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Mogadishu Democrats

| 55 Comments | 11 TrackBacks
"I knew we were in for a long season when we lined up for the national anthem on opening day and one of my players said, 'Every time I hear that song I have a bad game."     -- Jim Leyland, Manager, Pittsburgh Pirates
My blog-mates Armed Liberal and Trent Telenko have been carrying on a running debate here at Winds of Change.NET about the future of the Democratic Party, issues of leadership and foreign policy, and more. Just zip over to our GEO: U.S. of A category archives for a look. For the most part, I've left it alone and covered the rest of the world. Still, there is one angle I'd like to cover. It's about the centrist Democrats who see the importance of the national defence issue, but can't seem to shake some crippling beliefs and behaviours. Untill and unless these habits are examined and corrected, initiatives to reform the Democratic Party and offer a credible voice on national security issues will remain stillborn. Let's begin with yet another demonstration of Jane's Law, on July 4th no less. Democrats for National Security (DfNS) emailed to say:
bq. "But this is different. This time the President of the United States has invited attacks on American troops. At a time when American civilian and military leaders on the ground in Iraq are desperately trying to stabilize the situation, the Commader-in-Chief has challenged Saddam's supporters and others opposed to our presence to a fight. The President's remark shows an appalling and reckless disregard for the lives of our troops on the ground. How utterly stupid and thoughtless - how emblematic of why this man is so thoroughy unfit to lead this nation." This is where people like myself look askance and say, in order: Buy A Clue. Get a grip. Lose the attitude. And know what's going on. Right now, even this supposedly defence-minded Democrat organization is projecting none of these things. Let's review. First, what in Sam Hill was DfNS thinking sending this out July 4th? What's next, a press release on December 25th slamming the capitalist element in Christmas? Waiting 24 more hours wouldn't have killed them, but it seems they just couldn't help themselves. Clueless? Absolutely. Alas, the same kind of frothing disease the Republicans displayed over President Clinton seems too contagious to resist. Jane's Law wins again. Memo to Democrats: kindly get a grip. America was attacked. The public remembers that. Which means DfNS et. al. need to be all about the wider strategy, not all about the President. As Bill Clinton might have put it: "it's the war, stupid!" Second, a bit of toughness from DfNS could have done a world of good, and worked to counter an image that the Democrats have built up the hard way. Armed Liberal has discussed this image and the attitudes that spawned it (Veteran's Day | Patriotism Branding | Patriotism Reconsidered). The U.S. Democratic Party needs more of that like they need a hole in the head. Deserves it, mind - but doesn't need it. Especially with the rest of the party trying to live down to James Taranto's characterization: bq. "Democrats seem to be just as out of touch today. Rather than celebrate the overthrow of a tyrant and enemy of America, they are trying to discredit it by retrospectively niggling over the nuances of the argument for war. It's as if they were defense lawyers arguing an appeal on behalf of Saddam, trying to get him off on a technicality." So that's #2: Lose the 'tude, dudes. Issue #3: Dems for National Security also have to display serious military expertise and background... and here they failed again on July 4th. Let's get real. The attacks are coming regardless of what Bush says. As for "bring it on...", one wonders if DfNS are aware that U.S. troops used exactly this tactic during the war, via loudspeakers on Humvees, to great effect? That's why we heard about pickup trucks attacking M1A1 tanks - the fedayeen just couldn't stand to have ther manhood challenged in stereo. I believe one U.S. soldier's quote was "we shoot them down like the morons they are." One expects an organization called "Democrats for National Security" to know this, and perhaps to apply it. In a guerilla war, you WANT people to come after your soldiers. That's the ideal tactical scenario, and with the shallowness of the Ba'ath infrastructure and limited recruiting capability they cannot sustain an attrition-based campaign for long. That might change if they adopted a longer-term strategy, and Bush has now challenged them not to. Smart move - the fedayeen loudspeaker tactic writ large. The faster and harder al-Awda attack, the sooner they're taken out, the faster the reconstruction is done, and the more U.S. troops come home. Sounds like a plan to me. Which brings me back to my earlier point about toughness. In the short term, yes, the above strategy does mean more body bags. That's the cost of policy in a war environment. Defense-minded Dems can't be going all wobbly about each casualty and screaming over non-issues like this, rather than looking at the total mission. Otherwise they'll sound like Clinton over Mogadishu: worrying, gun-shy, willing to get involved but equally quick to leave when the going gets tough. That wasn't exactly a high point of Clinton's terms, and it will happily be used against the Democrats today if they give off the same vibes (Hat Tip: Jen Martinez). Especially given al-Qaeda statements since the "Blackhawk Down" incident that the Somalia pull-out encouraged them in their jihad against America. DfNS as the "Mogadishu Democrats" - oy! Yet that seems to be the tag they're courting. Finally, DfNS needs to show awareness of what's going on beyond U.S. borders. On July 9th, DfNS sent around another circular... this time, about the 9/11 commission. Unlike their July 4th release, it made some excellent points. It did so, however, precisely as non-violent action to pressure one of the "Axis of Evil" countries into allowing more liberty for its citizens was coming to a head. Shouldn't a group called Democrats for National Security be backing something like that all the way? Couldn't the 9/11 press release have waited a day or two? Of course it could. On July 9th, they should have been leading the charge on Iran - or at least noticing such goings-on beyond America's shores. Clue: Stuff happens in the world beyond President Bush. Kindly pay attention. In this month's Policy Review, military historian Frederick W. Kagan offers "War and Aftermath," a thoughtful, well-grounded critique of current U.S. military doctrine (Hat Tip: reader Mike Daley). Well argued and even devastating in places, it offers a point of view that would represent a real contribution to the debate and dovetail well with the Democrats' traditional orientation, if only a serious Democratic Party could ever understand and champion it. If only. If. Piecing together a new view of the challenges facing America, and the serious responses to that challenge, is hard work. It isn't glamorous, and it doesn't offer instant political payoffs. As the Wall Street Journal article that launched DfNS into the public eye recognizes, however, the redemption of the U.S. Democratic Party depends on it. DfNS is carrying a heavy burden, and it's important for them to think their positions through before they go out to the public. The image they project is still being shaped, but it will start to harden pretty soon. If it "sets" the wrong way, the Democratic Party as a whole could find itself in the national security wilderness for a long, long time. UPDATES: * As Fredrik Nyman notes, nails this whole issue in 2 short paragraphs. * Dean Esmay has some depressing thoughts. * Michael Totten has a view from the center-left. * Grim's Hall agrees with this analysis, and as a Southern Democrat he offers a course forward for the DNC. * Fortunately, people like Sean LaFreniere still live on the Left. Dude, that was SOME dream of justice!

11 TrackBacks

Tracked: August 6, 2003 9:46 AM
Those Kooky Donks from Dean's World
Excerpt: Joe Katzman invokes Jane's Law today ("Jane's Law: The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out...
Tracked: August 6, 2003 9:50 AM
Those Kooky Donks from Dean's World
Excerpt: Joe Katzman invokes Jane's Law today ("The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power...
Tracked: August 6, 2003 5:28 PM
Lieberman, Alone at the Center from Flame Turns Blue
Excerpt: Ok, G. Michael, here you go. This is a Democratic presidential candidate that I could vote for. Too bad there aren't many Democrats that agree. Excerpt: Saying he is in a fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic...
Tracked: August 6, 2003 10:09 PM
Excerpt: Joe Katzman offers the Democrats some pointers on how to become a majority party again. For his efforts, Joe is likely to be completely ignored by the Democratic Party. That doesn't mean that you should ignore his post, however. Go...
Tracked: August 7, 2003 6:47 AM
The View from the Center-Left from Michael J. Totten
Excerpt: Joe Katzman writes about what he calls Mogadishu Democrats, Democrats who are trying to look serious about foreign policy but end up posturing instead. Memo to Democrats: kindly get a grip. America was attacked. The public remembers that…As Bill Clinto...
Tracked: August 7, 2003 10:18 PM
The View from the Center-Left from Michael J. Totten
Excerpt: Joe Katzman writes about what he calls Mogadishu Democrats, Democrats who are trying to look serious about foreign policy but end up posturing instead. Memo to Democrats: kindly get a grip. America was attacked. The public remembers that…As Bill Clinto...
Tracked: August 8, 2003 12:54 AM
Drinking the Cool-Aid from Facts On The Ground
Excerpt: There's been an interesting discussion going on in the blogsphere, it started on Joe Katzman's blog under the heading Mogadishu Democrats. From there the argument jumped to Michael J. Totten's own ambivalence towards the Democratic party. Matthew Ygles...
Tracked: August 8, 2003 1:32 AM
The View from the Center-Left from Michael J. Totten
Excerpt: Joe Katzman writes about what he calls Mogadishu Democrats, Democrats who are trying to look serious about foreign policy but end up posturing instead. Memo to Democrats: kindly get a grip. America was attacked. The public remembers that…As Bill Clinto...
Tracked: November 16, 2003 11:40 PM
Hypocrisy: Blogger Style from
Excerpt: Compare ... and contrast. Why is it unacceptable to criticize Bush on the Fourth of July, but attacking a four-star general on Veteran's Day earns a free pass? Earth to Joe Katzman!...
Tracked: March 5, 2004 7:16 PM
Democrats on Defense from
Excerpt: There's a lot of stray thoughts that go into this post, so bear with me while I cover a lot of ground. Every time I prepare to start writing on this very topic, some new article pops up that adds...
Tracked: March 5, 2004 7:16 PM
Democrats on Defense from
Excerpt: There's a lot of stray thoughts that go into this post, so bear with me while I cover a lot of ground. Every time I prepare to start writing on this very topic, some new article pops up that adds...


I had some hopes this would be a serious long-term project... But that first email is really appalling; a good sign it's really about getting political cover on the cheap. It's the potshot mentality instead of thinking through in an objective way what you would do about the tough serious issues if it were you in office.

Therefore, of course, Dems won't win the elections anyway. Funny how that works.

I think it's time to quote Blaster again:

Note to Democrats

You are going to lose. Why? Because you think you need to have an effective message on national defense.

No. No "message." You need to to defend our nation. You need to want to defend our nation. You have to feel like our nation deserves to be defended. That isn't a message. Its a belief. And if you don't believe those things, your message can't be credible, no matter how good you are at faking sincerity.

I think this quote nails it. DfNS is all message, no sincerity.

Excellent point, Fredrik (and Blaster).

The big problem for most Democrats (including Presidential candidates Kerry and Gephardt) is that the see Democratic weakness on national security as a "perception" issue. And like most perception issues the Democratic pols are simply trying to neutralize the issue.

This does work for most issues (Bush appears to have neutralized the Democrats advantage on the education issue, and Clinton successfully neutralized Republican's advantage over welfare), but I don't think it will work on national security. The Republicans are favored on this issue by astronomical margains because voters do not trust Democrats to handle FUTURE security threats, and they base that perception on the MANNER in which most Democrats address national security issues, rather than on the actual VOTE said Democrats make.

Right on point. The first clue that this is a political rather than intellectual exercise is the organization's name, "DEMOCRATS for National Security." It says more about the Democrat Party at large than it does the organization. It's as if a group of Republicans splintered off to establish "Republicans for National Health Care."

That some Democrats feel compelled to establish an organization bluntly stating that they are for "national security" should tell everyone the need to publicly separate Democrats from a Democrat Party that is implicitly understood NOT for national security.

Which goes to show the larger problem confronting Democrats - even those ostensibly for "national security." That this organization's efforts manifest themselves in more carping about Bush and our "lean forward" strategy in the war on terrorism only demonstrates how far they have to go to separate themselves from the anti-war mantle that is the political center of gravity in the Democratic Party.

Ultimately this presents two significant problems for Democrats. First is the obvious one of establishing credibility on the ability and desire to promote effective policies advancing the nation's security; including support for the military. Second is the larger identity problem. For better or worse (clearly worse for liberals and Democrats), the national security issue is clearly a surrogate for patriotism. Democrats viewed as weak or suspect on national security are (and will continue to be) viewed as weak or suspect on patriotism. American voters will not elect leaders' whose affections for the nation and willingness to defend it are uncertain.

"Democrats for National Security" will fail to address these two problems as long as they view such matters through exclusively partisan lens. If they continue to believe and act as if national security is nothing more than a partisan issue or theme to be managed, they will continue to lose. Americans have a pretty good nose for separating pretenders from contenders. Bush and the Republicans, even with mis-steps, are advancing national security; and with every carp, quibble, second-guess, accusation of “lies” and complete absence of any constructive criticism whatsoever, "Democrats for National Security" and national Democrat leaders are not.

The fundimental issue here is that the Democratic Party is no longer a broad based American political party. It hasn't been one since it purged its conservative hawks (read Jacksonians) and liberal anti-communists (Read Neo-cons) in the 1980's.

It is a series of political factions that are dedicated to domestic government-client relationships. Anything that is outside the reality of domestic government-client patronage is a Republican plot to steal money/political manna from Democrats.

That is why the party is threatened with extinction in the 2004 election cycle.

for once i agree completely with trent.

i grew up thinking i was a liberal because that was the word i thought fit being anti-communist, anti-socialist, anti-fascist, and pro-freedom. i was wrong about that apparently and wish i had known sooner.

no matter what problems i may have with the right wing, i can no longer even hold out hope of any redeeming value on the left. its a shame so many young good hearted intelligent people dont yet realize just how much theyve been decieved by those they think they are on the same "side" as.

the democratic party is in the process of becoming nationally irrelevant as more and more of the disillusioned, disaffected, and blatantly lied to soon to be former supporters of the party gain the courage to strike out on their own and abandon a party that is under total control by far left reactionary and leftwing-lite factions.

i dont think that means the republican party will become dominant, since it has its own serious fractures, but i dont even have a desire anymore to see the democratic party be taken back from the "hijackers". i dont think its been hijacked, i think these are its true colors shining through and will continue to be such for the foreseeable future.

Is it impolite to compare the Democratic Party to Islam?

A "radical" group (Wahhabi or McGovern-Dean) claims to speak for the whole and the "moderates" who claim to be the majority don't take action to assert themselves and their message. Leaving the radical's view as the defining message.

If the moderates (in both cases) lack the will to take on the radicals, why should anyone else believe thay (the moderates) matter? ... and we will form our opinions and frame our actions accordingly.

What is the rest of the world to think?

Hope this works, posting from my Sidekick.

Kinda cool seeing myself quoted above. I note (and I would link, but the SK doesn't cut and paste - should be the 2d post on Overpressure right now) that Kerry, the "serious" guy on National Defense for the Democrats is in the WaPo today condemning Bush for being "erratic" on North Korea. Come on, have you seen Kim Jong-Il's hair? Now that is erratic.

Also in the WaPo Style section today, an article about the "draft Wesley Clark" movement. I think some Democrats understand the failure. But they won't change it with their curent leadership.

I mean, Dean in charge of the war on terror? Please. (got something about him at the blog, too.)

Time for a GROSS oversimplification.

Both major parties have their "fantasy thinking" wings. On the right, the fantasists (sp?) include isolationists -- the world is too corrupt for America to be involved. On the left, the fantasists include the "progressive internationalists", who believe that the US is too corrupt to act in the world, and needs the restraints of international law and organizations to properly channel (and reduce) its power.

The two poles are NOT symmetric. The isolationists see their fellow citizens as fundamentally good, and in general look to decentralization as the proper structure of society. (I think there are weaknesses to decentralization in the world that actually exists, but that is another story.) The "progressive internationalists" see their fellow citizens in a contemptuous light, and see centralization and foreign control as the proper structure of society.

The former can be convinced of breaking out of their isolation and of supporting foreign adventures when it can further the cause of liberty (vague, but a powerful idea). The latter can not be reconciled to their own countrymen -- they can only be satisfied with control of them.

This is the polarity between the Republicans and Democrats on national security, and it is one in which the Republicans have an inherent advantage. Theirs is the pole that can gain people's trust. The Democrats' pole will not earn peoples trust, and can not be reconciled to the independent use of American power. Theirs is the functional equivalent of adolescents, newly exposed to the secular religions of the left at university. There is no real reasoning with them.

Hence, the Democrats will continue to struggle with this well-deserved burden until some vague future in which a third party arises to absorb these irreconcilables.

That is not to say that Republicans get a free pass. If foreign adventures go south, their fantasy wing can stay away from the polls. That serves to limit the foreign adventurousness of a Republican administration.

FWIW, my 2 cents worth.


dont compare the democrats to teens. thats mean to teens.

It hurts to admit that I agree with much of what's said here; I have/had hoped for DfNS, but my reaction to their emails was pretty congruent with Joe's. Having said that, batting .333 still keeps you in the majors, and I'm certainly one who has made msisetps as I've figured my politics out -and I'm willing to bet that we all have as well. But their ceredibility is damaged, and the next few things out had better be good.

Trent's line about the Dems being a series of interest groups masquerading as a party is painfully accurate as well. The GOP is also infected with this, but to a dramatically lesser degree, for reasons that I'll take as ideological.

No one said rebuilding would be easy...



"The GOP is also infected with this, but to a dramatically lesser degree, for reasons that I'll take as ideological."

Maybe so, maybe not. All I can say (for myself and not anyone else) is I'm a Republican and I don't think of myself as anything but an American when it comes to party affiliation and voting behavior. I do suspect this is true of other Republicans as well, although I'd agree/acknowledge/concede your point is probably strongest regarding evangelical Christian conservatives...

But you know, an unspoken element in all of this is the move of the Republican Party to the center, essentially co-opting all would-be moderate Democratic issues. This began back in Nixon's time and has been a constant, sly radicalizing pressure on the Democrats every since. How can a moderate Demoratic, in any way, define himself/herself clearly from a moderate Republican. There isn't an issue. To the sometimes dismay of doctrinaire conservatives, mainstream Republicans are all pragmatic centrists, staking out weasily, mainstream positions on issues like abortion, minmum wage, and deficit spending. If you are mainstream, think clearly and aren't overly emotional, even if you are or used to be a Jacksonian Democrat, you can't get too steamed up about the
Republicans. The only ones on the left really motivated are the hate Bush/Wellstone conspiracy types.


Reread your post, substituing Democrat for Republic, and Clinton for Bush, and left for right. And see that it is just as true either way!

Sean and Tim are quite correct. Public opinion of the Democratic Party as a whole is such that it no longer matters, in presidential politics, what the positions and statements of individual candidates are. The Democratic Party as a whole is just not trusted, and with good reason.

I repeat my comments elsewhere on the subject: the Democratic Party's survival depends on it having a civil war on the issue in which the factions which aren't afraid to show their patriotism in public throw out the leftist anti-American factions. That saved the Party in 1948-49, and is necessary again.

Either people like Armed Liberal will either do it or they won't, and they are running out of time.

Leiberman's recent statements are merely those of a desperate loser. He would have had credibility had he said in March and April what he is saying now. Now it is too late for him to be credible. He had his chance and blew it.

Patriotic Democrats are doing that over and over. They are far more concerned about the possibility of looking bad personally, and not concerned enough about the good of their party, let alone doing what is right just because it's right. Too much "me", and not enough "us".

Lurker, I disagree. Your juxtaposition would be correct if we had been nominating the likes of Pat Buchanan or Bob Dornan or if the pary apparatus were controlled by the hard right (I caveat that if you are a leftist - you undoubtedly think Bush is hard right and Ashcroft next to Hitler). Whats happening is that the Democratic Party is increasingly an amalgamation of special interest factions, that are increasingly moving the party leftward, while the Republican Party gets the plain ol' vanilla non-aligned working citizen and the secret drop-outs from the Democrats factions - which tends to move them into an amorphous center. The Republicans learned from Goldwater, the Democrats did not from McGovern.

I'm going to repost a letter that I wrote that was published on and is quite relevent towards this discussion of partisanship and war.

"My thoughts drift back to the Serbian War, and I remember the unfathomably dovish, wobbly, and appeasing comments made so relentlessly by the Republican leadership (especially Lott and DeLay) against our military involvement, and against the authority of the Chief Executive. In that situation they violated nearly every principle of conduct you now bash Daschle for violating, only they sniped ten times louder, and with a hell of a lot more partisan rancor. Those memories in place, I really must ask why Lott goes so apoplectic over criticism of the war effort, especially when we have "troops in the field" when he felt absolutely no compunction in making similar comments (to a much stronger degree) three years ago. OK, so I guess I should expect hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty from Trent and his buddies. But I am genuinely disappointed to see you defending their tactics. Andrew, I know you didn't forget what they said. Well, neither did I, and neither did anyone else."

Alas, Republicans do hve their dividers. Skink - ah, Newt - may not be leading a charge anymore, but too many others are carrying on. I fear our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq are going to be hit with the Liberian tarbaby, the War on Drugs has turned into the War on States and Medicine, while the discussion about what type of pistol to be issued to pilots went on they were still being deprived of nail clippers, an admittedly intellect-lacking teen arrested for leaving a note in his baggage that there was no bomb therein, a proposed Amendment to establish the definition of marriage as being that currently given by Webster's...

I'm scared the party will devolve into a screeching, back-biting mélange.

SamAm: The comments made by Trent Lott and Tom DeLay regarding the Kosovo air campaign were made during the period between the end of the Cold War and 9/11, when voters weren't paying attention to foreign policy. Remember, Clinton was as wobbly on Gulf War I as Kerry was on Gulf War II, but Clinton had the luxury of running for president in an era where foreign policy credentials were not essential for victory.

Tom: The kind words are appreciated. However, I don't think Lieberman's attempt to critique the Democratic party is a case of too little, too late. He could have launched his counteroffensive on Dean sooner, but at least he never threw in the towel and repositioned himself as a prodigal dove, as Kerry and Gephardt have. Besides, I've long believed Lieberman's best chance to be taken seriously by his party is if it suffers a solid unambiguous electoral drubbing in 2004. 2004 has always been a long shot for Lieberman. 2008, however, is a distinct possibility.

I remember the criticism of Clinton on Serbia, too. It wasn't grounded in Clinton's venality, it was a national interest based argument. And I certainly don't remember it being more strident than the current criticism. I do recall Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott making the case that whatever the criticism prior, once the US was committed, we were committed. It was the Republican leadership saying partisanship stopped at the water's edge.

I have a story on my own blog about meeting Strom Thurmond and him saying that Clinton had no business sending our boys to fight for Kosovo. But that is a far cry from "he's a neocon bent on taking over the world."

It seems like a rather selective memory to think that during and after the war over Serbia that Republicans were grandstanding and calling the President a liar and a reckless unilateralist, despite the lack of a Congressional authorization, much less a UN one.

Yes, before the bombing started they said he should have sought Congressional authorization. But when the bombs started falling, the deed was done. There was no ex post facto carping about it.

The problem still comes down to the Left not being sincere about defense. Just being willing to use the military is not a sign that you are serious about national security. Bill Clinton had more military expeditions than his predecessors, but none represented "national security" requirements. Somalia (I know inherited from Bush, but he changed the mission), Haiti, the various adventures in the former Yugoslavia, multiple engagements with Iraq - none were predicated on making Americans safer. Well, that's not true. The few that were turned out to be woefully ineffective.

Right now, the only Democrat candidate that seems to actually believe that the US is worth defending is Joe Lieberman, and he is getting torched by his party for one kinda supporting school vouchers and thinking that maybe not allowing abortion willy nilly was warranted, even though he disavowed those positions. Oh, and he also doesn't hate George Bush enough.

I don't have any good answers ffor the Democrats, other than to wait until after the end of the war on terror, and people won't care as much about the issue. It worked for Bill Clinton.

SamAm, your points are well taken. That was a shameful episode, and the fact that it was made in the face of a much less serious threat may explain its lack of political resonance but not absolve its moral taint. Let's hope the Republicans have learned a few things as well.

There is a place for criticism of troop deployments and policies, even during a campaign. That's necessary. There is, however, a line dividing honest, serious criticism from partisan game-playing with the lives of American troops, or worse from hatred of America and the idea of America masquerading as concern.

Note that this is not unique to the Left, though they are louder in the mainstream press and it is an integral part of their ideology in ways that are not true on the Right. MG had some good points up top - I'll just note that the dynamic reverses somewhat as social policy heaves into view.


You left out a whopping big difference. We were attacked. You prove Telenko's point that, for too many Democrats, mostly lefties, 9/11 never happened.

Well Sean, I have to say I'm a little confused.

Is it ok what Lott and Delay did because voters weren't paying attention?

Regardless, I thought that the GOP position now was that the morality of a conflict is in no small part justified by the human rights betterment of the situation and the evil of the regime defeated.

If that's the case then DeLay and Lott were standing up for a vicious dictator. They were being objectivly pro-ethnic cleansing, objectivly pro-rape and torture. They let their partisanship get in the way of a just war.

Or were they saying that a human rights justification, the alleviation of the suffering of innocents, was not enough to send the US to war?

For what it's worth, I subscribe to the New Republic, support Edwards (mainly because Lieberman is a terrible pol) and cringe at the emergence of Dean as the frontrunner.

So don't call me unserious about the war.

9-11 happened when I was 16 years old. To say it didn't have an impact on me, well, you don't know me. It did, but Kosovo did as well.

Bush's domestic policies are a huge sticking point for me; I really dislike the majority of them. But I quite hawkish, and Bush has done, hmmm, shall we say a better job overseas than he has at home.

The war on terror would be prosecuted differently by someone like Edwards or Lieberman (the rest, sad to say, are probably offbase) but not, probably, much better or worse.

So I'm not some left wing wacko.

And here's the thing.

When people put people like myself and Lieberman in categories with people like Dean and Bonior, it's as unfair as making you all justify Falwell and 700 Club.

I can tell the difference between Paul Wolfowitz and Pat Robertson.

Do extend the same courtesy to those across the aisle.

I remember somebody pinning me down & making me opine when Clinton went ahead in Yugoslavia. I’d had doubts about it in terms of its value to security etc., but when it came down to it, I was for it but was worried that Clinton would make a mess of it, that he simply wouldn’t competently exercise his command role. Besides that concern, I thought that on balance it was justified, both on humanitarian grounds & on longer-term security interests (I won’t get into that, it’s a whole other subject). But I suspect the lack of confidence in Clinton’s competence added energy to Republican criticism & helped propel it beyond being a criticism of the idea of a foreign policy weighted more to humanitarianism than to security.

I too recall that the criticism stopped or simmered down once Clinton went ahead. It would be good if this could be corroborated.


I think Blaster made some good points. There is no parallel between Lott/DeLay's criticism of Clinton's foreign excursions and the Dean/Kerry criticism of Bush's.

"I thought that the GOP position now was that the morality of a conflict is in no small part justified by the human rights betterment of the situation and the evil of the regime defeated."

This is essentially true, but it also misses the point. It is good to take moral actions. It is not possible to take ALL actions that would be morally laudable. When crafting foreign policy for the United States, you must justify your actions to the national interest as well as our accepted moral principles.

Frankly, while our intervention in Kosovo was morally justified for the reasons you give, it had nearly nothing to do with our national security or other national interests. Western Europe has several comparatively wealthy, first-world nations that had the resources (if not the political will) to solve the problem without our help. Their backyard--their responsibility.

It's also not as if there were no other pressing issues that needed military attention at the time. Iraq had been hanging around in flagrant violation of the ceasefire for a few years by that point--Clinton was in favor of removing Saddam, but never decided to muster the political capital required to do anything meaningful about it. North Korea had been covertly working on its nukes throughout the '90s, but Clinton devoted his attentions elsewhere.

A primary difference between Clinton's internationalism and Bush's is that Bush spends his international resources with a careful eye to achieving our national security interests, and Clinton didn't.

Finally, you, Lieberman, Dean, and Bonior are all in a group (the Democratic party) because you decided to be there. Yeah, I know, you and Lieberman disagree with Dean and Bonior and I applaud you for it. Things are a bit different with Falwell. He's a has-been, and deservedly so. No one takes him seriously anymore except those who use him as a caricature. Dean, on the other hand, is one of the leading contenders in the Democratic Presidential primary. He's taken seriously by the party, and his supporters (not you) need to answer for it.


Most isolationist Republicans stopped opposing American intervention against the Axis after Pearl Harbor. Most northern Democrats stopped supporting Southern claims for exceptional treatment after Fort Sumter was fired on. Their patriotism was not questioned, for their prewar political positions, after we entered World War Two and after the Civil War began. That was because they changed their prewar positions and supported the country's war efforts after we were attacked.

You attacked Congressional Republicans for things they said concerning a different conflict that occurred well before 9/11 - one in which we were never attacked. That is like criticizing Lincoln for inconsistency in leading America during the Civil War because he had earlier opposed our participation in the Mexican-American War.

9/11 happened. The world changed. Most Democrats didn't.


I'm not seventeen or eighteen - but I remember U.S. intervention in Kosovo as well. Republicans were hardly as coherently against our intervention in Kosovo as Democrats are now against Iraq. My own position (not that it really matters now) was that it was a dubious exercise at best, since U.S. security was not at risk, but that once committed we absolutely, unequivocally had to win. I believe McCain was probably the most forceful advocate of this position. I'm not sure their are many, if any, Democrats with a similar, McCain-like view toward our involvement in Iraq. Lieberman is close, but he really is different in both degree and kind.

And, since you're a Democrat (or appear to be one, anyway) and of (presumably) age, do mind me asking if you've considered joining the military? How many of your Democrat friends are thinking of joining?

Regardless of your answer, it's pretty clear to me that one of the problems confronting Democrats is a cultural hostility to the military. I'm not sure how this will change - but I suspect it starts with young Democrats joining the military in approximately the same numbers as do Republicans and independents. Food for thought.

PS: I served, for what its worth, so don't bother with the hypocrisy argument…

Actually I meant that Clinton brought the Democrats to the center, to the chagrin of the left wing.

I don't claim either the Democratic or Republican parties. You can keep 'em all! From time to time I've thought about posible labels for my philosophy. Republicrat used to work, but now I'm leaning more toward Liberaltarian.


I'm definately NOT excusing Lott or DeLay's strident opposition to the Kosovo campaign, I'm just saying that the comments won't adversely affect their party's credibility on national security like the dovish comments the current Democratic presidential crop are making.You can argue that the statements of Lott and DeLay are morally equivilant to those of Dean and Kerry, and maybe they are, but the Dean/Kerry, etc. statements will harm the Democrats at the ballot box, while the Lott/ DeLay statements won't harm the Republicans.

Have I considered joining the military?

Yes I have. I've thought about it to some great deal in fact. I even expropriated a "Military Careers" book from my HS's guidance department.

ROTC (Army or Air Force, I'm biased against the Navy, no offense) is an 8 year hitch, which puts me out a captain at age 30. I'd like to get an advanced degree, which I probably wouldn't be able to do with ROTC (unless it was law, but we'll get to that) and I'm not sure about going back to school at 30.

It is no doubt a very big commitment, and one I have almost no context for making. So I'll probably discuss things with the Army and AF instructors. One thing is that MI jobs are extremely difficult to get, or so I've been told, and that's the career that interests me. So I really don't know.

The other option is law school, then indoc school for JAG. And again, I really don't know.

My friends are mostly apathetic to sorta kinda conservative because their parents are conservative.

The constituancy for 18 year old New Republic reading conservative Democrats is a little small where I live.

I know 2 people doing ROTC (both AF), 1 going to AFA and one to West Point.

Oh yeah, the military is very into math-science majors, of which I will not be, a fact that doesn't exactly help (in terms of scholarship money or OCS admission).

One other thing to add: the "NeoCons" who are the boogiemen of the Left today were not out there criticizing Clinton for going into Bosnia or Kossovo and confronting Saddam in '98 - the vast majority of them were in favor of it, and to the extent to which they criticized Clinton on the issue, it was in the same category of TNR-NeoLib criticisms of Clinton: not doing enough, quickly enough - quite the reverse of chanting "No U.S. Hegemony! Down With Amerikkkan Imperialism! No Blood for Oil! Clinton's a Liar! He's decieving the public and hasn't made the case! All that stuff about Iraq's nuke program and WMDs - we don't believe it!"

And on the later, the same with respect to Delay and Gingrich types: they never went about asserting that when Clinton talked about Saddam's nuclear ambitions and WMD program that Clinton was lying or deceiving people about it.

SamAm wrote:

"Or were they saying that a human rights justification, the alleviation of the suffering of innocents, was not enough to send the US to war?"

As for whether we should have been involved in Kossovo or Bosnia and the like - there was a legitimate debate over the degree to which one can intervene for humanitarian reasons; that debate existed in Europe, too, and between Europe and the U.S. & Britain (interestingly, Kofi Annan was also talking quite differently then than he is now - he was talking about limits of sovereignity; his gripe at the time was not that the West intervened in the Balkans but that it wasn't intervening in places like Rwanda as well. But then with respect to Iraq in the post-9/11 era, sovereignity once again became inviolable for him, among other UN types and scions of the International Community). There was a division of opinion within the Left side of the political spectrum on that, too. Because traditionally, no, humanitarian rationales and the alleviation of suffering haven't been sufficient justification for military intervention (hey, SamAm - wanna intervene in Cuba?) - which is one of the reasons why early debates on intervening in Yugoslavia revolved around recognizing the seccession of Bosnia and Croatia or not, and why there were delays and handwringing (especially in Europe) over doing that - so long as those places were considered part of Yugoslavia, rather than independent states, the case for intervention was considered weaker by many. Similar with Kossovo, which is still part of Serbia/the Yugoslavic rump-state: especially since in Kossovo there was no interest (except among the Kossovar Albanians and in Albania) for recognizing Kossovo as independent.

(as for me, as I've said elsewhere, I shared the opinion of the TNR staff and the "NeoCon" types - for intervention and wishing Clinton would have acted stronger and sooner, again a far cry from saying we had no business intervening).

Anyhow, I'm reminded of the point that Trent (and others) made in an earlier post, that for some Liberals intervening where the issue can be framed principally in humanitarian terms and does not involve us acting out of our interest is somehow more pure, and they're willing to support the former - at least when a Democrat is in the White House - but are far less enthusiastic about anything that's tainted by our own interests.

My main point in bringing up Lott and DeLay's comments is to simply point out that the GOP doesn't have sanctity on the issue of partisan criticism of US military intervention, and, indeed, one can look back as little as 4 years ago to see the situation reversed.

And while I think it's great that everyone here has basically distanced themselves from those comments, it just goes to show that there can be Dems like me (and a lot of the everyday, working class Dems, and the DLC types) who don't want to be spoken for my MoveOn or Howard Dean.

"Anyhow, I'm reminded of the point that Trent (and others) made in an earlier post, that for some Liberals intervening where the issue can be framed principally in humanitarian terms and does not involve us acting out of our interest is somehow more pure, and they're willing to support the former - at least when a Democrat is in the White House - but are far less enthusiastic about anything that's tainted by our own interests."

That's probably more or less true, which is quite unfortunate, and, if I had my druthers would change.

And it's important to remember that not all Dems are like that (DLC, TNR, Holy Joe, John Edwards) and that our last Democratic president wasn't like that and our last Democratic candidate wasn't like that.


There is a world of difference between military intervention in someone else's civil war, and use of military force after being attacked.

Given that you don't understand the difference now, it is unlikely you ever will. Furthermore this is generally true of Democrats, but not of Americans who aren't Democrats.

Tom DeLay was exactly right in saying that this proves the Democrats aren't serious about national security. It is also why the Democratic Party is in real danger of extinction.

It's simple. Morality and humanitarianism are reasons to go to war -- just not the irrefutable reasons. Our own lives and safety are. Without that bedrock principle there is no security policy... The condition obtaining on the left side of the aisle.


There's one argument that what's going on now is essentially American intervention in the Arab civil war, after its side-effects killed 3,000 or so people in New York and Washington one day. Nor did Iraq attack the USA, though violation of its ceasefire terms is an open and shut trigger for war by all conventional understandings.

Security policy, a good security policy, makes no distinctions with regard to civil war vs. other intervention situations. It asks only about compelling interests, costs, and benefits. Lest I sound too much like a realist, prevention of genocide and the promotion of freedom can be argued as compelling interests. Serbia was a good case, in which those reasons were combined with the knowledge that spreading instability and/or a regional war that started drawing in countries like Turkey could precipitate a Class 1 disaster. Since the Euros were too weak and foolish to stop it (small exception - Germany did important and unheralded work that turned the tide in Croatia), I'm glad the USA did.

And while defense against direct attack is of course a sacrosanct right, the whole point of the post-9/11 world is that this is no longer enough. It won't do. And so we find ourselves in the midst of the present war, where lines are not always clear and we really do need to think our way forward together.

What is clear to me is that people like SamAm are my compatriots in this war, whatever our other differences may be. SamAm, I hope your career and ROTC aspirations work out, and commend you for considering this path. You will always be more than welcome here at Winds of Change.NET.

>Security policy, a good security policy, makes
>no distinctions with regard to civil war vs.
>other intervention situations.


Civil Wars really are different than other intervention situations.

That inability to make a distiction was what led to the debacle in Vietnam.

The civil war situation in Saudi Arabia was exported to the USA. We are in the process of forcing it back within Saudi Arabia and preparing for the loss of oil production that will be its outcome.

Or did you miss the fact that the Bush Administration is filling the US strategic oil reserve at record rates?

Or the fact that the Saudi princes are now making nice with their Shia minority mullah's in oil producing areas?

Wouldn't it make more sense to compare Republican criticism to Clinton's interventions in the Balkans to Republican criticism of the proposed intervention in Liberia?

I would argue that the problems in Bosnia/Kosovo (and, for that matter, Rwanda) were fairly similar to the problems in Liberia now: there are no significant US national security interests at stake.

Given that, I don't see any real problem with Lott and other republicans expressing concern prior to Clinton's Balkan interventions; they're expressing similar reservations about Bush sending troops to Liberia now.

Iraq is a completely different kind of conflict; it has been a threat to US national security for a long time. After 9/11, the Bush administration determined that the threat level was unacceptably high.


Some commentator said that the Saudis exported their civil war, but I am not aware of any who have said that we intervened in theirs. Yours is the first time I've ever heard of the latter. It comes across as an apology for SamAm.

What is really at issue here, and what I've been slamming SamAm about, is the Democrats' unspoken but implied disagreement with the premises of the Bush administration's grand strategy as fully ennunciated in the NSS. Democrats oppose the concept of our being pro-active. They want us to be reactive only - to let terrorists attack us at home over and over, and respond only to each attack individually.

But the Democrats won't say that openly. I am deliberately forcing their, and SamAm's, hidden agenda out where we can all see it and denounce it properly. Furthermore this is why the Democratic party is in danger of extinction. The underlying premise of their adversion to our proactive policy is that 9/11 didn't happen.

They just don't get it, never will and deserve to join the Federalists in extinction.

Here is the opening sentence of my Strategy Page article titled Grand Strategy For America's War on Terror. It was published before the NSS was published, based on Bush's West Point speech, because I understood the latter's implications quite well. The NSS published the next month showed I was right.

"The only feasible means of protecting America's homeland from foreign terrorist attack is to eliminate all terrorist-supporting states. We opposed some foreign terrorism before 9/11, but weren't at "war" with terrorism in general. 9/11 forced us to recognize that most foreign terrorists and their state sponsors cooperate to a greater or lesser degree, and that our security requires rooting out what has grown into a connected system of world terrorism and the state sponsors of its disparate parts."

That article was published before Jim Dunnigan gave me an archive, and so has scrolled off. Here is the whole thing, published on June 14, 2002. Note that the events in its final paragraphs will cause the Democrats to throw up their hands in horror, and that Trent is quite correct that the Saudis only recently realized what we've planned for their Shiite majority oil provinces.


The only feasible means of protecting America's homeland from foreign terrorist attack is to eliminate all terrorist-supporting states. We opposed some foreign terrorism before 9/11, but weren't at "war" with terrorism in general. 9/11 forced us to recognize that most foreign terrorists and their state sponsors cooperate to a greater or lesser degree, and that our security requires rooting out what has grown into a connected system of world terrorism and the state sponsors of its disparate parts.

President Bush indicated in a recent speech that all governments which continue to use terrorism as instruments of state policy, if only to deflect their own people's anger away from themselves towards us, will be forcibly replaced. He did not, however, mention what will happen when replacing a government won't improve the situation, which will usually be the case with failed/failing states.

Their fate will be extinction. I.e., failed and failing states which have served as terrorist sanctuaries will be conquered and occupied by a friendly country (us if necessary) with the means and ruthlessness to root out terrorist infrastructure.

This is a fundamental change in the post World War II order. Borders will change and whole countries cease to exist. The world will be rearranged to further our domestic security, and we will act pre-emptively rather than waiting for attack. These are logical and necessary implications of America's new policy, i.e., we'll get there eventually despite claiming the contrary now. Great events and major policy changes by Great Powers are dynamic instead of static. They create new environments which foster further changes.

Elimination of terrorist states appears to be our middle-term goal. President Bush's long-term goals identified in the same speech show no change in America's overall objective since 1945 – slow integration of the world into a web of successful, prosperous, democratic societies. Getting there now seems to require, however, that America operate as an empire in areas which potentially threaten our homeland.

Our short-term goal must be protection of the homeland from terrorist weapons of mass destruction (WMD) because, among other things, such attack might so enrage the American people that they would require the immediate nuclear annihilation of active and likely threats. That might create a far more dangerous world in the long run, and would at least markedly impede America's long-term goals.

We must rely on internal and foreign intelligence services to protect against WMD improvised from our domestic resources, as on 9/11. Protection from WMD produced elsewhere requires recognizing and prioritizing the potential threats. The WMD of foreign origin which most threaten our homeland are of two types. One is biological – most likely anthrax of Iraqi origin (those who still deny that have bright futures in today's FBI - many already work there), but possibly smallpox too. The second is nuclear, including radiological devices as well as weapons.

The two most likely foreign nuclear devices/weapons which terrorists could use here are fizzly xSoviet tactical nukes used as radiological devices, and Pakistani nuclear weapons. Al Qaeda likely has the former. It, or its successors, will probably get the latter. It is highly likely that any terrorist nuke detonated anywhere in the next ten years will be of Pakistani origin.

The extent of Iraq's biological weapons threat cannot be known until after its conquest, but Iraqi intelligence agents with quasi-mythical abilities, using anthrax spores of the quality used last fall, could theoretically kill several million Americans. A Pakistani nuke in terrorist hands could kill 80,000 - 100,000 Americans, while a fizzly xSoviet nuke might kill several thousand.

This huge disparity in potential harm dictates the magnitude and order of action. Iraq's immediate conquest has the highest priority. Elimination of Pakistan's nuclear threat need not take a military form. We should, however, immediately start formulating strategies towards that end.

Threat elimination next in priority starts with terrorist-supporting states possessing chemical weapons - Iran, Syria-Lebanon and Libya. Iran's regime might not last the year even if we do nothing, and will almost certainly be overthrown by its pro-American people when we conquer Iraq. Libya recently offered a billion dollars compensation for the Lockerbie bombing to buy its way off this list. Syria's regime continues to support Lebanese terrorists so it must be destroyed, possibly with Turkish and/or Israeli proxies.

Then we must eliminate Saudi Arabia's regime as it is the chief source of Islamic terrorist funding. That might not be enough, though, as Saudi culture has an Islamic extremist base of several centuries' standing. Elimination of Saudi terrorist funding will likely require that its people be denied the physical means, i.e., the U.S. will control Saudi oil-producing areas and use the revenue to fund America's new empire."

I would add to Tom Holsinger’s post that, granted the threat arising from cooperation among terrorists & terrorist-friendly states, there is also the threat of their capacity to operate in combination without either communicationally mediating their coordination with one another or acting in tandem as one another’s conscious but tacit allies. Malign strategic synergies obtain among them, which they can exploit, even when they’re not on speaking terms with one another. Their simultaneity & variety challenge our resources & strategy. There is a threat to the US & to civilization in the sheer multiplicity & complexity of variables in the swamp that the bad guys comprise. The US (along with the rest of civilization, much of which seems unaware) is faced with the challenge of reducing the size, complexity, & opacity of the “swamp.”

I emphasize this because there may well end up being cases where we will not be able to prove that there was active communication & cooperation between some given entities, & right from the start it seems best to see that such is not the only kind of combination that we see as posing a threat.


Check out the URL's for these two related Op-Ed columns in today's Washington Post:

Condolezza Rice on Transforming The Middle East:


Jim Hoagland concerning the US turning on Saudi Arabia:

Draining the terrorist swamp means turning off their money spigot, i.e., taking away the Saudi's oil income.


"Democrats oppose the concept of our being pro-active. They want us to be reactive only - to let terrorists attack us at home over and over, and respond only to each attack individually."

Well, I just don't think that's true as a blanket statement. I'm a Democrat and I certainly don't agree with that sentiment. And as I've pointed out in the past, there are a number of notable Democrats and Democratic organizations that are pro-active.

"SamAm's, hidden agenda out where we can all see it and denounce it properly."

Virulent language directed at an 18 year old young woman, don't you think? I don't have a hidden agenda (words I don't think I'd ever have to say!). My opinion, my views, are not so different from those here. In fact, one of the reasons I am here is to acknowledge to you all that there are folks like myself who aren't happy with the direction of the party and are working to change it.

"They just don't get it, never will and deserve to join the Federalists in extinction."

Well, I think there are a lot of issues on which the average Republican is wrong and where the leadership has been wrong, but I'm not calling for the party's extinction.

This sort of maximalistic partisanship, especially on such an important issue is, not to sound like a goo-goo, really depressing to deal with, and at some point being declared a heretic by the left (what, you like Wolfowitz???) or the right (unserious!) means that folks in the middle just pack up and go home.

And maybe the GOP wants this. Sure, I guess in a country with no middle ground between Bush and Dean Bush would win most of the time.

But does anyone really want to live in a place like that? Is that good for the country?

Does anyone, watching a documentary 50 years from now on the next 20 years of US politics want to hear that damn quote from Yeats? Well, I don't.

"Elimination of Saudi terrorist funding will likely require that its people be denied the physical means, i.e., the U.S. will control Saudi oil-producing areas and use the revenue to fund America's new empire."

Well, that's not particularly alarming. I would hope that if it were the case that the US would use more of the money to fund schools and infastructure than the current Saudi government does now, but I imagine Future Jerry Bremer isn't going to do a Scrooge McDuck thing and go swimming in crude. So as long as the revenues were used in part to better the life of the average Saudi, that doesn't seem like such a shocking plan to me.

The analogy of a swamp, first publicly used by Rumsfeld on 9/18/01, has from the start struck me as quite apt. From my post above I suppose it may seem that I look to the grand strategy in a way that diminishes the real & growing threat that was Saddam’s regime (Condi’s WaPo article) & that diminishes the importance of active links among the dangerous entities (Hoagland’s article on the Saudis). But actually I’m in complete agreement on those things, though I don’t post here often enough for every fellow poster to know that.

Under “Comments: Guest Blog: A Happy Liberal Speaks” (July 25, 2003)
in response to a post about how the Iraq invasion was never really about WMD but about a bigger picture, I posted:

“Having argued here a few days ago for the importance of the big-dissonant-picture view, where a one-size-fits-all approach to the pieces would be peculiarly out of place, I hope nobody misunderstands when I say that we must continue to do justice to the more particular justifications given for dealing with invading Iraq.” [snip]. I pointed out also that once we entered on a course of confrontation with Saddam’s regime, our seeing it though or backing down would ramify to the farthest reaches of any “big picture.”

Elsewhere at Winds of Change (darned if I can find it) I posted that when pro-war people say “it was never about WMD,” they should be specific to say it was never about WMD clearly ready to rumble. Bush indeed argued, in his 2003 SotU, against those who said we should wait until the threat became “imminent.” The Adminstration has worked hard to maintain its credibility & I griped about a pro-war person’s referring to its diplomatic approach regarding Iraq as involving diplomatic fictions. There is no need to play into the hands of those who will seek to claim that there is some sort of discrepancy or discontinuity between our justifications & particular motivations for invading Iraq on one hand & our bigger-picture strategy on the other.

BUT given all that, I do think that we need to retain a “malign synergies” argument, because we probably won’t be able to prove in every case the presence of active communications & cooperation, yet in fact the consideration of these malign synergies is one of the compelling considerations in our thinking. This is especially clear when we consider the scenario where we are attacked with WMD & we don’t know who did it. The size, complexity, & opacity of the swamp as a whole then leaves us with hard choices.

CNN 9/19/01:

[On 9/18/01] In a news conference at the Pentagon, Rumsfeld warned that the United States was in for a long fight against terrorist groups. He said the U.S. would go after terrorists by moving “to drain the swamp they live in.”

“They’re benefiting from the support of governments and from the support of nongovernmental organizations that are either actively supporting them with money, intelligence and weapons, or allowing them to function on their territory and tolerating, if not encouraging, their activities,” Rumsfeld said.

I took it from there that the swamp is not just the terrorist networks’ milieu but the whole big mess in which the terrorists are important variables.


You didn't pick up the implications of what I posted earlier to Joe:

>Or the fact that the Saudi princes are now
>making nice with their Shia minority mullah's in
>oil producing areas?

The Al-Saud clan is afraid of the USA creating a Shia oil emirate out of its north eastern oil fields.

What happens to the American hating, terrorist creating, Sunni-Wahhabi majority when it loses the cash flow to keep the electrical power plants and water desalinization plants running?

The Arabian penninsula cannot support the current population without lots of oil income. And America will not provide the cash while a post Al-Saud Wahhabi extremist dominatied Arabian government attacks us.

No westerner will stay in such a society, so the 20th century power, telecommunications and public health infrastructures will collapse in months because there are not enough trained Saudis to run it.

Democrats will go insane -- worse then they have to date -- as that comes to pass.

I found my other post, it was at the same URL, & it’s all there in the pair of posts. Sorry about that.


The problem is that your perspective seems to be a minority viewpoint within the Democratic party, represented primarily by Lieberman, who isn't winning many converts. (Caveat: This may be affected by Lieberman's style, which is frankly uninspiring.)

I don't know what the solution is to this problem. If the Democrats want to be taken seriously as a major party for the next few decades, responsible people are going to have to wrest control of the asylum back from the inmates--well, ok, maybe that analogy was a bit problematic, but you get the idea. Unfortunately, this may require "alienating your base," and that tends to work poorly from a numerical standpoint (also, a party's base is usually the source of its money, energy, etc.).

Um, good luck? I think you guys will need it--and I'm not being facetious here; a competent opposition keeps us from getting lazy. Laurels wilt if you rest on them.

Please understand I'm not trying to be obtuse here, but the idea is that the House of Saud will fall to an extremist Wahhabi government which will in turn run the Arabian peninsula into the ground due to the loss of 1) US oil money and 2) the outflow of trained Western professionals, and that the subsequent humanitarian crisis will cause Democrats to "go insane -- worse then they have to date -- as that comes to pass."

Well, if all those stars aligned I imagine that the Democrats (and the GOP, and the rest of the world) would be concerned about 1)a Wahhabi government coming to power and 2) the humanitarian crisis, but I fail to see how Democrats, specifically, would flip out over that, more so than any other group.

Should say

"will fall and be replaced by"

SamAm -

Don't worry, it isn't just you - Trent's vision of what's likely to happen to his enemies is somewhat extreme...



You were not old enough to see how the Shah's regime in Iran fell, but the signs portents for the Saudis are there. The Saudi regime has been exhibiting all the symptoms of a prerevolutionary failed state.

Next, ask yourself exactly why the Bush Administration is rushing to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at a time of high oil prices and a soft economy? If anything, in the run up to 2004, Bush should be selling oil to drive down pump prices and stimulate the economy for his reelection campaign.

He is doing the exact opposite.

This only makes sense if Bush and his national security team expect to lose Saudi oil for a prolonged period.

Last, the al-Saud clan has spent all the time since 1991 eliminating its western educated technocrats as a threat to the Saudi Clan hold on power. A fact that has been reported in the New York Times Magazine amongst other places. This leaves the al-Sauds in the position to credibly say to the West that "it is us or the Wahhabis."

After the events of 9/11/2001, neither choice is acceptable to the USA. The al-Saud clan funds and supports terrorists and cannot stop doing so without starting a civil war.

America's demand is that they stop. The point will come where the al-Sauds will fear the American military more than the Wahhabis. Either the civil war will start when the al-Sauds pull the terrorist funding plug, or when the American military chases enough of al-Qaeda's operatives within Saudi Arabia's borders that they decide to strike at the ruling faction of the al-Saud clan with an out of power al-Saud clan faction as their front men. Who they will kill as soon as it is convenient.

Either way, America will take the Saudi oil fields when they stop pumping oil. And every faction wanting to control Saudi Arabia will then have to attack the Americans to maintain internal faction power and position.

Literally millions of urban Saudis are going to die because they can't exist without 20th century power and H2O desalinization technology to support them. Neither of which will operate without the oil income needed to maintain them and pay westerners to run them.

All of this horror will be happening on Al-Jazzeria Satellite TV rebroadcast to the USA via CNN and the BBC World Service.

The leftist controlling the Democratic presidential primary nominating process will go flipping nuts, guaranteed.

What happens next, when these Democrats get into that vicious cycle of self-reinforcing anti-American fantasy, will only be describable as insanity.

So, Trent, do you think all of that is going to happen before 2004? Or after?

"Next, ask yourself exactly why the Bush Administration is rushing to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at a time of high oil prices and a soft economy? If anything, in the run up to 2004, Bush should be selling oil to drive down pump prices and stimulate the economy for his reelection campaign."

Well, with all the instability in the Middle East it would be the prudent thing to do, wouldn't it. I'm sure a Saudi collapse is part of the reason for the contingency planning on the part of the administration, but probably only part, not an overriding goal.

Plus, Bush can't very well sell oil right now can he (he couldn't in the 1980s either, yuck yuck)? That would be a 1)blatant political move on his part with US govt property 2) "dangerous to national security" at a time like this and 3) didn't Clinton do that and get blasted?

But that misses the point.

You have put forward a pre-ordained scenario, dependent on a whole lot of "if's" and future developments.

Yes, the House of Saud looks to be in a very precarious position. But, as Glenn Reynolds often notes, the current administration hasn't done enough to push them, so I don't think there is an obvious impetus for major change in the next 5 years (as of yet, the situation certainly could become different). And I would guess that we're at least one more ME crisis (Iranian revolution and or nukes) away from having the ability to really deal with the Saudis.

Here's another problem with that scenario.

If there is no revolution or civil war the urban populace will be fine. And, if there is a major conflict, the US will invade and for the most part prevent (through indigenous technology or massive importation of foreign supplies) a humanitarian crisis. Of course there's always the intervening time before, errr, intervention, and there's a chance the US would stay out of it, but who knows.

So I don't know how you can be so sure of the geostrategic pinball.

And I really don't see how you can be so sure about the US political ramifications of something that may never happen.


You missed a few other scenarios Tom Holsinger passed on to me, to include manipulating the oil market to punish speculators playing short like the French oil company ELF.

The reason I zero in on the Saudis is because we have no human intelligence on the ground and they are so secretive and self-diluded that they can go down at any time with no warning.

Den Beste has a long post on both those weaknesses of Saudi culture here:

The Bush Administration's failure to push the Saudis isn't because they are afraid it won't work. The problem is they are afraid it will. The occupation of secular Iraq will be a walk in the park compared to holding Saudi Arabia because the Sunni-Wahhabi majority has been propogandized with hate for literally generations.

We don't have the troops to hold all of Saudi Arabia in face of a Wahhabi driven jihadis. This means, if and when it comes to that, we will not extend humanitarian assistance to areas the Wahhabis control.

It is silly to think that the House of Saud will fall to a Wahabbist government.

The House of Saud is a Wahabbist government.

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Recent Comments
  • TM Lutas: Jobs' formula was simple enough. Passionately care about your users, read more
  • Just seeing the green community in action makes me confident read more
  • Glen Wishard: Jobs was on the losing end of competition many times, read more
  • Chris M: Thanks for the great post, Joe ... linked it on read more
  • Joe Katzman: Collect them all! Though the French would be upset about read more
  • Glen Wishard: Now all the Saudis need is a division's worth of read more
  • mark buehner: Its one thing to accept the Iranians as an ally read more
  • J Aguilar: Saudis were around here (Spain) a year ago trying the read more
  • Fred: Good point, brutality didn't work terribly well for the Russians read more
  • mark buehner: Certainly plausible but there are plenty of examples of that read more
  • Fred: They have no need to project power but have the read more
  • mark buehner: Good stuff here. The only caveat is that a nuclear read more
  • Ian C.: OK... Here's the problem. Perceived relevance. When it was 'Weapons read more
  • Marcus Vitruvius: Chris, If there were some way to do all these read more
  • Chris M: Marcus Vitruvius, I'm surprised by your comments. You're quite right, read more
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