Thursday, January 26, 2006

A mind is a difficult thing to change--Part 6 B (After 9/11: war is interested in you)

You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.
----Leon Trotsky

INTRODUCTION

This segment of the story begins with a shock to the system: 9/11.

For me, that shock was just the beginning--the catalyst, as it were--of a slow process of change that took several years to complete and probably isn't over yet. It unfolded in a manner that was mostly solitary and internal; involving watching, listening, reading, and thinking.

Looking back, I realize that two elements were absolutely necessary for this to occur: a powerful motivation, and access to information.

The motivation was provided by 9/11 itself, as I wrote towards the end of my last "change" post:

It now seemed to be no less than a matter of life and death to learn, as best I could, what was going on. I knew it wasn't up to me to solve this; I had no power and no influence in the world. But still something drove me, with a force that was almost relentless, to pursue knowledge and understanding about this event. The pursuit of this knowledge no longer seemed discretionary or abstract, it seemed both necessary and deeply, newly personal.

The access was provided by the internet. The worldwide media was newly at my fingertips. Without it, I would never have encountered the varied sources that led me down the path of change, but would instead have stuck with the old tried and true--the Times, the Globe, the New Yorker, Nightline, and NPR--and I am certain I would not be sitting here today, writing this blog.

Prior to this, I'd been neither a news junkie nor a history buff. My consumption of such things seems to have been about average: the usual cursory high school history courses plus one or two in college; the quick reading of a daily newspaper and a weekly periodical; and the viewing of the nightly news on TV, background noise while I concentrated on cooking dinner or tending to the family.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I didn't have a clue that my online reading and increased interest in news, history, and politics would lead to any sort of mind- or life-changing experience. It would be interesting now to be able to look at a list of what I read post-9/11, and in what order I read it (well, maybe not all that interesting, since, for one thing, it would be insufferably long). But since I wasn't prescient enough to know what was going to happen to me as a result of my reading, I have no such list. So I'll just have to try to recreate the general course of events as best I can, understanding that it will only be an approximation.


THE DAYS AFTER

Like so many people, I was in a state of heightened emotion and awareness after 9/11. I, who had rarely watched cable news on television, was now viewing it many hours each day, and also reading my usual newspapers and periodicals with greater intensity and focus.

For the first few days after 9/11, I watched President Bush very carefully. He seemed worried and squinty-eyed, brow furrowed in tense puzzlement, speaking words that were meant to be reassuring but sounded hesitant and uncertain. This didn't surprise me; I'd never expected much of him to begin with.

It's not that I'd thought Bush was stupid. Not exactly, anyway. I had disabused myself of the "stupid" notion way back during the 2000 Presidential debates. Watching them, I'd disagreed with much of what Bush had said, and I couldn't stand his cocky manner--it grated on me. But I was grudgingly forced to admit to myself that he was at least passably able to think on his feet.

I'd heard he was dumb so many times that I fully expected him to amply demonstrate it in the debates. He was uninspiring and certainly far from eloquent, and I didn't agree with most of his ideas, but he stated them with relative clarity. Nothing indicated brilliance, for sure, but nothing he said sounded even remotely stupid.

Some time shortly after those 2000 debates, I'd watched a TV interview with Laura Bush. Most of what I'd seen of her till then had consisted of smiling and waving; I'd heard her say only a few words here and there. She'd seemed to me to be a sort of plastic Stepford wife, controlled and bland. But during this interview there was something--some charm and sweetness, some flashes of humor and wit--and, over all of it, a warmth and ease and graciousness I could not deny.

I didn't want to like her. But like her I did. And I had to--just had to--further admit that it was unlikely (although not impossible!) that a simpleton or a fool or a creep could have attracted and held on to a woman like that.

But that was a far cry from actually liking Bush or supporting him in any way. I did not. And when the election results had stalled in the seemingly endless vote-counting and court actions, putting everyone through tension and misery, I'd been rooting for Gore all the way--if not with enthusiasm for the man himself, then with fear of the alternative. I hadn't really been thinking much, if at all, about world affairs during the election--they hadn't seemed especially important for some years, since the fall of the Soviet Union. No, it was the probability of Bush's appointing conservative Supreme Court justices, cutting stem cell research, and a host of other conservative domestic policies I was worried about.

Throughout the long back-and-forth of the election and the vote counts, the court rulings and the overrulings, I was on tenterhooks. But when it ended up going Bush's way, I never felt cheated. Nor did I feel that he'd cheated, although I was bitterly disappointed with the results.

What did I think? I thought the election had been a virtual tie. And I thought that, in the end, the tougher man had won.

Not the better, not the smarter or the kinder, nor the most likely to be a good President--just the more hard-nosed. He hadn't done anything illegal, in my opinion; he'd merely pushed it for all it was worth, and milked the legal system until he got the result he wanted. And Gore? He'd failed to show the sort of intestinal fortitude required to win this particular battle.

When I thought about it, I didn't like it, nor did I like Bush. Not at all. But it occurred to me that hard-as-nails toughness might not necessarily be the worst trait to have in a President--that this had been some sort of Darwinian struggle for existence in which the winner was, if not the best man, then the fittest man for the toughest job in the world.

Now, looking back, I see that these three combined notions of mine--that Bush was not a stupid man, that he had to be at least somewhat nice to have a wife like Laura, and that the toughness he showed in the fight to win might not be a bad attribute for a President--must have been somewhat odd in a liberal Democrat. They might, in fact, have been signs of a sort, signs that I was the type of person who, like it or not, couldn't deny certain evidence if I felt it was right in front of me, who might be ripe for a change of heart and mind if enough evidence ever happened to present itself.

But at the time, I didn't think in those terms at all. I just figured that, after the disappointing results of the election, I'd settle in for four years of turning off the TV whenever Bush appeared. After all, I'd done that before--especially with Nixon, and often with Reagan. In fact, I was quite a pro at getting through Republican administrations, since the only Presidents I'd ever voted for had been Carter and Clinton.

So when 9/11 occurred, one of the things that had upset me was that Bush was President. I didn't for a moment think he'd be up to the task--although, to be fair, I also couldn't imagine that Gore would have been a whole lot better.

During the previous year, to save paper and money, I'd already begun reading my two favorite newspapers online rather than in the dead tree versions. After 9/11 I found the Times's series of short biographies on the lives of the WTC victims to be especially moving. I sat at my computer almost every night, weeping as I read it. The dead seemed so young, so promising, so much-loved--and such ghastly, wrenchingly violent ends, such tragic bereaved survivors left behind. Timelines of 9/11, and particularly the story of Flight 93, were riveting, and the latter inspiring, as was the heroism of the firefighters and police.

But this was just the story of the day itself. It was compelling and emotional, but it wasn't the "why" I so craved to understand.

About a week after 9/11, I happened to turn on my car radio as a man was being interviewed. I didn't catch his name, but he was talking about Arabs, Islam, and the 9/11 attacks, and relating the whole thing to the history, philosophy, culture, and religion of the region. After a few sentences I knew I needed to learn more about him, and to read some of his books, because here was a person who seemed to have thought long and hard about the very questions that were haunting me.

The man turned out to be Bernard Lewis. I learned that he was elderly, and that he was a leading scholar of Moslem and Arab history, culture, and literature who'd been writing on the subject for decades, unbeknownst to me. Here was someone attempting to explain the terrorists (see this, for example), embedding the whole thing in history and context.

I didn't know whether Lewis was correct or not--how could I? But what he said sounded plausible, and had as foundation his long lifetime of scholarship. And what was most impressive to me was that his forthcoming book What Went Wrong, on which this interview was based, had already been written--although not yet published--before the 9/11 attacks occurred.

Talk about topical! You may recall, if you've read my previous essay in this "change" series, that I'd been puzzled and disappointed by the failure of the media and most experts in the field to have accurately predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union. So one of the things that gave Lewis credibility with me was the fact that he had seemed to "get" 9/11 before it had even happened, and to be wrestling with the "why" of it before many of us were even perceiving the extreme seriousness of the threat.

BUSH ADDRESSES CONGRESS POST-9/11

After 9/11, President Bush was to address a joint session of Congress. Only ten days earlier the building had been evacuated in panic, and by now it was strongly suspected that it had been the real target of Flight 93. The situation felt very dramatic as I turned on the TV and awaited his speech.

I knew security was tight, but that fact didn't totally reassure me. It seemed far-fetched, but if a plane had swooped down just as Bush had begun his speech, crashed into the center of the assemblage, and brought the whole edifice down in a fiery furnace, I would not have been especially surprised.

So I was keyed up and apprehensive as Bush strode into the room and onto the TV screen. I expected nothing stirring from him, and nothing even particularly admirable. My goal was a simple one: that everyone assembled live through the speech, and that Bush not stumble and falter so badly that he'd make everyone feel even more uneasy about him.

But Bush looked resolute and seemed focused. His speech was crisp and well-delivered. Both these things were surprises to me; I found them difficult to believe. What's more, every now and then I thought I could discern in his words the influence of that man I'd heard so recently in the radio interview, Bernard Lewis. Could it be that Bush had heard of him? Or, at least, that Bush's speechwriters had heard of him?

The broad outlines of the fight ahead were drawn. Bush (or was it his speechwriters and/or advisors? I couldn't decide) saw this as a global struggle that would last many years and be fought on many fronts. The first one was to be Afghanistan; no surprise there. Bush gave a list of demands to the Taliban and indicated that if those demands were not met, we would bring the war to them.

It's not that this speech caused me to suddenly develop faith in Bush--far from it. But it went a small way towards indicating that he might have some sort of minimal competence--or rather, a possibility of minimal competence. That was all.

But I absolutely hated--detested--Bush's message. War! My memories of the Vietnam War were of an endless and bloody struggle that had led to failure and a shameful retreat. The Gulf War hardly seemed relevant here--it had been short, relatively simple, and straightforward; the repelling of an invasion. This promised to be a very different war against a very different enemy, and much more like Vietnam.

As we geared up to go to war in the next few weeks, I found my apprehension increasing. At no point did I consider that this war was avoidable, because it was clear the Taliban would never accede to our demands and turn Bin Laden and the other Al Qaeda members over. It was just as clear that we could not back off. The articles I read in the Times and the Globe during the buildup to the war were exceedingly ominous, and the talking heads on CNN agreed: the predictions were of hundreds of thousands or even millions of people dead in indiscriminate bombing, millions more starving and/or freezing or dying of disease, and a war that echoed both our Vietnam experience and the ten-year Soviet nightmare in Afghanistan itself. A double whammy.

I'd been aware of the latter war, particularly as it had related to the fall of the Soviet Union. The Afghan War was considered to have bled the USSR dry economically and in terms of its will to fight. The almost impenetrable Afghan terrain and weather were factors, and the ferocity and tenacity of the Afghans themselves were legendary. I'd read that this war had been the USSR's Vietnam, and that it had helped destroy the Soviet Union. Now, repeatedly, I read how these same elements would inevitably trap us there for long and bitter death-dealing years. Over and over, I read that the people of Afghanistan hated us, and had no interest in their own "liberation." This was going to be a long, vicious, and costly struggle against an utterly implacable foe.

But, unlike Vietnam, it didn't feel as though there was any other choice now. We had to destroy the Al Qaeda havens in Afghanistan. Unlike Vietnam, once we began this war there could be no turning back and no pulling out. It felt more like I would imagine the start of World War II had felt to my parents' generation. In this, my then-87-year-old mother was a guide; she said it felt even worse than the beginning of World War II.

As the ultimatums were issued to the Taliban and the deadlines passed, it became clear that the war would begin in a day or two. I remembered old war movies from WWII in which families in England huddled around their radios, listening to the BBC for news of the war, hanging on every word. I felt that way now. Only this time I wasn't huddled around the radio; it was the computer.

REPORTING THE AFGHAN WAR

Almost from the moment the war began, it seemed to be going very badly. First, there was the killing of Abdul Haq in late October, a man who'd been touted as the most likely person to lead Afghanistan after the war since Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance, had been killed by suicide bombers shortly before 9/11.

Haq's death seemed a strange and terrible and confusing thing, with details from a movie. Ambushed, and calling for help with a satellite phone? An unmanned drone appearing in response, but too late to help?

Shortly thereafter, in early November, there was an article by Seymour Hersh that appeared in the New Yorker (see this Slate article discussing it to refresh your memory; the original Hersh article has been impossible for me to locate online so far). The name didn't ring a bell at the time, although I later did a search and discovered he was the journalist who'd broken the My Lai story so long ago. His Afghanistan article presented our operation there as a disorganized, incompetent tragedy of errors.

It focused on a covert operation that had occurred towards the beginning of the war a month earlier:

...a two-pronged "special operations" (that is, commando) attack last month on a Taliban airbase and on a complex of buildings sometimes used by Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Although the Pentagon presented the operation as successful (intelligence was collected at both sites), the sizzle of the Hersh piece [was] his conclusion that it was a "near-disaster" that left the U.S. military "rethinking" the future of such special operations inside Afghanistan.

I read the entire piece with mounting concern. The Vietnam comparison (although I don't recall it as being overt) was not lost on me. If this piece could be believed, we didn't seem to know what we were doing in Afghanistan.

But could it be believed? I trusted my beloved New Yorker, of course. But I could not escape the perception that there was something very odd about this particular article. Not only was it rather poorly written (something unusual for the magazine, as best I could remember)--disjointed and disconnected--but it read like a gossip column. It relied completely on unnamed and unidentified sources, which made a certain amount of sense for a piece about a covert operation during a war in progress. But that meant that the entire incident, and Hersh's interpretation of it, was something that could not be checked--we had to rely totally on his credibility and reliability, and on that of the New Yorker's editors.

And that wasn't all. I wondered about the point of publishing this piece in the first place. Why did we need to know this so very badly? After all, it wasn't as though Hersh was alleging that terrible war crimes had been committed, as at My Lai. This was just a single mission ostensibly gone bad, occurring very early in a war against a terrible enemy (surely everyone agreed the Taliban were terrible?)--a war we desperately needed to win, not a discretionary one. I didn't see that there was any overriding public purpose in exposing this mission as failed; certainly not enough to justify the breach of security and the possibility of harming our morale and enhancing that of the enemy.

So, who was Seymour Hersh, anyway? It may seem hard to believe, but in years past I had never paid particular attention to who had written a story as long as it appeared in a major media source that I trusted. The Times, the Globe, the New Yorker--I trusted that their editors would only publish reliable writers, and that all articles would be scrupulously fact-checked. Yes, I knew that all newspapers and magazines had a political slant (be they liberal or conservative), but that was only in the editorials, right? Even though I knew there might be some underlying agenda, the news pages--the facts--were sacred.

As I write this, a phrase from Paul Fusell's book about World War I, The Great War and Modern Memory, comes to mind: "never such innocence again." How can I explain my previous naivete? How had it escaped me that bias was not confined to the editorial pages?

I can't totally explain it. But I know that part of the answer is that I had not read many publications on the other side in order to compare. Nor had I read many original sources such as speeches on which the articles were based; I relied on the newspapers to summarize for me. To do otherwise would have taken some effort in those pre-internet days--I would have had to have gone to a library, or to have bought a great many newspapers and magazines at a newsstand, and also to have had an interest in investing a great deal of time in the endeavor.

But without any special motivation to do so--for example, everyone I knew read the Times, and I'd been taught since childhood that it was the paper of record--it simply did not occur to me that there was any compelling need to compare or to check sources. I guess that's what's meant by the phrase "living in a bubble."

But the Hersh article piqued my curiosity as well as raising red flags. And now, with the internet, it was so easy to do a bit of research. When I looked Hersh up online, I discovered some odd things. Yes, he'd been the highly respected and honored journalist who'd broken the My Lai story. But I also found other facts that were profoundly disturbing. (Unfortunately, I haven't been able to locate the exact articles about Hersh that I read at the time, but they were more or less similar to this one and this, which are more recent.)

It turned out that, after his My Lai fame, Hersh had gone on to write for the NY Times during the 70s. He was instrumental in breaking stories about the CIA's domestic spying, reports that led to the formation of the Church Commission and, ultimately the "firewall" with which we're familiar today. He also clearly had a leftist political agenda which he was not shy about stating.

But what was far more interesting to me was that he'd departed from the Times under a cloud of allegations that he had browbeaten sources and played fast and loose with the facts. Later, he wrote a series of suspect books (see this one and this), and was taken in by an obvious hoax and forgery during the writing of one of them, a biography of JFK entitled The Dark Side of Camelot.

Many in journalism (some of them even liberals!) had come to regard Hersh as generally untrustworthy; quotes such as the following (from a more recent article) were not uncommon:

"I don't read him anymore because I don't trust him," says Holland. "I find Hersh a perplexing character," says Newsweek's Evan Thomas, who has written extensively about the Kennedys. "He's done great work, but he wildly overreached with the Kennedy book." These days, Thomas reads Hersh differently. "I read what he writes with some skepticism or doubt or uncertainty."

The fact that Hersh wasn't being kept on a tighter leash by the New Yorker editors made me wonder. It caused a flicker--perhaps even more than a flicker--of doubt. But at the time I wrote it off as an isolated incident.

As the war continued through November, I checked the news online several times a day. Because Afghanistan was halfway around the world, I could hardly wait to learn what had happened. In my eagerness to get the latest news as quickly as possible, I started to branch out, searching for English language newspapers in Europe and Asia. I was impatient to hear the latest news of troop movements, bombing reports, battle results, territory gained--and above all, analyses of what it all might mean and predictions of what was going to happen next. Earlier, without the internet, I hadn't had access to all those widely-flung papers, nor felt the driving need to read the news as soon as it occurred. But now all these sources were just a mouse click away.

I still read my old standbys. But when I started reading many other papers as well, I discovered a surprising thing. The Times and the Globe and most of my previous reading sources (the New Yorker, Newsweek) had pretty much agreed with each other. But now some of the papers predicted widely different outcomes, and analyzed the meaning of events differently. As I got to know the different papers and magazines, however (news ones such as the Telegraph, the Guardian, National Review, and many more), I noticed that each paper was internally consistent, whether optimistic or pessimistic about the war's progress, or somewhere in-between.

As time went on, the pessimistic ones--the newspapers and periodicals that had predicted a Soviet-style long-drawn-out battle--were being proven wrong. In fact, the Afghan War was over a little more than two months after it had begun (and the Special Forces-type operations that Hersh had trashed had apparently been instrumental in the victory).

The war had lasted only two months and about ten days; it hardly seemed possible. And the casualties? Although there was some variation in the estimates of the civilian casualties of the war, the most reputable ones all seemed to be somewhere between one and two thousand people, nothing like the numbers that had been predicted. Where were the refugees, the plagues, the famines, the dread winter? In addition, our casualties were very low (I can't find an exact figure, but the total of all US combat deaths in Afghanistan seems to have been similar to that of the Gulf War, between one and two hundred).

It was extraordinary--so different from the prewar predictions as to be nearly miraculous. And to top it all off there were scenes of intense celebration by the Afghan people at what could only be described as their liberation (now, without the scare quotes). It was moving, it was a relief--it was a puzzlement.

THE AFTERMATH

What had happened? How had the media--my media (I hadn't yet encountered the phrase "the MSM")--gotten it so wrong? I waited for the explanation.

Where were those prognosticators now that things had gone so much better than expected? When territory had been won in such short order, and with such relatively little loss of life? When the military proved not to have been mired down in quag, but to have been exceptionally flexible and reactive in its tactics? .

Where were they? On to the next gloomy prognostication, that's where. I never could find the declarations of "we were so wrong; things are much better than they looked just a month ago." Here was an entire host of Emily Litellas saying, "Never mind." And now it was on to the next thing: "the Taliban are about to return."

This had been the first time I had ever followed a war so closely--day by day, almost hour by hour. It was the first time I'd eagerly devoured so many stories as events unfolded. And, most importantly, it was the first time I'd read a variety of newspapers, both geographically and politically. It was the first time I had been made frightened and deeply apprehensive, over and over again, by negative predictions in my favorite papers--and then discovered, to my growing puzzlement and even annoyance, that these predictions bore no more relation to subsequent reality than if they'd emanated from the I Ching. It was the first time I noticed that the more reliable papers had seemed to be the more conservative ones.

But these were only a string of incidents. They were puzzling and disconcerting, but I had no framework to make sense of them. Yes, during the Afghan war the more conservative papers seemed to have been more reliable in their predictions and their facts than the liberal papers. But this had no particular meaning to me. Surely, this was some artifact of the peculiar situation of this war; it was a meaningless anomaly.

Later, some time during the spring of 2002 I was doing a Google search. By chance it led me to my first blog, a now-defunct site the name of which I can't even remember. The immediacy and vibrancy of the voice, talking about politics as though having a conversation with me in my living room, caught my fancy, and I started clicking on the blogroll. In short order I was hooked on blogs, a fascinating Greek chorus (or set of competing Greek choruses trying to shout each other out) commenting--sometimes brilliantly--on the action.

I was still regularly reading my old liberal sources (NY Times and Boston Globe, the New Yorker and even some new regulars such as the LA Times, the Guardian, and the New Republic). But now I was also reading the Telegraph and National Review, the Wall Street Journal and the Jerusalem Post, MEMRI and English versions of Arab papers, Canadian and Australian and Scottish ones, and the blogs--a vast cacophony of voices. And it was becoming clearer and clearer--at least to me--that the arguments in the media from the middle or the right were making more sense--and had more predictive value--than those emanating from the left.

It was as though I were sitting in a court of law as a member of the jury and being asked to decide a case. Before, I had heard only the presentation from one side. Now I heard both sides, and was trying to give both a fair hearing, and to approach my task without prejudice or preconceived notions. I was reluctantly coming to a certain distressing conclusion: more often than not, the voices on the left were less credible than those on the right.

I still had no notion of changing my point of view about politics in general. But then more events took place, and new reportage on those events. There were several turning points (which I plan to tackle in later installments of this series) in particular: Jenin and the "massacre" that wasn't; the buildup to the war in Iraq and the reportage afterwards; and my first forays into voicing my thoughts to others, and their reactions to me .

Along the way I encountered constant comparisons to Vietnam, especially in connection with the war in Iraq. This led me to revisit the history of that war. What I found shocked and surprised me, changing my point of view about that war, a view I had thought was etched in stone as hard and enduring as the granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial .

Another metaphor: the process was like doing a jigsaw puzzle. At first I only had a few pieces in my hands, and no real way to tell what the picture was going to turn out to look like. But bit by bit I started assembling it, and began to discern the outline of a new form as it was slowly being revealed. In the end, events that were happening in the present merged with a reassessment of the past, enabling the picture to emerge ever more clearly, piece by piece.

Two of the missing pieces to that puzzle ended up fitting quite snugly: new information about those photographs, the ones that had caused such a sensation during Vietnam: the field execution by General Loan, and the little napalmed girl running naked down that dirt road so very long ago.

[To be continued....]

[ADDENDUM: Links to previous posts in this series can be found by scrolling down on the right sidebar and looking under the heading "A mind is a difficult thing to change."]

[FURTHER ADDENDUM: Norm Geras explains that there is some doubt about whether Trotsky was in fact the originator of the opening quote. Sorry, Trotsky fans.]

127 Comments:

At 12:31 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Pete Bogs said...

becoming a neocon is an unfortunate side-effect of 9/11... apparently you have bought into the idea that conservatives are strong on defense and terrorism and liberals want to invite Osama over for dinner... 9/11 transformed you, all right - it closed up your mind...

 
At 12:45 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Judith said...

Brava, Neo-neocon! I'm impressed at how concisely and clearly you can recount your intellectual journey.

 
At 1:00 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Leah said...

Neo-neocon, I am loving your journey. I grew up in Israel, so have never had the luxury of the naivite of the left. But you descriptions of your old self perfectly match many of my friends here in Los Angeles.
You are giving me great insights into their minds (unchanged).
I have thouroghly been enjoying your blog for quite a while now, keep up the regular and the "change" posts.

 
At 1:15 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Goesh said...

Pete - I could never understand why Clinton just didn't send the FBI with warrants into Afghanistan to arrest bin laden. After Clinton blew up that aspirin factory in Sudan and those goat herder tents in Afghanistan, bin laden knew darn well his days were numbered.

 
At 1:16 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Dale St. Clair said...

Pete Bogs said: “becoming a neocon is an unfortunate side-effect of 9/11... apparently you have bought into the idea that conservatives are strong on defense and terrorism and liberals want to invite Osama over for dinner... 9/11 transformed you, all right - it closed up your mind…”

I am interested in what you think, Pete. Your comment implies that you think the liberals are strong on defense & the conservatives are weak on defense. Would that be a fair summing up of your views?

 
At 1:22 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger BeckyJ said...

Pete Bogs, you're implying that by reading a wide variety of papers & magazines from both sides of the political spectrum, and gathering & analyzing information for herself, neo has somehow limited her information? I'm not clear how that works.

Neo, great piece

 
At 1:23 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Motor 1560 said...

Absolutely brillant! Logical and insightful. Rossiter in Seedtime for the Republic quoted from pre revolutionary "common" reactions to the situation that the colonists found themselves in. This essay and those preceeding it are the modern equivalent of a citizen's mind evaluating, winnowing and reacting to events. A mind finding that the old constructs didn't work anymore; and open to new constructs that had explanatory power and that worked.

If I had my way, I'd find you an office and put you on the NSC distribution lists. Then I'd schedule a weekly briefing just to get your reactions and evalutions even knowing you'd chafe badly in harness.

You do know that there is a book here, I hope?

 
At 1:44 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Neo,

This wonderful article (which I could never have written) proves to me that you and I are the same person (with the exception that you are a great writer and analyst, and I am not!).

;-)

Jamie Irons

 
At 1:50 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Shhh Jamie, quiet. Don't let them know!

 
At 1:52 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Oops, Jamie--I meant "don't let them know we're the same person," not "don't let them know I'm a great writer and analyst" in that last comment.

And thanks!

And I beg to differ with you about your analysis of your own writing powers. Of course, that makes me a split personality--

 
At 2:16 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Promethea said...

Your journey to the "right" is similar to mine. Before I got DSL, I spent a lot of time in Barnes & Noble's reading magazines. I soon gravitated toward Weekly Standard and National Review, which conformed more to my own analysis of what had to be done after 9/11, i.e. "crush the bastards before they got stronger." This led me to the world of the neocons.

My entire social circle still remains in 9/10 mode, continuing their hatred of Bush (for no good reason except they don't like his public persona, as it turns out). After attempting to discuss political events with them, I soon learned that their identities are bound up with their "liberal, Democrat selves." I can't talk to them about anything important. They're quite unaware of the real world and its dangers. They are almost childlike in their bubbleworld.

I believe we're living in an era like the Edwardian era, when the world is about to change in terrible ways. Thank goodness for the internet, and for writers like you who attract high quality, thoughtful posters.

 
At 2:18 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger karrde said...

That's an interesting quote from Trotsky.

You were right in your warning: it is a long post, but it is well-paced and well-thought-out.

 
At 2:32 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

I read through your "Change" series. Very nice. Some of my own change circumstances and experiences track with yours.

I identify with your childhood experience with your fanatic relative "Joe", and your resulting life-decision to look at both sides of issues. A similar thing happened to me: my father's tendency to refuse to consider the other side of issues led to my own decision to always to so.

Like you, I also share a fascination with history.

Like you, the Internet became a venue to explore myriad opinions which were previously unavailable to me. And the blogosphere became a venue to interactively discuss them. Liberal/MSM opinion simply did not hold up under scrutiny.

I've mentioned, on this blog, that in my more liberal days I wondered what I did not know that I did not know. I still wonder, and still find enjoyment in discovering the answers. I suspect this sense of seeking knowledge, or truth - as opposed to your observations about seeking belonging - is an important aspect of "change". Which is not to imply - at all - that seeking truth is somehow higher than other virtues, but is only to note circumstantial evidence surrounding "change".

The great thing about seeking knowledge, and being determined to listen to all sides of an issue, is it gives you great freedom. You are not tied to a particular cause - but only to a quest for truth. You can turn on a dime, and say: Gosh, in light of this new information, or this excellent argument which has opened my eyes, I officially reverse my previous opinion 180 degrees. And you don't lose self-respect. And you don't feel "defeated." B/C you were not seeking "to win" so much as you were seeking knowledge, or truth.

I did have two "early adoption" advantages over you on 9/11: 1) I had been reading Internet news and opinion for a couple of years already; 2) I had previous experience with President Bush, as I live in Texas. When I saw the towers burning, I literally prayed thanks to God that President Bush had won the election. From his time in office in Texas, I knew President Bush to be a man who was principled, self-aware, and willing to make hard decisions without hesitation. I also knew, as you sensed, that President Bush was tough and determined. When he put his shoulder to the plow, he would look forward and move forward. He would not be paralyzed by fear of future regret or criticism. This knowledge gave me comfort about our national fate - though I remain properly respectful - even fearful - of the obstacles we still face in Afghanistan, and in Iraq, and in the ideological melding of Islam and fanaticism.

 
At 2:44 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger KeithM, Indy said...

Wonderfull addition to your series. I hope to see it in book form some day.

Connectivity busted up your built-in assumptions. If it were not for the internet, you wouldn't have learned what alternative views there were.

You didn't let your views/ideology stand in the way of learning the facts of the matter. You were open to the experience.

I've never been a lefty, I always more closely identified with Libertarians. My journey was far shorter, and started one day during college break when I got into an argument with my dad and his friend about how "Marx had some interesting ideas." Yeah, they were interesting ideas, but not when applied to reality was the come-back, more or less. So, I challenged my assumptions, as learned in class.

Distrust of the media came about the same time. President Reagan wasn't destroying the world, and so the nay-sayers in the MSM lost my confidence.

 
At 2:51 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

attention ALL neocons:

Your NOT conservative and you'll never be conservative.

A person who uses liberal means of expressing his conservative views is not conservative period.

The only thing 9-11 changed was having bunch liberals fearing for their lives adopting a hawkish view of the world. But the good news is that all good things must come to an end.

 
At 3:14 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous armchair pessimist said...

Anon: Can you elaborate?

 
At 3:16 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Terry A. Hoover said...

Pete,

Your comment proves what I have experienced so often in the current "culture wars", the liberal default position in any argument or discussion in which their position is cahllenged is, in one way or another, to call the challenger stupid.

I've actually timed friends on this before. The average time it takes before they call me stupid is between fifteen and twenty minutes. The most polite the put down has ever been was a very good friend telling me "You're intelligent, but you lack wisdom".

This is the adult version of sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming "I can't hear you".

I'm sorry, but that is not how intelligent and enlightened discussions are carried out. I was trained in logic and reason, as well as history. When I question someone's logic and reasoning (and I do so as gentley as possible because I was brought up to be polite and respectful) they call me stupid. When I point out historic parallels running against their position I get the same reaction.

I suppose my question to you, sir, is this. Would you be so kind as to engage in a discussion wherein you are estopped from calling your challenger stupid in any way? And if not, would you be so kind as to let the readers no why not? Using logice and deductive reasoning and perhaps a few historic parallels of your own?

I'm really tired of the whole thing at this point. I do try to be polite, but how many times is one obligated to put up with being called stupid, ignorant, foolish, a dupe for (fill in the blank), or just plain dummer than a bucket of rocks?

In the last election I voted Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, and tossed in a write in vote because I couldn't stand any of the candidates in that particular race. I'm all over the board politically, but when it comes to the primary job of any government I go with the ones I think understand those priorities. Unfortunately for the left, they have fogotten what those priorities are. And I'm the stupid one.

Neo-neocon, thanks for letting me post. You are a terrific writer, and I happen to know a little about that as well as logic, etc.

 
At 3:16 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

Anonymous: Is that a complement or criticism? I can't tell :P

And what exactly do you mean by "uses liberal means of expressing his conservative views"?

 
At 3:20 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

By the way: the anonymous commenter at 2:51 PM is an excellent example of a phenomenon I described here.

At the time, I was feeling to lazy to dig up a good example of the genre. But anon 2:51 PM has been kind enough to provide one.

 
At 3:22 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Neo-neocon:
I enjoy reading your articles. Your journey to the right is very much like my journey to the left. I too had a cathartic experience after 9/11.
I appreciate your writing style and your honesty. You are a refreshing oasis to the weary traveler. But from there we depart.

I moved to the left for a variety of reasons, mainly because of the state of our economy and our corporate controlled government. I promise that I won't bore you with my views on international trade agreements, campaign contributions, and our failing democracy. I'll only say this: yes we are at war; yes we are in some danger, but terrorism is not the only issue which threatens our way of life.

Additionally, I am certain that if we had not used so many of our resources going to war with foreign nations and instead used all of our available goods and wealth to find the terrorist and kill them, we would be safer.
I personally do not feel any more inviolable since my country invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, we have done exactly what the terrorists wanted - we have shown that we are aggressive and brutal. Our response to 9/11 has been Pavlovian at best.

Osama Bin Laden is a criminal. We should have treated him as such. There are many ways to do this. Just after the 9/11 tragedy we, the United States, had a lot of influence in the world and as I remember, until we invaded Iraq, the entire world was on our side. We lost all of that capital by responding to the tragedy as a feral beast on steroids.

Instead of capturing the criminals responsible for the WTC tragedy, we are fighting two wars, giving tax cuts to those who do not need them, cutting essential services for the poor, and increasing our dependence on fossil fuels. Incidentally, we are not scoring many points in the Muslim community either. From my point of view, this is not progress.

In one of your posts you said, "And I thought that, in the end, the tougher man had won. Not the better, not the smarter or the kinder, nor the most likely to be a good President--just the more hard-nosed."

Well, you’re right him and I don't think that this man has served us well at all.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you.

 
At 3:22 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Oh, and by they way, anon 2:51 PM: I have no particular interest in calling myself a conservative, or in being a conservative, any more than I have at this point in calling myself a liberal. I consider myself an Independent, and may just stay that way.

 
At 3:42 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You left out the biggest piece about any story in our society:

FOLLOW THE MONEY.

A bipartisan suggestion. Applies equally to our two "major" parties.

 
At 3:48 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Eugune Kim said...

Dear neo-neocon,

My name is Euguen Kim. I like your thoughts. Have you heard about a controversial new book, "After 9/11: A Korean Girl's Sexual Journey?" (http://www.youngheecha.com) I strongly believe that you will have something to say about it.

Most amazing thing is Ch. 43, "9/11s are forgiveness," which makes "9/11" a general noun for the worst disaster that could happen in one's life. I have never seen any writer put it this way.

If I bothered you, please forgive me; I just wanted to share my feelings about this book.

Best Wishes,
Eugune

 
At 3:54 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

I'm... afraid to ask, frankly :P

 
At 3:55 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Motor 1560 said...

A content free comment is as terrible to behold as an closed mind. It's a little like seeing a tonic-clonic convulsion. Something bad is happening and there's nothing you can do. It's all just stimulus/response.

 
At 4:03 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger terrye said...

neo:

thank you for sharing this with us. I feel like we took the same journey.

Like you, I also consider myself an Independent. In fact I think partisan politics is one of the factors that drove me away from the Democrats. It is also one of the reasons I am not a conservative Republican.

But I have real respect for Bush.

I still am concerned about certain social issues and escalatin health care costs for Americans...but I no longer look at things through such a narrow perspective.

 
At 4:08 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Gaius Arbo said...

Great post.

You have some good insights on this. Compare the thoughtful analysis you have provided with the hysterical fever swamps over at Kos and that lot. It's astonishing to me that anyone can read those echo chambers and never see what you have described so well. They question nothing if it's in their little world.....

Keep up the good work.

Gaius

 
At 4:09 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous m.vitruvius@gmail.com said...

And now, I think we're reaching the point where your journey will largely parallel mine.

I am both younger and have always been a bit more moderate-- but moderate in the sense of tending left on social issues and right on foreign policy, rather than just "more mildly left across the spectrum."

I hated Bush with a passion before 9/11. On 9/12, I had made the conscious decision to, as much as possible, re-evaluate everything to the degree that I could, knowing that re-examining decades of pre-conceived notions would not happen overnight. I started with Bush and suspended judgement for some months.

I had also had a long standing interest in history, both American and World, and even without the then-constant Pearl Harbor situations and the later comparisons to the Roman Empire, something in the air simply smelled of one of the hinges of history. My projected future history revolved around second Cold War with China-- the comforting past we knew, in new colors.

That changed.

What saddened me most, that I simply did not expect and saddens me still today, was the slow-dawning realization that for some, the shock was not enough!

I am not delusional. I never expected everyone to walk in lockstep with me to the same conclusions. But I also didn't expect so many to dig in their heels and cling to their old positions. There seems to be, in so moany people, a poverty of imagination to truly internalize that the world has changed.

The institutions we had must seem to people to have sprung fully formed by unanimous consent from the primary brows of the founding fathers with a few extras added in at the beginning of the Cold War. They were there, they are there, and being perfect for all situation, they should be there, unchanged, in perpetuity. We have achieved perfection I think, in the eyes of some, and any deviation to accomodate the changed principles of the modern world is just that-- deviance. Unclean.

It feels strategically crippling.

But this, too, is not new. I know perfectly well that it took decades to accomodate the new realities of the post-Revolution era, the post-Civil War era, and the post-World War II era, and in every epoch, people clung to what they knew even as they had fought to overcome it.

I know why it makes me sad.

But why was I surprised?

 
At 4:13 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Dan Spomer said...

Very nicely done. Thank you for sharing your experience. I look forward to reading more from you in the near future!

Best to you...

 
At 4:26 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this well stated education in truth. I myself followed a similar path, New York, liberal etc, but found myself having left that ill conceived path about 10 years before 9/11. I highly recommend that you read "The Chained Mind" by Czeslaw Milosz, a fantantic poet, who described the process he observed in Poland under the Communists whereby well meaning people destroyed their freedom to act and think in the misguided quest to fit this "perfect philosophy". It was given to me by a Polish artist friend when I was mouthing leftish drivel one day and the effect was like that described as scales falling from my eyes. As the disconnect between truth and the leftist point of view grows, increased by the public's ability to get information other than that sanctioned by the MSM, their continued believe in the religion of leftist is leading to the more and more shrill and hysterical nature of their discourse. Its the cry of a dying creed.

 
At 4:34 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Attention ALL Neocons:

Define conservatism as plainly as possible

NeoNeocon: You had a post describing various conservatives.

The moment conservatism was redefined it was lost to a liberal reform. You may be ok with that but I'm not.

Carl Marx who wrote "Communist Manifesto" had many followers. During a communist gathering many people approached him and praised his philosophy and shared their opinions. Marx soon found out the he was a company amongst strangers. He said: Never have I been in a room with so many people with so many different philosophies. The point is that neo conservatives have redefined conservatives because (A)usually there is an agenda (B) it's easier to live your life around the new definition. (C) its a sense of flexibility in how far you can move to the left and still call yoursleves conservative. But that doesn't make your conservative. untill then: (A)look up the word (B) Live your life by that definition. But I seriously doubt any of you can live up to it.

 
At 4:41 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger KeithM, Indy said...

Considering I don't really see anyone calling themselves neocons here...

so what's your point?

 
At 4:45 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Neo-neocon. I feel you are writing about me. I wish your post had been longer. How long will you make us wait for the next installment. Pete proves what you and I and others have discovered about liberals. I wish he would pull his heels and head out of the sand and then reread your post.

 
At 4:51 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Louis Proyect said...

Neo-neocon's post has a boringness of biblical proportions. 20,000 words to describe George W. Bush in terms that would make Harriet Miers embarrassed. If this is supposed to draw people to pajamas, I'd like to interest the investors in a bridge on Manhattan's east side.

 
At 4:58 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Pervy Grin said...

Pete Bogs said: "apparently you have bought into the idea that conservatives are strong on defense and terrorism and liberals want to invite Osama over for dinner"

"Bought into the idea". What a loaded phrase! Apparently you think that only ideas and beliefs, rather than evidence and facts, make things so. And if someone has an opinion you think is wrong, they must have "bought into" it, instead of arriving at it on their own. This betrays your way of thinking. As they say, conservatives believe something when they see it and liberals see something when they believe it. Have you considered the possibility that neo neocon examined the evidence, and concluded based on the facts, that conservatives are strong on defense and that liberals are not? I realize that facts and evidence are not very important in the liberal universe of feelings and beliefs, but some of us scientific sorts like to base our opinions on them, and can actually change our opinions when new evidence becomes available. I for one am gettng really tired of my anti-Bush friends thinking that I was hoodwinked and fooled by Chimpy McBushitlerburton, and them refusing to accept that I examined the evidence and made up my own mind. I'm sure many readers of this blog have encountered the same reaction from their liberal friends. They don't call me stupid because they know I'm not. Instead, they say "You're smart--how can you possibly believe this! They must have fooled you too!" Sorry, it just ain't so, and all your feelings and beliefs do not make it so.

 
At 4:58 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Alan said...

The anonymous poster who says neocons are not conservative is probably a social conservative (pseudo)--the kind of "conservative" Barry Goldwater advised the GOP to steer away from. Too bad the GOP didn't listen.

 
At 5:09 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Louis Proyect, 4:51 PM:

My guess is that you missed this post of mine, from yesterday. If you read it, you might get the following reference: I guess you're not "the man that must hear me."

No matter. I know my posts are long and quite boring to some. In the words of one succinct previous commenter, "You have one of the most painfully boring blogs of all time." As I wrote to him, "last time I checked, blogs weren't required reading."

I know your remark about "20,000 words" was hyperbole. But, in fact, Word clocked this post in at a relatively modest 5316 words (and that's including the Trotsky quote).

This was a lot more than a hymn to Bush. But my guess is that you may have left off reading somewhere around the time I stopped writing about him.

 
At 5:29 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous armchair pessimist said...

Please, Anon, you're killing me! Kindly give us your definition of conservative. Enough hints and mystifications, OK?

 
At 7:59 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Jacques Cuze said...

Hey! Another Yoostabee!

My best guess is you were slow and dim witted before and that 9/11 changed nothing.

That you are a therapist is pretty good evidence that I am right.

Hello Yoostabee!

 
At 8:33 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

My best guess is you were slow and dim witted before and that 9/11 changed nothing.
Are you referring to being 'liberal' for so long being slow and dim-witted, or something else?

 
At 8:59 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous dp said...

Same thing happened to me. I'd been a far left liberal every since my radical days in the sixties. Protesting NAM, an ERA feminist, and was in no way for Bush during his first election. But as I watched the towers fall from West Broadway, I felt a shift too. I sensed that where I usually would have marched against a war, I felt that this one had to be fought, this was just a gut feeling that superseded my thinking. Now, I find myself a stranger and at odds with all of my friends, and I can't believe they didn't change too.

 
At 9:00 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger bjbarron said...

A lovely essay.

I have always been a conservative. Where I got it from I haven’t a clue. My parents were liberal and I grew up in a very liberal community. Everyone I knew was liberal. But to me, to be a conservative just seemed right…a very personal choice back then.

I’ve refined my views over the past 60 years; but from the ‘get go’ I never ‘got’ the philosophy of the left. I raised my children to think for themselves…and they favor the left. Oh well.

I find it very interesting to read of the intellectual journey for former liberals. You are not alone it seems.

Neocon is a label that seems pithy to me. I think it implies too much of the ‘sunshine patriot’ of ancient story. If you wake up and look at our overly PC world with a realists eyes – you can’t help but be called a conservative.

Luck (and turn this journey into a book)…Yeah, and a movie!

 
At 9:24 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous klrfz1 said...

I too have enjoyed reading your series. You are a terrific writer. I don't find you boring at all. Your post today reminds me of what I was going through at the time of 9/11. The thoughts and feelings I had in the immediate aftermath are painful to recall. I was sent home from the federal facility where I worked so I had little to do but watch TV and the internet for a week afterwards. I was stunned, shocked, afraid, and very angry. I remember telling my Dad that all we (the West) could do was to survive. I never imagined Bush would hit back so hard at the terrorists. Arab Democracy, what a concept. The perfect response to drive the fanatics crazy. A dagger to the heart of their Caliphate. What a risk! I guess, I hope it's started in Iraq. If we live long enough, we'll see.

 
At 9:29 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

First, I can't get this typo out of my head:
"fantantic".
It's not a word - but it feels as though it should be! I'm trying to formulate a definition.

Second, dang it, I'll bite on Anon 4:34. I've gone all the way to the dark side - I am conservative on a large majority of issues. In fact, I am devoutly Christian AND conservative! Cover the childrens' eyes.

This is unoriginal, yet accurate:
Conservatives believe man's nature is to be imperfect(I prefer "fallen"), and that the best forms of government take this into account.

In a larger sense, though many conservatives don't consciously realize it, conservatives believe in laws about "rights", as opposed to laws about "good" behavior. Conservatives believe man has the "right" to protect himself against the intrusive actions of the fallen men all around him. Conservatives believe government cannot effectively force "good" upon citizens. By definition, "good" must be a function of free will. Government force does not equate to free will. The best governments protect rights, and leave good behavior to be achieved the difficult way - through persuasion, philosophy, religion, conscience, et al. Oh yeah, and psychology!

Most conservativism flows from belief in the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Vis a vis the WOT, for example, conservatives believe in the right to self-defensive protection against the fallen persons who would do us harm if they could.

 
At 9:34 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

BTW - as a Christian, I believe I am fallen also, and that I sin every day, in myriad ways.

 
At 9:44 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous geezer said...

Since I can't stand the tag "neo-con," I'm dying to find something else to refer to you as...

Until then, I'll just say that your journey mirrors many of our own out here in netland. I've been a conservative for many years, yet never started seriously questioning the MSM until sometime after the 2000 election. I can still remember checking CNN.com every DAY, for God's sake! Talk about naivete.

Your blog serves a tremendous purpose at this moment in time; reflection on what we've all gone through these last 5 years is not only healthy, it's extremely necessary. I'm sure most of us will continue to check in regularly if only to remind ourselves of the milestones we now all share.

As for Pete Bogs, would that your mind was as "closed up" as this gal's.

 
At 9:55 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Geezer: as far as the tag "neocon" goes, have you ever taken a look at my explanation of why I use it?

It may or may not make you like the moniker any better.

I appreciate the kind words from you, and from everyone else who has offered them.

 
At 10:00 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Megan said...

I too find it amazing that people accuse conservatives of being closed-minded when they are covering their hears yelling "I'm not listening, I'm not listening" (figuratively of course).

I don't read every one of your posts in full...I personally prefer the historical ones (I loved the Magda G. installment)...but I stuck it out with this lengthy post and I'm very glad. I even read all the comments (more than usual).

I think that 9/11 definitely caused more people to tilt right than to go the other way. That was my experience (though being engaged to a conservative helped speed up the process) post 9/11.

And I too started realizing all the sources of information that were available that I'd never heard of or seen. My mind has never been more open...and yet liberals insist that conservatives are closed...amazing.

Anyway, I agree with several posters who said you should write a book. That is a definite YES! from me too! :-) A woman's journey from Left to Right...I'm sure it'll seem like reading my own story.

 
At 10:32 PM, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

and

POWER POWER POWER

 
At 10:58 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Joan said...

Neo, this is your best installment yet. I'll join the chorus of those encouraging you to put this in book form when it is complete. I'm sure National Review would feature it prominently!

 
At 11:04 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger ForNow said...

I made the switch to the right during the 1980s. But it still took me many years to get that automatic trust of the NYT, the nightly national newscasts, etc., out of my head. My opinion became that they were unreliable and sometimes even dishonest but I didn't feel it, until the reporting on Afghanistan, Iraq, and the counterfeit TANG letters which especially fascinated me, being, as I was, an MS-Word "guru."

 
At 11:29 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

That is real good stuff Neo. Im looking forward to the next installment.

You certainly write well enough to write a book about your perspectives, alas, your reviews would probably get panned by the very same MSM you mentioned in your post.

 
At 11:32 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

Did I say that?

You certainly write well enough?

Sorry Neo, that's lame on my part. You are a very good writer, which is why I show up here daily.

 
At 11:48 PM, January 26, 2006, Blogger sammy small said...

Interesting presentation. This reads like one of those flashback sequences in a mystery movie script.

Its interesting how 9/11 was a catalyst for change in so many people. The shock of it all must have been followed by some flash of regret at how the 90's and the "peace dividend" had lulled the country into a state of disconnectedness from the rest of the world and its percolations.

For me it was the discovery of the Bojinka plot in 1995 where Yousef, KSM, and cohorts were intent on bombing several United Airlines flights between the U.S. and Asia. I used to fly on some of these flights back then, and it all hit a little too close to home. I realized then that while our security in this regard was a joke, the country was in a wave of feel good euphoria with the stock market soaring and Silicon Valley booming. No one was about to disrupt the party with the sour medicine of security.

However, I realized that it was just a matter of time before it would come home to roost. The millenium plot was another lucky catch, but also another indicator along the same road. When I turned on the news on the morning of 9/11, commentators were talking about a plane accidently hitting the tower. When the second plane hit, my first thought was "now we can't avoid the issue any longer". When the towers collapsed, my thought was "time to get the military packed up". I guess I didn't have a far to go in my movement towards reality.

 
At 12:59 AM, January 27, 2006, Blogger doug said...

You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in you .

Quite aside from the insightful thoughts in your posting, you could hardly have chosen a more apt introductory phrase. That was the first time I had seen that exceptionally pithy analysis.

As a fan of 'language', I must say that Comrade Trotsky hit that one right out of the park. Pretty much sums up the fatal internal flaw of the 'can't we all just be friends' school of non-thought.

Thanks for all your interesting commentaries. The difference between your observations and those of the 'Pete Bogs'of the world is the difference between thought and reaction.

 
At 1:54 AM, January 27, 2006, Anonymous strcpy said...

You described me at about 14 or so when I first formed my political ideas (well, except I never was leftist - I just didn't know).

At the time, my parents were fairly a-political. At the least I couldn't have told you who they voted for (now I know Reagan, but both had voted democrat in the past). Later I got my father into politics pretty heavily, though still not like I am.

Being kinda obsessive when I decided to learn something I did the whole library thing and read as many political theory books, raw speeches, and anything else I could find. It seemed that one side was correct more often than not and the other side wrong more often than not, always with some excuse as to why they *would* be correct if those others hadn't interfered. Well, that's like saying I could fly if I could flap my arms fast enough (true - it is "possible" to create a vacume that will suck you upwards. But even if your arm was made of steel it couldn't stand the torque) so lets make laws assuming I can fly. While the left was generally internally complete it seemed obvious to me that it didn't reflect reality, I only had to look at how other behaved to see it.

I also watched quite a bit of c-span which probably effected my political views more than anything. Especially my deep distrust of the media in general - watching the speech then reading/watching the media reactions, it was VERY bad in those days. One classic example was of a republican senator (who resigned over this) gave a speech about abhoring people who think "BLAH" (something racial, I don't remember exactly - been over 15 years ago). The next day/weeks was about that senator saying "BLAH" - evil racist republican. Exact opposite of what he said but unless you actually watched the speech you would never know any different nor did you have any way to find it out. The big thing that Blogs and conservative news has done isn't so much in getting the conservative side out but in forcing the general media to not do things like above. They can only get away with so much now.

If you trusted the media, didn't really critically think about politics, and liked something that generally made you feel good about people you were generally leftist. Though that person is ripe for "The Change" nowadays - that bubble no longer exists unless you intentionally force it into existence. In the longer run many kids who would be liberal/leftist will not now due to that change in information.

 
At 2:37 AM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Dan M said...

Trotsky was also famous for standing up in front of the Red Army and promising that "cowards" would be shot, {and his words were punctuated by the actual report of firing squads doing their grisly work in the near distance}. He also said that "anyone looking for a quiet life picked the wrong century to be born in."

One can't help but admire his "revolutionary candor." It seems our Mullah friends in Tehran have decided to emulate his clarity.

We would all be very well advised not to allow them opportunity to marry deed to word.

 
At 3:14 AM, January 27, 2006, Anonymous Barry said...

Good stuff. Like the others, I too changed. Gradual also. Time spent in another country, realizing that the US wasn't such a bad place afterall. Amazing how so many can still believe the party line put out by the old media. Thank God for the blogosphere. It is so clear to me now who the adults are. All part of growing up, too, I guess. Peace

 
At 9:26 AM, January 27, 2006, Blogger KeithM, Indy said...

When I turned on the news on the morning of 9/11, commentators were talking about a plane accidently hitting the tower. When the second plane hit, my first thought was "now we can't avoid the issue any longer". When the towers collapsed, my thought was "time to get the military packed up". I guess I didn't have a far to go in my movement towards reality.

*****

Same here, I was home (laid-off), 1st plane hit, don't jump to conclusions, could have been an accident.

2nd plane, Oh Sh!t. Lock and Load, (3 guns pistol, rifle, and shotgun), checked our Y2K stock of supplies, and tapped off our water supply.

Then called the wife, told her get home ASAP

Then started watching every single channel for developments.

About 11:30 or so I went to Blood Center to donate, was 2nd in line as a mass of people got the same idea.

Had to chuckle at the people panicing about gas. Sitting in long lines, driving up the prices.

Then when I had time to reflect I thought. Thank God we've got a cowboy in the White House.

 
At 9:34 AM, January 27, 2006, Anonymous meander said...

Excellent as always and worth the wait. It bemuses me a bit that I have an actual hunger for your posts on this topic and I really look forward to them. My sense of urgency about wanting another one RIGHT AWAY is kind of like how I feel about the show 24...once the new season gets started, I want to see all the episodes as soon as possible. Of course, what I want and what I get is not always mine to control...patience is good and having to wait makes one appreciate something even more...yeh, that's the ticket.
Anyway, enjoyed this immensely and looking forward to the next. Thanks for all that you put into it.

 
At 10:24 AM, January 27, 2006, Anonymous armchair pessimist said...

Dan: You might also like a remark by Stalin, who said "It takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army". Whatever else a Conservative may or may not be (and I hope this discussion develops here), we do respect a brave and resolute enemy, even as we realize that we have no choice but to destroy them utterly.
gotharn: As I understand the difference between neo-cons and old-cons, the former believe that peace and love are the default settings of human nature, and are willing to use armed force to properly recalibrate perverse and wicked societies. Case in point: what we're attempting in Iraq. Old cons take a bleaker view of the matter, and think that crime, violence, oppression are man's natural inclinations. Civilization, morals, tradition, society, whateveryou want to call it, are the walls erected painfully over the generations to save us from our murderous selves. Hence, our antipathy towards things new, revolutionary or hip. Naturally, this is a strong dose of castor oil in a time when everybody would much rather have the prevailing I'm OK you're OK candy. It ain't easy...

 
At 10:26 AM, January 27, 2006, Blogger KeithM, Indy said...

Thought people would enjoy this article. Is it turning the calender to a new year that makes people introspective, or is there something else going on in society?

http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=012706B

Recently, economist Jim Miller used the term moral free riding to describe adopting a precarious ideological position when it has little personal risk. George Mason University economics professor Bryan Caplan says that such free riding is the normal state of affairs. He argues that people are insulated from the consequences of their beliefs by the fact that the typical voter has a low probability of influencing the outcome of an election.


Caplan, in a book that eventually is to be published by Princeton University Press, argues that most people do not work very hard to arrive at worldviews that are logically consistent and factually supported, because the reward for rational beliefs is too small. He writes: "we should expect people to...believe whatever makes them feel best. After all, it's free. The fanatical protectionist who votes to close the borders risks virtually nothing, because the same policy wins no matter how he votes."


Of course, I may be as guilty as anyone of believing whatever makes me feel best. But I believe that I have put considerable effort into examining and correcting my worldview. I am no longer a liberal (in the contemporary sense of the term), because my calendar did not get stuck on 1968.

...

One bias is what Caplan terms in his book "pessimistic bias." People (not just liberals) tend to underestimate recent economic progress and future prospects. Pessimistic bias can be seen in doomsday environmental scenarios, claims that middle-class incomes are stagnating, and other liberal tropes.


Another bias is what Caplan calls anti-market bias. Liberals are excessively distrustful of markets and overly confident about the use of government power. The assumption is that government power will always be administered with wisdom and benevolence. I would be the first to admit that markets are not perfect. And government programs are not always failures. But liberals exaggerate market failures and overstate government successes. Anti-market bias leads people to concede government too much power, with liberals actively cheering government expansion.


Another bias is the view that other people cannot be trusted to make their own decisions. Liberals who send their own children to private school believe that poor families should not be allowed to make the same choice. Liberals make their own choices regarding health care, but they believe that others should have their health care decisions made for them by government.


I admit to having the opposite inclination. I do not believe that government can be trusted to make better decisions for individuals than individuals can make for themselves. It seems to me that if liberals had paid attention since 1968 rather than remaining in an ideological deep freeze, they would have seen the evidence that took me along the path to libertarianism.

 
At 11:09 AM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

Additionally, I am certain that if we had not used so many of our resources going to war with foreign nations and instead used all of our available goods and wealth to find the terrorist and kill them, we would be safer.

I find that a lot of people on the Left who nevertheless think something needed to be done (as opposed to those who think Amerikkka is always wrong) take comfort in what might be called the James Bond School of History. That is, we didn't need to invade Afghanistan, surely our special forces guys could parachute into Osama's 26-acre compound unnoticed, track his movements as a little green dot on a screen, silently strangle a few guards, shoot him with a silencer in the bathtub, get out, and that would be the end of terrorism in the middle east.

Okay, I'm obviously mocking this idea rather nastily, but is that not basically what this poster said? Is it not the basic idea behind Clinton lobbing a missile at a tent and calling it solved? There is real faith in the simplistic, Hollywood-driven belief that we can find anybody, kill anybody, and it ends right there. (As if, say, leftism in South America ended when Che was killed.) There is also the apparent belief that sending special troops in to kill a bunch of leaders is NOT war. Yet it is unimaginable that the Taliban regime would not have regarded any American activity within their borders as war. This whole attitude is just willfully naive, no matter how "certain" it is.

 
At 11:27 AM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

Well said Micheal.

I remember a lot of ill informed libs complaining about why we haven't gotten OBL, Saddam or hsi sons earlier on int the WOT, because we certainly had this marvelous high-tech clandestine force which is able pull off any mission anywhere on the planet.

The only thing keeping us from capturing these guys must've been Bush's misuse of these assets, or we already had captured these guys and were just waiting for the opputune moment to spring the news.

 
At 11:54 AM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Nahanni said...

Excellent article, Neo. One that somewhat refects my journey. 6 years after I realize just how brainwashed I had been by the leftists who for so long HAD been the gatekeepers of information-the MSM/Hollywood/academia. Unfortunately for them the horse has long left the barn, the county and the state. And that is a good thing.

Now the shrill, shreiking sounds issuing forth from them is their death rattle. It reminds me of the wicked witch in "The Wizard of Oz" when she got splashed with water. That shrill voice screeching "I'm melting, I'm melting!". You can hear that everywhere, including right here in the posts of the LLL's like Pete Bogs and those ever courageous "anonymous" posters...errr....trolls.

What I have come to realise about them is that they are much akin to other crisis cults throughout history. They simply can not cope with the fact that their world of "1968" is dead as old dad's hatband. Instead of understanding this and moving on they figure, like the ghost dancers once did, that if they practice their same "ceremonies" such as protesting and ridiculing any that do not support their world view and bring out their "icons" such as Jane Fonda, Joan Baez, John Kerry and their new one in Cindy Sheehan that their "world" will come back.

Got news for them, it ain't going to happen.

 
At 12:01 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Nahanni said...

Hehehe..

After posting I went over to Instapundit and lo and behold someone wrote an article about what I was referring to.

Stuck on 1968
http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=012706B

 
At 12:15 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

Louis Proyect

The bridge to which you refer was purchased years ago by aging marxists, and they refuse to sell it again. Now they post disingenuous comments, troll-style, at others blogs: As neo pointed out, it's clear you didn't read the essay, yet you insult it because you have an a priori dislike of the politics. What pathetic commentary on the vacuous, stuck in time, self-interested Left.

 
At 12:28 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Okay, I'm obviously mocking this idea rather nastily, but is that not basically what this poster said? Is it not the basic idea behind Clinton lobbing a missile at a tent and calling it solved? There is real faith in the simplistic, Hollywood-driven belief that we can find anybody, kill anybody, and it ends right there. (As if, say, leftism in South America ended when Che was killed.) There is also the apparent belief that sending special troops in to kill a bunch of leaders is NOT war. Yet it is unimaginable that the Taliban regime would not have regarded any American activity within their borders as war. This whole attitude is just willfully naive, no matter how "certain" it is.


I find your embellishments about my post amusing and sort of predictable. You presume a lot about a very vague statement that I made. I did not offer any potential alternatives to war, yet you made you own on my part. Not only that you analyzed your own observations seemingly on my behalf? I think that this line of reasoning is called the Straw Man fallosy. It’s juvenile and soft.

You are welcome to your opinion about what I’ve said or did not say - this is your perogitive.
But I offer - did the Israli government declare war on a foreign nation, use hundres of billions in resources, woefully kill thousands of civilians, create a terrorist insurgence where the was none, and destroy their moral authority in the world to catch a handful of Nazi’s?
Why not hunt for misquetos with an elephant gun? I admit that President Clinton did not do enough to catch these gangsters, but now we are at the opposite extreme. We are quagmired by war with no end in sight.

These men, Al Queda, are criminals! We used most of our military resources to invade a country that was number 5 on the Most Threatening Nation list, and Al Queada is still on the loose. There are no significant ties to Iraq and Al Queda. And Osama is still mocking us.
With all due respect, and I mean that sincerely, I think that you are being scamed. Your fears are being played upon by opportunists, and glad-handers.

"In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly." - Colerigde



Additionally, I am certain that if we had not used so many of our resources going to war with foreign nations and instead used all of our available goods and wealth to find the terrorist and kill them, we would be safer

 
At 12:32 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Please excuse the last paragraph in my previous post. I usually edit in MS Word, and I copied too much of my rough draft.

 
At 1:07 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Das said...

I am really enjoying your description of your transformation. You write it up well. I made a similar journey. I knew I didn't belong to the left anymore when 2 days after 9/11 talk of "blowback" and "we caused this" or "we deserved this" surfaced all over the net and in the media. Cheers.

 
At 1:19 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger LetMeSpellItOutForYou said...

I've found this an interesting series. I experienced similar changes -- both NY to Boston & left to right -- in my mid 20's during the 2nd Reagan admin. I envy Neo's ability to identify what caused her shift. Myself, I have little idea other than to say it was roughly when I left school and starting working in the real world.

In general, pre-Giuliani New York was hellishly liberal, and a good deal of my disaffection was caused by the elevation of "homelessness" (among many other pathologies) to some form of sainthood. (An experiment I repeated successfully several times: homeless guy comes up to me asking for money to eat; I tell him we'll go and I'll *buy* him a sandwich; he refuses. Light bulb moment!) In particular, the Left lost me when claiming the underclass didn't have access to jobs -- this in the midst of the enormous labor shortage in the economic boom that followed the '82 recession. The boom itself occurred contrary to all sorts of economic wisdom, so Neo's "predictive value" theme resonates for me, too.

By the time the Soviet Union imploded, I had developed a pretty healthy respect for reality. Still, I shared Neo's surprise at the magnitude of our collective delusions, and annoyance at the lack of both recriminations and tickertape parades. I was doubly surprised to find some of my friends didn't share my elation when the Berlin Wall was destroyed, instead settling into a peevish form of "yes, but..." That's when it hit home that I was going down another fork in the road.

Still, my changed view of domestic policy formed a template for a similar shift on foreign policy: away from unilateral disarmament, U.S.-out-of-wherever, we're-just-as-bad-as-the-other-guy, income transfers to the Third World, ceding authority to the U.N., you name it. I haven't read enough here to determine if Neo has changed her views significantly on any domestic issues in parallel with her obvious shift on foreign policy, and wonder if this is the case. (I don't really make the distinction in my own head.) I also wonder if anybody thinks there's any remarkable difference between political conversions driven by domestic rather than foreign policy concerns?

 
At 1:22 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Das said...

p.s. at some point I would like to see you explore this phenom: Conservatives (or Neos ) can understand Leftys but Leftys cannot understand Conservatives. That is why well-written statements like yours are answered with invective and obscenity by the Left.

The Left, unaware that fascism is actions not ideas, can only come at Conservatives with calumny and obscenity.

 
At 1:45 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Another unsubstantiated claim -

"p.s. at some point I would like to see you explore this phenom: Conservatives (or Neos ) can understand Leftys but Leftys cannot understand Conservatives. That is why well-written statements like yours are answered with invective and obscenity by the Left."

This is not my experience at all; I understand the postitions of the right. Often my questions are rhetorical and open ended to provoke thought.
I visit many blogs, both left and right, and I find a mean spiritedness on both sides.


Generally it takes me a considerable amount of time to break through the abhorrence only to find that we usually agree on what we should achieve, but disagree on the methods.

 
At 1:47 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger doug said...

I remember a lot of ill informed libs complaining about why we haven't gotten OBL,...
The only thing keeping us from capturing these guys must've been Bush's misuse of these assets,...
Harry M.

"These men, Al Queda, are criminals! We used most of our military resources to invade a country that was number 5 on the Most Threatening Nation list, and Al Queada is still on the loose. There are no significant ties to Iraq and Al Queda. And Osama is still mocking us.--Van

Well Harry, I guess you really didn't have to consult the memory banks for your observation. Had you but waited a short while Van sould have been perfectly happy to have fully illustrated your points.

Osama is mocking you Van. That is why he always includes some 'leftist' talking points in his propaganda sermons. Does it never give you pause when this 'criminal', this 'Nazi', sounds very much like just another contributor to the Huffington Post?

Just asking.

 
At 1:52 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

Van: Okay, so he put words in your mouth. Now that you've debunked that, do you care to say what you meant, or does everybody get to keep guessing as to what your solution is?

 
At 2:00 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Comparing Bin Laden to the Huffington Post is like comparing Saddam Husein to Mr Rogers.
There is no paralell.

Nice try, but unequivocal. And, you just proved my previous
point – thank you.

 
At 2:11 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Justin:
We had a unique opportunity in that the entire world was with us. We likely would have had access to criminal records from where these people lived.
As I remember, even Iran was sympathetic.
We could have had carte-blanche access to these countries records and likey there territories – providing we did not invade them.

I would have started there and moved forward. I believe that this method would have been much more efficient and cost effective.

 
At 2:18 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Sorry about the double post – technical difficulty.

Justin:
I would have started by using all of the political capital that we gain by the tragedy of 9/11. Unfortunately I can think of no other way to put that last statement.

I would have utilized all of our CIA,NSA,FBI resources and likely created a special taskforce to hunt the criminals. Very much like the Israelis did when hunting the Nazi's.

We had a unique opportunity in that the entire world was with us. We likely would have had access to criminal records from where these people lived.
As I remember, even Iran was sympathetic.
We could have had carte-blanche access to these countries records and likey there territories – providing we did not invade them.

I would have started there and moved forward. I believe that this method would have been much more efficient and cost effective.

 
At 2:21 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Van said...

This method of using a taskforce and utilizing foreign governments and services has a solid precedent.
It has been done throughout history several times and has been quite effective.

 
At 2:31 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Sissy Willis said...

If the New Yorker had any sense, it would drop Sy "I certainly can fudge what I say" Hersh and put our own Neo on the payroll for weekly reports from "the front."

 
At 2:51 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Das said...

Van:

You forgot to mention that left-absconded with verb (past tense) "squandered". Ah yes, the tears of the world were with us after 9/11. Sniff. The Palestinians dancing in the street, millions of eruropeans gleeful that the US had finally gotten it in the knackers, the Chomsky crowd with fresh blood on their fangs less than 24 hours after 9/11. Right, tell us more about that golden unique moment in history.

 
At 3:01 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Das:
You are bringing up extreme points of veiw and extreme left ideologs.

Congressman Tom Tancredo R-CO suggested that we drop a nuclear bomb on Iran. So what?

There are plenty of nut jobs in the world. I read Chomsky but I part with him on many levels. I like Tancredo's views on immigration, but his foreign policy is just nutty.

You're not really saying anything.

 
At 3:17 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Das said...

Van:
I won't abuse Neo's hospitality by getting into a micturating contest with you on her blog. Just let me continue (and end) with my "not saying anything" by pointing out that for you 9/11 was a "tragedy." That says it all, brother. Adios.

 
At 3:24 PM, January 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whenever the economy in the USA is bad for average Americans (Profits up but wages/real income down; poverty up; job creation behind population growth; deeper debt etc), professionals and elite types write about "mind change" and "habits of mind" or "habits of the heart."
This is not to say neo's change and journey is not sincere or interesting; it is.
Just noticing a pattern.

 
At 3:52 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger KeithM, Indy said...

So, Iran, Syria, Iraq, North Korea, and a small host of nations would have gleefully let our "task force" members in to hunt down terrorists, if we had just asked them nicely.

And yours is the thinking of the reality based community???

We currently have at least 70 nations supporting our efforts to go after terrorists. I would guess that the rest either do not want their help to be public, have not much to offer in the way of help, or are actively pursuing terrorism as a means of warfare.

 
At 4:30 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Keith -

There is no need to be condesending.
I believe that we could have done more with deplomacy. Look at what Ronald Regan was able to accomplish with the Iranians in 1980.

And furthermore, we wouldn't need the suport of every nation - that's a rediculous assumption.

 
At 4:40 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Hill O'beans said...

Brilliant blog, as someone previously said "I hope theres a book in it"

Welcome home Neo-Neocon

 
At 4:52 PM, January 27, 2006, Anonymous Larry said...

Van, 12:28: "...did the Israli government declare war on a foreign nation, use hundres of billions in resources, woefully kill thousands of civilians, create a terrorist insurgence where the was none, and destroy their moral authority in the world to catch a handful of Nazi’s?"

Well, no, but what did they do when attacked by Islamo-fascists in 1967, for instance?

Van, 2:11: "As I remember, even Iran was sympathetic."

To the Great Satan? Cite, please. This is the country that attacked and took our embassy in '79 and killed our Marines in Lebanon. Acts of war! Jimmeh and Ron let us down by not reacting quickly and forcibly. We'd be closer to peace if we'd been stronger then.

Radical Islam keeps telling us in plain language that they want all infidels dead or in slavery. Unless you plan to convert, you need to start listening, not to cons, neocons, neo-neocons, who may never convince you, but to radical Islamists.

 
At 4:57 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger troutsky said...

87 comments! here is one more, neo, you mentioned the "predictability" factor in your conversion, ascertaining which events predicted were actually coming to pass.This has both a short term and long term aspect to it ,it seems to me,as well as a subjective layer that only time can remove. In general going with the best soothsayer seems shaky, some might get lucky for a while and fizzle etc. Few serious analysts stick their necks out far enough into the future far enough to allow their heads to get chopped off.Maybe "time"will see you abandoning the dark side eventually.Again, a joke.You are an independent, which is an unassailable position.

As for who will play you in the movie..just kidding,it is a very well written piece.

 
At 6:42 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger MikeZ said...

It's a great story. I'm reminded a little of Augustine's "Confessions".

I don't think even Hitchens haas given such a good account of that journey.

 
At 7:32 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Judith said...

"I for one am gettng really tired of my anti-Bush friends thinking that I was hoodwinked and fooled by Chimpy McBushitlerburton, and them refusing to accept that I examined the evidence and made up my own mind."

My friends think I voted for Bush because I'm a Texan. or because I want to be controversial. Just as insulting.

 
At 7:38 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Judith said...

"I am certain that if we had not used so many of our resources going to war with foreign nations and instead used all of our available goods and wealth to find the terrorist and kill them, we would be safer. . . . "

Going to war is exactly how you find them and kill them.

"Osama Bin Laden is a criminal. We should have treated him as such. There are many ways to do this."

And no one ever describes in detail what they are. if you can present a plan for how to capture and "arrest" a number of individuals who are hiding out in mountainous landlocked country surrounded by not particularly friendly nations, our state dept would love to know about it.

And once you've "arrested" him and his gang, where are they tried, and by whom?

Meanwhile, back in the real world . . . .

 
At 9:16 PM, January 27, 2006, Anonymous M.Vitruvius@gmail.com said...

These men, Al Queda, are criminals!

Those men, al-Qaida, are warfighters.

First, they have very explicitly declared several wars-- a secondary war against the West, which has as its goal the garnering of prestige and support with which to wage a primary war against the indigenous governments of the Muslim world.

Aside from the declaration, war is the application of lethal force to achieve political effect. Al-Qaida certainly qualifies, there.

Second, war is not the province of states alone. Every meaningful document regarding international law (although the concept of international law grows weaker and weaker as the state of war approaches, of necessity) produced in the last several centuries acknowledges this. The best analogy I have for "those men, al`Qaida" are a strain of pirates. And although there are a legion of flaws with that analogy, it's still worth pointing out that the first external war the United States fought after Independence was against the pirates of the Barbary Coast-- who were non-State actors.

Third, even were "those men, al`Qaida" nothing more than criminals, their presence on foreign soil necessarily complicates the action of simple law enforcement. Assume, arguendo, that bin Laden and al-Zawahiri are in the wilds of Pakistan. The local authorities in Pakistan are either unwilling or unable (or both) to deal with the problem.

Putting down law enforcement agents such as the FBI (whose training is largely limited to civilian domestic exercises) without permission is itself an act of war.

In a more perfect world, Pakistan would be a strong enough and willing enough state (again, for the sake of argument, it's Pakistan) to solve the problem as a local exercise of police power. But they're not. The surgical, one-time solution to this problem ("get bin Laden!") is thus necessarily a problem of war.

The strategic problem ("reduce the recruitment rate of al-Qaida and similar groups, and strengthen other states legally and morally so as to make the rest local law enforcement problems") is also a problem of war given those states' present total disinterest in reform.

The notion that this is not war is dangerously misleading.

--Marcus Vitruvius

 
At 9:51 PM, January 27, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

Yeah, thats it Van. This whole thing would have been nothing more than a simple police matter if it were'nt for the brutish knuckle-dragging Bush administration dispensing the wrath of his Christian god upon the "evil-doer's".

We could have simply asked Iran if we could step in side for a moment and have a look around, and thank you very much.

And if they said no anyway?

 
At 9:49 AM, January 28, 2006, Blogger TmjUtah said...

Van:

"I believe that we could have done more with deplomacy. Look at what Ronald Regan was able to accomplish with the Iranians in 1980.

The Iranians got some assets back. We in effect ransomed hostages and forgave an attack on U.S. soil by a foreign power. Iran's mullahs remained in power as the corporate headquarters of worldwide Islamic terror.

I don't think the deal represented any kind of laudable solution when put in historical perspective. We merely deferred the cost of confronting an unavoidable threat. 2001 stands as one of history's more painful balloon payments.

 
At 9:49 AM, January 28, 2006, Blogger Van said...

I’ll concede that invading Afghanistan may have been an effective way to turn the tide towards favoring the United States in the Near East. I supported the action early on. In fact, I nearly joined up with my former National Guard unit when they deployed to Afghanistan; however, my wife would have no part of that. She was pining for a child at the time.
The U.S. had an opportunity early on to really help the people of Afghanistan. We were engaged to help them pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

The war with Iraq changed that forever. When we invaded Iraq I began to question to futility of using warfare to catch criminals. We simply do not have enough resources to fight two wars and rebuild two countries simultaneously – ask any reservist. This is the primary reason that I believe the warfare scenario is a completely inefficient way to catch Al Qaeda.

Someone mentioned that Al Qaeda is a group of “ war fighters”, not criminals. This may be true on some levels, but our government disagrees. Our government is not affording them the provisions of the Geneva Convention precisely because these “war fighters” are criminals.

Someone else said, “Yeah, that’s it Van. This whole thing would have been nothing more than a simple police matter if it weren’t for the brutish knuckle-dragging Bush administration dispensing the wrath of his Christian god upon the "evil-doer".

I wish that people could discuss these topics with out being condescending and pedestrian, that said; there is nothing simple about this problem. This is a complex issue with many facets, many that we are not even aware of. Additionally, I have nothing against President Bush personally.

I’m boiling it down to this – I find our our measures of dealing with Al Qaeda by using a prodigious amount of force extremely inefficient.
Most of you find that warfare is the only way to handle our enemies in this case.

I’ve enjoyed this discussion but I fear that it is becoming entirely too intrusive.
I do not want to diminish from Neocon’s chronology, so you are welcome to visit my blog and discuss this further. I’ll be posting an entry as to why I think that the War scenario is fantastically inefficient some time in the next day or so. I’m watching my newborn all weekend while my wife is at work so I’ll likely post by Monday.

To Neocon – I hope that I did not overextend my welcome. I’ve enjoyed discussing these issues here and learning about you conversion and your positions. I’ve blog-rolled your site and I’d like to come back from time to time, that is if you approve.

 
At 4:10 PM, January 28, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

What you seem to be trying to do Van, is make this just about Al Qeada alone. This is the "War on Terror" which encompasses more than one group or individual.

Destroying Al Qeada does not erase the threat of terror. I know you have to understand that.

You still havent answered the question of what you would do if Iran or any other state would have refused our requests to find Al Qeada operatives as you must know they would have.

You may have found my comments "condescending and pedestrian" but Im thinking that you are aware of the realities, but purposely ignore them.

 
At 5:11 PM, January 28, 2006, Blogger TmjUtah said...

Van -

I strongly second Harry on two of his points (condescending and pedestrian, and your attempt to frame the threat en toto as al Q and nothing but al Q.)

Criminals are driven by pursuit of personal gain by methods acknowledged to be unethical by the society they reside within. al Q and the other myriad Islamists foot soldiers out there are nothing like that at all, unless you count the corrupt leadership of say, the Palestinian Authority or that part of Iran's mullahocracy that is transparently driven by amassing wealth.

The wahabbist/salafist clerics and would-be clerics running on bin Laden's template are leading a religous movement that taps the despair and failure of an entire slice of humanity to arrive at representative democracy.

They were left behind since the beginning of the renassaince... and here in 2006 they've committed their hopes, dreams, and lives to making the rest of us share their lot.

They may not march in ranks nor have a retirement plan after twenty years in service, but they do have a common creed, common goal, and all willingly carry swords they use without restraint in pursuit of the objective.

That makes them an army, not a criminal enterprise.

We freed the slaves in 1862 but we still don't have a color blind society. Things are better than they were then but it took a century (and much violence) to finally get most statuatory discrimination off the books. We still need to correct the good intentions/cynical manipulation of affirmative action in order to arrive at a color-blind society.

It can happen here, because of our liberal democracy.

Germany still hosts our occupation troops after half a century. Japan functions under a constitution whose original form was dictated by us. Russia is no longer the Soviet Union. It is also not an ashtray, and it is neither the policy nor the desire of the United States, who beat them, to turn them into provinces or clones of America.

America did want, however, the mentioned above countries to go about their business absent the action of killing Americans or our allies.

al Q and the others of their ilk aren't criminals. They are entries on our to-do list of things that have to happen so that we can go about our lives in freedom, respecting the right of our neighbors to do the same.

We agree to disagree. We can walk away from the argument on that note, too. The same cannot be said of Ilsamist terror, or those who follow that banner.

 
At 5:21 PM, January 28, 2006, Anonymous Randall said...

"becoming a neocon is an unfortunate side-effect of 9/11..."

Yes, Pete Bogs, you are right.

We are not responsible for our opinions.

Our opinions and behavior are simply responses to provocations from Islamic Extremists. It is their fault, and when they change their behavior, we will become the warm fuzzy people nature intended us to be.

I would suggest you dedicate your efforts towards convincing Al Qaida and their supporters of the wisdom of STOPPING ALL ACTIONS THAT FORCE US AGAINST OUR WILL AND BETTER NATURE TO BECOME MILITANT AND AGGRESSIVE.

Looking forward to your success in this endeavor...

 
At 6:32 PM, January 28, 2006, Blogger ELC said...

I read all the installments today. Great stuff. (Don't forget, neo-neocon, to add a link at the end of 6A.)

Re: 3:22 PM, January 26, 2006, Van: I personally do not feel any more inviolable since my country invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, we have done exactly what the terrorists wanted - we have shown that we are aggressive and brutal.

I think that is quite the delusional projection. What they thought we would do is wimp out, as we did consistently under Clinton and Carter and even, to some extent, as we did under Reagan. Anybody who thinks any group (al-Qaeda) wants its sworn enemy, with overwhelming numbers and power, to lash out and destroy its bases of operation, communications networks, and people, is simply not thinking straight. If thinking at all.

 
At 7:42 PM, January 28, 2006, Blogger Rainsborough said...

In the fall of 2001, I too was reading the Times pretty often, and I don't recall taking away from its pages reasons to greatly fear an untoward outcome in Afghanistan. Anyway, like virtually all the Democrats in Congress, I strongly supported the invasion. I think I also assumed it would go reasonably well.
I thought that might well be the case in Iraq, as well. But I nevertheless strongly opposed that invasion and occupation, and am now quite glad that I did. I look forward to your account of why you think the neocon approach has been vindicated by what was peculiarly ITS war--the one in Iraq. As for OUR war, the one nearly everybody I knew supported, I only wish we'd put a few more troops on the ground at Tora Bora, and had invested more of the resources there that were diverted into Iraq.

 
At 10:26 PM, January 28, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

This was just a single mission ostensibly gone bad, occurring very early in a war against a terrible enemy (surely everyone agreed the Taliban were terrible?)

Commando missions that go bad, usually end up with entire A-Teams being killed. For example, Iran hostage situation and the SEALs being hit on the Afghanistani-Pakistani border. Those went bad. Any mission that an A-Team comes back home with no casualties, is MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

I wouldn't expect Hersh to know anything about that however.

When we come up with a better delivery system for Special Operation Forces, the terroists won't know what fracking hit them.

But without any special motivation to do so--for example, everyone I knew read the Times, and I'd been taught since childhood that it was the paper of record--it simply did not occur to me that there was any compelling need to compare or to check sources. I guess that's what's meant by the phrase "living in a bubble."

He who controls the written word that a person reads, controls that person's thoughts. A very controlled bubble indeed.

(and the Special Forces-type operations that Hersh had trashed had apparently been instrumental in the victory).

It isn't wise to underestimate the Special Forces, cause they are the best killers in this world, and we need more of them.

To get a grasp of who and what a SF guy is, read The Weapon by Michael Williamson. I'll email you the actual link to the free book. And here's a link to AlphaGeek. Gotta love AG's Operational Security.

AlphaGeek

There's a certain benefit to low expectations. You are much less shocked if something bad happens, while if something good happens then the shock value isn't fatal. I tend to think the Left kept covering their bets and never doubled or nothing, and it has costed them. Namely, it has costed them you for example.

 
At 11:43 PM, January 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post Neocon! I had an almost identical gradual transformation which has seriously limited my social life. Thinking back of my world views prior to my 'awakening', I can't help but feel embarrassed by my naiveté. It’s always reassuring to know that I am not the only one.

 
At 4:21 AM, January 29, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I admit, I had much the same experience myself. Except that my reaction was a bit different... I felt betrayed, that only one side had been presented to me all my life... through the media, through the schools, and that side was a lie.

It wasn't a "what had I been thinking?" moment. It was a "Bastards! You dirty bastards!" moment.

And that is how the "angry right" gets born.

 
At 2:39 PM, January 29, 2006, Blogger Crazy Bald Guy said...

Neocon, I found most interesting the first step of your journey: presuming that the opposition leaders were human beings, mentally competent, of decent moral character. Kudos to you for that.

I moved to New York City in 1999 and have lived here ever since.

 
At 7:58 AM, January 30, 2006, Blogger Van said...

“Criminals are driven by pursuit of personal gain by methods acknowledged to be unethical by the society they reside within. al Q and the other myriad Islamists foot soldiers out there are nothing like that at all, unless you count the corrupt leadership of say, the Palestinian Authority or that part of Iran's mullahocracy that is transparently driven by amassing wealth.”

---- If this is true, than why does our government treat these men as criminals and not captured soldiers?

“What you seem to be trying to do Van, is make this just about Al Qaeda alone. This is the "War on Terror" which encompasses more than one group or individual.

Destroying Al Qaeda does not erase the threat of terror. I know you have to understand that.

You still haven’t answered the question of what you would do if Iran or any other state would have refused our requests to find Al Qaeda operatives as you must know they would have.

You may have found my comments "condescending and pedestrian" but Im thinking that you are aware of the realities, but purposely ignore them.

--- The notion that we can fight all of the terrorists in the world with the force of our military is absolutely absurd! Our country cannot afford such an endeavor. Your statement strengthens my argument to treat these men as the criminals they are. We have used our military to “fight terror” but in fact this has done little to stop terrorism, hence all of the terrorist attacks since September 11.
Again we had an opportunity to completely go after Al Qaeda just after 9/11 – we squandered that by using all of our military resources to wage war. Second, I do not know that Iran would have refused to help us. Do you remember the pro Democracy student demonstrations just after 9/11 in Iran? Anyway I am not a Diplomat, the general thrust of my position is that we are attempting to find and kill a small group of men with the might and power of the American military. This has been grossly inefficient. I have at least attempted to answer all of your objections, but none of you have dealt with the grossly inefficient use of warfare and the massively negative affect it is having on our economy, the people of Iraq, and our deficit.

 
At 11:59 AM, January 30, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

People who talk about the inefficiency of warfare don't know jack about guerrila warfare at all, so it is not like they can tell the difference between an efficient guerrila war and an inefficient one. That lack of knowledge posing as reasoned beliefs, is a big problem for most civilians.

I hear a lot about warfare, but I never hear specifics that detail a person's intimate knowledge of warfare and psychology. Von Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, psychological operations, why do people act as if these people and things don't exist?

 
At 12:17 PM, January 30, 2006, Blogger KeithM, Indy said...

What is absurd is the thought that what we are doing is fighting terrorism throughout the world ONLY with military force...

Some people need to open their eyes to the rest of the story.

 
At 5:08 PM, January 30, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

When we invaded Iraq I began to question to futility of using warfare to catch criminals.

Van, read carefully: The US did not enter the present Iraq war to “catch criminals” or al Qaeda. The purpose of war was to topple Saddam.

“Criminals are driven by pursuit of personal gain by methods acknowledged to be unethical by the society they reside within. al Q and the other myriad Islamists foot soldiers out there are nothing like that at all, unless you count the corrupt leadership of say, the Palestinian Authority or that part of Iran's mullahocracy that is transparently driven by amassing wealth.” ---- If this is true, than why does our government treat these men as criminals and not captured soldiers?

The answer, Van, is that our government does not treat them as criminals. It treats them as war-criminals – an entirely different category than bank robbers & tax evaders – or ordinary soldiers.

Destroying Al Qaeda does not erase the threat of terror. I know you have to understand that.

Yes, but Al Qaeda will do for a starting point.

You still haven’t answered the question of what you would do if Iran or any other state would have refused our requests to find Al Qaeda operatives as you must know they would have.

I’ve combed your comments & still cannot figure out what you mean by the above statement.

--- The notion that we can fight all of the terrorists in the world with the force of our military is absolutely absurd!

Your are correct, it would be absurd, if that was what the US was doing. What is actually happening is that rulers that aid, abet & give safe harbor to the terrorists are being toppled & replaced – hopefully with leaders who wont support terrorism.

Our country cannot afford such an endeavor. Your statement strengthens my argument to treat these men as the criminals they are. We have used our military to “fight terror” but in fact this has done little to stop terrorism, hence all of the terrorist attacks since September 11.

ALL the terrorist attacks since 9/11? Do you know of any terrorist attacks in the US since 9/11? I haven’t heard of any. I must ask you to cite your sources.

I do not know that Iran would have refused to help us.

Do you really believe Iran would have helped the US after 9/11? If you do, I’ll bet you also believe that Iran is developing their nuclear program to provide electricity to their citizens. Pssst, anybody reading this own some swampland in Florida? I think I’ve found a customer for you.

we are attempting to find and kill a small group of men with the might and power of the American military.

Naw, you have it wrong again. Van, the US is using its military to topple terror-supporting regimes - and doing an admirable job of it. Two down, a couple more to go – worth every tax dollar.

 
At 5:59 PM, January 30, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Ok, here we go again.
I'm watching my son and he's completely fascinated with my laptop
- he's trying to eat it - so I need to be brief.

First:
"Van, read carefully: The US did not enter the present Iraq war to “catch criminals” or al Qaeda. The purpose of war was to topple Saddam. "

--We invaded Iraq because they supposedly had weapons of mass destruction and they were supposedly aiding Al Qaeda. Both have been shown to be false or grossly mischaracterized.

Second:
"The answer, Van, is that our government does not treat them as criminals. It treats them as war-criminals – an entirely different category than bank robbers & tax evaders – or ordinary soldiers"

--War criminals are afforded the provisions of the Geneva Convention - the criminal detainees are not.

Third:
"Your are correct, it would be absurd, if that was what the US was doing. What is actually happening is that rulers that aid, abet & give safe harbor to the terrorists are being toppled & replaced – hopefully with leaders who won’t support terrorism."

--again there is no significant evidence that Sadam harbored Al Qaeda.

Forth:
"ALL the terrorist attacks since 9/11? Do you know of any terrorist attacks in the US since 9/11? I haven’t heard of any. I must ask you to cite your sources."

1. Singapore, London, Spain – there have been about a dozen since Sept. 11 (not to mention thousands in Iraq after we invaded.) (http://www.infoplease.com/spot/terror-qaeda.html)

Fifth:
"Naw, you have it wrong again. Van, the US is using its military to topple terror-supporting regimes - and doing an admirable job of it. Two down, a couple more to go – worth every tax dollar."

-- There are more than a couple of governments that harbor terrorists. I can think of 20 off hand.

 
At 8:00 PM, January 30, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

--We invaded Iraq because they supposedly had weapons of mass destruction and they were supposedly aiding Al Qaeda. Both have been shown to be false or grossly mischaracterized.

Van, sooner or later, terrorists were going to be in possession of Saddam’s WMD – you know - like the one he used on the Kurds. What do you think would happen then? Saddam also supported terrorists of all stripes, including al Qaeda. But I didn’t support the present Iraq war because of the possible possession of WMD by Saddam. Any dummy would know that he would get rid of those in the year-long run-up to the war – easily reconstituted later. No, what bothered me was that Saddam never lived up to the agreements made by Iraq after losing the first Gulf War. That, and the fact that Saddam ordered his pilots to shoot at our aircraft in the no-fly zone were all I needed. Of course, the attempted assassination of the elder Bush was also on my mind.

--War criminals are afforded the provisions of the Geneva Convention - the criminal detainees are not.

Van, I’ll let US courts handle that question. Personally, I’ll go along with anything the US justice system says to do about the detainees.

-again there is no significant evidence that Sadam harbored Al Qaeda.

So you say, but there is significant evidence that indicates Saddam did harbor terrorists.

On terror attacks in the US, Van cites terror attacks overseas: Singapore, London, Spain – there have been about a dozen since Sept. 11 (not to mention thousands in Iraq after we invaded.)

Van, surely you don’t ascribe to the theory that the US can stop terror attacks overseas. Goodness knows it’s difficult enough to stop them in the US, what with the liberal opposition to the Patriot Act & the NSA intercepts, but overseas too? IMO, that’s asking too much. Singapore, London & Spain’s leaders need to be taking their own measures – not depending on the US to prevent their terrorist attacks. And that goes for Iraq, too, as soon as their government can handle it. As for the “thousands in Iraq,” I thought all good liberals thought that the terrorists in Iraq are “insurgents,” not “terrorists.”

-- There are more than a couple of governments that harbor terrorists. I can think of 20 off hand.

I was thinking of Iran & Syria. Would you mind naming the other 18? Please Van, let’s keep the debate factual & not be exaggerating so much. But aside from that, don’t you think toppling a few terror-sponsoring rulers might have a chilling effect on those who may be contemplating the harboring of terrorists? Showing these rogue rulers what happens to those who help terrorists could be the best thing the US can do. In fact, it already has had positive results – for example: Libya. Furthermore if, as you claim, there are at least 20 regimes that currently support terrorism, don’t you think there might be the slightest chance that Saddam was among them? Or was he the one nice guy in the bunch?

Van, your type of thinking, which I think can be characterized as ‘trust in diplomacy and hope for the best,’ is what brought 9/11 on in the first place. The US needs a more proactive, less timid foreign policy than that in order to deal with these terrorist & the regimes that support them.

 
At 9:41 PM, January 30, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Here is a list of Terrorist States -

1. Iran
2. Syria
3. Kurdistan
4. Uzbekistan
5. Palestine
6. Libya
7. Kenya
8. Ethiopia
9. Samalia
10. Sudan
11. Eritrea
12. North Korea
13. Cuba
14. Uzbekistan
15. Kurdistan
Source –
http://www.usip.org/pubs/specialreports/sr113.html#sudan
http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2003/31644.htm

There are 15 states listed,
The State Department counts Iraq which makes 16, my estimate of 20 includes countries where terrorist flurish, but not necessarily sponsored by the state government - my mistake.

Finally – Iraq did not have any WMD’s!
Source – Scott Ridder
http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1560258527

Thank you; and for the sake of my own sanity I'm signing of off this entry. Thanks to all of you for the excellent, sometimes challenging debate. It's been very engaging. I've enjoyed our exchanges.

 
At 7:24 AM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Van said...

Harry -

You obviously have a very good sense of humor, which I find refreshing.

Simply put, your own camp suggests the same thing - Thomas Friedman "The Lexus and the Olive Branch"

I am in agreement with Mr. Friedman on some levels and one is that if people are working and earning a decent living they will have less interest in strapping a bomb on them selves and blowing up a night club.
Now, there will always be a demented assortment of insurgents ready to kill anyone that disagrees, but they would have less support if the people can participle in what we call the middle class - that's my opinion anyway.

 
At 12:06 PM, January 31, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

Van, on the countries that harbor terrorists: The State Department lists seven: Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan & Syria.

Of these seven Cuba poses no threat to develop WMDs & perhaps distribute them to terrorists. Neither does Libya or Sudan. North Korea already has their WMD & there’s not much that can be done about it now. That leaves Syria & Iran. Neither of your sources listed your 15, so we still don’t know what your source is for the 15 you listed.

Just so we are on the same page, I think there are many places where terrorists hide out but the governments of those places don't necessarily condone their presence. For example: The mountains of Pakistan probably have terrorists galore, including some the US recently killed. But I don’t think there’s much danger of Musharraf providing them with WMD. On the other hand I don’t think Iran or Syria would hesitate to give terrorists WMD, if they had them.

Van, Iraq did have WMDs & murdered a bunch of Iraqi Kurds with it. Haven’t you heard of the gassing of the Kurds by Saddam? It’s one of the charges Saddam faces in his trial. What does Scott Ridder say about that?

 
At 1:32 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger blueenclave said...

The NYT was relatively good compared with more strident leftist voices about Jenin and the "massacre" that wasn't.

 
At 1:38 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger blueenclave said...

Since I don't see my last comment, the NYT was actually relatively good about "Jenin and the massacre that wasn't" compared to more strident leftist voices.
I realize that I am lucky to have grown up in this generation with more well-groomed conservative voices. It is automatic to know that there are two sides to everything.

 
At 1:47 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger blueenclave said...

Also, my mom has respected Bernard Lewis ever since graduate school. She is a little older than you and wrote her master's thesis on Turkey or Pakistan, can't remember. Predicted chaos in both Yugoslavia and Iraq.

 
At 1:59 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger blueenclave said...

My mom finally settled on the politics of accounting rules and has taught some taxation.

 
At 9:32 AM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Van said...

For anyone who is interested in further discussing the efficiency of using conventional warfare to win the War On Terror, I posted my position on my blog - finally. You are welcome to join the discussion and post any comments.
Thank you Neo Neocon for starting this string.

 
At 3:50 PM, February 01, 2006, Blogger saintknowitall said...

Van said
"I moved to the left for a variety of reasons, mainly because of the state of our economy and our corporate controlled government."

You speak of corporations as if they are people. They aren't. Corporations are run by people, who by coincidence are probably capitalists. I gather from your post that you are more of a socialist/communist.

I also gather from your post that your statement of "the state of the economy" you somehow mean the economy is bad. Either that or you don't like an economy based on capitalist principles.

In any event, you drift to the left indicates an inability to remember history, as we have seen any government drifting to the left as having increased economic/social problems.

No, Van, the answer is not increased government, it is decreased government.. And with decreased government, you wouldn't have to worry about the "corporate controlled" issue.

 
At 3:51 PM, February 01, 2006, Blogger saintknowitall said...

Dear Neo-neocon,
An absolutely outstanding series on your trip from the left's utopia.

Saint

 
At 1:47 PM, February 04, 2006, Blogger Kobayashi Maru said...

Neo - Fabulous post. No two journeys are completely alike, but what I find most remarkable in yours is how an objective assessment of the predictive value of your sources led you to pay more attention to those sources and less to the ones that had failed you. I suspect that the vast majority of ideological journeys are not rational (even in hindsight) as the one you describe.

As your journey continues, I suspect that the name of your blog may become a bit of an albatross. Humans crave affiliative labels if only to know that 'team' to cheer for and who to instinctively oppose, but yours seems a much more nuanced and thoughtful approach. As a number of comments illustrate, such labels can all too easily become slogans devoid of meaning. Thank you for adding meaning and great intelligence to at least one.

 
At 1:13 PM, February 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neo-Con,

Thank you for sharing your story, and for standing up for your beliefs among all the hateful and blind liberals that surround you. I know it is not easy, but I know the difference you feel in day to day now, knowing what you do. Seeing what you do. And understanding what you do. So many live their lives in a bubble, and you popped it. Welcome to the true America, the free America.

 
At 7:22 AM, February 08, 2006, Blogger knoxgirl said...

Neo-neocon:

Please ignore all the critical posts about your writing. Looking through these comments, I see I'm not the only one who is absolutely riveted by your "A Mind is..." installments. They are lightyears from boring!

Can't wait for the next one.

 
At 12:54 AM, March 24, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

People just post the strangest stuff on the web. Like this one site that has to do with
sexually attract women. Just goes to show you that what I'm familiar with is just a tiny speck as to what
people are into out there. And I thought I knew a few more things than others. Hah!
sexually attract women

 
At 2:45 AM, April 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lady with green apple face. You are an idiot. You actually fell for this nonsense. This tough administration had a direct role in 9-11. See: st911.org
Open your eyes. Wake-up.

 
At 5:48 PM, September 20, 2008, Blogger Matt said...

Neo:

I appreciated your story, and I appreciate all the comments people have made here.

What bothers me is the assumptions that you (and the others here who are "not neocons" or "neo-neocons" or however you want to put it) make about what had to be done in the wake of 9/11. We were all affected deeply by the horror of 9/11. Some people responded with "toughness," and indeed, these people found a sudden, surprising admiration for George W. Bush.

Lots of us responded with curiosity and thoughtfulness—lots of us. But what I reject is the notion that "toughness," "resilience," and "taking the battle to them" are the only appropriate responses. The Jihadists wanted to engage us in war, and by jove, they got their wish didn't they. Perhaps—just perhaps—doing exactly what they wanted us to do wasn't the best response.

Nor was President Bush the best possible person to address the situation, with his born-again Christian stance. Does Christopher "God is Not Great" Hitchens (whom I agree with on that point) really think that the best way to counter religious fanatics is with another one? No, I don't think that W. is equivalent to the Jihadists, but his endless verbal gaffes and strategic floundering have been precisely what we didn't need in this time of crisis.

Imagine that man who might've stood up and said, "Listen. Here is the situation. Here is what we are up against. Their brand of extremism is a threat to everything we hold dear, and our right to be whoever it is we want to be." And THEN, worked to CONFIRM those freedoms and support human rights and civil rights and actually, you know... led by example. Perhaps he would have had much more support.

I would never argue that we are involved in something terrifying and real and right at our doorstep, but please, for the love of God, people, stop telling liberals that we don't get it, that we're not "tough" enough, etc. Many of us see the threat and DISAGREE WHOLLY with the best ways to contain it and beat it back.

And no matter how hawkish this kind of war could make me, it would never blind me to, say, the President's desire to put a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Live by example. Fight your wars wisely.

Again, though, I thank you for letting me speak my mind, and I appreciate your writing, Neoneo.

 

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