Monday, October 10, 2005

Forget the Law of Thirds at your peril

Some time ago--long before I became a blogger, or even a neocon--I noticed a certain phenomenon and gave it what I thought was a unique name: the "Law of Thirds."

Well, it turns out the phrase also refers to a recommendation for photography composition, as well as a math principle involving random numbers. I guess it's harder than I thought to be original.

But no matter. Basically, my law refers to the fact that the populace of the US seems to be divided roughly into thirds, at least in the political sense: one-third on the entrenched left, one-third on the entrenched right, and one-third in between. It was something I'd noticed over and over in public opinion polls, and it seemed to be stable over time.

You all know where I stand--in that middle third. I think it's actually where I've always stood, although I used to be positioned towards the leftish end of that middle, and now I stand pretty much in the very middle of that middle. It's from this moderate middle third that elections are generally decided.

For the past few years we've been hearing a great deal of noise from the third on the left, the ones who suffer from the ailment known as Bush Derangement Syndrome. And now, with the Miers nomination, we're hearing the din emanating from the right third. To me, it's not a whole lot more attractive a sound, although it's a very different one in a very different cause.

Yesterday I wrote about what I think motivates those on the right who are rushing to judgment on Miers. Since then, I've done some more reading on conservative blogs about Miers, and some of the comments of those who are dead set against her have reminded me--as if I needed reminding--of just why I'm happy to call myself an independent, and of just how much the extremists on both sides resemble each other in their rage, their rigidity, and their sense of entitlement and grandiosity.

Here, for example, is a reader's dissenting comment to what I consider a very practical and evenhanded post at Polipundit. I offer an excerpt from the comment to illustrate the sort of thing I'm talking about:

What is so disappointing about the Miers nomination is the missed opportunity. No, not the missed opportunity to get a high-powered known-quantity conservative. That certainly could have failed, probably would have failed, as many have noted, given the likely apostasy of several GOP senators. So what? The battle itself would have been the prize:

(1) It would have forced the issue onto public consciousness in a way that the Miers nomination never will. Nobody, NOBODY, outside the respective bases and political junkies will give a whit about or pay a shred of attention to the Miers nomination. A teaching opportunity simply thrown away.
(2) It would have put on record the names, ranks and serial numbers of the apostates to blame for the failure to confirm. Not that we really don't know who they are, but they should be forced on record with their apostasy, with all the consequences that might follow thereunto. It's simply too easy to let them, in effect, kill the nomination of some Really Qualified conservative nominee without ever lifting a finger, and without taking explicit responsibility for the assasination. In the long-run, the best way to instill (enforce) conservative loyalty is to force the wishy-washy "moderates"; (and, truth be told, outright liberal Republicans)to own up to, act upon, and live with the consequences of their betrayals...

The final conclusion from all this: Bush is not a President of, for, or by the conservative movement. He is "conservative"in many (but certainly not all) of his instincts and policy preferences. But he is not a conservative warrior. He really believes in all that "get along together as Americans", "set a new tone and rise above partisanship"; bullshit. He wants to be a good President for America, pure and simple, not a crusader for the conservative movement. Thus all the reasons I've advanced for his pressing the fight for a conservative nominee he very likely would eventually lose have no appeal for him.

Now I, for one, become very nervous when accusations of "apostasy" get thrown around and don't seem to be meant as some sort of joke. The comment tells us quite a bit, I think, about the far right reaches of conservatism, which is rather like the far left reaches of "progressivism," to wit: "tow the most extreme version of the party line or we ostracize and/or destroy you."

The most telling sentences to me are the ones I've highlighted in boldface. If I understand the writer correctly, they're meant to be a condemnation of Bush. In my opinion, they ought to be a recommendation.

Those who are considerably to the right or left often seem to have another thing in common: when their party happens to get into power, they believe it means that the Law of Thirds has been repealed, just for them. It hasn't. As far as I know it's still in operation, and has been for quite some time. Anyone from either radical third who thinks the American people will be happy to give his/her third a permanent ascendance in American political life is quite wrong, IMHO, and that person will be soundly rejected by said American people if he/she arrogantly and openly displays the hubris of thinking so--whether that person's name be Howard Dean or Newt Gingrich or whomever else would be an even better example of the genre.

Right now I'm not sure whether the vocal conservatives whom Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters refers to as the "Rebel Alliance" actually think they can win more elections behaving this way, or whether they just don't care if they do or don't as long as they get what they want now. Either way, the electorate is watching, and my guess is that the rest of the middle third isn't liking what it's seeing any more than I am.

By the way, if anyone wants to read an exceptionally reasonable conservative voice on the matter of Harriet Miers, please visit BeldarBlog. Beldar been hard at work ever since the Miers flap began, and he's somehow managed to stay informative, circumspect, and fair to all concerned. It can't be easy.


At 1:12 PM, October 10, 2005, Blogger karrde said...

Well, the "Math Principle" one isn't really a fixed math principle as much as it is a statistical tendency....

But you appear to be right in your observation, that the extreme members of both sets make for lots of noise.

Quite probably, both console themselves for their incivility of speech by saying that they do it "on principle".

At any rate, there is too much light and noise, and not enough information for me to decide the case. Admittedly, there are dozens of better picks in terms of judicial experience.

But politics is the art of the possible. The combination of a vocal segment of the political base and lackluster support from in-Party senators may have destroyed the artful possible, leaving us with this kludgey choice.

(ps--neo, the link on "math principle involving random numbers" is broken. I had to do a copy/paste, and remove the "" prefix before the link itself, "")

At 1:14 PM, October 10, 2005, Blogger goesh said...

The Right is showing themselves to have many of the same traits they claim to despise with the Left. They are shooting themselves in the foot and sending some middle of the road folks back to the Democratic party. Harriet it would appear is a center-to-the-right type of person. Compromise is the essence of Democracy - I can live with it.

At 1:40 PM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holmes, I submit that a polite and respectful tone is indeed very different from the behavior I'm "condemning."

But you misunderstand me, I'm afraid. It's not the tone or the lack of politeness that bothers me. It's the extremist point of view that brooks no compromise, and doesn't care if it wins the battle but loses the war.

At 2:07 PM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Holmes, I'm a moderate, and I happen to dislike legislating from the bench. I would guess that you and I probably differ a bit on where to draw the line between legislation and valid interpretation of the Constitution, that's all.

At 2:46 PM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Neo. Yet another centrist here, but one who has more sympathy for social conservatives than most former-Democrat centrists. I agree that all the talk about "apostates" is pretty awful, but to be fair most conservatives I have heard on this issue are not talking that way. Mostly they are just extremely disappointed, and if you put yourself in their shoes you can understand why. They have supported Bush through thick and thin in the expectation that, when the time came, he would appoint another Scalia to the court. They were given every reason to belive that this would happen, so now that it hasn't happened they feel like they were tricked. Maybe they were. Imagine how the left would howl if John Kerry had been elected and then decided to keep our troups in Iraq AND bomb Iran and Syria. I think the tone of the right has been remarkably civil considering.

Having said that, I don't share their wish to stack the court with right wingers. I just think wanting to have an open debate is admirably democratic. It's a shame that having a record on constitutional issues (from either a left- or right- wing perspective) now appears to be a disqualification for the supreme court.

(Great blog by the way)

At 3:44 PM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael B: This post of mine has little to do with whether Miers' critics or her defenders have the better arguments on the merits of her nomination. That's a separate issue, one I've addressed, at least partially, in other posts.

My concern here, as I stated in a previous comment, is about an extremist point of view that brooks no compromise and doesn't care if it wins the battle but loses the war. Extremists who ignore the middle may keep ideologically pure, and they may punish those who stray from the party line, but they tend to end up losing elections in this country.

At 3:58 PM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you, The Bunnies, that Bush would have seen it coming if he were a more astute politician.

Of course, maybe he did see it coming, and just didn't care.

Many have compared Bush to a poker player, and I sometimes think that's correct. But even poker players can overplay their hands. I think he had his reasons for this nomination, didn't see the extent of the firestorm coming, and isn't about to explain those reasons. The lack of explanation is consistent with past performance. It's a good thing in a poker player, but it's sometimes a bad thing in a politician. This time, it may be an error in terms of alienating his own base.

One thing I'm beginning to see is the extent to which Bush is not a conservative insider. The right embraced him in 2000 because he was conservative enough, charismatic and pleasant as a personality, and he was seen as a winner. But my guess is that the right always had a lingering distrust of the conservative bona fides of Bush, partly because of experiences with his father. And then Bush junior hasn't followed through with the conservative line fiscally (one of his father's problems, also).

The right has given him a pass till now because of the war on terror. But the perception of betrayal with the Miers nomination has pressed the buttons of the right because this was one thing they thought they could trust him on. Now it turns out that even on this he's suspect. So all that long-suppressed anger comes pouring out.

At 4:39 PM, October 10, 2005, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Bunnies (leaving out the "The"): Well, as therapists sometimes say: it's not the emotion that's the problem, it's acting on it.

Although I don't share the frustration of conservatives over Bush's lack of devotion to the conservative agenda, I certainly understand it. I have my own frustrations over almost every politician who has come down the pike in my lifetime.

There's a difference between having an understandable emotion and acting on it in a way that is ultimately destructive, whether in private or public life.

You show your maturity and judgment by understanding the emotion but refraining from acting on it because you know it would be counter-productive. I expect no less from our political leaders ( maybe that's why I'm continually frustrated and disappointed by them!).

At 4:42 PM, October 10, 2005, Blogger neo-neocon said...

karrde: I fixed that messed-up link. Thanks!

At 5:20 PM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neo-neocon, you may be right with your Law of Thirds. I had always considered American politics to be closer to 40:40:20, but with Bush's poll numbers dipping under 40%, I'll have to recalibrate my sights.

I'm surprised to see that you put yourself in the middle of the middle; I'd have thought you to be a tad to the right of that. Using your Law of Thirds, I'll put myself to the right of the left: about 30 on a 1-to-100 scale.

Interestingly, though, that's only been true during the Bush administration, and to be more accurate, since about the spring of 2002, when the Iraq war drums started to beat. Before that, I'd have placed myself -- well, not center of the center; my leanings are Democratic -- but maybe 45 on the aforementioned scale.

Bunnies, I can't believe you made the statement that "Bush has been very politically astute ever since he got into office". I considered him a total lightweight and took some solace in the fact that he surrounded himself with experienced advisors. Unfortunately, his reliance on his advisors and his refusal to consider various divergent opinions outside of the inner circle led him in disastrous directions (Iraq being the most egregious). In what way has he approached being "politically astute"? Presenting himself as a uniter, not a divider, he has divided the U.S. as never before. Promising on the campaign trail to pursue a "humble" foreign policy and vowing not to engage in nation-building, he has been arrogant beyond belief and has gambled his historical legacy on nation-building on an incredible scale. He has governed throughout his term, narrow though the margins of victory were -- and let's not rehash the 2000 debacle -- as though he was a landslide victor.

Neo-neocon responds to you that
"I agree with you, The Bunnies, that Bush would have seen it coming if he were a more astute politician." Since you didn't say that -- you said, without qualification, "Bush has been very politically astute ever since he got into office", it looks to me to be an attempt by N-n to gloss over the differences you two have while still agreeing on the basics and not ruffling your feathers -- I mean fur.


At 6:18 PM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bunnies, you claim that Bush has not only been a politician. That's a bit opaque; I'm not sure what you mean by that.

"Iraq has been divisive, and Bush should be selling it better." Perhaps a bit of an understatement? I don't think it's a matter of a better sales job. Roll out a whole new product.

Yes, we're in agreement that the Democrats are in total disarray. No one they've got is giving any pretense of leadership. The Republicans are in deep trouble with their fratricidal infighting, and the Democrats are incapable of capitalizing on it.

"The extremist haters of the other side loathing you does not necessarily mean that a politician isn't astute." It doesn't mean that he is, either, but okay.

"Clinton was a master politician (although I think an awful policy-maker)", and many on the right detested them (sic), in part because he was so politically effective, not because he wasn't."

Clinton was and is a master politician (as you know, that's not necessarily a compliment). It seems irrational to detest a person of different political convictions because they're effective. DeLay and Rove are effective, but that's not why I detest them; I consider them despicable human beings. There aren't many Republicans that I can come up with on short notice that I can say I think highly of, but McCain is one. And I also detest small fish like Coburn, and bozos like Pat Robertson.


At 6:43 PM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This discussion has left me thinking about something interesting. I've already named McCain as a Republican that I respect and admire. With some thought, can I come up with any more? And can you guys come up with any Democrats you think highly of?

(To be truthful, just of the top of my head, my list of Democrats isn't any longer than my list of Republicans -- is there anyone in American politics today worthy of respect?)


At 8:09 PM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, this is easy! The religous right knows it doesn't win BIG at election time. They feel that Bush is someone, however, that they put in the White House. Even though, in the year 2000, 2-million of them stayed home. (Bush was promised 17-million Christian conservative votes. But he only drew in 15-million.)

I guess when Gore didn't look all that attractive; and we were saying "tweedle dee-tweedle dum, the value of a Christian conservative vote actually shrunk.

Also, the GOP knows that Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in 1976, because Christian conservatives voted for Carter IN DROVES!

Yup. "Attracting the base, guarantees a certain percentage of votes. But just as the moonbats are expensive to the democrats, IF they intend to attract mainstream voters ... And, this is going to get to be harder, because so many Americans are rooting for the President. AND, his WOT.

But the right feels this was the time to strike. IF THEY COULD SEED A RELIGIOUS MAJORITY ON THE SUPREME COURT, then 1/3 of the government is there's! And, it could be there's for 40 years; no matter what else happens in politics.

But, maybe, it's not the "year of the Christian conservative, anymore than it is the "year of the settler" in Israel. There, too, you saw a party minority trying to hijack the country away from a popular prime minister. Whose gained popularity. (And, if we're lucky, this fight Bush has decided to have with his "base" might be that the time has come to remove "religious" from the word conservative? Barry Goldwater wasn't running a religious conservative movement. And, Ronald Reagan brought Barry Goldwater's conservative movement to fruition.

While the democrats are dying with their global village. And, all the other harms that you get when the only act in town are your "base characters."

At 9:10 PM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Bunnies, I don't believe that the course we're now being admonished to stay in Iraq is worthwhile. The U.S. is losing the war -- and especially the war for hearts and minds -- in Iraq. You say that "many good things are happening in Iraq, and if we manage to set up a stable democracy there, the world will be much better off."

Well, some good things are happening in Iraq, along with many horrible, indescribable things.

The Administration policy seems to be: hope for the best.

Hope is not a policy. The daydream of an Iraqi democracy established at the point of a U.S tank barrel will not come true.

It's not going to happen. The US is going to have to withdraw, and bloody as it may be, the Iraquis are going to have to work out these things for themselves -- as it should be; people should work out their own destinies.

"Declare victory and withdraw" seems a bit cynical, but in withdrawing from a disastrous war that will forever poison Bush's legacy, it's the best option. Do no more harm.


At 11:40 PM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, Bunnies. The vote on the referendum is Saturday. We'll see how that goes, but it's an opportunity for progress. I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope for a good outcome.


At 3:17 AM, October 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget that many of those who are red-faced with fury on the Republican Right fought the Rockefeller/Liberal wing of the party, and its heirs, for many years. They have watched RINOs like Chafee, Specter, and the late Jacob Javits become darlings of the MSM, usually while taking shots at Republicans. Call them the Coalition of the Spineless, if you will. I do. Those RINOs have betrayed the Republican Party so often that the Party supporters must wonder just who voted for them!

At this point I wish they'd cool off and shut up. However, the venom is nothing compared with the outright lies and muderous smears that the Left has mass-produced against Republicans for decades.

So it doesn't surprise me that they are angry. Me, I accept the Meiers nomination with some misgivings. But I know that we can't predict what any nominee will do until they are actually sitting on the high bench. We saw that with Souter and Kennedy quite clearly. They were touted as constructionists. They weren't.
So I will wait and see. But I won't complain about Bush's pick. Who really knows? Harriet might be the finest Justice in years!

At 8:32 AM, October 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NNC: One thing I'm beginning to see is the extent to which Bush is not a conservative insider....

Recollecting back to the 2000 election, Republicans in Texas did not consider GWB to be conservative, but to be closer to 'liberal' in nature. What he had going for him was integrity, commitment, and hard work. These themes have continued throughout his presidency. I think that the originalist view of the US Constitution is an example of integrity: you say what you mean, and don't try to weasel out later.

Thus, many conservatives (including me) are not "Bushies" at all, and have not agreed with many of his policies, especially on the domestic front. On the other hand, his foreign policy has generally been excellent-to-outstanding, and he has done a number of good things domestically, including appointing originalists to the Supreme Court.

Bunnies, you are right about GWBush's less than stellar job as a salesman, but one should remember that the main advertising venues (so to speak) are owned and operated by competitors. People who only read the New York Times and Newsweek, who only watch CBS and CNN, who listen to NPR and AP Network News, these people would conclude that the situation in Iraq is bad and getting worse. (To some extent there is a "police blotter effect", but overall these are adversaries of GWBush, not neutral reporters of events.) Good news (of which there is plenty in Iraq) is inherently more difficult to present; placing things in a larger context often requires more than a sound bite. Perhaps we should be impressed that he's doing as well as he is.

Tequilamockingbird: I love your nom-de-net! You mention this weekend's voting in Iraq. Given last January's voting (a 58% turnout despite real --- not imagined --- voter intimidation), I believe that it is immoral not to oppose the terrorists and support the Iraqi government and continue training and helping equip the Iraqi Security Forces.

At 5:33 PM, October 11, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Many conservatives are concerned and frightened over the future of the republic. These people don't care about winning for their party, they would vote Democrat if they thought this would improve the Republicans and save the Republic, or they would vote for the Republicans if that could save the republic.

They're are not worried about the middle, they're worried about the general trend in this country that is in fact independent of politicial victories. The culture of the Left, Death, and Decadence replicates regardless of who is in office. But not regardless of who sits at a bench at the Supreme Court.

And that is the point. The people on the right are motivated by patriotism, love of country, not love of power, not love of winning at the polls, or any other objective that the Left might find sustenance with.

It's a difference of philosophy.

Patriotism, and its different brands, motivate the right. Nationalism too.

Anti-Americanism, and Internationalism motivates the left.

The Left must win at elections, or else they cannot accomplish what they require. The Right feels no need to be in power indefinitely, they only want the President to shift to the offensive and push the Democrats back to a place where society doesn't warp in on itself.

But, as the commentator you quoted has said, Bush is concerned more about diplomacy and making amends, than justice, than doing what is right.

Or at least that is the perception. And it is a perception fueled primarily by dissatisfaction with Bush's job. From 90% Republicans to 75% satisfied REpublicans.

There is a reason for that dissatisfaction.

For one thing, it is about the War on Terror. Not aggressive enough, not enough crack downs as a policy initiative, not prepared to deal with ruthlessness and unconventional warfare with our own brand of ruthlessness and unconventional warfare which lead to the looting and the other problems that fueled the insurgency in the beginning.

But that can be ignored, cause there most Republicans place more trust in the military than the commander, when it comes to winning wars.

On the domestic front, there is no other person or institute for Republicans to place their trust in, and hope for the better. So they are taking the initiative. In a rather uncoordinated way.

The tax cuts were a long time ago. Bush hasn't had a victory in a long time. ANd Katrina and etc, are all efforts which are more Left and pro-Government, than conservative.

A growing dissatisfaction, and patience with the administration, and a feeling of betrayal that the President is not fighting for the people that fought for him for 5 long years, through Abu Ghraib, through Leftist libel and venom, and through stupid and thick.

Aggressiveness, could have been vented, had Bush picked a fight. But Bush never met a negotiation that he didn't like. Which is the problem, you can't negotiate everything, and you really shouldn't.

If Bush doesn't go on the attack, people are going to attack him. That's been happening for years now.

The Republicans are not so much different from other humans, in this respect.

At 5:53 PM, October 11, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

It's not going to happen. The US is going to have to withdraw, and bloody as it may be, the Iraquis are going to have to work out these things for themselves -- as it should be; people should work out their own destinies.

"Declare victory and withdraw" seems a bit cynical, but in withdrawing from a disastrous war that will forever poison Bush's legacy, it's the best option. Do no more harm.

Why does this sound like Extreme Right Wing dudes like Pat Buchanan and the Republican isolationists during WWII?

And TBird claims to be "30" on a 1-100 scale of liberal to conservative. Funny, heh?

How about that "Declare victory and withdraw" crap, as well? Sounds a lot like what happened after Vietnam.

Everyone said "never you mind" the massacres, it was inevitable.

Self-fullfilling prophecy. Neo-Neocon has herself written the psychological aspects and causality problems of Vietnam.

Trying to espouse the same tactics for Iraq... is old as Mesopotamia itself.

Perhaps a bit of an understatement? I don't think it's a matter of a better sales job. Roll out a whole new product.
That's like saying to FDR, roll out a whole new product rather than propagandizing the effects of US casualties. And I guess we did, in the form of an atomic bomb. I'm always for nuking people we don't like, anyways.

About that commentator that said Bush is not a good salesman because the media controls the gateway of information. That's not exactly true. Bush isn't a Reagan Republican or an Arnold Schwarzenegger Republican, meaning he didn't grow up in Hollywood learning how to manipulate cameras and people.

Because he didn't grow up to be like that, he is not very charismatic on camera. Bush has charisma, but it's the Johnson in your face charisma, not the Kennedy/Reagan/Arnold charisma on camera.

The problem is that the Army in Iraq is not using the information they acquire in an effective way. Take the Zarqawi letter. They did not allow Michael Yon to write anything about it. Instead, they released their own "press release" to CNN, and CNN broke the story... as a blip on the radar meaning nothing.

That's being limited by the media? I don't think so, that's being limited by the Army's stupidity by not releasing the information as a PRESIDENTIAL PRESS CALL.

When I heard about the letter, it was only on blogs. And when I read, I was amazed, so amazed I wondered if it was a forgery, but it wasn't. Then I wondered why the hell wasn't this touted by the administration 24/7.

And the answer is?

Cause they're too incompetent at propaganda to know a victory from a defeat, that's what.


At 8:40 AM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You maintain that "if we withdraw we risk turning over the country to" the bad guys, and "Zarqawi and his ilk" have declared war on the Shiites and the Iraqui people will suffer.

I don't think that will happen at all. The presence of occupying Western troops is hugely inflammatory, and withdrawing would probably cool things down a great deal. As others have pointed out, there doesn't seem to be much Iraqi support for the jihadists; with Western troops and that source of hatred gone, the homegrown jihadists would be pacified and the huge majority of Iraquis could deal with Zarqawi and his few thousand foreign fighters. Since the status quo in Iraq is so obviously unacceptable, more and more Republicans, not only Democrats, are leaning toward this solution.

The nightmare situation you posit -- Al Qaeda types taking over the country is, I believe, a flat-out impossibility not worth discussing, and yet you accuse me of advocating such a position and question my sanity. Anyone who did should indeed have their sanity questioned; I didn't, and I don't.

The lives of the servicemen: That's a tragedy. The tragedy is that they followed Bush into this needless, immoral, illegal war being waged for personal, ideological, and financial reasons. The fewer that die, the better. (Pat Tillman, a heroic and tragic figure and a great man, enlisted to fight in Afghanistan; he was opposed to the invasion of Iraq).

You've really lost it with your next offering. Would I prefer that Al Qaeda et al took over Iraq, and then the world, than that I didn't? Take a deep breath and get a grip.

Moving on: Yes, although Bush tries to draw bogus similarities between the war in Iraq and WW II, I do see some similarities between the struggle against -- what? Shall we classify it as Islamofascism? -- and the Cold War. And it will likely last for decades.

I think "War on Terror" is a pretty dumb phrase, and while others in the Administration have tried to change the rhetoric by characterizing it differently, Bush won't give up his mantle as "War President." But call it what you want, I think it has to be done.

That's not the same as the war in Iraq! There were no terrorists in Iraq! Think Afghanistan. It was justified, it was supported by the world and the U.N., and NATO troops are still there today. No problem! Well done, guys! If only the U.S. didn't have to spend $5 billion a month in Iraq, it could be fighting the "WOT" far more effectively worldwide.

Thanks for your comment on my referendum hopes. I do NOT hope for a bad outcome in Iraq; I just don't see the possibility of a good one following present U.S. policy.

(I'm not that interested in the Miers nomination either, and I, too, feel strongly about our present topic. I'm more to blame than others for "hijacking" this thread. Sorry.)


At 8:55 AM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


That Iraqis should work out their own political destiny, and withdrawing from a wrong-headed war is Extreme Right Wing? Should I classify myself as a 95?

You're a bit incoherent in your Vietnam and FDR comments. Try again. Or not.


At 3:36 PM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Since you agree that the status quo is unacceptable, would you not agree that the U.S. should change its policy? The problem isn't military; it's political. U.S. military leaders have acknowledged that they cannot defeat the insurgents militarily, and the insurgents, of course, cannot possibly defeat the U.S. militarily. (How do you define "quagmire"?)

The only hope for success is for the political process to succeed, and I think the U.S. presence is hurting rather than helping. I've read opinions from several prominent Arabs that the U.S., driven by the 2006/2008 election imperative, is pushing the process along too fast. And of course, as I maintained earlier, the presence of 150,000 occupying troops is fuelling the recruitment of homegrown Iraqi jihadists.

"Have you read Zawahiri's recent letter?" I hadn't until I read your post; now I have, and I'm not quivering in my boots. He's howling at the moon. Yes, he "urges insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to be ready to establish Islamic rule in Iraq once the Americans leave". (That's from Voice of America News). That's a long way from a clear and present threat that a couple of thousand disunited terrorists can take over a country.

"They have no intention of withdrawing from the fight if we do and I'm not as sanguine as you are in thinking that they'll just evaporate as a threat if we leave".

You go on to compare the Iraq situation with that in Vietnam. Although I think there are some valid comparisons with Vietnam, I don't believe the prospect of an Islamofascist holocaust is one of them. There aren't that many of them, and they are not a unified body with common political goals; they're terrorists attacking what they hate. Ho Chi Minh was a genuine political leader, on the global scene since the Versailles peace talks after WW I, with millions of committed followers.

No, you're right, I don't support Al Qaeda's goals and desires. One of their goals and desires, however, is that the U.S. occupy the Middle East, giving them a target for their hatred and rage, and helping their recruitment. Do you not think that Osama bin Laden was one of the happiest men on earth the night of "shock and awe"?

U.S. withdrawal doesn't necessarily mean abandoning innocent Iraquis to their doom. It's possible (and would be more so under a different U.S. Administration) that with U.S. cooperation, Europe, NATO, and the U.N. could step into the breach. Surely you realize that there are millions around the globe who, though they condemn the U.S. invasion, sympathize with innocent Iraqis.

Here are two excerpts from an article entitled "Looking for the Exit" by Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor at large at the Washington Times (no, not the Post!).

No. 1:

"The first prominent retired general to break ranks with President Bush's Iraq war policy was a Republican who once headed the National Security Agency and also served as a deputy national security adviser. Gen. William E. Odom, a fluent Russian speaker who teaches at Georgetown and Yale universities, told the Wall Street Journal's John Harwood staying the course in Iraq is untenable.

"It was hard to disagree with Gen. Odom's description of Mr. Bush's vision of reordering the Middle East by building a democracy in Iraq as a pipedream. His prescription: Remove U.S. forces "from that shattered country as rapidly as possible."

"Gen. Odom says bluntly, "we have failed," and "the issue is how high a price we're going to pay — less by getting out sooner, or more by getting out later."

"At best, Iraq will emerge from the current geopolitical earthquake as "a highly illiberal democracy, inspired by Islamic culture, extremely hostile to the West and probably quite willing to fund terrorist organizations," Gen. Odom explained. If that wasn't enough to erode support for the war, he added, "The ability of Islamist militants to use Iraq as a beachhead for attacks against American interests elsewhere may increase."

"Gen. Odom, head of the pro-Republican Hudson Institute, also calls the sum achievement of U.S. occupation of Iraq "the radicalization of Saudi Arabia and probably Egypt, too. And the longer we stay in Iraq, the more isolated America will become."

"The retired four-star's proposed solution is for the U.N. and the European allies to take charge of political and security arrangements. This formal request from the U.S., says Gen. Odom, should be accompanied by a unilateral declaration that U.S. forces are leaving even if no one else agrees to come in".

No. 2:

"Arab opinion has been inflamed to the point where Palestine and Iraq are now two fronts in the war against what Charles de Gaulle used to call "the Anglo-Saxons." Osama bin Laden is probably thinking he's some kind of strategic genius.

"In Iraq, quite apart from Fallujah and Najaf, the U.S. occupation, according to the latest Gallup polls, has turned most of the population against America. In Baghdad, only 13 percent now believe the invasion and regime change it accomplished were morally justifiable. Only one-third of Iraqis believe the occupation is doing more good than harm and a majority favor an immediate U.S. troop withdrawal while conceding this could put them in greater danger. Gen. Odom presumably has his finger on the same pulse."

The article was dated last May. I don't think things have improved since then.

Okay, I take your point about the invasion in 2003. I ranted a bit, so did you. Now I'll try to leave behind my arguments against starting the war in the first place and discuss the situation on the ground today, or as you put it, "Argue about the policy, and the wisdom or the lack thereof of the policy".

Thank you for your suggestions about widening my horizons -- always a good idea. You might be surprised, though, at the amount of time I spend at the Drudge Report reading conservative columnists -- serious writers as well as amusing wackos like Ann Coulter and the Limbaugh twins. The Neo-neocon site isn't a hotbed of pinko lefty faggots, either. And the farthest left I get in my reading is CNN and the WP and the NYT. No wingnut leftist sites.

I hope that you'll accept that I, too, hope for the best for the Iraqi people now that they're out from under Saddam's tyranny.


At 3:41 PM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

p.s.: "Argue about the policy, and the wisdom or the lack thereof of the policy". Do you want to kick things off by arguing for the wisdom of the policy?


At 9:21 PM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa! I have to backtrack here.

"Have you read Zawahiri's recent letter?" Well, I read what little there is on VOA, as I said. I've now discovered it's a 6000-word harangue that's more significant than I thought, and I'll have to read some more and think about that. If the terrorists start to organize politically, that's a whole new ballgame. Let's hope that doesn't happen.


At 12:00 PM, October 15, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Someone who hasn't read the Z-Man letter, some numerous months after it had been released, is only a slight percentage of the evidence concerning the lack of well verified information the critics of Iraq have in their possession.

You're a bit incoherent in your Vietnam and FDR comments. Try again. Or not.

The only incoherence lies in your delusionary comments that pulling out of Iraq would not produce a massacre. I predict that when the massacre comes, you'll claim that it was "destined to happen", just like what people said about the boat people in Vietnam.

How about instead of repeating myself to a brick wall, I just quote the question again and have you answer it?

Why does this sound like Extreme Right Wing dudes like Pat Buchanan and the Republican isolationists during WWII?

Feel free to evade the question again, as you did before.

and I'll have to read some more and think about that.

Go ahead, we'll still be here after you've rationalized some facts into your world view that Iraq can be abandoned and everyone will be sappy happy in their relief.

Let me remind you that ZERO and 100 are the same number in the spectrum of left and right. The more left you go, the more rightist isolationist you become.

At 12:34 PM, October 15, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I have to admit a rather interesting mistake. Which is that given how the media writes Zarqawi's name, and its various versions, I had gathered the impression that Kcom was refering to Zarqawi's letter.

Which is the one that was found numerous months ago, the one I referenced originally.

I will rephrase the subject then, into whether Tequila has read the original Zarqawi letter, and what he thought then upon it. Rather than the comments concerning how he didn't read it, that assumption may or may not be correct in this instance.


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