July 08, 2005

Withdrawal Under Fire

Hardly anyone seems to have noticed, but last week both Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush rather strongly implied that they intend to withdraw American forces from Iraq under fire. It's not necessarily as bad as it sounds, though, and it's the subject of my new Tech Central Station column.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 8, 2005 04:59 AM
Comments

Here's an anecdote that involves Dracul "the Dragon" Vlad II , Voivode of Wallachia, and him burning a hall full of crippled and poor people to the ground. After feeding them at a huge feast, Vlad asked if they would like to "no longer have any worries in the world". When they answered yes, he nailed the doors shut and burned down the building.

Another story involves a Polish noble that visited Vlad for dinner. Vlad took a sword and asked what the noble thinks Vlad should do. The polish noble said he should do what he feels is right, including killing him or not... Vlad answerd should the polish noble have answered any different he would have chopped his head...

Vlad we are told was fond of killing peasants. But these were mostly german Saxon immigrants and templar Teutons that mistreated the local romanians. So he liked to kill Germans. Can you blame him? And of course, Turks, the worst enemy.

Vlad had 20,000 Muzzies impaled in a valley next to an advancing Turkish army. The Turks realized who they were dealing with and turned back. When the impaled bodies started to stink and some showed their disgust for the smell, Vlad of course had their noses chopped. No smell, no complains.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 05:42 AM

And the point of that comment was.....?

Are you suggesting that mass murder and mutilation of innocent people are the best ways of combatting mass murder and the mutilation of innocent people?

You've declared your support for genocide before, so it doesn't surprise me that you'd say it's ok to slaughter German immigrants (most of whom were merchants invited into the region to develop it economically). Or the standard "dehumanizing an enemy" bit by calling people "Muzzies" because, after, who can blame him for killing tens of thousands of "Muzzies"! They're as bad as those Germans, right, Mika?

Sometimes I wonder if you, Mika, aren't working for the other side. It would certainly explain a lot: a jihadi, pretending to be an anti-jihadi Israeli, but portraying him as so utterly batshit insane as to lose all credibility.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 06:23 AM

Good point on the Lebanon withdrawal, very original and apropos to Iraq.

It's already getting very difficult for insurgents and jihadis to claim they are fighting for Iraqis. When America leaves and a democratic Iraq is standing on its own, it will be next to impossible. Of course, they'll find some excuse, but it will probably cost them the last shreds of their credibility among mainstream Arabs. Iraqi democracy will also make life difficult for the undemoratic regimes of the region; the lessons of history make it clear that, like iron filings in a magnetic field, democracies inevitably align together against tyrannies.

Posted by: TallDave at July 8, 2005 06:54 AM

Commenter,
Vlad, the impaler of the Turks, understood his foes first hand and what it takes to counter them. While Moslem hordes flung the heads of slain villagers over the defending city walls in the Balkans, and the cultures of the North were already cowering in anticipation of the Islamic onslaught, Vlad was one of a few that was psychologically prepared to meet the threat head on. And guess what. He succeeded in turning back the Turks by having peeps of your persuasion planted where you belong.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 07:03 AM

It's all well and good that the Iraqis will be asked to "finish the job." Perhaps their new military alliance with the Iranian mullahs will help:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/07/AR2005070701125.html?sub=AR

That being the case, why has the Bush Administration refused to state that it has no intention of having a permanent military bases in the country?

Posted by: markus rose at July 8, 2005 07:09 AM

Right, I want everyone to see this (especially Michael Totten):

Mika, who has never met me and knows nothing about me beyond what I've told him, believes that I am a Muslim and that I should have my head planted on a pike.

Mr. Totten, I was threatened with banning because I was overly sarcastic. Mika doesn't seem to receive any warnings and he's out of his fucking mind. I just wanted to point this out.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 07:21 AM

Commenter,
Stop being so paranoid. We're not going to have your head planted on a pike. You really have nothing to worry about, honest. Unless of course you fit the description.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 07:32 AM

Commenter,
Stop being so paranoid. We're not going to have your head planted on a pike. You really have nothing to worry about, honest. Unless of course you fit the description. ;)

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 07:32 AM

But Mika, you've already told me that you think you've managed to deduce that I am a British-born Persian, probably living in America, who is a jihadi. Or do you take that back now?

Because if you don't, then the implication of saying "having peeps of your persuasion planted where [they] belong" is that I should be killed by being impaled on a pike.

But maybe you've come to your senses and have realized that your little fantasy about playing detective was just that, a fantasy. because if not, seriously, you might want to consider a career in intelligence, if you're that good at figuring out an anonymous commenter's ethnicity, nationality, and place of residence, just based on your selective interpretation of facts and your hysterical fantasies.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 07:37 AM

mika,

I think you actually frightened him! LOL!

Commenter,

the muzzies see the west as a big fat fuzzy teddy bear, just as mika sees you. That's his point.

Posted by: spaniard at July 8, 2005 07:37 AM

No, Mika has no frightened me. I have a tendency, when encountering someone who is either incredibly stupid or, in the case of Mika, totally insane but still a "functioning" member of society, to want very badly for them to realize that they're stupid or insane. I know I'm only setting myself up for failure, because people like Mika will never recognize their insanity, but it's still something I would like to do.

But Mika thinks I'm a teddy bear? Is this crazy thing contagious?

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 07:41 AM

But Mika thinks I'm a teddy bear? Is this crazy thing contagious?--Commenter

Not if we chop your nose off.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 07:43 AM

Failing to have Mika recognize that he's insane can be offset by having other people recognize it. So far, a few have; mostly the people he's accused of also being me (like DPU and Tosk) and Caroline. That's far too few. What I'd really like is for MJT to say something, but Mika would probably ignore that as well, as Mika's declared that I'm MJT's pet jihadi who he keeps around to keep web traffic up.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 07:47 AM

Actually Commenter, you're my pet jihadi, not Michael's. And it's you alone that's in my heart, my special pet.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 07:51 AM

Yes, mika is insane. What I want to know is, is he also a Finn? Half of my family is Finnish, and I do have a soft spot in my heart for them and their eccentricities. But though Mika is avery Finnish name, his views and mannerisms are quite a minority among Finns, who tend to be very reserved and unemotional, unless they are drunk. Maybe Mika should be called "Mika - the angry, drunken, Finnish dwarf."

Posted by: markus rose at July 8, 2005 07:54 AM

Did you know that Mika thinks he knows who I am? Hassan something? He actually thinks he figured out who I am.

I can only imagine that every day at the Home for Mentally Challenged Adults where he lives that the staff let him play dress-up and pretend that he's James Bond, rooting out spies and unconvering hidden jihadis.

"Look, Mika, here's another jihadi hiding in the pillow fort you built! Good boy, Mika, good boy!"

But they have to leave the night light on because, as Mika knows, the hidden jihadis are everywhere, including a) under his bed, b) in his closet, and c) posting on this very message board.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 07:55 AM

Thank you, Markus.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 07:55 AM

mika seems a bit ruthless, but he doesn't sound at all angry. Sounds very Finnish to me.

Posted by: spaniard at July 8, 2005 07:56 AM

Thank you, Spaniard.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 08:00 AM

Spaniard, I don't think he's angry. I think he's crazy. He made up a name for me and has defended genocide. Crazy crazy crazy.

For example, I told the world that I was learning Farsi, but that my knowledge of it was very limited. This is how Mika's thought processes appears to have gone:

He says he's learning Farsi - therefore he's a British-born Persian who speaks perfect Farsi and is a jihadi.

He says he knows very little - this is clearly a lie meant to throw us off our tracks.

Of course, he never really explains why someone would admit to knowing Farsi, if he wanted to keep his identity a secret, or how Mika knows that one is an admission of guilt but the other is a lie.

In other words, he makes stuff up and then selectively chooses which parts of reality to believe and which to reject, based on the stuff he made up.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 08:04 AM

Mika just has a very shaky grasp of history, and apparently feels compelled to enter on the side of revisionists wherever they might stand, as his previous comments on WWII show. Vlad wasn't actually terribly sucessful at keeping the Turks at bay - he lost Wallachia to the Turks in 1462, reconquered it only with Hungarian (Transylvanian) support, and then lost it again in 1476 when he was killed by the Turks and his head sent to Constantinople. The Turks then ruled Wallachia for the next 400 years. Not the greatest example of Western resistance to Muslim aggressors. Many sources agree that Vlad's cruelty turned the local Wallachian Boyars and peasants against him and thus Vlad was essentially abandoned by his people at the end. It was actually preferable to live under Turkish rule rather than Vlad's rule.

Maybe for an encore Mika will treat us to an essay on how Ceaucescu should be considered a Romanian national hero for standing up to the Russians.

Posted by: vanya at July 8, 2005 08:05 AM

So far, a few have; mostly the people he's accused of also being me (like DPU and Tosk) and Caroline.

Well DPU and Tosk isn't saying much, but Caroline? She tends towards the ruthless side too.

mika,

are you a Finn? Everything that I've read and heard about those people is pretty hardcore. They didn't beat the Russians by playing tiddlywinks with them.

Posted by: spaniard at July 8, 2005 08:06 AM

In other words, he makes stuff up and then selectively chooses which parts of reality to believe and which to reject, based on the stuff he made up.

dude, he's obviously fucking with your mind, that doesn't mean he's crazy. And wasn't it DPU that was insisting I was actually mika for a while? It's stupid and annoying, but it's not crazy.

Posted by: spaniard at July 8, 2005 08:08 AM

Commenter,
This thread is not about you, or me. You've already had plenty of opportunity to rebuff me on previous threads and you slunk away. Stop derailing this one.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 08:12 AM

Spaniard,

So far as I can tell, he thinks my name is Hassan. Maybe that's a pretention - but ask him how he feels about ethnic cleansing and genocide. Our very first fight (ah, so long ago) was over his defense of ethnic cleansing and mass murder of innocent civilians to redress grievances a thousand years in the past.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 08:13 AM

Commenter,

curious. Do you consider the ouster of Israelis from Gaza to be ethnic cleansing?

Posted by: spaniard at July 8, 2005 08:16 AM

No, I don't. Since those people have moved there in their lifetimes, and since in order to do so they had to evict the people living there from their homes, I don't think they have a moral right to live where they do. I see it as a return of stolen property.

If the Israelis had purchased their homes from the Palestinians, it would be an entirely different matter.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 08:22 AM

It's all in my biography, Spaniard. :)

And do we really need to ask Commenter that question? We all know the predictable jihadi reply. Commenter, Israeli homes and construction, and Arab construction looks wholly different. The Israelis forced from their homes have build their homes and communities from the grounds up. There was nothing there but sand before those Israeli towns were built. But I'm sure that will change your thinking about those Israelis being forced to leave their towns in the Gaza strip.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 09:00 AM

Commenter,

were the Serbians driven out of Kosovo by muslim terrorists and Clintonian bombs ethnically cleansed?

Posted by: spaniard at July 8, 2005 09:02 AM

Vanya,
I'm not sure where you're getting your information from. Here's what I found through a quick google: http://www.dreamsmith-graphics.com/wizglass/vlad.html

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 09:06 AM

were the Serbians driven out of Kosovo by muslim terrorists and Clintonian bombs ethnically cleansed?--Commenter

Yes. And with German help they were ethnically cleansed from Croatia as well.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 09:10 AM

Oops. Too quick to pull the trigger. Sorry Spaniard.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 09:12 AM

Mika,

I don't think anything in the site you refer to contradicts anything I wrote. It's basically the same information - it's just that you choose to focus on Vlad's actions (impaling people, intimidating his enemies and being a general bad-ass), and I'm focusing on the results: impoverishment of Wallachia, destruction of the Wallachian ruling class and foreign merchant class and his eventual fairly ignomious defeat at Turkish hands. Also I assume you meant to refer to Vlad III Dracula, and not his father Vlad II Dracul, since all the stories you mention are about the son (and Vlad II Dracul was a Turkish ally for a time).

Posted by: vanya at July 8, 2005 09:21 AM

Spaniard,

Were the Muslims driven out of Granada by the Castilians ethnically cleansed?

Posted by: vanya at July 8, 2005 09:23 AM

Were the Muslims driven out of Granada by the Castilians ethnically cleansed?

Vanya,

You're asking the wrong guy. You tell me. In my mind it doesn't matter if it was or not-- even if it was "ethnic cleansing," I couldn't be happier about it.

But the term "ethnic cleansing" itself is strictly a Liberal construct that is applied for situations that they don't approve of. When he does approve (see Kosovo or Gaza), it's crickets chirping.

Posted by: spaniard at July 8, 2005 09:31 AM

IF there is the wholesale slaughter of individuals based on their ethnicity (race, religion, etc), by a group which places itself as an enemy to said ethnic group... I think that one could call that "at least" attempted ethnic cleansing. If its very successful, I think we can classify it as genocide.

I makes me feel icky in the pit of my stomach to see individuals arguing over which ethnic horror deserves the EC title.

But there I am again with my moral equivalence... imagine how silly I must be to think that killing large groups of people based solely on ethnic background seems the same as killing large groups of people based solely on their ethnic background.

Tosk

PS - MJT your article was very nice. I thought you did a great job of showing the pros and cons of withdraw under fire. Personally, I think Iraq will have to finish this on their own... they need to earn their democracy, or they risk losing it quickly.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at July 8, 2005 09:34 AM

Vanya,

There are 3 generation (father, son, grandson) of Vlad Dracul so it's easy get them confused. Vlad Dracul was the father of Vlad Dracul the Impaler (1430-1477). From that link:
.
.
"The actual birth date of Vlad, later called Vlad the Impaler, is unknown, but was probably late in 1430. He was born in Schassburg (aka Sighisoara), a town in Transylvania. Soon after his birth, his father was invested with the insignia of the Order of Dragon.

In 1451, while he was at Suceava, the Moldavian capital, the ruler was assassinated. For whatever reasons, Vlad then went to Transylvania and placed himself at the mercy of Hunyadi, the very person who had ordered his father's assassination.

Hunyadi died of the plague at Belgrade on August 11, 1456. Immediately after that event, Vlad left Transylvania for Wallachia. He defeated Vladislave II and on August 20 caught up with the fleeing prince and killed him. Vlad then began his six-year reign, during which his reputation was established. In September he took both a formal oath to Hungarian King Ladislaus V and, a few days later, an oath of vassalage to the Turkish sultan.

Vlad committed his first major act of revenge. On Easter Sunday, after a day of feasting, he arrested the boyer families, whom he held responsible for the death of his father and brother.

During his reign, Vlad moved to the villiage of Bucharest and built it into an important fortified city with strong outter walls. Seeing the mountains as protective bulwarks, Vlad built his castle in the foothills of the Transylvania Alps. Later, feeling more secure and wishing to take control of the potentially wealthy plans to the south, he built up Bucharest.

At Castle Dracula he was faced with overwhelming odds, his army having melted away. He chose to survive by escaping through a secret tunnel and then over the Carpathians into Transylvania. His wife (or mistress), according to local legend, committed suicide before the Turks overran the castle. In Transylvania he presented himself to the new king of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus, who arrested him.

Vlad was imprisoned at the Hungarian captial at Visegrád, although it seems he lived under somewhat comfortable conditions after 1466. By 1475 events had shifted to the point that he emerged as the best candidate to retake the Wallachian throne. In the summer of 1475 he was again recognized as the prince of Wallachia. Soon thereafter he moved with an army to fight in Serbia, and upon his return he took up the battle against the Turks with the king of Moldavia. He was never secure on his throne. Many Wallachians allied themselves with the Turks against him. His end came at the hand of an assassin at some point toward the end of December 1476 or early January 1477.

The actual location of Vlad's burial site is unknown, but a likely spot is the church at the Snagov monastery, an isolated rural monastery built on an island. Excavations there have proved inconclusive. A tomb near the altar thought by many to be Vlad's resting place was empty when opened in early 1930s. A second tomb near the door, however, contained a body richly garbed and buried with a crown."

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 09:39 AM

I makes me feel icky in the pit of my stomach to see individuals arguing over which ethnic horror deserves the EC title.

Tosk,

there was a time not too long ago when making distinctions, when being discriminate, when being nuanced, etc., was a sign of intellectual sophistication. Now the opposite is true, especially on the Left.

Posted by: spaniard at July 8, 2005 09:40 AM

Crickets chirped, Spaniard, because I was off to lunch. It's 1:00 PM here.

Anyway, yes, the Serbs who were forced from their homes by violence or the threat of violence - like murder and rape - were ethnically cleansed. They were people forced from their homes because they happen to subscribe to a particular ethnic identity, not because they had done anything, but because some other Serbs had done terrible things and the Kosovars were going to make them pay for crimes they hadn't committed.

There were plenty of Serbs who, in my mind, would have deserved this fate. Those were the Serbs who, under Milosevic and the Bosnian Serb leadership, systematically murdered thousands of innocent Muslims and Croats because they happened to profess their faith in a different way and because they wrote their language in a different script than the Serbs did. These people were and are monsters, and most of them will never be punished for what they did. Instead, other Serbs will be punished simply because they happen to be Serbs.

Though, if you ask Mika, he'll defend the Serbs, because as long as they were slaughtering "Muzzies", it's ok.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 10:04 AM

Vanya,
There's obviously a very sordid relationship between the Dracul Vlads and their alliances with Hungarians against the Turks and vice versa. The Vlads had a very tenuous hold on their throne and had to fight both the Turns and the Hungarians to maintain their hold it. Anyhow, any prince with the temerity to impale 20,000 jihadis as a warning to their advancing army is ok in my book.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 10:07 AM

Spaniard,

Well, I don't disagree with you. I am no more attracted to the Left than you are. I see much of their actions as politically motivated, instead of ideologicaly motivated. They seem, to me, to sacrifice their ideals, if it scores points for their side (or against the Right). Of course, I don't see the Right as any better.

Mr. Bush seemed very intent at one time that Victory meant Exit Strategy, now an Exit Strategy would only embolden the enemy.

Tom Delay once said that one can support the troops and not the President... now, not supporting the President is apparently near treason.

(if you want the slutfest check out http://www.thepoorman.net/2005/06/29/words-to-remember/ ) I don't like the blog, but I think the hypocricy seems obvious, to me at least.

I think the Terri Schaivo/States Rights issue was another example.

Democrats and Republicans both appear as hypocrites to me, thats why I refuse either side. I like some liberal ideas, I like many conservative ideas... however, I find both parties repugnant.

However, I suppose this is just more leftist moral equivalence to you.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at July 8, 2005 10:11 AM

Good article. I frankly don't care who finishes the 'insurgents' as long as finished they are. What your article fails to state however is that the longer this 'dead-end' resistance drags on the more likely it is that this will in fact be a low level civil war with the Sunnis eventually losing pretty much everything.

Posted by: dougf at July 8, 2005 10:12 AM

Part of the problem with the discussion of Vlad is, I think, the conflation between the army of an expanding imperial power with al Qaeda-style political Islam.

There were many empires throughout history that used armies to conquer other peoples. The Ottomans were one such empire. But, because they were Muslim, Mika conflates them with every other Muslim. It doesn't matter if the Ottomans in Rumania behaved exactly as plenty of Christian armies behaved in other parts of the world, or that Christians, Jews, and members of other religions have engaged in wars of conquest as well - Muslims are singled out and any war or conflict or conquest is part of the single jihad. This is why, I think, Mika seems ok with the Serbs slaughtering Bosniacs, because to him, those Bosniacs aren't innocent people going about their lives until they're murdered because of their religion. Instead, they represent the same, eternal, faceless Muslim horde. In Mika's mind, apparently, a shopkeeper in Bosnia is the same as a Turkish soldier centuries ago is the same as Mohammed Atta.

Because, after all, in his world view, they're all "Muzzies" and all "Muzzies" are all alike, whether they are alive now or lived centuries ago, and if a few thousand are impaled on pikes (or if a few thousand are murdered and buried in mass graves outside a UN "safe haven"), I guess that's just the price Mika's willing to pay to defeate the eternal "Muzzie" horde.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 10:16 AM

Tosk,

My target is moral equivalence in general, whoever is doing it (it just so happens the Left has been doing it more lately). You do it alot. But it's a form of simplisme, not intellectual sophistication. Don't get me wrong, you're a pretty smart guy, that's why it doesn't suit you.

Posted by: spaniard at July 8, 2005 10:16 AM

Commenter, I'll defend ANYONE willing to shrink Darb-al-Islam to zero.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 10:19 AM

And that's my point: I said, it's wrong to kill shopkeepers for being Muslim, and it's wrong for Mika to defend the killing of that shopkeeper because he happens to be Muslim.

And Mika said: hey, if someone's killing Muslims, I'll defend them.

I want this to be crystal, crystal clear: Mika said he'd defend anyone willing to shrink the realm of Islam. Just in case anyone was confused, the method of shrinking that realm being discussed is the murder of Muslims, whether they're a jihadi or a child. Mika defends genocide and I seem to be the only one who has a problem with this.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 10:23 AM

Because, after all, in his world view, they're all "Muzzies" and all "Muzzies" are all alike, whether they are alive now or lived centuries ago,

Commenter,

I'm reading a book called "Jefferson's War" about Thomas Jefferson's war on the Barbary states. He basically imposed regime change and ended muslim terrorism in the Mediterrean. The Berbers used the same language of jihad back then that we hear today among so many quarters of the muslim world today. It's remarkable how the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Posted by: spaniard at July 8, 2005 10:25 AM

Right, because every time someone alive now uses a word that someone used in the past, it means that they are using the word exactly as it was used in the past, and nothing has changed between then and now. Because societies, religions, cultures, civilizations - these are all totally static things.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 10:28 AM

But the point is, and remains, the notion that because some Muslims invaded a country hundreds of years ago in a way totally identical to the way Christians invaded other countries hundreds of years ago, and because some Muslims do bad things now, that all Muslims deserve the same fate.

Sorry, the Turks who attacked Rumania did not do so for the same reasons that al Qaeda flew planes into buildings centuries later, and neither justifies the murder of children in Bosnia.

Mika seems to think it's ok - if you're a part of group X, you're responsible for everything group X does - which means Mika seems to think it's ok to categorize people by things like religion, and that it's ok to murder people for their religion. And you seem to think it's ok too. Do you?

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 10:32 AM

Commenter,
I don't consider Islam a religion. Rather, I consider Isssssslam a theofascist culturally genocidal blood Cult. And everything I read and know, backs that up.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 10:43 AM

Even if that were true, would that justify the murder of Bosnian children?

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 10:46 AM

Commenter,

their political aims and objectives have changed because the world has changed. But the sense of religious/spiritual superiority that drove them in the past still drives them today, because that has not changed.

Do I want to take it out on a shopkeeper? No. Not today any more than I would have back then. In fact, many muslims joined Jefferson in defeating the Barbary threat. They treated their own subjects like shit back then too, just like today.

So I'm agreeing with you to some extent about the micro. But the macro hasn't changed that much since Mohammed-- his jihad is alive and well.

Posted by: spaniard at July 8, 2005 10:46 AM

dougf,

Damn, here I am agreeing with you again ;-)

However, there is one very nasty variable. If this turns into a Sunni/Iraq Civil War they will probably realize that there is no real chance for them to win... which may mean (esp considering the apocalyptic view of sombunall muslims) that they would willingly commit some really horrific acts.

They may lose, but its not impossible to see that a loss for them might become a loss for all Iraq.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at July 8, 2005 11:00 AM

Commenter, trying to engage Mika in a serious conversation is akin to trying to teach sign language to a snake, they both lack the basic minimum equipment. Your professed horror at his remarks does you no credit either (it's like someone being genuinely frightened by Scary Movie [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0175142/ if you don't get the reference]).

Do us all a favor and just stop engaging him, you both have long lost anything remotely resembling credibility (or even amusement value).

Posted by: Michael Farris at July 8, 2005 11:02 AM

Sorry to get off subject here. I have to agree with the rodent, kudo's for your latest Tech Central post.

Posted by: bob at July 8, 2005 11:06 AM

Commenter,
That's a war they deliberately chose. By embracing that murderous expansionist ideology, these parents have sealed the fate of the children. There's not much we can do about that, except hope that with enough of them killed some of them will realize who really is responsible for those deaths. These parents don't for a second hesitate sacrifice their children for Islam. We should not allow that to deter us, and allow these people to hide behind this tactic and use their kids as a shield against us. Not if we want to win.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 11:07 AM

So mika,

So are you saying that it is morally acceptable, to you, to kill children?

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at July 8, 2005 11:20 AM

"That's a war they deliberately chose. By embracing that murderous expansionist ideology, these parents have sealed the fate of the children. There's not much we can do about that, except hope that with enough of them killed some of them will realize who really is responsible for those deaths."

Sounds familiar.
Did you steal those lines from Hamas?

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 8, 2005 11:22 AM

Rat,
It's been acceptable to anyone engaged in war. That's what war is. Whole cities were wiped off by the American, British, Russians, Germans, French, etc. And that's after this whole business of the "Rules of War" was developed.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 11:28 AM

"That's a war they deliberately chose. By embracing that murderous expansionist ideology, these parents have sealed the fate of the children."

So, Bosnian Muslims, because they chose Islam, deserved to be murdered by the Serbs and Croats. Because they embraced (read: were taught since childhood) a religion in which other people believe, and some of those people did bad things, innocent people who never murdered or attempted to "expand" needed to be killed?

Because all Islam is monolithic and Bosnian Muslims, isolated from all other Muslims geographically and culturally, European in every way except their services, still needed to be killed because other Muslims are murderous and expansionist.

Just trying to sum up Mika's world view.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 12:21 PM

Sorry Michael Farris, I just had to get all that out.

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 12:44 PM

Commenter,

Why choose Islam?

Why would anyone want to identify themselves with that fascist ideology? 72 Virgins for killing an infidel? Tribal ties and protection from the self-ordained future masters of the universe?

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 12:56 PM

Michael, nicely reasoned. One thing that would have to be emphasized, I think, is that should the new Iraq government find itself in a full-scale war with, say, Iran in the aftermath of a "withdrawal under fire" then the United States would immediately consider itself at war with the aggressor.

As a matter of fact, something like NATO for the Middle East (initially consisting of Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, and the United States) might be a fantastic way to formalize the relationship.

(BTW, in addition to alcohol, I've decided to give up troll tossing while I'm in Kuwait.)

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 8, 2005 01:21 PM

I don't know, Mika, why anyone chooses any religion. My parents tried to raise me as a Protestant, in a vague, Unitarian sort of way, but I've been an atheist since around the age of 8. Despite the fact that you are sure that I am a Muslim, or was raised as a Muslim culturally, I assure you that I was not, and you that you are simply out of your fucking mind.

But, what to some Muslims is a fascist ideology, which some have interpreted to mean that jihadis get 72 virgins in heaven (which I read somewhere was a recent interpretation by a few scholars, and is not actually mentioned in the Koran - one of those things where people comb for "clues", like Biblical creationists coming up with an age of the Earth of 6,000 some-odd years by adding the ages of prophets, or medieval scholars arguing over how many angels could fit on the head of a pin), and to which some Muslims implies tribal ties and protections (though it doesn't seem to for all - were the Bosniacs "tribal" before the war?), appears to others to be a source of inspiration to do great things, to lead spiritual lives, or as a vague backdrop of vague religious belief - sort of like, I don't know, Christians and Jews.

I don't know - why'd you pick Judaism (you're a Jew, right?)? Was it because of the parts of the Torah in which God told the Israelites to slaughter enemy peoples, or the parts that inspired the Stern Gang terrorists, or modern day settler terrorists who try to murder schools full of little girls?

Or could it be that Islam, like Judaism, like any religion, is not a static thing that compels people to act in certain ways, but rather something that reflects the individual believer's choices and morals?

Posted by: The Commenter at July 8, 2005 01:25 PM

Commenter, Mika,

you two are like the ying and yang on this blog. You've got great chemistry. Keep it up! LOL!

Posted by: spaniard at July 8, 2005 01:33 PM

The problem is that up to this point, Islam has refused to be self-policing. Unfortunately in today's world, that can't be ignored. If they don't start cleaning up their own act very soon, their entire culture will be justifiably punished.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at July 8, 2005 01:36 PM

Commenter,
I don't think your comparisons are at all fair. The Stern gang operated within Israel and against an occupying imperial power. They blew up an hotel in Jerusalem that served the British military as a communication station. And even then their tactics were very vocally disowned by the majority.

As far as Judaism: When you analyze Judaism you realize that you are dealing with an animal that is hermaphrodite. Neither male nor female, and yet paradoxically is both male and female. Judaism is both a religion and a nationalism, and it is neither. The traitor Mordecai Vanunu can betray Israel and remain Jewish until he converts. And yet, after having been converted he still remains Israeli. It is this paradox that has allowed Judaism to survive for over 3500 years. It survives in exile without the trappings of nationalism (common territory, language, culture) and survives in Israel without the trapping of religion (secular Zionism).

Jews were forced to turn to their ancient religious component when the national identity was unavailable to them. And even then, the "religious" component was largely used as a vessel to preserve their linguistic cultural ethnic national identity. So it's very easy to understand why Jews despite the archaism of their "religion" try to maintain this identity.

Further, even with the religious context, imagine the Chief Rabbi of Israel dreaming the whole world is to be Jewish. That will be a nightmare to him/her. The end of Judaism as a religion. It will negate the whole underpinning of Judaic existence. What will be of the 'Chosen People'. What will be of the 'Light unto other nations'. What will be of the separation of light and darkness. The separation of "holy" and "profane". What will be separation between Israel and the other. What will be the significance to the Holy Land, the Promised Land, the Land of the Sons of Israel should a billion Chinese with skullcaps on their heads start saying 'next year in Jerusalem'. All the pillars of Jewish identity will crumble if Judaism was to open itself to the rest.

Now compare that to Islam, which is hellbent in committing cultural genocide and physical genocide against all other cultures and peoples of the world.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 02:22 PM

"I don't know, Mika, why anyone chooses any religion. My parents tried to raise me as a Protestant, in a vague, Unitarian sort of way, but I've been an atheist since around the age of 8. "

That figures coming from a former Unitarian. They tend to have committee meetings and pray "to whom it may concern".

I've made this point a thousand times, but I'll make it again. You are hugely mistaken to equate all religions as manifesting similar cultural pathologies. If you equate the historical Christ with the historical Mohammed, there is a striking difference which manifests itself in the character and behavior of contemporary Christianity and Islamic cultures.

Posted by: bob at July 8, 2005 02:36 PM

were the Bosniacs "tribal" before the war?--Commenter

That depends who you consider the real Bosnians or Kosovars. If the answer is muslim Albanians, then the answer is yes.

Posted by: mika. at July 8, 2005 02:43 PM

that they would willingly commit some really horrific acts.--Tosk

You have got to stop agreeing with me. Pretty soon I will start collecting the 'incoming' you usually get. ==== :-)

As to the committing of some 'really horrific acts', are you suggesting that they would at some point so these things 'willingly' as opposed to somehow being forced into accomodating them ?

As far as I can see( remember I'm a binary kind of guy), they seem to be doing pretty well on that front as we speak. I think it speaks well of the Shia leadership that they have not resorted to calling for 'death to all of them'. Frankly the 'Islamist' scum could not swim at all in Iraq were it not for Sunni based support.

I still seriously thing that the Iraqis will sort this mess out sooner rather than later,but I have no doubt it will be sorted out.

ps---- I can still get you that VRWC membership while the getting is good. You don't want to one of the last in line for things like that.=== :-)

Posted by: dougf at July 8, 2005 03:39 PM

Michael -

I don't think that Rumsfeld or Bush are being subtle. Once again, this is a case of intentions being baldly announced, then largely ignored.

Up until the objectives are achieved, of course.

I don't agree with you use of the word "legalistic" in regard to WMD, either. The contemporary thought at the time was that he had them, and based on historical precedent, would use them.

And this sentence -

"The flypaper theory requires us to believe that violence in Iraq is a good thing."-

might have been better written

"The flypaper theory requires us to believe that violence in Iraq is a necessary thing."

because the latter version is less emotional, and objectively accurate.

Killing at the state level on the part of a democratic republic should be as cold and objective as can be. We find ourselves engaged in defense of not merely our own state interests, but the entire civilization upon which our state sprang from.

Back up there in the thread there was a catty exchange trying to paint somebody as being in favor of killing children. I'm certainly not in favor of anything like that. But I know that our enemy has no problems with that tactic. Beslan comes to mind. So do the kids on their way to field trips who ended up as air pollution over New York. Or even the ones who probably died in Iraq or London the last few days.

We don't target kids in this war. We don't target women, non-combatants, or even enemy combatants who seek quarter. Our published, non-emotional, objective strategy is to end the lethal threat we face by culling the minority segment of the population of that sad and failed region that has decided they will not stay quitely in their own fucked up, pointless, soulless swamp but rather find meaning in lashing out at the rest of the world that celebrates human life as worth living in this world.

That pustule on the ass of humanity that is the portion of the Islamic world that will never peacefully coexist with civilized men must be lanced and drained completely. We will try this delicate operation of democratization as long as there is hope that this unprecedented and hugely magnanimous strategy shows promise.

Soft music, clean instruments, and even a private room for the patient to recover? I'm all for that - if the operation works.

Should we fail in this endeavor - be it the result of leadership failure, loss of will, sabotage by the nihilistic western left, or the employment of mass murder weapons by the jihadis, or some sad combination of the above, we will have failed first and foremost to end the threat. We aren't out to make the world perfect - we are trying to keep the barbarians at bay by civilizing them.

If we can't civilize them, then we must remove them from not only the gate, but from the field entirely. The latter method has been the historic remedy; and yes, kids die when that happens. Specifically males aged twelve and over if I remember correctly.

The tools of death available to a well funded murderer, or a nation state built on exporting murder, remove the option of "sustainable violence" from consideration.

I'm a free citizen who demands my government carry out its primary function: the common defense. If we know who the enemy is we must confront and destroy him. And if democratization with the lancet falls short, there is always the saw and cauterizing iron.

I agree with you that when we do begin to draw down in earnest, every subsequent fatality in Iraq will be proclaimed evidence of U.S. failure.

Just like every fatality that happens now is, come to think of it.

The Iraqis will decide their fate. The rest of the Muslim world will decide theirs, too. What the outcome actually will be is anyone's guess.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 8, 2005 06:58 PM

Only Michael J. Totten could write an article calling for the US to "cut and run" and actually have me considering it. I guess that's the power of knowing that his man's principles and goals are similar to mine.

OT, researching a Koranic verse today I came to the conclusion that the first translation of the Koran I had read was a deeply radical Islamist translation. It's amazing how different translations can be. The Islamist one shamelessly turned one of the few peace-loving verses in the Koran into a condemnation of evil Jews and a threat against them...

But it's a bit eye opening to realize that that particular verse (5:32) isn't usually read that way - they twisted it completely shamelessly... I'm reminded of an article by a moderate cleric who debated Islamists in Saudi Arabia (and was told he'd be killed if he went back) - he said that the Islamists don't really care about theology - they're just playing to the crowd and want power.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 8, 2005 07:46 PM

But Iraq can't be a model for anything if it's a boiling cauldron of violence -- unless you happen to be a Middle Eastern dictator.

Good point.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 8, 2005 07:48 PM

"the Islamists don't really care about theology - they're just playing to the crowd and want power."

Hmmm, I think that is a pretty fair characterization of anyone who rides into the political arena on a religous horse, no matter the religion.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 8, 2005 07:50 PM

That figures coming from a former Unitarian. They tend to have committee meetings and pray "to whom it may concern".

Utah Philips' Unitarian jokes:

I had to leave town. Damn Unitarians burned a question mark on my lawn!

Unitarians had a charity drive "Send a poor Unitarian to summer camp if you can find one"

Unitarian protest songs:
"We would rather not be moved!"

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 8, 2005 07:53 PM

"Should we fail in this endeavor - be it the result of leadership failure, loss of will, sabotage by the nihilistic western left, or the employment of mass murder weapons by the jihadis, or some sad combination of the above,"

You seem to be missing one of the failure factors - that we are following a flawed strategy. One that tries to pick out guerillas from amongst a population that is simultaneously engaged in a very messy and violent civil conflict. And in the process, giving the enemy a huge recruiting issue.

Are we creating two jihadis for every one we kill? I dont know, but it is possible - and if it is so, then that might be a formula for defeat.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 8, 2005 07:59 PM

"Mika defends genocide and I seem to be the only one who has a problem with this."

I think LGF has almost numbed me to calls for genocide. By now I just find all this insanity amusing as long as it doesn't go on too long - it's such classic internet. And no one has invoked Godwin's law yet, that's almost a record.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 8, 2005 08:07 PM

But, what to some Muslims is a fascist ideology, which some have interpreted to mean that jihadis get 72 virgins in heaven (which I read somewhere was a recent interpretation by a few scholars, and is not actually mentioned in the Koran

I think much more than half of the scripture that Islamists depend on is not in the Koran. As far as I can tell, Muslims consider lots and lots of scripture holy which isn't in the Koran. The books are all stories about the prophet or (supposedly) the prophet's sayings.

Maybe one day the fact that the worst stuff isn't in the Koran will allow Islam to reform. But no one is standing up and rejecting those books right now, (with the exception of the sects which never allowed some of those books).

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 8, 2005 08:17 PM

spaniard But the term "ethnic cleansing" itself is strictly a Liberal construct that is applied for situations that they don't approve of. When he does approve (see Kosovo or Gaza), it's crickets chirping.

Well call me a Liberal!

Other than the good point about Gaza, that's a chilling bit to read. How about if I rewrote it as "the term 'genocide' itself is strictly a Liberal construct that is applied for situations that they don't approve of." Would you still agree?

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 8, 2005 08:25 PM

"You seem to be missing one of the failure factors - that we are following a flawed strategy. One that tries to pick out guerillas from amongst a population that is simultaneously engaged in a very messy and violent civil conflict. And in the process, giving the enemy a huge recruiting issue. "

And you seem to be missing the entire point of the strategy.

We aren't picking guerillas out of a population. We are defending a population as it transitions from despotism to representative democracy.

Their civil conflict is called "forming a nation". It is in our interest that the resulting entity not be a direct descendant of the one we removed. The ultimate objective is to see the transformative power of democracy become self-sustaining in Iraq, and then serve as a catylist for positive change in the other holes that pass for countries in that part of the world.

I'll agree with you on one point, though. It sure has been a flawed strategy. In honesty, it couldn't be anything but flawed, since it was the product of human hands and all...

but it hasn't failed yet, and through the shrieks of propaganda and fog of politics, the conflict is a lot more near a positive decision for our interests than not.

And conflict, contrary to some dearly held sentiments, never equals failure.

Defeat comes to those who surrender and those who are beaten. The two are NOT the same.

I wonder what a "not flawed" strategy would look like? I've listened to progressives/liberals/Democrat hacks bitch and moan for about four years now and haven't been able to figure out what they might do differently that would have the remotest chance of effecting the change we must in order to end the threat.

Their playbook of the old tried and true techniques don't fit. We can'tbuild reactors to keep whackjobs from going nuclear if said whackjobs can't manufacture flush toilets. We did the "treating terrorists like statesmen" for eight years; that doesn't have that zing it did back in the nineties. Straight appeasement can't work, either, not since it became that the people who get killed as a result actually live here now. Those pesky voters tend to act when their blood is at stake.

Media can ignore a few million orientals getting reeducated for the good of the cause. It's much harder to hide a smoking hole in Manhattan.

Are we creating two for one? I don't know. I know that decades of failing to respond effectively to their savagery only emboldened these losers. Like I said, it's a race.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 8, 2005 09:54 PM

TmjUtah, good post.

By the way there's an article at Tech Central that's definately added a new few thoughts to my perspective.

Lee Haris who wrote the classic article "Al Qa'eda's fantasy idiology" has a new article saying that so far it looks like terrorism in the west (such as the attack on London) is something more alien to our civilization than war. It's closer to being a 'blood feud'.

In the blood feud there is no concept of decisive victory because there is no desire to end the blood feud. Rather the blood feud functions as a permanent "ethical" institution -- it is the way of life for those who participate in it; it is how they keep score and how they maintain their own rights and privileges.

I'd already noticed that about the Palestinian conflict.

As foolish as war may seem, our society has never been foolish enough to institutionalize eternal, unending warfare. But it seems the Arabs have taken blood feuding and institutionalized it into their religion.

They get the disadvantages of war eternally with no end in site, because victory is impossible and peace is not a goal. It drives me nuts watching the Palestinians (and other middle eastern societies for that matter) indoctrinate their children to hate and to religious violence because it's so criminally senseless.

It's interesting to note that this explains why terrorists usually avoid making sustained attacks that would provoke all out war. They want to AVOID any response that could result in war - wars can be lost, and the people who start wars are held responsible.

In the case of Palestine, the whole society (and in fact the whole worldwide Muslim community) supports the feud, but they strenuously strive to maintain some level of deniability. As I said, they don't want to be held responsible, they just want to kill random people from enemy tribes, slowly and forever.

Killing is gorified, killers are glorified and they have a "get into heaven free card" for themselves and their families and friends.

Terrorists are rock stars! Terrorism is a spectator sport! It's the Muslim world's secret pleasure.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 8, 2005 10:33 PM

"And you seem to be missing the entire point of the strategy."

Whether that is true or not doesn't change the possibility that the strategy may be flawed, and thus a potential factor in failure.

"We aren't picking guerillas out of a population. We are defending a population as it transitions from despotism to representative democracy"

We are obviously doing both.

"The ultimate objective is to see the transformative power of democracy become self-sustaining in Iraq, and then serve as a catylist for positive change in the other holes that pass for countries in that part of the world."

Yes yes yes, we all know the vision regarding Iraq. The issue under discussion is whether the Iraq engagement is a wise strategy in the WOT.

"but it hasn't failed yet"

Once again, the question of whether the democracy vision will work is not the same question as whether we will be successful against the jihadis.

"...the conflict is a lot more near a positive decision for our interests than not."

There is always something to be said for optimism.

"And conflict, contrary to some dearly held sentiments, never equals failure."

Conflict never equals failure???? Dont quite know what you are getting at here. How about decades more of terroristic conflict? Would that cause you to sense that perhaps today's strategy has failed? Or would you never be willing to reach that conclusion, come what may?

"Defeat comes to those who surrender and those who are beaten. The two are NOT the same."

Well, you are setting a pretty low bar for the strategy aintcha? So long as we dont surrender (which we obviously wont), then the strategy is a success.
Clearly you are not seriously speaking about the strategy here - seems like you are speaking about our civilization in general. So long as we dont surrender, we are not failures. Well, thats nice. I was discussing the strategy however. And that is something that can certainly be deemed a failure. And if it is, that doesnt mean we surrender. It means we get a better strategy.

" I've listened to progressives/liberals/Democrat hacks bitch and moan for about four years now and haven't been able to figure out what they might do differently that would have the remotest chance of effecting the change we must in order to end the threat. "

Perhaps you should ignore the hacks, and listen to the wiser vocies (not all are dems either). I understand that it may take a lot of filtering work. Fact is that on the one hand you have the current strategy, a singluar thing, and on the other hand you have a huge nation full of free thinking people who come up with thousands of ideas. Most bad, no doubt. So many in the blogosphere (wont mention names) love to give attention to the loonies - I guess its our infotainment culture. But there are lots of sane, insightful critiques and counter proposals out there, if you care to find them.

"Are we creating two for one? I don't know."

Yeah, my point...

" I know that decades of failing to respond effectively to their savagery only emboldened these losers."

The question remains however. Is the current strategy effective?

"I wonder what a "not flawed" strategy would look like?"

Actually, perhaps you should wonder.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 8, 2005 10:34 PM

Of course the danger of terrorism as entertainment is that the entertainers won't be able to resist the pull of the even more glorious power of WMDs.

At some point they'll go too far, and though they never wanted a real war, they'll have one.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 8, 2005 10:35 PM

"I wonder what a "not flawed" strategy would look like?"

Actually, perhaps you should wonder.

That's the most immature way of dodging the question and the responsibility of making an effort to have constructive criticism I've ever read.

May I suggest some equally useful alternatives? How about "I know you are, but what am I?"

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 8, 2005 10:40 PM

"That's the most immature way of dodging the question and the responsibility of making an effort to have constructive criticism I've ever read."

Wow Josh, you dont get around much do you? The most immature....??? Hmmm.

Perhaps I am biased, but I dont think it immature at all. I sensed very clearly that Mr. Utah has declined to even enter the arena of critical discouse around the issue of strategy. That was the theme of our exchange. He did not even consider it a potential problem in his original list. And, without concluding that the strategy was flawed, I raised the possibility that it might be. And to that, he responed in such a way that I concluded that such a possibility was outside his mental horizen.
In short, I would like to see that he is seriously willing to think about, to wonder about, and then to discuss strategy before actually engaging him on the subject.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 8, 2005 10:57 PM

I sensed very clearly that Mr. Utah has declined to even enter the arena of critical discouse around the issue of strategy.

That's an oddly self delusional way to describe dodging the question and sticking your tongue out, but whatever.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 8, 2005 11:06 PM

So I begin to wonder about your maturity Josh. From the original extensive exchange you selected out one line of my post, ignored the rest (all the substantive parts), and seemed so thrilled to find a reason to call me a name. And to my response, you have nothing more to say than to hurl some more adjectives at me.
Whats your problem anyway?

Would you care to at least address the issue we were discussing? Do you think that the overall strategy that this administration has persued, going into Iraq as part of a war against jihadis, should be included on a list of things which just might possibly lead to failure (not saying that it necessarily will - but that it might)?

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 8, 2005 11:19 PM

Karl, I think the problem with the middle east is a sick society and that a strong dose of modern wisdom, Democracy, freedom of speech and thought, an opening to the rest of the world is the only possible solution.

So basically, we may try and fail, but if we didn't try then we have an unending blood feud, which, because of the effects that technology has on warfare, would probably escalate to a world shattering conflagration. That's my definition of failure.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 8, 2005 11:39 PM

My guess is that TmjUtah's sugestion that you have no actual idea what do, no constructive criticism hit home. So it would no doubt be a waste my time to repeat his question.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 8, 2005 11:43 PM

"So basically, we may try and fail,"

You, as well as Utah, seem to be avoiding the point. The issue is - are we trying the right way?

It was not written in stone that the best way to help bring all manner of good things to the ME was to invade Iraq.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 8, 2005 11:54 PM

"The issue is - are we trying the right way?"

And what Mr. Utah said that provoked your nyahh nyahh nyahh nyahh reflex was (and I paraphrase) "I'm open to constructive suggestions."

You wag your finger and say "the wrong way" all day long, but if you don't have a better idea, then you're posing - you're faking it.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 9, 2005 12:00 AM

Yes, as of tonite, given the situation as it is, i dont have any brilliant ideas. That was not the issue we were discussing however. The question was retrospective - was the decision to invade Iraq at least potentially a grave strategic mistake in the war on terrorism? One that we may come to see as a failure?

You at least seem to see that as a possibility. Maybe you actually agree with what my basic point was.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 9, 2005 12:02 AM

Liberating Iraq sounds to me like the best choice available, I like to think that if I was president I would have made the same choice.

I'm kind of glad it was GW in the White House, not me. GW strikes me as a scrapper - perfectly suited to this sort of stress. I couldn't last a week in his job.

Anyway I do my best to try to understand the middle east and keep up. I used to have a subscription to Stratfor, so I have some experience reading strategic analyses (Stratfor's strike me as flawed in a few ways, but still interesting)...

And I think we've got the best strategy available.

There's simply no short term strategy that does more than lose ground slowly. GW's wisdom was to see through that problem by picking the only strategy that can win - one that will probably take many decades before it even starts to improve our security, one that accepts that in the short run, we're screwed. Might as well be in for a pound as in for a penny.

If you're "sensing" that I'm admitting that our current strategy puts us in more danger in the short term, you're right. But I forcast a long term danger to the alternatives that I find absolutely unacceptable therefore I accept the danger now in return for a world where my grandkids (assuming I ever have some) will be safe.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 9, 2005 12:16 AM

And to that, he responed in such a way that I concluded that such a possibility was outside his mental horizen. - Karl Jr.

I seem to recall Bush & Co. talking about a timeframe involving decades, and more. Given how long it took to countermand the much less ideologically entrenched Soviet Empire, I think that's a reasonable timeframe. What's for you a reasonable timeframe to start draw conclusions that the "strategy" is failing? Have we crossed that time limit already?

And regards Iraq, are your grievances really of a strategic nature or are they tactical. You do understand the difference? Given your quote bellow, they sound more tactical. I'll take it that you do agree that we should "bring all manner of good things", and that includes democracy, free press, free market economics, and freedom from Islamist tyranny.

It was not written in stone that the best way to help bring all manner of good things to the ME was to invade Iraq.- Karl Jr.

Posted by: mika. at July 9, 2005 12:35 AM

Iran is very near to having nuclear weapons. Contrast our tactic dealing with Iraq as opposed to Iran. Which of the two tactics presents the more dangerous outcomes.

Posted by: mika. at July 9, 2005 12:46 AM

Mika. Good point about the difference between strategy and tactics. I read "strategy" but was thinking "tactics" for some reason, too.

We seem to agree on the strategy - or perhaps, as Utah suggested, Karl and people like him have NO strategy in mind and thus simply reject all action.

As for the tactics, we can discuss them all day, but in the end I'm glad that tactical decisions will be made in consultation with actual experts, not with us.

We can all have enough understanding of the issues to agree on strategy, but it takes a real expert who knows an infinite veriety of current facts and intelligence to make a good tactical decision.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 9, 2005 12:49 AM

mika, except for possible (and probably ineffectual) support for democratic forces behind the scenes I think in the case of Iran we've forced into a "wait and hope" stance with Iran.

No doubt we're hoping to get intelligence about their nuke plans, but how likely are we to get that intelligence?

In any case one difference between an enriched uranium nuke strategy and a plutonium nuke strategy is that uranium centerfuges are small enough to hide, while nuke plant that make plutonium aren't.

Iran is going after uranium nukes, so it's pretty likely that they'll succeed and we don't have a clue where to bomb to stop them.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 9, 2005 12:56 AM

Except that the strategic presence of US forces in Iraq also provides the perfect launching pad from which to get at Iran. And this time, the Turks can't mess up the game plan.

Posted by: mika. at July 9, 2005 01:03 AM

mika, as yet there's no sign Bush is going to invade Iran. And as I said, I doubt we have the intelligence (info) to take out their nuke facilites.

Nice that we have launch pad, but I don't think we have a target. An invasion would be a political risk that could derail the WoT, and I don't see them gearing up to take that risk.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 9, 2005 01:34 AM

Damn, reading Aaron's rant about how brutal we had to be in WWII (and should be now) makes mika's rants about Vlad the impaler sound wimpy by comparison.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at July 9, 2005 02:26 AM

mika, as yet there's no sign Bush is going to invade Iran.- Joshua Scholar

If you say so. But I prefer to keep people like Commenter guessing. ;)

Posted by: mika. at July 9, 2005 05:15 AM

Moments after yesterday’s attacks my telephone was buzzing with requests for interviews with one recurring question: but what do they want? That reminded me of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker, who was shot by an Islamist assassin on his way to work in Amsterdam last November. According to witnesses, Van Gogh begged for mercy and tried to reason with his assailant. “Surely we can discuss this,” he kept saying as the shots kept coming. “Let us talk it over.”

Interesting Article. Link Below.

How 'Taxi Driver' Should Be a Role Model For Debate With Islamists.

Posted by: dougf at July 9, 2005 06:04 AM

"Hmmm, I think that is a pretty fair characterization of anyone who rides into the political arena on a religous horse, no matter the religion."

I wonder if this really means Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., or is only a snark against all against abortion?

Michael, great post; doubly so. 1) For having Rumsfeld agree with me! (writing on Fallujah-I last year -- Harry Potter-(no)help for Iraqi People)
Only Iraqis can win in Iraq! The US is there to make sure an elected Iraqi gov't can win any battle.

2) For making a reasonable argument for withdrawal, even before all terrorism ends.

But you fail to convince me. Because you fail to consider the wishes of the elected Iraqis -- those who are now writing an Iraqi Constitution; those who, prolly early/mid next year will be newly elected according to the New Constitution.

The US job, now, is to support Democracy, and a Free Press, in Iraq. And stay as long the elected leaders want us, find us more useful than trouble.

If the future elected Iraqis may agree with your idea that US presence is too big an excuse for (mostly non-Iraqi) terrorists to be recruited, relative to the decreasing need for US military to support a rapidly improving Iraqi military. If THEY say go, the US should go.

I would guess the Shia majority won't be so keen to have the US leave, but the Sunnis WILL want the US out sooner, and the Kurds will be actively asking the US to stay, and to even have bases in the Kurdish area (future Kurdistan?).

The terrorists who are killing folks seem to be mostly killing Sunnis -- I'm guessing there will be some very quiet support for this payback, even with public words to the contrary. Such quiet support might be manifested in public pronouncements against US presence, and a desire for the US to leave...AFTER terrorism stops. I.E. after the US wins, so it can leave but NOT under fire.

Prior Strategy options on Iraq: 1) invade, 2) continue leaky sanctions (and be blamed for millions of deaths of Iraqi children), let Saddam "win," another time, against the impotent US.

I strongly prefer Invade over that, or any other professed alternative.

Tactical mistakes? Almost certainly since Bush I, too few Arabic speakers in the US gov't, in the military. Still too few. Prolly a mistake to have Bremer instead of Gen. Garner; prolly a mistake to avoid local food ration card elections for mayor.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at July 9, 2005 09:55 AM

Oops, Free Press AND Free Religion -- that's why the MLK was relevant to begin with.

Free markets would really help, too -- so that Iraq does become an econ Tiger.

I'd love to see an Iraq Oil Trust Fund; for all who vote...

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at July 9, 2005 09:59 AM

Ahhhhhhhh-...... PUKE. Utter PUKE.

Reading this nonsense is like watching a very very bad hollywood movie.

It must be people like ye, that are making policy at the white house.

Stratigic policy dreamth up in hollywood with Charlie Sheen in the lead role.

Posted by: Frank at July 9, 2005 10:52 AM

LOL! Liberal Larry has me on the floor, again!!

Exploding Bus Kills Muslim Male

Interesting post from the Confederate Nazi today. It appears that the double decker bus that exploded in London yesterday may have had a Muslim male on it. The Confderate Nazi, of course, uses the word "terrorist", but we all know what he really means. We witness the same bigoted practice of racial profiling every time a bus explodes in Israel an they automatically blame it on the Palestinians. "Ooh, it was the Palestinians! The Palestinians! Let's park a bulldozer on top of Rachel Corrie!"

Why is it always the Muslims who get fingered? Why not the Swedish Rotarians? Why not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? There were probably more non-Muslims than Muslims on that London tour bus. By the laws of probability, the culprit was most likely an obnoxious American tourist.

Like Bush.

By the same laws of probability, the chances that a random bus will spontaneously explode for no reason are slim to none. Yet 9 out of every 10 exploding buses has had at least one heavily-clothed, extremely sweaty, Middle-Eastern Muslim male on board. Which raises the question - Why is Bush targeting young muslim bus passengers for extermination? Is this part of his unholy crusade against the Religion of Peace? Is he trying to disrupt the G8 summit so he can duck his responsibility for global warming - a phenomenon that has spawned a monster hurricane which is at this moment slamming into Bush's Guantanamo Gulag, washing away all evidence of his crimes against the Holy Quran?
.
.
http://blamebush.typepad.com

Posted by: mika. at July 9, 2005 10:53 AM

Exploding Bus Kills Muslim Male!!

Now that's funny !!!

Posted by: dougf at July 9, 2005 11:05 AM

""Hmmm, I think that is a pretty fair characterization of anyone who rides into the political arena on a religous horse, no matter the religion."

I wonder if this really means Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.,"

Of course it does. MLK was not interested in imposing a theological vision. He wanted power - the appropriate amount of power for a group unfairly excluded from it.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 9, 2005 11:37 AM

He wanted power - the appropriate amount of power for a group unfairly excluded from it.

So invoking God is fine as long as Liberals like your cause.

Posted by: spaniard at July 9, 2005 12:20 PM

Spaniard,
You really need to crawl out of the confining spaces of your own rhetoric. You can invoke God all you want - we have freedom of religion. You cannot however, seize the coercive power of government to impose your theological vision. MLK was advancing political demands, not theological ones. The end of unconstitutional restraints on the freedom and free participation in politics of a group heretofore excluded.

Despite the fact that it has become fashionable for the christian majority to play the victim card (a truly absurd spectacle!), no one is trying to silence religous speech. But we certainly shall oppose the imposition of a religous agenda that restricts the freedom of the non-religous, or those of non-majoritarian religions.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 9, 2005 12:58 PM

Karl,

the rhetoric is all yours. You say MLK invoked God to further political objectives, I say Jerry Falwell does exactly the same thing. You're ok with the former, not the latter.

Posted by: spaniard at July 9, 2005 01:38 PM

"You say MLK invoked God to further political objectives, I say Jerry Falwell does exactly the same thing. You're ok with the former, not the latter. "

Thats not correct. I have no problem whatsoever with Falwell invoking god. I merely point out that when he does that, as with MLK, the issue is power. It is the nature of the political objectives which make the difference. I repeat - MLK's objectives were entirely consistent with our constitutional "social contract". To the extent that Falwell advocates policies that are consistent with that, I have no problem with it - whether I agree with the policies or not - it is a legitimate debate. But when he advocates political policies that violates that contract - when he wishes to institutionalize christianity in our legal and political institutions, then I object.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 9, 2005 02:12 PM

dougf,
Thanks for that link @06:04 AM. Great Article!
Hugh Hewitt should've read it out loud during his interview with that columnist for the Boston Globe on Friday.. http://www.radioblogger.com

Posted by: mika. at July 9, 2005 02:19 PM

Karl Jr. -

Your 1034 post is an exercise in circular illogic. It is not a fisking, even if the format is similar.

Go back up and read it. I know, I know - you WROTE it - but go back up and read it.

You approach my statements as if from on high yet you never get around to actually saying much in the way of substance.

Read your first sentence:

"Whether that is true or not doesn't change the possibility that the strategy may be flawed, and thus a potential factor in failure."

All due respect sir, what's the point of that statement? I already conceded there is no way the strategy isn't flawed. My point was that we have chosen a response and that at the current time there is simply know reasonable standard by which to either reject it or declare victory.

I also would propose that a lot of good ideas make it into the tactics end of the equation all the time; I am arguing for the accomplishment of democratization as a remedy - how we arrive there will depend on the actual events we encounter along the way.

Iraq was the only place to start the process; any student of history would have seen that just by looking at a map. Afghanistan was a tactical response directly aimed at al Qaeda. We can chase terrorists through caves and cities or we can change the world that breeds them.

We chose the latter.

"I understand that it may take a lot of filtering work. "

So... that's something I never do? Or resist doing? Or am too lazy to do? Perhaps incapable of doing? What's the frequency here, K? No patronizing here, eh)

Fact is that on the one hand you have the current strategy, a singluar thing, and on the other hand you have a huge nation full of free thinking people who come up with thousands of ideas.

Yep, facts. Exhibit A, we have a national strategy, and Exhibit B, there are a ton of ideas out there. Absent any other considerations I think it's pretty safe to say that Exhibit A represents the course chosen by the sum of the majority public will after due debate. That's how representative government works. Does that make it right or wrong? Neither. It makes it the response we chose to a specific threat. And nobody is telling anyone they CAN'T express their ideas - least of all government. Again, good ideas are probably incorporated into the effort all the time. So are bad ones, and when they don't work out we learn and continue on, better, if possibly bloodied or embarassed, with our eyes on the ultimate objective.

I would gladly ignore the hacks were they not the senior surviving elected representatives of a once great party. We need people that are dedicated to their duties, not their fiefdoms. Especially where lives are at stake.

I see the basis of most opposition to democratization not as an objection to the desired end, or even of the means employed, but rather a wholesale refusal to condone ANY pursuit that remotely bears a chance of reflecting positively on the current administration first, or reflecting badly on a lot of deeply held political sacred cows.

It's the utter abscence of ANY believable options that brings me to that conclusion. It always comes down to the nefarious ulterior motives of cons/neocons/anybody who isn't on the left...

and I'm pretty far past taking them seriously anymore at all.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 9, 2005 02:55 PM

But when he advocates political policies that violates that contract - when he wishes to institutionalize christianity in our legal and political institutions, then I object.

Then we agree in the abstract. But when you imply that Falwell's political objectives violate our "social contract" but MLK's don't you're only begging the question. It violates the social contract as YOU perceive that contract, not as others see that contract-- that's why it's called politics. But don't pretend he's doing something anybody else isn't also doing.

Posted by: spaniard at July 9, 2005 02:58 PM

" It violates the social contract as YOU perceive that contract, not as others see that contract"

No, there is an anchor there. Its called the constitution. Thats why I said the "constitutional "social contract"".

Equal protection under the laws is a constitutional principal. Established christianity is not.

MLK and Falwell did the same thing at the level of using religous argumentation for political ends. One did it under constitutional principals, the other sometimes not.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 9, 2005 03:08 PM

"My point was that we have chosen a response and that at the current time there is simply know reasonable standard by which to either reject it or declare victory"

That was your point? You stated that I did not understand the strategy. And I responded that whether I understood it or not, it could still be a factor in our potential failure. In response to you having left it off your list of reasons why we might fail. If you accept that the jury is still out on the wisdom of the strategy, then you should have included it on your list. That was my point.

re. the democratization project: "Iraq was the only place to start the process; any student of history would have seen that just by looking at a map."

Oh really? Why not start with Saudi Arabia? They are the source of financing, personel, and ideology fueling the jihadis - a million times more responsible for the existence of the terrorist network, and their deeds, than SH was. And starting there would not have required a war (is that a problem for you?). GWB could have just held their hand, looked into their eyes, and sweetly said - "we will help you transition to being constitutional monarchs in a democracy, or we'll find someone else to enrich".

"We can chase terrorists through caves and cities or we can change the world that breeds them"

And you know perfectly well that of all the Arab nations, Iraq was the one that bred the least.

"I see the basis of most opposition to democratization not as an objection to the desired end, or even of the means employed,"

There is your mistake. The objection is to the means employed.

" but rather a wholesale refusal to condone ANY pursuit that remotely bears a chance of reflecting positively on the current administration..."

I think that is a cop-out. THe fact that it is a popular one on your side of the aisle, doesnt change that. So long as the administration, any administration, makes the policy, the critiques, arguments, and discussion will be focussed on the administration. Of course there is some mindless partisanship - Clinton could certainly do no right in many republicans eyes. Partisanship is a fact of life in the good ol' USA. But if you focus only on the partisans, then that is all you hear. The real cop-our comes when you ascribe partisan motives in a blanket fashion to all who raise critiques, whether legitimate or not. Its a handy copout.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 9, 2005 03:31 PM

Oh really? Why not start with Saudi Arabia? - by Karl Jr.

Because then you would have been exposed to the potential loss of oil supply not only from Saudia, but from Iraq, and most likely Iran. Since both Saudia and Iran weren't very happy with Saddam, Iraq was the logical place to start while ensuring that oil supply from Saudia and Iran is maintained. Plus Iraq had pending issues regards WoMD, terror sponsorship, and ceasefire violations.

Posted by: mika. at July 9, 2005 04:05 PM

"we will help you transition to being constitutional monarchs in a democracy, or we'll find someone else to enrich". - Karl Jr.

The Saudis don't need us to enrich them. There are plenty of others that will gladly take on that role. How old are you?

Posted by: mika. at July 9, 2005 04:14 PM

Dont be such a dolt mika. The Saudi royal family is entirely dependent upon us for their security. And no, they would not be able to sell their oil elsewhere if we objected. Certainly not with our troops in their country.

Ooops, forgot - we withdrew them, as per binLaden's request. There is some backbone for you - wonder what kind of message that sent?

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 9, 2005 06:14 PM

Karl,

the Constitution says whatever you want it to say. Roe v Wade is a pretty good example.

It's called politics.

Posted by: spaniard at July 9, 2005 06:15 PM

Dont be such a dolt mika. The Saudi royal family is entirely dependent upon us for their security. - Karl Jr.

So your intention is to drive them into the arms of the Xhinese or the Russians, is that it? And I've already explained this to you, pretty clearly I think. But apparently the Sunnis in Iraq are not enough of a problem to have to deal with, you feel we need to confront the entire Islamic world by attacking the Saudis, and suffer likely oil embargoes from Iran, Iraq and Saudia. I'll let the others waste their time on you. I'm done with your grade 3 idiocies.

Posted by: mika. at July 9, 2005 06:59 PM

"And I've already explained this to you, pretty clearly I think"

Well there ya go. A short, two sentence assertion, followed by an insult. That equals an "explanation". I'll refrain from making a crack about right-wingers in general....

And genius, if you can read... I said that this would not have been a war (no "attacking the Saudis"), and it would have been instead of the Iraq war (no Sunni problem). I guess you didnt even read the comments to which you respond...
Once again, no further comment.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 9, 2005 07:05 PM

And genius, if you can read... I said that this would not have been a war (no "attacking the Saudis" - Karl Jr.

There's more to knowing just how to read or write. There's also critical thinking - of which obviously you have none. If you believe the most orthodox Islamist society on the planet is going to substitute their Sharia law for your "corrupt and decadent western ways" just because you ask them nicely, then sorry, you don't even belong in grade 3.

Ok, now I'm done.

Posted by: mika. at July 9, 2005 07:26 PM

"I think that is a cop-out. THe fact that it is a popular one on your side of the aisle, doesnt change that. So long as the administration, any administration, makes the policy, the critiques, arguments, and discussion will be focussed on the administration. Of course there is some mindless partisanship - Clinton could certainly do no right in many republicans eyes. Partisanship is a fact of life in the good ol' USA. But if you focus only on the partisans, then that is all you hear. The real cop-our comes when you ascribe partisan motives in a blanket fashion to all who raise critiques, whether legitimate or not. Its a handy copout."

I'm copping out?

Democratizing Iraq is flawed policy, but we should have invaded Saudi Arabia?

In a perfect world we would have decalred war on Iran for their act of taking our embassy personnel hostages.

In 1979 that would have meant conducting a land war against a nation that shared a land border with the Soviet Union, while the Soviet Union was actively fighting its own war with Afghanistan. Without brilliant weapons. While America's leaders actively derided the mere thought of American exceptionalism in favor of apologizing for the benefits of freedom and rule of law as if they were ill-gotten gains. While we were being told by those same leaders that 'malaise' was to be the watchword of the future...

That set of leaders was replaced by a different set that promised a new day in a America. Over the last twenty years the partisan agenda of confronting evil when necessary, refusing to allow government to dictate what level of happiness is appropriate, and boldly embracing such hackneyed ideals as tax justice, strict interpetation of constitutional limits of government power, and color blindness in matters of race. The people chose leaders that believed in them as the base upon which the nation is built - not as unfortunates who needed to be babysat.

"Its a handy copout."

We are wrong to invade Iraq after it became the center piece for failed international oversight of dictatorships? We "rushed" to war with them, after fighting one war to a politically correct, stable outcome only to watch as they attempted assassination of a former president? After they slaughtered tens of thousands of their own people who dared think we meant it when we said that they could be free? After twelve years of providing air cover under which Kurds and Marsh Arabs died in ditches and dungeons but thank goodness not from helicopter gunfire?

Saudi is a pit; no argument there. But our intent has been to insulate "good" (I have my own opinion about that concept, too) muslims from the bad - the whole RoP thing...

Funny, I don't remember Tom Daschle standing in the well of the Senate demanding we invade Saudi. I don't remember the left in general demanding we invade anybody. I remember lots of talk about root causes and grievances and international involvement, but I don't remember any call for much beyond that.

Invade Saudi? Fine. Maybe we don't have to invade - we'll just blockade them. The industrialized nations that depend on Saudi oil will be happy to let their economies collapse while we do the right thing. And we will have skipped all that tedious uncertainty about whether or not democracy can work in muslim/Arab nations, because we'll have unequivocally started a war with all of them the second we set up shop in Mecca.

It's that nuance thing coming from the left that always impresses me most.

So, if Iraq was a mistake and invading Saudi is the fucking bomb, Roscoe, please link me to those serious, non-partisan luminaries who made that case? I must have missed them when I wasn't filtering.

"Partisan" means many things. Some people seem to accept a base connotation of "bad". Nothing could be further from the truth. When one side of a debate is so weak that it approaches an event horizon of silliness, there is no logical penalty that accrues to the other side.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 9, 2005 08:04 PM

"Democratizing Iraq is flawed policy, but we should have invaded Saudi Arabia?"

Invade SA? Jesus Christ - you RWingers really cant read, can you?
I cant waste my time with this. Either read the damn comment and respond to it, or just give a speech on your own.
Sheeesh

Posted by: KArl Jr. at July 9, 2005 08:12 PM

And yes, Karl - you specifically contended that the challenge of changing Saudi from a rotten monarchy to a democracy was achievable by the equivalent of a stern talking to from Chimpy McBush. That a war wouldn't be in the cards.

Read the last sentence I wrote. "Event horizon of silliness" is your zip code.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 9, 2005 08:13 PM

"you specifically contended that the challenge of changing Saudi from a rotten monarchy to a democracy was achievable by the equivalent of a stern talking to from Chimpy McBush."

AH, the nuance of literary devices. Thought you might understand what I was getting at. I guess we need to get out the hand puppets.

No, it is not a stern talking-to that I was refering to. I meant that in the same way that you might say "we're going to kick Saddams ass". Not literaly.

We have enormous leverage with the Saudis. We supply them with all their weaponry. We had bases in their country. We have the ability to undermine their regime in favor of any number of alternative political forces in their country. They know all that. They desire, above all, to remain in their cushy position. With skill, we could do an enormous amount to pressure them, over time, to democratize their country. Not overnight - but hey, we are looking at very long process in Iraq - it should go somewhat easier in a country where no explicit force is used, and where the leaders have accepted that democracy is the only path that will insure their own survival.

A democratic SA would do a hell of a lot more for the stability of the ME than even a democratic Iraq. They are the place where Sunnis look to for spiritual leadership, to some extent. Millions of muslim pilgrims coming every year to a democratic country, along with dissemination of democratic ideas through their sting of madrassas, would go a very long way toward drying up the swamp. The swamp that we are now fertilizing.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 9, 2005 08:47 PM

Excellent posts, Tmj!!

Posted by: exhelodrvr at July 9, 2005 08:50 PM

Go straight-a-way to VDH and read these two excellent essays.

Ron

*****

July 8, 2005
The Same Old, Same Old . . .
An anatomy of the London bombing.

by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

The British may react very differently than the Spanish did after Madrid — by doing nothing rather than by retreating from Iraq.

In the corrupt West these days, that is something.

We all know the score of this war now in the near four years since September 11. The London bombings should remind us how the old tired game works.

[...]

Anticipate Western leaders condemning the terrorists in the same breadth as they call for “eliminating poverty” and “bringing them to justice” — as if the jihadists and their patrons are mere wayward and impoverished felons.

In the short term, Bush and Blair will appear as islands in the storm amid an angry and anguished public. But as 7/7 fades, as did 9/11, expect them to become even more unpopular, as the voices of appeasement assure us that if they just go away, maybe so will the terrorists.

It is our task, each of us according to our station, to speak the truth to all these falsehoods, and remember that we did not inherit a wonderful civilization just to lose it to the Dark Ages.

Link Here

*****

July 9, 2005
Jihad Is Knocking
Another Episode in the War between Christendom and Islam

by Bruce Thornton
Private Papers

The slaughter in London is another grisly wake-up call that likely will go as unheeded as earlier ones. Already the standard narrative is being trotted out: evildoers created by what the New York Times predictably called the ?root causes of terrorism?: autocracy, or economic stagnation, or Palestinian suffering, or globalization's dislocations, or Western historical sins, or the war in Iraq (the cause will depend on the political prejudices of the pundit) have ?hijacked? Islam and distorted its peaceful message. And now they are using Islam to justify murder in order to further their own ambitions or dysfunctional psychic needs. Given this explanation, so the story goes, we must be careful not to demonize all Muslims and assure them that we respect their religion and culture. The tale is then wrapped up with fierce threats against the terrorists and protestations of admiration for Islam.

[...]

The next few weeks will show whether the British have advanced as far down the road of dhimmitude as have the Spaniards, who responded to the murder of their citizens not with the force and resistance their ancestors showed for seven centuries, but with fear and appeasement. As for us, we'd better discard our illusions that the jihadists, as Thomas Freidman put it, are ?a cancer within the [Islamic] body politic? and accept instead that jihad just may be a vital organ. Then maybe we can see this war for what it is: one more episode in the long struggle between what used to be called Christendom and a religion of aggressive conquest and colonization.

[...]

Link Here

Posted by: Ron Wright at July 9, 2005 10:57 PM

"We have the ability to undermine their regime in favor of any number of alternative political forces in their country. They know all that. They desire, above all, to remain in their cushy position. With skill, we could do an enormous amount to pressure them, over time, to democratize their country."

Rhee.
Diem.
Allende.
Bautista.
Aristide.
Arafat.

K:

The relevance of the above list to our conversation should be obvious. Those names represent, in varying degrees, the past results where we applied our skills in manipulating the governments of other folks.

It's not so much that we suck at choosing lackeys but instead that we ever considered government-by-lackey as a viable relationship, especially in light of the core beliefs of our own political experience.

Any government absent the controls of rule of law is just a tyranny in gestation. In the case of the Sauds we have a fully matured monster, complete with an artificial theocratic construct that operates internationally, that we are indeed partially responsible for creating.

"We" in that last instance encompasses most of the western world - we wanted stability. We bought it on the backs of the people who placed second in the "Which Bunch of Thugs Do We Make All These Checks Out To?" tournament held in the early part of the last century.

You seem to assume that the Sauds can control the religous infrastructure they've pumped tens of billions of dollars into over the last seventy years. They've created a ruling class competitive to themselves in the process, since there are exactly two heirarchies that matter in the Kingdom: Saud tribal rank or where you fall in the Wahabbist ranks. And most of all, you ignore the historical fact that absent truly remarkable circumstances dictatorships don't normally transition to democracies. The collapse of the Soviet Union was as surprisingly non-violent as it was largely because the entire organism of the state was as convinced of its illegitimacy and failure as were the people in general. That situation does not nearly pertain to the mideastern despots since their historical model of how power works is for all intents and purposes frozen in time since the epoch of the last caliphate.

There have always been the rulers, and after that those who serve.

Karl, I don't want to pick who runs the Iraqis, or the Sauds, or even the Iranians. We do a poor enough job picking our own leaders more often than not; it is only the wisdom of the founders expressed as constitutional limits to government power that have kept us in the game up until now.

I stand square behind the effort to see that the current thugs get a short sharp shock as soon as we can facilitate the event. I will support the people of those countries in their shot at running their own lives and pursuing their own happiness before I will countenance any sort of return to "our guys" running the swamp.

James Lileks put up a great post (imagine that) on his Screedblog today. I liked this especially:

"It’s always interesting to see how people who pride themselves on sophisticated analyses and exquisitely tuned cultural sensibilities cannot see the plain home truths. The foe sneers: you are infidels; you die now. The moderns pull a face, steeple their fingers, and wonder what they really mean."

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 9, 2005 11:12 PM

I dont disagree with the first half of your post. Ironically it is the very thing we lefties have been saying for decades about the stooges that the US has created.

Well, there are some major problems with the list that you produced. Allende???? He was the choice of the Chilean people. We dumped him, we did not put him in place for stability. Aristede as well - he was democratically elected, then overthown. We were on the side of the people AGAINST military dictatorship when we put him back into power. And Arafat? Well, lets not go there now...

As far as monarchies/dictatorships transitioning to democracy - I think that there are plenty of examples. Greece, Spain, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Phillipines, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, off the top of my head. In the ME, Jordan is on its way, slowly. Morroco and Algeria have taken some strides. The notion that the caliphate is the dominant paradigm is ridiculous. It may be for the fundies, but they are not in control most places.

In general though, I think you are somewhat missing my point. I was talking of goading/helping SA transition to democracy. That is not equivalent to choosing their leaders. I stipulated leaving the royal family in place as constitutional monarchs - money and prestige, no power - so as to ease the way. But the country would be run by those who emerge through the new institutions that would be built. Just like Iraq.

"The foe sneers: you are infidels; you die now. The moderns pull a face, steeple their fingers, and wonder what they really mean."

Well thats nice, but what is the relevance for our discussion? Do I need to repeat the basics of my position again? I (along with almost all the libs) are as interested in defeating the foe as you are. That doesnt necessarily mean striking out blindly at the nearest middle eastern target. It is my contention that the Iraq project is most likely a foolish diversion from the real struggle - something that may make the situation worse, not better. There were other alternatives for short term goals - like finishing off AlQ instead of letting them metastasize, and other alternatives for the long term - such as the democratization project, starting in SA, for example.
I sense from the right-wing though, that the issue comes down to this. Bush made his choice, and thats that. Not open to critical examination.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 10, 2005 12:24 AM

So this is what happens when I leave town for two days.

Mika, consider this your warning. You're getting this warning for two reasons, and I think you know what they are. If not, re-read Commenter's posts more carefully and check yourself. Commenter is not a jihadi, and this is not LGF.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 10, 2005 12:47 AM

Allende was a flat out mistake on my part. I failed to fact check my recollections. I apologize for the error.

I don't contest that some countries have moderated on their own. I do maintain that when you look at the positive examples you list that the roster of middle eastern successes to date is short. Time is a factor in this, too. We aren't looking at the repurcussions resulting from one country's despotism within a single country - the issue is international and the number of nations solidly entrenched in barbarism is still daunting.

I think you mischaracterize the majority of support for the Bush Doctrine, and badly. I am not lined up behind it personally because Bush is my guy. I'm there because it offers concrete objectives and demonstrates great faith in the transformative power of democracy. I give credit to my fellow citizens for having the sense to see that as well as I do. I am probably a bit optomistic there.

That the caliphate looms large in some circles is extremely important when you note which groups are actively involved in terror attacks and the lengths they routinely go to to achieve effect, not to mention which ones are on the brink of producing their own nuclear weapons. And I also disagree with your contention that al Q "metastized" in any useful fashion due to our invasion of Iraq. Maybe more kids sent in boxtops to get the fan club membership and secret decoder ring, but the organization and its ability to execute missions have been severely degraded by any measure. Anybody can call their little band of pyschopaths whatever they want. Twenty guys in a trailer park in Idaho may call themselves the New Gross Deutschland Division but they aren't going to be invading france any time soon.

al Q isn't the problem. It's A problem, but not THE problem. Failed states, the populations trapped within them, and the existence of terror used as a safety valve. That's what we face.

I see democratization as the best of a short list of options by which we may reasonably expect to counter the threat.

I agree in principle that we should pressure the Sauds to the max. Matter of fact, I'd be awfully disappointed if there wasn't quite a bit of backchannel work along those lines as it stands now. But encouragement and advice only go so far when the issues are life and death. They do not get slack where we know they are responsible for attacks, or facilitating them.

I can't see the Sauds slipping off the tiger without landing in the food bowl. Even less likely is that the Wahabbists will go quietly into that good night. They are if anything more entrenched than the Sauds in their niches of status and they may actually believe in the mysticism, to boot. No Danish or Pattya weekends for those guys - and once they lose the power of life and death over whoever disagrees with them, what's left?

People will fight for their interests. Good, evil, or simply expedient.

I've been hoping that the Islamic world will come up with a Martin Luther before their death spiral causes us to come up with another Le May.

We must continue to kill or capture them where we find them and work hard to provide the democratic option to the populations in our wake. This fight isn't about America v. OBL, it is truly barbarism's last gasp against civilization. Any strategy that soft boils the necessity of aggressive, relentless pursuit of individuals,organizations, or states that commit acts of terror against us will fail of support by the public and will eventually morph into something along the lines of the Oil For Food farce.

A pleasure to disagree, of course.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 10, 2005 01:15 AM

Mika, consider this your warning... Commenter is not a jihadi - MJT

So, my reply @ 8:12 AM is not good enough?
I've ceased directly calling him a Jihadi, but he keeps directly eliciting that answer from me (see his posts @ 07:37 AM, @ 07:55 AM, @ 08:04 AM). Perhaps you want to advise him on that issue. Further, if you read his first posted on this thread (@ 06:23 AM) you'll find it's him that first called me a jihadi, starting this exchange.

Posted by: mika. at July 10, 2005 07:12 AM

Michael,

mika calls commenter a jihadi, and Commenter calls mika insane. What's the problem?

Posted by: spaniard at July 10, 2005 08:17 AM

"A democratic SA would do a hell of a lot more for the stability of the ME than even a democratic Iraq. They are the place where Sunnis look to for spiritual leadership, to some extent."

And if fat were attractive I'd be Brad Pitt.

I just love the argument that we "should have started with Saudi Arabia." How, pray tell, should we have done that?

<crickets_chirping / >

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 10, 2005 08:23 AM

Ah, sorry, I see. "Goading/Helping" SA transition to a Democracy.

Hey, it worked for the French during La Revolucion. Hardly any blood was shed at all...

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 10, 2005 08:26 AM

"I also disagree with your contention that al Q "metastized" in any useful fashion due to our invasion of Iraq."

I do think our involvement in Iraq has contributed to this, but that was not my point. I think we have allowed al Q to metastasize by easing off once we drove them into the mountains. Of course we did that because Bush wanted to focus on Iraq, but it was the easing-off, for whatever reason, that allowed them to survive and adapt.

"Any strategy that soft boils the necessity of aggressive, relentless pursuit of individuals,organizations, or states that commit acts of terror against us will fail of support by the public"

Fine. Perhaps you can use this idea to help you understand why many opposed the decision to go to Iraq. For all its nastiness, SH's regime was not activly involved in the jihadis effort to commit acts of terror against us. The war in Iraq, as a diversion, was, in some senses, a soft-boiling of the necessary focus on the actual perps.

Its a bit like if, after the Battle of Midway Islands (a strike against those directly responsible for Pearl Harbor), we would have decided that the real problem was the culture of Oriental miliarism in general, and then focussed future efforts not on Japan itself, but some easier target country where we could establish a democratic demonstration project - and then chose one to invade that didnt even have the same culture as Japan. (This is meant as a very limited analogy - obviously it would fall down very quickly for a million reasons if read as a comprehensive comparison - that is not my intent. just a limited analogy to help you see the general thrust of the argument).

Posted by: at July 10, 2005 10:11 AM

"Its a bit like if, after the Battle of Midway Islands (a strike against those directly responsible for Pearl Harbor), we would have decided that the real problem was the culture of Oriental miliarism in general, and then focussed future efforts not on Japan itself, but some easier target country where we could establish a democratic demonstration project - and then chose one to invade that didnt even have the same culture as Japan. (This is meant as a very limited analogy - obviously it would fall down very quickly for a million reasons if read as a comprehensive comparison - that is not my intent. just a limited analogy to help you see the general thrust of the argument)."

I'm glad you noted the limited nature of your analogy. The Empire of Japan was a nation state, with a Navy, Army, Air Force. There was no profit in attacking anywhere but where their forces were, or their leadership, precisely because the issue wasn't changing their minds but instead destroying them. That's conventional war in a nutshell.

You are not nearly alone in persisting to equate commitment in Iraq with limiting our ability to hunt down OBL in Afghanistan - or whereever he is - by reaching for apples and oranges. OBL is an actor in one part of a world stage. It would be counterproductive to park three divisions in the mountains of Afghanistan to look for one guy, anyway. And what will be the ultimate value in bagging OBL at any particular time, anyway? I think that for a large portion of the Left, they might well sieze such a moment for their own "Mission Accomplished" , except that they would actually mean that the job was finished, not merely congratulating one unit for a job well done.

The overall intent of the Bush Doctrine is to change an entire culture from one that poops out killers to one that can coexist with their civilized neighbors.

First and foremost our interest is in not being killed by frustrated throwbacks to the middle ages. That is the pragmatic basis behind the Doctrine. That we intend to leave sovereign democratic societies in our wake instead of salted earth is commendable by itself. It is NOT altruistic - should said societies practice their self rule in such a manner they end up behaving like the Japanese Empire, we'll at least know that our target list won't require nearly as many restrictions based on political considerations. We don't know yet if we have the will to stick it out, or if the locals will be able to overcome their cultural record and embrace representative democracy, either. It's a bet we've made and the pot is still very much on the table.

I don't have links to hand, but I'm reasonably certain that some of the more organized posters here - maybe even Michael? - has numerous links concerning just where SH stood as far as supporting al Q and other terrorist entities. Subsidizing Pal suicide bombing comes to mind, but I believe there are several books out there that cover much more ground than just that.

We have miles to go along this road, and must choose carefully the turns we will follow.

Oh -

"Perhaps you can use this idea to help you understand why many opposed the decision to go to Iraq."

I have mentioned before that I believe the driving imperative behind much of the resistance to the Iraq effort (and the Doctrine in general) is a visceral hatred that Bush, or conservatives, may possibly accrue any positive credit for anything - even if the cost of failure is measured in lost lives on our part or in the populations that are struggling to establish self government.

Boat people and Killing Fields come to mind. At least for me.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 10, 2005 11:41 AM

Hey guys -

Good discussion.

I've posted occasionally in the past here under the name Didsbury. My new name is:

www.threeofsix.blogspot.com

Politics, and more.

BTW, looks to me like Rumsfeld and company are hedging. Iraq is a LOT more complicated than they ever dreamed, eh?

Posted by: Three of Six at July 10, 2005 12:16 PM

"First and foremost our interest is in not being killed by frustrated throwbacks to the middle ages."

Fine. But once again, however evil he was, Saddam was not a throwback to the middle ages. However much a police state, it was a secularized, modernistic country (relative to the rest of the Arab world). If anything, we gave grudging support to him in his war against the medievalists next door. He was a problem for sure, but not in any way the same type of problem as the jihadis.

"And what will be the ultimate value in bagging OBL at any particular time, anyway?"

Well, pardon me for having the quaint notion that killing, or forcing the surrender of the leader of a movement might have large negative consequences on the future viability of the movement. An immediate collapse of the jihadi network would obviously be too much to hope for. But cutting off the head, and demonstrating to all the future potential recruits that there aint nothin' there, in terms of a viable outlet for their energies, would be hugely beneficial.

"...numerous links concerning just where SH stood as far as supporting al Q and other terrorist entities."

I think that is a lot of silly nonsense. You can draw lines connecting any two points on earth, if you want to make the effort. Do you think Reagan was in cahoots with the Ayatollahs regarding the timing of the release of the hostages? There is an entire book full of links, and circumstantial evidence, done by an otherwise perfectly sane and serious researcher. At some point you have to honestly assess what it all adds up to.
Saddam was a very wily master politician in a region with a very complex set of political relations. It would be inconcievable that his security services didnt have contacts with al-Q, if for no other reason than to know what they were up to. And Saddam certainly understood such notions as keeping ones enemies close. That al-Q was his enemy however, there seems to be little doubt. He was almost the paradigm of what they hated the most - an Arab leader who had little use for religion except when it served his political purpose - and one who was more inclined to modernize his country than to follow the Way. If there is anything that a fundamentalist hates more than an infidel, it is a someone who they think should be on their side, but isnt.

"I have mentioned before that I believe the driving imperative behind much of the resistance to the Iraq effort (and the Doctrine in general) is a visceral hatred that Bush,...."

That sounds to me to be less of a sober assessment than a manifestation of a visceral hatred of Bush critics.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 10, 2005 12:22 PM

"That sounds to me to be less of a sober assessment than a manifestation of a visceral hatred of Bush critics."

And you would be mistaken.

Listen to Al Gore, John Kerry,Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Robert Byrd, Howard Dean, or Harry Reid on any given day. Or Conyers, or McKinney, or Schumer any given moment.

I mention these names because they are not merely citizens with differing opinions on the war, but are actively serving or have served at the very highest levels of our government. They are supposed to be committed to defending our nation. That the public record of their statements might easily be mistaken for DU message thread brings to mind that "commitment" of another kind might well be appropriate...

And please don't make the connection between the Sovs and their penchant for sliding dissedents into mental hospitals. My tongue is firmly in cheek.

Our constitutional system makes possible all manner of mistakes in selecting representatives - but the core strength of the document has prevented fatal damage to the whole of the system so far.

My abiding faith is that even the most useless of legislators represents our embarassments of riches; we are so well off that we can afford the luxury of electing representatives that couldn't hold down a job shoveling manure elsewise.

There is no requirement beyond citizenship and the ability to win elections where politics is concerned. We learn from our mistakes, as the historical record show.

They can surely bitch about ENRON/Halliburton/Abu Graehb but they come up strangely short where viable options are concerned.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 10, 2005 12:44 PM

Oh -

"Saddam was a very wily master politician in a region with a very complex set of political relations. It would be inconcievable that his security services didnt have contacts with al-Q, if for no other reason than to know what they were up to. And Saddam certainly understood such notions as keeping ones enemies close."

One of the goals of the Bush Doctrine is removing the options of amputations, death by shredder, mass graves, disposing of opponents via dumping them from rooftops, slaughtering entire villages by airstrike (with or without WMD), and invading neighbors from the accepted definition of "wily politics" for the region.

We have complex political relationships within our own country. About the worst thing our majority does to the minority is cite the statements made by the minority. Losing elections shouldn't carry quite the same as getting shot in the back of the head and left in a ditch somewhere but you wouldn't know it from how the experience has affected some of the minority; Al Gore comes to mind.

And maintaining contacts with al Q, far short of hosting meetings with them, rises to the level of supporting them in my view.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 10, 2005 12:55 PM

"They can surely bitch about ENRON/Halliburton/Abu Graehb but they come up strangely short where viable options are concerned."

And the flip side of that - the other unfortunate consequence of partisanship, is that the entire right hand side of the spectrum is far more invested in mindless support of Bush's policies than in engaging in the critical assessments that might lead to wiser ones.

"...maintaining contacts with al Q, far short of hosting meetings with them, rises to the level of supporting them in my view"

Well, I think we all would wish that our own CIA had some contacts with al-Q, as they had extensive ones with the commies during the cold war. That would not equate to support, but rather to effective surveillance.
As to Saddam's tactics, yes, of course he was a murdering bastard. It is simply an entirely different issue than the WOT.

I gotta go off to work now....

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 10, 2005 01:09 PM

Have a fine one, K.

Mrs. Utah is about done waiting for me to do something useful around here as well.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 10, 2005 01:22 PM

invested in mindless support of Bush's policies than in engaging in the critical assessments that might lead to wiser ones.

Karl's stubborness was more entertaining than I expected.

What wiser policy is suggested in a dozen posts? I can't recall one. Complaints about NOT invading Saudi Arabia (exactly 0 UNSC resolutions against them; 17 against Saddam, still technically at war, like Japan and Russia) instead of Iraq.

Wait, not invading, TALKING TOUGH. That's right, that's the secret of the Left -- the "good talking" will solve any problem. You know, like Clinton solved Rwanda, like Carter solved Pol Pot. oh, wait, um, er ...

Karl, you're a joke. Debating what should have been done is weak entertainment at this point. What to do now?

Waiting for Iraqi democracy to grow up; and grow balls; and grow tired of allowing foreign terrorists to kill Iraqis in Iraq. As the Shia gov't reminds folks it's the Sunnis who support the terrorist murderers, it's possible to get even uglier.

I recommend RFID on all cars in Iraq, connected to a house. If a car is used as a suicide bomb with the RFID, the house is lost. The rich Sunni Arabs will have to pay more for supporting terrorists. They won't like that.

SA will be getting a lot of pressure as Iraq becomes a success; but it must be a success, first. Will the US leaving sooner help democracy in Iraq? The call should be by elected Iraqis.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at July 10, 2005 02:24 PM

It figures. I invariably show up after the fireworks are over and everyone has gone home.

I have problems with Karl Jr.'s alternative approach. As TMJ pointed out we are dealing with a compressed time schedule here. A race against the clock. Korea, which originally required fighting, took decades to evolve into something resembling a democratic state. The same was true for the Phillipines and Spain (which was Western to begin with and became democratic almost out of a sense of embarassment.)

I don't think we have decades to deal with this problem.

Especially when it comes to dealing with terrorist networks striking tactical alliances with nation states that have access to WMDs. And we did learn after invading Iraq, that SH had every intention to use the oil-for-food money to bribe the U.N. to end sanctions and revitalize his WMD program.

Also I think that before Iraq, the U.S.'s credibility to act in its own defence pre-emptively was very much in question by leaders of countries who were hostile towards us. And this certainly has to included SA, who felt they had the nerve to dictate terms about the first Gulf War. It was SA that insisted that we not finish the job in Iraq after kicking SH out of Kuwait.

Diplomatic pressures on SA will be much more effective once Iraq is under control, and more importantly, SH has been tried and executed. I'm presuming the execution will be done using standard Middle East protocol: public, grizzly, with live feeds by al-Jazerra.

Finally Karls retort begs an obvious question. Why the choice between Iraq and SA? Why not do both?

Posted by: bob at July 10, 2005 03:15 PM

TmjUtah,

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Utilities/printer_preview.asp?idArticle=5804&R=C6162D26F

It's a report on the collaboration between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda.

Posted by: mika. at July 10, 2005 04:12 PM

TMJ,

Methinks you are swatting at a gadfly - masterful swats though. Enjoyed reading the exchange.

Karl,

Oh really? Why not start with Saudi Arabia? ... GWB could have just held their hand, looked into their eyes, and sweetly said - "we will help you transition to being constitutional monarchs in a democracy, or we'll find someone else to enrich".

Actually I think this is kinda close to what he seems to be doing. And I noticed you didn't say invade.

Do I need to repeat the basics of my position again?

> Iraq a diversion
> Rush to war / blindly striking out
> No al-Q connection here folks, move along
> Try something easier like a long long dialogue with the Saudi's

Well maybe the SA thing could be a parallel track. But I think there was (still is in Syria) a nexus of WMD and terrorists - see Google: Mother of all Connections (and the Iraqi doc that came to light a year ago)

And Iraq was ready after 12 years of non-compliance and essentially still in a state of war with us

And I subscribe to a defuse analogy (AKA drain swamp - I liked your fertilize comment - why not have something grow there after we drain it?).

SA or Pak would IMHO be the wrong wires to cut first. And I think you need to look at it (the matrix [word?] of corrupt regimes / fanatical religion / hugely young and out of work population) as an interlocking puzzle to be solved by stages.

Finally, I think Iraq is working. Don't count the Iraqi's out. Just as long as we don't over analyze, and gut it out. Just as long as they think we will stick with them. See theme: Galaxyquest or read this if you like.

Posted by: jdwill at July 10, 2005 07:14 PM

Mika,

Your Weekly Standard link provides a wealth of data but you are dealing with a champion yeah but'er in very deep denial.

Perhaps a modification of Orwell's formulation - "objectively pro al-Queda" would be found less objectionable than "jihadist".

Posted by: Rick Ballard at July 10, 2005 07:42 PM

Thanks Rick.

As you can guess, English is not my first language. (Nor is it my second or third). It's a very precise language, and using such a sharp tool will take a little more practice on my part. I know I'm just hacking away now, but sooner or later this sword is going to zing.

Posted by: mika. at July 10, 2005 08:25 PM

mika -

Thankee for the link, sir.

The info refreshed a lot of anecdotal memories. It's nice to have so much data in one place, I'll be sure to save that one.

As far as your English goes, you do well enough for me. You might want to reflect a moment before pulling the trigger on the strongest words that come to mind, though; please bear in mind I don't do that as often as I should myself.

And English (well, 'merican) is my only language.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 10, 2005 08:33 PM

Just for fun, let's all try to imagine the TCS column Mr. Totten would have written had (let's imagine) President Kerry suggested withdrawing under fire.

Posted by: kc at July 10, 2005 08:40 PM

You're welcome Mika. Here is the link to Orwell's essay in which he establishs the reasoning used in making the definition. It is as useful and true today as it was when he wrote it.

Orwell was deeply committed to the left and remained so until his death. Today, Christopher Hitchens, Norm Geras and Michael Totten fill the same post as honorable opponents to conservative thought.

There is a utility to open discourse concerning the commencement or conduct of a war. That utility ceases when it is composed solely of would have, could have, should have without the proposition of viable alternative courses of action. To refer to actions taken two years ago today serves no purpose other than to attempt to score political points. Those doing so deserve our unreserved contempt and are truly objectively pro al-Queada.

Posted by: Rick Ballard at July 10, 2005 08:50 PM

Somebody buy Ballard a drink. Cheers to you:)

Posted by: Mike#3or4 at July 10, 2005 09:43 PM

This is off topic but, the wall in Isreal seems to be working. Is it possible that it might be a global solution to the world's black hole (MidEast)? I am/was all for democracy everywhere but if they are going to sit around and kill each other (and our guys) why should we bother? I don't think we should pull out now, but we may need to reconsider the whole "democracy is universal" thing because it may not be.

I doubt it would work in the Congo (4 million dead) and I have little hope for it working in the ME. Perhaps the ME is the Congo in slow motion, four million deaths in Africa may take a few years and four million deaths in the middle east may take twenty years. --[deaths are not caused by nature}

Posted by: Mike#3or4 at July 10, 2005 10:00 PM

mike#3,
I 2nd that. Cheers!

Rick,
Thanks for that. Just made a pdf copy for myself.

TmjUtah
Beating up on "objectively pro al-Queda" jiha.. er,.. I mean "objectively pro al-Queda" super patriots, is part of the therapy.

kc,
Imagine going 200 km/hr with mom at the wheel, and then imagine going 200 km/hr with Mika at the wheel. Not quite the same thing, is it.

Posted by: mika. at July 10, 2005 10:11 PM

KC: Just for fun, let's all try to imagine the TCS column Mr. Totten would have written had (let's imagine) President Kerry suggested withdrawing under fire.

Foreign policy isn't all about Bush, you idiot.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 10, 2005 11:03 PM

mike -

"I don't think we should pull out now, but we may need to reconsider the whole "democracy is universal" thing because it may not be."

I don't have an answer for that.

Not one that wouldn't get me banned.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Look around you when you walk down any city street in this country. "Melting pot" doesn't really come close to being an accurate metaphor for what this country is all about.

We are a sum greater than our parts. Flush toilets, paved streets, corporations that provide goods and services, courts that mediate our civil disagreements or render judgement on the criminal - and we hold a revolution every four years.

Look about you. Find me the person, or class, or religion, or ethnicity that can lay claim to being the reason we have attained what heights we have. Go ahead - look across this nation.

You can find any color or culture you wish, if you look long enough. Some places it's easy to imagine you are flying across the globe like Superman - L.A. comes immediately to my mind. White, Black, Yellow, Red, Brown, Olive, all in one loop on a city bus.

We are all free to seek their own future here. Not in the utopic sense that we can have anything we want when we want it - but as surrounded by wonders of technology and convenience that we are, it must surely seem like it to some of the newer arrivals - but in an atmosphere absent the gnawing fear of helplessness, state tyranny, corruption, or lawlessness that defines so much of the rest of the world.

A nation under a boot dies slow and ugly. All that energy spent as hate and fear needed to stifle dissent combines with the lost opportunities of just what those who were crushed might have become. What they might have brought to their neighbors that would be good or made their lives better.

We aren't under a boot. We aren't a Utopia. But I maintain that we are the best job going - so far - in human history as far as government and culture goes.

Yes, there is a distinct American culture, and it rocks. It doesn't require lineage or race or creed beyond accepting that the guy next to you on the bus rates treatment under the law exactly the same as you do. In a perfect world all citizens would participate in the process, if only by voting - but as long as the institutions of checks and balances work well enough the existence of passive participants isn't all that big a deal.

But nothing stops anyone from having the opportunity, short of criminal conviction or treason.

The American system rewards individual achievement not by accolades but by allowing the individual to keep the fruits of their own labor. It allows the largest window for individual ambition and potential to manifest as advances that benefit the population as a whole.

It is not near perfect. But it is worth fighting for, and even dying for, for me, without blinking twice.

Note our bloodiest war was fought with single shot rifles over domestic political questions. The world wars of the last century (One, Two and Three - and we are in Four opposite Islamic Fundamentalism today) were effectively won at the moment when we collectively resolved to win them. Years or decades may have passed; leadership may have faltered on occasion. But when push came to shove, we ended the threat we refused to tolerate.

We'll do it against this latest threat, too.

Do we have the sufficient grasp of the virtue at the root of our freedom - the conscious knowledge of just why we are what we have become and what our duty is to protect and preserve it - to summon the conviction to persevere in transplanting the seeds of human freedom where they have never flourished?

Sometimes I wonder... but I choose to trust in the collective wisdom of the people to get us through this challenge like all the challenges we have faced before.

Freedom works where people enjoy the benefits that accrue from freedom. All people can. Regardless of what misery they have lived in in the past. Getting there may be bloody; our own experience was a decade of revolution followed by almost as long a time forging the rules by which we would conduct our governance.

I believe that Rumsfeld and Bush don't have any particular problem drawing down troop levels as soon as Iraqi institutions become able to carry the load. There are killings happening today, and there will most likely be killings when we are gone, but the Iraqis will ultimately be the undisputed deliverers of their own nation, and that counts for a lot.

This I believe.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 11, 2005 12:16 AM

Very good column, but rather than insurgence, I'm am more concerned about growing violence between Shi'tes and Sunnis.

Unlike insurgence, I'm not convinced that this violence is happening because of US occupation.

Since violence between these two groups is to my understanding growing even with current troop levels, it might require US to stay in Iraq for a long time, or somehow change their current strategy in Iraq.

Any ideas here?

Posted by: Pangolin at July 11, 2005 05:19 AM

Foreign policy isn't all about Bush, you idiot.--MJT

Of course it is. Without being simply 'anti-Bush',whatever would the loyal opposition have to say at all?

Bush is by no means perfect but compared to the alternative the mans a foreign policy genius. And no that's not a good thing. But it's a FACT.

Posted by: dougf at July 11, 2005 07:16 AM

"Since violence between these two groups is to my understanding growing even with current troop levels, it might require US to stay in Iraq for a long time, or somehow change their current strategy in Iraq."

The overwhelming majority of the violence in Iraq today comes from the Sunni insurgents, not the foreign terrorists. The withdrawl proposals now being bandied about seem to be part of an approach that seems extremely problematical to me. The Iraqi forces that we are training are a very very long way from being any sort of an effective national force capable of maintaing civil order. One way around this problem, and the one that seems to be gaining favor, is to rely on the regional private armies - the pesh merga in the north, the Badr brigades in the south, for maintaining order. These forces do not in any way have an inclusive pluralistic vision of Iraq as their motivating vision - they are vehicles for their regional /ethnic / religious intersts. Throw these forces into the mix with the Sunni insurgents, and you have all necessary elements for a violent clash of interests - leading either to civil war, or an effective breakup of the country.
Building a truly national force, that can enforce the interests of the united nation seems increasingly difficult.

Withdrawing US forces may lower the level of foreign terrorism, but I find it hard to believe that the new Iraqi army, on its own, can take over national security any time soon, not in the face of the divergent interests and their well armed forces.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 11, 2005 08:04 AM

Scary. Smells like politics to me, Michael. They're talking about reducing troop strength to 6,000 by spring 2006. Just in time for campaigns for the 2006 elections? Pressure from the party?

I hope I'm wrong. I hope the Iraqis can stand up on their own. I hope. article

Posted by: Patricia at July 11, 2005 08:32 AM

Of course they are discussing troop withdrawals. They'd better be looking ahead. It's all part of contingency planning.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at July 11, 2005 03:48 PM

Just for fun, let's all try to imagine the TCS column Mr. Totten would have written had (let's imagine) President Kerry suggested withdrawing under fire.

Foreign policy isn't all about Bush, you idiot.
___

I can't blame you for being kinda touchy about this.

Posted by: kc at July 11, 2005 07:17 PM

Patricia -

Go and read up on the numbers of Iraqi police and army units coming online.

Election cycles in America and Iraq's ability to provide for its own security don't have to be related. I'm sure the point will come up again, though.

Besides - Bush will be bagged on for having too many troops, too few troops, too many minority troops, not enough female troops, troops in the wrong places, for having told some troops finishing a deployment "mission accomplished", for daring the enemy to come out and fight, for not linking the War on Terror to the Kyoto treaty...

Oh, and he's also expected to defend our shaky economy which is currently running at a smooth 3.8 growth and approaching less than five percent unemployment, too. Nine interest rate hikes to cool it down, too. Not bad for an Alfred E. Neumann, eh?

I don't understand why the democrats can't stop campaigning against Bush. He's beyond losing any elections to them. What a waste of diminishing resources...

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 11, 2005 08:00 PM

Thanks, TMJ, I needed that! :)

I need a good talking-to every now and then.

Posted by: Patricia at July 11, 2005 08:03 PM

Patricia -

Talking with, ma'am, talking with.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 11, 2005 09:37 PM

but I find it hard to believe that the new Iraqi army, on its own, can take over national security any time soon, not in the face of the divergent interests and their well armed forces.

You believe, without shame, that Bush could have accomplished SO MUCH by talking, but find it hard to believe in a future Iraqi army being trained by US/ Coalition forces? What a joke!

I also laugh at the continuing weasel words "any time soon" -- like totally finish before the next US election; but you're too much a coward to state what you really mean. 3 months, 2 years, 1 decade? What is your "excellent result" standard for a Bush invasion of Iraq?

How long did it take the US to leave Germany? (um, still there, 60 years later ... prolly too long).

Iraq won't break up through violence while a Rep is president (a velvet divorce by the Sunni Kurds is possible, depends on their Constitution). The Sunni terrorist supporters need time to realize this.

It took the US some 5 years from 1776 to 1781; then another 8 years to 1789 before we got a Constitution (the Articles of Confederation had a huge problem, allowing states to use protectionist taxes against trade). The EU is now rejecting their 500 page monster constitution (good riddance to bad rubbish).

How about Kosovo, UN occupied since 1999? Troops are still there ...

Democracy is a process that takes time. Let's say the minimum is 5 years -- if it takes Bush 7 years, that's not so bad. What Muslim Arab country has gone from dictatorship to democracy in less than 5 years? None.

Bush can be faulted for not having better PR -- how much time it will take. Media can also be faulted, for publicizing inevitable imperfections and saying this demonstrates failure; and implicitly expecting faster than possible success.

What is the standard? Oh, I forgot -- unspoken, Unreal Perfection.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at July 12, 2005 12:53 AM

"I can't blame you for being kinda touchy about this."

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Posted by: Airfare at January 5, 2006 10:19 PM

Rose bowl packages Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Rutgers is one of the three unbeaten teams playing in the BCS conferences and after this week will likely be one of the two teams left. This team will likely be a double-digit underdog against West Virginia, so more then likely they will be left out of the discussion and fall from the Top Ten. If they would happen to pull the upset, they would have a case to represent in Glendale but it still probably will not happen. They scheduled too weak in the nonconference portion on the season and have had too long of a road to climb through the standings. The best they can hope for is a split National Title, winning the AP Poll.
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