.

The only thing we see here is a grudging-at-best consideration that Bush might have been right. It's a long, long road from "he might have been right" to "I might have been wrong".

My primary objection to typical liberalism is this refusal to entertain the notion that they were wrong. There's always seems to be an excuse, always a qualifier, always a diversion away from actually admitting that their beliefs were fundamentally wrong, and that their ideologically-driven hatred was morally and ethically wrong.

Until they can admit to themselves the real nature of the problem, I don't think they can get better.

Some are obviously far worse off than others, but there seems to be a pervasive intellectual bankruptcy that permeates most modern liberalism. What else explains the stubborn refusal of the vast majority of liberals to denounce, ostracize and distance themselves from the likes of Michael Moore, Atrios, and Kos?

Their silence gives tacit approval to the hate-mongering... they get the benefits of someone spewing vitriol on their behalf, but avoid the personal stain. Well, I think the time has come for an end to that.

You're either for Moore-Kos-Atrios, or against. If you're against, you should say so and act accordingly. When you don't, you shouldn't be surprised when people treat you as ideologically aligned with them.

Posted by: Barry Kearns at March 8, 2005 12:56 PM

Carlos: If he's going to play with the big dogs (like VDH), then he has to show a backbone.

Believing you're infallible and right about everything isn't "backbone," it's arrogance.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 8, 2005 02:10 PM

Ymarsakar

Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot…I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling…

I don't have any problem with this statement. It shows that he likes his job. I was in the military also. I am a U.S. Marine and I was infantry. There is a joy and wholeheartedness that accompanies courage. Churchill once said that there is nothing more exiting than to be shot at without success.

You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.

This is where he starts to go wrong. It is O.K. even good to delight in defending the defenseless or fighting for what is right. I approve. Nevertheless, once you think it fun to kill because the bastard deserved it or because you are hurting someone, then your attitude is not what it ought to be.

In the same manner, stand up for what is right. Defend the truth. But once the other side has laid down its ideological arms, then welcome them into the fold. Love justice but be merciful when you may.

Posted by: JBP at March 8, 2005 02:27 PM

Sean P

However, we also shouldn't let the "Benjamins" get away with claiming credit for the spread of Democracy, or denying credit to BUsh, since here in the US -- for the most part -- it was the war OPPONENTS who wanted to cancel or delay the election, and the SUPPORTERS (including Bush) who fought to keep it on track. Anyone who tries to argue that Bush's actions didn't bring about this change deserves to be duly smacked.

Please, defend the truth when it is attacked. But be polite and appropriately humble. You too may be wrong some day. In fact, you will be wrong some day. Assuming that there really was no WMD in Iraq, do you think it reasonable for them to say that Bush lied? Such behavior has no place in the discussions of mature people.

Also, while it might be a good idea to be gracious to those who are conceeding they may have been wrong, there's nothing wrong with gloating to the wars' more stubborn opponents -- and using the (recent) words John Stewart, Chappy and others against them.

Please, defend the truth. When such people say inconsistent things, point out the inconsistency. Point out that their predictions have been almost never correct. Even take some satisfactions in that you were on the right side of history. Don't, however, take pleasure in the fact that they were wrong. Don't take pleasure in making them feel stupid. Don't be vengeful.

We need to think long term and be examples.

Posted by: JBP at March 8, 2005 02:39 PM

JBP, that is extremely reasonable and mature advice for both sides of the political fence.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at March 8, 2005 02:45 PM

Churchill once said that there is nothing more exiting than to be shot at without success.

I'd bet big money it wasn't Ward Churchill who said that.

Speaking of people who have strong opinions about Eichmann, Hannah Arendt said this about Eichmann's execution:

"Just as you supported and carried out a policy of not wanting to share the earth with the Jewish people and the people of a number of other nations, we find that no one, no member of the human race, can be expected to want to share the earth with you."

That nice lady sounds kind of vengeful. Sometimes racism and genocide inspire that.

Posted by: mary at March 8, 2005 03:07 PM

Well, I wouldn't count your democratic chickens until they hatch, particularly in the Mideast. For some reason, Americans generally like to view events in a very shortened time frame. Some demos in Beruit and Bush has won; an "election" in Iraq and Bush has won. Now today, there's a much larger pro-Syrian demonstration put on by one of the world's worst terrorist groups, Hezbollah, and it seems many in Lebanon don't mind them at all. Christians are fleeing Iraq (the Jews of course left a long time ago) and women, in many areas, are feeling the oppressive weight of Islam more and more. And by the way in Lebanon there have been elections for quite a while; was that due to Bush as well? And, when Iraq becomes a sister state to Iran, at least we can thank Bush for that.

Posted by: Seymour Paine at March 8, 2005 03:16 PM

Perhaps the best way to separate the moonbat from honest thinker on the left, is to note who habitually seeks (and quotes) breadth of opinion from Iraqis on the ground, and also how that person reacts to those in the West who signify what is simply their un-politicized delight at Eastern moves toward freedom and self determination.

Perhaps the best way to separate the vindictive rightist from the honest thinker on the right is to note who is able to contain their impulses back to the example of the great Joe Louis.

Whether he KO'd his opponent in the first round or the fifteenth, he always cut the press off with the same evaluation:

"He was a good boy. He gave me a tough fight"

Posted by: Stephen at March 8, 2005 03:20 PM

Mary - "we find that no one, no member of the human race, can be expected to want to share the earth with you."

It must be me - but that doesn't sound vengeful to me at all. The "can be expected" perhaps makes it too logical to qualify.

Sean P? (via JBP) "However, we also shouldn't let the "Benjamins" get away with claiming credit for the spread of Democracy"

It strikes me that perhaps we all need to wait and see the implications of spreading democracy before assuming that anyone wants to rush to claim credit - Bush included! (of course that caveat rests on the hanging question of whether it is "democracy" (fully realized) that winds up getting spread rather than say mob rule or theocracy.

JBP: "Assuming that there really was no WMD in Iraq, do you think it reasonable for them to say that Bush lied?"

IMO the term "lied" should be reserved for cases where the speaker knows in fact that they are providing false information. I still find it highly doubtful that our armed forces went through a false charade of donning chemical weapons suits in order to play along. But "Bush was Mistaken - People Died" just doesn't look so good on a protest sign (Bush was Mistaken - People were Taken??)

JBP: "there's nothing wrong with gloating to the wars' more stubborn opponents"

I think it would certainly be fair to gloat in the face of people who claim that we went in there for the OIL!, or for imperialism and so on - in other words people who didn't believe that Bush was serious about trying to spread democracy as a long term strategy for dealing with terrorism (under the basic suppostion that free peoples do not make war on eachother and so on). In other words - I think the far left with all their conspiratorial talk should perhaps eat crow at this point. However, - the jury is still out on the opinions of those who felt that Islam itself was too much of a factor for democracy to work in the region. I know that many of those arguments certainly came from the far right and they may in fact have the last "gloat". But these aren't generally the same folks who bandied about the "No blood for oil" conspiracies. They fall into the (pragmatic) "status quo" camp - yes. And I imagine there must have been some from the left who agreed? But it seems that the status quo was simply allowing the basic problem to fester. So what was the answer? The US was caught between a rock and a hard place. It would be nice if everyone could appreciate that, set aside the more ludicrous conspiracy theories and partisan BS, and have a serious discussion about how best to move things in a direction that benefits both the US and the folks in the ME. I believe the term for that is "enlightened self-interest".

Enlightened self-interest. It's not a term I see bandied about as often as I would like.

Ugh - awkward, wordy post. Toss it up to the complexity of reality right now. Muddy!

Posted by: Caroline at March 8, 2005 03:51 PM

David Thomson said:
"Liberalism is premised upon an optimistic view of human nature."

No it isn't. It is based on the belief that people are property of The State.

"Conservatives rightfully embrace the concept that the at least metaphorical reality of Original Sin is alive and well on planet Earth."

No we don't. I believe the "Lord of the Flies" scenario, myself: most people are basically decent but for a few bad apples who seek power in order to abuse it. Once they gain power they put other bad people into power, creating a "Domino Effect" if you will that makes the entire apparatus of government evil.

It is why, as a Republican and atheist, I believe in the power of the Bush Doctrine, of Democracy, to fight terrorism. Get rid of the Lord of the Flies and his tribe of savages and the rest of the people become free to express their basic good natures.

Posted by: Republican Neocon at March 8, 2005 03:52 PM

Seymour - I've seen a couple of your posts at JW. I think it's safe to say we share many of the same concerns...

Posted by: Caroline at March 8, 2005 03:57 PM

Republican neocon: "Get rid of the Lord of the Flies and his tribe of savages and the rest of the people become free to express their basic good natures."

What do you do when a fair percentage of 1.5 billion people firmly believe that a violent psychopath was the final prophet of God?

Dear Lord - forgive me my sins. I cannot help myself.. (I would add the smily face but it just doesn't seem appropriate.)

Posted by: Caroline at March 8, 2005 04:05 PM

"He was a good boy. He gave me a tough fight"

Assuming of course that his opponent wasn't trying to kick him in the balls and gouge his eyes out, which is exactly what turns a regular rightwinger into a vindictive rightwinger.

Posted by: Carlos at March 8, 2005 04:36 PM

Sure, Marcus Rose, happy to oblige. I have absolutely nothing better to do with my time than to spend several hours penning an exhaustive case that will prove to you something that has already been discussed ad infinitum and ad nauseum all over the press, the blogosphere, and Kenosha.

If you don't understand by now that everyone on earth thought Saddam had WMDs, including Saddam; that in fact even if he didn't have them, he was in violation of the terms of the first Gulf War armistice, and that in and of itself was a casus belli; and that containment wasn't possible because the Oil for Food folks were working their butts off to uncontain him, and would have succeeded in due time; and that....well then, there's nothing I could say that would convince you, I'm afraid. So please forgive me for not dedicating the next five hours to that hopeless task.

Posted by: neo-neocon at March 8, 2005 04:41 PM

Neo-neocon - you have aptly summed up many (but not even all) of the reasons I supported this war (a state of fairly confident endorsement - let's say - beyond a resonable doubt - given the facts at hand), but having said that I am still at the moment best described as in a state of "worry" (as opposed to gloating) - and should everything turn out OK in the end - I anticipate that I shall pass directly from the state of "worry" to that of "relief" - skipping the "gloating" state all together. (Maybe there's even some chance that if everything turns out OK, I will actually have a brief chance to enjoy the "gloating" stage before the war's opponents quickly manage to rewrite history). It doesn't matter much does it? Sheer relief will do in the end. What else does one expect in the face of a gamble - even a necessary one?

Posted by: Caroline at March 8, 2005 04:57 PM

I was an Iraq war supporter, but there's nothing more vile than gloating about being right when a) this is only the beginning and b) hundreds of thousands of people's lives are on the line, and you are sitting there nyah nyahing while sipping your coffee at your computer. Instead of celebrating them and the potential lessening of their struggle (of the type that neither you or I will ever begin to understand), you are celebrating yourself and the righteousness of your oh so correct opinions (this excludes MJT and others who gave cautionary remarks).

Congratulations.

Posted by: neo-dem at March 8, 2005 05:16 PM

The sight of that headline is something truly resounding. I'm sure all of us who supported the Iraq war can breathe a sigh of relief. As it stands, it was the right thing to do.

I would interpret recent news in a more cautious way, personally. There are issues at play that are a lot bigger than "Bush was right".

But the newspaper headline should be welcome by moderates because it should help unite both sides of the debate by building some support for Bush from the leftists, and those naysayers that don't join the fray will be showing their true colours as Bush hating moonbats without a grasp of reality.

Of course there will be Republicans who seize it and will try to go as far as gloating and scoring political points.

It would be callous and shallow to ignore the costs of the war, the WMD intelligence failures and the instances of torture in prisons.

But those who don't embrace the tide of events and appreciate the spread of democracy are going to marginalise themselves and find their credibility diminishing in the mainstream media.

Its a big improvement from when the doomsayers virtually dictated what the media reported before/during the .

Posted by: Jono at March 8, 2005 05:24 PM

I don't think it's right (or smart) to gloat. However, I think it would be foolish not to recognize that a significant percentage of the people aligned against the Bush doctrine are the same people that spent 90-100% of their energy protesting U.S. and its actions during the Cold War. To them, the wrong side won that war - and that same wrong side is (hopefully, hopefully, fingers crossed) doing it again.

I don't have any problem with genuine criticism of U.S. policy in either WWIII (Cold War) or WWIV (War on Militant Islamists). I disagree with a bunch of what the U.S. did during the Cold War but I recognize that the sometimes tragically flawed U.S. foreign policy during that time period (thank you, Kissinger) doesn't change the scales when weighing the U.S. vs. the U.S.S.R.

Similarly, I have plenty of criticisms of the execution of the Bush doctrine but, again, the scales do not shift towards militant islam - not even close...

Posted by: Greg T. at March 8, 2005 05:29 PM

Caroline:

Pure religious prejudice. Shame on you.

You're probably a Pope-worshipping Papist, or part of a Zionist Conspiracy, or a Snake-Handling Baptist pushing for an early Rapture, or a manic-depressive Atheist who rips on religion to compensate for your low self-esteem.

Help me out here: whatever you believe, I'm sure there's someone out there who will throw rocks at you for it.

And to address your question without irony, the United States has already answered it: in Japan during World War II most Japanese believed Hirohito was a God.

If there were a "Clash of Civilizations" have no doubt we would win it. Be thankful there isn't.

Posted by: Republican Neocon at March 8, 2005 05:36 PM

neo-dem (as opposed to neodude and neo-con and neo-neocon - whatever!)

"there's nothing more vile than gloating about being right when a) this is only the beginning and b) hundreds of thousands of people's lives are on the line"

Perhaps substitute "foolish" for "vile" and I would quite agree with you. "Vile" overlooks too many hearts in the right places so to speak. As a war supporter I include myself, apparently your-self, and many others (to be excluded from the "vile" category)- but I also include many regular posters at this site who opposed the war because their hearts were in the right places as well. But as we all should know by now - in this day and age - we could use a few less hearts placed in the "right places" - and many more well-functioning brains - firmly implanted where they belong - in people's heads. That applies to all of us.

Posted by: Caroline at March 8, 2005 05:40 PM

But they knew better. When we arrived at Baghdad Airport, I was waiting for a jeep from the American army to come pick me up. I saw one of the Italian women walking around crying. An Iraqi had stolen her computer and television equipment. They were standing outside shivering, waiting for a cab to take them to Baghdad

OK,enough of the hand-wringing over we benighted souls who find it not only acceptable but REQUIRED to gloat over the discomfort of the 'left'.How about we deride and insult the latest journalist hero instead?We must be fair and balanced.

Collateral Damage--- Someone Else Always Pays!!

Posted by: dougf at March 8, 2005 05:57 PM

Caroline: So, you're a fellow-traveler, too; a running dog; a mole. I sort of thought so. JW is one of very few honest sites around. Charles of LGF is so completely blinded by his love of Bush that he never or seldom prints anything which is negative about him; but JW calls it more honestly (like about the hidious Visa Express program). In August 2001 I can safely say I knew almost nothing about Islam and had only a generally negative view of Moslems (due to their attacks on Israel). After 9/11 I read and read and read and realized (long before I discovered LGF or JW) what a horror it is. As far as I'm concerned, we should leave them to their own devices; if we try anything, like Napoleon, all our efforts will come to naught.

Posted by: Seymour Paine at March 8, 2005 06:02 PM

Republican neocon -

Let me see - neo-dem, neodude, neo-con, neo-neocon, republican neocon

Where is dem-neo-con, anti-neocon, plaeoneocon, neo-what?

maybe Wolfowitz is having an impact? Will "Neo" replace "Muhammed" as the most popular name in the neo-ME? Maybe Bush's policy is working out OK after all. I guess it's proof that everyone loves a winner.

It's quite hilarious to me that I deserve to be stoned for critizing the prophet (pbuh) - despite having walked out on my own religious background at age 19 (after having personally met Pope Paul 6 while my father was on a papal commission). I rejected the BS of the Catholic Church at age 13. (Please - a man behind a door tells you to say 12 Hail Mary's because you told a lie and afterwards everything's fine? Laughable. I could go on..).

Sorry Republican Neocon - I have little tolerance for BS. I am an equal opportunity bullshit-rejector. I am even inclined to throw militant atheism isn't that category. Do you want to be the first to throw a rock? (LOL)

Posted by: Caroline at March 8, 2005 06:02 PM

Caroline--Seems this joint is lousy with neocons of all varieties--a regular cabal :-).

BTW, if you're interested in what a "neo-neocon" is, see my post here.

Posted by: neo-neocon at March 8, 2005 06:11 PM

I agree with you Jono.

I think gloating is not called for - this is only the beginning in the ME, who knows what will happen, although I am optimistic. And besides, is gloating a behavior you would want to teach to your children? Gloating is defined as, "To feel or express great, often malicious, pleasure or self-satisfaction: Don't gloat over your rival's misfortune." from dictionary.com. I don't want my son to act with malice.

I do get very tired of the Left's argument that even if Bush was "right," (or if he solved world hunger, eliminated oppression from the world, and cured cancer) he's still Chimpy McHitler, the stupid, evil, lying POS. Very similar to how Reagan was treated when he was president. Constant whining and dwelling on the negative is very boring and pointless. Yes, we understand mistakes were made, as they are in any war. Yes, we understand that the current situation isn't perfect. Yes, we understand that oppressed people in other countries are being ignored. Yes, we understand that things in the ME and everywhere else for that matter could turn badly. Yes, we all understand that the future is not known. We understand. We understand. A question, is optimism dead on the Left?

I would recommend that the gloaters, and the pessimistic naysayers heed the advice from Viktor Frankl, author of Man's Search for Meaning, "Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you ar about to act now!"

Posted by: Brian at March 8, 2005 06:15 PM

I got a bit curious about this word "gloat" that has occasioned so much pro and con commentary here, so I looked it up. It turns out there are two competing definitions, one of which is simply "to brag or feel triumphment about an achievement," and the other of which is to do so maliciously. Perhaps those taking so much umbrage here at the word (or the act of) "gloating" are thinking of the latter definition rather than the former.

My own gloating is tempered by the knowledge that this is just the beginning, and that we still have no idea how it will all turn out. But then we never know how anything will turn out, do we, except maybe for a movie we've already seen before? But, still, I'm allowing myself to gloat a bit--in the first sense of the word--and I think it's a natural impulse for those who have supported Bush through a lot of nail-biting times, all the while listening to the left contemptuously ridicule us for our hope and trust.

Posted by: neo-neocon at March 8, 2005 06:26 PM

neo-neocon - read your link - why not simply reclaim the term "liberal?"

Posted by: Caroline at March 8, 2005 06:41 PM

To them, the wrong side won that war

Absolutely not. To them, the right side won the war but caused utterly indefensible foulness in the process of doing so. Practically no one thinks that we would be better off under a Soviet-dominated world system. But there exists a sizeable contingent of people who are quite sure that we didn't have to rape nearly so many Salvadoran nuns in the process.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 8, 2005 06:45 PM

Well neo-neocon, perhaps instead of relying on "gloat" which may have different meanings, we can just say that people feel justified in their support of Bush and the Iraq war.

And why shouldn't they?

The president surely is growing into a symbol of hope and freedom for those living under dictatorships. That doesn't preclude me from criticising his shortcomings and mistakes, but his pro-democracy speeches must be a source of inspiration for others.

Perhaps the re-election of Bush over Kerry has far greater influence than the policy details that each candidate subscribes to.

Posted by: Jono at March 8, 2005 06:50 PM

Kimmitt: Absolutely not. To them, the right side won the war but caused utterly indefensible foulness in the process of doing so. Practically no one thinks that we would be better off under a Soviet-dominated world system. But there exists a sizeable contingent of people who are quite sure that we didn't have to rape nearly so many Salvadoran nuns in the process.

Kimmitt is right. This is precisely the liberal view of the Cold War. Agree with it or not, recognize what it is liberals really think and don't call them communists.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 8, 2005 06:57 PM

Seymour - people can call me any name they choose for telling it like it is about Islam but it has nothing whatsoever to do with me. I think alot of that anger has to do with sheer frustration or despair about the scope of the problem. Quite clearly it isn't a "religion" at all (in the sense of providing some conduit to higher truth). It's quite the opposite in fact. But neither do I think that we can consign millions of people to tyranny and slavery just to avoid the problem. (9/11 already demonstrated that fact). I think Robert S and Hugh lean too much in that direction. In the end - I think the best hope is that truth will out. Most westerners are too full of guilt to acknowledge the truth about it and most ME's are too full of either false victimhood or false arrogance to see the truth. I place my hope in the free, unobstructed flow of information throughout the ME. That's something they've frankly never had. It may well take a generation but I have to believe that truth will prevail. In order for that to happen, however, people have to stop telling lies.

Posted by: Caroline at March 8, 2005 06:58 PM

Caroline--I wish it were possible to reclaim "liberal," because I still think of myself as one. But the word has ceased to mean what it used to, I'm afraid.

Posted by: neo-neocon at March 8, 2005 07:04 PM

Neo-neocon - no - it's still the right term. You can't stetch endless neo's in front of words as a solution to the term's perversion. I think you mean you're not a leftist. But you're still a liberal. Better to reclaim the original meaning of the term. (Otherwise how are the ME liberals going to recognize a compatriot?)

Posted by: Caroline at March 8, 2005 07:11 PM

How do you smile and embrace adoration while standing on the corpses of tens of thousands of civilians? On the bodies of kids, of women, of old men? How do you justify it all while dodging the reality that it was undertaken for national security reasons, not the actual emancipation of beleaguered people?

Observe how hyperbole sucks the meaning from the message. Let's not cry wolf for just any old event that comes down the political road; better to save that for an event where it may actually apply. You may fault American intentions all you like; there is a place for that. But there is also a place to give credit where credit is (in my opinion richly) deserved.

Posted by: Cliff Trapp at March 8, 2005 07:35 PM

"Show me that the above is true, show me that the CIA was CONVINCED that it had solid intelligence showing that WMD's were likely to exist, show me that the UN inspectors were uncovering suspicious materials that tended to corroporate that intelligence.

You can't because they weren't."

Markus,

There's this thing in liberal societies called, "the presumption of innocence."

Might want to try it sometime - you might like it.

"Kimmitt is right. This is precisely the liberal view of the Cold War. Agree with it or not, recognize what it is liberals really think and don't call them communists."

MJT, this is like saying, "All African-Americans support Jesse Jackson." or "All conservatives are racist." I know plenty of liberals who supported the Sandinistas and still do in retrospect, as well as many who now do not, but did then. Liberalism's a big tent, too.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 8, 2005 08:00 PM

Kimmitt: Absolutely not. To them, the right side won the war but caused utterly indefensible foulness in the process of doing so. Practically no one thinks that we would be better off under a Soviet-dominated world system. But there exists a sizeable contingent of people who are quite sure that we didn't have to rape nearly so many Salvadoran nuns in the process.

Totten: Kimmitt is right. This is precisely the liberal view of the Cold War. Agree with it or not, recognize what it is liberals really think and don't call them communists.

But yer missing the point that people like Kimmit, to avoid sullying their hands with "indefensible foulness", (and to maintain their holier-than-thou attitudes) would have done NOTHING in defense of the West. And yet they all benefit from the exertions of others who did do something. FUCK THAT.

Hindsight is 20-20, and talk is cheap.

Posted by: Eric Blair at March 8, 2005 08:03 PM

Markus,

To be clear - the burden of proof lies with those who accuse Bush of lying to demonstrate that he was convinced of the non-existence of WMD's. Same courtesy you would receive would someone accuse you. Kinda handy that way - huddled masses mysteriously prefer it to tyranny.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 8, 2005 08:04 PM

"Caroline--I wish it were possible to reclaim "liberal," because I still think of myself as one. But the word has ceased to mean what it used to, I'm afraid."

Neo,

Be not afraid. There are liberals in high places. And low. The truth will out.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 8, 2005 08:08 PM

Ged of Earthsea,

I support the Sandanista revolution against Anastasio Somoza. I also support the election of conservative Violetta Chamorro over the Marxist Daniel Ortega. I have never changed my mind about this, I stand by that opinion today. But I am not now and have never been a communist. And I certainly never wanted the Soviet Union to win the Cold War.

If my stance baffles you, it might help if you understand that Violetta Chamorrow was, after the revolution, a Sandanista in good standing even while she was a political conservative. The Sandanistas - for a while there - were a big tent, too, believe it or not. They included people left, right, and center. Later the right, center, and moderate left were purged.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 8, 2005 08:08 PM

MJT,

Thanks for the response. That was kinda my point, however. Depending on where you live, you can be a red-blooded America-loving liberal and never have come into contact with an anti-communist with an IQ over 80. This leads otherwise fine folks to make excuses for those from Ortega to Castro/Chavez to the "minutemen" in Iraq and the "freedom-fighters" in Palestine, since they too theoretically oppose reactionary elements in their own countries.

Those of us who've been around a couple blocks can see some danger in this, but I don't consider it a helpful strategy to pretend it doesn't exist, any more than it helps to pretend that racist conservatives do not exist. I believe over time there are fewer of both, but it's hard work making that happen.

You've done a lot to that end, BTW, for which many of us are quite grateful.

"Pretend" may not be the best word here, you show a refreshing lack of pretense. I guess you're just seeing the best in our liberal fellow citizens, which is to be applauded, but we're human too, and have our own blind spots.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 8, 2005 08:42 PM

"If my stance baffles you"

Markus baffles me.

Occasionally you befuddle me, but nothing more serious than that.

;)

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 8, 2005 08:44 PM

At the risk of monpolizing things here - to clarify one point. How can one be "America-loving" and yet feel that the wrong side won the Cold War? I think that very question (often unasked) is at the root of some of the pretty serious cognitive dissonance the liberal tradition is currently suffering.

Such folks love a (perhaps largely imagined) America of the past, as well as what America could be in a possible future, but are pretty down on America as is. Or to be more precise, how they perceive it to be. To the extent of, if not rooting for, at least neglecting to consider the seriousness of our current, past, or potential future enemies. This perception has been pretty handily manipulated by those who, to put it mildly, do not have our common interests at heart.

Now some folks just aren't cut out to be the "looking out for enemies" type. But some are, and too many are too busy looking for the enemies within, and not just on the left (see M. Savage) to see the more pressing threats who came, or are indeed still coming from elsewhere. We need the watchmen, left, right, and center, at the barricades and not just in our own backyards.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 8, 2005 09:09 PM

“But I am not now and have never been a communist. And I certainly never wanted the Soviet Union to win the Cold War.”

Wow, you are certainly ignoring reality. The hard core left wing of the Democratic Party always had a soft spot for the Communists. This has been the case since the Roosevelt administration. Every excuse was made to ignore their evil ways. They wanted to continue holding onto the utopian dream. Need further evidence? Look how they speak about Fidel Castro at this very moment. Also, there are plenty of Democrats sucking up to Venezuela’s new tyrant, Hugo Chavez.

Posted by: David Thomson at March 9, 2005 12:37 AM

I WANT US soldiers to enjoy their work -- killing bad guys. Because they'll be better at it. Wanting them to NOT enjoy killing bad guys means, to me, wanting them to lose.

Marc Cooper has made me think enough to change my prior position on Pinochet -- now I'm glad he's going to trial. I'm still confident Chile is better off because of Kissinger's dirty support of Pinochet; but such "end justifies murders" support should be reduced.

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 9, 2005 02:31 AM

Kimmitt: Absolutely not. To them, the right side won the war but caused utterly indefensible foulness in the process of doing so. Practically no one thinks that we would be better off under a Soviet-dominated world system. But there exists a sizeable contingent of people who are quite sure that we didn't have to rape nearly so many Salvadoran nuns in the process.

Totten: Kimmitt is right. This is precisely the liberal view of the Cold War. Agree with it or not, recognize what it is liberals really think and don't call them communists.

Liberals who really think this are really lying to themselves. Substitute "we didn't have to kill nearly so many Vietnamese" to see what I mean. Similarly with Kimmit's utterly indefensible foulness .

The USA lost in Vietnam -- because anti-War Leftists used the "indefensible foulness" argument, with real atrocities like My Lai, and Kerry's lying testimony of "Genghis Khan atrocities", to make the US leave and let commies win in all of Vietnam, and commies win in Laos, and commies win in Cambodia. And all the Killing Fields from 74-79 in SE Asia, are clearly due to the USA leaving.

The ONLY way to fight a war is to accept the unwanted, unintended, but (war is hell) inevitable killing of innocent civilians. The killing of innocents is WHY war is hell. But the hell of war is not always the worst hell.

There sure as hell exist a "sizable contingent of people" who were, in 1968-1974, "quite sure" that the world would be better off if the US left Vietnam. They were successful in their policy, the US left Vietnam, and the commie murders occurred by the thousands; by the hundreds of thousands; by the millions.

Leftists, not true liberals (get "liberal" back by calling them Leftists), try to make excuses (like MJT has) that McGovern or some other US politician wanted to give more guns to the S. Vietnamese as the US left, yada yada. Because the "true" leave-Vietnam policy wasn't followed, the anti-War folk assume away any responsibility for the results of their policy.

LIARS. Useful Idiots. The Killing Fields are the moral burden of each and every anti-War protester, and their refusal to accept that burden honestly has me, clearly, enraged.

I don't think there was ever a NYT headlines -- "What if we should have stayed in Vietnam?" or "How many have to be murdered in Asia for the anti-War policy to be WRONG?"

The objective historical fact is that the US leaving Vietnam means accepting commie murders. Murders, not unintended collateral damage. The Left wants some Unreal Perfection, some clean war where only the bad guys get shot, and only by super-efficient humanitarian warriors who take no pleasure in doing their job well.

Perfection is not an option.

The Vietnam War choice was clear: support the US in S. Vietnam or support the commie victory. Cronkite, Rather, Kerry, protesters, eventually most US politicians and intellectuals, supported commie victory ('No! we just wanted to stop the US killing over there...' - liars).

The Iraq war choice was clear: Bush's war or Saddam -- or neutrality. (See Normblog!) Anybody, and everybody, who opposed Bush's war supported Saddam. You don't support Saddam? Then stop opposing the choice to boot him.

I do not deny that US supported forces did, and continue to (to some extent) kill innocents, torture prisoners, use agent orange or napalm or other bombing, all in an attempt to create a democracy w/o such atrocities. I also fully support a reasoned attempt to constantly monitor such bad behavior, and correct it. But the defensibility of such behavior is based on the REAL Alternative.

It was Bush OR Kerry. Bush's war OR Saddam. US stays in Vietnam OR commies win. Socialist-commie Allende OR Pinochet in Chile.

In a democracy, we vote for people, who say they have some policy or other, and implement in some way or other. To support a “policy” requires finding a politician who says they support that policy, perhaps with other policies one doesn’t like so much. Tough. To vote means you’re responsible for the good and the bad, at least if your guy wins. (Good reason to vote Libertarian – no post-victory responsibility! ever. Now I’m a Rep.)

You vote the package. The pol implements some policy, with some intended and unintended results. Reagan’s anti-commie policy included support for Contras, some of whom almost certainly raped nuns, among other acts. I supported Reagan’s strategic anti-commie policy, though I was voting Lib instead, so I accept his tactical use of local “our bastard” anti-communists. The same Cold War strategy used by Dems and Reps since WW II. I never liked supporting our bastards – but I also never had any better anti-commie tactics to choose, The Clash’s great Sandinista (anti-) Washington Bullets sentiment notwithstanding. At least The Clash could “ask the Monks in the hills of Tibet, what do they think of voting Communist?”. Which is more than the NYT Leftists seem able to ask

I call you Leftists, you who want the good results of fighting evil but are unwilling to accept any responsibility for any bad side results of any policy you advocate. You who complain about doing good, because it is not done perfectly. You who protest Bush’s war, but refuse to accept your own implicit support for Saddam. You who failed to support the Rwandan people (and re-elected the President who refused the word “genocide”) – and do not yet protest Amnesty’s failure, Human Rights Watch’s failure, and the UN failure to call Sudan “genocide” today. You who were too dumb to even ask, when the answer might matter, what if Bush is right?

I am full of MALICE against any implicit ‘Unreal Perfection as the alternative.’So I gloat, in both senses, over the victory of the important, civilizing idea: fighting evil is good.

I truly look forward to lots of the 22, oops 21 Arab dictatorships falling/ evolving/ changing into democracies. We actually can have “peace in our time” – when we have a World Without Dictators.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at March 9, 2005 02:36 AM

Tom Grey: Liberals who really think this are really lying to themselves

Did the Indonesian genocide in East Timor help bring down the Berlin Wall?

Henry Kissinger backed an imperialist Islamic jihad against a Catholic country that killed one fourth of its population. Was that really necessary? Am I really lying to myself when I answer no?

How much violence are you willing to deploy in a war? This is not a frivolous question.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 9, 2005 02:56 AM

Ged, Mark, others -- I'll admit that this "bush lied" meme is hyperbolic. So, lets just say that he "decided to use as a casus belli for war a controversial, uncertain thesis, much of it fueled by suspect and possibly fabricated intelligence, as if this thesis was instead a "slam dunk." And he did so with little care for whether or not this thesis was eventually proven to be correct, since he surmised correctly Americans wouldn't care about reason for invading if the war and occupation went well, and since, well, he really did have other reasons for invading Saadam. (Reasons that I largely supported, as I said.)

If you want to defend the President by saying that his intelligence chief (whom he later awarded America's highest civilian honor) was an incompetent boob, go ahead. But don't deceive yourself that this incompetence hasn't gravely hurt our credibility, and that the next time we cry wolf on WMD's, nations that ought to be inclined to trust us will instead be inclined to view our claims with great skepticism.

Posted by: markus rose at March 9, 2005 07:07 AM

Sorry to be irreverant again...but am I the only one that is also interested in how Robert Downey Jr. is doing?

Posted by: john pike at March 9, 2005 08:00 AM

Markus,

Again your liberal sensibility wins out. Good. We may yet get to the truth here.

"a controversial, uncertain thesis"

Would that it had been more controversial. But the world-wide intelligence community is as succeptible to group-think as anyone else. And the usual group-think puncturers had been crying wolf so much, often for perceived political gain, that they had been widely discredited. To their credit, they either got this one right, or the weapons are still at large. Again, burden of proof issues come into play.

I'll agree that it was uncertain, as all intelligence necessarily must be. The degree of certainty, however, was woefully overstated, and not just by Tenet. Our president needs forceful critics who can make cogent arguments to counter his tendency to underplay the importance of the relative degrees of certainty that exist between various courses of action. At times, the left has provided just such criticism. More often, it too has missed the point.

"And he did so with little care for whether or not this thesis was eventually proven to be correct, since he surmised correctly Americans wouldn't care about reason for invading if the war and occupation went well"

Perhaps his lack of care had more to do with the consequences that would ensue had the thesis been, in point of fact, correct. What is the acceptable risk level here that it was? Should an unstable dictator with a past record get the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard? Preponderance of evidence? This is a very difficult question. But until we ask it, together, with our various political traditions adding their two-cents in good faith, will never find a decent answer.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 9, 2005 08:24 AM

"How much violence are you willing to deploy in a war? This is not a frivolous question."

MJT, I hope you keep asking it. Forcefully. It's thanks to liberals, and yes, the left, asking this question that our war-fighting has progressed to the point it has in avoiding collateral damage. It's thanks to liberals, and the left, asking this question that the President of the United States now agrees with you, at least in his speeches, and increasingly in policy.

Norm Geras offers an interesting argument along the lines of this conversation, with a very intriguing suggestion at the end:

http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2005/03/the_argument_ov.html

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 9, 2005 08:35 AM

Ged of Earthsea: “Should an unstable dictator with a past record get the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard? Preponderance of evidence?”

Presumption of innocence had one implication prior to 9/11 and another one afterwards. 9/11 lowered the standard of evidence required for a guilty verdict. One could also use a statistical rather than a legal analogy and talk about shifting p values as they relate to the likelihood of obtaining a "false negative". 9/11 shifted the p value from .01 to .05 so to speak (hopefully you get the rough idea)..

Posted by: Caroline at March 9, 2005 08:45 AM

Caroline,

There was once a time I would know exactly what you mean, but I still get the general jist, and concur. However, the presumption of innocence applies, and I would hope, apparently with little foundation, that this would be obvious, to our fellow citizens, including, oddly enough, our President, and not necessarily to murderous dictators in clear violation of several U.N. resolutions, not to mention the cease-fire agreement of a war we had been fighting with him with U.N. approval.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 9, 2005 08:59 AM

Caroline

JBP: "there's nothing wrong with gloating to the wars' more stubborn opponents"

I am sure it was inadvertent, but it appears as if you attribute to me the point that I was trying to refute.

I think it would certainly be fair to gloat in the face of people who claim that we went in there for the OIL!, or for imperialism and so on ... In other words - I think the far left with all their conspiratorial talk should perhaps eat crow at this point.

I agree that it would be fair to gloat in the face of people who say we went to war for oil or imperialism. As I said before, they earned it. Nevertheless, I think that it would be unwise. "Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate." -- Thomas Jones. We have the opportunity for "enlightened self-interest." If they are persuadable, they know they were partly wrong. If not, then call a spade a spade and move on.

However, - the jury is still out on the opinions of those who felt that Islam itself was too much of a factor for democracy to work in the region. I know that many of those arguments certainly came from the far right and they may in fact have the last "gloat". But these aren't generally the same folks who bandied about the "No blood for oil" conspiracies. They fall into the (pragmatic) "status quo" camp - yes. And I imagine there must have been some from the left who agreed? But it seems that the status quo was simply allowing the basic problem to fester.

What is not in doubt is that the entire region is moving in the right direction after moving in the wrong direction for generations. This is due to the Iraq war. Look England has had to deal with Irish terrorism for a century, but that does not mean that they don't have a reasonable government. I value freedom and reasonable government more than democracy. I value democracy because it appears to be the best method to produce a government that treats its citizens like adults who are valuable in and of themselves. If 9/11 did not convince one that the status quo needed revising, then what will?

Posted by: JBP at March 9, 2005 09:20 AM

"There was once a time I would know exactly what you mean"

Yea - there was once a time when I would have known exactly what I meant by that too. Good thing we pay statisticians where I work :-)

Posted by: Caroline at March 9, 2005 09:21 AM

Believing you're infallible and right about everything isn't "backbone," it's arrogance.

Michael,

No, it's the difference between merely being a passive observer vs being actively involved in SHAPING of the events. When you believe it, you will it into existence. When you don't, you're just an outside observer, watching powerlessly.

Call it arrogance if you like. But the great ones in your field (writers and columnists) are shapers of history, not merely watchers.

Just a friendly word of advice, and it's free.

Posted by: Carlos at March 9, 2005 09:28 AM

JBP: "I am sure it was inadvertent, but it appears as if you attribute to me the point that I was trying to refute. "

JBP -You are correct. Please accept my humble apologies! I cut and pasted Sean P's comments from your response to him and mistakenly used your name in front of them! Overall - I am quite in agreement with your points re gloating and I do hope you are right about everything moving in the right direction. I guess at the very least one could say that if the people in the region end up declaring themselves as our enemies through a fair process of elections and democracy - then at least we know where we stand with them as opposed to the whole issue being clouded by the tyrants in the region (i.e. not wanting to confuse the people themselves with their regimes). So however this all turns out, perhaps we will at least have some clarity re precisely whom our friends and whom our enemies are. Then if we are forced to go to war with any of them in the future, we shall be less hampered by the effort to win "hearts and minds". It's a perverse thought I admit. But I think we are in for a very long war and this may be a necessary first step for removing certain areas of confusion that could tie our hands down the road.

Posted by: Caroline at March 9, 2005 09:54 AM

Am I really lying to myself when I answer no?

How much violence are you willing to deploy in a war? This is not a frivolous question.

These are very important questions.

As of 1968 and the election of Tricky Dicky, the most important question for America is this one about Vietnam: Should we stay or should we go?

Your hero Hitch certainly says it was wrong for the US to be fighting evil in Vietnam; this implies (not sure he's said) it was good for the US to leave.

We left. SE Asia got commie genocide. The policy results of the anti-War Left.

Facts. Not questions. Facts. Facts that might help answer "everybody's" important question: is my policy actually wrong? [That’s the real non-frivolous question, only answerable when the policy is followed and the results are judged.]

The single most important political science question about the US leaving Vietnam is this: how many Vietnamese do the victorious, no-longer opposed N. Viet commies have to murder for it to have been a mistake for the US to leave?

That's the important question, and the Leftists not only don't answer it, they don't accept it as a question.

As long as you, Hitch, other Leftists etc., don't accept it, and address it, I'll think, “yes, you're lying to yourself.”

If, instead you ask other questions about US military abuses, perhaps like :

Did the Indonesian genocide in East Timor help bring down the Berlin Wall?

I’ll say THIS is being frivolous to avoid the issue of falsifiability, was the policy of fighting evil communism a mistake?
[Indy Answers: No, the US & Henry K was wrong to help that bastard Suharto (or after); yes, it showed that the US would support real bastards, so that US support was actually valuable to any anti-commie thug, and therefore the US could win more US-USSR proxy wars. Choose & prove your answer, if you wish.]

I’ve never seen an anti-War Leftist admit that it was a mistake for the US to leave Vietnam, the policy Leftists supported. Thousands and thousands and thousands of civilians were murdered by the commies Hitch supported, in order to have US forces stop what Kerry called “war crimes”.

I am deeply and sincerely ashamed of the USA leaving Vietnam before securing it; and enraged that US Leftist intellectuals refuse to discuss the costs and benefits of leaving.

Yes, the draft was particularly terrible; and the Vietnamization was being done poorly; and even some US Senators wanted to give more arms as the US left. Bah. “Leaving badly” is no better excuse then than “badly run occupation” today.

How much violence? The minimum to win. Or a little more. But never less.
Losing Vietnam when unwilling to use enough violence to win shows how terrible it is to lose – it shows it to any Liberal who really cares about innocent civilian human lives.
“That's why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.”
See Patton’s speech.

Vietnam shows Patton as wrong; we lost. But we lost because losing became less hateful than the lesser evil always necessary to actually fight real evil. I hate that.

I think supporting Indonesia as unconditionally as we did was a mistake, but I don’t think I can prove it. The Killing Fields prove to me that leaving Vietnam was a mistake.

How many have to die to show that the policy of leaving was a mistake?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at March 9, 2005 11:41 AM

Ged -- you raise some good questions that I'm still thinking about. Also thanks for the Norm Geras link.

Tom Grey -- it sounds as if you were willing to "pay any price, shoulder any burden" to win in Vietnam, for what you put forward as humanitarian reasons.

But beyond the evil and all-powerful leftists that supposedly forced us to leave...you forget the other impetus for Nixon, Kissinger, others to leave Vietnam: it became clear that saving South Vietnam from the Communists was not a strategic necessity in the Cold War.

All that was left was "saving face", "peace with honor", and the prospect of boat people and killing fields.

If you were willing to bear any burden for the people of Vietnam, why not the Czechs in 1968? Shouldn't we have given the Soviets an ultimatum when they shut down the Prague Spring? And how about the Sudanese or Congolese today? Or the 8 million people who die every year due to extreme poverty?

I assume your response will be along the lines of 1) price is to high, and 2) our vital NATIONAL interests are not at stake. These would be the same reasons Nixon and other had for abandoning Vietnam.

Posted by: markus rose at March 9, 2005 12:28 PM

Henry Kissinger backed an imperialist Islamic jihad against a Catholic country that killed one fourth of its population. Was that really necessary?

Maybe the answer is yes. At the time there may not have been a realistic alternative. Would the US really attack Indonesia right after pulling out of Viet Nam? A better question is why did Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton continue to allow the genocide and ethnic cleansing to continue?

How much violence are you willing to deploy in a war?

Whatever it takes if you want to win. Reagan was willing to destroy the world. If Russia had attacked with nukes, then Reagan would have killed everyone. I guess you need to ask yourself how far you would go to protect your family's freedom.

MJT, I hope you keep asking it. Forcefully. It's thanks to liberals, and yes, the left, asking this question that our war-fighting has progressed to the point it has in avoiding collateral damage.

At what costs? More US soldier casualties? Letting more of the bad guys get away? What if one of these terrorists that got away ended up poisoning the water supply in Miami and killed thousands? Is saving a few innocents today worth having thousands die later? Tough question. Maybe some of you feel better in that a tidier, nicer, friendlier war is more digestable, but it may end up that the policy of limiting collateral damage may help to cause much larger atrocities in the future. Difficult to prove but it's certainly possible. You should ask yourselves about these short-term/long-term trade-offs and if they are worth it. Good intentions don't always bring about the best results.

Posted by: Brian at March 9, 2005 01:21 PM

Brian -- One of the few things about Reagan that I liked is that he saw M.A.D. (mutual assured destruction) for the crazy idea that it was.

Destroying the world in a nuclear holocaust in order to avert a few years or a few generations of Communmism in America would have been unfathomably immoral, dwarfing the Holocaust, Mao's Great Leap Forward, or any other atrocity that comes to mind as an act of pure evil. Sorry, the survival of the human species trumps your freedom.

That said, the arms race kept the Cold War from turning bloodier than it did, and helped hasten the collapse of the dysfunctional government command economies of the Communist bloc.

Posted by: markus rose at March 9, 2005 02:52 PM

Markus,

My wife was raised in communist China during the Cultural Revolution. Not a bowl of cherries.

I guess that's a difference between you and me - you see survival trumping freedom, I see freedom trumping survival. I would give my life for my family's freedom. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness means everything to me.

Posted by: brian at March 9, 2005 03:36 PM

MJT: "Believing you're infallible and right about everything isn't "backbone," it's arrogance."

Carlos : "No, it's the difference between merely being a passive observer vs being actively involved in SHAPING of the events. When you believe it, you will it into existence. When you don't, you're just an outside observer, watching powerlessly."

************
"The ancient Masters didn't try to educate the people, but kindly taught them to not-know.

When they think they know the answers, people are difficult to guide. When they know that they don't know, people can find their own way.

If you want to learn how to govern, avoid being clever or rich. The simplest pattern is the clearest. Content with an ordinary life, you can show all people the way back to their own true nature."

The Tao Te Ching

Posted by: Caroline at March 9, 2005 03:48 PM

"Not-knowing is true knowledge. Presuming to know is a disease. First realize that you are sick; then you can move towards health. The master is his own physician. She has healed herself of all knowing. Then she is truly whole."

The Tao Te Ching

Posted by: Caroline at March 9, 2005 03:56 PM

brian -- Your perspective is irrational. The Cultural Revolution indeed was a nightmare, but your wife is alive and living in freedom today. All out nuclear war so that you and I could avoid the same experience that she survived would have led to her death, as well yours and mine. I believe in fighting for freedom too, but not when it entails the extinction of the human race.

Posted by: markus rose at March 9, 2005 04:13 PM

Re what is unfolding in the ME now:

"If you want to shrink something,
you must first allow it to expand.
If you want to get rid of something,
you must first allow it to flourish.
If you want to take something,
you must first allow it to be given.
This is called the subtle perception
of the way things are.

The soft overcomes the hard.
The slow overcomes the fast.
Let your workings remain a mystery.
Just show people the results."

The Tao Te Ching

Posted by: Caroline at March 9, 2005 04:13 PM

"What is rooted is easy to nourish.
What is recent is easy to correct.
What is brittle is easy to break.
What is small is easy to scatter.

Prevent trouble before it arises.
Put things in order before they exist.
The giant pine tree
grows from a tiny sprout.
The journey of a thousand miles
starts from beneath your feet.

Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe.

Therefore the Master takes action
by letting things take their course,
He remains as calm
at the end as at the beginning.
He has nothing,
thus has nothing to lose.
What he desires is non-desire:
what he learns is to unlearn.
He simply reminds people
of who they have always been.
He cares about nothing but the Tao.
Thus he can care for all things."

The Tao Te Ching

Posted by: Caroline at March 9, 2005 04:22 PM

Markus: so what you have said is that freedom is not worth fighting for. I infer then that you would be content to be a slave with all your family with you. That'ts your choice, just don't presume to make that judgement for anyone else.

Caroline:

"Not-knowing is true knowledge. Presuming to know is a disease. First realize that you are sick; then you can move towards health. The master is his own physician. She has healed herself of all knowing. Then she is truly whole."

Sounds like POMO BS to me. I'd be willing to bet that Newton, Einstein, Plato, et al didn't believe that knowledge was a disease. If you believe this then it follows that no one can know anything and all attempts at learning or communication are pointless. Oriental mysticism has never held up well to the light of science and logic, but, it works great in Kung Fu movies. ;^)

Posted by: AlanC at March 9, 2005 05:35 PM

AlanC - Far be it for me to argue about one of the most long-standing treatises of human wisdom known to man. Re ultimate knowledge - Socrates said - Know Thyself. I cite the Tao Te Ching merely as one more voice that merits attention and perhaps especially so - when the times are so confusing. No more, no less. I am sure you are also aware of the "eureka" studies that have shown that most major creative scientific advances have occurred to scientists when they just shut up for a bit - when they were in a state of non-thinking (If I recall correctly - that was true about Einstein). Re Kung Fu movies - I'll wager that Bruce Lee knew a thing or two about the Tao Te Ching. It's certainly not entirely irrelevant to the long-standing human art of "warfare".

Posted by: Caroline at March 9, 2005 05:57 PM

Michael, as regards who was on which side during the Cold War: I remember the elephantine manuverings of the liberals trying to get on the right side after they'd lost it.
That you were worrying about details of tactics is nonsense. Nonsense.
You may have wanted us to win the Cold War--being charitable here--but there was never a thing we could to to win you didn't oppose. So you wanted us to win by doing everything you could to get us to lose?
That you'd have been just fine with us winning in Central America if the nuns had been left alone?
Don't insult us by presuming we don't remember.
The Cold War was a long, hard, depressing, painful slog and you guys made it so much worse.
And now you claim to have been on our side all along, just worried about a few mistakes we made.
Ugh.
As I say, it's an insult to think we wouldn't remember.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at March 9, 2005 06:04 PM

alanc -- you would choose death, for yourself, your family and for the entire human race, to a slavery that could be temporary. that's irrational. And I thought it was the liberals who were supposed to have a heart instead of a brain.

caroline -- not clear how you want us to apply Lao Tzu's words to the current situation. You should explain.

Posted by: markus rose at March 9, 2005 06:09 PM

Tom Grey, you ask of those who wanted the US to leave Vietnam, "How many Vietnamese do the victorious, no-longer opposed N. Viet commies have to murder for it to have been a mistake for the US to leave?" I have a question for you: are all of those who opposed the war presumed to have known the exact dimensions of the consequences of the pullout?

You certainly could argue that they should have known. But there was a great deal of disagreement on what the consequences would be, at the time (I seem to recall that this was one of the issues in the debate between Kerry and O'Neil on the Cavett show). Our impression (and we could certainly argue about whether this was true or not, but it was in fact the impression given by the media at the time) was that the war was being fought in a halfway fashion and couldn't be won for a number of reasons, including lack of support by the South Vietnamese. And so all the loss of life and the terrible suffering seemed pointless, and it seemed (again, accent on the "seemed") that even the South Vietnamese people themselves were tired of all the killing and wanted peace, and that the peace that would come with a Communist takeover might (again, accent on the "might") be better than this endless, pointless-seeming, war.

Quite simply, in my opinion, this idea turned out to have been incorrect and, as you say, a mistake. But I only see that through hindsight. And of course we don't have an alternative universe in which to see exactly what would have happened had we stayed in Vietnam and fought on.

As far as responsibility goes, I, for one, am very distressed by what happened afterwards. Should I have been able to foresee it? If I had somehow looked further, read more, distrusted the media more, would I have known, and would I have taken a different position? I don't know the answer. But I know that, even though I was pretty young at the time, I wish I had looked deeper, and known more, and not trusted the media so much. One way I am trying to deal with that knowledge is to try to prevent a similar thing from happening again by speaking out to defend what we are doing in Iraq, and to do my best to go beyond what the MSM is telling us and to find the truth as best I can.

Posted by: neo-neocon at March 9, 2005 06:18 PM

Caroline:

Saying "Know thyself" is an injunction to introspection. The Tao says that "Not knowing is true knowledge". In my world -A = A is not a valid statement. The Tao just reminds me of too many smoky dorm rooms oh those many years ago.

Markus:

I would choose to fight rather than be a slave or have my family enslaved. If you would choose your shackles to live and die in hoping that something might change, through the grace of God apparently since you won't do anything, that's your choice. It strikes me as a cowards choice to acceept slavery without resistence.

Tell me, if I lived next door to you and told you to be my slave or I would kill you, would you accept willingly? Your statements say that you would. My guess is that you would cry for someone else (the police) to dirty their hands to protect you. I'll let you decide what that means.

Posted by: AlanC at March 9, 2005 06:35 PM

Markus - if Russia tomorrow gave the world an ultimatum that they would nuke everyone unless all people surrendered and become their slaves, you would choose surrender? Unfortunately, MAD was (and is today) the only deterent available for that threat, and a deterent is only effective if the other side is certain that the deterent will be used.

Where is your threshhold? When is freedom not worth fighting for? 1000 deaths? 1 million? 10 million? Picking an arbitrary threshhold seems irrational to me. Don't you have any convictions?

Posted by: Brian at March 9, 2005 07:01 PM

AlanC: "Saying "Know thyself" is an injunction to introspection. The Tao says that "Not knowing is true knowledge". In my world -A = A is not a valid statement."

I take that conundrum to mean that most of the "knowledge" that leads to our actions is based on stored knowledge that is tied up with the ego. When we say "I know" - we are mostly expressing accumulated knowledge that comes from the past and that we have come to be identified with. Being identified with that knowledge, - we have a huge stake in its rightness or wrongness. Our persistence as ego - as it were - depends on it. "Know thyself" strikes me as an injunction to recognize that basic fact and so to strip away what is false and conditioned and of the past - i.e. what is "dead" and ego-related as it were.(And what is left after stripping all of the false away? I ask that because “Know thyself” strikes me as lying at the heart of spiritual inquiry as well. Who am I - in other words, once all that is stripped away?). In any case, stripping all knowledge away leaves one naked and in the present and in some sense "not knowing" - i.e. - having no (ego-linked) past knowledge or conditioning to guide one's action in the present. That leaves "what is" - NOW - to guide one. It doesn't mean that the brain stops operating - just that the present moment is seen de novo for what it is without the distorting filter of the past (as connected with ego) as a screen through which the present is interpreted. Which means that one perceives what actually is in the present - and given that the brain still works - it hopefully leads to a "fresher", more rational and sane response. Incidentally – there are many accounts of how for people in emergencies – say an imminent plane wreck – time literally slows down. And their actions are almost hyper-rational! Focused so completely in the present that they do exactly what needs to be done in the sparsest manner. Their brains do not stop operating by any means. Rather – they operate way more efficiently (and that includes doing what they can to help those around them).

A little game I like to play in this regard is to ask people - Who is thinking your thoughts?

Tick tock tick tock....

I'll bet I know what you said....

You said - "I am". I am thinking my thoughts.

Am I right?

To which I respond - if that is the case - if YOU are thinking your thoughts - then don't have a thought for a minute. That shouldn't be so difficult should it - if YOU are thinking your thoughts? Then just don’t have a thought OK?

Try it. Focus on the present (silence!) – and then wait. How long can you go before a thought appears?

Tick tock tick tock...

Let me guess. You made it about 15 seconds or so before a thought occurred – against your will.

That should go to show you that most of thought is conditioned. On auto-pilot as it were. How much do you want to trust what bubbles up on auto-pilot as a guide to your actions?

So AlanC: - that was a very long-winded way of suggesting “Know thyself” (that was a little lesson in introspection wasn’t it?) as a means of stripping away the false (the conditioned). The question is - what is left after stripping away the false?

Well - I gotta say - I'm smelling that smoke now. Actually - it smells pretty good...:-).

Posted by: Caroline at March 9, 2005 07:52 PM

Sorry Caroline:

Went through all that crap when I was a young'n. Still do the yoga exercizes cause they work well for a bad back. Did the meditation schtick and it just doesn't cut it as a path to "knowledge".

To your question, who's thinking my thoughts? You predicted I'd say I am. However, what I say is "I think therefore I am". So, I don't exist seperately from my thoughts which means that you should ask who my thoughts are having.

BTW don't know that the smoke smelled good, I was always getting hungry.

And remember, if I hold a rock in my hand and let it go, I don't know that it will fall....but that's the way to bet.

Cheers.

Alan

PS Bet you know all about "pink clouds" too ;^)

Posted by: AlanC at March 10, 2005 04:13 AM

AlanC -- I never said freedom wasn't worth fighting for and dying for. My opposition is to the efficacy of worldwide nuclear holocaust.

Your dismissal of eastern philosophy is second rate: Rupert Holmes said it much more eloquently in the Pina Colada Song ("I'm not much into yoga, I am into champagne...")

Drug use can be a serious problem. You, on the other hand, are a good example of someone who didn't do ENOUGH drugs. Seriously, you are too boring to argue with.

Posted by: markus rose at March 10, 2005 06:54 AM

Caroline – I know, this is a kind of a dead thread, but about the not-thinking thing...

The brain is responsible for maintaining all of the body’s functions. There are voluntary and involuntary actions, conscious and subconscious impulses and thought, all of which are necessary for survival. When the brain is in a state of ‘no thought’, the clinical term for that is “dead”.

As a biological part of an organism, a brain can’t be switched off or restarted like a machine. Subconscious thought, and the “bubbling up” involuntary nature of it, like dreaming, is a healthy part of a functioning brain.

Posted by: mary at March 10, 2005 07:04 AM

“The philosopher Descartes believed that he had found the most fundamental truth when he made his famous statement: “I think therefore I am”. He had, in fact, given expression to the most basic error: to equate thinking with Being and identity with thinking.” Eckart Tolle, The Power of Now

But – as I can see that eastern philosophy is none too popular here, guess I'll have to search for those pink clouds (?) all by my lonesome. Sigh....:-)

Posted by: Caroline at March 10, 2005 08:51 AM

Now Markus, you see fit to argue with me, and the only drugs I did were at age 4 (yes, I was raised in the seventies, and drugs at 4 is enough to scare you off for life!).

ROFL at the Rupert Holmes. We had the 8-track, baby!

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 10, 2005 09:15 AM

Caroline,

Popularity and truth only occasionally coincide. Don't lose any sleep over it.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 10, 2005 09:17 AM

Caroline:

Re: pink clouds..... Alan Watts - "On Having No Head". Part of a Philosophy course circa 1973.

I remember 0 about it except for this image which is meant to represent your cheeks since you can't see your own head.

In all honesty I wouldn't recommend you wasting your time on it.

Cheers.

Posted by: AlanC at March 10, 2005 12:55 PM

Totten, brings up an interesting point.

Do any of us really know how history would have been affected by removing some of the worst atrocities, Kissinger et all, instituted in the attempt to win the Cold War?

It seems to me that we are at the moment NOT living in a nuclear holocaust environment, of which many people were scared shitless of back in the olden days. They were scared because they did not know how to resolve this stalemate between Russian nukes and American nukes. But we do, so we give no consideration to the fact that we should be grateful to the actions of our predecessors for GETTING THINGS MORE RIGHT THAN WRONG.

Just as we should be grateful for Bush, regardless of the totality of his actions, for making sure there hadn't been any serious attacks since 9/11.

However, we cannot individually trace an event and then say "changing that event will produce a better result than the one we have now". We can't do that, because we are not omniscient, none of us are. We do not have enough information to change the past and accurately predict its consequences.

That is why you have to accept the good with the bad of history.

I'll give a Civil War example. Let's say we built a time machine and went back to the Civil War to make that war less costly to both the Confeds and the Union. So we take out McClellan when he is near RIchmond in the first year of the war, 1861 I believe or was it 1862, and his second in command takes charge. Driving towards Richmond with great speed and ending the Civil War right then there. This would be a much cleaner war, no?

Of course it would be a much cleaner war, just like removing whatever atrocities Kissinger did would make the Cold War a "cleaner" war. However, if you change how the war was won, you change the consequences of the war. Therefore without an Antietam, there would be no Emancipation Proclamation. The slaves would not be freed, and they might still be calling the nation, in the plural sense of those United States rather than the singular sense of THE United States.

Is Totten willing to change the outcome of a Nuclear Mutual Destruction War, simply because Totten wants a cleaner and better war?

If the decision were mine, I would not risk such changes to the timeline. It's easy to criticize and talk about "what should have been", but if we were ever given the power to do what we talk about, it becomes something else entirely.

Which brings us back to the subject. What use is it to say that Kissinger should have done this or that, given hindsight, if the risk of changing that historical incident can bring out a nuclear holocaust?

Because we do not know the exact consequences of changing the timeline, we cannot excuse any possible consequence. We know some of what might have happened in the Civil War had we changed things, but the Cold War was much more complex and longer than that.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at March 10, 2005 09:05 PM

Ymarsakar:

That is the best refutation of the phrase "20/20 hindsight" that I've ever read.

No matter the how any choice turned out it is impossible to know what the ultimate result of changing that choice would be.

Posted by: AlanC at March 11, 2005 05:59 AM

One, the Independent is not an especially left wing newspaper, although perhaps it would be considered so to an American audience. Two, you will still find many articles critical of the war in that, and all the other, UK newspapers. Just as there were articles supporting the war while it was happening in many newspapers. There's no big turn around happening over here.

Posted by: Marlowe at March 11, 2005 10:16 AM

Don't insult us by presuming we don't remember.

Hell, man, I'm pretty damn sure you can't even see, much less remember what you saw.

Yeah, we were against raping nuns in El Salvador. You were for it. For some reason, conservatives tend to get all weepy about the necessities of massacring innocents and civilians, especially in the strategically least important areas of the world imaginable. I'd kind of hoped that once the excuse of the Cold War had passed, the pseudo-martyrish sadism would pass, but it turns out the Cold War wasn't a cause, it was an excuse.

And all the Killing Fields from 74-79 in SE Asia, are clearly due to the USA leaving.

Are you high? I mean, right now, at this very second, are you seriously on magic mushrooms? The Khmer Rouge came about as a resistance movement against US forces. We engendered the coup that brought Lon Nol to power in Cambodia, who promptly ran the country so badly that he lost it to the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge were so awful that the Vietnamese Communists deposed them.

I understand that the conservative response to everything is, "We have to kill more brown people!" but please try to keep something resembling sanity in your remarks. We killed a lot of people in Vietnam. Our stupidity allowed the Khmer Rouge to rise. Things got so bad that an entity as basically terrible as the Communist Vietnamese government had to clean up our mess.

This thread to me has only underlined how utterly foolish it is to trust Bush or his fellow conservative cronies with Iraq. You just don't put people whose basic foreign policy is, "Kill them until they stop even trying to resist any more, then kill them some more," in charge of inculcating a civil democratic society, and you don't put people who measure the success of US foreign policy in terms of how many bodybags it produces in charge of winning hearts and minds.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 12, 2005 12:40 AM

Ooh, I forgot the part where the US actually armed the Khmer Rouge while they were resisting the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia. Now there's an image, Reagan sending weapons to the Khmer Rouge. Anything to get more brown people killed, I guess.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 12, 2005 12:43 AM

Kimmit,

I just can't see where you're going with this. If you expect me to believe that a sizable number of my fellow citizens support raping nuns and indiscrimnating killing "brown people", am I also supposed to accept reports of jews making bread with the blood of babies?

I'm a little wary of lending too much credence to such claims, especially considering the quantity of disinformation promulgated concerning these issues over the last half of the 20th century, not only from our bumbling CIA, but also from the far less bumbling KGB, among others who are unlikely to have our common interests at heart.

Believing the worst of our fellow Americans may protect you from being deceived, I guess, but its not much of a basis for consensus.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 12, 2005 03:08 PM

This is where FC asks me why I don't condemn "the right" too, or more likely excoriates me for not doing so. Well, the "right" calls me a coward, while the "left" calls me a sadist. I know the former is closer to the truth than the latter, so I'm naturally more concerned with those who believe the latter, if only in hopes that they could get a more accurate grasp on the problem at hand, and thus offer more useful solutions, as they have in the past.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 12, 2005 03:13 PM

MJT, I hope you keep asking it.

Rest assured, you're not an example of the phenomenon I'm describing.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 13, 2005 12:17 AM

Kimmit,

When you employ the "royal we", you include me. Many of our forebears came to these shores because of their distaste for all things royal. I know mine sure did. I've lost none of that distaste.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 13, 2005 06:06 AM

Kimmitt - when you say "we" engineered a coup, are you telling us that you're French? Tres bon, comment allez vous? Mangez la fromage, mon ami.

From the History Channel's Chronology of Cambodian History:

ZHOU ENLAI AND PHAM VAN DONG
Beijing, 4:20 pm, 21 March 1970

Zhou Enlai: France is concerned that if Sihanouk tilts toward us Cambodia will be another battlefield. French interests, therefore, will be affected. So France wants to win Sihanouk's sympathy. France also wants to win the Soviets' sympathy. France may explain to the Soviet Union that Lon Nol is not entirely pro-American, that he is pro-French and he is following the policy of neutrality. The Lon Nol government, therefore, can be recognized.1 France may also promise that it will advise the Lon Nol government not to attack North Vietnamese and the NLF troops. These can be seen in the context of the last two days' developments: the Lon Nol government promised a policy of neutrality, respect to the treaties Cambodia had signed before. It especially ordered security measures to protect Chinese and Soviet Embassies in Phnom Penh.

We should support Sihanouk for the time being and see how he will act. We should support him because he supports the anti-American struggle in Vietnam, because the Indochinese countries opposed the Japanese [and] French in the past and because we have been supporting him after the [1955] Bandung Conference [of nonaligned nations]. We will also see whether he really wants to establish a united front to oppose the US before we support him. But because of the circumstances he may change his position. However, the more we can win his sympathy the better. It is what we initially think.

As you can see, the Cold War was very complicated. Yet you try to present it in black and white terms (America=evil)

Your black and white view of America (and of course, Republicans) is tres simplisme, very French.

Posted by: mary at March 13, 2005 07:12 AM

Yet you try to present it in black and white terms (America=evil)

Oh, good Lord, learn to read. My first post on this damn thread made my position abundantly clear, and I haven't posted anything which contradicts it so far. Further, the link you posted doesn't mean what you think it means. The summary on the main page, if you'd bothered to read it, makes clear that the link implies that both the French and Americans were believed to be behind the coup. Since the French had longtime colonial interests in the region -- which, as you may recall, we intervened to protect during the First Indochina War -- it's hardly surprising that they would be acting in concert with us.

So, yeah, things were complicated. So please try to put a few moments' thought into actually comprehending the statements made by people with whom you don't immediately agree.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 13, 2005 03:36 PM

Kimmitt - you said "I understand that the conservative response to everything is, "We have to kill more brown people!"

and Reagan sending weapons to the Khmer Rouge. Anything to get more brown people killed, I guess

I did read the entire article - the French were trying to appease the Americans and the Soviets, Sihanouk wanted to establish a united front, France advised him not to. France thought that Sihanouk wasn't listening to them, so France wanted to replace Sihanouk by Lon Nol. Sihanouk wanted to ally with the Soviet Union and China, to reduce French influence.

Lon Nol wanted to appease China and the Soviet Union.

And your interpretation is "We engendered the coup that brought Lon Nol to power in Cambodia, who promptly ran the country so badly that he lost it to the Khmer Rouge."

..and republicans want to kill brown people.

That's what's known as 'revisionism', or knee-jerk reactionary simplification of history based on an unreasonable hatred of a certain group of people - in your case, Americans who support defense.

For more information about revisionism, see: Noam Chomsky.

Before you react, please try to put a few moments' thought into actually comprehending the statements made by people with whom you don't immediately agree.

Posted by: mary at March 13, 2005 06:47 PM

From the article:

I think that Lon Nol's coup d'etat against Sihanouk is approved by both the French and Americans. Of course, when talking about it, he mentioned only the Americans, not the French. However, according to Rayer [?] who had a talk with the Chinese writer—Hanzi—France does not believe in Sihanouk anymore. So both France and the US supported the coup.

The default position was that the Americans were behind the coup. What Zhou is advancing is the notion that the French also had a hand in.

..and republicans want to kill brown people.

This is in a thread where it was claimed that liberals think the wrong side won the Cold War. If you can't take it, then notice when your side dishes it out. And yes, dammit, I'm sick and tired of reading peans to brown person killing, like Tom Grey's above. Also, since when does Republican = Conservative? I was pretty clear in my post that I was going after a specific philosophy with a specific set of policies.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 13, 2005 09:31 PM

Kimmitt,

I guess the problem I'm having is that I take the liberals who think the wrong side won the Cold War (although they might also claim that the right side lost it. I.E. it was good that the Soviet Union, as it came to be in reality, lost, but not good that the U.S. as it is in reality, won) more seriously than I take "conservatives" who like to kill brown people. I don't even consider such folks in a any meaningful sense conservative, so I have trouble seeing the validity of the comparison.

Another consideration is that those who rue the Cold War outcome are more likely to hold positions of authority in our society than those who like to kill brown people. I'm actually glad this is the case, but it nonetheless is clearly not the ideal state of affairs.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 13, 2005 10:57 PM

"And yes, dammit, I'm sick and tired of reading peans to brown person killing, like Tom Grey's above."

I find no referent for this statement. Grey's argument was that our cowardice caused brown people to be killed, and he condemns that cowardice in no uncertain terms. How is this a pean to killing brown people?

Grey's worldview is certainly bleaker than mine, but there is no evidence that he advocates killing brown people, and even more certainly not in the arbitrary manner you imply.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 13, 2005 11:03 PM

Kimmit, I have to say I didn't even set out to fake you into going all nutso. Apparently, it just happens. I can't take credit.
The issue is whether you and yours think the wrong side won the Cold War. In a smaller frame, whether you think we believe your primary or sole concern in Central America was the fate of nuns and others. If they had been left alone, you imply, you'd have been just dan and finedy with the US prevailing.
Nobody believes that, Kimmit. Nobody.
And, man, that must bite.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at March 14, 2005 07:00 AM

Dick,

"Nobody believes that, Kimmit. Nobody."

Well, according to Carlos I'm a humble guy, but I'm not nobody. I believe it.

I just don't believe at least half the reports of atrocities that get the left worked up. It's good that they get worked up about real problems - they're our country's immune system. My concern is that lately they've been attacking healthy cells instead of the disease.

The ancient strategy of "divide and conquer" is so effective it has become a cliche. This doesn't mean that it isn't still employed by those who wish to conquer us. It might behoove us not to allow ourselves to be so easily divided.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 14, 2005 09:20 AM

Ged. Sorry you're deluded.
I was in Central America in 1987 with a group of faith-based peace freaks. They had no patience with democracy, thought the US was the fount of all evil and cared not a whit for atrocities committed by their lefty buddies.
Our guide, having lost Central America, was, last I looked, working for the Latin American Working Group, whose primary mission, as far as I can discover, is to keep Fidel from being inconvenienced by the US.
I got an article sent to me by somebody who thought that being on the group's mailing list made me a true believer. The subject was Low Intensity Conflict. It was a problem for them because it worked and didn't cause nearly enough casualties among civilians. They needed more.
To expand the geographic situation, anybody can be upset about My Lai, but it takes a conservative to be upset about the massacre at Hue during Tet. Lefties talk about eggs and omelets or something.
Lefties don't mind how many people get killed, just so long as it's enough to make political points, and they really, really don't like the idea that the US prevails. Their concern for the unfortunates caught in the crossfire is window dressing and they don't mean it for an instant. They can fake it pretty good if there are points to be made.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at March 14, 2005 09:39 AM

Lefties don't mind how many people get killed, just so long as it's enough to make political points, and they really, really don't like the idea that the US prevails. Their concern for the unfortunates caught in the crossfire is window dressing and they don't mean it for an instant.

We also eat babies. Raw. With cocktail sauce.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 14, 2005 10:15 AM

Smart, Kimmit. Difference is, you're exaggerating.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at March 14, 2005 11:03 AM

BUSH is always right.

Posted by: garret at March 14, 2005 12:40 PM

Knowing the idiots you describe, Richard, doesn't help you understand Kimmitt any more than knowing some Klan diehards would help him understand you. The only ones who benefit from either one of you thinking that it does are Zarqawi, Chavez and friends, because when we're paralyzed by infighting, they thrive.

So grow up already, OK? Kimmitt's saying he doesn't agree with those folks you complain about Richard. Why not let him? Richard is saying he's not big on raping nuns. Why not take him at his word, Kimmitt?

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 14, 2005 06:12 PM

Kimmit said he's glad the US prevailed in Central America?
That we won the Cold War?
Let him say it.
Then he can go back to his archives and show us he was for it before it happened. That he didn't just get on board when it was necessary to look like he was on the right side all along.
Call me anything you like, but don't leave out skeptical.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at March 14, 2005 06:35 PM

Then he can go back to his archives and show us he was for it before it happened.

Dude, I was thirteen when the Berlin Wall fell.

Kimmit said he's glad the US prevailed in Central America?

The only people who have been worse than the Soviets in Central America is the US. The Soviets lost the end of the Cold War. Central America lost the entire Cold War, from beginning to end. The world is better off from the struggle, but Central America is probably worse off. I'm glad we won for our sake -- I'd much rather live in the US than Soviet Russia, which should go without saying. But we did enough bad, bad things down in Central America . . . I still can't say they'd be better off if we'd lost, but I can't help thinking they'd have been better off if we hadn't fought there at all.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 14, 2005 08:52 PM

I know, Kimmit. They have these booooring democracies. No revolutionary virility.
If we hadn't fought there at all, the Sandinistas would be in charge in Nicaragua and the FMLN in El Salvador, plus whatever other places they took over because we weren't fighting. The whole place would be like Cuba.
You were thirteen when the Berlin Wall fell. Well, that means you didn't see what was happening. You were taught what had happened. That means you qualify for some industrial-strength humility and circumspection.
I know you lefties think when the peasantry is outrised, upraged, oppressed, suppressed, repressed and depressed that AK 47s and RPGs and Semtex spring fully formed from the ground as if United Fruit had been planting dragons' teeth instead of bananas. That flew, or at least the lefties were able to insist that's what was happening until we caught the Sovs at it BIGTIME, and when Reagan told Gorby to knock it off, and, presto, the Warsaw Pact arms dried up. Whotta surprise. Even the lefties had to admit it, which is to say they went from saying it wasn't happening to saying it was perfectly justified without even an "oops" for punctuation.
What bad stuff the US got blamed for was, 1, sometimes true, 2, sometimes made up. One of our dog-and-pony shows in El Salvador told us about how the cops machine-gunned a demonstration. I asked how many were hurt. One guy hurt his arm, was the uncomfortable reply. My son--then nine--could have done better than that with his BB gun and no BBs. Or, 3, accidental, one of the costs of war. It was the US which dreamed up Low Intensity Conflict which, as I say, annoyed the lefties by killing so few civilians.
When their buddies killed civilians, it was either ignored, or condoned. Everybody the FMLN or Sandies killed was a traitor to the revolution, selling out the people, a US puppet. And that was from American clergymen.
And the FMLIN and Sandies couldn't win an election which ought to but never does embarrass the folks who keep talking about the will of the people.
In wars like this, the most important terrain is the six inches between the ears of the American voter. And the lefties sure won the battle for your brain. They had the media, the liberal churches, the democratic party, and the universities to lie for them. And you bought it because it makes you feel morally superior to the rest of us.
We know, Kimmit. We know.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at March 14, 2005 09:15 PM

I know, Kimmit. They have these booooring democracies. No revolutionary virility.

You mean, no anti-Communist cred. Because we tossed democracies out left and right when they made the "wrong" choices.

Yes, Central America is largely democratic now -- and free from civil war. Most of those democracies and/or peace accords date from after the end of the Cold War. Do you think there might be a correlation?

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 15, 2005 01:37 PM

Correct, Kimmit. You got it.
Had the Cold War ended with the second-worst guys in charge (the sovs, you said) there would be peace and a Cuba-like regime over the whole thing.
The original question was whether lefties preferred the other side.
We won. That's why there is peace and democracy in Central America.
Tough.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at March 15, 2005 07:29 PM

That's why there is peace and democracy in Central America.

No. It's over, which is why there is peace and democracy in Central America. We didn't want peace and democracy there either during the Cold War. That's my point. So, yeah, Central America's glad we won, but only because it means that we stopped shitting on them. Which is my point.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 15, 2005 09:54 PM

Kimmit. I hate to say this. But perhaps the excuse is you don't have a clue because you listened to the liars instead of watching things as they actually happened.
But you don't have a clue.
We didn't want peace and democracy? Got a source for that?
Never mind. Your mind is set in concrete and there is no use discussing anything with you ever again.
US BAD is all you know and the logical inversions you make to fit the unfortunate realities to your view are simply not worth trying to follow.
All I can say is that the people who pretend to agree with you are pretending. They know better, which puts them intellectually one step above you and morally one step below. You, unfortunately, seem to really believe.
Adios, my friend.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at March 16, 2005 11:09 AM

The US overthrew the democratically elected government of Guatemala in 1954.

US Servicemen presided over systematic torture in El Salvador.

The US was the major sponsor of the Somoza dictators in Nicaragua dating before and then through the Cold War, despite his habit of slaughtering peasants; when they were deposed by the Sandinistas (who won the 1984 elections, validated as Free and Fair), we funded the remnants of that dictatorship as the Contras. This funding was continued despite the express opposition of Congress, in contempt of democratic principles.

I'm pretty clear on US -- and, particularly, consevative -- policy in Central America, thanks. I suppose your deliberate ignorance gives an updated version of the old question, "If the US backs a dictatorship that kills ten thousand brown people, and conservatives can pretend it didn't happen, do their bodies rotting in mass graves make a sound?"

I'm glad you lot say you are on board this "democracy," "human rights," and "basic decency" thing now. You weren't before.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 16, 2005 07:29 PM

"I'm glad you lot say you are on board this "democracy," "human rights," and "basic decency" thing now. You weren't before."

9/11 will do that to a person. I wouldn't be so sure it hasn't done something similar to our President you so despise.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 17, 2005 05:44 AM

9/11 will do that to a person. I wouldn't be so sure it hasn't done something similar to our President you so despise.

You're totally right -- I mean, before 9/11, the President had an agenda of enormous tax cuts, the invasion of Iraq, and faith-based programs. After 9/11, his agenda was completely different . . . hm.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 17, 2005 11:48 AM

Kimmitt,

Did George Bush rape your mom or something? Your blind contempt hurts you more than his supporters, I'll tell you that. Bush did a 180 (aka, a flip-flop) on the question of nation-building. Before 9/11 he was agin it, after 9/11 for it, complete with primary concern for democracy, human-rights, and basic decency, both because he in general (as any decent human being would be) is for such things, and also in an effort to secure national unity, as he knew these matters were of foremost concern to liberal citizens.

Many of whom preceeded to let him, the rest of us, and, especially, themselves, down, in the mistaken (hubristic?) belief that America is so strong that our house can stand perfectly well even divided against itelf. It looks like we got lucky this time. I'd rather not test fate again.

Posted by: Ge at March 17, 2005 03:41 PM

Let's just say that I find his conversion . . . opportunistic at best.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 17, 2005 07:01 PM

And what opportunity is it that I am allegedly sacrificing my principles in order to seize?

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