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It's Not a 'Schtick,' Kevin

| 164 Comments | 8 TrackBacks
Calpundit challenges Roger Simon for saying:
...here's why I think they're dangerous—they're acting like we're still in Vietnam when we're in a real war of civilizations.
and says in reply:
Look, guys: if you think we ought to use military force to fight terrorism, I'm with you. But if you think we ought to use that same military force as part of a war of civilizations, count me out. Way, way out. That's not any kind of liberalism I'm familiar with.
First, Kevin (and Matt) it's not a schtick, it's a movement. And the fact that the Democratic leadership, like you, doesn't see that is why I won't be booking big bets against Bush in 04. That's not the only place where Kevin and I part company. I don't think we are in a war of civilizations...yet. I don't doubt that the other side thinks and hopes that we are, and that our response to them, over the last few decades, has been mistaken on a number of fronts. A real war of civilizations, as I have pointed out over and over again, only has one result. We'll be here, they won't. I believe there is still time to avert that war, through a balance of force, diplomacy, self-sacrifice in a number of arenas, and careful consideration of our relationships with the Islamic and Arab world.
I'm not thrilled with a lot of what GWB has done on the front of diplomacy, self-sacrifice, and careful consideration. I think he has done the right thing in making it clear that we are serious and that we are willing to use force; up until now our response to the threats and acts of the Islamists was best summed up as "Isn't that cute!!" No more. Sadly, I don't yet see a better plan from the Democrats - one that would lead me to choose one of them over GWB. I'm not endorsing Bush (that would be hard for me to do) - but I'm certainly going to push the Dems to come up with something better. Here's a couple of off-the-cuff suggestions: First, we're not going anywhere in Afghanistan or Iraq until we're done. Afghanistan will not turn into Vermont any time soon, but we will make sure that the power of the warlords is checked, and that it doesn't collapse again. Iraq could be the leader of the Middle east, and we intend to help build it into that; Second, we're too dependent on ME oil. We're going to do something about it, both by pushing conservation, expanding alternative energy, and expanding exploration. We're going to build the damn windmills off of Cape Cod; Third, we're going to stop Israel from building new settlements and push them to dismantle existing illegal ones; Fourth, we're going to work to expand the ground-fighting capabilities of our military by adding at least one division to the Army, and looking carefully at the allocation of all our assets to make sure that we have the resources to deal with the kind of wars that we are going to realistically face; Fifth, we're going to sit with the Arab countries we are supporting and make it clear that they cannot buy internal stability by fomenting hate against Jews and the West and still expect our financial and military support. We will also talk about what kinds of support would be forthcoming if they did stop; Sixth, we're going to develop security mechanisms based on the theory that fine-grained systems that bring information and communications to the existing public safety community, as well as the public at large are better than huge, centralized bureaucratic solutions; That'd be a start... UPDATE: * Roger L. Simon responds to Calpundit's challenge as well. * Matthew Yglesias joins a respectful cross-blog debate in a way that's less than respectful. He gets this return volley, plus a proposed bet. Wonder if he'll take it?

8 TrackBacks

Tracked: November 1, 2003 4:03 AM
Equal time from Jack O'Toole
Excerpt: In a post earlier today, I concurred with Kevin Drum's take on some of Roger Simon's recent pronouncements regarding the war on terror. Now, in the interest of fairness, here's the other side from Armed Liberal. Note: Just three hours...
Tracked: November 3, 2003 7:39 AM
Cross-Blog Debate from Dean's World
Excerpt: You should read Armed Liberal's It's Not a 'Schtick,' Kevin article, which is part of a larger debate, mostly between people on the left, about...
Tracked: November 3, 2003 2:08 PM
Excerpt: Go read Winds of Change's roundup of (mostly) thoughtful posts by the liberal side (both pro-war and anti-war). If you
Tracked: November 3, 2003 4:01 PM
WHY WE FIGHT from porphyrogenitus.net
Excerpt: "The moral is to the physical as three is to one", as Napoleon once said. (For an earlier post on this theme, see here). We are materially superior in every way to our forebearers who fought World War II. Our
Tracked: November 3, 2003 6:13 PM
Yesterday's headlines today from Crooked Timber
Excerpt: The Blogosphere: Miss two days, and you miss a lot! I’ve got three really basic points on defecting liberals like Michael Totten, Armed Liberal, and Roger L. Simon (commentary from Jack O’Toole, Greg Greene, Kevin Drum and Kevin Drum II,...
Tracked: November 24, 2003 6:10 AM
Excerpt: FIGHTING TERRORISM....PART 1....I got into a minor skirmish with my friend Armed Liberal a few weeks ago that ended up producing this post over at Winds of Change in which he listed six ideas about the war on terrorism that...
Tracked: December 9, 2003 3:45 AM
Excerpt: FIGHTING TERRORISM....PART 2....Continuing my slow motion dialog on terrorism with Armed Liberal, here's part 2 of his 6-part plan:Second, we're too dependent on ME oil. We're going to do something about it, both by pushing conservation, expanding alte...
Tracked: December 17, 2003 2:00 AM
Excerpt: FIGHTING TERRORISM....PART 3....Saddam's capture combined with some real life stuff kept me from posting this over the weekend, but here's the topic of part 3 of my 6-part dialog on terrorism with Armed Liberal:Third, we're going to stop Israel from...

164 Comments

I agree with your proposals, AL. And I think the differences between us on how far we are into this "war" are mostly semantic. But we do have an immense difference between our civilizations: They don't believe in the separation of church and state (with minor and flimsy exceptions). We do. That explains almost everything. Until they face that reality, they will have no democracy and little social progress. It also explains the dearth of Islamic contribution to scientific advancement over the last few centuries.

"Second, we're too dependent on ME oil. We're going to do something about it, both by pushing conservation, expanding alternative energy, and expanding exploration."

We are not too dependent on ME oil. Moving to clean fuels and recycling is worht doing for other reasons, and if it costs less than oil, great. But please don't reinforce the misperception that we have to tread carefully around the Saudis until we develop other ways of producing energy.

AL, those are great suggestions (although I'd add two more divisions). If a Democratic presidential contender voiced them, he'd have a serious chance of getting my vote.

But it'll never happen.

Tom K:

I'll see your two divisions, and raise you one division, AND a division of Marines. Its an awful big world out there, and its better to have too many troops than not enough.

A.L.-all good ideas- and can the US government stop funding the education of Palestinian journalists on how to "present" their stories? Next thing you know, we'll find out ANSWER receives federal matching funds.

I'm not so sure about the windmills; wind power is too undependable as a primary or secondary generation method. What about the new nuclear reactor designs touted as more efficient and safer??(supposedly scalable and can start off small)

A.L.,

Well, I'd clearly agree with over 75% of your points, and I think we could probably hash out the remaining details pretty quickly. Given that the Republican Party is significantly more open to a diversity of opinions than the Dems (although that's a remarkably low bar to set), have you considered switching teams?

And if one of the Democratic candidates for President would make similarly reasoned arguments for or against the current policy then they would have a decent chance of winning in November 2004.

But the broader point, as made by Roger Simon, Zell Miller, Michael Totten, Andrew Sullivan, is that they (Democratic Presidential Candidates) are all about the philosophy of "Not Bush". That is a primary winning strategy but not an election winning strategy. And when the flip-flop comes...watch out!

this is worse than the coldwar... so i'd add 2 times the difference between current strength and cold war peak

including in the addition to cold war peak would be divsion's worth of spec-ops, and I'd underweight the army by 2 divs and overweight marines by 2

the armed is really on the ball on security. I wonder whether the dem primary system is capable of letting someone with decent security views through... so far it doesn't seem like it

when wes clark is the second most credible candidate.. well lets just say that it'll be really easy to paint the dem nominee as weak on security

but good luck on getting dems to be real... the pack might slip up and let you guys win an election sometime, it would suck for that to mean that we'd surrender (as almost happened frequently with UK under Labour)

http://www.strategypage.com/strategypolitics/articles/20021128.asp

The World's Coming Encounter With Andrew Jackson
November 28, 2002

"... Failure to defeat terrorism means further attacks at home, so lack of resolve is not an issue. Ditto for ability. Americans in general, particularly their Jacksonian element, tend to believe in using all available force when involved in a serious war, and being attacked at home qualifies as one. Walter Russell Mead said in Special Providence: "The only reason Jacksonian opinion has ever accepted not to use nuclear weapons is the prospect of retaliation.”

The United States will use whatever means are necessary to win the war against terror, up to and including genocide against whole countries and peoples. See the Autumn 1997 article by Polmar & Allen in Military History Quarterly for what would have happened to Japan had it not surrendered in 1945. The American people, unlike those of Europe and Israel, have a very tribal attitude towards enemy civilian casualties in a major war. Those concerned about fanaticism by foreign peoples are ignorant of American history and power. Japan was fanatical. A clash of civilizations involving the United States would be short, brutal and totally one-sided - significant portions of Asia and North Africa might be reduced to subsisdence-level agriculture and population levels.

That America is capable of genocide doesn’t mean it will happen. Its people made great adjustments and sacrifices to win the Cold War, and showed amazing patience, flexibility and inventiveness. America’s ability to teach a horse to sing should not be underestimated, but the differences between the war on terror and the Cold War should likewise be kept in mind. The U.S. was not constantly involved in military hostilities during the Cold War, and was never attacked at home. There may be a limit on American patience with prolonged military hostilities in the war against terror, though that prospect is unlikely and remote..."

I agree with all of your points, heartily...if you can accept an addendum to your third.

Namely, that the government of United States will consider acts of aggression against Israel and its citizens as acts against the US and its citizens.

Only with that guarantee to the people of Israel and threat to its enemies and the states that succor them, can we compel the sole liberal democracy in the Middle East to make such concessions.

Royce, I edited that out as I wrote it. I'm standing at the end of that bridge debating what it would take to walk across it.

I'm thinking...

A.L.

Reliable alternative fuels are hard to come by, if it was just a matter of making it happen, it would have been done by now. Solar energy is crazy cumbersome, wind is unreliable at best, but combustion of fossil fuels always seems to work(heh).

Going with fuel-cell initiatives is what I'm betting on. In a decade or so, most US infrastructure, and all of Japan could be based on it if engineers, scientists, and the government gets off their collective butts and do it.

AL, you are a far more thoughtful liberal than Calpundit and others of the liberal tribe. I could go on, but that's about "enuff said".

Among the things Bush has done that you don't list is making it as clear as humanly possible that we're not in a War of Civilizations, that our beef is with a certain stripe of Islam (a debasement of it, in his view), not Islamic Civilization.

Not that he's getting much help from the other end, because "moderate" Islam seems to be Mahatir Muhammad (we shouldn't kill 'em all now, we need to develop our own societies, develop our own capacity to build tanks and stuff first, so we don't have to depend on others. Then what happens next is anyone's game. . .)

Trying to organize a real moderat Islamic movement is something that will have to be achieved if things are going to play out as you, Bush, and I want (in not becoming a war of Civilizational anihilation). But as for where you write:

"A real war of civilizations, as I have pointed out over and over again, only has one result. We'll be here, they won't."

I disagree. Or, rather, I'm not nearly as confident. Why? I mean, we're obviously materially stronger.

But waging something like that would first be prefaced by a huge Intra-Civilizational Civil War (the degree being far greater than what is going on now in what Joe has aptly termed the "Pan-Western Culture War" as to be different in kind) which would likely itself leave much of the West in rubble first. Probably with significant external "interventions" (ongoing opportunistic terror attacks and various others scavanging what they could). The winner of that would decide what happens next, I suppose. If it continued to matter.

And the fuel cells run on...what?

Actually wind is becoming fairly cost-effective in certain areas. I tend to think that the cheapest power is typically 'negawatts' - the power saved through better home insulation, more efficient cars (and more motorcycles!), etc.

A.L.

Practical fuel cells would require we accept nuclear energy as France, Japan, and some other countries have. Ain't gonna happen, at least not until viable fusion technology is available ("first catch the rabbit" on that one, too).

I'm with you 90 percent of the way. Where I disagree is manpower. We don't need divisions of men -- we need to build on our strength, which is technology -- more of it, better of it, constantly improving, keeping ahead of whatever any enemy might be able to develop.

Unless, you mean divisions of covert agents. Were we need to improve personnelwise is in human intelligence.

We also need to improve our marketing. We need to sell the liberal society better. We need to hone our message that an open society leads to great opportunity, wealth and health for all. Freedom is the future.

Now these are the kind of suggestions I was talking about when I asked for the Democratic Plan for the War on Terrorism . It illustrates why it would be really nice to have an opposition party which understood the importance of the war on terrorism. You can hash things out and find the best ideas by forcing them to compete.

"Dependence on MI oil" For electrical purposes we probably need to go with nuclear power (we can finally follow the French lead). I don't know what we can realistically do about transportation especially for cargo carrying trucks. Perhaps research into cheaper extraction methods for the Canadian shale reserves?

As for Israel, we are going to have to do something to guarantee thier security before they would agree to a concession like that.

Re: the military. For a volunteer military to work, pay needs to reflect the likelihood of actual fighting. We are far more likely to deploy troops into combat areas now. We need to pay them much more. I know 30 billion in stupid farm subsidies which could be put to better use.

We need to have a serious talk with Egypt and Saudi Arabia. They have government controlled presses. They need to either have a free press (ideally) or they need to crack down on anti-Americanism in their government presses. Government stirred hatred for Jews and the US can't go to the same country as foreign aid.

What an excellent list of recommendations. I'd also recommend that the US needs massive internal reform. From our "intelligence" agencies to the State Dept. to the public schools and infrastructure, whenever I turn on the news I feel as if the country is decrepit and in disarray.

I had exactly the same take on Kevin Drum's post. His snide dismissal of the pro-liberation (hell I sound like Fox news!) liberals is symptomatic of a party-wide problem. We think we're the real liberals and that most self-described liberals abandoned the pretense of liberal principles in the virulence and reasoning behind their opposition to the war.

I'm not joining the Republican Party any time soon, but I sure have abandoned the Democratic Party as a viable alternative. Politics after all is (and probably should be) about the least bad choice.

I also had the same reaction to the comment about forcing the Israelis to abandon the settlements and the same thought about security guaranties, mentioned by Royce, also crossed my mind. It's the weakest plank in your platform in that it's too dependent on concessions that improve Israel's security situation. In a related vein, I read a poll yesterday in which 65% of EU citizens declare that Israel constitutes the greatest threat to world peace. This conclusion on the part of 350 million plus EU citizens concerning a country of less than 6 million surrounded by hundreds of millions of Arabs and other Muslims who seek their extermination seems unnaturally suspicious. More disturbing, 80% of EU citizens believe that the EU should play the lead role in "resolving" the Mid-East problem.

PS - A lot of uncanny parallel thoughts through the ether.

I agree with Linden that one of the best things we could do is reform a good number of our institutions. I'll keep harping on that till it happens or I am carried off the (intellectual) battlefield on a gurney.

Re settlements:

I'm of the opinion that civilian settlements - as opposed to military outposts - worsen, not improve, military security for Israel. They now have to secure all those semi-armed civilians in hostile territory. They substantially weaken the moral case for supporting Israel.

And they offer a cheap rhetorical flourish for those who would see it destroyed.

Remind me again why they're a good idea?

A.L.

What Roger said about separation of church and state is important. I've been reading up on the occupation of Japan lately, just to try and get a sense of what it was like in comparison to Iraq. One of the first and most important things we did was separate Shinto from the government. Prior to and during the war, Shinto justified the state and infused much of its militaristic tendencies. It made the Emperor a deity, etc. We constitutionally separated Shinto from the state and stripped the Emperor of his powers while allowing him to remain as a figurehead. This went a long way toward ending Japan's militarism as justified on religious grounds.

Now having said that, in this country we're taking SOCAS waaaay too far. The Pledge? In God We Trust? Atheists are trying to scrub all evidence of religion from public view. Whether we have a few nods to religion in public here and there has no bearing on whether we enjoy separation--we do. There is no state religion, there shoudn't be and there won't be. But separation agitators would do well to remember that religious people, who constitute the majority, do have some rights too.

GG: Yah, I saw an article on the same poll. U.S. ranked after Israel (those are what the Democrats call "our allies" - people who see us as the second biggest threat to world peace, just after the same demon Mahatir was going on about). Forwarded that to a couple folks, too.

Talk about fuel cells is silly. A properly outfitted diesel engine can run on vegetable oil left-overs from McDonalds fry machines. The USA eats a freaking lot of fries. Any politician with half a brain could solve the energy crisis within 4 years or less with a series of incentives.

I always get a kick out of moronic brownshirt chickenhawks who have never been closer to actual combat than their Gameboy who make pronouncements about how "this ain't Vietnam."

In other words: blow it out your ass.

"Remind me again why they're a good idea?"

Because each Israeli concession has given them nothing but more violence. If the Israelis gave up the settlements, I suspect that one rhetorical flourish would be quickly replaced by another. I also suspect that the hostility of the Arabs towards Israel (and obsessive anti-Israeli stance of the Europeans) has in fact little to do with the settlements, but I'm open to being convinced otherwise. Why give up a bargaining chip for nothing? I'd rather hold on to them, at least in a negotiating posture, if only to prevent the main issue from becoming "right of return".

Hey Dave -

Don't know about you, but my son just joined the Air Force - so here's a hearty "Fuck You".

A.L.

Gabriel, I assume you saw my more extensive post on the settlements?

Comments?

A.L.

Ruprecht wrote, hyperconfidently:

"Any politician with half a brain could solve the energy crisis within 4 years or less with a series of incentives"

Sorry, what you say is fantasy. There are lots of immaginative people out there - few of them are politicians, of course. Which brings two lessons to the thoughtful:

1) Stop looking to politicians/the government for solutions to all your problems.

2) Recognize that if the hype promoted by various people with axes to grind were true, then someone would have done just that, "solve" the problem costlessly, if not in this country (where, of course, the obvious excuse for demogogues is that the oil & combustion engine interests prevent it from happening), then somewhere else.

I always laugh at the "brave" people like "Dave", who are so couragious that they don't enter a real e-mail address.

ROTFLMAO

I disagree with Royce. Israel must stand on its own. What he proposes will make it a wholly-owned creature of the United States, and that's a really, really bad position for any sovereign state with its life on the line to be in. I think Israel is dangerously close to that line as it is.

No offense, but when it comes to protecting allies in the clutch, America doesn't exactly have a sterling track record. If I were an Israeli, I'd treat any such U.S. guarantee as essentially worthless. Besides which, if Israel has about 200 nukes of its own it doesn't need that guarantee anyway.

It must keep those nukes at all costs, because ultimately that's the only guarantee of security that has any meaning in that part of the world. Treaties don't have any meaning in that region, and never did. Muslims have religious precedent from Mohammed himself for breaking them when convenient, and the targets as it happens were Jews. That community was wiped out. Learn from history. External allies? They won't defend you if it's too inconvenient for them. I don't say that a slam against America - although y'all are a good Exhibit A there - it's just a fundamental truth of human nature.

Which leaves Israel with its only alternatives, and they are these: retain the capability to make the Arabs' dreams of genocide mutual if they are ever realized, and never bargain away anything that would leave Israelis too compromised on security or dependent on external parties.

Anything else is the ultimate form of irresponsibility, bordering on a death wish.

AL

No I hadn't, but now have seen your previous post on settlements, which raises a lot of interesting points. You lay out the strategic argument well, but it is not self-evidently correct. I also think the moral argument is sort of hard to get around, but I would point out, in regard to your reply to M. Simon, that Arabs live freely in Israel because they CAN. (Anyway, the discusion on that was a couple of weeks ago.)

Oh, and A.L... the USA needs at least another 2 divisions to sustain your program and the troop rotations required. Do the math.

Probably more, actually, in order to have anything in the chamber for other commitments. Which is why a Foreign Legion of auxilliary forces built on the Cuban model of soldiers/MPs + paramilitary aid workers would make an important contribution, by freeing up full-scale Army divisions for their primary task. I'd start the USFL (hey, the football folks aren't using it anymore) as a brigade, and build it to 1-2 division strength over time.

Do it right, and it would not only be an important military asset but a tremendous foreign aid tool. There would certainly be no shortage of willing applicants if the program was structured correctly, and even those who chose not to become Americans at the end of their 10-year tour would become critical assets on the ground back in their home countries.

(Imagine a desperately poor but bright African youth who gets accepted, gets training and an education, eventually becomes a combat medic/MP, then goes back home to Africa to become a local doctor or chief of police but always thinks the world of the USA for making him what he is. Back in Africa, the things he learned help make his country a better and more stable place. When/if serious trouble does break out, and the Special Forces or CIA head in and need a heads up and/or helping hand, whom do you think they call first?)

Well, Joe, what you say is as a general point true - smaller powers depending on a Great Power for protection are always in danger of being hung out to dry if the Great Power ever decides their interests are otherwise. However, like it or not there is a symmetry in that hardly any minor powers can really be secure without the patronage of a Great Power.

Israel is very strong as small states go. But their position would be, frankly, untenable for a variety of reasons (extending beyond the direct military sphere) if they lost the support of the U.S. without gaining the support of some other power(s) to offset that. We could go into scenarios to illustrate this but it would go beyond the point of this post.

(This paradox, btw, is one reason why, when people go on about the perils of Empire in isolation, without using as a basis of comparison the perils of your average, typical, minor-power, I find their arguments more than a little unpersuasive on such grounds. Not that I dream of Empire, but it isn't as if the dangers of Empire are the only possible dangers. Being a lesser power carries vulnerabilities all their own).

On alternate energy--there are many possibilities out there, including conservation, solar, biomass, and wind (of course there's also coal, oil shale, and nuclear). The problem isn't that these ideas are bad--if each has negatives, each also has advantages. The biggest "problem" is that ME oil costs so little to extract, and is a bargain for the buyer even at current OPEC prices.

If oil from the Mideast becomes more expensive or scarce, the market will solve the supply problem. If you define the requirement as "abundant energy," that is. It's trickier than that because we have implicitly defined the requirement as "abundant and cheap energy. No quick alternative-energy fix for that.

None of those alternative sources can produce nearly enough energy to be a real substitute on a major scale. There are only limited areas, for example, where wind power is viable (which is why, for example, the site off Cape Cod is a particular point of interest; it's not as if it's "there or anyplace else", it's there or not). Biomass isn't credible because there isn't enough of it and it takes energy to convert it into usable form in the first place (so it's in the same category as fuel cells, or electric cars. Electric cars are for people who think electricity is made in electrical outlets. It lets hollywood poseurs think they aint pollutin, when the power plant that produced the energy that went into the battery of their car - at some loss in energy as a result - polluted for them).

Conservation only goes so far and is usually bandied about easily in an offhand manner by people who don't have to worry about the difficulties or costs involved. It's possible to some degree, but great gains at low cost aren't around or people who have to pay for energy (including most of industry, government, &tc) would do it. In fact, they have picked the low-hanging fruit.

Btw, all problems, not just energy, are in terms of "abundant and cheap" - that is, available in amounts wanted at as reasonable a price practicable, the lower the better. Thinking that we pursue low costs simply as a result of a state-of-mind and that if only we changed our state-of-mind then the problem would be soluable misses quite a bit of the reality of economics. Significantly raising the cost of energy (that is, by the orders of magnitude implied in your outline) would significantly lower the amount that everyone who uses it could afford, significantly dropping production of other things (since less of it could be afforded), resulting in a major economic crash that might make the Great Depression look like a mild recession and would in any case resemble the Stagflation of the '70s, with energy shortages, unemployment, economic downturns, and all.

Here's the thing. I think you underestimate the common ground you still have with the democratic party. Not the blog commenters, but the party as a whole. Because I am an anti-war Dean supporter and I agree with every suggestion you have made (though I don't share your optimism about Iraq--but at this point we have no choice but to try for that.)

I think the real answer to environment and energy problems is here: http://www.discover.com/issues/may-03/features/featoil/

It's the ultimate in recycling. To date, most attempts at recycling just move the damage to the environment to a less obvious effect, usually some excessive form of energy consumption. This recycles and produces energy at the same time. Its a closed loop that lets us produce oil and energy from organic and inorganic waste.

Also, I think nuclear energy, properly done, is a good thing. However, americans are funny about the word "nuclear" and they are terrible at setting up standards that apply across states - something that is necessary for nuclear energy to be cheap and safe. Just look at american cell networks for an example of the mess misguided competition makes. :-)

Actually in the war on terror, we civilians are in the "combat zone". At least those people who were in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania. And just about anyone could have been on those planes.

Anyway, none of those 6 suggestions will never happen.

1) If a Democrat gets elected, we're out of Iraq & Afghanistan. Period

2)We're actually not dependant on ME oil. Oil, yes, but the fact of the matter is, oil is quite cheap and plentiful, and will be for out lifetimes, and our children's lifetimes and our children's children's lifetimes. It will never be economical to switch to something else

3) How is the US in a position to tell Israel to do anything? It's a sovereign nation, and generally does what it wants. We can't even stop them from spying on us and selling those secrets to Russia and China.

4) That's only possible if you re-instate the draft, and that would greatly dimish the morale and effectiveness of the army

5) Oh please. Most of the state department either agrees with the Arab countries, or is on their payroll.

6) That's like something out of Dilbert - it doesn't mean anything. The real problems with security and intelligence are not not knowing who the bad guys are, but the willingness to do anything to them. Even know, if you even slightly discriminate against Arabs and/or Muslims, lefties throw a hissy fit.

So to sum up, the 60s are over, perhaps you should grow up a little...

Interesting comments, especially the energy stuff. Never been here before.

This will ramble, because it is late. Stream of consciousness...

I know 30 billion in stupid farm subsidies which could be put to better use.

Amen, Sebastian.

None of those alternative sources can produce nearly enough energy to be a real substitute on a major scale.

Well, we could turn the Great Plains into a giant windfarm (sorry, Kristof), but then there's that whole "transmission" thing.

I'm actually all for nuclear, to be honest. Pick a standard, and the costs will come down. Bury the crap or shoot it into space. Someday we'll probably figure out what to do with it.

Hydrogen has to come from somewhere. Natural gas...hmmm...brings us back to the MidEast. Maybe someone will figure out how to make fuel cells out of water.

Clean coal...hard to tell if this is just a bunch of BS like "synfuels."

energy conservation will improve with technology and financial tools...note that 40% of energy consumption from power plants comes from buildings, so we could take off a big chunk of that via conservation.

we could gradually raise the cost of socially undesirable kinds of energy, e.g. coal, while investing in cleaner, renewable technology. substitution happens.

"biomass" is a fraud. we've been burning trees forever, yo! OK, maybe pelletized switchgrass at some point.

solar...makes sense, but needs to get cost competitive. ultimately, all energy comes from the sun, so why not cut out all the middlemen?

don't forget landfill methane, small hydro, solar cookers, etc. We need to realign our incentives, or due some kind of full costing in order to maximize social benefit. Right now, we're subsidizing moribund technologies.

-----------------------
some semantic quibbles w/ AL:

Terrorism is a tactic, not a movement. politics by other means. if you were an islamic fundamentalist, you'd quickly come to the realization that terrorism was your only hope of defeating the west militarily. Terrorism works. The answer is modernization. Crush the Fundamentalists under the wheels of progress.

As far as I can tell, their is no Great Fundamentalist Islamic civilization for us to clash with. They aren't a civilization, just a bunch of wackos. They don't threaten our way of life the way communism did, because they don't represent a competing economic system. There's no danger that they're going to win converts in the United State. They threaten our safety, but not democratic capitalism itself.

Moreover, it's a battle within the Muslim world. Because we're only sticking our noses in there
(we need the oil for now) and getting all up in their business and shit, the Islamic fundamentalists are pushing back. They don't like change. But their beef is with us only insofar as we're interfering with what they want to do.

-----
quibbles aside, AL, the original list of suggestions is hard to disagree with. In fact, I don't think Kevin would disagree with you.

But they're sort of platitudinous, if you ask me. Self-evident. It's the how, not the what that people are really battling over.
As for Israel, I don't understand why all violence needs to stop for any political progress can be made. People are dying now anyway, so you might as well plow ahead.

A.L.,

What is with the settlements bit?

Israel builds them on what was formerly Jordanian government land. People aren't losing their homes to the settlement builders. So what ever the settlements are doing it is psychological not physical harm.

Why do the Palestinian "territories" need to be Jew free? They got a problem with Jews or something?

Israel has torn down settlements in peace deals before. Why should they be an obstacle to real peace now?

Might I suggest that having unsubmissive Jews living under the Palestinian Authority might be a problem in maintaining the thugocracy?

Settlemets are not a problem. They are not even a bump in the road.

The hard part is that 50 to 75% of the Stupidstinians want to kill Jews. Period. Fix that one and settlements will be easy.

Oil independence:

It ain't going to happen any time soon. It is a decades long process. If we mandated 100% production of hybrids (the best near term solution for decreasing oil consumption) it would still take ten to 15 years to replace all the vehicles on the road. If we let the market sort out the production issues for a year or three we will arrive at a better solution.

Support the war. Buy a hybrid.

Hydrogen fuel cells are not a commercial item. Even if we had cheap wind power in abundance. Which we don't. Won't have for about 15 to 20 years. Without cheap wind or some such hydrogen doesn't make sense.

The sad fact is that for now and for decades to come it is a military/political problem. There is no technical solution.

In fact though I believe because technical solutions are now on the horizon the Islamics must win the war in the next ten or so years or they will become essentially powerless.

Good suggestions, but this one strikes me as deluded:

"Afghanistan will not turn into Vermont any time soon, but we will make sure that the power of the warlords is checked, and that it doesn't collapse again."

Not with poppy cultivation back on track, we won't.

A.L.,

We need more military airlift and sea lift.

Another carrier battle group or two would be handy as well. Until we get the North Koreans sorted out 12 CBGs are not enough. It is too hard on the sailors in peacetime and not enough surge capacity during war.

BTW we are getting at least one more division in the very near future. The one that is pulling out of Korea.

This is a war about civilization.

It is about whether Liberty or fascism will prevail.

All the rest is just local color.

Simon

Damon,

Just another fine example of how drug prohibition is hurting us more than helping.

Part of the problem is that honest work is not too profitable in that area. So the dilema is how to stop supporting our enemies without serious turf wars that will follow.

Ugh.

There's a great historical parallel to what is currently going on in the history of colonial Pennsylvania.

A whole generation of Quaker political leaders was forced into retirement, and lost their political grip on the state forever, because they refused to climb down from their pacifism (cosy for them because they lived mostly in the East, around Pennsylvania) to defend the state and its mostly non-Quaker settler population from Indian attacks in the West.

In fact here is a thought: militant islamists are America's new indians, in the following sense. The whole current spectrum of early American responses to native indian society, from believing that they are a worthy 'just different' culture, to wrestling with their youths' taste for brutally attacking and murdering American civilians and their families, to a determination to exterminate as many of them as necessary, is on display today in Americans' responses to militant islamists.

Not a good precedent for them. America never found a better solution than killing a large number, and interning the rest far enough away that they could do little harm except to each other.

As you say, "We'll be here, they won't".

We have to hope, as you suggest, that it doesn't come to that.

Maybe before this is over we will have unpacked all of the PC bullshit which currently encrusts native indian history and examined in a more balanced way the choices (right and wrong) made by our forefathers as they struggled with indian violence.

AL: I have no idea whether cleaning out Saddam was worth the blood and treasure. But I was against the war from the start, because it was cast in terms of really lame counsel of fear.

GWB the pathetic fearmonger and his minions said: the smoking gun may be a mushroom cloud. There was no--zero!--evidence of this. I have never been afraid of either Saddam Hussein or the Osama Bin Laden. There's a chance that Bin Laden's minions will kill me: after all, I live in Seattle. Not much I can do about it, except move to Idaho and bury my head in the sand.

Maybe, just maybe, there's a chance that overthrowing Saddam is worth the cost we've spent on tracking the bastard down. But the guy was a piker, already fighting a rearguard battle against his own people. He certainly did not deserve the courtesy of being called a national threat to the security of the US.

I want Osama, dead or alive, and preferably dead. I never gave a damn about Saddam, since he was already suffering the problems of being in a strategic defense, tactical offense. It's what we used to call "containment", in the relatively sane days of the Cold War.

The "Axis Of Evil" ... it is to laugh. The Norks deserved to be called an Axis of Nutterdom. The Mullahs and Saddam are bad guys, for sure. But they were all pathetic, has-been threats in any general "clash of civilizations".

If some rogue state really wants to blow up part of a US city with a Hiroshima bomb, there's no way we can stop them in the long run. The only thing we can do is to more-or-less ignore the people that are susceptible to mutually assurd distruction, and make sure the genuine crazies don't get the bomb.

And, for all his faults, there's no evidence that Saddam was invulnerable to a threat of MAD.

Guarentee of security for Jews may be a good idea.

Now given history do you think it can be anything other than a short term solution? In time both sides would come to resent the situation. Since we both know this in advance and are adults why go down that path?

You need to think bigger.

What would it take for Saudi Arabia and Israel to become like France and Germany?

And lets see if we can avoid the world war bit.

Greg,

I am one of those engineers of whom you speak.

Let us just say that what you want is possible (it may not be). I can tell you for sure that it ain't easy.

The demand is sufficient and well known. The problems right now are reliability and price. In fact demand is so high right now just for research units at almost any price that supply cannot currently keep up with demand. Which only goes to prove that even given economic viability we are a long way from producing even a hundred thousand such vehicles a year.

Did you ask where the hydrogen is going to come from? Currently you have to burn stuff to get it. Oh, well.

As to the intermittancy of wind. If you have enough turbines it averages out. Given that most wind sites expect to average about 1/3 peak capacity over time given enough sites about 2/3 of that 1/3 can be base load. That is you get about 20% of nameplate capacity as useable base load capacity.

America has enough wind to supply all it's electrical needs. If we do that with wind it means a lot of extra capacity in winter for use smelting aluminum or making hydrogen.

We are decades away from that.

I predict that no new nuclear plants can be built without government subsidy once wind turbines of the 3 MW capacity go into series production. (About a year or two frm now).

The reason is simple: the wind generated electricity will cost less.

Based on current learning curve estimates by the time we get into series production of 12 MW (peak) turbines the cost of electricity from such jobs will be about 1/2 or less current delivered to the bus bar prices.

ABOUT OIL.
According to the Economist the US transferred some $7 trillion i to OPEC countries in the last 3 decades simply because they manipulated the price of oil.
http://www.economist.com/printedition/displaystory.cfm?Story_ID=2155717
There is no question that a lot of this money goes to fund extremist schools and training camps. It has nothing to do with "treading softly around Saudi Arabia," it is an insanity to completely ignore this. Friedman has covered it well, but no one else. Of course western countries will always be partly dependent on oil. There is no question however that consumption could be MASSIVELY reduced by simple steps. Like not buying HUMMERS. It's obviously political suicide to talk about a gas tax in the US, but I thought bloggers were more thoughtful types.

Peletized switch grass:

Not viable. Even if burned locally the harvesting and transprtation costs exceed the return by a factor of two or three.

I agree 100% with your post. But it leaves me scratching my head: what does any of this have to do with throwing out a two-bit nationalist dictator from the last century?

Saddam used to be afraid of the nihilist Islamists, until we gave them an excuse to cooperate.

Good Lord -- haven't any of you read "Operation Ignore," as summarize by Franken?

(Here from Calpundit)
This is a war about civilization.
It is about whether Liberty or fascism will prevail.
All the rest is just local color.

Statements like this, for me, sum up the difference between the "war on terror" and the cold war. In the cold war there genuinely was a chance that Stalinism would overwhelm the democratic countries. But Islamic terrorism is not a threat to the American way of life; it's just a threat to individual Americans. There is no way that fascism can prevail, unless by "prevail" you mean "occasionally pull off spectacular terrorist attacks".

It's important to battle terrorism, but it's important to keep it in perspective. The UK (where I grew up) was under longer, more sustained attack from IRA terrorism than the USA is or has been from Islamic terrorism, but tackling the terror campaign was never the government's overriding priority in the way that it's the current US government's, because there are other things the government does that affect people's lives much more.

Likewise, the current war on terror is important. But is it important enough to justify the money and attention it's getting? The typical actuarial estimate of the value of a life is $5m (see here (pdf), for example). The Iraq war alone has cost about $250 billion. Has it actually saved 50,000 American lives? Are there better things we can do with the money?

Hi.

I agree with Roger L. Simon that whether we are in a war and trying to get this chapter of it called off, or whether we are not (yet) in a war, is a semantic, not a practical issue. Either way, Armed Liberal's suggestions strike me as reasonable in general. (I'm not confident that practical substitutes for Middle East oil are there to be had in our generation, and I don't know what point six means.)

However, I am happy with George W. Bush's diplomacy. He's a good leader and gives clear calls, which he then sticks to. This doesn't make a difference with countries that want to balk America, but it's very handy for those that want to help.

Even better, the Bush Doctrine, which is a lot more than pre-emption, basically matches reality, and though many people seem frustrated with the American State Department, it's performance in Asia looks great to me.

Many people seem to add "but of course Bush's diplomacy should have been better" as a sort of ritual concession to show fair-mindedness. But really, if you're dealing with problems and not avoiding them, while connecting well with your real allies like Japan, while keeping friction with Red China to an absolute minimum, aren't you doing great at what matters? Does French hostility even count in this context? I think not.

Besides, the American president has been more diplomatic than I would have been, and I know he's the one that's right. :P

I don't see any real alternatives to Bush, Blair or Howard who would keep their eyes on the ball in the same way. That's not about right or left, that's about statesmanship or the lack of it.

Re: the settlements: what is their actual, productive economic value? (crickets chirping) So they can go. How you do that without encouraging people who believe that every concession is a reason to increase their terrorist activities is another question, but in principle I can't see a good reason not to get rid of what amounts to the world's most expensive dormitories.

I have a positive suggestion of my own. I don't know if the Americans can to this, because they have national taboos, but I'm damn sure they should do it. Hire Gurkhas! I've very serious. You guys have money and need soldiers, they have potential super-class soldiers and need money. The fall of the British Empire post WWII was a disaster for Nepal. The British offered the Empire for the Americans to run, in effect, but the Americans said no. Well, whether you would have an empire or not, imperial policing obligations are on you, so why not pick up where the British left off? Spend money on Nepal, not Egypt, and see who gives you better value! There is no odds and sods international mercenary force to be had that could give you anything like the cohesion, loyalty and sustained effectiveness of the Gurkhas. And it would be the right thing to do.

There's a chance that Bin Laden's minions will kill me: after all, I live in Seattle. Not much I can do about it, except move to Idaho and bury my head in the sand.

Umm, I don't think the majority of U.S. citizens would find that a useful defense strategy, and certainly not part of a rousing political platform. "Americans are being killed by foreign terrorists on their own soil? (shrugs) Eh. What ya gonna do?"

The intellectual divide that seems to have sprung up is between those who think that al-Qaeda are representative of - not the whole of, but just representative of - a serious and pervasive threat to American lives and interests, which must be countered by all available means; and those who think that al-Q are just bandits writ large, and basically not worth getting that excited about, and besides, you know, what ya gonna do?

But the guy was a piker, already fighting a rearguard battle against his own people.

???? On your planet, maybe...

Dear AL:

The central question is not with the means but with your premise. I would really like to believe that we are not in a war of civilizations. What is your evidence to the contrary? Please remember that something being very, very unpleasant (even unthinkable) does not make it untrue. Persuade me.

When you take into account the differences between the West and Arab civilization in particular this does look suspiciously like a war of civilizations--and one that's been going on for a very long time.

There is a way fascism could prevail: by destroying most of the world and blanketing the remains under radioactive ash. This has never been a real threat before, because either a) the means were not available, or b) the will to destroy themselves for their cause was never there.

The fascists are closer than ever before to meeting both conditions to "win."

From earlier:

Namely, that the government of United States will consider acts of aggression against Israel and its citizens as acts against the US and its citizens.

Only with that guarantee to the people of Israel and threat to its enemies and the states that succor them, can we compel the sole liberal democracy in the Middle East to make such concessions.

This kind of thinking is at the heart of what is wrong with our Mideast policy, and is one of the primary recruiting points for terrorism in the ME.

Misconception #1 debunked: Israel is not a liberal democracy. It is not even an American-style democracy (in the sense of being a representative republic); rather it is a parliamentary system similar to Britain. It officially, under law, practices religious apartheid, and recognizes a state religion with very little church/state separation. Its policies and actions are not even remotely close to anything objectively liberal.

Misconception #2 debunked: Israel is not the only democracy in the ME. Most people who say this are echoing party lines and do not actually understand the political makeup of the ME. Turkey is a well-known Muslim democracy. It was, in fact, their democratic process that hindered our access to their territory during GW2, as their parliament responded to the will of their people and voted to refuse us access--a process we tried to subvert, I might add, when we threatened to withhold aid as a big stick in that matter.

In fact, our unconditional and blind support for Israel is /precisely/ why their government does not feel compelled to behave in a civilized manner, nor to pay heed to the more than fifty UN resolutions they have flouted or been subject to. Israel knows that they have the unconditional support of the United States, and thus they know that any UN resolution which threatens action to bring them into line will be vetoed. When we grant a country unconditional support, they have /no incentive/ to behave any differently than they already are.

Furthermore, our unconditional support for Israel is central to the recruitment efforts of terrorist organizations like al Qaeda. If we are serious about the "war on terror", then we need to not only address the symptoms as we did in Afghanistan, but we need to also need to address the root causes--and one of the root causes of terrorism is the inequity of our ME policy vis a vis Israel. When we make it clear to Israel that we are going to hold them to the same standards of conduct, human rights, and international law that we claim to be holding Muslim countries to, we will have taken the first step towards true peace in the Middle East--and we will have taken away one of the most powerful weapons and recruiting points that al Qaeda and other organizations like it have.

The following paragraph:

Only with that guarantee to the people of Israel and threat to its enemies and the states that succor them, can we compel the sole liberal democracy in the Middle East to make such concessions.

Should have been italicized, as it was a quote.

m simon.

pellitized switchgrass is definitely a loser right now. almost all new technologies start out uncompetitive. the life cycle energy thing may be solved by distributed, on-farm generation.

we aren't there yet.

it may improve. i think it's worth watching.

The one thing I don't get is why so AL and so many other commenters here don't or won't recognize that most of the current crop of Democratic candidates do indeed have realistic plans for Middle East policy. It appears that some seem to be equating Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton, neither of whom are going to win the Democratic nomination, with the positions of John Kerry, Howard Dean, Richard Gephardt, Wesley Clark, and John Edwards on this issue. That's just silliness.

I don't buy the "war of civilizations" rhetoric at all, which has been drummed up by a few bloggers and conservative columnists to drum up war fever. The war is with Al-Quaeda and Osama bin Laden, and only with them. They're hardly a civilization; they are a criminal, terrorist organization. What does calling this a war of civilizations accomplish? What is the "civilization" we are at war with, Islam as a whole? Some sects within Islam? "Islamofascism", a neologism that cannot be concretely defined? Also, changing the subject to Iraq was the biggest mistake the Bush administration has done to date in the Middle East, it has completely destroyed any goodwill the rest of the world had toward the U.S. after 9-11 and set back the causes of democracy in the Middle East and stamping out Al Quaeda for years to come, and that is the real heart of the issue here.

It is correct that this ain't Vietnam. In Vietnam, as blundering and flawed as the U.S. policy there was, there was at least the conceivable long-term threat posed by the Soviet Union to the United States. Al Quaeda may pose a threat of isolated terrorist attacks, but they pose no such threat of overthrowing the U.S. government that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union did. If anyone wants to seriously suggest that Al Quaeda's goals go much beyond driving the U.S. out of the Middle East (where it was a mistake for the U.S. to have ever become militarily involved in the first place), or that we are in some kind of "war of civilizations" that the very existance of the United States depends on, then I have some beachfront property in North Dakota I'd like to sell you.

Now that we are already mixed up in that quagmire, though, some realistic plans for promoting democracy in the Middle East and stamping out Al Quaeda are in order. Bush has already proven his sheer incompetence in that regard, by among other things bringing Iraq into it, while ignoring Saudi Arabia which is the real source of much of Al Quaeda's support and funding, and refusing to pursue alternative energy policies which would wean the U.S. completely off Middle Eastern oil. Because of the oil industry background of the Bush family, Bush cannot be trusted to pursue that issue to begin with. We need somebody in the White House who can keep a clear head on both alternative energy development and Middle East policy because they are not beholden to Texas oil interests, or by extension, to Saudi Arabia or the Kuwaiti monarchy. So why are the mainstream Democrats, Kerry, Dean, Edwards, Clark, and Gephardt being so readily dismissed? Again, I'm afraid that some people appear to be equating Kucinich and Sharpton with the mainstream Democrats' positions.

Oh, and as for Zell Miller, his endorsement of Bush rates a "so what?" He's just the last of the old-time George Wallace/Lestor Maddox/James Eastland/Richard Shelby wing of the Democratic Party. The fewer of them, the better. The Republicans can have him and they can keep him, for all I care.

Roger L. Simon:
Separation of church and state is the main reason you support of the "clash of civilizations"??? Cry me a river. Jesus H. Christ.

Go tell it to Bush and his faith-based initiatives. Go tell it to General Boykin. Go tell it to Ann Coulter.

"We must destroy separation of church and state in order to save it."

Thanks, Lucas, for providing such a clear example of the modern Democratic Party mindset. It's greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the sarcastic vote of confidence, Joe. I was sort of hoping that maybe some people might be inclined to do some reading on the Middle East from a variety of sources and points of view instead of merely reading the same circle of pro-war bloggers who are inclined to using terms like "Islamofascism" and "war of civilizations", and reposting each others material.

I should also add that one of the Democratic candidates, Joseph Lieberman, has foreign policy views on the Middle East identical to Bush's, so there is no excuse for those Democrats who think Bush is doing a good job in the Middle East but would agree with a Democratic candidate on other issues, to throw their support behind Bush - unless they really do think Bush's extremist domestic economic policies and Religious Right agenda are a good thing. If foreign policy is a stumbling block to supporting the other Democrats, what's the problem with Lieberman?

I'm not optomistic that a "war of civilizations" can be avoided. I don't see a snowball's chance in Hell that the Democrats will adopt A.L.'s program, and without that sort of solidarity of purpose, the Arab/Muslim world will not recognize their peril.

William, Americans are not patient with people who attack us on our own soil. The last nation to attack Americans on American soil was Japan - 'nuff said. What Walter Russell Mead calls Jacksonianism is a very powerful influence on American policy, and Jacksonians will not tolerate attacks on America by anyone.

How many more attacks on American soil will it take to provoke an all-out Jacksonian response against the Arab/Muslim world? At a guess, I'd say somewhere between 2 and 10. What do I mean, by an "all-out Jacksonian response"? I mean deliberate targeting of civilian populations, and the infrastructure needed to support them. In essence, we would say to the Muslims, "You think it's acceptable to target enemy civilians? Fine, let's see how well you like it, when your civilians are the target. You think you're good at killing civilians with your pathetic little bombs? Have a look at what a few B-52 loads of napalm can do. See what happens to a desert nation, when its water distribution systems are destroyed. We may not be able to stop you from killing our people, but we can pay you back at 100:1, or even 1000:1." That's what an all-out Jacksonian response is like, and that's what the Muslims are going to get, if they don't shut down the Islamonazis.

The only way I can see of avoiding such an outcome, is if the Democratic Party makes it absolutely clear by deeds, as well as words, that they are no more tolerant of America's enemies than the Republicans are. Republicans and Democrats both need to make it clear that MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) has been replaced with AID (Assured Islamic Destruction).

We convinced the Soviets that attacking America would guarantee their destruction, and therefore, we never had to destroy them (and ourselves). We have to convince Muslims that if we would have accepted mutual destruction to avenge a Soviet attack, we will certainly destroy them, in response to continued attacks on America.

Riyadh delenda est!

Catsy:

Misconception #1 debunked: Israel is not a liberal democracy. It is not even an American-style democracy (in the sense of being a representative republic); rather it is a parliamentary system similar to Britain. It officially, under law, practices religious apartheid, and recognizes a state religion with very little church/state separation. Its policies and actions are not even remotely close to anything objectively liberal.

Debunking the debunker: One man, one vote. Tolerance for multiple religions/atheism. Universal civil rights not based on gender. Sounds pretty liberal to me. Unless you define "liberal" as advancing the worker's revolution?

Misconception #2 debunked: Israel is not the only democracy in the ME.

Depends on how big you want to draw the ME.

Most people who say this are echoing party lines and do not actually understand the political makeup of the ME. Turkey is a well-known Muslim democracy. It was, in fact, their democratic process that hindered our access to their territory during GW2, as their parliament responded to the will of their people and voted to refuse us access--a process we tried to subvert, I might add, when we threatened to withhold aid as a big stick in that matter.

It's not "subverting" their process, any more than OPEC tries to subvert our process. Actions have consequences. We won't be nice to you if you're not nice to us. For smaller example, see the "Dixie Chicks" and realize "censorship" had nothing to do with it.

In fact, our unconditional and blind support for Israel is /precisely/ why their government does not feel compelled to behave in a civilized manner, nor to pay heed to the more than fifty UN resolutions they have flouted or been subject to.

Such as the resolution equating Zionism and Racism?

Israel knows that they have the unconditional support of the United States, and thus they know that any UN resolution which threatens action to bring them into line will be vetoed. When we grant a country unconditional support, they have /no incentive/ to behave any differently than they already are.

They are a tiny country surrounded by enemies who want to exterminate them completely--genocide that some of their citizens remember on a personal level. They face terror attacks on almost a daily basis. Suppose we did decide to put enormous pressure on them--cut off all aid, send in UN troops to close down the settlements, etc. Do you really think they would do nothing when their sovereignty is threatened? Remember, they are a nuclear power.

Furthermore, our unconditional support for Israel is central to the recruitment efforts of terrorist organizations like al Qaeda. If we are serious about the "war on terror", then we need to not only address the symptoms as we did in Afghanistan, but we need to also need to address the root causes--and one of the root causes of terrorism is the inequity of our ME policy vis a vis Israel. When we make it clear to Israel that we are going to hold them to the same standards of conduct, human rights, and international law that we claim to be holding Muslim countries to, we will have taken the first step towards true peace in the Middle East--and we will have taken away one of the most powerful weapons and recruiting points that al Qaeda and other organizations like it have.

I don't think we should throw Israel to the dogs just to possibly hinder al-Queda's recruiters. Besides, if we did, the recruiters could point to it as a success. Your statement about standards is rather broad--what standards on human rights do you believe Israel is violating?

As long as we're talking about root causes, how about everyone admitting that the primary cause seems to be the actions of those who believe the West must be conquered and eliminated, or at least brought into dhimmitude under Islam? Can we admit that for them it's not about peaceful coexistence, it's about ruling the world for Allah?

Lucas, I have no confidence that Democrats will nominate Sen. Lieberman (his poll numbers aren't exactly inspiring). The fact of the matter is that the base of the Democratic Party would prefer the positions of Kucinich and Sharpton — the only thing that restrains them is the fact that they know that Kucinichism would get them massacred at the polls. What they're trying to do, is find the closest thing to Kucinich that they can palm off on the American people.

The problem with this, is that first, the Democrats' Kucinich-lite candidate is going to get slaughtered at the polls — think George McGovern; and second, the Muslim world will see a Kucinich-lite candidacy as a sign of irresolution in dealing with the Islamonazis. They will think, even when Kucinich-lite gets creamed, that just one more attack will make us crack. One more attack on American soil won't make us crack, but it might make us lose it, and trash a Muslim country in retaliation. Democrats could end up enabling the thing they want to avoid, but I guess that's an occupational hazard of pacifism.

Riyadh delenda est!

The only thing I take issue with is essentially the same thing Sebastian Holsclaw said above: The U.S. must offer some kind of guarantee to Israel's security if it expects Israel to tear down settlements. While I do not support the building of new settlements, I do not expect Israel to tear down settlements unless it gains some type of security in return.

The reason why Israel needs to gain some kind of security is two-fold. First, tearing down the settlements would not do anything to end the Palestinians' and Arabs' hatred Israel. The Arabs make no attempts to hide their desire to destroy all of Israel. "Settlements!" may be the cry du jour, but it would almost certainly be replaced by another cause as soon as they were gone. Now, I would be fine with that since Israel would be relieved of the (human and fiscal) cost of maintaining the settlements, except . . .

Tearing down the settlements would be perceived as a sign of weakness by the Arabs, and as proof that their terrorist attacks can force Israel to retreat. Rather than benefiting from an act of good will, Israel would probably see a hardening in the Arabs' positions and an increase in attacks. That is what happened in Lebanon, and we should not forget that lesson.

Putting that issue aside . . .

I am a disaffected Democrat. Like Roger Simon, I disagree with much of Bush’s domestic policy, but I think that foreign policy takes precedent and I do not trust any of the Democrat front-runners on foreign policy. Right now, it looks like Bush is going to get my vote by default. But, if there was a Democrat who adopted Armed Liberal’s platform, that would change everything.

2 is as obviously preposterous as it is widely believed. Modern civilization depends on oil, and it's fungible, and 80% of it is in the Middle East.
3 is a fine idea. Clearly an idea that couldn't be more remote from Bush's agenda. Sharon rules in Bush's Washington.
4 goes quite against Rummy's plans to reduce manpower and give them all really modern weapons instead.
5 may be a fine idea, but Bush so far is Saudi Arabia's best buddy.

If foreign policy is a stumbling block to supporting the other Democrats, what's the problem with Lieberman?

None, other than the fact that his campaign isn't looking too healthy right now. Which is troublesome, because at the moment he's the only potential candidate of either party I can see myself voting for.

Ok, I'm pretty much as left wing as you can get without going over into ANSWER "dictators are good if they are against the US" territory.

And there is very little on that list I disagree with.

1) Yes, rebuilding is good, wonderful, great. But I objected to the Iraq war because I just knew we couldn't handle it, and we're not. Halliburton and Bechtel get sweetheart deals, while businesses in Iraq get screwed. This administration is NOT interested in rebuilding Iraq. They are interested in crony capitalism. Hell, even Kucinich is saying "bring in the UN." The US supplies the UN with money, logistical support, and troops. We aren't "abandoning" Iraq if we get the UN in. We are giving up control, and crony capitalism.

2) Ummm, yes, the Dem candidates are interested in alternative energy and conservation. Bush's administration seems to think conservation is just a personal virtue, and extractive energy is the way to go. New oil supplies outside of the US, well, let's just say that eventually (within the next 100 years) the amount of available oil each year will go down. We might want to start planning for that.

3) Israel is a mess, partially becuase of Israel. Paritally becuase of the terrorism. And partially becuase Bush ignored it for a year. It is fairly obvious what the solution has to be. (Two state, secure contigous borders for both, an extremely limited right of return for palestinians, and so on). It comes down to how much pressure we can get the EU, Russia, and the UN to apply. Geee, maybe pissing them off to invade Iraq without waiting another 3 months for inspections wasn't such a good idea? Especially since no one ever ever ever claimed an imminent threat... Nahhhhh.....

4) I would say we would be better off rearanging then expanding. Bring a division of peacekeeper type trained troops out of the gaurd/reserve and into active duty. Keep troops in situations they are trained to handle. We already spend as much on our military as the next 14 largest militaries combined. At some point it comes down to effectiveness, not brute size. And if only we had allies contributing more....

5) Great! I'd even say use trade as a weapon here. Tell em if they want to be dictators and antisemites, that's fine, but they can't export to the US, and they have to elsewhere to buy stuff. But that would never work, because it's not "free trade." Shucks.

6) I have no expertise here. But it seems that very few people (dem or rep or anything else) are saying "our intelligence is working just fine."

AL, in general, those proposals are the kinda thing Dems tend to stand behind. They are also things Reps tend to stand behind. The question is HOW do we do it? Do we go to Halliburton to rebuild Iraq, thereby pissing off the French and Russian companies that want some of the dough? And when we do, and then those governments refuse to help us pressure Israel and the PA, how do we deal with it?

I'd say that the international, anti-cronyism approach is more effective.

from Matthew Ygelesias:
"In response, some things to consider doing before you defect from the Democratic Party:

Take a deep breath. Look in the mirror. Take another deep breath. Look at some photos of your liberal friends and family. Ask yourself: Do you really believe that they opposed the Iraq War because they wanted Saddam Hussein to stay in power; do you really think they don't care if your hometown gets destroyed by terrorists?

Try reading some actual policy statements put out by Democratic foreign-policy hands, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and members of the Armed Services Committee. Ask yourself: Do the views expressed therein really sound like the characterizations of them you've read on NRO and the hawk blogs?

Look again in the mirror, focusing this time on your hairline and that little space next to your eyes that gets wrinkly when you squint. There's no easy way to say this, but . . . you're getting old. I am too. It's scary, it happens to us all. Ask yourself: Has the left really changed, or am I just that cliché guy who stopped really caring about the poor as I aged?

Take a look at the transcript of the latest White House press conference. Find some other examples where the president had to respond on-the-fly to questions. Ask yourself: Given the perilous international situation, am I really comfortable with the fact that a total moron is president of the United States.

Read this post again. Consider the condescending tone, the cheap psychoanalysis, the refusal to confront your actual arguments. Ask yourself: Isn't this exactly what I've been doing all this time"

The fact of the matter is that the base of the Democratic Party would prefer the positions of Kucinich and Sharpton

Oh my Lord no. I don't know exactly how far left I am, but am very confident I'm in the left half of the democratic party. (I'm gauging this by thinking about which Senators I like best--there are a few that are to the left of me overall, but there definitely aren't close to 25). Kucinich is a whackjob--if it came down to Lieberman and Kucinich my choice would take a split second, and that's without even thinking about electability. There are certainly issues where I prefer Kucinich's views to Lieberman's (death penalty, gay marriage) but there is a fundamental irresponsibility and lack of critical thinking about both economic and foreign policy that I cannot possibly ignore. And Sharpton is a demagogue.

What would you say if I said things like "the Republican base really prefers Tom Delay to George Bush"? You would not take me very seriously--and Delay is the frickin' House majority leader; Kucinich has nowhere near that much power.

Alex, your family and friends may not have opposed the war in Iraq out of a desire to keep Saddam in power. But to paraphrase Orwell, their unwillingness to force his removal made them objectively pro-Saddam.

One of the uncomfortable realities of war is that wars are always fought somewhere. If you are engaged in a war, you have three possible venues to fight a war:
  • Your own territory
  • Enemy territory
  • Neutral territory
Fighting a war on your own territory is one of the very best ways to lose it. Even if you somehow manage to win, your country ends up devastated. Fighting the war on neutral territory may be better than fighting on your own, at least in a purely pragmatic sense, but it's morally reprehensible, and it tends to turn neutrals into enemies. Fighting on the enemy's territory is by far the best choice, if you have the capability to do it. It avoids destruction of your territory, disrupts the enemy's ability to continue the war, and it brings the war home to the civilian population that either directly or indirectly supports the enemy war effort. Invading Iraq accomplished a number of worthwhile objectives:
  • It removed an enemy government from power.
  • The government in question had a well-documented history of WMD use.
  • The government in question had well-documented ties to terrorist groups, including the Al-Qaeda affiliate, Ansar al-Islam.
  • It ended Iraqi sponsorship of international terrorist groups such as Hamas.
  • It ended the need for economic sanctions against Iraq. According to UN estimates, sanctions-related hardships caused the deaths of 5,000 Iraqi children every month.
  • Occupying Iraq positions our forces where they can threaten our three remaining enemies in the region. To paraphrase Al Capone, you can accomplish more with a kind word and an army than you can with a kind word alone.
  • Occupying Iraq encourages Islamonazi "jihadis" to go to Iraq, rather than come to America.
None of the current crop of Democratic candidates understands these truths, or if they do, they won't admit it.

As to the "Bush is a moron" argument. You tried that in the last election, and it didn't quite work. It won't work any better next time, but go ahead, knock yourselves out. You see, most people understand that there's a difference between glibness and intelligence. President Bush is not, never has been, and never will be glib. But he's bright enough to recognize the truths I mentioned, and determined enough not to let Jacko Chirac hold America's security hostage to French approval. That makes him one Hell of a lot smarter than the Kuchinich-lite candidate that the Democrats will run against him.

The problem that the Democratic candidates have, is that they won't admit to themselves that we are really in a war. To them Al-Qaeda is just a bunch of criminals, and their apprehension is purely a law-enforcement issue. The difference between Al-Qaeda and the Capone Gang is that Al-Qaeda has national governments that support them. If we can cut off Al-Qaeda's governmental support, either through diplomatic means or regime change, we could treat them as mere criminals. But we have to cut off their governmental support, first.

Riyadh delenda est!

All of you are missing the real point. This isn't a war of civilizations.

It is a war between civilization and BARBARISM with some of the tools of civilization because the defining characteristic of our enemy is irrational HATE, specifically both anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. The two have effectively merged.

See Victor David Hanson here:

http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson200310310840.asp

And this:

http://www.iht.com/ihtsearch.php?id=115858&owner=(IHT)&date=20031031042925

and this:

http://www.dn.se/

and finally this:

http://www.policyreview.org/oct03/rosenthal_print.html

"The denouement to the controversy surrounding Gretta Duisenberg’s Palestinian flag is similarly revealing. Mrs. Duisenberg is the wife of Wim Duisenberg, the outgoing president of the European Central Bank. Having, on her own account, carried the flag in a pro-Palestinian rally in mid-April 2002 — a rally at which, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, slogans like “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas!” were chanted — she then proceeded to hang it from the balcony of the Duisenberg family home in Amsterdam. When, some weeks later, Jewish neighbors called Mrs. Duisenberg to object to the presence of the flag and ask her to remove it, she is supposed to have deflected their objections with the observation that “rich Jews” are responsible for “the oppression of the Palestinian people.” This is at least how Mrs. Duisenberg was quoted in the Dutch press, based on the reports of the neighbors in question.

At this point she took matters into her own hands, going public with her account of the conversation in order to avoid any possible misunderstandings. Here again, the ostensible denial speaks more voluminously and thereby more damningly about the mindset of contemporary European elites than the original quotation. “I did not say that rich Jews,” Mrs. Duisenberg explained, “but rather that the rich Jewish lobby in America maintains the oppression of the Palestinians. Every president who is elected and who wants to be reelected must do what this lobby wants.” Her critics “will have to come up with something better than childishly accusing me of being guilty of anti-Semitism,” she added defiantly, confident that the addition of the noun “lobby” had cleared her of any such suspicion.9 In today’s Europe the presumption that the American presidency is hostage to a “rich Jewish lobby” is apparently supposed to be not a symptom of submission to archetypal anti-Semitic phantasms, but rather a sign of lucidity."

Joe Katzman touched on the issue of hate in another post, but I don't think the thread there really got to the meat of the matter. The defining characteristic of our enemy is anti-Semitism. The Islamic Death cult meme is merely a culturally specific, virulent, subset of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.

The Bush Administration is following a campaign strategy I call "Salvage and Destroy." They are trying to save as much of the Arab-Muslim world they can by conquest/reconstruction while destroying the carriers of the Death Cult meme.

Tom Holsinger pretty much laid out the Iraqi campaign plan for carrying out that "Salvage and Destroy" strategy in a post in Daniel Drezner's blog here:

http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/000849.html#003954

The problem the Bush Administration has is the relentless, ruthless, revolutionary logic of war. The Bush Administration is on a clock with the American people. It has to show rapid progress in the war. It has to prevent more 9/11 attacks. It has to reform executive branch departments and national security bureaucracies that are fighting the war. It has to deal with its increasingly irrational foreign and domestic opponents. And it has to do so without the American public becoming so frustrated with the whole thing that they demand from the Federal government that America use the full extent of its destructive arsenal to end the war NOW.

All I am seeing from the Bush Administration is “incrementalism on the road to hell.” Given that the Bush Administration foreign policy and national security team is the best we have available, that may be inevitable. The more politically correct the Bush Administration is, the longer the war will take, the more frustrated the Jacksonians will become, and the more desperate the political elites -- either Bush’s team of its Republican replacement -- will become to use ruthless force to placate them. This is why George Will says: "War is the ultimate moral solvent."

I don’t think the Bush Administration will ultimately be able to placate the Jacksonians.

When, not if, the American Jacksonians are set off. Anyone and everyone who is anti-Semitic will suffer their wrath. This won’t be limited to the Muslim world. This perspective makes the French as much America’s blood enemy as the Saudis.

This wrath will be aimed much domestically as well as at foreign enemies. And it will reshape American politics, and the major institutions of government and culture, on a regional basis as decisively as the American Civil War did.

If the Democratic party base doesn't like and respect Kucinich and Sharpton, then why haven't any of the other denounced their idiotic demogoguery? It seems to me, that Kucinich or Sharpton would make an excellent target for any Democratic candidate wanting to do a replay of Bill Clinton's "Sistah Souljah moment".

As to Tom Delay, both parties have legislative leaders that cause them embarrassment. Sen. Byrd comes immediately to mind. I'm not sure whether his anti-Bush rants are a product of poisonous partisanship, or just plain senility, but if I were Tom Daschle, I'd sabotage the C-Span cameras anytime Byrd got up to speak. Legislative leadership is often more a function of seniority than competence. When Republicans produce that sort of nutcase, we at least try to keep them out of presidental debates.

Riyadh delenda est!

Al Qaeda isn't just a bunch of bandits. It isn't just a bunch of terrorists who hate America.

Al Qaeda is the wave of the future in the Islamic world.

Many Liberals, I say Liberals here, because it is mostly those on the left who believe this, think that we are just policing the world in removing Al Qaeda. Nothing could be further from the truth. Al Qaeda is a single group, among many, of Islamic Terror groups that believe in Wahhabi sunni Islam. They are a minority now in the Muslims of the world, a small minority in fact. But they are growing. Saudi Arabia is pumping billions of dollars into Wahhabi front groups around the world. They are slowly taking over the sunni Islam world. They are replacing radicals with moderates, radicals who believe in jihad against the west, extermination of Israel, extermination of everyone who isn't a Christian or a Jew, and slavery for those who are. They are growing in number. And there is little we can do to stop them.

It is said that our enemies do not possess an idealogy that can supercede our own, that while capitalism and communism fought, the battle between capitalism and islamism isn't a fair battle. That is NOT true. The problem is thus: Capitalism and Communism were intellectual battles. They focused on the intellectuals of society, which is why plenty of Commies fell in the Orwellian definition of intellectual. But Wahhabism IS NOT intellectual, in fact it is anti-intellectual. It isn't addressed to the intellectuals in universities and think tanks. It is addressed to the "maligned", to those on the bottom of society, by offering them a scapegoat(Jews and America), and by telling them that Allah is with them, and that the only reason why Dar-al-Islam isn't supreme is because of America and the Jews. There will always be a low, there will always be career criminals. That is what Wahhabism is aimed at. There are plenty of Muslims in America and Europe. That is what Wahabbism is aimed at. Wahabbism isn't trying to set up a grand war between the West and Islamic countries, it is trying to cause civil wars in Western countries, by having Muslims rise up against their "man made laws" and create an Islamic super-state, the Caliphate, the state that flies the black flag.

Muslims are pouring into Europe and to a lesser extent, America. They are being radicalized there, so that in the next couple of decades their take over of Europe isn't far fetched. And what do you do against this threat? How do you stop millions of muslims doing what they see as God's bidding? Think about it.

A.L. Is right. Its not a war between civilizations yet. But if we let the Wahabbis have their way, it will be. And A.L. knows exactly what will happen if that war takes place.

Trent makes an excellent point. The Islamonazis are barbarians. The so-called "moderate" Muslims that tolerate and/or support them are as morally culpable as the Germans who looked the other way, when Hitler's thugs perpetrated the Holocaust. If the Islamonazis continue attacking America, the Jacksonians will take the warpath. And when Jacksonians go to war, the one thing you don't want to be, is a "barbarian". Jacksonians are utterly ruthless and utterly vicious when dealing with "barbarians". Their strategy is simple - kill the "barbarians" until the survivors say, "I will fight no more, forever."

Earlier, I wrote that after 2 - 10 more Islamonazi attacks on America, the Jacksonians will go on the warpath, and some Muslim country is going to get trashed. President Bush won't be able to stop it. The Neocons in his administration won't want to, and the State Department pansies will be too busy running for cover. Congress will send him a nearly-unanimous Declaration of War, not some cheap-ass "resolution authorizing the use of force", and he'll prosecute that war, or face impeachment.

President McKinley didn't want to fight the Spanish-American War. The American people didn't give him a choice. Woodrow Wilson didn't want to fight WWI. The American people didn't give him a choice. President Bush won't want to trash the ______. The American people didn't give him a choice, either.

The only way I see of avoiding this scenario is if the Democratic Party makes it absolutely clear that any attack on America, or any credible threat of attack on America, will result in the destruction of the attackers and any regime that enabled or encouraged them, whether the UN likes it or not. I can't see any Democratic candidate making such a pledge. And I can't see the Democratic Party backing any candidate that did.

Riyadh delenda est!

My previous comment should read:

President Bush won't want to trash the ______. The American people won't give him a choice, either.

Riyadh delenda est!

thermodynamics, thermodynamics, thermodynamics.

When you listen to oil-industry economists instead of geophysicists about oil, you hear a lot about oil shales and oil sands ("unconventional sources"). The problem with these sources is not only that they're economically marginal to recover, they're net thermodynamic losses -- that is, it takes more energy to make that barrel of oil from oil shale than it will liberate when burned.

It doesn't matter how much people are willing to pay for it because it uses more energy to get it than it will yield. This leaves us with the end of cheap oil and the Saudis managing depletion, which is untenable politically.

Thermodynamic efficiency is also why hydrogen fuel-cells are worse than internal combustion. You have to make hydrogen from something else, and that's electrolyzing water, catalytic decomposition of water, or methane reforming. None of those methods are perfectly efficient and so they all lose some energy during conversion. Also, from a simple engineering point of view, hydrogen is a huge pain in the butt to store or transport without losses. We can expect that conversion to hydrogen will actually deplete fossil fuels faster than internal combustion.

If you're going to suggest that we should get our hydrogen from solar, wind or ocean thermal electricity, I'm all for it, but there's no need to wait for hydrogen cars to do it. We have to do it sometime, let's get started now.

If you want to see what geophysicists think about the future oil supply, I suggest you check http://www.hubbertpeak.com.

Oh my Lord no. I don't know exactly how far left I am, but am very confident I'm in the left half of the democratic party. (I'm gauging this by thinking about which Senators I like best--there are a few that are to the left of me overall, but there definitely aren't close to 25). Kucinich is a whackjob--if it came down to Lieberman and Kucinich my choice would take a split second, and that's without even thinking about electability. There are certainly issues where I prefer Kucinich's views to Lieberman's (death penalty, gay marriage) but there is a fundamental irresponsibility and lack of critical thinking about both economic and foreign policy that I cannot possibly ignore. And Sharpton is a demagogue.

Thanks. You said it better than I could. Look, I went to one of the Kucinich meetups out of curiosity, and I recognized the people there who are supporting him. They are not even Democrats, they are one and the same people as the local chapter of the Green Party. They aren't the base of the Democratic Party! I'm not sure about Sharpton's base of support but I doubt there's a lot of overlap there with even those who supported Jesse Jackson much less the rest of the Democratic base, and probably a lot more overlap with Farrakhan's supporters, and the likes of the New Alliance Party or whatever they are calling themselves now.

To say that the base of the Democratic Party prefers Kucinich or Sharpton is just ridiculous. They're running at 2% in the Democratic primary polls. That's not the electorate at large, that's just among the Democratic primary voters, which is a pretty good place to judge how the Democratic "base" is thinking.

It is equally ridiculous to suggest that Wesley Clark, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Joseph Lieberman, Jonathan Edwards, and Richard Gephardt constitute "Kucinich lite." All of them have positions and policy plans for the Middle East which involve some kind of military intervention.

The difference between Al-Qaeda and the Capone Gang is that Al-Qaeda has national governments that support them. If we can cut off Al-Qaeda's governmental support, either through diplomatic means or regime change, we could treat them as mere criminals. But we have to cut off their governmental support, first.

Chief among them, Saudi Arabia - a government that the U.S. used military force to defend, and that the Bush administration still refuses to do a thing about. Also among them is the U.S.'s erstwhile "ally", Pakistan.

When the Bush administration turns its attention to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jerry "9-11 Was God's Judgement On America" Falwell, Pat "Let's Nuke the State Department" Robertson, and the domestic terrorist groups operating in Arizona and Texas on the border with Mexico, instead of worrying about non-existent threats from Iran, Iraq, Syria, and (heh) Cuba, then I will become convinced that Bush honestly has stamping out terrorism at heart. The chance of that happening is near zilch.

None, other than the fact that his [Lieberman's] campaign isn't looking too healthy right now. Which is troublesome, because at the moment he's the only potential candidate of either party I can see myself voting for.

I would suggest to those Democrats considering throwing their support behind Bush that now is the time they should be throwing their support behind Lieberman during the primaries, or another Democrat who is to their liking on foreign policy. Who knows, they may find to their surprise that whichever Democrat gets the nomination, even if it isn't Lieberman, will articulate a realistic foreign policy that can succeed where Bush's has failed, and will see no reason to endorse Bush at that point. Again, unless Bush's extremist fiscal and social agendas appeal to them.

My own discussion of the subject is now up on my blog, if you're interested (wouldn't blame you if you're not).

Cato the Youngest, FH,

I can see what is coming between us and the Muslim world. I know I cannot do a thing to make a difference and I am heart sick, angry, and frustrated beyond measure because of it.

I am not looking forward to any of this, any more than I was "looking forward to 9/11" after I saw what the African Embassy bombings meant.

I have learned through bitter experience that you cannot really talk about subjects like this, not before the reality arrives. Doing so in public makes you sound like a nut, and if you are articulate, a dangerous nut. The "eagerness" to deal with the problem no one else sees brands you a psychotic, no matter how "right" you are proven by later events.

That "looking forward to 9/11" line, by the way, is a direct quote from someone on a military-affairs e-mail list I participate in. I got it in reply to an "I told you so" shortly after 9/11 happened. This is part of the reason Armed Liberal and I just don't get along when this subject comes up. All he knows is “my nuttiness” and not whether or not I was right after the fact.

Unfortunately for us all, reality is arriving as this Mark Steyn column, that originally showed up in the Jerusalem Post, makes clear:

http://mailman.io.com/pipermail/freemanlist/2003-October/001062.html

"The Palestinian death cult negates all the assumptions of western sentimental pacifism: If only the vengeful old generals got out of the way, there'd be no war. But such common humanity as one can find on the West Bank resides, if only in their cynicism, in the leadership: old Arafat may shower glory and honor on his youthful martyrs but he's human enough to keep his own kid in Paris, well away from the suicide-bomber belts. It's hard to picture Saeb Erekat or Hanan Ashrawi or any of the other aging terror apologists who hog the airwaves at CNN and the BBC celebrating the death of their own loved ones the way Miss Jaradat's brother did. "We are receiving congratulations from people," said Thaher Jaradat. "Why should we cry? It is like her wedding day, the happiest day for her."

I spent a short time on the West Bank earlier this spring. I would have spent longer, but to be honest it creeped me out, and I was happy to scram across the Allenby Bridge and on through Jordan to Iraq. Say what you like about the Sunni Triangle and RPG Alley, but I never once felt I was in a wholly diseased environment. On the West Bank, almost all the humdrum transactions of daily life take place in a culture that glorifies depravity: you walk down a street named after a suicide bomber to drop your child in a school that celebrates suicide-bombing and then pick up some groceries in a corner store whose walls are plastered with portraits of suicide bombers.

Nothing good grows in toxic soil. You cannot have a real peace with such people; you cannot even have the cold peace that exists between Israel and Jordan, where King Abdullah, host of the Arab-American-Israeli summit at the start of the road map, did not dare display the flag of the Zionist Entity, lest it provoke his subjects.

The problem is not the security fence, but the psychological fence - a chasm really - that separates a sizable proportion of the Palestinian population from all Jews."

Maybe America winning in Iraq, Syria and Iran, plus cutting off Saudi money will turn the tide with the Palestinians and get them to give up the Islamic death cult.

Maybe completing the security fence the Israelis are building will make the difference.

Maybe some future “Oslo Agreement” will end this with a two-state solution and a “Cold Peace” of separation between Palestinians and Israelis.

And maybe, just maybe, the horse will learn to sing.

After reading Mark Steyn's colum, it would not be wise to bet that way.

This TechCentralStation column also make clear the implications for the wider Muslim world if it doesn't stop being a culture medium for Fanatic Islamism.

http://www.techcentralstation.com/1051/defensewrapper.jsp?PID=1051-350&CID=1051-031103A (my emphasis):

"This gives a sense of Greek tragedy, with its dialectic of hubris and nemesis, to what has been unfolding in the Islamic world. If they continue to use terror against the West, their very success will destroy them. If they succeed in terrorizing the West, they will discover that they have in fact only ended by brutalizing it. And if subjected to enough stress, the liberal system will be set aside and the Hobbesian world will return - and with its return, the Islamic world will be crushed. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. And the only way to avoid this horrendous end is to bring the Islamic world back to sanity sooner rather than latter.

Nothing but force can break them from their illusion. Not because there is something wrong with them as a race, but simply because they are acting like any other individual who has been permitted to live in a dream world - they continue to fantasize. And who can blame them? It is only brute fact that shakes any of us from the single most cherished of our illusions - the myth of our own grandeur and omnipotence. And this is as true of a culture as of an individual."

I cannot add anything to that other than I hope it is wrong, but I fear it won’t be.

Lucas, I'm no friend of the House of Sods. My signature line is "Riyadh delenda est" (Latin: Riyadh must be destroyed). But I know that the Sods aren't the whole problem. Syria and Iran are real problems, too, and troops stationed in Iraq can strike at any of the three. With control of Iraq, we can play any of the three off against each other.

Taking Saddam down first also lets us end the Iraq sanctions and get Iraq's oil back on the market, which lowers prices, which reduces the amount of money the Iranians and the Sods have to spend on terrorism.

When dealing with several enemy nations that aren't closely allied (yet), the intelligent thing to do, is first take out the one that's strongest militarily and weakest diplomatically (Iraq), then the second toughest military with the next worst diplomatic influence (Iran), etc. The Sods have no significant military strength, but they've bought so much influence in the Muslim world that every Muslim nutjob on the planet would demand that their governments join the jihad. Save the Sods for last, and they'll have no one left to help them. Leave it to Democrats to want to do things in the exact opposite order.

The Democratic presidential candidates, with the exception of Lieberman, who won't get the nomination, all want to dump Iraq off on the UN (which is already pulling out of Iraq), get our people out of there, ASAP, and never do anything else to the Islamonazis without Jacko Chirac's okay. That is Kucinich-lite, and if they take that to the general election, Democrats are going to do about as well as McGovern did. That's good for U.S. security, not so good for the Arabs, because the Islamonazis will think they can get away with more attacks, and we'll end up trashing them.

The fact is that the "mainstream" Democratic candidates won't slag Kucinich because they're afraid that doing so might tarnish their "anti-war" credentials. They're more tolerant of a pro-terrorist twit than they are of a Republican president, and that, frankly, is shameful.

The "mainstream" candidates tolerate Sharpton and Mosley-Brown because they like their despicable demagoguery against President Bush, and they don't have the guts to talk that kind of trash, themselves.

The sad fact of the Democratic field is that the "mainstream" candidates are too busy pandering to this, that, and the other interest group, to enunciate a workable plan to win the war on terrorism, or even to fight it. They don't even dare respond to jackasses like Kucinich, Sharpton, etc.

Riyadh delenda est!

Trent, Cato, I think that we perhaps are feeling now what Winston Churchill felt when Neville Chamberlain went before the House of Commons, announcing that his recent deal with the leader of Germany would mean "peace in our time." His thoughts now are my thoughts.

I don't want to carry this burden. This knowledge that things are NOT going to turn out well. There is a storm brewing, beyond the horizon. The others only look outside, and see it sunny, bright, with only a few clouds. Their eyes are looking up, not outward. This sense of forboding doom increases every day. Every night, when I go sleep, part of me asks: When I wake up next, is it going to be the day the world stops? Is it going to be the day that everything changes? Will they finally have done it? Will I wake up to find an American, British, Australian city nothing more than a glass parking lot? Or will a new Arab-Israeli war start, one where the prohibitions of the past are ignored?

I know how this is most likely going to end up. I, like you Trent, wish I could do something to stop it. But I can't right now. If ever. And that makes me angry, and it makes me sad. They say you should walk in man's shoes so as to understand him. Only now do I understand just how large Churchill's shoes were.

I feel an epiphany coming, a moment not unlike that at the end of the Planet of the Apes. Where Charleton Heston lets out his final judgement of humanity: Damn you, damn you all.

Trent, Cato, I think that we perhaps are feeling now what Winston Churchill felt when Neville Chamberlain went before the House of Commons, announcing that his recent deal with the leader of Germany would mean "peace in our time." His thoughts now are my thoughts.

I don't want to carry this burden. This knowledge that things are NOT going to turn out well. There is a storm brewing, beyond the horizon. The others only look outside, and see it sunny, bright, with only a few clouds. Their eyes are looking up, not outward. This sense of forboding doom increases every day. Every night, when I go sleep, part of me asks: When I wake up next, is it going to be the day the world stops? Is it going to be the day that everything changes? Will they finally have done it? Will I wake up to find an American, British, Australian city nothing more than a glass parking lot? Or will a new Arab-Israeli war start, one where the prohibitions of the past are ignored?

I know how this is most likely going to end up. I, like you Trent, wish I could do something to stop it. But I can't right now. If ever. And that makes me angry, and it makes me sad. They say you should walk in man's shoes so as to understand him. Only now do I understand just how large Churchill's shoes were.

I feel an epiphany coming, a moment not unlike that at the end of the Planet of the Apes. Where Charleton Heston lets out his final judgement of humanity: Damn you, damn you all.

I endorse what Lucus said up-thread about Kucinich and his supporters:

Look, I went to one of the Kucinich meetups out of curiosity, and I recognized the people there who are supporting him. They are not even Democrats, they are one and the same people as the local chapter of the Green Party. They aren't the base of the Democratic Party!

Unfortunately I don't think Lucus's advice about supporting Lieberman is going to be followed by the Democratic Party. The Democratic activists and Democratic "deep pockets" contributors are going to go with Dean, dragging the rest of the party along, because they are deeper into the Hate-Bush rant than Republicans were with their Hate-Clinon rant in 1996.

More is the pity for our nation. America needs a loyal opposition political party, not a "Hate-Bush" political party.

Cato: I certainly agree with most of what you're saying, but your characterization of Iraq is inaccurate. Iraq was the most militarily inept of the possible targets - it was demoralized, poorly equipped, soldiers were likely to rapidly abandon their units, and the United States had experience in fighting it before.

Iraq made the perfect target because its military would be broken and decimated very quickly (with little loss of American life), its cities were the most likely to surrender, and whose liberation would least likely result in extremely costly extensive urban warfare. Saddam also (through his boldness and ineptitude) was able to be characterized as an evil, terrorist supporting, and maniacal dictator with lethal CBRN devices / technology.

But yes, in essence, invading Iraq was probably the US's best option. Although the public relations battle seems to be lost, and Chirac used it to lead a campaign to build up Europe (note that this may be a good thing (look at the cost benefit analysis of the Iraq war, and at the more information on the Iraq war section - oh, and that is my work, fyi)).

Oh, and while the House of Saud may not have the most effective or powerful military in the Middle East, I would not discount their advanced technology. If they managed to get their act together (or at least put out a decent performance), significant losses would be inflicted upon us.

FH,

Churchill did not know his country was going to win the coming war with Germany.

We do. That is certain.

The only thing negotiable in this war is the price non-Americans are going to pay for the eventual American victory.

I won't discuss that in public.

The psychological price I pay is too F------- high, nor will it won't make a bit of difference, save for marking me as a nut.

Joshua, the Iraqis made a pretty good showing against the Iranians (Iran is a good bit larger, after all). You're right that the Iraqi Army wouldn't be eager to die fighting us, but compared to their neighbors, they weren't that bad. The Saudis certainly couldn't have stopped them without help. The Syrians would have found them pretty tough, too, in part because the Syrians have Israel on their border (two-front war, ewwww). Our choice had to be either Iraq or Iran, and the diplomacy and geography made Iraq the obvious choice.

None of the countries of the Gulf region have terribly impressive armies. We could have handled any of our four enemies in the region militarily, without much trouble, but picking on the least popular government first let us attract some Arab support. Had we gone after the Saudis first, they could have rallied the entire region against us, to "protect the holy places".

If we strip the Saudis of potential allies first, we can probably take them with a phone call. The Saudi armed forces have nice toys, but they can't maintain them without foreign help, their AWACS planes depend on foreign crews, and their fighter pilots have about as much discipline as a cub scout troop. Saudi Arabia should be saved for last, and stringing them along, while we strip them of allies (and cut back on spare parts sales for their American hardware), is almost poetic justice for the way they pretended to be our friends while they funded Al-Qaeda.

Trent, a recent poll showed 62% in favor of "finishing the job" in Iraq, and 32% support for bugging out. That 32% is almost entirely from the Democratic Party base (there are a few Right-wing nutjobs like Buchanan). Kucinich is the most adamant antiwar candidate in the Democratic race, and the rest of the candidates know that if they bash him, they could offend that 32%. They know they can't win the nomination without them, so they try to be antiwar enough to appeal to them without turning off the 62% who understand we can't afford to bug out of Iraq. That's what I mean by Kucinich-lite (less stupid — sounds great). That's what Dean's been doing, saying we were wrong to invade Iraq, and that we should turn it over to the UN, the Iraqis, or anyone else who wants it, as quickly as we decently can.

Riyadh delenda est!

Trent, part of my view is that I don't consider losing a city or two "winning." I call it "losing less than the other guy."

I don't want my kids, should I ever have any, to live in a world where the only place they can see New York City or Washington D.C. is in a history book.

FH, Trent doesn't consider that "winning" either. Neither do I, and neither do Parapundit, Stanley Kurtz, et. al.

But the world doesn't give a damn what we think - things go ahead and happen anyway. And what we all see, from varying angles and to varying degrees, is a growing likelihood that the big question is WHICH city your grandkids will know mostly through those history books.

After one or maybe a few of those incidents, the forces of civilization will proceed to, uh, lose less than their opponents - and certainly less than all the poor shmucks caught in the middle, as the afterlife finds that it has some serious backlog issues to deal with.

The tragedy is that it would all have been avoidable if large parts of the West's population didn't live in a fantasy world every bit as unreal as al-Qaeda's. But they do live there, so it probably isn't avoidable.

One can only think of the French at such times, and say: c'est la guerre.

Trent Telenko said:

"All of you are missing the real point. This isn't a war of civilizations.

It is a war between civilization and BARBARISM with some of the tools of civilization because the defining characteristic of our enemy is irrational HATE, specifically both anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. The two have effectively merged."

I fundamentally disagree.

Civilization is about cities and citizenship. Great civilizations produce great cities, and citizens with peculiar virtues. (All flavors of good are not the same.) Barbarism does not produce cities and citizens of great note, and in ascendancy, it destroys them.

The Mongols were barbarians. Their preference was not better cities but more grassland, more goodies for them, and death for anybody who got in the way. Islam was and is a great civilization. The holy Koran gives a patter not merely for opportunistic conquest, looting and (at a stretch) exploitation, but for programmatic war, conquest, coerced assimilation, and empire-building and maintenance. This valid pattern has been demonstrated repeatedly to work, and it does produce its own flavor of city and civilized people. See the difference?

Today, pirates and some drug lords are barbarism. They have no vision of the future except to profit and plunder. Muslim terrorists are representatives of a civilization. They do have a vision of the future for the civilized world. This is a fundamental difference. It's just our bad luck that this vision is inimical to us.

Spot on David. Their vision of the future is a nightmare, everything I could ever think to sum up as evil.

Some real paranoia above me. You guys sound really scared.

Look, time is running out on Islamic Fundamentalists. In the long run, progress will put them away. Economic and political development is the key.

In the meantime, we're going to arrest terrorists, root out their financing, prevent all the attacks we can, etc. They're going to slip one past us every once in a while.

They are not a competing system that threatens our way of life; they're an anachronism.

Praktike, they're unmitigated dorks, and they're ultimately doomed, but they've shown they can take a bunch of us with them, and if they ever get their hands on WMD, the 9/11 attacks could seem like small change. I'm for doing to them before they do unto us. The Democratic presidential candidates think they can wish the problem away, and I'm concerned that their poisonous partisanship gives aid and comfort to the Islamonazis.

David Blue, the Islamonazis are barbarians. Civilizations build things. The only thing OBL and the rest of the Islamonazis build is body counts. Whatever glories Islamic Civilization may have enjoyed in the past, stagnation has crippled it, and the rest of the world has passed it by. It can no longer compete with the West, and that's driven OBL and the rest of the nutsos into a homicidal frenzy. Islamic Civilization is obsolete. It's destined to join Communism on the ash heap of History. The only question left is how many of us we're willing to let them kill, on the way.

OBL and Co. are not "representatives of a civilization". They are destroyers, pure and simple. Mad dogs, who must be put down, if the rest of the civilized world, including Islamic Civilization, is ever to be safe.

Riyadh delenda est!

The Democratic presidential candidates think they can wish the problem away.

Dude, this is false, and I can prove it in a heartbeat.

Clark has talked extensively about terrorism and, more broadly, national security.

In fact, here's a recent speech of his.

Some quotes that directly refute your point:

We still must dismantle al Qaeda and the world-wide terrorist networks plotting to attack us. We face intractable conflicts in the Middle East and South Asia and ongoing nuclear dangers in Iran and North Korea.
...
And we must turn the full force of this united power against the terrorists themselves. Winning military victories is only one part of the war on terror. We have to use our diplomatic leverage to set a legal definition of terrorism, harmonize our laws governing terrorist acts, and agree on standards of proof and admissibility of evidence.

We also have to confront the hatred spewing out of extremist religious schools in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. We have a right and a duty to challenge an extremist curriculum that would make those goals impossible. It cannot be dealt with militarily. It has to be done with diplomacy, and it ought to be backed by every nation in the world.

Remember, you said that "the Democratic presidential candidates think they can wish the problem away."

If you can somehow prove this statement given the quotes above, I'll be amazed.

First, Clark has about as much chance of being nominated as I have of flying to the Moon by flapping my arms.

"We have to use our diplomatic leverage to set a legal definition of terrorism, harmonize our laws governing terrorist acts, and agree on standards of proof and admissibility of evidence." Clark thinks France is going to agree to any definition of terrorism that doesn't legalize attacks on America and Israel, while prohibiting us from retaliating? He's going to "harmonize" our antiterror laws with France's? I take back what I've said about the Islamonazis not having a chance against us. If Clark wins, we're screwed. The man's a lunatic. Kuchinich is more sane than Clark is. Kuchinich wants us to lose the war on terror, and viewed in that light, his positions are perfectly rational. Clark thinks we can win the war on terrorism by giving Chirac veto power over our strategy. Is anybody here crazy enough to believe that?

Winning military victories may only be part of the war on Islamonazism, but it's a damnned important part. Diplomacy is so much easier, when the other side knows you can and will kick their asses. Clark would wait for Jacko Chirac to okay any U.S. military action, so you can pretty much rule out any military victories — at least any American military victories.

God bless the United States Supreme Court.

Riyadh delenda est!

Actually, I'd say Wes Clark's speech is a textbook example that proves the "wishing away" thesis.

"Because historically we've been aligned with some of these governments, some of their people see us an accomplice in their oppression. This barrier between free nations and autocratic nations will not stand. Either this side of freedom will take it down, or the forces of pent-up frustration, anger and humiliation will blow it up - and our relationships and remaining sense of security with it."

That's nice. What does it mean? Does he plan to overthrow the Saudis? Cut Egypt off of all foreign aid? Not that there's anything wrong with that, but Inquiring minds want to know.

"After September 11, we should have immediately gone to the United Nations, developed a legal definition of terrorism - and brought the charges legally against Bin Ladin."

Or, you could have advocated this when you were Chief of Staff, and Bin Laden was blowing up hundreds of people in Africa by dynamiting American embassies. Remember that? Why didn't you?

Maybe because the suggestion itself is foolish to the point of deep denial.

Let's put aside the fact that the UN has always refused to define Islamic terrorism as terrorism. Hell, FRANCE doesn't think Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorists (hey, they only kill Jews - that doesn't count). Maybe it has something to do with Iraq being the chair of the non-proliferation group, Syria heading up the security council, and Libya chairing the human rights group.

But the UN is the solution, they'll go along, and this is in no way wishful. Riiiiight.

Assume, however, that the USA had beaten the odds and done this. Now Osama is still in Afghanistan, and the Taliban still refuse to give them up (as they did at the time, and besides few governments recognozed them anyway). So now you have to go get him. Which means war in Afghanistan. Which was waged for that exact reason, backed by allies (including even the French), and which NATO is helping with afterward. Wes, your problem is... what, exactly?

"The UN was our organization - we helped conceive it, shape its values, and launch it. We're its major contributor."

Wes, that must be some really, really good s---t they gave you... yeah, good job, America, putting Libya in as chair of the human rights council. The UN is your organization all right, and certainly your values there on proud display. Loved that Durban pow-wow, too, really stuck it to those uppity kikes. David Duke was really impressed, I hear, and he's an American, right?

Oooooh, ooooh dream weaver.....

"f we had used NATO to launch the war on terrorism, we would have had the military, moral, political, and financial commitment of 19 nations - including Turkey.."

Refrsh my memory. This is the organization that wouldn't station patriot missiles in Turkey to defend it from Iraqi SCUDs pre-war? The one the RAND study said wasn't up to the job? The one that made a complete mess of Kosovo, and that some guy named Wes Clark spent so much time fighting with, while the French passed information to NATO's enemies the Serbs? The one that had many members refuse to commit any concrete help when the USA invoked the mutual defense clause post-9/11?

And of course, if we had just gone to NATO, the French would have stopped protecting their client Saddam Hussein, the way thy've been doing since the early 1980s and did with Bill Clinton in office.

It must be that special pixie dust, because I can't find any rational basis for this belief.

"We can work together to resolve our security challenges - the North Korean nuclear program and the nuclear program in Iran."

Well, that's f---n news to me, because I've yet to see ANYONE with a viable plan for North Korea, and I haven't the foggiest idea what Europe of all partners could do to solve it. Short of asking Latin America or Africa to help, I can't imagine a sillier choice. They're just not a player here.

This is magic wand waving at its worst.

As for Iran, all indications are that its nuclear program continues full steam ahead, and a regime that has openly threatened to use such weapons if it acquires them sees "diplomacy" as its way of buying time.

If that's the case, and one must always consider that it might be, what does Wes propose? More diplomacy (translation: shrug and surrender)? Does he have an idea? ANY idea? If he did I'd be very encouraged to hear it, because if George Bush does it's not obvious... and someone out there really ought to have one.

"It's obvious to me the limits of achieving our world-wide aims by relying exclusively on the military. Our military should be used to back international law and diplomacy - not replace them."

You mean, like enforcing 18 U.N. resolutions in Iraq? And remind me about the resolution that was passed approving the war Wes Clark commanded in Kosovo. You mean there wasn't one? Oh, well.

The most interesting thing about that statement is that serving the interests of America and protecting the United States are not what he sees as the primary purpose of the U.S. military. Which is kind of the key to the Democrats' problem. As A.L. noted in a previous article - hey Kofi, they're OUR troops.

One also wonders how those troops are expected to back that diplomacy when situations arise in which nations don't agree, or when the USA is threatened and the French, for instance, don't seem to care.

Assuming that won't happen - yeah, that's pretty wishful.

Look, war is always politics by other means. That hasn't changed. So what? What do you intend to do with those troops? We're stretched thin? Glad you noticed. How many extra divisions do you propose? "Back international diplomacy". OK, and... when does this mean you would actually use them? That's kind of an important issue. Especially since the war you commanded doesnlt seem to qualify.

I hear this stuff, and all I can think is: "There's nothing real here. He has no idea, and he's trying to sound like he's serious without saying anything of substance or committing to actual action."

Some people would call it wishing a problem away.

"We also have to confront the hatred spewing out of extremist religious schools in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. We have a right and a duty to challenge an extremist curriculum that would make those goals impossible. It cannot be dealt with militarily. It has to be done with diplomacy, and it ought to be backed by every nation in the world."

It ought to be. Think it will be? Dream on, and don't let us disturb your beauty rest with reality or anything. I'm sure the Arab League, Indonesia, and all the countries that are tied to them in the UN will get right on this. Probably some time right after Bill Clinton enters a monastery and swears a vow of lifelong celibacy.

Hey, I'm all for this as well. But the Saudis will never stop, and we can't take them out yet. Pakistan has to tread carefully, because too overt a confrontation would destabilize the country. A country with a substantial jihadi population, an intelligence service allied with al-Qaeda, and nukes waiting to fall into the wrong hands.

Oh yeah, that's the policy I want to follow. Let's make the madrassas the #1 public priority. And just think of the benefits for our ability to claim it isn't a war against Islam!

Wishing doesn't make it so, Wes. Hell, yes, get the madrassas I say. But if you're really serious, it's going to have to be a combination of many things. Diplomacy will get you only so far, and not very far at that. When (not if) it fails or falls short, then what? Then you're into options like assassinations of both Islamonazi madrassa leaders who preach hate and key people who contribute to them. The vacancies can then be filled by better people, or the cycle can repeat. You gonna do that?

What WILL you do when diplomacy fails, Wes? Dean? Kerry? Anyone? Because there never, EVER seems to be an answer for that.

And that empty hole in the Democrats' thinking and policy positions, so ably documented even by former Democratic speecwriters (do a google search for "Clinton speechwriter Washington War Torn"), is wishing real problems away at its worst.

Based on the speech you linked, Wes Clark isn't a change from that in any way. Which may be why A.L. iks so unhappy.

I don't believe the UN or our allies are so great, so you wasted a lot of angry hot air. In fact, they're generally craven and any assertion that they hold a moral high ground is easily rebutted.

Remember, Cato said that "the Democratic presidential candidates think they can wish the problem away."

The burden of proof on this statement was extremely low, and I think I met it. I'm not going to talk about any Democrat besides Clark, because if I can prove that one Democrat doesn't think he can wish the problem away, I win the argument. Cato's assertion is an "and statement."

Perhaps Cato meant that seaching for multilateral solutions is definition "wishing the problem away." I think it's just a different approach, and Clark genuinely believes multilaterism is the way to go. The frame that liberals "aren't serious" about terrorism because they disagree on how to tackle it is an attempt to discredit and freeze debate.

I think Clark was saying that we had a political opportunity after 9/11 to cut through the BS at the UN and get a legal foundation for everything we'd need to do vis-a-vis terrorism.

I agree that this certainly couldn't have been done before 9/11, given the intransigence of France and others.

What will Wes do when diplomacy fails? Same thing he did in the Balkans. Military force.

I don't know when Wes was Chief of Staff of anything.

[NATO] is the organization that wouldn't station patriot missiles in Turkey to defend it from Iraqi SCUDs pre-war.

Iraq wasn't about the war on terror. The war on terror provided the political cover for a pre-existing agenda.

As for Iran, all indications are that its nuclear program continues full steam ahead, and a regime that has openly threatened to use such weapons if it acquires them sees "diplomacy" as its way of buying time.

The lesson of the Iraq invasion and the North Korea non-invasion is that you better serious deterrence fast, or you're toast. And Iran does not speak with one voice--there are factions that want nukes and factions that don't. There are factions that hate us and factions that don't. The key is to work constructively with the good factions and stop the counterproductive demagoguery.

That said, I think we're generally doing the right things in North Korea. I think our leverage would be stronger if we didn't have 130,000 troops mired down in guerilla warfare in the Middle East. And they obviously have an incentive to go nuclear as fast as possible now.

I don't think getting UN backing for Kosovo was part of Clark's job description. Not fair to fault him for that. By all accounts, he did a good job working with NATO allies during the war.

But the Saudis will never stop, and we can't take them out yet.

I can't support that yet.

And just think of the benefits for our ability to claim it isn't a war against Islam!

It's a propaganda effort against fundamentalist Islam, I suppose.
----
The basic disagreement here, though, is that some people think it's a hell of lot easier to use military force after a credible diplomatic effort has been made than it is to make a diplomatic effort after a unilateral military action. Just ask Colin Powell.

Drug lords are not barbarians:

1. They are a creation of government enforced prohibitions

2. They are businessmen and women supplying a market demand that no one else is willing to address.

They in fact are the product of civilization.

Barbarians on the other hand offer us nothing. All they want to do is take.

If we strip the Saudis of potential allies first, we can probably take them with a phone call. The Saudi armed forces have nice toys, but they can't maintain them without foreign help, their AWACS planes depend on foreign crews, and their fighter pilots have about as much discipline as a cub scout troop. Saudi Arabia should be saved for last, and stringing them along, while we strip them of allies (and cut back on spare parts sales for their American hardware), is almost poetic justice for the way they pretended to be our friends while they funded Al-Qaeda.

True, but as I said, they would only present a credible threat if they got their act together. Though you never know when France or the like will start bringing the Kingdom's military up to par...

Joshua, the Iraqis made a pretty good showing against the Iranians (Iran is a good bit larger, after all). You're right that the Iraqi Army wouldn't be eager to die fighting us, but compared to their neighbors, they weren't that bad. The Saudis certainly couldn't have stopped them without help. The Syrians would have found them pretty tough, too, in part because the Syrians have Israel on their border (two-front war, ewwww). Our choice had to be either Iraq or Iran, and the diplomacy and geography made Iraq the obvious choice.

While it's true that during the 1980s Saddam's military was quite impressive, it was devastated during the Gulf War and degraded extensively by the US imposed sanctions. Iraq was only able to smuggle in a handful of spare parts (mostly from France and Russia), and its military had fallen into a state of disrepair. As it was, Saddam was only able to muster a small portion of his total assets, and even then the lack of a coordinated immobile AA (i.e. air defense) grid allowed US aircraft to simply hover around the battlefield, plinking tanks and knocking out hundreds of military installations.

Iran, on the other hand, presents some problems. It has also fallen into something of a state of disrepair, but is not nearly as bad as Iraq. Their military, not depleted or devastated by a war like DS, is still fairly potent. In addition, they have some decent tactical air platforms, and a much more effective AD grid. Toss in their well designed and implemented defensive posture, plus the very serious geography problem, and Iran becomes a very expensive target to hit.

Not to mention the fact that it's much more cost effective to supporting the burgeoning revolutionary movement (most experts agree that Iran is highly unstable, and may collapse soon). Military solutions are not always the best solutions - their high costs (both monetary and political) make them as last resort, and far from desirable. The United States should support the insurgents and give them a chance to overthrow the theocracy before we invade.

M. Simon has to be kidding about the settlements. The implication is that all of the land outside the 42% of the lands in the territories owned in freehold by Arabs is available for the development of settlements. In other words, for the usufruct of the Jews. Now, this does appear to be Sharon's policy: the next time you see a map of the Gaza Strip, contemplate how the "Israeli settlement" portion, about 15% of the area, is for settlers who comprise 0.5% (yes, that's a decimal point) of Gaza's population.

The only way this land use pattern can be perpetuated is, of course, by keeping the non-citizen Arabs in a state of perpetual helotry. So basically, they are completely deprived of any political methods to oppose encroachments. Instead of the liberals' wall built around the Green Line and immediately adjacent settlements, Sharon is building a sinuous fractal curve, deep in the territories, establishing a Ghetto Line to which the Arabs will be confined.

As to the claim that Arab lands are never expropriated, this is simply incorrect. The settlement is usually (not always!) built on state land, that is, land that belonged to the Jordanian Government and which the Palestinians might expect be developed for their benefit, but then the special bypass roads are built across expropriated land (this way, the actual number of dunams expropriated can be minimized). Then a security zone can be established on Arab lands surrounding the settlement boundary and its roads, either formally by the IDF, or informally by settler vigilantes. (Incidentally, I believe the entire settlement of Maaleh Adumim, now a 20,000 strong suburb of Jerusalem, was built on expropriated Bedouin lands, originally under the pretext of a camp for highway workers. The falsehoods needed to effectuate the settlement process are another point in its disfavor.)

The settlement program is a military, moral, and economic disaster. One overlooked aspect of the reviled Oslo agreements is it provided a structure for both sides to climb down from positions that made any sort of peace, even a cold one, impossible. Although only one side continued a program of terrorism, neither made this essential commitment to peace.

I'm going to comment on the original thread about the Democrats and national security in a separate comment.

Reading the comments, I would think the Democratic Party is comprised of Barbara Lee (with her singular, terribly misguided vote against the Afghan War) and Dennis Kucinich (bring the troops home now).

I don't believe this is the case. As best as I can tell, most of the Democratic candidates subscribe to AL's points except insofar as (1) I haven't heard any discussions about the size of the army and this is an area in which even by blog standards I'm not competent to speak and (2) the Israeli settlement issue, where both American parties feel compelled to apply pressure to Sharon very much in private. I absolutely do hear these candidates say we will stay in Afghanistan and Iraq, although under a different structure (more UN role) than now. To the extent we can use the UN or NATO to emphasize that it is not America-vs-the-World, the better. Since the Bush strategy towards our allies can be summed up as "Don't applaud, just throw money," I think the point goes to the Dems on this one.

So let's ask ourselves: has GWB pursued the clash of civilizations in a productive and sensible way. I submit the answer is no, and moreover there is little reason to think that he will in the future.

Calpundit was wrong to use the word "shtik", but he was right in identifying the Iraq War as poor tactics in the war against Islamic terrorism. On those grounds, one could make a case for invasion of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but not Iraq: Saddam's terror was confined to his own miserable populace. Let's not insult each other's intelligence by pretending that a vial of harmless botulin B is a WMD. The Iraq War appears to me to have arisen from

(1) domestic political needs to fracture the Democratic Party, which as we see from this very thread was a tremendous success;

(2) a totally-mistaken view that both the war and the occupation would be short and easy (MANY links on demand, would you believe the Director of USAID claimed the American share of reconstruction would amount $1.7Bn?), and would lead to the establishmnent of an Iraq that was not only non-terrorist but also pro-American. Convicted con-man Ahmed Chalabi even persuaded the Administration he could lead an Iraq that wasn't anti-Israel!

I really wonder why supporters of the Iraq War don't at least admit to the mendacity and incompetence shown in the pre-war run-up.

The point of disagreement that I appear to have with A.L. is he does see the Iraq War—as actually conducted by GWB—as a useful and correct part of the war against Islamic terror. I'd appreciate it if otherwise-liberal posters can explain this to me. As best as I can tell, the sort of classical war followed by a difficult occupation is fighting on the terrorists' turf and to their strengths and not to ours.

Oddly enough, USAID has removed the transcript where Director Natsios told Ted Koppel the reconstruction of Iraq would cost US taxpayers only $1.7Bn. My link above is broken.

Google cached version.

Would you GWB defenders like to comment on this amnesia? Lack of hard drive space?

Lucas writes:
"When the Bush administration turns its attention to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, ... then I will become convinced that Bush honestly has stamping out terrorism at heart."

When a Democrat starts criticizing Bush for being to soft on the above, I will start to take them seriously on foreign policy. The issue is not how bad Bush is, it's that the Dems are all worse.

Andrew: I'm hardly a liberal, but the Iraq war was a smart policy decision. I have written about this before, so let me simply provide a few links.

First, a general post of mine on the benefits and detriments of the war (it is slightly outdated).

Add to the benefits the flypaper theory (hundreds to thousands of terrorists are flocking to Iraq to be slaughtered). In addition, note that democracy in Iraq would be devastating to Al Qaeda - even Osama Bin Laden's mentor says it is the most dangerous threat to the organization.

I wanted a fellow liberal, Joshua, because I think it would help to have someone who started from more of my own assumptions than you do. I read, very carefully, Thomas Friedman, who supported the war. I like to point out, though, that he very honestly called it a war of choice, and castigated the Bushies for calling it a war of necessity (with all the bogus terrifying threats of nuclear Saddam).

More recently, Friedman seemed to me to be very worried that Bush was going to screw up the possibilities for Iraqi democracy, given Bush's general track record. Why, I'm wondering, did America's best mainstream writer on Israel not realize in advance that this would happen? I think the liberal view, as opposed to Bush's (and your?) eschatological moral view, recognized that we can't magically right the entire world at once, and the horribly evil but impotent Saddam was one of the problems to which we could offer only incremental solutions.

I also wonder why there's so little recognition that (a) a formally democratic Iraq would probably still be anti-American and would definitely be anti-Israel (I dare say a free Iraq Parliament might re-authorize the Palestinian suicide bomber dishonorarium!) and (b) if a democratic exemplar was so useful, why didn't we see if, say, the King of Jordan, Western-educated, more literate in English than Arabic, wouldn't just let us set up our Peace Corps writ large program in Amman without the messy Iraq war and very messy occupation as side orders?

I think the liberal view, as opposed to Bush's (and your?) eschatological moral view, recognized that we can't magically right the entire world at once, and the horribly evil but impotent Saddam was one of the problems to which we could offer only incremental solutions.

Although I generally subscribe to the theory that leftists (and conservatives, to some extent) advocate idealism when it does not coincide with reality, I do not wish the debate that. Instead, let me note that not only do I endorse realism (utilitarianism if you will), but I am not even religious.

I also wonder why there's so little recognition that (a) a formally democratic Iraq would probably still be anti-American and would definitely be anti-Israel (I dare say a free Iraq Parliament might re-authorize the Palestinian suicide bomber dishonorarium!)

If Iraq becomes democratic and capitalist, then it is likely that freedom and prosperity will follow. I'd like to think that this will lead to a more progressive and peaceful society, that is friendly to America, and perhaps even to Israel. However, if it doesn't, the lessons learned from democratizing it will lead to a better plan next time the US invades a Arab nation.

But still - even if the populace becomes very anti-American - US troops will be stationed there for a reason. ;-)

Praktike, the multilateralist, go to the UN approach has a fatal flaw, and one so obvious that anyone who seriously advocates it is either on drugs, trying to wish the problem away, or suffers from terminal Clue Deficit Syndrome. That flaw is the French veto. France has been anti-American since long before 9/11, and has made herself the diplomatic protector of any and every anti-American entity on the planet. France would never have done shit for us, nor would she have approved of any American military action against anyone. That is the logical flaw in all the Democratic candidates' (not just Clark's) positions. Their (including Clark's) adamant refusal to countenance military action without French permission is proof that they're wishing, or dreaming, or on drugs, or just plain nuts. Whichever explanation you prefer for their silliness, they're not in touch with reality.

If you want to claim you've proved Clark isn't wishing the problem away, knock yourself out. But what is his problem? Dreaming? Drugs? Insanity? Has his candidacy made him so poisonously partisan that he can't admit President Bush might have been right about anything? Clark's clearly not in touch with reality. What's your excuse for his idiotic proposals?

Joshua, I'll readily agree that I'd prefer to see the Iranian people deal with the Mullahs. It's one reason I supported the Iraq First strategy. If, OTOH, we decide we do need to smack the Mullahs ourselves (or the Syrians), the Iraqi occupation gives us a plausibly deniable mechanism to build up an invasion force — troop rotation. We can rotate our light troops out of Iraq, replacing them with a couple of heavy divisions, and when the time comes, the light troops and Air Force assets can be flown back to Iraq in a week or two.

Your point about the post-Gulf War degradation of the Iraqi Army is well taken, but the other criteria I used, relative diplomatic influence, clearly favored Iraq First. We actually got enthusiastic support from Kuwait and Qatar. We would have faced united Arab/Muslim opposition to any target other than Iraq. Finally, there's the geographic argument for Iraq First. Occupying Iraq positions our forces to strike any of our other enemies in the region. No other country in the Gulf region makes as flexible a staging area.

Andrew, the fatal weakness of the Democrats' war on terror strategy is their willingness to make U.S. security concerns hostage to a French UN veto. The French are not our friends, and they're not our allies. They haven't been, since de Gaulle's day.

"I absolutely do hear these candidates say we will stay in Afghanistan and Iraq, although under a different structure (more UN role) than now. To the extent we can use the UN or NATO to emphasize that it is not America-vs-the-World, the better." The Democratic candidates would turn control of Iraq and Afghanistan over to the UN, which would ensure the failure of every American objective in the region. Giving control to the UN won't reduce the burden on America, because the UN won't contribute anything constructive. It will just subject every decision to French veto. The only thing to be said for UN control in Iraq is that when (not if) the UN bails out of Iraq, it will give a Democratic president and excuse to "bring the troops home". That's the essence of what I've been calling Kucinich-lite — using the UN and other multilateralist considerations as excuses to do what Kucinich would do — bring the troops home and wait for the Islamonazis to pull another 9/11.

Heck, last week's suicide bombings have just about run the UN out of Iraq. Depending on the UN in any situation requiring courage or integrity or even sanity is just plain nuts.

The French don't want a free and prosperous Iraq. They want Saddam back. Saddam was a bastard, but he was France's bastard.

Andrew, I haven't seen any liberals take up your challenge to explain the Iraq occupation, so I'll give it a shot (I'm actually pretty liberal on most social issues, it's only on tax policy and security matters that I swing to the right).

War, like politics, is the art of the possible. It would be nice, if there were some genetic marker that would positively identify terrorists, and a virus could be tailored to attack and kill only terrorists, but there isn't. You either have to go looking for them, or sit back and let them come looking for you. If you choose to go after the terrorists, the next question is where do you go? Trying to carpet Afghanistan with American troops wouldn't have been very cost-effective. That leaves about four or five countries that have well-documented ties to terrorist groups. That list includes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Libya. Let's look at each choice.

Libya really isn't really much of a player in international terrorism, anymore. Is there any other reason to smack Libya? Not really. Their location isn't particularly useful, strategically, and their relations with the rest of the Arab/Muslim world are good enough that we'd make more enemies than Libya's worth.

Iran is a major player in international terrorism, they border on Afghanistan, and we have a bad history with the Mullahs. The downside of invading Iran is that no one in the region would support us. We'd either have to make an amphibious landing along the Gulf coast, or try to stage an invasion force from Afghanistan. Pakistan probably wouldn't cooperate with our use of Afghanistan to attack another Muslim country. Throw in the possibility that, given time, the Iranian people might smack the Mullahs themselves, and Iran First would be a really bad choice.

Syria is a major terrorist supporter, and taking them out would certainly help the Israelis. But Turkey wouldn't let us invade Syria from their territory, which would pretty much force us to invade via Israel. Short of nuking Mecca, I can't think of much of anything that would set off the Arab/Muslim world worse than an American-Israeli invasion of an Arab country.

Saudi Arabia is the jackpot, the ideological and financial heart of the Islamonazi movement. Their military is pathetically weak, and securing control of the Saudis' oil reserves prevents any effective oil embargo. So why not go after them first? Doing so would unite the entire Muslim world against us. Hell, bin Laden and Co. didn't even like American troops defending Saudi Arabia. We need to take the Saudis down, but not first, never first.

That brings us to Iraq. Iraq was a significant terror sponsor, with ties to Hamas and Ansar al-Islam, an Al-Qaeda affiliate. Removing Saddam would permit the lifting of UN sanctions. This would improve the lives of the Iraqi people and it would bring Iraq's oil back into the market. The resulting drop in oil prices would reduce the amount of money Iran and Saudi Arabia could spend on terrorism. Occupying Iraq positions American forces to strike at Syria without involving Israel, to strike at Iran by land, with a possible second front from Afghanistan, and to immediately cut off any land access to Saudi Arabia, when we decide to settle accounts with them. The strategic flexibility that we get by occupying Iraq is immense. We can strike at any of our remaining enemies in the region, or pressure them to clean up their act. And best of all, we can deal with them in whatever order future events dictate. On the diplomatic/political front, Saddam was hated and feared by his neighbors. We had enthusiastic support from Kuwait and Qatar, and the rest of the Arab world was willing to tolerate our removal of Saddam. Also, if we're successful in rebuilding Iraq as a prosperous democracy (admittedly a difficult job), we put tremendous political pressure on the other countries in the region.

Of course, there is an alternative to military operations against terror sponsoring countries. We could try to fortify America against terrorist attacks and put the CIA back in the assassination business. The cost is civil liberties would be immense. If you don't like the Patriot Act, you'll really hate what we'd have to do to secure our homeland. We'd effectively have to fortify our borders with Mexico and Canada. We'd have to establish offshore customs inspection stations for all ships entering American waters. We'd have to ban all incoming flights from any country that didn't give us full cooperation, and let the Air Force shoot down any unauthorized aircraft entering American airspace. We might have to amend the Constitution to permit the necessary surveillance and other restrictions on Muslim immigrants and mosques.

I'm not willing to invite another 9/11 attack, and I'm not willing to turn America into a besieged fortress, at least not if we can fight the war on someone else's real estate. And since I'd rather fight the war on Arab lands, Iraq is the logical choice.

Riyadh delenda est!

Cato:

Libya really isn't really much of a player in international terrorism, anymore. Is there any other reason to smack Libya? Not really. Their location isn't particularly useful, strategically, and their relations with the rest of the Arab/Muslim world are good enough that we'd make more enemies than Libya's worth.

Just as an addition (to support Cato's point that the US shouldn't attack Libya), let me link to a brief editorial I wrote on the issue.

Cato provides a good example of the sort of eschatology I was condemning. We're going to maintain bases in "democratic" Iraq? To use as a potential staging ground for invasions of Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia?

Well, at least it's more honest than virtual WMDs and crocodile tears over Iraqi dissidents, but I don't see it working out. I don't know what the stateless Al Qaeda terrorists are planning next, but I do know that this is a great recruitment tool for them, and it won't deter them or impinge on their tactical capabilities.

>Trent, part of my view is that I don't consider
>losing a city or two "winning." I call
>it "losing less than the other guy."

FH,

You have just given the text book definition of “Pyrrhic Victory.”

Joe K,

My personal nightmare scenario for "incrementalism on the road to hell" involves a nuclear terrorist attack on D.C. during the State of the Union Address some time after a Pakistani coup/civil war.

>I fundamentally disagree.
>
>Civilization is about cities and citizenship.
>Great civilizations produce great cities, and
>citizens with peculiar virtues. (All flavors of
>good are not the same.) Barbarism does not
>produce cities and citizens of great note, and
>in ascendancy, it destroys them.

David,

You assume that civilizations cannot breed barbarians in their guts. Germany's experience with the Nazi movement shows that is in fact the case.

Barbarians don't see people other than their "tribe" as real. They are objects to be used. That is why barbarians are so atrocity prone. The really scary thing about the modern barbarian that civilization has spawned is the flipping fantasy ideology death cults they follow that justify mass, industrial scale, atrocity as a positive good.

Now it is the Muslim civilization's turn. And they have far less in the way of anti-bodies due to the underlying tribal nature of Islam and 500 years of Muslim civilization's stagnation, defeat and despair.

And the barbarians are picking on the only nation on the face of the planet to use nuclear weapons in deadly earnest.

Cato, you said:


Praktike, the multilateralist, go to the UN approach has a fatal flaw, and one so obvious that anyone who seriously advocates it is either on drugs, trying to wish the problem away, or suffers from terminal Clue Deficit Syndrome.

I said:
"I don't believe the UN or our allies are so great, so you wasted a lot of angry hot air. In fact, they're generally craven and any assertion that they hold a moral high ground is easily rebutted."

"The basic disagreement here, though, is that some people think it's a hell of lot easier to use military force after a credible diplomatic effort has been made than it is to make a diplomatic effort after a unilateral military action. Just ask Colin Powell."

Please address my actual argument.

Thanks.

Andrew, you may not realize it, but we maintain military bases in a number of "democratic" countries. They don't all love us, but they like us better than the alternatives. The Shi'ite majority in Iraq probably doesn't like us, but they'd much rather have us around, than Saddam.

It never ceases to amaze me, how so many Democrats must hate this country and its soldiers so much. They seem to think that American soldiers are Minions of the Antichrist (assuming they believe in the Antichrist). They act as if the most horrible thing that could possibly befall a country is to have American soldiers stationed there. American soldiers helped preserve the peace of western Europe and prevent it from being overrun by Soviet Communism (I guess that's why the Left thinks American soldiers serve the Antichrist). Over 36,000 American soldiers died preventing South Korea from becoming just as f**ked up as North Korea is (oops, more evidence of the Antichrist at work). "America bad. America's enemies good. American soldiers worst." seems to be the watchwords of the Left.

If U.S. forces are a magnet for Islamonazi jihadis, at least the jihadis are attacking armed and trained soldiers, not airline flight attendents and office buildings. It may sound callous, but part of a soldier's job is to let people shoot at him, instead of his country's civilians.

Al-Qaeda and the rest of the Islamonazi groups need government assistance to pull off anything bigger than the occaisional truck bombing. If we can remove their governmental sponsors, or at least frighten them into withdrawing their support, we seriously weaken the Islamonazi cause.

It's possible that 100,000+ American troops on their border may be enough to make the Syrian, Iranian, and Saudi governments more cooperative, without requiring an actual invasion. If the Iranian people rise up against the Mullahs, an American military presence on their border might discourage the Iranian Army from firing on their own people, particularly if the American government warns them that we will consider it a war crime, if they do. Al Capone said that you can accomplish more with a kind word and a gun, than you can with a kind word alone. In international relations, you can accomplish more with a kind word and an army, than you can with a kind word alone.

Riyadh delenda est!

Praktike, your argument, as I understood it, is that President Bush has not shown sufficient deference to the wishes of certain pseudo-allies. President Bush repeatedly sought approval and assistance from both NATO and the UN. I don't know how much more time you expected him to spend trying to get the French and Belgians on board, but summer was approaching, and no sane person wants to fight in an Iraqi summer wearing chemical protection gear. If we'd waited much longer, we'd have had to wait until fall, with our deployed troops exposed to possible chemical attacks, terrorist attacks (we had a few of them, anyway), Saddam trashing his oil fields, and spoiling attacks by Saddam, just to name a few of the extra risks.

There is a militarily optimum time to launch any operation. Starting before or after that date costs additional casualties, property loss, or both. How many more casualties, how much more property loss, should we have accepted just to get Jacko Chirac's blessing? Dean and Clark seem to think we should "pay any price, bear any burden", if only France will lend us their "moral" support. How far the Democrats have fallen.

Riyadh delenda est!

Cato,

It was obvious to our allies that we had already decided on the policy. Meanwhile, the administration was badmouthing the UN and our allies left and right. As such, our negotiations were poisoned from the start, so I think Iraq is a bad example.

The UN and NATO need reform; I don't believe they should be destroyed in a fit of pique. These alliances were helpful during the Cold War, but, like the American military, need to be retooled to meet new challenges.

And, by the way, since there was no imminent threat, it shouldn't have mattered to wait a while longer.

While I'd like to see the addition of another 1-2 divisions, this article says the Army under Rumsfeld/Schoomaker is trying to deal as best they can with the manpower they have by spreading the numbers over more brigades & training up the supply units to be better riflemen. It could take a while to implement, but at least they're trying to adapt to the needs of the current war.

Praktike, you can't keep troops deployed at war-fighting readiness levels indefinitely. A sizable number of the troops involved in the Iraq War were reservists. Extended deployment was an extra heavy burden on them, their families, and their civilian employers.

It costs serious money to move that many troops and provide logistical support in the field for an extended period. Overseas deployments disrupt training and maintenance cycles. Desert deployments are especially hard on equipment (damn sand gets into everything).

And those factors don't consider possibilities like terrorist attacks against our troops, spoiling attacks by Saddam's forces, the possibility that Saddam would wake up one morning, and say, "F**k it, I'm toast, anyway. I think I'll see how much of the country I can trash before they get me."

In short, it does matter, when you make deployed troops wait for extended periods. It increases both economic and human costs, it lowers readiness levels, and it exposes the troops to additional risks.

Had there been any real hope that a diplomatic solution would be found, the wait might have been worthwhile. But France was determined to block UN approval of force, and Saddam wasn't going to cooperate, so it really didn't matter whether the Security Council voted 8-7 our way or we waited and got a 14-1 vote our way, as long as there was a French veto. There wasn't enough to be gained, IMO, to justify the additional costs and risks.

NATO may be salvagable. It has a few procedural backdoors that we can use to bypass French obstructionism. The UN, OTOH, is hosed. It's like an old, sick dog, with severe arthritis and no teeth left. The kindest thing to do with the poor beastie, is put it out of our misery.

Riyadh delenda est!

Not bad for a bunch a pinkos...

All kidding aside, except for the asshole talking about "brown-shirted chickenhawks", this is an excellent debate. Someone print it up and send it to every leading Democrat.

The vital thing the Democrats need is a clear and forceful plan on the war - we do actually need a viable Democratic Party (as long as you keep losing, that is , just not quite so badly); Dean, however, is going to take you over a cliff next year - but you've got some good rebuilding stuff going on here.

As for this radical-right wing fanatic religious nut oppressor of the masses/rapist of the environment, my main beef these days is that President Bush isn't being quite rough enough with our enemies - especially the Baathists running about the Sunni Triangle; time for the gloves to come off just a bit - these people do understand very well the mailed fist; it should never be our first option, but as we've gone through about a dozen of the options vis a vis the Sunni's, its time to explain some things to them vis a vis who is in charge.

tagryn,

It has long been true that American armies have too much administrative tail and not enough front-line tooth. Its a stark fact that we mobilised 12 million men in WWII, and only a million of them saw combat; in Vietnam, 90% of the troops deployed never saw anything in the way of real combat. A 20,000 man US infantry division probably has a front-line rifle strength of somewhere around 12,000.

Rumsfeld has his work cut out for him with hidebound generals and sundry critics - but we probably can do with a military no larger than it is now, if the manpower is better utilized; the Navy, too, is way overstaffed.

Cato, I respect your passion. I don't think we're going to convince one another here, since I think the sanctions/inspections worked, and you don't.

We do agree on this point:

In short, it does matter, when you make deployed troops wait for extended periods. It increases both economic and human costs, it lowers readiness levels, and it exposes the troops to additional risks.

Regarding the UN and the French, I liken our role to that of a parent whose child is trying to sabotoge the family--we've got to be the mature adult. Massage their feelings of self-importance, make them feel included, but let them know, firmly but respectfully, that we're the daddy.

This has been fascinating reading. Long Live the Blogosphere!!

I totally support the rights of the Israelis, have many Jewish friends etc. etc. but can someone here explain to me how Zionism is NOT Racist?? I'd really appreciate being enlightened here.

I ask this in response to someone up there who used that particular UN resolution as an example of how daft that org. is (and, I agree, it is).

Thanks, Matt

Interesting.

Actually there is an emerging technology based on HDR Geothermal technology. HDR is Hot Dry Rock. In most current Geothermal power plant they rely on underground springs or pools of extremely hot water in order to operate.

HDR instead is focused on drilling down to where the surrounding rock is extremely hot and then instituting a two stage system of power generation. A fluid, distilled water usually, is pumped through pipes located in the hot rock. This pressurized hot water is then routed through a heat exchanger which then runs a turbine.

The nice part of this system is that it can be placed almost anywhere. The only restriction is that you have to drill down to where the hot rocks are. Perhaps 4km+

ed

Praktike, sanctions/inspections might have worked, but the costs were enormous. What little cooperation Saddam gave Blix and Co. was due to the American military deployemnt, whose costs and risks, I've already discussed. Another "cost" of the sanctions regime was the immense suffering it imposed on the Iraqi people. UN estimates claimed that sanctions were responsible for 5,000 child deaths (0-5 yr) per month.

Ending the sanctions by removing Saddam was not unlike a gigantic hostage rescue operation. Such operations involve weighing the risks associated with the rescue operation against the risks of continued negotiations. If the hostage takers are shooting a hostage every 10 minutes, you'd have to lose a lot of hostages for a raid to have been a bad choice. 5,000 sanctions-related deaths per month works out to about 1 death every eight minutes. If the UN estimates were accurate, we've already passed the break-even point, and every day, more than 150 Iraqi children who would have died under the sanctions regime live and have a chance to grow up and have children of their own.

Could we have simply ended the sanctions? Yes, but that would have freed Saddam to rebuild his WMD stockpiles. Postwar evidence shows that Saddam had maintained at least rudimentary WMD programs. If freed of the sanctions, he could have probably rebuilt both his conventional and WMD capabilities pretty quickly. France would certainly have sold him whatever he wanted, and with the restrictions on oil sales lifted, he could have paid for a pretty impressive force (at least by regional standards).

Sometimes the costs of inaction outweigh the costs of action. Europe either doesn't get this, or doesn't care. Neither, apparently, does a sizable segment of the American Left (and a smaller segment of the Right).

Riyadh delenda est!

"First, Kevin (and Matt) it's not a schtick, it's a movement."

Yes. I'd classify it as a "bowel movement."

If this is a "war of civilizations," backing Bush as your general in that fight is insanely stupid.

I actually agree with the premise.

I disagree as to the tactics and strategy.

In fact, I think that the tactics and strategy you are advocating are going to get more and more Americans killed, and less and less terrorists suppressed.

I actually want to WIN this war.

That's why I'm going to work like hell to get Buhs' incompetent ass out of office next year.

Even if he manages to win the election, I think it will backfire on the GOP, and they will get clobbered in the 2006 off-year elections. probably losing the Seante, and maybe even the house.

"Riyadh delenda est!"

See my blog entry on the Roman genocide of the Carthaginians for an appropriate response to that idiocy.

Matt, the glib answer is that Judaism is a religion, not a race, and that just about every race has at least a few Jews. A good part of the problem is that a lot of bigots, most notably Hitler, didn't want to acknowledge that they could possibly belong to the same race as "The Jews". Hitler didn't invent this kind of sloppy thinking about race, but he took it to previously undreamed of heights.

I suppose that one could make the case that Zionism is a form of religious separatism, and therefore is a form of bigotry, but bigotry is generally considered to be an irrational dislike/distrust of others based on race, religion, etc. Even a cursory examination of the treatment that Jews have received from the rest of the world indicates that Jews aren't being paranoid, the world really is out to get them. 2000 years of economic discrimmination, pogroms, and attempted genocide against my people would make me want to find a place of my own, too.

Unfortunately for the Jews, their new "homeland" is surrounded by some of the most bigoted, envious, and incompetent (fortunately) excuse-mongers on the face of the planet. The other Arabs could have absorbed the "Palestinian" refugees and given them normal, productive lives 30 years ago, and there wouldn't be a "Middle East Problem". But the Arabs are a tribal culture, and they've been unwilling to accept even Arabs from other tribes. They'd rather blame their problems on "The Jews" (and the Americans).

Their excuse-mongering, blame-shifting, and demonization has included the claim that "Zionism is racist". Unfortunately, due in part to Hitler's corruption of the language of race, some otherwise intelligent people buy into the claim.

Riyadh delenda est!

If we're still talking about settlements, I think you're correct AL. They are bad policy. However, dismantling them and stopping new ones from being constructed would accomplish very little in terms of the more global war that I believe we are, de facto, already in. It might slightly mollify some liberals in Israel, Europe, and the United States, but that's about all it would do. The more fundamental problem is that vast numbers of Muslims the world over, as well as a large portion of the European far left and far right, and a smaller but growing portion of the American far left and far right, simply hate Israel in and of itself, and don't recognize its right to exist. Mahatir Mohammed's speech, for instance, didn't mention settlers once. I wonder if the concept of "settlers" is even meanignful to him or to his applauding audience. If you believe that no Jews should be in Israel that you would think that they are all illegal settlers. Dismantling the settlements is only a meaningful concession for a fair-minded critic of Israel. That's not the kind of person that we or Israel are fighting really.

Hesiod, did Rome have any further problems from Carthage? It's an unfortunate historical fact that some peoples fail to recognize when their enemies outclass them. The Arabs/Muslims have repeatedly demonstrated this tendency vis a vis the Israelis.

Now they've come after the West, in general, and America, in particular. It's not the first time Muslims have tried to conquer or destroy the West. Moorish armies conquered modern Spain and Portugal and were stopped near Tours, in modern France. The Turks attempted an amphibious invasion of Italy, but were stopped at Lepanto. Turkish armies besieged Vienna.

The Islamonazis are driven in part by a belief that Allah will eventually give them victory. I fear that the only way to shake them out of their delusions is to give them the same sort of wake-up call that Rome gave Carthage, and the U.S. Army Air Corps gave Germany and Japan.

Saudi Arabia is the economic and ideological center of the Islamonazis. "Destroying" Riyadh, at least economically, strikes at the heart of their power. I've blogged before that depriving the Arabs of their oil wealth would probably eliminate their ability to fund large-scale terrorist operations. It would certainly end the threat of Arab WMD. WMD programs and large-scale terrorist ops are expensive.

In view of the persistent Muslim practice of deliberately targeting civilians, I don't have a particular ethical problem with us responding in kind. It's been said that you will reap what you sow. Well, the Islamonazis have sown the wind, and they have no moral standing to bitch, when they reap the whirlwind. Regarding the "innocent" Arabs/Muslims, anyone who aids the Islamonazi cause, either by commission or omission, is culpable in their crimes. I've seen and heard a lot of support for (and almost no opposition to) the Islamonazi cause, in the Muslim world. In my opinion, there aren't a lot of "innocent" Muslims, at least not in the Arab countries.

Genocide is distasteful, no civilized person wants to even think about it. But if we do not "destroy" Riyadh, at least economically, we may have to practice it, in self-defense.

Riyadh delenda est!

Yes. I'd classify it as a "bowel movement."

Hesiod, having read your blog once or twice (one can only stand so much idiocy at one time), I must concede that you're an expert on "bowel movements". Indeed, few sites on the web can claim a collection of crap as amazing as your site has.

If Johnny Cochran were to describe Hesiod, he'd probably say something like, "When it comes to flame, he's really lame."

Riyadh delenda est!

For those who wonder where the WMD might be, here is a possible answer:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A55022-2003Nov2?language=printer

Also talks about how France and Russia almost certainly guaranteed the war, among other things.

Cato, if you think this is going to cost less than sanctions, you're deluded.

If this is a "war of civilizations," backing Bush as your general in that fight is insanely stupid.

Hesiod, I know you're really into the "Bush is a moron" meme, but wars of civilizations are not decided by which side has the most "civilized" leadership. If they were, we'd still win, because we don't target enemy civilians by choice, which is a step up from the Islamonazis, who prefer civilian targets, because they're too incompetent to do much damage to trained soldiers.

Wars of civilizations are won by killing so many of the enemy that the survivors give up. The death toll can be so high, in some cases, that it seems like genocide. The questions a civilization engaged in such a war must answer are:
  • Is our civilization worth saving?
  • Are we able (and willing) to slaughter enough of the enemy to make the survivors give up?
  • How much slaughter is enough?
The answer to the first question is an unqualified yes. Western Civilization has its faults, but it has created more freedom and more prosperity than any other civilization in history. The freedom of thought and inquiry found in the West has cured plagues, extended the human life expectancy, and allowed ideas to be transmitted from one "end of the earth" to another, almost instantaneously. We've fed millions of starving "outsiders", with little more than the crumbs from our table, and our ability to track dangerous storms has saved countless more lives, around the world. No other civilization is as tolerant, even celebratory, of diversity of thought, religion, and culture (Hesiod excepted). People of all races, and both sexes, enjoy more freedom and opportunity under Western Civilization than they do anywhere else in the world.

Our enemies hate us because we are everything they are not. We are free — they despise freedom, prizing submission to Allah, instead. We are prosperous — they produce nothing of value but oil, which they did not create, and could not collect, without Western help. Western women are free to learn and grow and participate fully in the world around them. — their women are locked away, denied education, and generally abused. They claim they produce a more "virtuous" citizenry, but true virtue does not come from legal compulsion, it comes from personal recognition of right and wrong and the choice of good over evil. If we let them destroy us, the world will suffer another Dark Age. We have not only a right, but a duty to preserve our heritage.

Regarding the second question, we are certainly able to kill enough Muslims to make Islamic Civilization non-viable. The question is whether we are willing to do so. For me, the answer is yes, if necessary. My belief in the value of my civilization and culture is such that I cannot refuse to do what I must, to protect it.

There really isn't much room for honest debate of the first two questions, at least, among Westerners. Where the discussion does get interesting, is the third question, "How much slaughter is enough?" Can we devise a strategy that will defeat the Islamonazis without wholesale slaughter of other Muslims?

I believe we can, and that President Bush's strategy thus far is a good start. We have removed two governments that gave aid to the Islamonazis. We are trying to rebuild these countries in a manner that will make them freer and more tolerant of others, which will undercut their support for the Islamonazis. Our armed forces have secured a base (Iraq) that geographically divides the remaining enemy nations. We can either pressure them diplomatically, or defeat them militarily, as events dictate. If we can succeed in rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan as free and prosperous nations, their success will create enormous pressure on our remaining enemies. Freedom and Islamonazism are incompatible. I believe that if we can establish freedom among the nations of the Middle East, popular and governmental support for the Islamonazi cause will diminish to the point that the Islamonazi remnants can be treated as a law enforcement, not a military problem.

Success in rebuilding Iraq is the key to this strategy. Partisan attacks on President Bush are not helpful, nor are suggestions that we abandon Iraq to the tender mercies of the UN. The Iraqi people need to believe that we will finish the job we've started. Partisan attacks that raise doubt as to whether we will stay the course undermine Iraqi trust, and give aid to our enemies.

If we fail to undercut the Islamonazi support base, we may be forced to revert to the traditional methods of civilizational warfare — mass slaughter and destruction. The best hope I can see of victory without slaughter is the strategy that President Bush has followed. That's why I support the President's policies, and that's why I'm infuriated by his partisan critics.

Riyadh delenda est!

Praktike, I was referring, in part, to the humanitarian costs to the Iraqi people, of sanctions. We're supposed to be trying to win them over as friends. I think it's reasonable to consider the additional suffering that prolonging the sanctions would have caused them. If you accept the UN estimates of sanctions-related deaths as accurate, removing Saddam when we did, and lifting sanctions when we did, has resulted in less loss of Iraqi life than continuing the sanctions would have.

The French didn't care about the Iraqi people, they just wanted to save their boy Saddam's ass. Ditto the Germans and Russians. What's the American Left's excuse?

If you accepted the premise that Saddam must cooperate or leave, and that his cooperation was unlikely in the extreme, war was inevitable. The costs of waging the war, and rebuilding Iraq would have been more or less the same, whether we went in March or September. The only way delay could have reduced the human and economic costs, is if by some miracle, the diplomats convinced Saddam to prove to the world that he didn't have any WMD, and that he didn't have any way or intention of getting them. Saddam had no intention of doing that, as this post explains.

Riyadh delenda est!

"Hesiod, did Rome have any further problems from Carthage?"

No. They were all either dead, or sold into slavery.

Of course, to the extent the Romans had "problems" with Carthage in the first place it was because Rome was an amoral, militaristic imnperial power that would stop at nothing (including the wiping out of an entire civilization, more or less out of spite) to enrich itself.

Kind of like the Republican party and its fellow travellers.

"Hesiod, I know you're really into the "Bush is a moron" meme, but wars of civilizations are not decided by which side has the most "civilized" leadership. If they were, we'd still win, because we don't target enemy civilians by choice, which is a step up from the Islamonazis, who prefer civilian targets, because they're too incompetent to do much damage to trained soldiers."

First of all, I never argued that we needed a more "civilized" leader. I'll settle for a COMPETENT one.

Second, it seems that the uncivilized "islamofascists" are doing a pretty good job of killing our soldiers in Iraq.

In fact, the palestinian terrorists are probably taking note of that as we speak.

I expect a change in their tactics soon. Targetting Israeli soldiers more.

Rome may have been an amoral, militaristic imnperial power, but she brought order, law, and justice to places that had never known them before. Roman provinces may not have had self-government, but for the most part, they had good government (at least by the standards of the time).

Most of the world of Rome's day kept slaves, but Roman slaves could own property, and even buy their own freedom.

A Roman citizen had guaranteed civil rights, including the right of appeal, if convicted of a crime. And Rome made that citizenship available to the peoples she conquered.

Rome may not have been a paradise, but it was a freer, better, place than Carthage. I took the pseudonym "Cato the Youngest" because Cato the Elder was right — Carthago delenda est.

Riyadh delenda est!

First of all, I never argued that we needed a more "civilized" leader. I'll settle for a COMPETENT one.

Exactly where do you think President Bush has f**cked up, Hesiod? Not waiting for Jacko Chirac's approval? We'd still be waiting. Do you think Saddam Hussein, Bashir Assad, and Sayed Ali Khamenei would have stopped helping the Islamonazis just because we asked them to? Maybe you think we were wrong to go after the Taliban?

If you don't want to use military force against terror sponsoring regimes, what do you think we should do? Put the CIA back in the assassination business? Try to turn America into a fortress and abolish everybody's civil rights? Maybe try to buy the Islamonazis off, by dismantling Israel? Giving Hitler the Sudetenland didn't work, but hey, maybe that leopard has learned how to change his spots.

All you've done, so far, is call President Bush an incompetent, and Republicans amoral. I haven't seen one word in this thread as to what you think we should have done. Do you have any clue as to what we should do, or are you incapable of doing anything but griping at your betters?

Riyadh delenda est!

Al-Qaeda may just be a bunch of "barbarians." Arabia may be a "dying civilization" with little fight left in it (though even if that's true an "accident of geology" has gifted them with the resources to cause a hell of a lot of trouble on their way down.)

But Indonesia can't be written off that easily - it's a classic "rising tiger," and it's ruled by a man who believes the world is run by a Jewish conspiracy.

Mahathir's existence proves two things. First, that Al-Qaeda is not even close to being the entirity of the problem we face. And second, that this really is a clash of civilizations.

AL

The only change I'd make to your list is leave Israel out of it.

Israel is a hot button all out of proportion to its importance. Yes, the Arabs love to scream about it, but that's just because its such a great way to distract their people. If it went away, they'd just find something else.

Israel/Palestine is an extremely difficult issue - it's been a problem for 55 years now, and isn't going to be solved soon. I'd rather see us try to simultaneously conquer Iran, Syria and Eypt than try to straiten their situation out - we'd have a much better chance of success.

If we make any part of our national innterest contingent on "doing something" about the Palestinian/Israeli mess we're screwed.

"Rome may have been an amoral, militaristic imnperial power, but she brought order, law, and justice to places that had never known them before. Roman provinces may not have had self-government, but for the most part, they had good government (at least by the standards of the time)."

Putting aside the complete irrelevance of your statement to my point, even if that were true[which it isn't, because it's is a vast oversimplification] Carthage was not one of those "places."

Carthage was a thriving, ordered, civilization when Rome, in a fit of paranoia, decided to wipe her from the face of the Earth.

"Rome may not have been a paradise, but it was a freer, better, place than Carthage."

Well...we don't have a lot of evidence on Carhage's government and its political system [thanks to the Romans, who destroyed virtually all traces of the culture].

But what we do know contradicts your claim, somewhat. According to Polybius, Carthage by the time of Hannibal and probably thereafter, "suffered," from the fact that the PEOPLE had too much say in how the city and the empire were run.

Carthage was not a modern Democracy by any means. Nor was she free from serious moral failings.

But, arguing that the Romans were "free" is comical. yes, a few oligarchic familes were "free."

But the vast majority of the population had little say in how the state was run. Their "votes" were LITERALLY worth much less than those of the higher classes.

As the empire expanded, the state became more and more autocratic.

In any event, having a serious discussion with someone who advocates genicide, if necessary, to "save" our civilization, is a waste of time.

That's like "saving" a patient on the operating table by killing him.

"Exactly where do you think President Bush has f**cked up, Hesiod? Not waiting for Jacko Chirac's approval? We'd still be waiting."

I've outlines the ways Bush "fucked up" numerous times on my blog and eslewhere. First, of all, your premise is faulty. You assume that going to war with Iraq was a good idea. That was Bush's first mistake.

Second, Bush should have made Saddam's human rights record the primary basis for a new UN resolution. Not the phony/trumped up WMD claims.

Third, we should have concentrated, after 9/11 and Afghanistan, on rebuilding Afghanistan, and re-orienting our foreign policy into liberalization of Islamic and Arab countires both politically and economically. We should NOT have given our "allies" a pass on reforms becaus ethey were "helping" us in the war on terror.

There are a number of other things Bush screwed up as well.

"Do you think Saddam Hussein, Bashir Assad, and Sayed Ali Khamenei would have stopped helping the Islamonazis just because we asked them to?"

No. But, none of those countries were supporting terrorist attacks on the United States. Whihc, frankly, gives away your game. You want to protect Israel. Not the United States.

"Maybe you think we were wrong to go after the Taliban?"

Nope. I think we were right to do so, and actually criticized the pussy-ass way the Bush adminsitration refused to put more troops on the ground to cut off the escape routes for Bin Laden and Al qaeda.

"If you don't want to use military force against terror sponsoring regimes, what do you think we should do?"

Your questions is incorrect, because I never said we shouldn't use force against terror sponsoring regimes...that TARGET the United States.

"Put the CIA back in the assassination business?"

Sure. Why not?

"Try to turn America into a fortress and abolish everybody's civil rights?"

You mean like Bush and Ashcroft are trying to do...with your help?

"Maybe try to buy the Islamonazis off, by dismantling Israel?"

I think we should try buying as many of them off as will be bought. It's a lot cheaper than the current Iraq occupation in both treasure and U.S. casulaties.

I am a supporter of Israel, and do not want to "dismantle" it, whatever that means. I do think Israel has to give up something to get peace, however.

"Giving Hitler the Sudetenland didn't work, but hey, maybe that leopard has learned how to change his spots."

Irrelevant Godwin's law nonsense.

"All you've done, so far, is call President Bush an incompetent, and Republicans amoral. I haven't seen one word in this thread as to what you think we should have done. Do you have any clue as to what we should do, or are you incapable of doing anything but griping at your betters?"

Step one: Get rid of Bush.

Step two: Apologize to the world community for the assholes in the Bush administration.

Step three: Dangle lucrative Iraqi contracts in front of France and Russia to get them to deploy troops as part of the UN coalition. Who gives a shit if they make money? The idea is to fix the problems in Iraq the best possible way without ripping off U.S. taxpayers, and while minimizing the losses to our troops.

Step four: Hammer the Israelis and Palestinians into a peace agreement. Agree to deploy U.S. troops to police the agreement, if necessary. It can't possibly be any more taxing than our deployment in Iraq.

Step five: Jack up the tax rates on rich people here at home to pay for as much of this as possible. Going abck to the Clinton era tax rates should be fine.

Step six: Hammer Pakistan and India to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

Step Seven: Redeploy about 50,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan from Iraq, and tell the Pakistanis that they eiether help us go after Bin Laden and the Taliban, or we will invade their territory without their help.

Step 8: Increase the reconstruction funding for Afghansitan by about $20 billion. Take some of it from Iraq, if necessary.

Step 9: Outwardly support democracy and freedom in Iran. Put pressure on the Iranian Government, through proposed UN sanctions and other means, to liberalize their political system.

There are a lot more things that can be done.

Specific enough for you?

Except for the tone, I'd like to second Hesiod's post immediately above. I think it's a great prescription for what should be done, and it's better than the generalities the Demo candidates have been offering.

Cato: AFAIK, all of our existing bases, even Gitmo, are as a result of treaties. Of course, this includes the German surrender to us after WWII. I'm not sure politics can be set up so that we can arm-twist an Iraqi Goverment into approving bases, and I'm even more dubious we could set bases up unilaterally over their opposition. I mean, we could do it physically, but practically it would work out much for the worst.

I agree also that the Ramatetmillionmogadishus brought on by the assholebushitlerrightwingideologuehalliburtonjunta must be deposed and we should institute high taxes, apologize to the world for not obeying the FrenchRussianrightgeouscorrect position, which establishes, along with the Progressives that are the only real democratic force in the world, the one and only norm for the internationalcommunityrulingusallthroughunquestionablelaw. Also the money generated by raisingtaxesastheplantofightterror should not go to privatecorporateinterests that contribute moneytopoliticians. So we should nationalize all the companies that we need for reconstruction efforts, not just in Afghanistan but in America, so we can recover from the Bushitlerashcroftreligiousrightamerikkka that is silencingdissidentslikeHesiodandmyselffascism.

The only way to succeed is to treat this danger as it should be, by raising taxes on the rich and spending it on vital programs here, keeping a vigilant eye on rightwingneonazimilitiahategroupsunlessGoreVidallikesthem and ashkorefreligiousrightwacowaccos here at home and by having the UN set up an internationallegalsystemtobeobeyed like GeneralheroofthehistoricKossovotriumph Clark proposes, which will put out arrest warrants for terrorists when they act, if their remains can be found. But Bushitlerpremtionimperialism of going after people before they do anything has ruined our relationships with the rest of the world. Only the rule of law as established by progressiveinternationalismcooperatingwiththeeuallies is acceptable.

Hesiod's suggestion that the Democrats run on a platform of:

1) calling their Republican opponents worse names than they usually use to describe bin Laden

2) raising taxes out of spite

3) abasing ourselves to France, Germany, Russia, China, and Syria for not defering our foreign policy to theirs and promising not to do it again.

4) rewarding the same countries without regard to their behavior or their ability to contribute anything substantive.

5) moving troops around like pieces on a chessboard, with no serious insight into operational needs in each place or their strategic importance, but simply out of domestic political pique.

6) moving money around likewise; I wonder if Hesiod arrived at the $20 billion total for Afganistan as a result of a detailed analysis of their needs. Or if the number was picked because of its close resemblance to some other number (the number for Iraq, perhaps).

seems to me as bad political advice. But I'm not a Democrat. It will at least give the voters a clear choice next November: do we want our foreign policy decided by our elected officials in Washington? Or by the EU and "world community"?

Hesiod, my point, which you obviously missed, was that Roman rule, even through the first several emperors, usually improved the lot of the conquered peoples. Rome lasted as long as it did, in large part, because its various peoples were mostly satisfied with its rule, once they got used to it. IMO, Roman Civilization was superior to Carthaginian Civilization.

After two wars with Carthage, the first triggered by Carthage's sending troops to Sicily, the second by Hannibal's invasion of Rome, the Romans decided to quit screwing around with Carthage and settle things once and for all. Maybe they were paranoid, but If an enemy invaded my country and kicked the ass of every army we sent to fight them, I'd be tempted to finish them off, given the opportunity.

By the standards of the time, Rome was a free society. After losing 30,000 men at Trebia, 30,000 more at Lake Trasimene, and nearly 80,000 at Cannae, Romans still came forward to defend Rome against the Carthaginian "barbarians". That suggests to me that the Romans believed that Carthage wouldn't have been much more gentle, in victory, than Rome was, after the Third Punic War. At the very least, they were still willing to fight, and (given the previous battle results) probably die, defending Rome. That suggests that they thought Rome was worth saving.

We don't have a lot of information about Carthage, which is exactly my point. If you believe your civilization is threatened, you do what you have to do to win, because if you lose, your civilization may end up like Carthage. The Islamonazis hate everything that is good and decent about our civilization. If they ever get nuclear weapons, I believe they'd use them on us in a heartbeat. At that point, about the only option we'd have left is a genocidal retalitory strike. We'd wipe them out, but I'd rather not lose a few dozen cities to suitcase nukes.

I said I'd support genocide, in defense of Western Civilization, if necessary. I didn't say I thought it was necessary, but I believe our civilization has the right to survive, even if that means destroying theirs. Hesiod, what you don't seem to get, is that they will destroy us, if they can. They have no scruples at all, about killing civilians, in whatever numbers they deem necessary.

If we want to avoid having to commit genocide, job one is no more Islamic nukes. Any Muslim country with a nuclear weapons program should be subjected to every possible form of pressure, including regime change, to dismantle their programs. Pakistan gets told that if any of their nukes ever get used on America, or any American ally, they get glassed over. Ditto North Korea.

Riyadh delenda est!

Actually, Hesiod, I don't think invading Iraq was a good idea. I think it was an excellent idea (just wanted to set the record straight).

The reason President Bush emphasized WMD, instead of Saddam's horrible human rights record, is that your precious UN doesn't care about human rights violations. If they did, they wouldn't have put Libya on their Human Rights Commission. Seriously, when was the last time the UN actually took action against a human rights violator? Did they go after Stalin? Mao Zedong? Both are generally believed to have killed over 20,000,000 of their own people, in peacetime.

Asking the UN to act against a government on the grounds of human rights violations is like the Far Side cartoon about the difference in what you say to a dog, and what the dog hears. The only argument that had any chance of convincing (or even being understood by) the UN was that Saddam had violated the Gulf War-related UN resolutions.

A major effort at nation-building in Afghanistan would have been a major mistake. First, because Afghanistan has never really been a nation. It's always been a just a collection of tribes who fight each other whenever they run out of outsiders to fight. Second, trying to maintain a large army in Afghanistan would be a major pain in the ass, logistically. Afghanistan is landlocked, which means everything has to go by air, or through some other country, most of which don't particularly like us, and wouldn't be eager to help us. Much better to train a real Afghani army, and provide support, when needed.

BTW, we are working to liberalize the political and economic systems of the Middle East, starting with Iraq. If we can make Iraq work, it's example will be impossible for the other governments in the region to ignore. That's one reason Syria's been willing for their jihadis to go to Iraq, instead of Israel.

So it's okay for Muslim countries to sponsor terrorism directed against Israel (which happens to be an American ally)? Is that what you're saying? Would it be okay for Muslim countries to sponsor terrorism against Italy? How about Britain? Is there any American ally that you think we should help fight the Islamonazis?

It's currently against the law for the CIA to engage in assassinations, without a specific presidential finding that the victim's death is essential to national security. That's okay for high-profile leaders like OBL, but to go after Al-Qaeda as a whole, you'd need something like the Vietnam War's Phoenix Project. You'd need to change the law, to permit that, and good luck getting anyone to sponsor that bill.
"Try to turn America into a fortress and abolish everybody's civil rights?"

You mean like Bush and Ashcroft are trying to do...with your help?

No, Hesiod, I'm talking about real curtailment of civil rights, not your tinfoil hat fantasies about the Patriot Act. I'm talking about blank search warrants, wiretaps for the hell of it, and suspension of Habeas Corpus. I'm talking about things like amending the constitution to exempt Muslims from whatever constitutional protections weren't completely abolished. I shure as hell don't want to see any of these things happen. I'm willing to try fighting the Islamonazis on their soil (instead of waiting for them to come here), to avoid it.
"Maybe try to buy the Islamonazis off, by dismantling Israel?"

I think we should try buying as many of them off as will be bought. It's a lot cheaper than the current Iraq occupation in both treasure and U.S. casulaties.

I am a supporter of Israel, and do not want to "dismantle" it, whatever that means. I do think Israel has to give up something to get peace, however.

"Giving Hitler the Sudetenland didn't work, but hey, maybe that leopard has learned how to change his spots."

Irrelevant Godwin's law nonsense.

I'll tell you how many Islamonazis can be bought off — none, zip, zero. These guys are True Believers. They see themselves as the harbingers of the Caliphate. They want you, as a slave of Allah, also known as a Muslim.

The Palestinian Authority doesn't want "something", they want everything. Maps in Palestinian textbooks don't include Israel, they show everything as part of Palestine. They want all of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel.

Hiding behind Godwin's Law, in a discussion of war policy, diplomatic vs military options, etc. is nonsense. Lefties generally end up trying to use Godwin's Law for cover, because their arguments for appeasment inevitably provoke a reference to the Munich Sellout. I didn't call you a Nazi, and I didn't accuse you of supporting Nazis (not even Islamonazis). Your reference to Godwin's Law is therefore misplaced.
Step one: Get rid of Bush.
You haven't come anywhere close to either making a case for that, nor have you named a replacement. You can't beat something with nothing.
Step two: Apologize to the world community for the assholes in the Bush administration.
If you really think kissing Jacko Chirac's ass makes a good campaign platform plank, you have a rather strange view of American attitudes.
Step three: Dangle lucrative Iraqi contracts in front of France and Russia to get them to deploy troops as part of the UN coalition. Who gives a shit if they make money? The idea is to fix the problems in Iraq the best possible way without ripping off U.S. taxpayers, and while minimizing the losses to our troops.
Paying U.S. taxpayer dollars to countries that have done their best to undermine our policies, in the hope that they'll lend us some of their crummy troops — and you think I'm nuts? What troops would the French send? The 347th Surrender Assistance Battalion? The Russians have their hands full in Chechnya. They need to keep their troops there.
Step four: Hammer the Israelis and Palestinians into a peace agreement. Agree to deploy U.S. troops to police the agreement, if necessary. It can't possibly be any more taxing than our deployment in Iraq.
I'd go for letting the State Department hammer Israel, while the U.S. Air Force hammers the Palestinians, but somehow, I don't think that's what you meant. Deploying American troops as peacekeepers in Israel/Palestine might not be more difficult than deploying them in Iraq, but deploying them in Iraq may eventually lead to a more democratic and more peaceful Middle East. Deploying them in Israel would merely get them shot at and blown up.
Step five: Jack up the tax rates on rich people here at home to pay for as much of this as possible. Going abck to the Clinton era tax rates should be fine.
For the Left, any excuse to raise taxes is a good one. Would you guys really get behind the war on terrorism, in exchange for a tax hike?
Step six: Hammer Pakistan and India to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
Let's see, you want to "hammer" two countries with nuclear arsenals. And you called President Bush an idiot?
Step Seven: Redeploy about 50,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan from Iraq, and tell the Pakistanis that they eiether help us go after Bin Laden and the Taliban, or we will invade their territory without their help.
First you want to "hammer" a nuclear power, now you want to invade them? Unless you mean to "hammer" them with a premptive saturation thermonuclear strike, invading Pakistan would be pretty risky. Never mind that Pakistan is an ally (and they've been more help than France has). Never mind that pulling something like that would get Musharraf replaced with some Islamonazi type, who'd now have control of a nuclear arsenal. You'd be launching your invasion from a landlocked country with no decent supply route for our troops, into the country we've been shipping our supplies through. Have you ever, in your entire life, looked at a map of the region? Jeebus!
Step 8: Increase the reconstruction funding for Afghansitan by about $20 billion. Take some of it from Iraq, if necessary.
Divert scarce resources from the theater where there's a chance of accomplishing something, into a sinkhole that has a hell of a lot more in common with Vietnam than Iraq ever will.
Step 9: Outwardly support democracy and freedom in Iran. Put pressure on the Iranian Government, through proposed UN sanctions and other means, to liberalize their political system.
Hesiod, I'll see your UN sanctions, etc., and raise you 100,000 American troops that can reach Iran's borders in a matter of hours. To paraphrase Al Capone, you can accomplish more with a kind word and an army, than you can with a kind word alone. Did I mention that Iraq is useful as a staging ground for further military operations?
There are a lot more things that can be done.
If the ones you listed are the best you can come up with, it's just as well you stopped.
Specific enough for you?
Yes, and thank you for proving that griping at your betters really is all you can do.

Riyadh delenda est!

Why is it that liberals like Hesiod seem to believe that the U.S. should provide 90% of the troops and money for Afghanistan, where the "international community" is supposedly already helping, but not for Iraq?

Is it because for them the main thing is who is in charge, not how much anyone but us helps? So in Afghanistan where we've already accepted what Liberals want regarding the central importance of giving everyone else a say, that ironically means no one else but us is expected to do much, but in Iraq we haven't, so the goal is to get us to cede control regardless of what other countries are willing or able to contribute?

The NATO countries of Europe say they can't send more troops to Afghanistan than they already have, or money; which means they don't have more to send to Iraq, either. But that means that Liberals like Hesiod let them off the hook in Afghanistan and expect us to do everything, because we've already conceded the model of CONTROL that they want to transnational bodies. But in Iraq we haven't relinquished control as Tranzis want, so the same Liberals who expect everything that needs to be done in Afghanistan to be done by us demand that we involve others more in Iraq.

No agenda going on here other than concern for America, huh? I wish people like Hesiod would stop being deceptive and having double-standards when it comes to these things. If there wasn't, he'd be harping on the need for the allies he thinks are so smart and helpful to send at least half the troops and money to Afghanistan that he thinks are needed but not being given. He exposes his real agenda by not doing so.

Andrew, the treaties governing our overseas military bases were negotiated with governments that were mostly democratic, and with the exception of Gitmo (Guantanamo), most of the treaties have provisions for the host country to restrict or prohibit use of the bases. Turkey, our NATO ally, restricted our use of Incirlik AFB and Turkish airspace during the Iraq War. The Saudis prohibited us from using Prince Sultan AFB, which is why Gen. Franks' headquarters was in Qatar.

With the exception of Gitmo, American troops are stationed at bases where the governments are at least willing to tolerate them.

Regarding Iraqi bases, if the UN and EU don't get with the program, the Iraqis may decide we're the only friends they've got. Heck, until we get their army rebuilt, they're going to need our troops. If we located the bases in Kurdish areas, the locals would probably be glad to have us around.

If we can make Iraq secure and reasonably prosperous, the Kurds will love us, the Sunni Arabs will hate us, and the Shi'ites (at least the grown-ups among them) will at least tolerate us. That will probably get us a base deal, particularly if we locate the base somewhere besides the Sunni Triangle and the Shi'ite holy cities, such as Karballah.

Riyadh delenda est!

Sorry, AL, but here you suffer from CRA syndrome (that's Cranial-Rectal-Adhesion syndrome, or, to put it politely, you got your brains where the sun doesn't shine on this one). If you've been reading the same LA Times for the past five days that I have, you'll know what I am about to say.

Bush is getting ready to cut-and-run. All the bullshit about handing over the reigns of sovreignty to the Iraqis is like declaring "victory" in Afghanistan or telling us the South Vietnamese were able to "care for their own security." I mean, what the hell newspaper are you reading that we are doing anything to make Afghanistan secure??? The warlords produced a world-record tonnage of opium this year - and nobody in the US government said a word. According to the people I personally know whose boots are on the ground there, Hamid Karzai couldn't take a walk six blocks in any direction from his palace in Kabul without risking assassination from five different warlords (including the Northern Alliance thugs he's fronting for) and the Taliban. So much for "American security is being provided."

And now the Fearless Ones in Washington are talking about setting up an "interim government" in Iraq like they set up in Afghanistan. Great! A government whose writ doesn't run six blocks from the palace!!

It won't matter. President AWOL-deserter-moron-in-his-flyboy-costume will declare "victory" and nobody will question it. Like Paul Krugman says, "If Bush declared the world was flat, the media headline would read 'New Information on World Shape - Opinions Differ' and quote a Democrat saying it's round." Face it, the American electorate is 60 percent "Gammas" (I give you 24 hours to pick up the reference :-)), as witness all the supporters of that "American Taliban" judge down in Alabama.

Bush screwed the pooch. He set up a war we aren't going to win, and is now surprising me by having the wit to play the "Nixon card." (I don't know how old you are, but in case you weren't old enough to be politically aware 33 years ago, did you ever hear of "Vietnamization"?)

If we're going to fight terrorism, doing it the way we've done since 9/11 is a perfect example of how not to do it, and I am personally amazed that a guy like you - who I have been reallyreally impressed with since discovering you - has been taken in by the boys who know to "sell the sizzle, not the steak."

This reminds me perfectly of the war I waged for eight years against the war I fought in for one year, after getting introduced to government lies as a particpant in the alleged "Tonkin Gulf Incident" 35 years ago when I learned "how can you tell an American government official is lying?" (answer: are his/her lips moving????)

I expected more intellectual rigor and political intelligence from you.

Tom Cleaver
Professional Political Junkie and your LA neighbor

Hey, A.L.:

Like most, you are victim of the Israeli propaganda machine, aka the American media.

You need to go look at what has been done with the "Geneva Accords" recently negotiated unofficially between Israeli and Palestinians who were part of the Oslo Accords.

Unlike the Israeli Nazis of the Likud and those further to the right who now look like the Waffen SS fighting the Warsaw Ghetto, these folks managed to even come up with a final agreement on Jerusalem.

Of course, it means rooting the Jewish Taliban out of the West Bank, but they can always go back to Brooklyn where they came from.

Letting the Israeli tail wag the American dog is what got us into this mess. Political Correctness Commissar "Rabbi" Marvin Hier to the contrary, criticizing the current crop of fools running Israel does not make a Jew "self-hating" or a Gentile an "anti-Semite."

We are where we are in Iraq because of the (self-named) "Jewish Cabal" of ex-Trotskyites who call themselves "neocons" (Jim Pinkerton, a real conservative, calls them "pseudocons"), who are willing to fight to your last son for Greater Israel (though not one of them ever served when the opportunity presented itself). And Commissar-of-Political-Correctness Rabbi Marvin Hier to the contrary, criticizing the current crop of morons in Tel Aviv is neither "self-hating" if one is Jewish or "anti-Semitic" if one is Gentile. As a friend of mine who particpated in the liberation of the Wailing Wall in 1967 once told me "My company commander stood next to me there and said 'God help us - we won.'"

TC

Tom Cleaver

Tom Cleaver you are an antisemite and a bigot. I hope you were being sarcastic. If you aren't, then you are a sick and twisted jew-hater.

"Occupying Iraq encourages Islamonazi "jihadis" to go to Iraq, rather than come to America."

Ah, the famous "flypaper" theory. I'm sure Iraqis are pleased that we've installed a terrorist magnet in their country. Just as Cubans must be overjoyed to have hundreds of murderous fanatics penned up next door in Guantanamo.

Naturally, everybody agrees that the safety of Americans is more important than anybody else's, of course.

"Occupying Iraq encourages Islamonazi "jihadis" to go to Iraq, rather than come to America."

Ah, the famous "flypaper" theory. I'm sure Iraqis are pleased that we've installed a terrorist magnet in their country. Just as Cubans must be overjoyed to have hundreds of murderous fanatics penned up next door in Guantanamo.

Naturally, everybody agrees that the safety of Americans is more important than anybody else's, of course.

Sounds great.

Many good points, no doubt.

But I don't think we can stay and keep warlords in check in Afghanistan and Iraq anymore than our foray into Vietnam could stop Communism.

That whole suggestion is so big, and so the wrong way to inculcate change, that it is better left on paper.

We had no business invading Iraq. We should turn it over to the Europeans, and give up our oil contracts and paint a few school houses in America.

On the second point, our dependence on Mid-East oil, this is something that will not be changed in the present political circumstances, even if Bush is not re-elected.

I have been involved in the energy issue since 1973 and the first oil shock. Our government has never been willing to do what has to be done in order to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. In fact, if you look at the history, you will find that no administration has been serious about energy since Carter. His President's Council on Environmental Quality called for 20% of our energy from renewables by 2000. The report was quashed by the incoming Reagan administration and we all know how energy conservative and nurturing of renewables Reagan was.

A year or so ago, the UK called for 20% renewables by 2020. Sounds like a magic number.

Fact is, we have the technology to reduce our energy usage while increasing our GDP (and did just that in the early 90s for a year or two). What we don't have is the political will to do so and we won't have that political will as long as such corporations as Enron and Halliburton and Bechtel and GE and Westinghouse and Peabody Coal and Exxon.... continue to control Congresspeople, Senators, and Presidents as wholly owned subsidiaries.

BTW, how many of the lights in your house are compact fluorescents as opposed to incandescent? Are your windows caulked and sealed for the winter? Ever had a blower door test on your house to check for drafts? I know it's boring but it makes sense (and dollars kept in your pocket when you consider the long haul).

Cato the Youngest wrote:

"A major effort at nation-building in Afghanistan would have been a major mistake. First, because Afghanistan has never really been a nation. It's always been a just a collection of tribes who fight each other whenever they run out of outsiders to fight."

At this point I realized CLEARLY Cato may not know enough about the Middle East to really offer much to this thread. Exactly what does he think "Iraq" is? And how long does he think the "nation" of Iraq has been around?

Because my understanding of Iraq is we are talking about 100s of clans, dozens of tribes, three competing major religions (all with a variety of sects) and two ethnic groups. And that all these groups were clumped together as a "country" about 80 years ago. NeoCon wet dreams aside, Iraq is the Yugoslavia of the ME. Now maybe in a realpolitic way it might make a decent base but if the US is going to occupy the "country" to have a base get used to 1) more US troop deaths 2) INCREASING the lure of terrorism amongst "Iraqi" people as a way of striking back at the US 3) a big reason for the next 9/11.

That said just about ANYTHING is possible if you really want it. But making "Iraq" a decent democracy (or three) will require stabilization (more troops and more taxes), improving the lives of the average person there (more taxes), creating a middle class and viable economy (less crony capitalism), help from other countries (less unilaterlism and more diplomacy), paying off the turks (still MORE taxes).

If this is REALLY a war of civilizations won't it require sacrifce? By everyone? Sorry but if you REALLY think it is a war (or almost one) then paying for that war requires tax increases not tax cuts. You can't pretend that Republicans are taking foreign policy seriously if they are simultaneously making serious action impossible.

SusAno,

We can pay for the war by growing the economy or by increasing taxes.

Bush has decided that growing the economy is the better option.

I'm voting Bush 2004. I've never voted for a Republican Presidential candidate before in my life.

Enjoy.

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