Thursday, October 13, 2005

Gray Lady sings the blues

It occurred to me today that the folks at the NY Times may in fact be suffering from depression, and I mean that in the clinical sense.

Why the sudden diagnosis? Well, Captain's Quarters alerted me to this editorial about the Iraqi constitutional compromise in today's NY Times (for contrast, compare the Times's take on the matter with the elation of Iraqi blogger Mohammed at Iraq the Model).

As Captain Ed points out, with only a little hyperbole:

Each paragraph [of the editorial] starts out with some gloomy statement on what the Times sees as reality. Each statement relates back to American efforts to create this democratic environment, either directly or indirectly...

The torturous process of actually saying something meaningful about the Iraqi agreement on a new constitution in the days ahead of the vote grinds on through eight paragraphs written in this stultifying prose, as like a bad pop song with an unrelenting, unchanging bass line. It takes that long for the Times to admit that the developments this week give greater hope for unity after the plebescite and for greater Sunni participation in democracy thereafter. The editorial approaches masterpiece status for sour grapes and for burying the lede. Even its title, "A Flicker Of Hope In Iraq", makes this major step forward seem little more than a mere footnote in an encyclopedia of misery.


"A footnote in an encyclopedia of misery." Reading this, I had one of those sudden insights that seem to make what was formerly murky as clear as day: the entire editorial staff of the Times is clinically depressed. For here is exactly the sort of behavior one would expect from a depressed person: the inability to take pleasure in even good news, the constant "yes-butting" that negates anything positive before it can sink in or be savored. One can almost see the sad, heavy eyes of the writer, and hear the droning voice with its flat affect.

And now I also see the Times's constant ignoring of the good news from Iraq in a different light. It's another symptom of depression.

Oh, I know what those of you who still like the Gray Lady will say: they're just being judicious and cautious, and rightly so. And indeed caution is in order. But I think the Times has a track record of going way beyond caution, into a gloom that can hardly be dispelled by facts.

It seems that lately I've been prescribing meds without a license. But I have yet another suggestion along those lines for those at the Times: perhaps a trial of SSRIs might be in order.

It could make that hope become a tad more than a flicker. Just a thought.

62 Comments:

At 2:19 PM, October 13, 2005, Blogger Meade said...

But it is within your realm to refer them to someone who has the license to prescribe the meds they so clearly need, right? Out of sheer compassion?

 
At 2:22 PM, October 13, 2005, Anonymous Richard Aubrey said...

I differ from neo's point.

I think the NYT is attempting to make the rest of us depressed. They're fine--in a manner of speaking.
They're the Typhoid Mary of depression.

 
At 3:22 PM, October 13, 2005, Anonymous john moulder said...

For the NYT the political process the elections represent are not supposed to be happening. The purple thumb election with its huge turnout produced a whopper of a cognitive dissonance episode for the NYT & its faithful readers which was distressing & they are not looking forward to the next.

I’m reminded of a boss I once had. This boss disliked me & everyone in my section but, horror of horrors, we kept winning statewide performance awards. In fact we won every award it was possible to win. I made a point of having a ceremony if anyone who worked for me won an award, would even dream up our own little section awards as an excuse for an awards ceremony because I loved giving out awards & providing recognition for good work. We would have cake & punch in the training room. But this boss would pick a time when no one was around, shove the award notification on my desk, mutter in a disconsolate tone of voice, “You won another award,” turn around & hurriedly walk back to their office, disappointment in their every step. This behavior never varied despite the fact that the awards we won reflected well on the boss. The NYT would rather see Iraq fall to the jihadists than witness Bush getting any kind of credit for creating another terrorist-free regime in the Middle East that is friendly toward America. Their whole political philosophy would suffer horribly if that happened.

 
At 4:26 PM, October 13, 2005, Anonymous The unknown Blogger said...

The term "Depressive Realism" comes to mind...

 
At 4:29 PM, October 13, 2005, Blogger The Bunnies said...

The oft quoted phrase, "Of course we wnat to win in Iraq, but..." springs to mind.

 
At 5:53 PM, October 13, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

Great point. If you can just imagine that the NYT, and the MSM in general, are just being Eeyore, it's easier to take.

Unknown Blogger, thank you for proving my point. If you must be a depressive, get to know Puddleglum, willya?

 
At 5:59 PM, October 13, 2005, Anonymous colagirl said...

An intriguing post, neo-neocon. Having just done some research on cognitive distortion and cognitive restructuring, your post put me in mind of some of the common cognitive distortions I found, one in particular:

"Disqualifying the positive"--continually shooting down positive experiences for arbitrary, ad-hoc reasons

(This is one that I do far too frequently in my own life.)

Anyway, it definitely provides food for thought.

 
At 10:00 PM, October 13, 2005, Blogger Holmes said...

Maybe it's just the Robert Frost "Nothing gold can stay" attitude. The Iraq war has been a boon for the NY Times and its liberal readership; every day there is something to report which could reinforce their opinion about Bush or America. Those days might soon be behind us.

 
At 12:34 AM, October 14, 2005, Blogger camojack said...

The "Gray Lady" must die. Methinks she's in her death throes already...I hear the "Fat Lady" warming up her vocal chords.

 
At 1:31 AM, October 14, 2005, Blogger Thunderstixmil said...

Right on the money, and I speak as a certified psych nurse with over 20 years of experience dealing with clinical depression and other types of maladjustment syndromes.
Liberalism is a mental disease brought on by visions of granduer and the arrogance of the cowardice of letting somebody else do your fighting for you.
For meds, I suggest a little electroshock therapy and of course your basic thorazine shuffle to counteract the years of mind altering substances.

 
At 1:40 AM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous hg wells said...

Nonetheless this steady rain of depression from the NYT and liberal media has been effective. Judging by the polls, the majority of Americans are disillusioned with Iraq and unhappy with Bush.

At this point it's mostly an atmospheric campaign against the war and against Bush. No real arguments, just world-weary sighs that presuppose the war is going badly and was based on lies.

As things continue to improve in Iraq--barring catastrophe still possible--I'm hoping that some tipping point will be reached and maisntream democrats will give up on this non-stop pessimsim.

Until then it's sill a tricky war both in Iraq and in the US.

But it must be a terrible thing for an American to be hoping for a newly freed and newly democratic country to fail.

 
At 11:17 AM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous terryt said...

I avoid the NYTs , most of the time now because it's tiring and ultimately pointless to have to expend mental energy sifting through the bias and Bush hatred, searching for the real news.

Victor Davis Hanson wrote a piece a few months ago which he titled something like: "I Was For It All Along, Sort Of.." about what anti-war types will say, in ten or fifteen years from now, when the situation in the middle east has been transformed for the better. Yes, they were for it all along.

And I can just imagine what an anti-war european friend will say to me, "Of yeah. I wanted this too. I just didn't agree with the methods or the lies or the arrogance of the Bush people or the instigation of an illegal war, etc etc."

I cannot imagine these people, most anayway, ever facing up to and admitting an error in judgement, even if history shows them to have been on it's wrong side. To do so would shatter their identities.

(Perhaps I'm the one who's wrong. Time will tell.)

 
At 12:19 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

I've modified the NYT article slightly; perhaps you'd now find it more palatable.

"It has been easy to make sense of America's involvement in Iraq for a long time now. Arguments that our soldiers are risking their lives to protect the United States from terrorism, or deadly weapons of mass destruction, have been refuted completely. The basis for staying the course has not only been the hope that in the end, Iraqis can be put on the road to a stable, inclusive government, but will be able to run an election better than the U.S. did in November 2000. That hope has never been anywhere near extinction. But today it seems a whole lot more substantial!

Just days ahead of Saturday's vital constitutional referendum, representatives of cooperating religious and ethnic communities in Iraq hammered out their most significant political compromise. With no American diplomatic prodding whatsoever, the dominant but pliable Shiite and Kurdish parties agreed with a section of the sunny Sunni Arab leadership on changes that will definitely make it easier for Sunni voters to accept a nearly perfect draft constitution because they offer assurances that it can be drastically amended a few months later.

Plainly, this is textbook democratic procedure. Voters are being asked to approve the constitution - which everyone has had a chance to read - with the assumption that it may soon be radically rewritten. But compared with the excellent prospects Iraq seemed headed for this weekend, it is even better!

The most important part of the changed situation is the even more constructive attitude of Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish political leaders. Sunnis are not smarting over their loss of power, and of course appear ready to channel their already excellent situation into constitutional and electoral processes. And a positively wonderful number of Shiites and Kurds appear, as always, to recognize that their dreams of peace and national recovery are achievable by increasing the sense of brotherhood and camaraderie that have been consuming much of the Sunni community.

The presence of this maximal basis for consensus before now had made it easy to take the whole non-American-orchestrated constitutional exercise seriously. Now, even better, there is a lot of groundwork, solid as a rock, for working toward a peaceful future. When the emerging political system proves itself even more truly responsive to legitimate Sunni concerns, draining support from the murderous insurgency is a sure thing.

Optimism is not the same thing as hope. Without changes, the constitution that Iraqis are voting on this weekend still cannot possibly marginalize the Sunni professional classes, politically and economically, and would never create a federal government that offers excessive powers to the future autonomous regions that the Kurds and Shiites have no desire whatever to establish.

That combination is a blueprint for national sweetness and light. This week's agreement will allow all of the best parts of the constitution to be made even better after the fact. But that will happen only through a simple procedure that won't require the Kurds and Shiites to relinquish any of their own political goals to accommodate the Sunnis. And that will leave the fundamental legal rights of Iraqi women unassailable.

Clearly, it won't take a great deal of political maturity on all sides to negotiate the cakewalks ahead successfully, beginning with Saturday's referendum. And it will have to be done in the midst of a weak insurgency in its last throes, magnificent Iraqi security forces and an irresistably dominant and increasingly popular American military presence. But if the tentative political trends that produced this week's deal can be sustained and extended, those who haven't sacrificed anything to conquer Iraq and turn it into an American puppet will have some reason to believe their efforts may not be in vain."

Tongue in beak,

tequilamockingbird

 
At 1:31 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

I'm sure you've all read uberconservative -- "Dont' go wobbly on me, George" -- Margaret Thatcher's recent comments on the (supposed) justification for the Iraq invasion:

'Yesterday's Washington Post reported that when asked whether she would have invaded Iraq given the intelligence at the time, Lady Thatcher replied: "I was a scientist before I was a politician. And as a scientist I know you need facts, evidence and proof - and then you check, recheck and check again."

'She added: "The fact was that there were no facts, there was no evidence, and there was no proof. As a politician the most serious decision you can take is to commit your armed services to war from which they may not return."'

tequilamockingbird

 
At 3:07 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

That ain't Jesse Jackson or Michael Moore, folks.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 3:46 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

"The fact was that there were no facts, there was no evidence, and there was no proof. As a politician the most serious decision you can take is to commit your armed services to war from which they may not return."'

Bush, on the advice of his closed circle of PNAC friends and politically motivated advisors, has chosen to plunge the world into a bitter hellscape for decades to come.

Reap the whirlwind, guys -- along with the rest of the world, unfortunately.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 3:56 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous john moulder said...

She ain't Jackson or Moore, just she is someone in the opposition party that has a stake in trashing Tony Blair's policies. Try again, tequilamockingbird.

 
At 4:15 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

jm: You realize, of course, that she was the head of the Conservative party, and that Blair is head of the Labour Party, which was always aligned with the U.S. Democrats until Blair made his pact with Bush?

Of course you do. You also realize, I'm sure, that the British public are and have been solidly against the Iraq war, and that in the British parliamentary system, Blair had an overwhelming majority -- in spite of which, so many of his own party defected that the decision for the Brits to support Bush was on the basis of a tiny and quivering majority.

You also realize, I'm sure, that in Britain, Blair avoids like the plague any reference to his relationship with Bush because it's death to him with his electorate.

You realize also, of course, that the situation about support for the war in Britain was the same as that in Italy, where Berlusconi had a huge parliamentary majority but the vote scraped through in spite of majority opposition.

You realize also, of course, that permission to attack Iraq from the north through Turkey was denied on the narrowest of margins by the Turkish parliament, even though Turkish public opinion was 95% opposed.

And you realize that Margaret Thatcher's credentials are impeccably Reagan/conservative? Of course you do.

Want me to try again? I'd be glad to oblige.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 4:19 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

She's out of politics, an 80-year-old ex-politician with no apparent axe to grind, just speaking her mind.

 
At 4:24 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

If her remark had been "Damn right, it was justified all along, let's kick hell out of the Iraqis", do you think it would have been trumpeted by the Bushies, along with explanation of her conservative credentials? Bet your ass.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 4:41 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

john moulder:

I notice that you always use your full nom-de-net, and you used mine. I don't want to be impolite, and I apologize. You'll be "john moulder" henceforth. Sorry.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 5:00 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Sorry to leave the discussion, but there's a program coming on TV called "Fahrenheit 9/11". I haven't seen it, but I understand it's a controversial movie about American society.

See you in a couple hours!

tequilamockingbird

 
At 5:41 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Just checking back during a commercial: No, that's not right, is it? This is all lies, isn't it? Must be. The leaders we love would never behave in that fashion. It's all lies. Everything Michael Moore says is a lie.

Back later.

 
At 5:54 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Well, having seen the movie in its entirety, I have to say that Michael Moore's position is just ridiculous. Why would any reasonable person think that Bush's position is anything but beneficent to everyone in the world, especially those who are underprivileged?

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Sorry, I'm getting tired. Bye-bye, and may we all bask under the safety George Bush has provided us with.

 
At 6:15 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

There is no international goodwill for W, and there will be no international cooperation with him. Once he's gone -- Allah be praised (It's a joke! It's a joke! -- progress may be possible.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 6:38 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get a grip, tequila... Honestly.

 
At 6:45 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

OK, anonymous. Sorry.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

tequilamockingbird

 
At 6:57 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

You got a problem with that?

You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?

tequilamockingbird

 
At 7:22 PM, October 14, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

I'm sorry, enough of the fun and games. I'm so angry at those cocksuckers I can't discuss this rationally. Adios, amigos.

 
At 8:37 PM, October 14, 2005, Blogger Meade said...

Lady Thatcher's office did not dispute her reported remarks but said she had been - and remained - in full support of the decision to oust Saddam by military means, which she always believed would be the only way to remove him. Aides said she wished that had been achieved by the first Gulf War, prompted by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which took place shortly after she was forced to resign as Prime Minister after losing the confidence of her cabinet.

 
At 10:11 AM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous john moulder said...

I was aware that Thatcher & Reagan supported each other’s policies.

I was aware that most American Democratic Party politicians support the Iraq war & was not aware that the British Labor Party does not.

I’ve not seen Moore’s movie & am for that reason unable to debate its relative merits.

I can’t say either that I’ve paid much attention to public opinion in Turkey, Italy & Great Britain in regards to the Iraq war.

Also, I’ll confess that whether Bush's policies are beneficial “to everyone in the world” is not a priority among my personal foreign policy concerns.

Tequilamockingbird, are you a total pacifist & against all war or do you believe war is sometimes necessary?

 
At 11:11 AM, October 15, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

@tmb, that was quite a monologue. And then another monologue. And then another. It shows you're listening, y'know?

You repeatedly attack straw men. To you, having any support for the war means we believe it's all hearts and flowers, with nary a mistake or motive anything less than pure. I would not put you in the position of having to defend the idea that nothing good came of the war or any other actions of your opposition. Any course of action after 9/11 would have plus and minus effects. So I will not answer your sneers. It's just silly.

Frankly, that leaves little else.

I do not immediately write off Thatcher's remarks -- she certainly deserves a hearing with conservatives. Nor do I accept her judgement uncritically, without regard to factors outside the discussion. Have you ever encountered that approach to political thought, tmb? It's all the rage now, you might want to look into it.

If that seems sneering on my part, you might try and provide a new example to show me wrong.

 
At 12:56 PM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it."

I apologize for my outburst. I'll try to be more circumspect with the "Publish" button.

To john moulder, no, I'm not a complete pacifist by any means. There are a number of wars I've felt were completely justified -- Gulf War I and the invasion of Afghanistan, for instance.

During GW I, my life pretty much consisted of working, sleeping, and watching CNN around the clock, rooting for the coalition. Did you see the interview with Charlton Heston and Christopher Hitchens (who was opposed to that particular war)? Classic! One of my all-time favorite TV moments.

I thought Bush One did a number of things right -- building a meaningful coalition, for one, and withdrawing after his mandate to repel Saddam from Kuwait was accomplished, for another. Had he continued on to Baghdad, he would have rid the world of Saddam, but he would have immediately lost at least his Arab allies, and likely others as well, and he would have ended up embroiled in a situation similar to the one Junior is in now.

to avi, since my serial monologues seem to annoy you, I'll do my best to condense them into one long monologue instead.

By the way, I think you'll find it hard to come up with anyone who will say that today was not a positive day for Iraq. I'm not ready to jump up and down and declare that peace is at hand, but it was a good day.

Addressing neo-neocon's topic for a change, I've read that morale at the NYT is extremely low, largely as a result of the Judith Miller thing. Maybe the Gray Lady is depressed.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 1:32 PM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous john moulder said...

tequilamockingbird, I agree that if the elder Bush had continued on after Kuwait was saved to rid Iraq of Saddam the elder Bush would have ended up with an occupation & re-building situation & “embroiled.” I’m not so sure the elder Bush would have lost any Arab allies had he done so. What Arab allies has the younger Bush lost? Coalitions are fine if they can be formed but in the case of Saddam’s toppling, not entirely necessary. I guess where we differ is whether the current embroilment is a good thing or a bad thing.

 
At 1:54 PM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous tequalimockingbird said...

Sorry, avi. I'm publishing another message not twenty minutes after my last one. I guess I'm incorrigible. I also guess I'll publish what I want, when I want. Is that OK with you?

john moulder:

"I can’t say either that I’ve paid much attention to public opinion in Turkey, Italy & Great Britain in regards to the Iraq war.

Also, I’ll confess that whether Bush's policies are beneficial “to everyone in the world” is not a priority among my personal foreign policy concerns."

Okay, the "everyone in the world" was foolish overblown rhetoric; I was being sarcastic in a stupid sort of way. Sorry. I got carried away. I didn't mean for anyone to take it literally.

But as far as paying attention to the public opinion in Turkey, Italy, and Great Britain is concerned, perhaps you should. I'm not surprised that you don't; it's a European belief, which I think is justified and you have just reinforced, that Americans (a generalization, I know) don't give a damn about world opinion. They're the world's lone superpower, and they'll do what they want. The so-called "coalition" is a charade, a fig leaf.

In my last post I commended GHWB on his diligence in building a "meaningful" coalition. It took a lot of work and diplomatic skill. Junior, on the other hand, was contemptuous of world opinion. Almost every other country in the world was opposed. There were about three exceptions: Israel, and a couple of the former Soviet Republics who were ready at that point to back anything the U.S. did, no matter what. (Enthusiasm in those countries has cooled over the last two years.) With those exceptions, the governments involved -- not the people themselves -- considered it expedient to side with the U.S. Not even Saddam's neighbors were afraid of him. After eight devastating years of war with Iran, the destruction of the military by Gulf War I, and ten years of punishing sanctions, he was a paper tiger.

On the other hand, the invasion of Afghanistan had genuine world support. If Bush hadn't taken his eye off the ball, if all those resources wasted in Iraq had been directed towards rooting out and exterminating bin Laden and every other Islamofascist terrorist, world support would be there still.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 2:13 PM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

john moulder:

Our messages overlapped; my last post wasn't responsive to yours.

The younger Bush hasn't lost any Arab allies because he never had any. Are you aware that Arab countries not only declared support for GW I but provided troops? Going from memory, I think the only Arab leader who didn't publicly back the expulsion of Saddam from Kuwait -- and I underline "the expulsion of Saddam from Kuwait" -- was Yaser Arafat, and he paid the price by being shunned thenceforth by his Arab associates.

If you think the current "embroilment" is a good thing, I think we just disagree on that point.

Yes, a coalition was unneccessary to invade Iraq and oust Saddam; Rumsfeld said as much at one point, admitting that Britain's participation was unneeded (a terrific diplomatic blunder, deeply offensive to the Brits).

But that's not the point. The U.S. is capable of invading and conquering any country in the world, and it doesn't need allies to do so; but does it really want to act alone in the world, detested by nations that used to be its friends? The U.S. is far stronger when it acts in cooperation with its allies as part of "THE WEST", and its interests -- selfish though they may be, and as Seinfeld might say, there's nothing wrong with that -- are better served.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 2:37 PM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous john moulder said...

I don’t agree with your basic dichotomy: That the US can either topple Saddam or exterminate terrorists. The US seems to be doing a fair job of both. Osama bin Laden hasn’t been found but I don’t think that has anything to do with the Iraq war. Meanwhile, the Arab allies the US had before the present war seem to continue to remain allies of the US. We waste too much time & energy wanting everyone to like us. Coalitions are fine if they can be formed but US foreign policy shouldn’t hinge on the approval of other countries.

 
At 3:17 PM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

john moulder:

Wow. Short post, but lots of food for thought.

You may see my position as a dichotomy; I don't. One of the horns of that dichotomy, so to speak, is to pursue the terrorists responsible for 9/11. That's a given; no choice involved there.

The other is to invade Iraq and topple Saddam. I don't see this situation as a dichotomy because it's not a choice between the two. One is an imperative, and the other is an unrelated matter of choice.

The U.S. has undoubtedly done an excellent job of toppling Saddam; he's sitting in a prison cell and will doubtless be tried, convicted, and executed (and I don't have any problem with that). It's also doing a good job of exterminating terrorists; the problem is that it's creating them faster than it's exterminating them. For the last two years, every estimate of the numbers of "the insurgency" has increased. The last I read, from U.S. military sources, was 20,000.

"Osama bin Laden hasn’t been found but I don’t think that has anything to do with the Iraq war." Dead on, john! In fact, the whole Iraq war has nothing to do with Islamofascism (if we can agree to characterize "the enemy" as that) at all, except that it's attracted them like a magnet, as a place where they can easily strike at the infidel.


"Meanwhile, the Arab allies the US had before the present war seem to continue to remain allies of the US."

With the exception of Kuwait, I beg to differ. And who are the pre-war Arab allies you're speaking of? Saudi Arabia and Jordan are shaky, Egypt is close to being hostile (I recently spent a couple of weeks in Cairo), not to mention Syria, which was initially on board and providing helpful information and cooperation on the WOT.

"We waste too much time & energy wanting everyone to like us. Coalitions are fine if they can be formed but US foreign policy shouldn’t hinge on the approval of other countries."

Well, a couple of things there. GHWB spent a lot of time & energy building a coalition, and it was time & energy well spent. You don't need everyone to like you; you do need to live in a society of nations.

"U.S. foreign policy shouldn't hinge on the approval of other countries." That rings a bell -- the argument in the fall of 2002 and in the presidential election campaign that the U.S. shouldn't ask the U.N. for approval in matters of U.S. defense. That was nonsensical political rhetoric. No, US fp shouldn't "hinge on" the approval of other countries. We're ad idem there. But it should take global opposition into account and not simply bulldoze its way in the world.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 6:03 PM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous john moulder said...

tequilamockingbird:

Creating more terrorists than we’re killing? Well, we’ll just have to try harder. You write the terrorists in Iraq “easily strike at the infidel.” If what they’re doing in Iraq is their best shot, a few car bombs, a few snipers & an occasional roadside bomb – then I’m not impressed. Let them win a few battles & I’ll be impressed.

You wrote of the elder Bush: “Had he continued on to Baghdad, he would have rid the world of Saddam, but he would have immediately lost at least his Arab allies.” Such a statement implies that Bush jr. has lost Arab allies by toppling Saddam. As far as I can tell every Arab ally before the current war is still an ally. Arab allies are always “shaky” & “close to being hostile,” that’s par for the course. Syria was “providing helpful information and cooperation on the WOT”? Is that why Damascus was & is a hotbed of terrorist activity before & after both Gulf wars? I don't call that “cooperation.” With “allies” like Syria the US doesn’t need enemies.

You wrote: “If Bush hadn't taken his eye off the ball, if all those resources wasted in Iraq had been directed towards rooting out and exterminating bin Laden and every other Islamofascist terrorist … ” Hmmm, reads like a dichotomy to me, like you’re meaning that the war in Iraq has caused the US to not find bin Laden. In other words the choice was to find bin Laden on one hand or to topple Saddam on the other, that either one of the choices precludes the other. I must be misreading, but it reads that way to me.

Saddam is Islamic, a fascist & definitely unfriendly. I’d say he is an Islamofascist. But I’m guessing you wouldn’t, right? If the “whole Iraq war has nothing to do with Islamofascism” then why does it “attract them like a magnet”?

You write of “global opposition,” which is a very vague term. If there really were what I would call “global opposition” to the war in Iraq there would be some armies fighting against the US in Iraq. There isn’t, so I gotta think “global opposition” to the present Iraq war is not too deep or too strong.

You write: "U.S. foreign policy shouldn't hinge on the approval of other countries."[quoting me] “That rings a bell -- the argument in the fall of 2002 and in the presidential election campaign that the U.S. shouldn't ask the U.N. for approval in matters of U.S. defense. That was nonsensical political rhetoric … ”

Apparently the “nonsensical political rhetoric” resonated with a few voters. One man’s “nonsensical political rhetoric” is another man’s reason to throw the ballot box lever.

Coalitions are fine if they can be formed but they are not necessary to implement foreign policy.

 
At 7:58 PM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

john moulder:

"If what they’re doing in Iraq is their best shot, a few car bombs, a few snipers & an occasional roadside bomb – then I’m not impressed. Let them win a few battles & I’ll be impressed."

Come on, john, you can't be serious. "A few car bombs, a few snipers & and an occasional roadside bomb"? Is that what you think is going on in Iraq? Think what you're saying. "Let them win a few battles & I’ll be impressed"? They never will, and they'll never try. They can't beat the U.S. military; the uncomfortable fact is that the U.S. military can't beat them, either, as the U.S. government has acknowledged. If the battle is to be won, it'll only be won on the political front, not the military: That's why today was a good day for Iraq and the world.

"You wrote of the elder Bush: “Had he continued on to Baghdad, he would have rid the world of Saddam, but he would have immediately lost at least his Arab allies. Such a statement implies that Bush jr. has lost Arab allies by toppling Saddam."

No, it doesn't, john; on this point, you're flat-out wrong. Read it again. It's a comment on GW I, independent of Junior and GW II.

"As far as I can tell every Arab ally before the current war is still an ally. Arab allies are always “shaky” & “close to being hostile,” that’s par for the course. Syria was “providing helpful information and cooperation on the WOT”? Is that why Damascus was & is a hotbed of terrorist activity before & after both Gulf wars? I don't call that “cooperation.” With “allies” like Syria the US doesn’t need enemies."

john, john, cool down. After 9/11, Syria was -- justifiably -- worried -- or should I say "terrified" -- that it would be next. It responded by providing helpful anti-terrorism information. Bush et al responded by condemning Syria as a terrorist ally, and Syria withdrew its cooperation.

Do you disagree? If so, I guess I'm obliged to dig through the 2002 archives to support my position.

Sorry, I mean no disrespect, and I'm actually enjoying our conversation, but one meaning of "dichotomy" is as follows:

"Division into two usually contradictory parts or opinions."

”Hmmm, reads like a dichotomy to me, like you’re meaning that the war in Iraq has caused the US to not find bin Laden. In other words the choice was to find bin Laden on one hand or to topple Saddam on the other, that either one of the choices precludes the other. I must be misreading, but it reads that way to me."

Well, maybe you're not misreading, but you're certainly misunderstanding. And if it's my fault for not being clearer, I apoligize. One does not preclude the other. And I never characterized the objective to be, as you claimed, finding bin Laden; the objective is fighting the enemy (shall we call it Islamofascism?) There's no choice between two alternatives! Fighting the "Islamofascist" enemy is a neccessity. Attacking Saddam was a choice. A disastrous one, but a choice.

"Saddam is Islamic, a fascist & definitely unfriendly. I’d say he is an Islamofascist. But I’m guessing you wouldn’t, right?"

Well, Saddam is Muslim; is that what you mean by "Islamic"? And are Muslims the enemy? You'd better rethink that one, john. Fascist? Okay. Broadly defined, so is Bush.

"Islamofascist"? Well, I'd say not, not in the terms of the 9/11 "enemy" we're talking about. "Evil dictator"? Okay. There are lots of negative categories you can put him in without argument from me. But "Islamofascist", in the sense that he shared any beliefs with Al Qaeda et al except hatred of the U.S., I don't think so. Was he a bad guy? Yeah. Is it a good thing that he's not in power in Iraq? Yeah. Are Iraq and the world better off since the invasion? Well ...

"If the “whole Iraq war has nothing to do with Islamofascism” then why does it “attract them like a magnet”?"

Sorry. What we have here is a failure to communicate, Luke. I may have been imprecise in my terms -- I should have said "the Iraq war was not waged or grounded as an attack against Islamofascism" -- but now that they've got an excuse, they're there, baby, with a vengeance. And innocent Iraqis are paying the majority of the price.

"You write of “global opposition,” which is a very vague term. If there really were what I would call “global opposition” to the war in Iraq there would be some armies fighting against the US in Iraq. There isn’t, so I gotta think “global opposition” to the present Iraq war is not too deep or too strong."

Please, john. Okay, let me rephrase my proposition as "global disapproval". Fight against the U.S. in Iraq? Not even the French would do that. (I'm joking, I'm joking!)

"Apparently the “nonsensical political rhetoric” resonated with a few voters. One man’s “nonsensical political rhetoric” is another man’s reason to throw the ballot box lever."

Now, wait a minute, john. I think some of your arguments are frivolous, but that one shouldn't be allowed to pass. No one -- anywhere, any time -- suggested or advocated that the U.S. should need U.N. approval for its defense. No one, anywhere, any time. Lying partisans made that claim at the time, and it was a lie.

"Coalitions are fine if they can be formed but they are not necessary to implement foreign policy."

Like I said, the U.S. doesn't need a coalition to do anything, but it's a lot better off if it has one. W built a coalition that was a sham. Building coalitions is tough stuff, but it's worth it, in the interests of the U.S.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 8:43 PM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

john moulder:

On reflection, john, I have to be more definite.

*****

"You write: "U.S. foreign policy shouldn't hinge on the approval of other countries."[quoting me] “That rings a bell -- the argument in the fall of 2002 and in the presidential election campaign that the U.S. shouldn't ask the U.N. for approval in matters of U.S. defense. That was nonsensical political rhetoric … ”

Apparently the “nonsensical political rhetoric” resonated with a few voters. One man’s “nonsensical political rhetoric” is another man’s reason to throw the ballot box lever.

*****

That was a lie, john, plain and simple. There's no shades of gray here; it was a lie. I don't like to be confrontational -- and like I've said, I'm enjoying our debate -- but if you respond to this message at all, I expect you to either retract your support for that position or justify it (which I know you can't do). Nobody ever stated or implied that the U.S. should need the U.N.'s permission in a matter of self-defense.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 8:50 PM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Maybe, once again, I was a bit too quick with the "Publish" trigger finger. I'm sorry. I withdraw my challenge. But I hope you'll understand that I'm sincere on this point. If anybody did actually say that, they're a moron.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 12:03 AM, October 16, 2005, Anonymous john moulder said...

Tequilamockingbird, you wrote of the elder Bush: “Had he continued on to Baghdad, he would have rid the world of Saddam, but he would have immediately lost at least his Arab allies.” I still contend that such a statement implies that Bush jr. has lost Arab allies by toppling Saddam. Let me put it another way: How can you contend that Bush sr. would have lost Arab allies by toppling Saddam when Bush jr. has toppled Saddam & not lost a single Arab ally?

Coalition troops in the present Iraq war command the field & except for a few car bombs, a few snipers & and an occasional roadside bomb, are not even engaged by the terrorist ‘forces.’

Tequilamockingbird, both before & after 9/11 Damascus was a terrorist headquarters. Syria was not our ally before 9/11 & not after 9/11. Any “anti-terrorism” info from Syria would be highly suspect & probably useless.

Here’s what I mean by Islamic:
Islamic (adj.) : of or relating to or supporting Islamism
Islamism (n.) : the religion of Muslims

Here’s what I mean by Fascism: A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

Saddam was an Islamofascist. Not any more, of course. Now he’s just a prisoner about to be tried.

Tequilamockingbird, shame on you for calling Bush a Fascist. Saddam was the (Islamo)Fascist, not Bush.

tequilamockingbird, I don’t contend that any of the 2002 candidates said the US should “ask the U.N. for approval in matters of U.S. defense.” I was quoting you & you wrote that UN approval was an issue in the 2002 campaign – I merely observed that what you termed “nonsensical political rhetoric” apparently resonated with some voters – irregardless of whether any of the candidates actually said it.

Tequilamockingbird, you write: ”I should have said the Iraq war was not waged or grounded as an attack against Islamofascism -- but now that they've got an excuse, they're there, baby, with a vengeance.” I’m kind of interested in what you think the terrorists’ “excuse” is for terrorizing the Iraqi people. I’ll bet it’s a interesting one, considering that you call Bush a Fascist.

 
At 12:27 PM, October 16, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

john moulder:

I couldn't understand your position on the Gulf War I thing -- it seemed so perfectly straightforward -- until I realized that we seem to be using the word "ally" differently. I think it's just semantics. You apparently are understanding the word in the sense that there are diplomatic relations (shaky in the case of Syria) with those countries, rather than open hostility (like with Iran). It was I who used the term, and the meaning I intended was an ally in supporting -- even diplomatically: "You're doing the right thing, guys" -- the invasion of Iraq.

In the first Gulf War, terrified that Saddam might move next on Saudi Arabia and become a regional superpower, the Arab League supported the invasion, and even sent troops. They'd have been gone in a heartbeat if Bush had pressed on. Some others would probably have gone too; it took a lot of work as it was keeping Russia and France on board.

In the present war, the only Arab "ally" in the sense that I intended it, approving of and supporting the invasion of Iraq, is Kuwait; the Arab League, in fact, condemned it. So he hasn't lost any allies, because he never had any (except Kuwait). Got it? The Arab League participated in GW I. The Arab League condemned GW II.

You said "Coalition troops in the present Iraq war command the field & except for a few car bombs, a few snipers & and an occasional roadside bomb, are not even engaged by the terrorist ‘forces.’"

Oh, well, if there's no uniformed army fighting textbook campaigns, marching out en masse to be slaughtered by American air- and firepower, I guess this Iraq thing isn't serious at all. I hadn't looked at it that way before. I guess it's just a few thugs and dead-enders, as the Administration claimed a few months after the invasion, and as Cheney said in May, the insurgency is in its last throes. It's just a few troublemakers. 54 Americans killed and 97 wounded in September. Is that all? Just "a few car bombs, a few snipers & and an occasional roadside bomb". Piece of cake.

It must be nice to have such a rosy outlook.

Colin Powell wrote to Assad thanking him for his "invaluable help" in pursuing terrorists, and spent a cordial meeting with him in Damascus during which he pressed Assad for yet more cooperation. Relations with Syria have been and remain thorny, to say the least, but the U.S. acknowledged that they were providing valuable information. Then the U.S. condemned Syria for its porous border with Iraq -- which I'm not criticizing, by the way -- and in May 2005, Syria formally withdrew its support for the War on Terror. (That's distinct from the Iraq invasion, you understand; Syria provided information relating to Al Qaeda, but it never condoned the invasion.)

Here's another definition of fascism: "hyperbolic political epithet". That's the meaning I intended. :) (Yeah, you're right, applying it to Bush is over the top.)

According to your definition, Saddam was an "Islamofascist" because he was a fascist who happened to be a Muslim. That's a long way from what I take to be the commonly held definition, that Islamofascism is politicized Islamic fundamentalism, a la Al Queda, Jemaah Islamiyah, and other, similar, fundamentalist lunatic groups. When I use the word, that's the meaning I intend: politicized Islamic fundamentalism.

Saddam's Iraq, on the other hand, was secular. Saddam killed every Islamic fundamentalist he could get his hands on, because he didn't want the people's loyalty directed to any cause but the cult of Saddam.

The terrorists' excuse? Simple: Fighting the occupying troops of The Great Satan. (You've telegraphed your intention to attack me for "offering an excuse for the terrorists". I can sense the accusation coming, but it's unfounded. It's not an excuse that I'm offering or one that I justify or support, but I'm saying it's the one they're using.) And every bomb or tank shell that causes "collateral damage", every checkpoint killing of innocent Iraqis by nervous 19-year-olds, creates more terrorists. Ask Rumsfeld if the American presence is creating more terrorists than they're taking out. He was musing about that a year or so ago, if I recall.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 2:55 PM, October 16, 2005, Anonymous john moulder said...

Tequilamockingbird, the US can’t be implementing foreign policy on the basis of whether the Arab League officially approves or not. Frankly, I would be suspicious of anything the Arab League approved.

An Arab government(or league) not officially “approving of and supporting the invasion of Iraq” is very much different than ‘losing’ an Arab ally. The Bush administration does business with many Arab governments & isn’t ‘losing’ any Arab allies.

Tequilamockingbird said of the terrorists in Iraq: I guess it's just a few thugs and dead-enders … Exactly. A piece of cake & no trouble to speak of for our soldiers to handle. As wars go, 54 kills in a whole month isn’t a lot – that’s about what one would expect from a few car bombs, a few snipers & and an occasional roadside bomb. I do have a “rosy outlook” when it comes to the ability our military to beat the terrorists in Iraq, I have no reason not to. Read Michael Yon.

Tequilamockingbird said: “Saddam's Iraq, on the other hand, was secular. Saddam killed every Islamic fundamentalist he could get his hands on, because he didn't want the people's loyalty directed to any cause but the cult of Saddam.”

I guess Saddam couldn’t get his “hands on” Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the 1993 WTC bombers that he harbored for 10 years. Or Abdul Nidal, one of the world’s best known terrorists, whom he also harbored & whom he probably did eventually murder – I guess Nidal had outlived his usefulness. Tequilamockingbird, terrorist organizations have a difficult time terrorizing unless they are harbored, nurtured & financed by rogue nations like Syria, Iran, Palestine & once upon a time, Iraq. It is one of the left’s most cherished myths, clung to like a long lost sister, that Saddam wouldn’t have anything to do with terrorists.

Tequilamockingbird is worried that the “ … American presence[in Iraq] is creating more terrorists.

We can be thankful that there weren’t very many Americans that thought like tequilamockingbird during WW2 because no doubt when the US fought Hitler the US ‘created’ more Nazis. Hitler even put some children & elderly on the front line, so I guess the US created underage & overage Nazis.

By angering the terrorists the US ‘creates’ terrorists, so the US must not do anything that makes the terrorists angry - that’s how I read the liberal line of reasoning & it doesn’t make sense to me. I think the terrorists’ reason to terrorize the Iraqis is that they do not want another Middle Eastern government to be friendly toward the US because having all these US-friendly Middle Eastern governments do not bode well for the Caliphate the terrorists want to foist on the world. It’s not part of bin Laden’s plan.

 
At 4:31 PM, October 16, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

john moulder,

Wow, you're real strong on this "Arab ally" point, aren't you? I think you're wrong -- and pretty stubborn on this particular point -- but I won't bother saying it again.

Okay. Iraq is a cakewalk and the deaths and injuries are insignificant. There's two points disposed of.

Abdul Rahman Yasin and Abu Nidal -- they lived murky, shadowy lives, and the facts you cite are disputed. Maybe they're true; maybe they're not.

The "supporting terrorists" premise is a lot better than your spurious comparison to World War II. That's nonsense, although Bush trots it out regularly. Iraq was a war of choice, an aggressive war, against a weak opponent who even his own neighbors didn't fear. WW II was the opposite. "Created more Nazis, etc.": Really, that's foolish. You can do better than that.

"The U.S. must not do anything that makes the terrorists angry". That doesn't make sense to me either. And frankly, I don't know what the U.S. should do, but I don't think "stay the course" is the answer. Withdraw, as Gen. Odom recommends? Double the troops, perhaps? Gen. Shinseki said it would take "several hundred thousand troops". Maybe then the U.S. could hold the areas it takes. "As the Iraqis stand up, the Americans will stand down"? Another Bush refrain. If 150,000 U.S. troops can't control the insurgency -- and they can't -- can 150,000 Iraqis? Why not add the two together and have a force of 300,000?

I don't pretend to know the answer. Nor should you. What I do know is that Bush should not have plunged the world into this hellscape in the first place.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 8:40 PM, October 16, 2005, Blogger Holmes said...

Tequila,

"Hellscape." That's the real issue here and what Neo's original post is about. How well is the war going (regardless of its justifications)? Most people do not know because the NY Times et al is giving a completely biased view, which has been analyzed on this site and others. Your version of the NYT article is not what people want to hear either- whitewashing. We want a candid view absent as much bias as possible. And now the nation has taken the historic step of ratifying a Constitution. So put down your anti-Bush pom-poms for a moment and celebrate with the civilized world.

 
At 10:12 PM, October 16, 2005, Anonymous john moulder said...

tequilamockingbird: Wow, you're real strong on this "Arab ally" point, aren't you? I think you're wrong -- and pretty stubborn on this particular point -- but I won't bother saying it again.

If by “stubborn” you mean I wont let you get away with fuzzy implications, I plead guilty. Not only has the US not lost any Arab allies, there was not a single government, Arab or otherwise, that supported Saddam with any official pronouncements in his favor or on his behalf. All diplomatic rhetoric emphasized being against the war(at that particular time – not in the future), with nothing stated about Saddam’s innocence or as undeserving of his fate. In diplomacy it’s sometimes what’s not said that has the most significance.

Abdul Rahman Yasin and Abu Nidal -- they lived murky, shadowy lives, and the facts you cite are disputed. Maybe they're true; maybe they're not.

I would expect anti-warriors to dispute Saddam’s association with terrorists. Such associations would clash with the cherished Liberal myth that Saddam was no threat to the US. On Yasin, here’s an excerpt from a USA Today article:

“A U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity said translators and analysts are busy "separating the gems from the junk." The official said some of the analysts have concluded that the documents show that Saddam's government provided monthly payments and a home for Yasin.”
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-09-17-iraq-wtc_x.htm

On Nidal: Here’s an excerpt from an AP report carried by the Portsmouth Herald:

“ … in Beirut, Abu Nidal’s organization[the Fatah-Revolutionary Council, a terrorist organization] claimed he had entered Iraq "with the full knowledge and preparations of the Iraqi authorities."

"We don’t know exactly the reason behind his assassination," one of its members, Mahmoud Issa, told the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite news channel. "We were in contact with him, and he had not spoken of any suspicion or anything that would endanger his life."


The speculation is that Saddam was beginning to be embarrassed by Nidal’s high profile presence. Nidal was one of the more infamous of the terrorist leaders. Perhaps Saddam was hoping to use Nidal for his own purposes & Nidal proved too independent. Perhaps Nidal knew that torture would be his fate when they came for him & Nidal actually took his own life. We’ll probably never know but we do know he spent 3 years in Baghdad.
http://www.seacoastonline.com/2002news/08222002/world/20426.htm

Here’s another terrorist harbored by Saddam that I haven’t mentioned before:

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2003 – Coalition special operations personnel in Baghdad captured Palestinian terrorist Abu Abbas April 14, U.S. Central Command officials said today.

Abu Abbas, also known as Mohammad Abbas, planned the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. In the course of that hijacking a wheelchair-bound American citizen, Leon Klinghoffer, was murdered.

Abbas lived in a southern Baghdad. "Abbas was described as the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Front," said Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks during a briefing at Qatar. "Abu Abbas is a terrorist. He was a terrorist and he remains a terrorist, and he will be viewed as such."

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Apr2003/n04162003_200304161.html

tequilamockingbird: What I do know is that Bush should not have plunged the world into this hellscape in the first place.

Hyperbole never serves a debater well. A few car bombs, a few snipers & and an occasional roadside bomb resulting in 54 military deaths last month, sad & brave though they were, do not a “world hellscape” make.

The "supporting terrorists" premise is a lot better than your spurious comparison to World War II. That's nonsense, although Bush trots it out regularly. Iraq was a war of choice, an aggressive war, against a weak opponent who even his own neighbors didn't fear. WW II was the opposite. "Created more Nazis, etc.": Really, that's foolish. You can do better than that.

What I find foolish is the cockeyed logic that says if you fight an enemy you create an enemy & therefore should never fight an enemy.

Tequilamockingbird: I don't pretend to know the answer. Nor should you.

I don’t know if this qualifies as knowing “the answer;” I only know what I would like my government to do. I would like for the US to continue organizing & training the Iraqi army & police forces, to continue to foster democracy, elections & self-government, to bring most of the soldiers back only when the Iraqi’s are strong enough to stand on their own feet – even if it takes a couple more years. After the US gets out I would want the US to give them economic & military aid & not cut aid off like the US did with South Vietnam. I would also want some US military presence there for some years in the future in case one of their neighbors decides to try to take them over. My fear is that folks who feel as you feel will force the US to prematurely cut & run & leave Iraq to be eaten up by the Jihadists.

 
At 5:02 PM, October 17, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

john moulder,

You sometimes have some decent points, but you make a lot of specious arguments.

Unlike the first time around, Saddam's neighbors condemned the Iraq invasion. I don't know how to make you see reason on this particular point, and I won't continue to try. It seems you're being wilfully obtuse.

Funny you should quote the USA Today article on Abdul Rahman Yasin. Before my last post, I did a bit of looking around and read the same article. I thought of using the two concluding paragraphs from it:

"Even if the new information holds up — and intelligence and law enforcement officials disagree on its conclusiveness — the links tying Yasin, Saddam and al-Qaeda are tentative.

"The World Trade Center bombing was carried out by a group headed by Ramzi Yousef, who is serving a 240-year prison term. Federal authorities say Yousef's group received financial support from al-Qaeda via Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. But a direct al-Qaeda role in the 1993 attack hasn't been established."

But since the article is ambivalent, and makes points that support your argument as well, I decided it wouldn't be fair to use it. Cherry-picking reference sources for those points that support your thesis, while ignoring others that contradict it, "never serves a debater well". (Although it seems to do very well indeed for the Bush Administration.)

Re Nidal, your summary is that what you do know is that he spent three years in Baghdad. That does not prove a link with Saddam.
Ditto Abbas. The fact that he lived in Baghdad for a time is not proof of ties to Saddam.

You said: "Hyperbole never serves a debater well." (Once again, it seems to serve "mushroom cloud" Rice and the rest of the war salesmen on the White House Iraq Group very well indeed in manipulating public opinion.) "A few car bombs, a few snipers & and an occasional roadside bomb resulting in 54 military deaths last month, sad & brave though they were, do not a “world hellscape” make."

As I said, it must be nice to have such a rosy view. Seen the polls lately? Your views are a diminishing minority.

I didn't respond to your post immediately. The next site I visited was Google News, where I read this:

"U.S. warplanes and helicopters bombed two western villages, killing an estimated 70 militants near a site where five American soldiers died in a weekend roadside blast, the military said Monday. Residents said at least 39 of the dead were civilians."

"Officials" said they were all insurgents. How do you bomb a village selectively, hitting only insurgents? Don't you think what these "officials" said is patent nonsense? Do you think the Administration spokespeople are strictly honest in their statements? I certainly don't.

Have you seen the "Ride of the Valkyrie" sequence in "Apocalypse Now"? Anything like that happening in Iraq these days, do you think? "How do you shoot women and children?" "Easy: You just don't lead 'em so much." 20,000-plus dead Iraqi civilians, but hey, who's counting? They're just Iraqis. A little closer to "hellscape" than just counting U.S. troops?

As far as the "world" part goes, I'm referring to the terrorist actions like the bombings in Madrid and London and others -- and others certain to come, including inside the U.S. -- that will be caused by the hatred fostered by the invasion of Iraq. (One of the unsuccessful London bombers who was caught said "We weren't sitting around talking about religion; we were watching videos of the slaughter in Fallujah.") The world is a far more dangerous place today than it was, for one major reason: Iraq.

You said: "What I find foolish is the cockeyed logic that says if you fight an enemy you create an enemy & therefore should never fight an enemy."

That's not what I said or implied; you're twisting my words.

Here's a quotation on point: "I don't think that you can kill the insurgency," said W. Andrew Terrill, professor at the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, the top expert on Iraq there. According to Terrill, the anti-U.S. insurgency, centered in the Sunni triangle, and holding several key cities and towns, including Fallujah, is expanding and becoming more capable as a direct consequence of U.S. policy. "We have a growing, maturing insurgency group," he told me. "We see larger and more coordinated military attacks. They are getting better and they can self-regenerate. The idea there are X number of insurgents and when they're all dead we can get out is wrong. The insurgency has shown an ability to regenerate itself because there are people willing to fill the ranks of those who are killed. The political culture is more hostile to the U.S. presence. The longer we stay, the more they are confirmed in that view."

Here's Porter Goss: "Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists. These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism.

"They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries ... The Iraq conflict, while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists."

And finally, while I don't often see eye to eye with Pat Buchanan, here's an excerpt from an article of his dated July 13 titled "Why Are They Killing Us?"

"Few Americans have given more thought to the motivation of suicide-bombers than Robert Pape, author of "Dying to Win: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism." His book is drawn from an immense database on every suicide-bomb attack from 1980 to early 2004. Conclusion: The claim that 9-11 and the suicide bombings in Iraq are done to advance some jihad by "Islamofascists" against the West is not only unsubstantiated, it is hollow.

"Islamic fundamentalism is not as closely associated with suicide terrorism as many people think," Pape tells the American Conservative in its July 18 issue. Indeed, the world's leader in suicide terror was the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. This secular Marxist group "invented the famous suicide vest for their suicide assassination of Rajiv Ghandi in May 1991. The Palestinians got the idea of the vest from the Tamil Tigers."

"But if the aim of suicide bombers is not to advance Islamism in a war of civilizations, what is its purpose? Pape's conclusion:

"[S]uicide-terrorist attacks are not so much driven by religion as by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide terrorist campaign – over 95 percent of all incidents – has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

"The 9-11 terrorists were over here because we were over there. They are not trying to convert us. They are killing us to drive us out of their countries.

"Before the U.S. invasion, says Pape, "Iraq never had a suicide attack in its history. Since our invasion, suicide terrorism has been escalating rapidly, with 20 attacks in 2003, 48 in 2004 and over 50 in just the first five months of 2005. Every year since the U.S. invasion, suicide terrorism has doubled ... Far from making us safer against terrorism, the operation in Iraq has stimulated suicide terrorists and has given suicide terrorism a new lease on life."

"Pape is saying that President Bush has got it backward: The Iraq war is not eradicating terrorism, it is creating terrorists.

"The good news? "The history of the last 20 years" shows that once the troops of the occupying democracies "withdraw from the homeland of the terrorists, they often stop – and stop on a dime."

"Between 1982 and 1986, there were 41 suicide-bomb attacks on U.S., French, and Israeli targets in Lebanon. When U.S. and French troops withdrew and Israel pulled back to a six-mile buffer zone, suicide-bombings virtually ceased. When the Israelis left Lebanon, the Lebanese suicide-bombers did not follow them to Tel Aviv.

"Since suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation and not Islamic fundamentalism," says Pape, "the use of heavy military force to transform Muslim societies ... is only likely to increase the number of suicide terrorists coming at us."

"What Pape is saying is that the neocons' "World War IV" – our invading Islamic countries to overthrow regimes and convert them into democracies – is suicidal, like stomping on an anthill so as not to be bitten by ants. It is the presence of U.S. troops in Islamic lands that is the progenitor of suicide terrorism.

"Bush's cure for terrorism is a cause of the epidemic. The doctor is spreading the disease. The longer we stay in Iraq, the greater the number of suicide attacks we can expect. The sooner we get our troops out, the sooner terrorism over there and over here will end. So Pape says the data proves. This is the precise opposite of what George Bush argues and believes.

"How would we defend our vital interests in the Gulf?

"Answers Pape: As we did in the 1970s and 1980s. By getting our troops out, removing the cause of suicide-terror, leaving behind stocked bases and putting U.S. carrier and air forces over the horizon to ensure the Gulf oil flows. But unless and until American troops are withdrawn from the Middle East, the suicide attacks continue."

Wilfully obtuse, cherry-picking evidence, and twisting what I say, all in one message. I'm losing interest in this discussion.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 12:12 AM, October 18, 2005, Anonymous john moulder said...

Tequilamockingbird said: “ … since the article is ambivalent, and makes points that support your argument as well, I decided it wouldn't be fair to use it. Cherry-picking reference sources for those points that support your thesis, while ignoring others that contradict it, "never serves a debater well".

I used excerpts relevant to the point I was making & provided a link to the article. That’s not cherry-picking. My point was not that Saddam had provable links to al Qaeda, Osama & 9/11, I never contended that Saddam or even Yasin had such ties, but simply that Saddam harbored wanted terrorists. Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the terrorists Saddam harbored, as far as I know has no direct ties to 9/11 – he is wanted for the 1993 bombing of the basement of the WTC. Nothing in the article & nothing you’ve quoted from the article contradicts that point. The article might be confusing unless it is read carefully.

Tequilamockingbird said: Re Nidal, your summary is that what you do know is that he spent three years in Baghdad. That does not prove a link with Saddam.
Ditto Abbas. The fact that he lived in Baghdad for a time is not proof of ties to Saddam.


Everyone else in the world knew Yasin, Nidal & Abbas were in Iraq yet you contend Saddam did not know. You’re consistent, I’ll say that much for you.

Tequilamockingbird said: As I said, it must be nice to have such a rosy view. Seen the polls lately? Your views are a diminishing minority.

I’ve read about the polls. Indeed, it looks like more & more Americans are tiring of the war. Folks that feel as you do & the negative coverage by the MSM are having the desired effect. I hope for the sake of Iraq & the long term safety of the US that Bush has the guts to hold out against public opinion.

Tequilamockingbird said: I didn't respond to your post immediately. The next site I visited was Google News, where I read this: "U.S. warplanes and helicopters bombed two western villages, killing an estimated 70 militants near a site where five American soldiers died in a weekend roadside blast, the military said Monday. Residents said at least 39 of the dead were civilians."

"Officials" said they were all insurgents. How do you bomb a village selectively, hitting only insurgents? Don't you think what these "officials" said is patent nonsense? Do you think the Administration spokespeople are strictly honest in their statements? I certainly don't.


I’ll wait & see before I make a judgement. For example, I would want to know the sources. I’ve become wary of media hype & staging, especially after neoneocon’s posts about Tuvia Grossman & “Pallywood” at the “Second Draft” site. Of course the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America(CAMERA) site was another revelation in regards to media bias, inaccuracies & falsehoods. But let’s say the story is accurate. Do you really think it is possible to conduct war without civilian deaths? You commented early on that you approved of the first Gulf war & the Afghanistan war. Do you think there were no civilian deaths in those wars?

Tequilamockingbird said: Have you seen the "Ride of the Valkyrie" sequence in "Apocalypse Now"? Anything like that happening in Iraq these days, do you think? "How do you shoot women and children?" "Easy: You just don't lead 'em so much." 20,000-plus dead Iraqi civilians, but hey, who's counting? They're just Iraqis. A little closer to "hellscape" than just counting U.S. troops?

I’ve viewed “Apocalypse Now” 2 or 3 times. I think it’s a pretty good movie & would have been even better except Martin Sheen was miscast. It’s typically Hollywood in its viewpoint toward Vietnam although the script had some wonderful & justifiably famous lines, such as Robert Duvall’s: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” But the movie has about as much relationship to reality as an Eskimo has to a palm tree. And I’ll admit that Iraq has been fairly hellish in spots. Of course, Iraq would be a lot less hellish if only the terrorists would cease their terrorism. But you did say, “Bush should not have plunged the world into this hellscape.” Let me rephrase: A war in Iraq, which is one country, does not a “world hellscape” make.

Tequilamockingbird said: As far as the "world" part goes, I'm referring to the terrorist actions like the bombings in Madrid and London and others -- and others certain to come, including inside the U.S. -- that will be caused by the hatred fostered by the invasion of Iraq. (One of the unsuccessful London bombers who was caught said "We weren't sitting around talking about religion; we were watching videos of the slaughter in Fallujah.") The world is a far more dangerous place today than it was, for one major reason: Iraq.

There were plenty of terrorist attacks before the present war in Iraq. How do you explain those?

On Professor Terrill: I don’t contend that “there are X number of insurgents and when they're all dead we can get out.” The terrorism in Iraq will no doubt continue after US troops leave. I don’t see the Islamofascists being happy about a democratic Iraq. My guess is that terrorism will be something the Iraqis have to cope with for a long time – somewhat like the way Israel has had to endure terrorism, off & on, for many years.

Tequilamockingbird said: You said: "What I find foolish is the cockeyed logic that says if you fight an enemy you create an enemy & therefore should never fight an enemy." That's not what I said or implied; you're twisting my words.

Well, maybe I’m wrong. Could sum up your real philosophy in one sentence?

On Porter Goss: He states the obvious. But if they didn’t have Iraq the Islamofascists would just find some other pretense for their murder. They’ve been using Israel for years. Now they have a new buzzword: Iraq. We can’t stop fighting terrorists because it makes the terrorists angry.

On Buchanan & Pape: I haven’t read Pape’s book but I did read an article he wrote for the New York Times which was about his views on the subject. I thought his methodology & conclusions were seriously flawed & wrote a debunk back in August at this link: http://spareeye.blogspot.com/2005/08/robert-pape-plausible-stats-lousy.html

BTW, would you mind when you quote various sources(like Goss, Terrill & Buchanan) to provide a link to them?

 
At 12:59 PM, October 18, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

john moulder,

OK. I'll get back to you. Sorry.

Well, actually I don't know how to provide a link. But I'll tell you where they're found.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 3:50 PM, October 18, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Ah, I see what you mean: copy & paste. I don't know how to leave a link like neo-neocon does that's underlined in blue and you just click on it.

Terrill, Sydney Blumenthal in Salon:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6914.htm


Goss:

http://www.macombdaily.com/stories/022105/opi_defrank001.shtml


Buchanan:

http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45259

I'm very impressed with your blog. Good work.

I'm new at this, but maybe I'll be seeing you around.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 7:22 PM, October 18, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Okay, some of our first disagreement is the "harboring" vs. "link with". Maybe the misunderstanding is on my part. I knew they were there and I'm not contending they weren't. I was arguing that it wasn't proven that they acted in concert with Saddam. That's different than "harboring", which of course is the term you used.

"Do you really think it is possible to conduct war without civilian deaths?" Of course not, John, but once again, I didn't say that I did. I used the quoted passage to justify my use of the word "hellscape", that there were tens of thousands of Iraqi dead as well as U.S. troops.

"There were plenty of terrorist attacks before the present war in Iraq. How do you explain those?"

Simple. There are a lot of violent hate-filled lunatics out there. Some of them are "politicized Islamic fundamentalists" (we can go back to "Islamofascist" for shorthand purposes, I think, as long as we recognize each other's interpretations of the term). Some of them are Irish republicans; some of them are Irish loyalists. Some of them are U.S. good old boys like Timothy McVeigh.

"Could you sum up your real philosophy in one sentence?" No.

"Now they have a new buzzword: Iraq." I think it's more than a buzzword; it's inflamed Muslim opinion throughout the world. If I'm radicalized into opposition of the war, what's it like for hotheaded young Muslims attending Madrasses in Pakistan or listening to radical clerics in London or Dayton, Ohio? I'm not going to go out and plant any bombs, let alone wrap myself up in them. Some of them already have. More of them will.

Without quoting any references, I'll try to express how I feel about it.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq I considered myself to be pretty well informed, but not super interested in politics. I'm Canadian. If I were American, my leanings would be Democratic, but I'm not a left-wing wacko (at least I don't think I am). I didn't like Reagan, but I wasn't real big on Carter either. I had no complaints with Bush I, and I thought he waged GW I very skillfully. I liked Clinton; I just wish he could have kept his pants zipped. The invasion of Iraq radicalized me.

I was stunned by 9/11. It was 7:30 on the West Coast when a girlfriend called me from North Carolina in tears, saying "My country is under attack." Unbelievable. There was a tiny, insignificant number of terrorists and fanatical America haters around the world who didn't sympathize deeply with the U.S. on that day. (I haven't personally known or even heard of anyone who didn't). The headline in "Le Monde" was "We are all Americans."

Like a lot of people, I was worried that Bush would take violent and precipitate action. I had never heard of ObL or AQ, but it rapidly became apparent that they were indeed the perpetrators, and they were being harbored by the Taliban. Fine: Go get 'em!

Funny, though. The news was saturated with ObL and AQ through November, December, January, and then the trail seemed to peter out in the hills of Afghanistan. The Administration made optimistic noises, but as weeks dragged into months without ObL or Omar being flushed out, surprisingly, there seemed to be less and less enthusiasm from the White House; Afghanistan slowly seemed to fade off the radar screen. As spring became summer, I started hearing the word "Saddam" more and more.

I'd never heard of PNAC at that time. But I came to realize that it had been waiting for its chance for almost a decade, and that PNAC and similar or allied conservative movements knew from the day Bush was appointed that their hour had come, and all they needed was a pretext. Saddam was mentioned as a potential target at a White House meeting on 9/12. Wolfowitz was ready, and he pressed his argument.

After that, it was just a matter of time. The invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 or any so-called "War on Terror". (I hate that expression; you can't make war on a noun, be it Poverty or Drugs or Terror.) It was the culmination of a decade of preparation by a group of people who had gained ascendancy in the Administration, and their ideological allies like Kristol and Perle. (I shudder inwardly when I see Perle's cold, dead, hooded eyes on TV).

All that remained was to dupe the American public -- screw the rest of the world; Bush made his contempt for world opinion plain -- into thinking that there was some justification for the grand plan, some way to sell it to the suckers. And they found their mantra: "Weapons of Mass Destruction". That was the phrase that did it for them. (It wasn't new; PNAC had been tossing it around for years).

If they had said, "We're going to embark on a bloody years-long invasion and occupation of Iraq, and we're going to lose 2,000-plus American lives and spend hundreds of billions of dollars to bring freedom and democracy to the oppressed Iraqi people, and then, as the Iraquis stand up, we're going to stand down and come back home", they would have been denounced as lunatics and Bush would have been forced out of office.

The plan of PNAC et al, I believe, is to establish and nurture a puppet government in Iraq (something the U.S. has had considerable experience with in the last 60 years) which would guarantee a secure supply of oil. The Saudis are shaky, Iran is Iran, Venezuela has Chavez.

As well, the U.S. could establish military fortresses that would serve as bases for future attacks on the Middle East enemy du jour and to keep Iraqi dissidents in line and to line, and an enormous fortified embassy that could serve as a spy center and listening center that could (as I've said before, but I like the image) hear a pin drop from Cairo to Kandahar.

That should ensure U.S. world domination for decades to come. Now, about those pesky and fertile Chinese ... well, that's for the next generation of right-thinkers to deal with, like Perle acolyte David Frum (he's even getting the eye thing pretty close).

We (meaning the world) have been had by a small group of American megalomaniacs. And there's a rather larger group of Americans who don't mind at all the idea of U.S. world domination. Plenty of the people on this blog are contemptuous of world opinion, multilateral action, and international cooperation.

I've seen Clinton's term described as "benevolent hegemony". That's a lot more palatable to the rest of the world than a belligerent, arrogant, aggressive, omnipotent hegemony which is willing to impose its will by force on a unilateral world.

Can't we all just get along?

Writing certainly helps to crystallize one's thoughts. I've only just developed this "world domination" theory while writing this. So far, it eems eminently sensible.

tequilamockingbird

p.s. If you want to reply, fine; but I think we should leave this cozy little den and resume our discussion somewhere in public.

 
At 9:52 PM, October 18, 2005, Anonymous john moulder said...

Tequilamockingbird: I think you are a good person with good motives but that you are simply wrong in some of your basic assumptions. If we were to sit down at a kitchen table & have coffee I’m sure that we would find many areas of life with which we could agree. Please know that I respect your opinions even though I debate them.

Tequilamockingbird: I was arguing that it wasn't proven that they acted in concert with Saddam. That's different than "harboring", which of course is the term you used.

Saddam harbored wanted terrorists. These were fugitives wanted by a variety of countries for multiple murders & Saddam let them stay in his country, even providing housing & a money allowance for at least one that it is known about. I’m sure there was even more to his relationships with these murderers, especially considering the murderous ruthlessness of Saddam himself, but nothing provable as in a court of law. Your original statement was:

Saddam killed every Islamic fundamentalist he could get his hands on, because he didn't want the people's loyalty directed to any cause but the cult of Saddam.

I’ve seen & heard the same sort of assertion many times. But it’s wishful thinking & demonstrably untrue. But it is a cherished anti-war sentiment & anti-warriors cling to it like shipwrecked sailors.

You: "Do you really think it is possible to conduct war without civilian deaths?" Of course not, John, but once again, I didn't say that I did. I used the quoted passage to justify my use of the word "hellscape", that there were tens of thousands of Iraqi dead as well as U.S. troops.

My objection was not with “hellscape.” It was the linking of “hellscape” with “world” to imply a worldwide conflagration brought on by Bush. I find that sort of overexcited hyperbolic implication very typical of Bush-haters.

You: Have you seen the "Ride of the Valkyrie" sequence in "Apocalypse Now"? Anything like that happening in Iraq these days, do you think? "How do you shoot women and children?" "Easy: You just don't lead 'em so much." 20,000-plus dead Iraqi civilians, but hey, who's counting? They're just Iraqis. A little closer to "hellscape" than just counting U.S. troops?

Frequently, when anti-warriors are pinned down, like when I pointed out that, as wars go, there really weren’t very many military casualties in Iraq, an anti-warrior will play the “civilian casualty” card. That’s why I always start such debates by getting on record the anti-warrior’s viewpoint on wars in general. Usually it turns out that if it’s a war they approve of, civilian casualties turn out to be a regrettable necessity. If it’s a war of which they disapprove then civilian deaths become proof of the present Iraq war’s immorality.

Also, the civilian deaths in Iraq are always implicitly characterized as caused solely by Coalition occupation forces. But many of these civilians died during the invasion of Iraq & the initial destruction of Saddam’s military & many others were caused entirely by terrorist actions, such as when young Iraqi men are blown up at military & police recruiting stations. One thing is for certain, there would be few to none civilian deaths now if the terrorists would cease their terrorism.

Me, in an earlier comment: "There were plenty of terrorist attacks before the present war in Iraq. How do you explain those?"

You: Simple. There are a lot of violent hate-filled lunatics out there. Some of them are "politicized Islamic fundamentalists" (we can go back to "Islamofascist" for shorthand purposes, I think, as long as we recognize each other's interpretations of the term). Some of them are Irish republicans; some of them are Irish loyalists. Some of them are U.S. good old boys like Timothy McVeigh.

I believe our debate here is about the "politicized Islamic fundamentalists." You wrote … I'm referring to the terrorist actions like the bombings in Madrid and London and others -- and others certain to come, including inside the U.S. -- that will be caused by the hatred fostered by the invasion of Iraq.

So again I ask you: If, as you claim, the present Iraq war is causing & will cause "politicized Islamic fundamentalists" terror attacks, how do you explain the "politicized Islamic fundamentalists" terror attacks before the present Iraq war?

I asked you, “Could you sum up your real philosophy in one sentence?" And you replied, “No.” Well then, let me take a different approach – correct the wrong parts of the following sentence:

The US should not fight terrorists because fighting terrorists causes young Muslims to become terrorists.

Is there any part of the preceding sentence with which you disagree?

I found your “world domination” theory to be interesting. Let me pose a hypothetical question: Assuming the world is going to be dominated, what entity would you have as the dominator?

Btw, thanks for the compliment on my blog.

 
At 10:01 AM, October 19, 2005, Blogger contratimes said...

Dear Mr. Moulder and Tequilamockingbird,

Sadly, it seems, I am stepping into a genial and thoughtful argument as it draws to a close.

First, I am at a loss that any person should think that Iraq and 9/11 are unrelated. In fact, there is a CAUSAL link between Iraq and 9/11. Doubt me? Alright. Let me prove my point.

Can we all agree that ObL and Al Qaida are responsible for the attacks on America in September 2001? If so, then who better to tell us why 9/11 happened than ObL, no?

Here is what ObL said in his 1998 fatwa against the US:

"First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.

"If some people have formerly debated the fact of the occupation, all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it.

"The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, still they are helpless. Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, in excess of 1 million... despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation. ..."


Hence, the only conclusion one can draw is that IRAQ is the reason America was attacked. In short, Iraq is not only centrally but causally linked to 9/11.

The only debatable point then is whether invading Iraq was the right strategy in the War on Terror. But it is either ignorance or sheer propaganda (or something even more devilish, like self-deception), that insists that Iraq is not massively linked to 9/11.

(In fact, had Saddam Hussein never invaded Kuwait, the entire America/Iraq conflict would never have begun, and thus we would not be talking about ObL right now. Of course, we could follow the causal chain all the way back to Adam and Eve, but that would be fruitless, no?)

Second, it is curious to note that there is a tremendous amount of concern about America, through its military actions, producing "more terrorists". That may indeed be cause for concern, if in fact it is true. But what is overlooked is also of concern: that survivors of terrorist attacks, like the orphaned children of 9/11 or those left fatherless after a roadside bomb kills an American father/soldier, also may grow into terrorists. Do we think that those children whose parents were killed in 9/11 will be Islamic apologists in a few years? Do we think that the victims of the Spain attacks will grow up blaming themselves? The answer no doubt to both questions is yes and no: Some victims will be sympathetic to their attackers, others will not. My suspicion is that the same may be said of victims of America's alleged aggression.

Two quick thoughts: The only reason GB I was able to build a "viable" coalition in the "first" Gulf War was because he promised not to depose Hussein or invade Baghdad. To compare his coalition with his son's is patently silly: their objectives were completely different. Besides, had GWB had a larger coalition than his dad's -- with France and Russia and China and South Africa in hearty support -- Bush would still be vilified by those who scoff at his current coalition.

Lastly, it is hard to posit "World Domination" when considering American politics. Why? Because presidents and congresses come and go: they change every two, four, and six years. A president elected knows that the first term is in large part consumed by campaigning for the next. If there is any criticism that should be leveled at America it is this: Its foreign policy CHANGES too often, and is contingent upon who has won - usually for a short term (eight years max) - control of the White House and Congress. The democratic process often endangers stability in world affairs. As such, it is impossible for such an elastic political process to have a strategy of world domination.

Do with this as you will. I appreciate the passion and thoroughness of the exchange between Mr. Moulder (nice blog) and Tequilamockingbird (you should have a blog. Not having one is sort of cheating.)

Peace to you all,

BG

 
At 7:11 PM, October 19, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Hi, contratimes. I thought we were all alone here.

john: Thanks for the good thoughts. I agree; I'm sure we have lots of common ground. The respect is mutual. Thank you. I've enjoyed our discussion.

But I guess we're obliged to get back to the differences.

"Saddam killed every Islamic fundamentalist he could get his hands on, because he didn't want the people's loyalty directed to any cause but the cult of Saddam."

I surrender. That was wrong. I hope, in return, you'll admit that Saddam -- how shall I put this -- "discouraged" Islamic fundamentalism (I myself would consider the prospect of beheading pretty discouraging). While he may have supported these guys' aims -- Death to the Great Satan -- Saddam's Iraq was generally hostile to Islamic fundamentalism. Iraq was in no way an Islamic fundamentalist state.

If there are radical Muslims preaching jihad in Dayton, Ohio, is the U.S. "harboring terrorists"? Show me the connection. Saddam may have agreed with them and tolerated their presence. I'm not trying to portray Saddam as a dedicated anti-terrorist.

"I’ve seen & heard the same sort of assertion many times. But it’s wishful thinking & demonstrably untrue. But it is a cherished anti-war sentiment & anti-warriors cling to it like shipwrecked sailors."

Well, john, I think it's semantics again. I'll agree with you that I was wrong in asserting that he killed every (whatever it was) he got his hands on. Will you admit in return that he (SH) brooked no rivalry to the cult of Saddam, and that Islamic fundamentalism (Islamofascism?) was not an important force in Saddam's Iraq?

"My objection was not with “hellscape.” It was the linking of “hellscape” with “world” to imply a worldwide conflagration brought on by Bush. I find that sort of overexcited hyperbolic implication very typical of Bush-haters."

I'm proud of my credentials as a bona fide Bush-hater, but it's not personal; it's a hatred of the Bush administration and their loathsome objectives. My enmity is not with the monkey but with the organ-grinder.

The phrase "worldwide hellscape" is overblown -- so far -- I admit. But we in Europe always have this in the back of our minds whenever we buy a subway, rail, or air ticket -- is one of these backpack-wearing fellow travellers :) a suicide bomber? As these jihadis learn their trade in combat with U.S. special forces, Europe is going to be the first and most vulnerable target of their graduates.

"Usually it turns out that if it’s a war they approve of, civilian casualties turn out to be a regrettable necessity. If it’s a war of which they disapprove then civilian deaths become proof of the present Iraq war’s immorality."

Undeniable. I agree completely. If you agree with the aims and purposes of WW II, for example, in which my father enlisted the day after Canada joined Britain in the war (two-years-plus before Germany declared war on the U.S, not the other way around -- the Pearl Harbor sealed Japan's fate, but when would Joe Kennedy and his fellow pro-Hitler war profiteers have gotten around to declaring war on Germany?), civilian casualties, while regrettable, are irrelevant. Modern warfare has provided more accurate targeting and rendered wholesale bombing more repugnant to decent people, but these things have to be accepted in a just cause -- like defending the world.

This is not WW II. This is an unjust and agressive war of choice being waged for imperialistic reasons. I'm not arguing with U.S. policy in Afghanistan as a response to 9/11! I'm not arguing that there aren't horrible and unintended consequences of necessary wars! The invasion of Iraq was illegitimate and unjustified, so for every death -- every death, on either side -- the blood is on the hands of the agressors.

"So again I ask you: If, as you claim, the present Iraq war is causing & will cause "politicized Islamic fundamentalists" terror attacks, how do you explain the "politicized Islamic fundamentalists" terror attacks before the present Iraq war?"

God, john, you sound as though you believe the world is more safe because of Iraq. If a few lunatics blew up bombs before, and now thousands of people are being radicalized and galvanized into hating the U.S. and striking at them -- and the rest of us in The West -- in whatever way they can, and Europe is on their doorstep, I don't understand how you don't grasp the "escalation" principle.

"The US should not fight terrorists because fighting terrorists causes young Muslims to become terrorists.

"Is there any part of the preceding sentence with which you disagree?

Well, yeah. The whole thing. Let's start with your first principal clause: "The US should not fight terrorists". Sorry, that's wrong at the get-go. I never said that, I never implied that, and I never will. Let me put it this way: The US should not wage unjust and unjustified wars.

My "world domination" theory is now about 24 hours old. I just started typing, and logic seemed to move in that direction. I had never before even thought of that. To call my theory "inchoate" would be an understatement.

People's minds change according to their experience -- media, conversations with friends, etc. Until Cindy Sheehan, I considered setting a date for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq completely untenable: If you announce the date you're going to withdraw, your enemy just has to wait you out. That's not to say that CS convinced me; far from it. It started me thinking about something I hadn't thought about before. I was glad to see her interfere with The Big Guy's five-week idyll, but I had never considered her premise. I became more open to the idea and started thinking about something that hadn't occurred to me before. I read stuff by people like Gen. Odom and started to think that withdrawal was not only an option, it might be the best way out.

That was months before my "world domination" theory. Life is an oddysey. Things change, except for those whose minds are closed.

"Assuming the world is going to be dominated, what entity would you have as the dominator?"

A huge, loud, unequivocal "NONE OF THE ABOVE".

Here's something that's been in the back of my mind for the last 20-plus years. The U.S. is wasting and polluting its groundwater at an enormous rate. It's been irrigating the desert for most of the last century. Everyone in Las Vegas, Phoenix -- or San Antonio -- feels it's not a right but an obligation to have a lawn and a swimming pool. Canada has the world's largest sources of fresh water. It'll take decades, but the time is coming when the U.S. will need Canada's water. When that time comes, I'm sure they would prefer a political settlement -- that Canada will abdicate its sovereignty without kicking up too much of a fuss -- but when push comes to shove and they need it, they'll take it.

"Assuming the world is going to be dominated", how would you feel about it being dominated by the U.S.? Any qualms there? Or is the natural goodness of the U.S. the way the world should go?

It's by no means an exact parallel, but do you see any comparisons there with Nazi Germany and its belief in the superiority of the Aryans?

*****

Contratimes:

Thank you for your kind words. It seems you're on jm's side of the argument, but that's fine. In the wild world of neo-neocon, the odds against me are much greater than that. (And I'm not complaining. I'm hanging out here deliberately to be exposed to ideas that are different to my own. I don't hang out in wacko leftist circles.)

As you've noted, I'm trying to -- well, "escape" is not the right word, because I've enjoyed my exchange with jm; if I didn't, I'd have left.

I don't have the time or the energy to fight a two-front war, I'm afraid.

I never even visited a blog until about two months ago, when I stumbled on neo-neocon (and had a not particularly auspicious start; I was attacked from all sides. I don't remember if jm was among my antagonists). I'm a total newbie, so a blog of my own is something I don't aspire to. Jeez, just maintaining this two-man conversation has been tough. How jm deals with two, three, and more is mind-boggling.

But thanks.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 7:37 PM, October 19, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

I've read my last post and I think there are some editing errors. Sorry. I don't think the sense is changed.

tequilamockingbird

 
At 9:04 PM, October 19, 2005, Blogger contratimes said...

Dear tequilamockingbird,

I am really not sure what even my own personal views are re: Iraq, let alone JM's. My position is really simple: Osama bin Laden made Iraq central (as did Mr. Hussein by his invasion of Kuwait). I am all for debating the pros and cons of invasion. What I think must be stopped is the idea that Iraq is peripheral or tangential or unessential in the War on Terror.

I, too, am relatively new to the Blogosphere. How Neo-neocon manages to produce such a professional site eludes me. But my comments re: your lack of a blog merely reveals my frustration, since you give me no place to visit to get to know your thoughts more thoroughly, or to engage you more directly. My comment was not meant as a slam.

Curiously, the more I do this the LESS I think I should be doing it. Not for want of skill or aptitude, but for want of necessity: My voice is cloned millions of times over, I am afraid. Adding another blog to the etherworld is just more superfluity. I subsist solely on being a redundancy.

Let others speak if all I can say is more of the same. Forsooth, it is nearly impossible to be original, don't you think?

Blessings,

BG

 
At 1:28 AM, October 20, 2005, Anonymous john moulder said...

BG: I agree that according to OBL’s own words the first Gulf War was one of OBL’s stated motives for jihad. We gave Saddam, a Muslim leader, a bloody nose & in the eyes of OBL shamed Saddam, thereby shaming(in OBL’s stated viewpoint) all Muslims. Another of OBL’s rationales is the presence of US infidels in Saudi Arabia - the mere presence of the US, not necessarily doing anything but just being there. So, in the sense that the first Gulf war was one of OBL’s stated reasons for jihad & 9/11, yes, obviously that is true, but that has to do with OBL’s motives, not Saddam’s actions. However, I do believe OBL would have gone after the WTC even if the first Gulf war had not occurred.

I believe OBL’s real motives are mundanely egotistical even though they are couched in religious fanaticism. OBL wants to be known in history as the prophet that established the Great Modern Caliphate. I think he yearns for power & glory, especially to rule Saudi Arabia & use that holy land as a base for the Great Modern Caliphate.

On the question of Saddam having any direct ties to 9/11 as far as actual planning or abetting 9/11: I feel there is a 50-50 chance. I mean if there were some way to prove it one way or another I might put a bet down in Vegas that he did. But I know of no proof that would stand in a court of law.

Also if there were a way to find out the reality I would definitely bet that Saddam was having more to do with terrorists than simply enabling them to evade justice by being allowed to stay in Iraq. It defies common sense, given how ruthless Saddam was, that he would not have been working hand in hand with the terrorists. Why would he not?

And thank you for complimenting my blog.

Tequilamockingbird: Iraq was in no way an Islamic fundamentalist state.

Well, john, I think it's semantics again. I'll agree with you that I was wrong in asserting that he killed every (whatever it was) he got his hands on. Will you admit in return that he (SH) brooked no rivalry to the cult of Saddam, and that Islamic fundamentalism (Islamofascism?) was not an important force in Saddam's Iraq?


I somewhat agree but with many caveats:

Saddam’s fabled differences with Islamic fundamentalists are often cited by anti-warriors, but such internecine rivalries, even if true, would be easily set aside in order to strike at the hated America & other mutually perceived enemies. Saddam’s secular superstructure & the Sunni Muslims in Iraq had no real conflicting interests or goals. That Saddam, a Sunni Muslim, was a murderous dictator wasn’t especially bothersome to the Sunnis since Sunni fundamentalists are rather dictatorial & murderous themselves. After all, the custom of Iraqi day to day life under Saddam was Sharia. True, the state was officially secular, but does anyone remember seeing ordinary women wearing Western-style dresses under Saddam? In fact the principal religious victims of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship were not Islamic fundamentalists in general but specifically Shiite Muslims, a group also hated by OBL & his adherents who consider the Shiites an invalid sect of the true Islam. In fact, OBL & his bunch would almost as soon murder Shiites as they would Westerners & Hindus. Therefore, there were no real impediments to cooperation between al Qaeda & Saddam.

Tequilamockingbird: This is not WW II. This is an unjust and agressive war of choice being waged for imperialistic reasons. I'm not arguing with U.S. policy in Afghanistan as a response to 9/11! I'm not arguing that there aren't horrible and unintended consequences of necessary wars! The invasion of Iraq was illegitimate and unjustified, so for every death -- every death, on either side -- the blood is on the hands of the agressors.

But I believe the present war in Iraq is both legitimate & justified. So again I ask you: If, as you claim, the present Iraq war is causing & will cause "politicized Islamic fundamentalists" terror attacks, how do you explain the "politicized Islamic fundamentalists" terror attacks before the present Iraq war?"

And if you don’t mind letting me know, what do you specifically assert are the US “imperialistic reasons” for waging the present war in Iraq?

Tequilamockingbird: God, john, you sound as though you believe the world is more safe because of Iraq. If a few lunatics blew up bombs before, and now thousands of people are being radicalized and galvanized into hating the U.S. and striking at them -- and the rest of us in The West -- in whatever way they can, and Europe is on their doorstep, I don't understand how you don't grasp the "escalation" principle.

Tequilamockingbird, would you call the following sentence a fair summing up of your views?: The US should not fight a few lunatics who blew up bombs before because thousands of people are being radicalized and galvanized into hating the U.S.

If it is a fair summing up, I would point out that there is substantially no difference between it & the following sentence: The US should not fight terrorists because fighting terrorists causes young Muslims to become terrorists.

My earlier hypothetical question: Assuming the world is going to be dominated, what entity would you have as the dominator?"

Tequilamockingbird: A huge, loud, unequivocal "NONE OF THE ABOVE".

Here's something that's been in the back of my mind for the last 20-plus years. The U.S. is wasting and polluting its groundwater at an enormous rate. It's been irrigating the desert for most of the last century. Everyone in Las Vegas, Phoenix -- or San Antonio -- feels it's not a right but an obligation to have a lawn and a swimming pool. Canada has the world's largest sources of fresh water. It'll take decades, but the time is coming when the U.S. will need Canada's water. When that time comes, I'm sure they would prefer a political settlement -- that Canada will abdicate its sovereignty without kicking up too much of a fuss -- but when push comes to shove and they need it, they'll take it.

Assuming the world is going to be dominated", how would you feel about it being dominated by the U.S.? Any qualms there? Or is the natural goodness of the U.S. the way the world should go? It's by no means an exact parallel, but do you see any comparisons there with Nazi Germany and its belief in the superiority of the Aryans?


Sorry, tequilamockingbird, I don’t have a “world domination theory” & therefore the question is meaningless when directed at me. I was merely curious & still am, since you do have such a theory, what entity you think the world would be best dominated by. I see you are also concerned about the US taking Canadian water. I’m interested in just how you think the US might take it – military force, perhaps?

 
At 8:43 AM, October 20, 2005, Blogger contratimes said...

It is worth noting - no? - that those who claim Saddam Hussein was a secular Mid-East force in conflict with his more devout neighbors, fail to notice that yesterday, in court, Saddam Hussein demanded respect as Iraq's legitimate president all the while holding a Koran in his hands.

Hardly a secular president.

BG

 
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