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Liberal Blog-Panel: Democrats & National Security

| 41 Comments | 19 TrackBacks
It's a Liberal blog-panel on the U.S. Democratic Party & National Security! This started as a feature in today's Winds of War roundup of the global War on Terror, and has now grown into its own full-scale roundup of a thoughtful and impressive debate. Participants include Armed Liberal, Calpundit, Harry's Place, Bill Herbert, Sean LaFreniere, Roger L. Simon, Michael Totten, Matt Yglesias, and Oxblog; plus some additional material from the Esmays and Porphyrogenitus. So pull up a chair and get comfy, 'cause here we go...
* Michael Totten says long-serving Sen. Zell Miller's (Dem-GA) endorsement of Bush is the canary in the coal mine (Hat Tip: Team Tacitus). Then Roger L. Simon really gets the ball rolling in I'm With Zell. * Calpundit responds and writes Liberal Hawks * Armed Liberal says It's not a 'Schtick,' Kevin * Roger L. Simon picks up he debate again and pens Confessions of a War Monger * Matthew Yglesias chimes in with Things to Consider * Michael Totten replies to Yglesias. "Matt, just remember the anti-war leftists at Harvard who gave you hell for supporting regime-change in Afghanistan. Remember how they sounded to you. That's exactly how the Democratic Party sounds to me now." * Armed Liberal's "Oh, Matthew!" is rather less gentle. A tone of distance and superiority rather than connection and membership may be Matt's personal problem, he says, but the Left's widespread adoption of it is everyone's political problem. * Bill Herbert enjoyed that. He says his vote is still up for grabs, and explains what it will take to get it. He adds some links to Hesiod's "thoughts". * But it's too late for lifelong Democrat Rosemary Esmay. She left a while ago (shades of Peggy Noonan's switch). Ditto for Dean Esmay, who says: "We aren't in a war of civilizations. We're in a war for civilization." * Lefty Sean LaFreniere, meanwhile, couldn't stay out of the fray. He addresses Yglesias' arguments case by case, names names, and provides examples. * Oxblog joins the fray a couple days later with this post from David Adesnik: "Before getting into the intricacies of the debate, let me state my position up front: I'm with Peter Beinart...." * Gene at Harry's Place looks at 2 interesting constituencies on the Left: the Humanitarian Interventionists, and the Don't Quit on the Iraqis crowd. "While the two groups have their differences, I think its safe to say we have certain beliefs in common that we share with neither the top officials of the Bush administration nor with the 'US/UK Out Now' crowd." * Meanwhile, back on the Right, Porphyrogenitus prefaced the whole dust-up on Oct. 28th with a good roundup of interesting and welcome statements from prominent Democrats. Over 100 commenters chime in on A.L.'s posts alone, and the vast majority have intelligent stuff to say that adds to the debate.

19 TrackBacks

Tracked: November 3, 2003 9:06 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 1:41 PM
Liberals at war from George Junior
Excerpt: Joe Katzman at Winds of Change has ďa Liberal blog-panel on the U.S. Democratic Party & National Security.Ē...
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 2:37 PM
Excerpt: Joe Katzman at Winds of Change has posted links to a very thoughtful (and largely civil) debate between several liberal bloggers on the issues of the war in Iraq and the Democratic Party's positions on national security issues.   Following all the...
Tracked: November 3, 2003 3:22 PM
Democrats for Bush? from Harry's Place
Excerpt: Even if you rarely venture into the world of American blogs the debate over the issue of pro-war Democrats for Bush might be worth dipping your toe into: The ball got rolling with Roger L Simon's post: Let me begin...
Tracked: November 3, 2003 4:09 PM
Striking Back from Matthew Yglesias
Excerpt: Joe Katzman rounds up all the intra-liberal nastiness about the war. Armed Liberal really lays the smack down on me, challenging me to "Find five posts where I psychoanalyze you or any of the liberal Democrats (or even wacky leftists)...
Tracked: November 3, 2003 4:27 PM
Cripple Fight from porphyrogenitus.net
Excerpt: No, not the South Park episode, but the raging debate among Liberals on the war or at least attitudes towards it and the tone of the debate among each other. Actually, it's a Good Thing, this debate, and not deserving
Tracked: November 3, 2003 5:19 PM
Excerpt: There has been an ongoing discussion between Liberal Hawks and non-Hawks about the War on Terrorism and Iraq lately. The
Tracked: November 3, 2003 5:21 PM
War on the Left from Priorities & Frivolities by Robert Garcia Tagorda (Boomshock)
Excerpt: As liberal bloggers debate the War in Iraq and the future of the Democratic Party, they may want to consult Ronald Brownstein's latest Los Angeles Times column.
Tracked: November 3, 2003 5:53 PM
Democrats & National Security from Flame Turns Blue
Excerpt: Joe Katzman at Winds of Change has a summary of an interesting cross-blog debate regarding the Demacratic party and national security....
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 4, 2003 1:31 AM
Leftists and those who left from SashaCastel.com
Excerpt: Winds of Change has a leftist (I have deliberately not used Liberal) discussion on the Democratic Party (in the US)
Tracked: November 4, 2003 6:39 AM
Excerpt: Winds of Change had an awesome roundup of liberal thought and debate from a whole bunch of sources this weekend, and it was impressive. It's very heartening to me to see people on 'the other side' coming to basically the...
Tracked: November 4, 2003 8:15 AM
Excerpt: As long-time readers (do we have any?) know, I'm interested in conspiracy theories and ways that the beliefs of the people with whom you live, talk, and argue influence your
Tracked: November 4, 2003 1:45 PM
Thrashing about from Cold Fury
Excerpt: Matt Yglesias, Armed Liberal, and Michael Totten have been going round and round, and the resultant furball makes for some...
Tracked: November 4, 2003 3:41 PM
Excerpt: So here's an example of a blogger proving his own point. On Sunday I said: [O]ne of the more obvious local costs of this Iraq episode has been the tremendous plummet we've seen in the quality of writing and commentary...
Tracked: November 4, 2003 7:00 PM
Surf and See from Indigo Ocean
Excerpt: Disturbing: Government awards Tripp almost $600,000 Oiling up the draft machine? Disturbingly Amusing: Six sue Sky over sex-change snogger (Thanks to feministe for the link) Useful and Informative: Neoconservatives and their blueprint for US power (Tha...
Tracked: November 5, 2003 9:24 AM
With Dems like these... from Hundredth Monkey
Excerpt: I haven't been surfing a lot since breaking my wrist, but this blogwar that broke out amongst liberal bloggers over Iraq and defection to Bush is a reminder of why this is such a powerful medium. One could learn more...
Tracked: November 6, 2003 4:07 AM
A liberal hawk's dilemma from Harry's Place
Excerpt: I've been following some of the discussion in the blogosphere among Iraq-war-supporting US leftists and liberals about about whether they can bring themselves to vote for George W. Bush next year. One of the most thoughtful and provocative of them...

41 Comments

I responded to Matt Yglesias, too, if anyone is interested.

Don't be silly. Of course I'm interested. Thanks for letting us know.

Thanks, Joe. I don't want to be demanding, nor do I want to hijack your blog.

Actually, from what I could tell it actually started with Michael, then Kevin, who also referenced Roger, and went on from there. Oddly, it feels slightly egotistical to reference one of my own guestblogger entries to support this. :)

Interesting: the link didn't go through the first time.

Remember how conservative Republicans and the John Birchers attacked the anti-war "left" during Vietnam, and defended the war until the bitter end?

That's who Michael Totten sounds like to me.

I am no leftist, or dove.

I believe in a muscular U.S. foreign policy, backed up by the use of force when necessary. That included Afghanistan, and the FIRST Gulf War.

Not to mention Kosovo [which many pro-Iraq interventionsits opposed].

I just parted company with Bush over Iraq.

What purpose are we serving there? The evidence is mounting that this venture is doing exactly the opposite of its intent. Namely, it's making it much more difficult to confront and battle radical islamic terrorism, and ideology.

There are now rumblings that the Iraqi constitution will, in all probability, be less pluralistic or democratic than originally hope. It is very probable that any eventual sovereign Government of Iraq will have to do battle with insurgent forces from various factions for years, if not decades.

This will lead, I strongly suspect, to increasingly repressive measures by the government to put down the insurgents. Is that what we fought for?

Put aside the blatant, self-serving hypocrisy of arguing that the Iraq intervention was jsutfied solely on the grounds of humanitarianism, we are probably only going to have moderate success in achieveing even that goal.

Sure, so long as we over 100,000 U.S. troops on the ground keeping a lid on the pressure cooker, things will progress somewhat.

But unless we are willing to, literally, stay for decades, it will quickly devolve into civil war onece we leave.

Anyone who thinks those poorly trained and equipped "Iraqi security forces" can deal with the problem are mentally defective. Look how well the South Vietnamese eld up once we left Saigon in 1975. They collapsed like a house of cards.

It is increasingly clear to me that this whole issue is no longer even being defended on its merits by the "hawwks." It's nothing more than a surrogate war to protect George W. Bush's backside.

In any event, I have stated publicly, on more than one occassion, that we have no choice but to stay in Iraq and try to build that country as best we can.

Anyone who agrees with me on that must OPPOSE the election of George W. Bush next year because he's plainly incompetent, and incapable of doing it right.

A Dmocrat may have a better shot at getting more international support, which I consider to mean TROOPS, not just pledges of monetary donations.

And, ALL of the major Democratic candidates AGREE with me. Even Howard Dean.

So, please stop whining and lying about the Democratic posistions. If anything, Dean's foresight gives me more confidence in his judgment than in Bush's by a mile.

Likewise for the Democratic contenders who see this mess for what it really is.

This mission is FUBAR. Did you know that Iraqi parents in Baghdad and the vicinty around Baghdad, are not even allowing their children to attend all those schools we "opened," because they fear more attacks?

That's not progress. It's a disaster.

"But unless we are willing to, literally, stay for decades, it will quickly devolve into civil war onece we leave."

Well, I guess we are wrong to still be in Germany and Japan and Bosnia and so on and on and on...even with media hand wringing after those bouts of "muscular foreign policy".

Appears we actually ARE willing.

Oh yeah, Korea, Guantanamo, Hawaii...

"This mission is FUBAR. Did you know that Iraqi parents in Baghdad and the vicinty around Baghdad, are not even allowing their children to attend all those schools we "opened," because they fear more attacks?"

Any of those ids in that kiddie gulag? I wonder if they had rubber hose shoved up their rectums and yanked out. Maybe tongues cut out.

I think you need to make your position a bit more truthful and coherent. Because, this following passage is ridiculous. Sounds more like george Clooney or Michael Moore, titans of "blatant, self-serving hypocrisy ".

"Put aside the blatant, self-serving hypocrisy of arguing that the Iraq intervention was jsutfied solely on the grounds of humanitarianism, we are probably only going to have moderate success in achieveing even that goal."

Hesiod thinks that after US military withdrawal from Vietnam, it collapsed "like a house of cards."

29 Mar 73 - 67 more US P.O.W.'s were freed in Hanoi. The same day, the US withdrew its remaining 2,500 troops from South Vietnam. This date also marked the actual end of military involvement in Vietnam.

10 May 73 - Due to continued bombing of Laos and Cambodia, the House voted (219-188) for the first time to cut-off Indochina funds.

29 Apr 75 - Last American soldier killed in Vietnam (the first was 8 Jul 59) The official American presence in Saigon ends when the last Americans are evacuated by helicopter from the US Embassy roof. Within hours the Saigon government surrenders to the VC.

South Vietnam survived quite sometime without US money or troops. The North Vietnamese, principally funded and equipped by the Soviet Union, won with a conventional invasion, not guerilla attacks.

I am an American. My family includes Vietnam and WWII veterans. I am not afraid to say that I love my country with all of my heart. So what's my point already?

I don't give a crap about Iraq. I don't really care who is in power there. I don't care that Saddam was an evil bastard or a godless socialist or whatever the right wing says he was or is. If Saddam was such a terror to his fellow citizens, then they should have done something about it. I don't see America as Mommy to the world. If you want freedom, get it yourselves.

The way I see it, most Americans agree.

We were told that Saddam had nukes and biological weapons (like smallpox!!), and that he was going to give these weapons to al Queda to use on Americans. If this was true, it did not matter how many of us lost our lives doing the deed, we had to take out the Saddam Iraqi government.

Turns out, it was ALL LIES, meant to scare us into "liberating" the Iraqi marketplace so that the right wing can have a place to experiment with the flat tax and mass privatization. There is no way to spin this as anything but a massive screwup/con job.

"Well, I guess we are wrong to still be in Germany and Japan and Bosnia and so on and on and on...even with media hand wringing after those bouts of "muscular foreign policy".

Yup.

Mostly because we weren't taking daily casualties.

Without getting into labels, I think the real issue is that some continue to look at 9/11 as an isolated incident of criminal activity that should be responded to along the lines of police responding to a crime. I believe this is a misguided response to 9/11.

As a conservative, I have no patience with those who wish to blame Clinton for his rather anemic response to foreign terrorist attacks prior to 9/11. The simple fact is that sometimes, it takes a catastrophic event to force a reevaluation of priorities and change perceptions of strategic threats.

Prior to 9/11, all Americans, donkeys, elephants and independents viewed terrorism as an annoiance, not a real threat. And terrorism, as such, is not the real threat. The real threat is a group of self-identified enemies of the USA that are exclusively of the Muslim religion that are intent on the destruction of our way of life.

Because of modern life's dependency upon fossil fuels, and the accident of the mineral wealth of the middle east, this has given the people who run the region both undue power, and enormous wealth to act on their malign intentions. Furthermore, although the source of this malignancey is clearly Saudi Arabia, our relationships with Iraq and Iran magnify our dependence upon the kingdom.

So Bush etal, having correctly identified the enemy, is in a particulary difficult position. And this position has nothing to do with Bush's political persuasion. Clinton was similarly constrained, but 9/11 had not yet occurred, so their was no chance of popular support to root out the problem.

So here is the diagnosis:

1. Radical Muslim leaders are inciting and financing a campaign of hatred and violence toward "heathen" societies.

2. With the fall of the Atheistic USSR, The USA has become the greatest threat to the Muslim world view - especially Pan-Arabism.

3. Small successful "terrorist" attacks have convinced these people that they can ultimately be successful.

4. Because of relationships with Iraq and Iran, the Saudi's have the USA by the short hairs vis-a-vis oil supply. This situation prevents a direct attack on the Kingdom because it would cripple the US and world economy.

5. Financed by the Kingdom, Usama Bin Ladin directly attacks the USA on its home soil. This causes a complete reevaluation of the real threat to our way of life. The choices are capitulate, be conquered, or fight back. America at large demands we fight back.

6. Because of Political Correctness, and America's long-held belief in religious freedom, the administration is constrained from directly identifying the enemy as militant Islam, so it declares a nebulous "War on Terror" as if terror, not real flesh and blood people with a malign world view is the real enemy.

7. Because of Economic dependency, America is constrained from directly attacking its real enemy - Saudi Arabia.

What would you do in this situation?

Apparently the solution so far is:

1. Immediately attack the direct source of the problem in Afghanistan and dislodge Al Queda.

2. Ratchet up world animosity toward anything that can remotely be called terror.

3. Finally recognize once and for all who the real enemy is, and refuse to negotiate with those who use military and civilian force against us and our friends. (no negotiation with Arafat) Refuse to accept the Palestinian excuse for violence elsewhere in the Arab world.

3. Use the obvious breach of the cease fire agreement by Iraq as an excuse to establish a presence in the heart of the region that is the home of the enemy. Also, begin the process of extricating ourselves from dependence on Saudi Oil by converting Iraq from enemy into friend.

4. Try to establish a culture and society where freedom and tolerance are practiced and become cherished.

To come:

1. Use our enemy relationship with Iran to try to foment internal overthrow of that government. Failing that, use military power if necessary to repeat the procedure in Iran as soon as possible (by pressure or military conquest) to further loosen the grip the Saudi's have on our economy.

2. Once the oil is flowing from Iraq and Iran, come down on the Saudi's like a ton of bricks.

3. Introduce freedom and tolerance as the only acceptable society values in order to maintain peace with the USA.

Despite the critics of General Boykin, our enemies do view this as a religious war, regardless of how we view it. Like the Catholics in the Middle Ages, the Muslims need to be "converted" to the idea that violence in the name of religion is not an acceptable practice. And if they persist in this practice, we have only three choices.

1. Exterminate those who refuse to give up voilence as a means of evangelism.

2. Crush the will and change the minds of the enmey.

3. Surrender and convert to a strict Islamic theocratic society.

My question for my fellow liberal citizens is this: How would you defeat this enemy?

Two things that are not viable options are:

1) Use alternative fuels to become oil independent. Any serious study of modern society must conclude that oil is currently the life blood of modern society. The Saudi's and Arabs are using that strategic fact in their assualt on our way of life. We can argue about what should be, or what might be possible, but the immediate facts are oil is vital to our way of life.

2) Trying to convince Arabs and Muslims this is not a holy war and we don't have a problem with Islam is not a viable option. Remember, prior to the fall of Atheistic USSR, the Soviets were percieved as the number one threat to Islam. This shared enemy is why we had strategic relationships with the Arabs in the first place. To fall under the illusion that we can demostrate religious tolerance toward Islam by practicing religious intolerance toward avowed Christians at home is a peculiar and ridiculous notion.

So far, I've seen a lot of criticism of the Democrats' lack of a specifics, but no indication that anyone has taken Matt seriously when he says "read them".

Nary a link to a candidate's speech or to a website by the critics.

I'm from Missouri, folks. Show me with links and quotes you've read and understood the Dems' positions. Then criticize them.

Otherwise it's just hot air or disinformation.

"Any of those ids in that kiddie gulag? I wonder if they had rubber hose shoved up their rectums and yanked out. Maybe tongues cut out."

I have macro that automatically writes this in response:

I am perfectly aware that Saddam was a monster and I don't need men the caliber of Bush and Rumsfeld to remind me.

It saves a lot of typing and cuts down on RSI. It also gives remarks like the one quoted above the attention it deserves.

"I think you need to make your position a bit more truthful and coherent. Because, this following passage is ridiculous. Sounds more like george Clooney or Michael Moore, titans of "blatant, self-serving hypocrisy ".

I've expounded on the phony "humanitarianism" of the Iraq occupation supporters a zillion times on my blog.

It's a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

Mostly, because the humanitarian aspect of our occupation will eventually collapse when we draw down our troops, it serves a political end.

It's a way to tar opponents of this boneheaded invasion as supporters of murder and torture, when in most cases, the very same accusers didn't give a rat's ass about the Iraqi people until 9/11.

Of course, we can't put aside their support of our "anti-terrorism" allies such as Uzbekitsan's Islam karomov, who's been known to boil his political opponents to death.

They say they opponse these acts of barbarism, of course. But they only seem willing to mount a massive military invasion of IRAQ to stop them from occurring.

This undercuts their supposed remaining rationalizatiion for our presence in the country. [Because we all know now that Saddam posed no serious military, or security threat to the United States].

Now, they still suport this clusterfuck for one of four possible reasons:

1) They are complete idiots, incapable of processing contrary information that disproves their thesis.

2) They are mindless Bush supporters who put the political survival of that dumbass ahead of the national security interests of the United States and the lives of our troops.

3) They think the losses are worth it because we are protecting Israel's flank.

The third point will, no doubt, give rise to accusations that I am anti-semitic, which is utter nonsense. I am Jewish, for one thing. And I support Israel's right to exist, and believe that the Palestinians do not desreve a damn thing until they can demonstrate they will not kill innocent men, women and children to achieve their goals.

I do believe, however, along with an increasing number of Israeli security experts [and high ranking military officers], that Ariel Sharon's tactics are making things worse, not better.

Much like George W. Bush's.

4) They are so committed to this folly, that they deliberately tune out or dismiss massive amounts of evidence that the operation is a failure and not achieving its supposed goals. It's warblogger groupthink of the worst sort.

You do not have to be a minion of ANSWER [A group I have criticized] to see this war as utterly stupid and counterproductive.

Moreover, I have stated that the CORRECT strategy for liberalizing the Middle East was to foster a democratic revolution in IRAN.

It would serve as an example to all in the region that radical Islam as a governing philosophy is a failure, and its rejection by the citizens of Iran would be orders of magnitude more powerful than an imposed liberalism on Iraq by an occupying United States. And, it would come without the enormous cost in U.S. lives and treasure.

If anything, our invasion of Iraq has delayed that much desired transformation.

The fools running this adminsitration, and that support it, are epic.

"Without getting into labels, I think the real issue is that some continue to look at 9/11 as an isolated incident of criminal activity that should be responded to along the lines of police responding to a crime. I believe this is a misguided response to 9/11."

I disagree. Mainly for the reason that if anyone does think of 9/11 that way, they are very marginal.

I, for one, do not look at it that way. I believe we are in the midst of a war of ideas that must be fought along all fronts.

And, for that reason, I think the Iraq invasion and occuptaion was a miscalculation of world historical proportions. We should have pushed for democratic, economic and religious liberalism in the Muslim and Arab world immediately after the Afghanistan conflict. It should have been part and parcel with a muscualr effort to bring the israelis and Palestinians into peaceful, if not amicable, co-existence.

We should also have moved aggressively to resolve the India/Pakistan kashmir dispute.

Finally, instead of spending all of our time and money in Iraq, we should have spent it in Afghanistan, building a civil society.

So, you can knock down your straw men all you want. You are totally ignoring the real issues.

Scott Harris's post is a classic examle of arm-chair Napoleonism taking the place of common sense and historical perspective.

He acts like this is a ginat game of Risk.

It's all nice, in theory, but we are obviously fucking up that Iraq invasion component.

And, there is ZERO evidence that we NEEDED to invade Iraq to put pressure on the Iranians, or to support democratic forces there.

If anything, we've merely speeded up their nuclear weapons development timetable.

Ultimately, what you are saying is that rather than put pressure on Israel to make peace with the Palestinians, instead of coddling the Sharon' governmnet's increasingly excessive response to terrorist attacks, the United States must invade a country in the region, get hundreds or thousands [eventually] of our soldiers killed, and spend tens or hundreds of billions of scarce tax dollars on this enterprise so that we can do force the Iranians, Syrians and Saudis to capitualte in their enmity with Israel.

Take away Syrian, Saudi and Iranian support, and Palestinian resistance collapses.

Not a very efficient way to do things, is it?

Now, I can see Julius Caesar pulling a stunt like that. But not a modern, liberal democracy like the United States.

And even in the case of Caesar, he might actually have been able to pull it off because he was a world-historical genius.

The stumblebums running our country at the moment, however, do not exactly inspire one with confidence, to put it mildly.

I just want to alert people to this excellent article on why certain political groups are aligning.

Hesiod:

What purpose are we serving there? The evidence is mounting that this venture is doing exactly the opposite of its intent. Namely, it's making it much more difficult to confront and battle radical islamic terrorism, and ideology.

There are now rumblings that the Iraqi constitution will, in all probability, be less pluralistic or democratic than originally hope. It is very probable that any eventual sovereign Government of Iraq will have to do battle with insurgent forces from various factions for years, if not decades.

This will lead, I strongly suspect, to increasingly repressive measures by the government to put down the insurgents. Is that what we fought for?

This is a fairly pungent fallacy. In the first paragraph you claim that we're making the fight against Islamic terrorism more difficult without making any mention of what it is that you're comparing the present circumstances to, or how you're making the comparison. The best anyone could give you on that is that we simply don't know whether we're making the problem worse or better, but there's at least an openly therapeutic intent. One thing we do know is that it was bound to get a lot worse if we did nothing. I agree that this isn't a "clash of civilizations." It's more like a final showdown between totalitarianism and the liberal ideal, and what Qutb and the Islamo/Fascists have introduced into the ancient conflict is a perfected version of suicide terrorism that targets noncombatants on a massive scale. We aren't going to make things better by not taking it to the enemy, so even if this does make things worse the alternative would not have ever made things better. And the really unavoidable logic is that if I'm right that this really is the latest battle in an ancient war (or the latest war in an ancient conflict), then the only thing that makes sense is to inject the patient with the antidote before the virus consumes the host completely.

The problem with the logic of intervention in the somewhat analogous runup to WWII is that the more dangerous Germany became, the higher the price of intervention. And at any stage it could have easily been argued that the intervention "made things worse," when compared to the wishful thought that Germany was a highly educated and rational population who would eventually come to their senses. And if that's not a clear analog to the present situation, because the version of totalitarianism is slightly different and the warfare strategy is different, tell me what counter-totalitarian processes were making headway within the Arab/Muslim world before we crossed the border into Iraq? I looked pretty hard for reasons to be optimistic, and found none. Perhaps the closest was the Egyptians' apparent rejection of "militant" Islam, and the moderation of some of the Islamists. But even that was pretty tentative.

But I'm not making light of the problem. With the possible exception of India nearly all successful democracies require a stable middle class, and building that in Iraq isn't a short term project. But perhaps another institution can, during the interim, replace the institutional role of the middle class. And there has been a pretty convincing transformation of Kurdish society that finally ended the bitter factional rivalries between the KDP and the PUK (the Barzani and Talabani). So your unremitting pessimism about the prospects of success can't lay claim to realism.

Put aside the blatant, self-serving hypocrisy of arguing that the Iraq intervention was jsutfied solely on the grounds of humanitarianism, we are probably only going to have moderate success in achieveing even that goal.

It wasn't justified solely on the grounds of humanitarianism? Heck, you can't even argue the trains ran on time. What in the world are you talking about? As far as I'm concerned the invasion of Cambodia by the Vietnamese was "entirely justified on humanitarian grounds." You're letting your partisanship completely overrule your judgment and common sense.

Turns out, it was ALL LIES, meant to scare us into "liberating" the Iraqi marketplace so that the right wing can have a place to experiment with the flat tax and mass privatization. There is no way to spin this as anything but a massive screwup/con job.

No , it didn't "turn out" that way at all. Calling it "ALL LIES" is the lie- putting it in CAPITAL LETTERS just makes it a bigger lie. One more useful idiot helping to ratchet up the death toll of Americans and Iraqis hoping to be free.

This idiot "loves America" with all his heart? Give me a quarter for the jukebox-- play B-1 "Love Stinks"

Moron. Deadly stupid LYING moron.

I rarely post on this site, but this comment deserves a reply.

I agree that 9/11 changed the equation, but I don't believe it "changed everything". That's obviously false, NYC is still there, and they are busy designing cool replacements for the WTC. Life does go on, after all. Using exceptionalist arguments about life in the US is just as misleading as using exceptionalist arguments about life in Baghdad.

However, "the terrorists" are using asymmetrical warfare against us. It behooves us to be somewhat choosy in our response. As Donald Rumsfeld says, as a war of attrition, we are losing badly, outspending the terrorists by a factor of 1000 to 1, or worse. It's clearly not a sustainable figure.

I felt that Iraq was a dog we could conveniently let lie. Saddam had been defanged, and if you watched closely during the run-up to the war, it was pretty clear that any international threat he posed was way over-hyped. In short, I felt--and still feel-- that Lugar & Nunn have a more realistic model for foreign policy than GWB.

Saddam did use weapons of mass distruction on the Kurds. So what happened to his WMD program? I refuse to believe that he simply dismantled it on his own without telling anyone. I don't know what happened to to his weapons programs; but until we find out, they still matter. Saddam and friends never were and will never be good people. The invasion of Iraq was justified for our protection.

Some people switch sides in every election; it's one of the great features of our democratic systems. The fact that there are some honest-to-goodness liberals who have become super-hawks is nothing new: in the 50's they were called "Cold War Democrats"; in the 60's, "Hawks"; in the 70's, "Scoop Jackson Democrats"; and in the 80's, "neoconservatives". And of course, there are also a significant number of voters who were comfortable voting for conservative candidates who now question the honesty of our leaders and the efficacy of our foreign entanglements.

Such is politics. Although I disagree with him, Totten has the right approach. He intends to vote Democratic down the ticket, but he supports Bush's Mid-East policy, and that trumps everything else for him at the Presidential level. Why that is considered to be unacceptable, when liberal Democrats welcome the support of economic conservatives in the Northeast and West who feel the GOP stance on abortion or gay rights is too extreme, is beyond my comprehension, since that sort of split-ticket voting occurs in every election.

In short, liberals should continue to lobby for the Tottenite vote, and be less concerned with the faux-Democrats who voted for a sexual pervert to be governor of California. Those voters did not have the excuse of the "War on Terror" in that election, nor could they honestly claim that the incumbent was a liberal; they've clearly abandoned the cause, and, like the Dixiecrats whose loss Zell Miller mourns, they ain't comin' back. If the Democrats are going to win, they are going to have to look elsewhere for support, and not bother trying to win back every defector.

"Moreover, I have stated that the CORRECT strategy for liberalizing the Middle East was to foster a democratic revolution in IRAN.

It would serve as an example to all in the region that radical Islam as a governing philosophy is a failure, and its rejection by the citizens of Iran would be orders of magnitude more powerful than an imposed liberalism on Iraq by an occupying United States. And, it would come without the enormous cost in U.S. lives and treasure."

This pie in the sky plan would be nice if it were doable. Only a western liberal could believe that middle easterners see radical Islam as a governing philosphy is a failure. I have seen no evidence of this. The press does from time to time report on student rallies in Iran against the mullahocracy, but reports of no organized armed resistance, nor of an even single freedom loving militant suicide car bomb attack against any Iranian government interests. What the hell is wrong with the freedom loving Iranians? Why won't they fight for their freedoms? The short answer is: they want the United States to do it for them.

Yep. Stomp your feet and gnash your teeth, but nothing in the middle east is going to drastically change without directy intervention from the outside. And other than in Islamic countries influnced by direct contact with continental Europe such as Turkey and the some in the Balkans the Islamic mindset hasn't changed much in over a thousand years. The foundation is the Koran and jihad and will continue to be the Koran and jihad, until they are forced, not persuaded, into the liberal idea of separation of church and state. To believe otherwise is naivete bordering on stupidity.

The whole system is religious paternalism enforced through terror. What illiterate snaggletoothed, soap-intolerant, job-shy, religious nutcase heading an Islamofascist household is going to give up that gig without a fight? Not many I'm afraid. Because the kids and the wife are scared shitless of the old man and if he kills one of them nothing will happen to him, the law is always on dad's side. It is an ideal system to control the masses, you have your own little Islamofascist party member in nearly every house. And they BELIEVE every thing the anti-American government employed imam tells them on Friday as the word of God.

So trying to change this system from the inside would be damn near impossible in the short run. Plus if you attempt it and it fails, considering the Iranian populace have really shown no stomach for an all out revolutionary uprising that it would take, then things could get much much worse. But I suppose if we are willing to allow Iran to get the bomb and other WMD and continue to take civilian casualties like 9/11 then maybe in thirty years or so when all of the radical clerics are dead and the Iranians finally have had enough, democracy will come to Iran.

Steve:

In short, liberals should continue to lobby for the Tottenite vote, and be less concerned with the faux-Democrats who voted for a sexual pervert to be governor of California. Those voters did not have the excuse of the "War on Terror" in that election, nor could they honestly claim that the incumbent was a liberal; they've clearly abandoned the cause, and, like the Dixiecrats whose loss Zell Miller mourns, they ain't comin' back.

Well, the miscalculation runs a lot deeper than simply a realignment on foreign affairs or the War on Totalitarianism. But the way it slashes into the Democratic base is that it's difficult for some of us to imagine that people who are so far off the mark on foreign policy and security could know what they're talking about in other realms. If I were a linguist I'd start looking a lot more carefully at Chomsky's research, to see if there's any evidence of the wishful-thinking nicompoopery and sloppiness so evident in his politics.

But I think there would have been a realignment even if 9/11 hadn't occurred. In a sense that's what this flap about Limbaugh's football remarks were all about. Some folks are very sensitive about the fact that the Democrats no longer automatically own the issue of racial tolerance. So any observation a prominent Republican makes on racial issues has to be interpreted as reactionary, even if it has nothing whatever to do with racism. Being anti-racist was a cheap point-getter until racial equality began to heave into sight, at which point finer distinctions between "correct" attitudes are used to stake out dwindling moral territory. The irony is that this is all a sign of enormous progress, and in a sense the result of Democratic victories.

But if you think it's all a matter of not being sufficiently "ideologically pure," sobeit. This country has always been an ideological mess, by design. It's a fine Madisonian mess, in fact. Now, if we can just manage to mess up the sharpness of the divisions in Iraq and the Middle East according to the same formula...

I just couldnt stay out of the fray.

"Remember Matt, we Liberal Hawks remain Liberals. We still believe in a "compassionate social contract" here at home, even while also believing that the extension of these benefits to the rest of the world is a liberal ideal. We havenít picked up and changed camps just because we agree with a hawkish foreign policy. I think this is precisely why we are called Liberal Hawks instead of Republicans."

More here.

Steve Smith-

Faux Democrats were voting for Clinton in California?

Weren't they supposed to vote for Grey or Cruz?

Just who is in charge of the Dems these days...they need to get organized.

Or was it that they all got confused by the punchcards...again.

I think we're losing sight of when this disillusionment with the Far Left Democrats started. It didn't start with 9/11. It started in all those heavily Democratic cities that began electing centrist mayors, and states that began electing centrist governors, no matter whether those centrists ran on a Democratic or Republican ticket. It started from the bottom up, after people began experiencing for themselves what their cities and states were becoming after the Far Left penalized potential employers, crippled the police, crippled schoolteachers, and proposed the same solution to every social problem: increase taxes, increase sensitivity training, pass more laws about everything, and buy off every complaining constituency. The same realization finally percolated up to the national level with the electoral success of Clinton-Gore and the DLC. Most people still have good words for his centrist domestic agenda, which repeatedly co-opted Republican initiatives.

People could see with their own eyes that the Far Left was too extreme at the local level, but they left foreign policy to the experts. 9/11 showed a great many Americans that those foreign policy experts were out-to-lunch, too--most of all, the academic experts who have had a near monopoly on foreign policy. The Angry Left is now looking to use any Bush foreign policy failures to regain the White House and begin rolling back all those centrist compromises that have eroded its domestic agenda over the years.

It's not going to happen. It's not a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy that has weakened the Far Left. It's a mounting record of failure after failure at local, national, and now global levels over the past four decades.

I say this as a lifelong moderate Democrat who had already begun abandoning my party at the local and state level well before 9/11. So far, I've never voted for a Republican presidential candidate (except for John Anderson who ran as an independent in 1980). I can't say yet whether or not I'll cross that threshold in 2004.

joel et al, opposing the Iraq invasion was hardly "far left"

Everybody I work with, except for the one Quaker, supported the Afghanistan expedition. Every single one. Nobody I work with supported the Iraq invasion, because, as a web-savvy bunch, we were pretty well aware that Iraq's WMD & especially nuclear programs were not "as advertized".

There's nothing "far-left" about this. The only two "far left" threads are the hard-core "peace with dishonor" folks, who didn't even want to take out Bin Laden & company, and the crazy neo-lib types who think they can remake the middle east in their own image. (On this, I can't tell "radical left" from "radical right". I substitute: "just plain radical")

I felt that we were in for a long hard slog, doing police work world wide, and running a long hearts-and-minds campaign against the crazies. If anything, hold back while the slow-motion Second Iranin Revolution completes, possibly with some encouraging behind-the-scenes engagement with liberal Iranian military commanders. (There must be some!) I don't believe it's possible to war a "war on terror" any more than it is to wage one against drugs, or even poverty. It's the wrong imagery, and I think that imagery cost us badly when we equated war on terror with war on Saddam Hussein, who is admittedly a more concrete target.

Followup:

Not all conservative Southern Democrats agree with The Hon. Zell Miller. Just recently (10/15) the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran this interview with Sam Nunn, Democratic foreign policy/defense guru extraordinaire. Nunn has much better creds than Miller: he was working on international terrorism & WMD long before it became a sexy topic. He and Richard Lugar ® deserve more credit than any 10 neocons for their groundbreaking work in agressive nuclear non-prolifieration at the sub-state level.

'Catastrophic terrorism is the greatest threat' U.S. faces

Interview with Sam Nunn

[...]

Q: What is your sense of the situation in Iraq? Were there weapons of mass destruction there?

A: In terms of threats, I would have to say Iraq was nowhere near at the top of my list. Never has been. The 120 tons of highly enriched uranium that is still in the former Soviet Union that has not been properly secured is a greater threat. The North Korean situation is a greater threat. Always has been.

So, the question is whether Iraq deserves the kind of priority, focus and resources we have given it when we are not doing the job in other areas.

Q: Would you say the war in Iraq was justified then?

A: Saddam Hussein is a very bad person. He's done a lot of evil things. Can you justify the war on a humanitarian basis? Yes. Can you justify the war on a long-term threat basis? Yes. Was it the highest priority for America given we do not have infinite resources? No.

We can justify war in a lot of places in the world usually on a humanitarian basis but usually you try to act with the international community and under some kind of international consensus unless there is a clear and present peril to America that is of an emergency nature. And I don't think Iraq was that.

Q: The United States suspects Iran is building atomic bombs. Are they? If so, what should be done about it?

A: I think Iran is clearly embarked on a nuclear weapons program and they've got to be deterred from that. That is going to take a very serious effort by the United States, Russia and Europe. It's going to take a lot of effort to prevent this threat with international cooperation and without a military conflict.

There are just so many countries we can take over and rebuild at one time. As strong a country as America is, nation building has never been our great talent. We need the world to participate -- even in Afghanistan and Iraq. If we need to give up some of our control to get the world involved, then we need to give up some of our control. But we're going to be viewed more and more as an occupying power unless we get the world involved and we have not done that.

Q: Then there is the question of North Korea.

A: Someone asked me why North Korea was a greater priority in February, March, April than was Iraq. It's because [the North Koreans] have moved [their nuclear] material and we don't know where it is. That is a great diminishing of our ability and leverage. Time has been against us on this one.

That doesn't mean that we don't still have a real opportunity to prevent North Korea from becoming a nuclear power. Direct talks with North Korea can be under the multilateral umbrella but nobody can have the kind of conversation we have to have with them except us. And this administration has not been willing to do that.

[...]

So, p mac, what are you willing to demand (and enforce, and how) with regard to the Iranian regime, and what are you willing to give in return? And the same for North Korea. Do you really think you can speak for them? Do you share their mindset? Or that of the majority of the people of Iran or North Korea? At least you agree with Bush about the "Axis of Evil"! You just disagree about priorities.

This sounds like a 'deus ex machina' intervention, but in many ways it IS.

Many of the solutions and assertions and criticisms posted here are bounded and limited by some rather crippling assumptions: for example, 'the only way to change Islam is...' followed by that poster's preferred methodology.

If, on another hand, Muslims are led to see that their OWN holy scripture leads to 'the Return of the 12th Imam'in the year 1260AH, and can be permitted to see that His coming, in that very year (May 23, 1844 on the Common Era calendar) was fulfillment of Islamic tradition, THEN the huge mass of Muslims have their love of God vindicated, and yet they have access to the Teachings of the Holy One Who came and initiated the changes we see happening around us this very day. They also have Teachings from God allowing and encouraging them to give up ALL priesthoods, their ulama-clergy included.

Rumsfeld wants a bold and daring move? Print leaflets in Arabic (and Farsi) telling them in no uncertain terms that their Holy Scripture, their Muslim Hadith, leads to and authenticates the Holy One Who came May 23, 1844, Whose coming is prophecied in the Old and New Testaments, promised by Jesus Himself (Matt 24:14, Luke 21:24 and Matt 24:15, all three coming to fulfillment in calendar year 1844).

The widespread distribution of such pamphlets would precipitate a world-wide debate and discussion in Arabic-speaking AND western nations, leading to the public, conscious investigation of the Holy One and His follower, the Glory of God.

Such world-wide debate, discussion and investigation of the truth would lead Muslims AND Americans to creative, SAFE, non-threatening and non-violent methods of cooperating... transforming the face and nature and quality of the whole 'clash of civilizations' in a matter of weeks or days!

But America's Christian clergy are addicted to scoffing and denial (II Peter 2:1)... Sigh! No daring, bold or courageous moves THIS month...

Sorry, Eye Opener, we aren't going to proselytize on behalf of Baha'i.

It would be a lot more fun, actually, to spread around the information in the book by that German researcher who says the Quran was originally written in Aramaic, not Arabic.

"BUSH MAY BE IMPEACHED: No. It's not what you think. He won't be impeached over Harken oil. He might get the axe because he totally failed to prepare the American people for Iraq's response to our invasion.

Since Saddam has nothing to lose, he's going to throw everything at us, and Israel, that he has. Including chemical and biological weapons. He'd throw nukes at us too, if he had them.

Plus, who knows how much money and resorces he would pour into Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to strike back.

If we suffer massive casualties, without adequately preparing the American people for them, Bush is a gonner.

The conventional military operation to overthrow Saddam is relatively easy.

But, if he has what he and others claims he has in his arsenal, we may be facing large losses.
"

Hesiod 7/21/2002
http://counterspin.blogspot.com/2002_07_21_counterspin_archive.html#79226311

"I think the Iraq invasion and occuptaion was a miscalculation of world historical proportions. We should have pushed for democratic, economic and religious liberalism in the Muslim and Arab world immediately after the Afghanistan conflict"

Hesiod - a bit dramatic are we? The stakes are high, but we haven't lost yet.

Pmac, you said:
"We can justify war in a lot of places in the world usually on a humanitarian basis but usually you try to act with the international community and under some kind of international consensus unless there is a clear and present peril to America that is of an emergency nature. And I don't think Iraq was that."

WRONG. During the Cold War, we didn't take polls in third world countries or dictatorships to see if our actions were going to be popular. We did what we had to do. Each country acts according to its own interests. The Europeans did not have anything to gain by supporting the invasion. We did, and we still do.

Thanks for linking to my post, Joe, but just to clarify: Harry is across the Atlantic. I'm on your side of the Atlantic (in Washington, DC, to be precise).

I don't really see how Zell Miller's endorsement of Bush means anything about the left. Zell is a far-right Dixiecrat who won a special election, and who doesn't have the guts to run again, so all he does is trash his "fellow" Democrats. He's a phony. Only in "TottenWorld" could he be considered a harbinger of anything, or a representative Democrat.

I'd have said so on Totten's blog but he's banned me.

Hesiod,

I was regularly attacked for being against the war in Vietnam by John Birchers back when and I routinely speak and lunch with Michael J Totten. I assure you that the experiences are nothing at all alike. The accents are completely different for one thing, and Michael is better read by a very long pitch.

Most of the John Birch people I knew were devout Christians and Michael is a small "a" atheist, but actually both my John Birch neighbors and Michael are really quite hospitable in their own homes.

Hesiod,

I was regularly attacked for being against the war in Vietnam by John Birchers back when and I routinely speak and lunch with Michael J Totten. I assure you that the experiences are nothing at all alike. The accents are completely different for one thing, and Michael is better read by a very long pitch.

Most of the John Birch people I knew were devout Christians and Michael is a small "a" atheist, but actually both my John Birch neighbors and Michael are really quite hospitable in their own homes.

Diana,

It is not just Zell Miller. You hear a lot of anecdotal evidence of people leaving the Democrats over the issue of the war.

There is some movement in the opposite direction of course. I'd say it was smaller by a factor of three to ten.

The Democrats are already getting squeezed. 2002 and the election this week (Nov 2003). By 2004 they will be facing a land slide. Not necessiarily in their favor.

You are quite correct that "real" Democrats will go down with the ship. That is what makes a centerist like Miller so useful. You can tell which way the wind blows.

Policy is always made at the margins. The leaners in many ways are more important than the those with solid convictions. It is about the kind of deals you have to make to get the last vote to get you to 50% plus one. Miller is important.

p mac,

Actually if you consider Germany and Japan we haven't done to badly at nation building.

If you consider places like Taiwan and South Korea we haven't done to badly in those cases either.

In my mind, Bush and Cheney needs to be impeached. the GOP has destoryed te once love for America. in a world-wide servey, America is the greatest threat for peace. remember nixon found your 'not' above law. this White House has gone much further than Nixon's people. now trying to get out of it, by claiming, "It's protecting America from torrorist. give me a break! the courts in DC gives a rubber stamp with warrents on wiretapping. now their wanting to change that law where they don't even need one. however, it's againest the law now. and sure these con-artist will fool America to get away with it. I'm sick of the lies and evil in the GOP. The GOP is an insuit to America! their polices is and has caused the 'worst' harm for America than 'anything' in history. I pray America will wake up before God turns away from our 'once' nation. as God did other nation's in the Bible. as Jim Bakker is warning. I pray America wakes up....

Personally, I pray Elvis wakes up. That would be the real Elvis, boy.

Lemming, meet political cliff....

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