Monday, April 17, 2006

Waiting for AB (After Bush)

President Bush is hardly unique in having his detractors. But their ferocity and lung power has been impressive at a time when the whole world is watching--and waiting.

Everyone knows Bush is not popular. And anyone who knows anything about the way Presidential elections work in the US knows that Bush could not possibly be re-elected even if he were popular; the Constitution does not allow it, post-FDR. That's a given.

But it's also common knowledge that it's not just the man himself, but many of Bush's foreign policies that appear to have lost the support of the majority of the American people--for example, most Americans now think the Iraq endeavor wasn't the right thing to do.

Americans are seen as losing heart for what is perceived to be Bush's war and Bush's foreign agenda. Some of what's driving the opposition is honest dissent, some of it is politics as usual, some of it is intense personal hatred for Bush himself, some of it originates in leftist and/or pacifist beliefs that any war America launches against a third world country is by definition evil and must be opposed, and some of it is--well, you get the idea.

There used to be a tradition in this country that in wartime an administration should not be criticized too heavily; or, at least, should be given the benefit of the doubt. For better or for worse, that tradition died during Vietnam. Sometimes I think it has been replaced by its opposite: it's in wartime that an opponent must be criticized most vigorously.

Whether this is because a significant segment of Americans today sees the US as invincible, and that criticism therefore cannot really threaten it; or whether it's because so many see America as always being in the wrong; or whether it's because nowadays war itself is so often seen as almost automatically wrong--or some combination of the above--well, let's just say the phenomenon exists, and it represents a sea-change.

But the repercussions could be immense, and might amount to a self-fulfilling prophecy because there is a certain perception abroad in the world that goes like this: just wait. Wait till After Bush. If you can just wait it out till he's become a lame duck, and then until his term expires, you'll be home free.

My best guess is that the "insurgents" think it, the Iranians think it, Russia thinks it and China thinks it and the North Koreans think it. If we were perceived as weak prior to 9-11, now we are perceived as weakened and worn out. And that perception can only give the enemy strength.

On April 16 in the Telegraph, in an article entitled "The Frightening Truth About Why Iran Wants a Bomb," Amir Taheri (the former editor of Iran's largest daily newspaper, who now lives in Europe) was quite explicit about his take on Iran's plans, AB:

Ahmadinejad boasts that the [legendary Twelfth] Imam gave him the presidency for a single task: provoking a "clash of civilisations" in which the Muslim world, led by Iran, takes on the "infidel" West, led by the United States, and defeats it in a slow but prolonged contest that, in military jargon, sounds like a low intensity, asymmetrical war...

According to [Ahmadinejad's] analysis, spelled out in commentaries by Ahmadinejad's strategic guru, Hassan Abassi, known as the "Dr Kissinger of Islam", President George W Bush is an aberration, an exception to a rule under which all American presidents since Truman, when faced with serious setbacks abroad, have "run away". Iran's current strategy, therefore, is to wait Bush out. And that, by "divine coincidence", corresponds to the time Iran needs to develop its nuclear arsenal, thus matching the only advantage that the infidel enjoys...

The Iranian plan is simple: playing the diplomatic game for another two years until Bush becomes a "lame-duck", unable to take military action against the mullahs, while continuing to develop nuclear weapons.

Thus do not be surprised if, by the end of the 12 days still left of the United Nations' Security Council "deadline", Ahmadinejad announces a "temporary suspension" of uranium enrichment as a "confidence building measure". Also, don't be surprised if some time in June he agrees to ask the Majlis (the Islamic parliament) to consider signing the additional protocols of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Such manoeuvres would allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director, Muhammad El-Baradei, and Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, to congratulate Iran for its "positive gestures" and denounce talk of sanctions, let alone military action. The confidence building measures would never amount to anything, but their announcement would be enough to prevent the G8 summit, hosted by Russia in July, from moving against Iran.

While waiting Bush out, the Islamic Republic is intent on doing all it can to consolidate its gains in the region. Regime changes in Kabul and Baghdad have altered the status quo in the Middle East. While Bush is determined to create a Middle East that is democratic and pro-Western, Ahmadinejad is equally determined that the region should remain Islamic but pro-Iranian. Iran is now the strongest presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, after the US. It has turned Syria and Lebanon into its outer defences, which means that, for the first time since the 7th century, Iran is militarily present on the coast of the Mediterranean. In a massive political jamboree in Teheran last week, Ahmadinejad also assumed control of the "Jerusalem Cause", which includes annihilating Israel "in one storm", while launching a take-over bid for the cash-starved Hamas government in the West Bank and Gaza.

Ahmadinejad has also reactivated Iran's network of Shia organisations in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen, while resuming contact with Sunni fundamentalist groups in Turkey, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. From childhood, Shia boys are told to cultivate two qualities. The first is entezar, the capacity patiently to wait for the Imam to return. The second is taajil, the actions needed to hasten the return. For the Imam's return will coincide with an apocalyptic battle between the forces of evil and righteousness, with evil ultimately routed. If the infidel loses its nuclear advantage, it could be worn down in a long, low-intensity war at the end of which surrender to Islam would appear the least bad of options. And that could be a signal for the Imam to reappear.


Perhaps you think this nightmare vision of Taheri's is fearmongering twaddle. Perhaps that's the most reassuring thing to think. Perhaps you're even right; who knows?

But to me, what Taheri writes seems extremely consistent with what Ahmadinejad has been saying and doing, and it makes more sense to me than other theories I've read. I tend to take at face value the words of a world leader who appears to be genuinely filled with equal parts grandiosity and hatred, who seems to believe that he is part of a pre-ordained holy war to eliminate the Great and Little Satans, and who has announced his intention to go nuclear (ah right, yes, for peaceful purposes--which not even the Europeans believe at this point).

Therefore I tend to believe that Ahmadinejad means exactly what he says when he makes statements such as the following:

[Ahmadinejad] called Israel a "permanent threat" to the Middle East that will "soon" be liberated....

"Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation," Ahmadinejad said at the opening of a conference in support of the Palestinians. "The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."

The land of Palestine, he said, referring to the British mandated territory that includes all of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, "will be freed soon."

He did not say how this would be achieved, but insisted to the audience of at least 900 people: "Believe that Palestine will be freed soon."


It will be interesting to see whether Taheri's predictions come true, whether Iran will give the appearance of cooperation--and, if so, whether Europe and the UN will swallow the bait. And then it will be interesting to see what happens, AB (don't we live in "interesting" times?)

Opponents of Bush face a conundrum. Clearly, no one should support a President or a policy blindly, just for the sake of showing unity. But those whose vision only goes so far as to see themselves playing on the small stage of American politics, where actions have no serious consequences and it's all a game of "gotcha," need to stop and think what the stakes actually are.

I'm certainly not asking that everyone support Bush and his policies. But I am asking that opponents act in such a way as to not deliver the message that all the enemy has to do is wait Bush out. So far, the opposition has failed to communicate the sort of resolve that would say loud and clear to Iran, for example, that the fight will go on even after President Bush becomes ex-President Bush.

And that lack of communication of the requisite resolve, I'm afraid, is a dangerous message to give. I sincerely hope it's not a fatal one.

77 Comments:

At 10:29 AM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Promethea said...

I believe you are right in your analysis. The people I know who hate Bush have truly not considered the alternatives to the U.S. "losing" the war in Iraq. They do not think about Iran with nukes because it makes them uncomfortable. They do not believe that the U.S. could really lose this war and that everything they hold near and dear, including their yuppy comforts, could go down the tube.

I fear for the U.S. because so many of its citizens are too comfortable. They have no fear, and that makes them stupid.

 
At 10:29 AM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Promethea said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:34 AM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Jim said...

I hear you. These Iranian comments are disturbing, no doubt. But in the wake of Chamberlain in WWII, is war the only answer? How have we proved to anyone that the US is not the great satan? There isn't much we do as a country that isn't about bettering our own position; whether that benefits or hurts another country. When we are willing to help the other for their sake instead of our own, perhaps Iran and other countries won't be able to use our own actions as justification for their plans.

 
At 11:14 AM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Bezuhov said...

You're right Jim, we're just asking for it. Maybe we should check the length of our skirt.

It's always remarkable how free of actual content such sentiments are. How do, say, the U.S. tsunami relief efforts fit into your theories?

 
At 11:15 AM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

the Constitution does not allow it, post-FDR.

It is rather curious that so many see FDR's 4 terms as an indication of good leadership, yet see Presidential Powers today as a threat on their civil liberties. Do you think a little hypocrisy might be in the solution, perhaps?

it's in wartime that an opponent must be criticized most vigorously.

Too bad the Left opted Roosevelt out of the equation, because many lives could have been saved otherwise. And besides, it wasn't Roosevelt with the guts to drop the two nukes, it was Truman. Let not history paint too rosy a picture of the Imperium which was Roosevelt's 4 President for Life terms.

If you can just wait it out till he's become a lame duck, and then until his term expires, you'll be home free.

one of the reasons why I said Bush has 2 years to launch a new military attack on Iran or Syria, otherwise he wastes his entire second term.

Bush should be acting like Tom Delay. Say extremely risky things like McKinley is a racist, because he no longer worries about reelection. The problem was, Bush never was worried about reelection to the extent that he would change his rhetoric and policies. Because if he were, he would have changed them in his 2nd term. Bush's stubborness... is rather problematic.

Such manoeuvres would allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director, Muhammad El-Baradei, and Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, to congratulate Iran for its "positive gestures" and denounce talk of sanctions, let alone military action. The confidence building measures would never amount to anything, but their announcement would be enough to prevent the G8 summit, hosted by Russia in July, from moving against Iran.

Spoken like a true master propagandist. A succint analysis of potential propagandist, diplomatic, and psychological strategies. And very accurate in fidelity. It's rope a dope time.

Perhaps you think this nightmare vision of Taheri's is fearmongering twaddle. Perhaps that's the most reassuring thing to think. Perhaps you're even right; who knows?

Who'd be ignorant enough to think that? Iran may be a bunch of fanatics, but they are the undisputed masters of psychological and asymmetrical warfare.

He did not say how this would be achieved, but insisted to the audience of at least 900 people: "Believe that Palestine will be freed soon."

And why should people not believe as steve does, that Amani is just blowing smoke up our asses?

Clearly, no one should support a President or a policy blindly, just for the sake of showing unity.

Obviously, Roosevelt. But I doubt Democrats who agree with you about Bush, applies the same standards to the past Democrat Presidents.

I'm certainly not asking that everyone support Bush and his policies.

Good, because many Jacksonians are pissed as hell at Bush. For various reasons.

It's going to be a fatal one, but only for American civilians, soldiers, and Islamic Jihadists in the end. Because America has yet to unleash the full power of this battlestation. It will be interesting when we do. I'd like to see Shock and Awe redefined in asymmetrical and psychological terms.

Bush's "outting" will give America a chance to get someone in office who is ruthlessness enough to crush Islamic Jihad under our Bootheels. Of course there is risk, there will always be risks. But I don't put my faith in politicians, never did for that matter. As a grass roots Jacksonian, my faith is and has always been, in the American people. Namely, other Jacksonians.

I fear for the U.S. because so many of its citizens are too comfortable. They have no fear, and that makes them stupid.

It's not that they don't have fear, because they did fear Muslim reprisals and therefore did not repost the cartoons. They've also seen Europe decomposing under the rot of Islamic and Muslim culture. They simply fear Bush MORE than they fear anyone else, because Bush is the culminated symbol of all the power they have lost and will continue to lose. That, losing power, is unforgivable to the Democratic Party and it is a vendetta they will never let go.

The United States, too rich, too safe, for too long.

If the President conducted punitive expeditions in addition with diplomacy, Iran would cease to be a problem in 1/10th of the time diplomacy would take.

 
At 11:18 AM, April 17, 2006, Blogger BeckyJ said...

Jim, with all due respect, Iran doesn't need US actions to justify anything. Iran is just using US actions as a cover for its desire to act preemptively. Hitler did the same thing leading up to WWII. He didn't need anybody else's actions to justify his own, but they provided a convenient cover.

I agree /w neo. Ahmenidnejad has spelled out his intentions for all to see. There is no reason at all to think that he is lying.

 
At 11:21 AM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Bezuhov should be careful in his argumentation. Because the problem with jim's argument isn't that America doesn't do things for other countries independent of our interests, but rather that if we DID do those things Iran would be less effective in the world.

Arguing that America does these things that jim says we do not, implicitly accepts jim's premise that if we did do these things, then it would be better.

It wouldn't be better, because every master propagandist, conscientious or not, can make use of guilt and hesitation on any country's part. It is an opportunity everyone waits for, the time when America will accede to the demands of other nations in return for NOTHING. Then and only then will Euro... America be susceptible to internal revolt and destruction.

 
At 11:22 AM, April 17, 2006, Blogger troutsky said...

Nice bit of rational, logical thinking.The actual reason Bush's popularity is so low is because his policies have been such miserable failures.Logical? Those who have been such ardent supporters of these failed policies also failed in their own analysis.Rational? No, no, it must be that MOST PEOPLE ARE DECIEVED, or naive, or irrational and WE are correct.

Two nuclear powers (and Israel)with long histories of colonial occupation and support of tyrannical and dictatorial regimes,( not the history WE know) with the worlds largest militaries and largest economies should be terrified of a country years away from any nuclear capability, terrified to the point of continuing the failed policies, even pre-emptive war.logical. We could liberate them and they could enjoy Liberty.Fear makes people smart. Brilliant.

 
At 11:32 AM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Those who have been such ardent supporters of these failed policies also failed in their own analysis.

Since Trout made up those analysis in the first place, it is not surprising that they failed.

WE are correct

Yes, you are, now go and pray for Scientology's return of the energy beings.

Two nuclear powers (and Israel)with long histories of colonial occupation and support of tyrannical and dictatorial regimes

Like I said, since trout were the ones who did the colonial occupation and support of tyrannical and dictatorial regimes, it is not surprising that we end up with him being correct and the rest wrong. Oh wait, Iran is a dictatorial and tyrannical nation, right? I don't want to be caught in a lie or anything, since some fake liberals might say that hanging a teenage rape victim is just cultural misunderstanding.

not the history WE know

Since it is trout's history, why wouldn't they know about it? Weird.

Fear makes people cowards. And I have no use for cowards.

 
At 11:52 AM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

Well, I have tried not to personalize the Bush issue, let alone the lame duck issue.

I was opposed to the war, and I am opposed -- primarily at this point -- to the continued American casualties, but I also recognize we can't just leave.

In terms of Ahmadenijad, I don't know how much of a religious fanatic he is. The real key is how much power he actually has. No question that Iran wants to go nuclear. As I have said, if you want to do a war, do it right.

As for the quotes about Israel, keep in mind that those statements came in the course of a pro-Palestinian conference in Tehran. I think the idea that those quotes, coupled with the presumed nuclear imperative, means Ahmadinejad is itching to nuke Tel Aviv does not follow.

However, if folks want to use that as a casus belli for fighting a proper war with Iran, go ahead.

This morning maybe a dozen Israelis were killed by a suicide bomber. I'm sure Israel will kill some Palestinians, now. Maybe they will target some Hamas leaders. It has to happen. But afterwards, nothing will have changed.

Israel and the US cannot control the PA: they tried to cut off their money and the rest of the world (principally Muslims) gave them the money anyway. When you take away the carrots, all you have left is the stick, and you can only kill so many people with sticks.

Ditto Iraq, Iran. I wonder if there are limits to what one can accomplish through the use of force, and I wonder if the US and Israel are reaching them.

 
At 1:01 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Steve: I wonder sometimes whether you are being disingenuous in some of what you write, because it's hard to believe you actually believe statements such as the following:

I wonder if there are limits to what one can accomplish through the use of force, and I wonder if the US and Israel are reaching them.

Oh, I have no doubt there are limits to what one can accomplish through the use of force. But what we have done so far in Iran, Iraq, or Palestine hardly represents a demonstration of those limits. The force that's been used in these places--most particularly Iran--has been but a tiny fraction of the force available to us.

What these places represent is not the limited capacity of the use of maximum force. Now, if you'd written instead that they may represent our reaching the limis of our willingness to use the force that we have, you might be making a good point, and a different one.

And don't misunderstand what I'm saying, because I am not advocating the use of unbridled maximum force at this point. I am merely saying that it has not been even remotely tested, and thus that the situation in neither Iran, Iraq, nor Palestine can possibly be a demonstration of the limitations of the use of force.

 
At 1:07 PM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous SB said...

Steve,

I don't think it's a limitation inherent in the use of force. The limitations exist in those who use it. Are they able to apply violence wisely? How much death-dealing can they tolerate before it becomes "too much?"

If the answer to the first question is "yes" and the answer to the second question is "as much as it takes," then they at least stand a chance. Otherwise, they would be better off staying home and guarding the henhouse.

I guess what I mean is, if you can't solve a problem you can always destroy it. Stupid but true. In that sense, there is no limitation inherent in the use of force.

 
At 1:10 PM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous SB said...

neo,

Sorry for repeating some of your points, though in a more cynical tone. Guess we were typing at the same time.

From now on, I'll just wait until you've finished, then write "What she said..."

 
At 1:10 PM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous Sally said...

Steve: I wonder if there are limits to what one can accomplish through the use of force, and I wonder if the US and Israel are reaching them.


Curious, isn't it, how wonderers like Steve never seem to wonder if there are limits to what the use of force by Palestinians/Iranians/Islamists or other assorted third-world left-wing fascists can accomplish, or whether they're reaching such limits? Perhaps that's because, for people like Steve, there actually aren't such limits on that side of the fence -- one reason why we might describe this current struggle (daren't call it a "war") as asymmetrical?

 
At 1:24 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

There isn't much we do as a country that isn't about bettering our own position; whether that benefits or hurts another country.
Jim,
I believe that you are sincere, but think about what you wrote in a different context: what nation or people in the history of the world have not attempted to act in their own best interest? Some act against their best interest because of mistakes in judgement or social madness, but all people throughout history have tried to better their situation with little regard for others. And compared with colonial Spain and the others, or the Mongols, ancient Persia, Communist China, etc. the US is not even close to being the Great Satan (unless you apply some warped, simplistic Marxist analysis to the present, ala Troutsky, and assume that history began only 125 years ago). No matter what the west does now, the reasons for war will exist in the hearts and minds of the opposition, as it has for centuries.

 
At 2:24 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

As I have said, if you want to do a war, do it right.

As steve reminded us before, there is no right way to interpret history. But there is a right way to do war. Hrmmm.

Steve's comments that he'd support a war against Iran is contrasted with his statement that he didn't support the war in Iraq. If he believes Iran would not produce more casualties in a war, then he'd be wrong. HOwever, if he does believe casualties would occur in Iran, it is an interesting mental gymnastic move to say that casualties in one war is bad as opposed to war across that border is good.

Well, maybe if Israel and the US had cut off the funds 50 years ago, they might have been able to control the PA, if they had bothered to try 50 years ago. So to equate that with "not being able to control the PA" is pretty wrong and ignorant and obtuse.

Steve: I wonder sometimes whether you are being disingenuous in some of what you write, because it's hard to believe you actually believe statements such as the following:

Try true believer, Neo. Works better.

I am merely saying that it has not been even remotely tested, and thus that the situation in neither Iran, Iraq, nor Palestine can possibly be a demonstration of the limitations of the use of force.

I tend to think that steve equates force with his willingness to use force. He doesn't seem to have a very cosmopolitan outlook on America, meaning he tends to transfer his willingness to do things to the rest of America. Therefore I tend to think he really does believe that the less he is willing to use force, the less force actually becomes available. How this equates with his support of full out invasion, or whatever, of Iran seems a bit weird. Maybe he believes that since force is reaching its limits, you just bring a bigger hammer and things get worked out that way...

It is consistent with his belief that America needs to sacrifice and get the "WWII" generation unity.

Sally, you might be interested in reading a post I did on asymmetrical warfare.

Peloponessian War and current events

Jim's references to the pretexts used by Iran, is valid. But the solution to pretexts isn't to remove them, cause Iran will just find something else to use. Until eventually, they will find something you physically aren't able to give them. Then you're dead.

 
At 2:28 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

The carrot of appeasement and the stick of total warfare.

It doesn't seem people like steve have a lot of subtleties in their strategy or any adaptability for that matter.

How carrots or total warfare is going to solve the asymmetrical qualities of a war against Iran, is a question steve will not, cannot, and have not answered.

 
At 2:38 PM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous SB said...

Jim & Brad,

For some reason, this discussion got me to thinking about one of those stupid hypothetical situations that people make up to prove some point or other. I'm not sure what the point is, but:

A terrorist group takes two people hostage and transports them to a secret location. The first person is an American citizen, a casino owner who has fled the States while under investigation for income tax evasion. The second person is a famous pediatric surgeon who has given up his practice in London and returned to his native country to treat the victims of a civil war. The captors have stated their intention to execute one of the hostages in exactly 24 hours.

In order to embarrass the United States, the terrorists have given the President that amount of time to choose which hostage will be spared. If he doesn't respond, they will both die.

Assuming all diplomatic, legal, and military options have been exhausted, for which hostage's life should the President plead?

 
At 2:39 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

Neo: No, I am not being disingenuous. To be sure, if we use the formula that even SB considers "stupid", that is, "I guess what I mean is, if you can't solve a problem you can always destroy it." Then we really have reached the limits.

Let me explain why I closed my post with that observation.

For the first 40 years of its existence Israel had to contend with threats from other nations: Egypt, Jordan, Syria, etc. Since 1987, however, they have had to contend with what has been a guerilla war or an insurgency among people living within territory that Israel has controlled.

Now, especially since the second intifada, I can't think of anything the Israelis haven't done, that is, haven't done that they can possibly do. They've gone all over Area A and Gaza. They targeted dozens or maybe hundreds of Palestinian leaders. They have imprisoned thousands. They destroyed much infrastructure in retaliation. They flattened a refugee camp. They have cut off funds and refuse to recognize Hamas as leader of the PA. So what more can they do?

I realize the Israelis are going to have to retaliate for this latest terrorist murder, but do you really think it will change the equation?

So then my mind wanders to Iraq. In contrast to what a lot of people think, the "war" as such has been over for three years. I mean really. We aren't facing any organized paramilitaries here. We are simply encountering, from time to time, organized terrorist bands whose main purpose, probably, is simply to de-stabilize and pin prick. IOW, Iraq is not a war, it's more like a police action, and the reason we're still there is precisely because if we left the various ethnic groups probably would go into a hot war with each other.

And yet -- what can we do? Well, we killed Saddam's sons. We captured Saddam. We flattened Fallujah. We have done various sweeps and get this or that ammo dump and kill dozens, hundreds, or thousands of the bad guys, but, at the end of the day, they're still there.

Do you see what I'm getting at?

Now, you could suggest that we haven't taken the gloves off. Although, as in the Israeli case, I'm not sure what more could be done. Yes, I have heard it all, but show me a military commander who thinks we haven't been "tough enough" in Iraq.

So now then finally Iran. OK, the argument is we have to bomb them now before it's too late. (There's a good analysis in the Weekly Standard here.) But even these arguments concede that it won't really solve the problem of a nuclear Iran, it will simply postpone it.

So?

I was skeptical about the use of force in Iraq because I was pretty sure it was going to be a lot more complicated than it was being sold in 2003, and I was right. So, now we're there and we're stuck. I can't recall hearing anyone offering any "solutions" to Iraq other than keeping us there to dampen internecine warfar while the Iraqis themselves "grow" democracy (grow as a transitive verb for abstractions courtesy of Bill Clinton.) Okay, fine.

As for Iran, I really don't have a dog in this fight. I don't think Iran is a real threat yet, so I am not worried about that part of it -- yet. I don't believe that a bombing campaign will solve the problem, and I'm on solid ground there. Meanwhile it seems pretty clear that the US public does not support either a bombing campaign or an invasion. My feeling remains, if we are going to do it right, invade; and then let's realize what we're getting into.

However, for those who really want a bombing campaign, I say, go for it. Let me know how it works out.

And, as for Israel, I really don't see any solution other than finishing the wall and making it impermeable. If the US and Israel choose not to give the PA any money, it's clear that there are billions of others on this planet who will. So, how does that benefit the US and Israel? I don't think it does.

The only use of force that we haven't seen so far is the indiscriminate use of force and we aren't going to see that. As I said a few days ago, there has to be something we can do between doing nothing and bombing the enemy to bits.

 
At 2:44 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Steve said...


Assuming all diplomatic, legal, and military options have been exhausted, for which hostage's life should the President plead?


Just FYI, that is just a re-working of an old query that tests whether loyalty to a co-national is more important than intrinsic human value.

It's not unlike lifeboat questions; that add race, religion, and even species into the equation (you are in a lifeboat, room for one more, your dog paddles up, and so does Hitler, who do you save, etc.)

It's really just a way of testing group identifications, and maybe saying something bad about this or that group. Nothing more.

 
At 2:49 PM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous greenjeg@comcast.net said...

I believe it is important for critics to keep in mind that undermining the perception of US solidarity abroad make the threat of military force less credible, and the use of military force more necessary. While every American has the right to criticize the President, they should do so only with the knowledge that they may also be undermining diplomacy, and leaving military action as the only alternative.

 
At 3:15 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

SB brings up an interesting moral dilemma. I recall that the Japanese loved to do these as training modules for their teenagers. Sorta like riddles. Which is the honorable path? There 2 possible solutions. The President can decide for Both. The President can decide that he'd prefer the terroists die, through retaliation attacks. and that's about it.

It all depends on what his duty and his honor demands.
Do you see what I'm getting at?

That you're tired of casualties and want to go to a full scale war with Iran? ya, we get your point.

Yes, I have heard it all, but show me a military commander who thinks we haven't been "tough enough" in Iraq.

The ones who said they should have gone into Fallujah the first time. Most popular probably.

The others who said that they should have tried to crush the opposition before reconstruction. Show me why your will is so corrupted and weakened that you won't accept new solutions. To the extent of saying there are no new solutions left, nothing else to do.

Be honest steve, you don't care what the military commanders think, you believe there are no solutions in a guerrila war because you don't know how to win a guerrila war.

If steve was right, he would have came up with some new solutions now, but all he says is that there is nothing left to try. Hrm...

I can't recall steve offering any solutions to guerrila warfare in Iraq except to say that the troops should hide in their bases and do nothing.

So, how does that benefit the US and Israel? I don't think it does.

A very weird idea, as anyone versed in guerrila and psychological operations would see. The idea that you can somehow stop terrorism by funding it. Wow, pretty weird.

Somebody needs to realize that they flunked their non-existent diplomatic courses.

As I said a few days ago, there has to be something we can do between doing nothing and bombing the enemy to bits.

Given that steve believes Israel can't do anything more than they have done, it doesn't seem likely steve really believes that there are any more solutions in the here and now.

If steve supports salting Fallujah and Tikrit *again*, if steve supports executions of prisoners in retaliation for terroist hostage takers, or if steve supports demonstration executions in public squares, then I'd happily say I was wrong in thinking steve believes there are no more solutions anymore.

 
At 3:18 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

SB,
It is the president's duty to try to save the american. Also, if they get him back they can collect the back taxes.

 
At 3:18 PM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

No doubt Iran will be dithered around with until they have the nukes, then there will be even more diplomacy. Then other Islamic states will get nukes & even more intense diplomacy will take place. Then a nuke will detonate in the wrong place & many will die, mostly Moslem, mostly innocent.

If what is desired is innocents not dying in retaliation, then Iran should be stopped now. If the Middle East gets all nuked up, a conflagration is assured.

Steve, I know you think surgical strikes would fail but don’t we owe it to our soldiers & countless Iranian civilians to try that method, just in case you’re wrong, before launching the “proper” all-out war you frequently profess to prefer? In the interest of shedding less blood wouldn’t the casualty-lite bombs & missiles technique be more humane?

There isn't much we do as a country that isn't about bettering our own position; whether that benefits or hurts another country.

US-haters, using a variety of language, constantly denounce the US for “bettering our own position.” Most citizens expect their government’s foreign policy to do just that but in the topsy-turvy world of the America-hater such actions are proof that the US is immoral.

The United States is the most benign world power this planet has ever witnessed. The US even fights war in such a way as to limit casualties! I see this very modern custom ending abruptly not too many years from now. Read of Persia, Rome & Egypt to see how really dreadful war is fought – of Nazi Germany & Stalinist Russia if modern examples are needed. No, the US is not perfect but the world is lucky that WW2 ended with the US as the world’s most powerful country.

 
At 3:26 PM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed by Liberals' ability to contradict themselves...Iran is a perfect case in point: They were against doing ANYTHING to Iraq for the following reasons- no WMDs, no links to international terror cells, no history of being a serious threat to the USA...Iraq was 'in a box' etc. Yet Iran come out as definately a self-described enemy of the USA, boasts about WMDs and its missiles, AND its world-wide terror networks and the left isn't suddenly pro-war.

All the criteria they used to argue that Iraq was the 'wrong' target applies to Iran in spades...but suddenly that's OK.

 
At 3:35 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Steve said...


If steve supports salting Fallujah and Tikrit *again*, if steve supports executions of prisoners in retaliation for terroist hostage takers, or if steve supports demonstration executions in public squares, then I'd happily say I was wrong in thinking steve believes there are no more solutions anymore.


Ymar, I've been around long enough to hear every solution offered, and, in the abstract, I really don't care if you enact any of the above. However, I live in the real world and I know the United States is never going to do any of those things. And neither will Israel.

Grackle: First of all, I agree that the US is a better top nation than anyone else. And I also think that pin point strikes won't work. OK, I will agree with you on this: if the executive power, in consultation with the legislative power, and even after the miscalculation over Iraqi WMD's, decides that surgical strikes on Iran are necessary, then I will accept that, fine.

Then we'll see what happens afterwards.

 
At 3:38 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

Anon: I am no liberal, but that's precisely why I can endorse a fullscale war against Iran. Not that that's what's going to happen.

I objected to the Iraq war primarily for the same reason I objected to taking Baghdad in 1991: because I knew it would open a huge can of worms, and we'd be stuck for a long time. And, BTW, I was right.

 
At 3:39 PM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous SB said...

Steve,

Sorry everybody jumped on that one line about the limitations of force. Obviously that wasn't the point of your previous comment.

Even an idiot like SB can see that...

As for the stupid hypothetical situation - well, I said it was stupid, didn't I? And the point was not to indulge in some liberal psycho-nonsense about finding out who's a racist and who's not. It's about asking - seriously - to whom is the Government's *first* responsibility? To all of people of the world or to the people whom he is sworn to protect? This goes back to Jim's remark about American foreign policy benefiting America while harming other countries.

I guess this is just another way of asking whether saving one American life is worth sacrificing a thousand <insert favorite victim group here>. Well, yes it is - for tax purposes, anyway. We don't pay our leaders their ridiculously inflated salaries so they can watch like broody hens over the interests of the Cameroonians.

I'm still not quite clear about Israel and the US having done everything they could do, however. In Israel's case, considerably more escalation is possible - just not politically expedient.

The Israelis could discover all the relatives of suicide bombers, arrest them, confiscate their land, businesses and possessions, then summarily deport them. Maybe even bulldoze their village for good measure. For a more lasting solution, they could "invade" Palestinian territory, level all the villages and camps, destroy all the crops, bomb all the roads and bridges, round up the Palestinians, force-march them across the Syrian and Egyptian borders, and promise to shoot anyone who tried to get back in.

In Iraq, the US could evacuate and bomb any village or city block where a suicide or IED attack occurred, or in which terrorists are known to be hiding, or in which Iraqis abuse the bodies of dead American soldiers or Iraqi policemen. We could respond to sectarian violence with massive retaliation against sectarian centers. We could march into the Iraqi parliament and demand, at gunpoint, that the politicians form a working government within 48 hours, and back up the threat by shooting the representatives who cause the most delays.

I have no idea whether any of this would work. Most of it has already been tried with varying success by other, usually unsavory, countries. The point is, our options to use force are nowhere close to being exhausted. The question is, how much of this kind of thing are we willing to do to accomplish our goals?

The only thing protecting the Iraqis, the Iranians, and the Palestinians, and a lot of other little brown people right now is us - our belief in civilization, fair play, good sportsmanship, and Judeo-Christian something-or-other.

George Bush isn't running the show - Jiminy Cricket is.

In that sense, you're probably right - we have just about reached our limit in the beating-up-on-the-little-brown-people game. So do we keep bleeding until the Iraqis get their shit together, or do we cut our losses and bring it home? Not much of a choice, I guess.

My, but I do run on...

 
At 3:40 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

Steve,
I hope you notice you have invalidated your "are there limits to the use of force" language, via your acknowledgment that the military's goal is to create conditions in which democracy can grow. The military's goal was never to force successful liberal democracy upon the region, just as Israel's military action was never intended to force democracy upon the Palestinians.

Since there's been talk of strawmen, this is strawman perfectly illustrated:
misdefine a military goal; declare the military cannot accomplish a goal they never have had; then declare victory - on grounds that the military cannot accomplish a goal they never had in the first place.

 
At 3:54 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Steve said...


The Israelis could discover all the relatives of suicide bombers, arrest them, confiscate their land, businesses and possessions, then summarily deport them. Maybe even bulldoze their village for good measure. For a more lasting solution, they could "invade" Palestinian territory, level all the villages and camps, destroy all the crops, bomb all the roads and bridges, round up the Palestinians, force-march them across the Syrian and Egyptian borders, and promise to shoot anyone who tried to get back in.


Israel isn't going to do that. Come on, people.

 
At 3:57 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Steve said...


Steve,
I hope you notice you have invalidated your "are there limits to the use of force" language, via your acknowledgment that the military's goal is to create conditions in which democracy can grow.


Not at all. Creating conditions conducive to democracy is _not_ a military goal. It's a political goal. The military goals were achieved three years ago. The only goals now are political in nature; our forces are there now because they serve as a brake to political chaos.

 
At 4:07 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

Neo's call for a left-side change of rhetoric could have an incremental effect upon Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs. Kudos to her for doing what she can in that regard. Sadly, sufficiently large numbers of the left will not change rhetoric in time to have a large-scale effect upon Ahmadinejad. Therefore, it becomes extremely important for the left to be defeated at the polls. That is an electoral reality the Mullahs will understand.

The key battle, regarding Iran, is the internal Western battle over the validity of Western principles and values. If the West wins this battle with itself, the Mullahs will be vanquished. This battle is ongoing around the Western world, but the struggle inside the U.S. is by far the most important front. If the U.S. falls to (I don't have a proper and concise term in my head): moral relativism /nihilism /malaise /lack of vigor/ extreme selfish narcissism/ lack of vigor / lack of wisdom and foresight - then the entire world will have suffered a mighty blow to the body.

Because large enough portions of the left are not near enough to changing, it becomes more and more important that the left be defeated at the polls. I've never been involved in politics. I've never even called myself a Republican, as I haven't - and still don't - trust that party very much. However, more and more, I am thinking of becoming involved in Republican politics. About Republicans and Democrats, I find myself somewhat in league with something the Southpark creators once said: "We hate conservatives; but we really, reallly hate liberals."

America is up for grabs. Her future is uncertain.

 
At 4:23 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

Steve,

You said this:

I can't recall hearing anyone offering any "solutions" to Iraq other than keeping us there to dampen internecine warfar while the Iraqis themselves "grow" democracy (grow as a transitive verb for abstractions courtesy of Bill Clinton.) Okay, fine.

A reasonable statement. The military IS dampening internecine warfare while giving Iraqis time to grow democracy. The military:

--has prevented sectarian armies from facing off against each other in a civil war;
--has prevented the Iranian military from marching into Iraq;
--has arguably struck withering blows against Al Qaeda, and against Moqtada Al Sadr.

How can military success - in their goal of giving Iraqis an opportunity for democracy, be rectified with your statement:

Ditto Iraq, Iran. I wonder if there are limits to what one can accomplish through the use of force, and I wonder if the US and Israel are reaching them.

By your own explanation, you defined your statement in such a way that it can only be correct if one defines the military's goal as something the military itself does not define as it's goal. Which, of course, means your statement is not correct - as you yourself stated in the quote I show at the very top.

 
At 4:26 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Israel isn't going to do that. Come on, people.

I've noticed, and other people should have by now as well, that the only way steve says you are wrong is by saying your solutions suck arse cause it won't happen. Not in those words of course, but if you count up the times steve has said "it is not going to happen" to solutions offered by other people, you'd spend a considerable amount of time compiling the list.

The only thing steve has said will happen, is either carrots or full scale invasion. Which is ironic, because steve's carrots approach and his full scale invasion are the things that really won't happen. Hrm. Remember the steyn recommendation that you can overthrow the regime of Iran and then go away without an occupation, which steve didn't like? Steve said steyn was leaving the mess to be cleaned up by someone else, as if that was a bad thing to steve. When Steyn suggested that steve's full war mobilization and occupation was not going to happen, steve didn't like that. Perhaps because he knows steyn has a point, that steve's policies are not going to happen.

I don't think it matters if steve lives in the real world or not, because if steve thinks solutions mean only the things that steve thinks will happen, then solutions mean whatever steve wants them to mean. Which, I suppose, might be the point.

This reminds me of the Realism strategy of the Cold War in the Republican party for some reason. The realists didn't see a lot of things in the future, because they didn't believe it would happen. They didn't believe the wall would come down, they didn't believe the Soviets would collapse, they didn't believe Islamic Fascism was a problem.

I objected to the Iraq war primarily for the same reason I objected to taking Baghdad in 1991: because I knew it would open a huge can of worms, and we'd be stuck for a long time. And, BTW, I was right.

Why does steve always keep saying he was right that starting a war in enemy territory was a dangerous project? You'd think that would be common sense.

I don't really have a lot of uses for people who criticize but ain't got nothing to replace the plan, steve. And neither does the President and the United States.

Maybe even bulldoze their village for good measure

Already doing that, doesn't work because it does not hit psychological hard points enough in the media. For various reasons. When steve says that is not going to happen, steve is wrong because it already happened. For some reason, steve being wrong doesn't surprise me.

http://www.spectacle.org/195/bulldoze.html

GC's suggestions, I believe, won't work because they aren't subtle enough. First you have to localize the problems. Executing allies is counter-productive. Executing saddam in return for a government, is called "diplomacy".

Executions are only a tool that should be used against hard core enemies to raise the morale of your friends, rather than to demoralize the morale of your enemies.

 
At 4:38 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

Gcoth: I am afraid I don't understand you.

I will say this: my comment about the use of force, which seems to be what started this ruckus, was keyed to what I consider a common-sensical idea of self-imposed limits on the use of force by Western nations. True, those limits were not always honored (see World War Two). But they are being honored now, and have been, for decades.

Furthermore, I did not mean to imply that our self-imposed limit on the use of force in Iraq was tied to our desire to facilitate democratic development, although I do think you are correct, such self-restraint probably helps. At least, I hope it does.

Ymar: Of course the Israelis will bulldoze houses, or olive groves, or what not. You may add that to the list of things they have already done. However, they aren't going to pull a Carthage on the West Bank, and that's what I thought SB was implying they might do.

 
At 4:54 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Specificity helps a lot steve, saying "it" (meaning everything above) won't happen isn't very specific.

Besides, we know the Israelis won't do Carthage because they've already taken 150% casualties and they still won't do it. So they just don't have the will.

You don't have the same situation for America.

 
At 5:31 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Actually, Ymarsakar, Steve has already said his own solution won't happen, and I quote:

I am no liberal, but that's precisely why I can endorse a fullscale war against Iran. Not that that's what's going to happen.

Steve's modus operandi is a variant of what Eric Berne, author of Games People Play, used to call "Why Don't You, Yes, But." All possible solutions are rejected as impossible, in steve's case because they "won't happen." Why won't they happen? Because we haven't reached that point yet. And he admits of no incremental solutions possible (especially of the military sort) between what we are doing now and all-out conflagration.

 
At 5:59 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Ah, I see, a war that doesn't happen means no casualties, therefore supporting it now makes sense if one hits upon the negative casualties in Iraq.

Consistent.

A correction Neo. I suspected this, but didn't want to bring it up. But he wasn't 21, Fox News reported him as 16. I tend to think the records "misreported" his age for some reason. Ya, reason, like propaganda reasons. I don't know why JP coaborated with it, maybe they had the same wrong documents.

So either Fox is right or JP is right, but I favor Fox given that if I was a terrorist, I'd say my puppets are 21 as well. Nice even number.

 
At 6:21 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I just read the relevant portion of the book, Neo (one of the reasons why I wish people were more curious), and it is a pretty amusing subject you are refering to. Serious, amusing, and interesting at the same time.

 
At 6:24 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

Ymar,
I don't mean to nitpick, but 21 is not an even number. :)

 
At 6:39 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Ya, it is. Why? Cause I got my me me bombs to back me up on the it.

 
At 7:40 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Having read it, it seems to me that it is linked to what I revealed previously. Steve feels helpless about American casualties via IEDs. They can't fight back, as steve said and admitted.

So... asking people to give him solutions that he then says won't happen, is his way of retaking control of American policies.

The obverse did occur. Because steve recommended that the US go hide in their bases, and that didn't seem like a good solution. And I mentioned how the helpless kitten like bunnies in the US Marines will hide in their bases and stop IEDs from killing them.

Because there are various ways to defend against enemy psychological attacks. You could play games I guess, but the best way to defend is a good offense. Take the fight to the enemy, obliterate them. Steve won't accept that obliterate strategy, and thus steve prevents the only thing from shoring up his pain at American casualties. Bad deal, steve.

 
At 7:53 PM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look it is over. This empire has stretched its self too far out.
Can you hear it Mr. Anderson it is the sound of inevitability.

The neocon era had to close out someday; no one wins them all.

The 21 year old punk who runs his mouth needs to get ready for the front line so start practicing your aim and pushup’s cause key strokes doesn’t mean Jack.


For the rest of you; you shall have your war(S). Not with Iran but with an equal opponent. Remember all large scale wars were started with little countries and the next one will be no different.

Those of you who spend hours of your time on this site playing war games; I hope you have the same amount of time for an actual one.

 
At 8:23 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

The 21 year old punk who runs his mouth needs to get ready for the front line so start practicing your aim and pushup’s cause key strokes doesn’t mean Jack.

For the rest of you; you shall have your war(S). Not with Iran but with an equal opponent. Remember all large scale wars were started with little countries and the next one will be no different.


...you're kidding, right? There isn't a country in the world that could fight the US as an equal with conventional weapons. And if you want to talk nukes, then yes, key strokes are going to be exactly how the war is fought.

If you mean with biological or chemical weapons, well, then that's my area of expertise. I'll see you on the front lines (and by that I mean a military research lab); be there!

 
At 10:05 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

The Iranian president and the mullahs are on a mission! They are "in their minds and hearts" paving the way for the 12th imam. They will martyer all of Iran if it comes to that...that is how serious their agenda is. Sure it appears as madness to the western eye, but their madness is their tactic of serving their Allah. Guess you could call them "nuts for islamic prophecy" but no doubt they are on a mission!

 
At 11:33 PM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless Americans elect nothing but interventionist administrations from here on out, foreigners are going to get the bomb. Foreigners will control their natural resources. The American standard of living will decline, and the USA will have to retool its sprawling military-industrial economy.

 
At 11:43 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Promethea said...

My solution to the various problems discussed in this comments section...

1. Let's stop worrying about whether the Iranians are "little brown people." They're people, and we need to take them seriously.

2. Let's be willing to "do what it takes" to end the threat of nukes from madmen Islamists. They should not be allowed to gain any more power. If this involves killing thousands, well...so be it. It's them or us.

3. Let's not get discouraged if the Iraqi project takes some time. As one poster pointed out, it was never clear from the very beginning just what the war expectations were. Why would anyone have thought that building democracy in Iraq would be an easy job? I sure didn't. If it takes 50 or 100 years, that's OK. Things take time. Americans tend to think that 5 years is a long time. That's where I break from my people. I have a "historical" frame of reference. Three hundred years is nothing in the scheme of things. I could give many examples--but this is supposed to be a short post.

4. There's no reason why we should be in a hurry. Anyone who has any info on Arab society would never expect simple and quick solutions. Only the naive would expect things to move along efficiently and quickly. Arab society is primitive, and needs to be brought up to speed to function in the modern world.

5. On the other hand, as one who has observed amazing changes among the Chinese in the past 50 years, I have no reason to despair of the changes possible among a dysfunctional group like the Arabs. As a group, they are quite primitive. Yet there are many scholarly and sophisticated people among them. There's no reason to throw in the towel just because utopia hasn't been achieve in Iraq in 3 years.

For doubters like Steve--get a grip! You say that you are an ex-marine. Frankly, from the way you write, I doubt this. You don't write like a "winner," and that's what I expect from the marines. They are winners.

 
At 11:53 PM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

Remember all large scale wars were started with little countries and the next one will be no different.

We’re in the “next one,” Anon. It’s a war that started centuries ago. This era of the war has been fanned like a smoldering fire by the winds of technology. Civilizations can no longer avoid one another; television, the internet & global travel make cultural confrontation inevitable. The enemy is frightened by the change the West represents, change that has been deferred by isolation: Feminism, the relegation of religion into a private issue, freedom of expression in literature, periodicals, cinema, television & all forms of advertising. Freedom in all its fearsome aspects.

Foreigners will control their natural resources.

Anon, foreigners already “control their natural resources.” The US doesn’t “control” any other country’s natural resources(meaning, I suppose, oil) yet this belief is implicit in much sloganeering. What the US does, along with every other industrialized nation, is to buy oil, a transaction no more controlling than picking up a loaf of bread at the grocer.

OK, I will agree with you on this: if the executive power, in consultation with the legislative power, and even after the miscalculation over Iraqi WMD's, decides that surgical strikes on Iran are necessary, then I will accept that, fine.

Then we'll see what happens afterwards.


Thanks for your reply, Steve. Actually, I don’t think we are in agreement on certain assumptions inherent in your response. You see, for me there were several legitimate reasons to topple Saddam, looking for WMD in Iraq was at the bottom of the list – a very minor “miscalculation” that has been blown out of proportion.

I think the Iranians are quite safe from surgical strikes, all out war or even meaningful sanctions. Appeasement & isolationism is the order of the day & Iran will have its nukes before long. Other Islamic states will follow suit.

Then we’ll see what happens afterwards.

 
At 6:54 AM, April 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

History has proven time and again that pacisifism leads to greater destruction.

 
At 7:09 AM, April 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, foreigners already "control their natural resources." The US doesn't "control" any other country’s natural resources (meaning, I suppose, oil) yet this belief is implicit in much sloganeering. What the US does, along with every other industrialized nation, is to buy oil, a transaction no more controlling than picking up a loaf of bread at the grocer.



AMY GOODMAN: What does it mean to be an economic hit man?

JOHN PERKINS: Well, what we've done -- we use many techniques, but probably the most common is that we'll go to a country that has resources that our corporations covet, like oil, and we'll arrange a huge loan to that country from an organization like the World Bank or one of its sisters, but almost all of the money goes to the U.S. corporations, not to the country itself, corporations like Bechtel and Halliburton, General Motors, General Electric, these types of organizations, and they build huge infrastructure projects in that country: power plants, highways, ports, industrial parks, things that serve the very rich and seldom even reach the poor. In fact, the poor suffer, because the loans have to be repaid, and they're huge loans, and the repayment of them means that the poor won't get education, health, and other social services, and the country is left holding a huge debt, by intention. We go back, we economic hit men, to this country and say, "Look, you owe us a lot of money. You can't repay your debts, so give us a pound of flesh. Sell our oil companies your oil real cheap or vote with us at the next U.N. vote or send troops in support of ours to some place in the world such as Iraq." And in that way, we've managed to build a world empire with very few people actually knowing that we've done this.

AMY GOODMAN: And you worked for?

JOHN PERKINS: I was recruited by the National Security Agency.

Excerpt from the top of the interview at Democracy Now.

 
At 8:24 AM, April 18, 2006, Blogger abhay k said...

I think its a real time for action for US if it wants to maintain its superiority in world affairs...and an opportunity to build a new Middle East.

 
At 9:01 AM, April 18, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

Perkins revealed his fondness for conspiracy theories during a January 10 presentation at a bookstore in Washington. At one point, he claimed, falsely, that the U.S. government had been involved in the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., former Beatle John Lennon, and several unnamed U.S. senators who had died in plane crashes.

Perkins has written some books:

Psychonavigation: “first hand accounts of how diverse tribal cultures travel beyond time and space by means of visions and dream wanderings;”

Shapeshifting: “shamanistic techniques for global and personal transformation;”

and The World Is As You Dream It: “shamanistic techniques from the Amazon and Andes.”

Obviously, Perkins’ hold on reality is tenuous. Perkins has zero credibility. I’m not surprised that Amy Goodman & Democracy Now is involved with him. They give a forum to every fantasy artist she can dig up.

I wonder if Anon noticed the 2005 G8 Summit at Gleneagles. It illustrated the real US economic policy:

Under the plan, 18 HIPC countries will be immediately eligible for … debt forgiveness: Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The remaining HIPCs will also become eligible as they reach their HIPC Completion Point.

The total amount forgiven for the 18 HIPC completion point countries will be $40 billion in nominal terms …. The full application of the cancellation of existing debt repayments could amount to as much as $60 billion as countries complete the process.


http://usinfo.state.gov/media/Archive/2006/Feb/02-767147.html

Perkins is a nut-case. I’m not surprised that Amy Goodman & Democracy Now is involved with him. They give a forum to every fantasy artist she can find. I repeat: The United States is the most benign world power this planet has ever witnessed.

 
At 9:37 AM, April 18, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

I am surprised that anyone would present "Democracy Now" as a credible source. Even the name is disingenuous: They, and their ilk, do not want democracy, they want things their way or no way

 
At 10:18 AM, April 18, 2006, Blogger snowonpine said...

Lamentably, Neo has it right.

Winning WWII without major attacks on U.S. soil and the long prosperity that followed has produced a citizenry that has, in many cases, become so insulated from the realities of history and most of the rest of the world that we almost can't see the barbarians at the gates; we have not experienced the havoc they can wreak personally, so they are not real to us.

During this same post-WWII period the media, academia and the religious community also played their part in creating the confusion, hesitations and lack of confidence that characterize today's anti-survival mindset. During WWII these elites, mainly conservative in viewpoint, were basically supportive of American culture as superior and they supported the government against outside threats. Now, these segments of society, overwhelmingly liberal, detest part or all of our culture and see the government as the threat; outside threats are downplayed or totally disbelieved.

Reading history, it is obvious how rare a democracy like ours is and how unique are our fortunate circumstances. It would not take much at all to destroy our dream.

The ideas, among many others, planted and nurtured by these elites, that American civilization is no better and, in fact, worse than mopst if not all others, the viewpoiint that our economic success is not the result of American's hard work but is the result of our shameful plundering of the rest of the planet, the idea that we are false as opposed to the genuine people in the underdeveloped and Third World, have taken their toll on our "civilizational confidence." It seems as if some of the proponents of such ideas believe that Americans should be ashamed to live at all. We've been taught that we should not "stigmatize", "discriminate against" or "judge" but strive to "appreciate" and "understand" countries, movements and leaders who have clearly demonstrated or stated that they want to destroy us. We've been taught that war is wrong and the implication, given the ideas above, is that such shameful, inauthentic exploiters as we don't really have any legitimate right of self-defense.


The barbarians are campted all around our walls, if you look you can see their many fires at night. They are preparing to use a battering ram to smash down our gates, invade and plunder our city, slaughter our citizens, enslave the women and children and then burn it to the ground. Yet many of us are sitting around arguing about whether they truly are barbarians. Some argue that when they say they want to kill us and take our land and women, they really don't mean it, Others wonder if we shouldn't open the gates to the more genuine barbarians who, after all, have legitimate grievences against us--we deserve whatever we get; it's just their way of venting, surely they wouldn't really hurt us. Some wonder if we should send out our daughters and treasury in the hopes of buying them off. Others are arguing that to take up arms against them is immoral and, in addition, might get us hurt.

You want to be destroyed, become just an illustration of folly in a history book, when books are ever written again, this is the way to do it.

 
At 10:21 AM, April 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grackle, the document you cite doesn't actually address the shady practices described by Perkins. It's a little disingenuous to describe his former career as "working as an economist facilitating large engineering and construction projects in Third World countries."

Have you watched the interview, or read the transcription?

 
At 11:12 AM, April 18, 2006, Anonymous Papa Georgio said...

Strange, how the neo-cons love labeling everything and everyone liberal. But for some reason it is a liberal government from Iran that they seek. And the neo-con movement will even use liberal methods of “spreading” liberalism in Middle East.

Yes that’s right folks a liberal use of our best bombs. How about some of our non-tested bunker busters; is the first priority if we want to rattle that snake pit.

And after the destruction of enough “sites” we will send them the terms of their surrender and have a Fox news special coverage about the liberation of Iran from the Iranian regime. Next we shall replace the Iranian regime and have a Tasmanian regime who worships the very grounds the west walks. That’s right folks the new Iran will dream of becoming like the new Roman Empire.

The arrogance, to think you can tell who can and who can’t have nuke capability. No wonder the mullahs put this little roach in power. Middle East has been around lot longer then U.S. It’s like the kid telling his parents how much allowance they can get.

If U.S. truly wants to be the last bastion of democracy and peace, then how about disposing of some the piles of nukes we already have. How about telling everyone we don’t need them and neither do you. Instead we are playing favoritism and plan on building new modern warheads. Let’s face it, people are just tired. Neo-con’s, the Iranian regime and everone else are begging for war.

 
At 11:24 AM, April 18, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

All 21 year olds must practice their calisthenics, their pushups and their pull ups. They must also practice martial arts, meditation, psychological defense training, psychological attack training, and full body-spirit-mind focusing.

They must know when to kill, how to kill, why to kill. They must learn the weak points of the human body, and the different attack combos and tricks to use against a smaller/bigger person. They must also learn when it is the appropriate time to use such maneuvers, and when a word might prevent violence.

For the most fearsome of warmongers conserve their strength, they do not expend it as the fake liberals have in trying to conquer the world.

Fox News gave a good report about my homeland, China. Where the poor and destitute were having their homes crushed and sold for billions of dollars, while they get nothing but the shat spit upon them by the Chinese secret police. There were a lot of police pushing the Fox News reporters away from scenes of violence and despair, inflicted by the Communistic government of the People's Republic of China.

China does not have the military nor the civics necessary to challenge the United States of America. Besides, we'll have India on our side, and the Indians have short stakes. That'll match anything the Chinese can bring to the field, eating cockroaches or not.

Those of you who spend hours of your time on this site playing war games; I hope you have the same amount of time for an actual one.

Dude, did you not freaking realize that several front line and most backline troops in the military, friends that I've known and talked to, actually play A LOT of games? What did you think they did in their down time, watch Abu Ghraib videos?

Frankly, from the way you write, I doubt this. You don't write like a "winner," and that's what I expect from the marines. They are winners.

Prome, The Marines are too dumb to know when to quit. I know, cause the Marines get itchy if I tell them that they are "intellectual". They tend to think it is an insult, those that I have known. One Marine Sergeant dropped out of the Naval Academy, because he couldn't stand the Mickey Mouse necessary to get a commission. Okay, whatever.

But the Marine Corps, Prome, has a bunch of weird people in it. Look at Murtha for example. Heck, you should see the history of 101st Screaming Eagles. Some wack shit going there. Remember that dude who threw a grenade into the command tents? Most Marines are as the stereotype paints them, they would have to be to push through as shock troops. But not even the military is monolithic. There are Marines who don't believe that the most dangerous weapon is a Marine Rifleman. Okay, but whatever.

So, steve is telling the truth. If a Marine can disbelieve the motto of the Marine Corps and the tradition and honor of the Corps, then steve can be pessimistic.

John Perkins proves that if he were running the NSA and CIA, that this is exactly what he would do to those countries.

I repeat: The United States is the most benign world power this planet has ever witnessed.

Perhaps it is time, grackle, for that Golden Age to end, in the best interests of the future of the world.

Snowonpine gives a very good rendition of the Fate of History, and its ever judgement upon mortals, Juggernaut and God alike. I'm going to save it on my blog.

Papa,

It is fake liberal, not liberal.

No, member of the islamic jihad, it is not the little US kid telling the parent MidEast what to do. It is the rapist, murderer, fascistic jihadist telling the compassionate and law abiding policeman to get out of his way. It takes real guts for a fascistic rapist to say to a policeman that he has rights and nobody else does. Real guts. But not a lot of guts for a propagandist like you to cover up for them in the islamic jihad.

 
At 11:27 AM, April 18, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

Grackle, the document you cite doesn't actually address the shady practices described by Perkins. It's a little disingenuous to describe his former career as "working as an economist facilitating large engineering and construction projects in Third World countries."
Have you watched the interview, or read the transcription?


Anon, when merely Googling Perkins’ name reveals that he is either a liar or crazy or both, why should anyone believe anything Perkins says? It’s a waste of time reading such charlatans.

Perkins revealed his fondness for conspiracy theories during a January 10 presentation at a bookstore in Washington. At one point, he claimed, falsely, that the U.S. government had been involved in the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., former Beatle John Lennon, and several unnamed U.S. senators who had died in plane crashes.

How can you believe someone who claims that the US was involved in John Lennon’s murder or the other crap in the above quote? Are you that gullible?

In response to a question about the September 11, 2001, attacks, he[Perkins] cautioned that although he did not know much about this subject he thought that if a bank had been robbed, the police would investigate the possibility that it had been an “inside job,” implying that the U.S. government may have been involved in the 9/11 attacks. He also recommended a Web site that puts forward the false claim that no plane hit the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Amy Goodman & Democracy Now pimps terrorism & gives a platform to every America-hater & conspiracy theorist that she can locate.

 
At 12:24 PM, April 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, when merely Googling Perkins’ name reveals that he is either a liar or crazy or both, why should anyone believe anything Perkins says? It’s a waste of time reading such charlatans.

On the contrary, it's a waste of time discussing an argument's merits with somebody who won't listen to the argument in the first place.

 
At 12:56 PM, April 18, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

On the contrary, it's a waste of time discussing an argument's merits with somebody who won't listen to the argument in the first place.

While I admittedly don't like completely disregarding an opposing argument that isn't made by a troll, what kind of response, exactly, are you expecting to that article? The claims made are virtually unprovable, not to mention undisprovable (though if you think you can prove it, you're welcome to try). So, you want us to discuss hypotheticals, then? Sounds more like a thought experiment than a debate, to me.

 
At 1:41 PM, April 18, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

Papa Georgio,
Your post reads like parody. Like something written by Prof. Larry Chomstein. In our society, and others, if someone has commited rape, assault, or murder, they are locked up and even if released are not allowed to own arms. Even if they just consistantly threaten others with rape, assault, or murder, the same things happen. It is not "arrogance," it is prudence.

 
At 2:15 PM, April 18, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Justin, he wants you to Believe. Because only in Believing, may the Truth set you free. Obviously fanaticism has more than one brainchild in the world.

 
At 5:54 PM, April 18, 2006, Anonymous Papa Georgio said...

How typical; using the good old McCarthy tactic to label everyone who opposes their ideology red. Or should I say blue. LOL

Calling me names unfortunately doesn’t work with me. You born again conservatives remind me of the young Turks, full of ideas yet no actual plan to execute other then bloodshed.

“In our society, and others, if someone has commited rape, assault, or murder, they are locked up and even if released are not allowed to own arms.”


Brad:
First, your society is formed in the country that you live in and not the whole planet. Get that through your thick skull. Thus Middle East is NOT your society!! However you can be arrogant about it and say yes it is. At this point I would recognize you as a nimrod and move on.
Second, rape, assault, murder are all words used by everyone in there propaganda massage for vanquishing evil. The Mullahs are saying the same stuff about us, and its nothing but lame attempt of tossing mud in each others face.

FYI this country is no younger then 230 years old and has a whole history of Rape, assault, murder as well.

But I don’t judge because everyone deserves to reform and change their ways. No British Empire told us how to solve our problems. This country made that decision on its own; through civil war. When Slavery was abolished in England soon became an influence for us to do the same. But no Redcoat said lets have a regime changes now did they???


Lastly,
None of you douche bags know anything about Middle East or its history. Hell this president couldn’t even point Iraq on the world map during his first elected term.
But once again I believe he too can reform and so can you. You were born in a liberal era so it is understandable to feel rather then to think. But soon or later Rene Descartes and you must confront him about not using your brains for thinking.

The problem isn’t about reform in our "worldly society", the problem is a group of righteous pricks who thinks they have a perfect society and must enforce it on everyone else including on cultures who have been on this plant lot longer then any of their forefathers.

Cheerio

 
At 8:15 PM, April 18, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

the problem is a group of righteous pricks who thinks they have a perfect society and must enforce it on everyone else

A perfect description of Islamic fundamentalism. LOL

 
At 8:18 PM, April 18, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

Papa,
That has to be the award-winning absurd response to anything ever! You lack logic, eloquence, or even a semblance of lucidity; all you have is weirdness.

“First, your society is formed in the country that you live in and not the whole planet. Get that through your thick skull. However you can be arrogant about it and say yes it is. At this point I would recognize you as a nimrod and move on.”

How odd. I never implied any universality to what I wrote; you, apparently, assumed it. You bad!!

“Second, rape, assault, murder are all words used by everyone in there propaganda massage for vanquishing evil.”

“…there propaganda massage …”!!!!!!!???!!!

And you suppose that you can refute an argument with grammar like that!!??!!

You are truly a sick puppy.

Sincerely,
Brad.

 
At 9:51 PM, April 18, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

If U.S. truly wants to be the last bastion of democracy and peace, then how about disposing of some the piles of nukes we already have. How about telling everyone we don’t need them and neither do you.

Oh, you know how things go with bureaucracy. The government is having enough trouble disposing of its chemical weapons stockpiles in time for the 2012 deadline (12,300 tons down, 19,200 tons to go).

The arrogance, to think you can tell who can and who can’t have nuke capability. No wonder the mullahs put this little roach in power. Middle East has been around lot longer then U.S. It’s like the kid telling his parents how much allowance they can get.

Technically, it's the UN deciding that, in the case of Iran. Just like with Iraq and the chemical/biological weapons (which seem to be nonexistent). In both cases the US was never the one to give the verdict.

How typical; using the good old McCarthy tactic to label everyone who opposes their ideology red. Or should I say blue.

Okay... so you're not a communist, you're not a liberal, and you're not a neo-con. That leaves what... a fascist?

cultures who have been on this plant lot longer then any of their forefathers.

Do be careful. Those mixed metaphors can bite.

 
At 10:20 PM, April 18, 2006, Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

SB, I'm fond of stupid games, so here goes!

A choice between the ugly American and the beautiful Brit? Hmmmm. . . first off, it's obvious the terrorists are playing their own game, trying to create discord between Britain and America.

Refuse to play their game. Play your own game. Yes, the first responsibility is to the American citizen, but we also don't want to alienate the British.

The American president stalls for as much time as he can, even hints at punishing Israel, giving the terrorists' sponsor government more cash---anything he can, to string them along.

All the while he's doing this, he's also talking to the British government, and to our troops in the area, and laying his own plans. . .

ideally, the situation will be resolved with special forces rescuing both the British, and the American hostage, killing the terrorists in the process. Then, everybody can jeer, "SUCKEEEERRRRRS!" at the terrorists---who will certainly not be in any hurry to do anything like this again, any time soon.

Another tactic might be to start putting some pressure on the sponsor government---and there's always a sponsor government behind these things. Explain to them that, if they want to keep their capital city all nice and pristine, and unbombed, it might behoove them to hunt down the terrorists themselves.

Basic rule of thumb---don't play their game, play yours.

(Of course, life being the way it is, these things are never as tidy as they are in these game questions. In reality, the British hostage would probably be Red Ken Livingstone, who went over there to show his solidarity with the terrorists, and the American one would be Michael Moore, who went there to make a movie about the courageous terrorist "Minutemen".

In which case---why bother rescuing either one?)

 
At 11:03 PM, April 18, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

(Of course, life being the way it is, these things are never as tidy as they are in these game questions. In reality, the British hostage would probably be Red Ken Livingstone, who went over there to show his solidarity with the terrorists, and the American one would be Michael Moore, who went there to make a movie about the courageous terrorist "Minutemen".

Sounds like an excellent time to try out the "10 al Qaeda prisoners executed for each hostage killed" tactic. We should be so lucky.

 
At 1:02 AM, April 19, 2006, Anonymous Papa Georgio said...

Brad:

Like I said name calling is the work habits of the weak.

*Granted I need to read my responses before I submit. ><

"You lack logic, eloquence, or even a semblance of lucidity"

First, instead of passing judgment on my lack of logic take a look in the mirror because you may not like what you find.

Second, I have eloquently proven you wrong and all I get is a child like name calling.

Lastly, I’m perhaps the only lucid person on this entire site LOL.

Brad just remembers sticks & stones… sticks & stones you
neo-con douche bag LOL

 
At 4:56 AM, April 19, 2006, Anonymous douglas said...

"Thus Middle East is NOT your society!! However you can be arrogant about it and say yes it is. At this point I would recognize you as a nimrod and move on."
Uhhh, if he's Nimrod, the middle east is most certainly his society...

"Like I said name calling is the work habits of the weak.
...
Second, I have eloquently proven you wrong and all I get is a child like name calling.
...
Brad just remembers sticks & stones… sticks & stones you
neo-con douche bag LOL"


Speaks for itself.

 
At 7:54 AM, April 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quantam,

I posted the Democracy Now interview just as an offering from the left. Take it or leave it.

Also, re. the thread topic, the problem isn't so much Bush, or Republicans, it's Americans. As much as I look forward to you yanks kicking the bastards out of power, I have no illusions that your culture will suddenly transform itself.

Our people are decided in the opinion that it is necessary for us to take a share in the occupation of the ocean ... and that line of policy be pursued which will render the use of that element as great as possible to them. ... But what will be the consequence? Frequent wars without a doubt. ... Our commerce on the ocean and in othe countries must be paid for by frequent war.
- Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1785

The national guard has even enlisted an army of 500 Indians to defend the country with poison-tipped arrows, Chavez said recently, adding: "If they had to take a good shot at any invader, you'd be done for in 30 seconds, my dear gringo." Source

 
At 10:27 AM, April 19, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I have to say, dear chaps, Justin is quite funny when you get used to his rapier wit. Must have come from studying those organic compounds, of the hydrocarbon variety.

Sounds like an excellent time to try out the "10 al Qaeda prisoners executed for each hostage killed" tactic. We should be so lucky.

Justin, do you mean lucky that we get to try out the tactic or lucky Moore is the hostage?

Papa still hasn't defended why the Islamic rapist and murderer is justified in talking to the US policeman securing peace and order as if the US was a little kid. Maybe brad's arguments arguments, are easier for papa to rail against than the strong force.

The idea that Muslim cultire is not American culture, so anything goes is a little bit... evil. Just a little bit.

 
At 10:38 PM, April 19, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

Justin, do you mean lucky that we get to try out the tactic or lucky Moore is the hostage?

Both. If the strong-arm play works, great, we've found a way to effectively fend off the terrorists. If not, we've gotten rid of Moore. It's a win-win situation.

Incidentally, the "word" it gave me to verify for this message resembles your name.

 
At 10:46 PM, April 19, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Maybe that means Murphy is telling me something. Like, say for instance, I would have already been lynched if I was living in California, something to that effect.

 
At 8:23 AM, April 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is that Ahmadinejad and other Islamist radicals know the US and the West better than Americans and Westerners know Isla.
This is why Taheri's article mist be studied with full attention.
Anonymous

 
At 2:33 PM, April 20, 2006, Blogger snowonpine said...

I noticed a comment a while back about U.S. arrogance in telling countries they couldn't have nuclear weapons. This isn't some game where we each get to take turns and fairness doesn't enter into it at all.

We have nuclear weapons, we've used them and know the damage they can do so we'd like to see to it that no more countries have them. Many of the countries that want them the most are run by thugs, madmen, fanatics or tyrants. This is called reality and self-preservation, not patty-cake.

 
At 4:49 PM, April 20, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

But it is a game to them. It's a game of, "Let's you and he fight".

The Europeans can't get their entertainment if the fight is one nation with nukes against another without, so.

 

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