Warren Christopher And Strong Reactions

Check the update at the bottom.

So this is going to be even less thought out than my usual posts. Deal with it.

I’m back from the Warren Christopher lecture, and I’m seriously having trouble understanding the strength of my own reaction.

Which is flat-out anger. In the car driving down the 110, I was trying to unpack my reaction, and just let my internal editors take a break. And here’s what came out:

I wish I was religious. Then I could believe there was a hell and wish I could send people like him to it.

Which is way over the top by any reasonable measure. but I swear that’s what I was thinking. And it is so far from the midly critical intellectual critique that I walked in the door with that I’m not sure how to react to my own reaction.

And yes, I wondered if I’m just having a bad week (hint: yes, I am. A good friend is in the hospital after a horrible motorcycle crash this weekend that left the other rider – the stupid one riding far too fast on the wrong side of the road – dead, severely injured my friend and bruised and shook his lovely girlfriend. Another friend is just out of the hospital after a horrible bicycle crash that left him needing major surgery to his shoulder).

But there’s something serious here as well.

I doubt that I’ll get to the bottom of it in this post alone, and there will be a longer discussion to follow.

But here’s what pissed me off – a close paraphrase of one of Christopher’s comments:

Why didn’t the Americans attack Iran – maybe we should have. Based on Valentine’s Day thought Iranian govt would solve it. He, Vance, Carter thought keeping the hostages alive would be the priority.

Maybe if forceful action had been used Reagan wouldn’t have been President.
[emphasis added]

Not “maybe we wouldn’t be looking down the barrel of a major confrontation with state-supported Islamist radicals.” Not “maybe 9/11 wouldn’t have happened, and tens of thousands of people wouldn’t have died.” Not any number of other things involving the United States and our relations with the rest of the world. Ronald effing Reagan’s election is as bad a thing as he can imagine.

I can’t imagine a more insular view of things. And I’m terrified that one of the actual people who shaped events can’t see past the mirrored window of his political party.

A while ago I wrote this:

Which brings me to the final point, and to me the most frightening. It’s an adjunct to the first two, and simply put, it suggests that everything that happens isn’t really about the thing itself – the war in Iraq as an example – but it’s about us; how we feel about ourselves, who has political advantage, who profits and who loses in the courts of power, prestige and wealth.

I’m genuinely afraid that the ruling cohort, and those who enable it by participating in the political process, have so much lost touch with the realities that we face that they are incapable of looking at an issue like Iraq, or 9/11, or the economic straits we have spent and borrowed ourselves into as a nation except as a foothold in climbing over the person in front of them. I imagine a small table of gentlemen and -women, playing whist on a train as it heads out over a broken bridge. The game, of course matters more than anything, and the external events – they’re just an effort to distract they players from their hands.

I was being somewhat rhetorical when I wrote that. The point was serious, and I thought accurate. But tonight I just had it pushed into my face, and somehow it’s not clever any more. it’s enraging.

Secretary Christopher wore a beautiful tailored suit, and his shoes were brilliantly polished. They reflected the crowd; in my Royal Robbins khakis and Timberland nubucks I felt badly underdressed. This crowd was a locus of influence and power here in Los Angeles; a crowd that can Get Things Done.

And I left in fear that they’ve lost the notion that they are getting things done for any reason except for their advantage or the advantage of their own little club. And yes, that pisses me off. A lot.

To end on a whimsical note, the other thing it reminded me of was Terry Gilliam’s great film “Baron Munchausen.” In it, a European town is besieged by the Turkish army; the town is run by a rational leader (Horatio Jackson brilliantly played by Jonathan Pryce) who keeps entering into formal agreements with the Turks – Wednesday, the Turks may shell them without response – because having formal agreements that embody order, and rationality expressed in words are what matters:

Horatio Jackson: Ah, the officer who risked his life by singlehandedly destroying *six* enemy cannon and rescuing ten of our men help captive by The Turk.
Heroic Officer: Yes, sir.
Horatio Jackson: The officer about whom we’ve heard so much.
Heroic Officer: I suppose so, sir.
Horatio Jackson: Always taking risks far beyond the call of duty.
Heroic Officer: I only did my best, sir.
Horatio Jackson: Have him executed at once. This sort of behavior is demoralizing for the ordinary soldiers and citizens who are trying to lead normal, simple, unexceptional lives. I think things are difficult enough without these emotional people rocking the boat.

Here are my notes (via treo, and yes my thumbs were tired):

Warren Christopher 09/25/06

The crowd – judicial insiders…”I need to start getting into private judging; it’s too lucrative to miss out on”.

Talks about setting up the tribunal. Bought a building? Who paid the cost of the tribunal?

Feels Shah could have gotten care in Mexico…wishes we hadn’t let him in, but thinks that doing so was an expression of our values…

Anne Swift decided to surrender the embassy – the Marine guards couldn’t have held the Embassy.

First thing was to go to the UN…

Tried interlocutors to open line of communication.

Maybe we should have detained the Iranian diplomats. Desperate to open line of communication.

Vance & he thought that as long as the Americans were in good health force was not an option.

Reagan election – he said they’d be better deal with Carter. The Algerians said they felt that Reagan had an impact.

Impact of failed rescue mission….it had a negative effect – dispersed hostages until release. May have caused them to disperse nuke facilities today.

Thinks they may have been too focused on it. Lots of senior Administration focus on Iran.
Might have been sounder to delegate and have midlevel folks deal with it.

He got angry on Jan 19 when Iranians walked back on the signed agreement and refused to sign an annex concerning bank transfers…called his pilot to leave. _This_ made him angry…

“Don’t think we violated ‘don’t pay ransom’ but we might have come close…” (exact quote)

Soviet decision to invade Afghanistan impacted by hostage crisis?

Thinks we tempered our reaction to Sov invasion because of the hostage crisis.

Why didn’t the Americans attack Iran – maybe we should have. Based on Valentines Day thought Iranian govt would solve it. He, Vance, Carter thought keeping the hostages alive would be the priority.

Maybe if forceful action had been used Reagan wouldn’t have been President.

Update: See comments by andrewdb and m. takhallus. This is a bipartisan issue. This isn’t remotely a Democratic issue, although I hammer the Democrats about it a lot because they’re my party and I want them to change so they can win. And I push them hard on the issue of foreign policy because we need a real set of debates.

This is an issue involving all the ‘insiders’ who have forgotten why power is worth having.

I’ll emphasize a point takhallus made:

This is why some of us are so furious at the current administration. Not only are they losing, they’re setting the country up for another round of moping self-doubt. That’s dangerous for the entire world.

There is no substitute for victory. Manly chin-jutting and chest-thumping are not victory. Victory is victory. We’re not gaining a victory right now, we’re losing. Just as there’s no substitute for victory there’s no excuse for failure.

42 thoughts on “Warren Christopher And Strong Reactions”

  1. OK, a bunch of random thoughts based on what you wrote.

    Thanks. Great report.

    I never knew: was the problem (on the American side) with the Iranian diplomatic hostage crisis that nobody knew back then what we were dealing with and what this might lead to; or were the people in charge in America incapable of dealing with a challenge of this kind under any circumstances? It turns out the latter is the case. It’s because they operated within a mode of thought dominated by domestic political conflict, and they weren’t up to dealing with a challenge that was so very much not about navel-gazing. (That is, we have met the enemy, and they are not us.)

    National honour plays little part in Warren Christopher’s understanding of events, even tough it was a crisis about an immense violation of American national honour. When American values are implemented, as in admitting the Shah (a defeated ally), he even regrets it. His story is like one told by a man, or a man representing, a nation that was deeply defeated, not just militarily but morally, so that no more right remained to defy, to demand, to condemn the foe, and when need be shed blood for national honor.

    Speculation: maybe a great national crisis involving defeat in Vietnam, the impeachment of a president and deep social conflict brought to the top an atypical bunch of leaders (led by President Jimmy Carter) whose mentality was that every problem was ultimately about domestic political conflict rather than what was out there in the world. It’s not unusual that a great defeat can bring about civil war or a politically bitter generation too inclined to domestic conflict. (Examples: the effect of defeat in the Hundred Years war on English politics, and the effect of the First World War on Russia.)

    “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Armed Liberal, in this case you are, and on this issue I respect you very much for that. I don’t know what good it does you to be on the side of the good guys in the unstated dispute over whether there’s a real world out there or whether everything is just a projection of American domestic politics, but anyway you are. This is such a basic way to be correct that you ought to be thinking: “I’m the kind of guy that should influence things. How can I push those who follow in the path of deluded old-timers like Warren Christopher out of the way and throw political advantage to those who think like me?”

    Regardless of chronological age, you have become part of a new generation (shaped by recent events that may define a new generation) that needs to get irrelevant old-timers and those trapped in their world view out of the way, in order to change the world for the better and to fight, basically, religious fascists.

    The fight over the 11 September, 2001 memorials is more important than I thought it was. I thought it was important to respect the dead, and it is. But it is also important politically and culturally, because oldies who don’t get it (as shown by the constant tendency to twist the memorials to be about domestic side-taking and national self-blame) shouldn’t be allowed to much up the sacred places and symbols of later generations, starting with the one whose first dreadful slap and cry of awareness was “9/11!” This is a big deal.

    Do you ever get to talk to Jeff Jarvis (BuzzMachine)? I think maybe you should talk to him about this.

  2. It’s a real stretch to say that Jimmy Carter could have done anything to prevent the latest rise of radical Islam.

    Jimmy sent the military in after the hostages, things went bad, he got blamed. Political spin wasn’t as developed as it is today.

    No doubt 25 years from now, people will wonder what took us so long to pull out of Iraq…

  3. Maybe Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have been president if we’d attacked Iran. What would have helped Carter more, though, is if we hadn’t had double-digit unemployment and inflation, malaise, a general sense of impending doom, and the feeling that we were bending over for every creep on the planet.

    I think your metaphor of a bridge game on a train is a very good one. The way I would put it, though, would be a checkers player who only cares about beating his hated opponent, and is annoyed that the battle of Antietam is raging all around them and disrupting the game.

  4. bq. _”We think back with appreciation for the decency of our 40th president and respect for all that he achieved. After so much turmoil in the ’60s and ’70s, our nation had begun to lose confidence. And some were heard to say that the presidency might even be too big for one man. That phrase did not survive the 1980s.”_ VP Cheney 09 June ’04

    The presidency was too big for Jimmy Carter.

    Long before he became President Carter had been ostracised by his 1946 Naval Academy classmates. I had friends from USNA ’46 … he was widely despised as a weakling.

    The problem was far from unique to Carter. In fact, as analysed by Strauss & Howe in ‘Generations’ (1991) the problem was endemic to the entire Silent Generation (born 1925 to 1943), described as “risk averse, conformist, indecisive arbitor-leaders” with a firm commitment to “pluralism, process, internationalism, and social justice.”

    Warren Christopher was cut from that cloth. The Silent Generation never produced a President — and only one Vice President. The closest they came was Jimmy Carter (born 1924) … who was socially and intellectually much more like those born slightly after him.

    Imagining a series of Presidents like Carter (and Christopher) gives me more than a little pause.

  5. AL,

    Thanks for the first person account of Christopher’s remarks. I’m sure they will appear nowhere but on the blogs, very revelatory of the Silent Generation (more little men).

    Excellent analogy too, about the bridge players on the train…

  6. Carter’s half-assed Desert One “rescue” mission, i.e. don’t use force anywhere or for God’s sake kill anyone, is eerily predictive of Clinton’s wish for “black clad ninjas” to scare the hell out of bin Laden. But make sure there’s an ergonomic chair to tie him to, and non-allergenic tape so his beard isn’t messed up.

    THAT in a nutshell is the failure, the total failure, of the Democratic party.

    At no time, no place, no situation, are Dems willing to kill avowed enemies of the United States if Muslims seethe and threaten.

    Because fundamentally Democrats are AFRAID. They want nothing more than to surrender as quickly as possible.

  7. Jim Rockford –

    I wish it were only the Dems. Did you see the reports of the Council on Foreign Relations meeting with Ahamawhatever? James Baker and that ilk is no better then Warren Christopher.

    David Blue is right – we need to get beyond these fossils.

  8. Christopher does have a point in thinking if Carter had achieved release of the hostages, and at the proper time, it might have been what turned the election and made Christopher’s dream come true. AL, you suggest their problem was they couldn’t see the outside reality and, thus, couldn’t make the right decisions. I’d suggest Christopher couldn’t, and still can’t, see the reality of themselves and, thus, couldn’t choose options that were contrary to their natures.

    The Carter Administration policy thinking on the Iranian hostage crisis was also reflected in their thinking about the Soviets, Angola, Cuba, Nicaragua, and on and on, not to mention Carter’s public emphasis on his nuclear weapons policy consultations with his daughter, which I mention anyway just for laughs. It is reflected in their letting the military languish and decay throughout Carter’s term. It was taking war off the table early on in his administration, in favor of human rights.

    The rescue attempt was the best option they could bring themselves to choose and that it was an abysmal choice, failing abysmally, is instructive as to why Christopher’s implying they could have chosen options leading to success was always out of the realm of possibility. It was their philosophical outlook.

  9. Interesting that Carter, et al, were able to rationalize their inability to do anything as “as long as the hostages were healthy it wasn’t a crisis.”

    Didn’t they HEAR Uncle Walter counting down the days in captivity every single evening? Didn’t they FEEL the Presidency sliding away from under them as each day went by and American rage grew?

    At least when Nixon was in trouble he had the grace to drink too much, wander the halls of the White House at 3:00 in the morning and talk to the pictures of previous presidents. Carter and his coterie sound like they didn’t even realize they were in trouble.

    Did anyone ever try to shoot him??? And if not, why not.

  10. Vietnam and impeachment led directly to Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately, Iraq will lead us to another such. That’s what happens when we lose wars. It is intellectually dishonest to blame only the reaction and not the action. Carter and his era came from Johnson and Nixon and their eras. Surprise: when we lose, when we fail, people lose faith in our ability to win.

    This is why some of us are so furious at the current administration. Not only are they losing, they’re setting the country up for another round of moping self-doubt. That’s dangerous for the entire world.

    There is no substitute for victory. Manly chin-jutting and chest-thumping are not victory. Victory is victory. We’re not gaining a victory right now, we’re losing. Just as there’s no substitute for victory there’s no excuse for failure.

    Some of the people who are so busy trying to blame this on Democrats and getting themselves all aroused by Mr. Bush’s and Mr. Cheney’s ridiculous tough guy acts, need to focus on the reality here. This is a real war, not a Hollywood war. Looking tough, sounding tough, going all steely-eyed doesn’t mean a thing. All that matters is winning or losing. And the more we lie to ourselves, the more we lie to the people, the more we avoid facing facts and retreat into macho fantasy, the more certain we are to lose.

    I’m with you Armed Liberal in being angry that this has become a game. It’s not a one-sided game. It’s bi-partisan.

  11. All logical as it is, but since the whole thing is unavailable for me to look at, it’s hard to tell if your reaction is justified or you’re fuming over something taken out of context.

  12. Takhalus, whenever I hear a “we’re losing” assumption I always want to know how the person making the argument would define winning.

    To my way of thinking, we won the Iraq war. What we’re dealing with right now is the occupation and reconstruction. Frankly, the part we’re losing is the reconstruction, but on the spectrum of military defeats, if we cut and run right now it wouldn’t be much of a defeat.

    (I should say that I don’t want to downplay the negative consequences of a failed reconstruction. We left Europe after WWI as victors, washing our hands of any responsibility for the smoking ruins, and look how wonderful the results were for the next generation.)

    I’ve said a number of times, if what the Bush Administration had wanted was a war for maximal domestic political gain, the obvious gameplan would have been to roll Iraq like a drunken bum, install a pliable puppet, write a constitution to be implemented “after the current crisis”, and bring the troops home to tickertape parades.

    Instead, we followed a transformative strategy with a hell of a lot of obvious risks. Say what you will about “Manly chin jutting”, the key difference between courage and cowardice is the willingness to accept risk. The Bush Adminsistration accepted risks. The Carter Administration didn’t. The cartoon characterization only convinces the already converted.

    The truly appalling thing is that Iraq (and Afghanistan, for that matter) has been spun as defeats since before either began. And that spinning has been, for the most part, about domestic politics. And what is truly infuriating is that this approach strikes me as fundamentally stupid. If the Democrats manage to cement their image as the party of “Admit Defeat”, well, they’re handing the Republicans a huge head start in every election for the next generation.

    But go ahead; as a Libertarian I get to vote for the least stupid candidate in any given election and feel good about it. It’s actually refreshing when candidates wear their stupidities on their sleeves.

  13. _I never knew: was the problem (on the American side) with the Iranian diplomatic hostage crisis that nobody knew back then what we were dealing with and what this might lead to; or were the people in charge in America incapable of dealing with a challenge of this kind under any circumstances?_

    I’m not sure why it can’t be both.

    On the one hand, communism was the number one threat and the Carter administration had developed a “green belt strategy”:http://www.benadorassociates.com/article/8781 to incite Islam as a weapon against the Soviet’s southern border. Supporting Khomeini would both keep Iran from going red, but also hopefully destabalize the Soviet ‘stans.

    On the other hand, Carter thought gifts and promises (many were significant) would result in a negotiated release. What Carter didn’t seem to understand was that anti-Americanism had become a powerful currency as different factions sought control of the revolution; there wasn’t much Carter could give that they wanted except for hate.

  14. What exactly are Bush, Cheney and Rummy “risking” in Iraq, Mark?

    Win, lose or draw, they will soon retire to a life of comfort with the fortunes they made selling access to the government.

    The next administration will have to fix the mess they made in Iraq, and the next generation of Americans will have to pay the bill.

  15. _What exactly are Bush, Cheney and Rummy “risking” in Iraq,?_

    The primary risk is that the Iraqis will squander the opportunity they have been given. The most common conclusion will be that Arabs (or perhaps Muslims in general) are incapable of governing themselves and that the _only_ way the Islamo-Fascist threat can be removed is with the devastating application of force.

    There were also numerous, serious risks associated with _not_ being in Iraq. For example: a continuation of the illusory ‘stability’ in the region. Continuation of a large five-figure annual death toll, rape rooms, thuggery and corruption. Continuation of Saddam’s nuclear program — which was is Libya, by the way. Continuation of Iraq’s state-sponsorship of terrorism. Continuation of America’s reputation as a cowardly giant. There are many more …

    _they will soon retire to a life of comfort with the fortunes they made selling access to the government_

    Silly child. Rumsfeld came out of retirement to serve. He could have made vastly more as a consultant … a position in which he actually would have been able to sell access to the government. Cheney walked away from a large eight-figure annual income to take a job in the low _six_ figures. Bush could have parlayed his years as governor into some very nice money in Texas, for a lot less work and hassle.

    Then again, folks on the left haven’t understood _service_ to the country in almost two generations, so I’m not surprised you don’t recognise it when you see it.

    _The next administration will have to fix the mess they made in Iraq, and the next generation of Americans will have to pay the bill._

    They’ve made an admirable job already of repairing more than a generation of mess in Iraq. Nearly two million Iraqi exiles and refugees have returned to the country in the last three years. If America were _making_ a mess rather than improving things, Iraqis would be _leaving_. I value the real life opinions of millions of Iraqis far more than youby their actions that you are simply full of shit.

    As such things go, Iraq has not been costly. Until you present a viable “exit strategy” for the “war on poverty” — $7 Trillion and counting, and the formerly strong American black family largely ruined in the process — I’m not going to worry about a few hundred billion spent on something as important as fighting on the central front as defined by the Islamo-Fascists themselves.

  16. I value the real life opinions of millions of Iraqis far more than yours. By their actions the demonstrate that you are simply full of shit.

  17. Are you kidding, Bart from Farm Subsidies?

    Rummy gets to aim the $500 billion a year defense pork hose wherever he wants…a far more lucrative job than giving speeches.

    Check out the money he is funneling to the company he was put in charge of because of his government connections:


    Wow, M. Simon…we won in Vietnam?

    I don’t think we can afford any more wins like that…and we don’t have to, thanks to government debt.

  18. #19,

    As a matter of fact General Giap admits we won.

    By 1974 the insurgency was mostly over and American troops mostly gone.

    In 1975 the South was over run by divisions from the North when we refused air support and re-supply.

    Funny thing is my end as a leftist began when I started educating myself about the ‘Nam War.

    So my advice mky – stay ignorant. No changes required.

  19. #18,

    American debt as a fraction of GDP is in the lower middle range of developed economies.

    Japan is quite high at over 100%.

    Do you really think Japan is insolvent?

  20. M.Simon,

    You sound like a disgruntled sports fan who is still upset about a bad call some ref made 30 years ago that cost your team a win.

    Vietnam went into the history books as a loss for the U.S. Nothing can change that.

    The lesson we should learn from that loss is…if we hadn’t funded the Viet Minh in WWII, we wouldn’t have had to fight them in the first place.

    As we continue to train an army in Iraq for Muqtada al-Sadr at enormous cost to the U.S. taxpayers…we should remember that lesson…

  21. I won’t sign up to the proposition that we’re losing in Iraq, but I *would* like to know when the end goal got changed from “winning a war” to “building sewage systems”.

    Our soldiers should be killing terrorists at least 50% of the time. I can see them training Iraqi’s the niceties of policing and shooting straight for when we leave, but even *that* is not “winning a war”.

    And when I see some big muckety-muck Pentagon General bragging about how good our soldiers have become at “infrastructure building” it just galls the hell out of me. IF “infrastructure building” is important then why can’t Halliburton or the Iraqi’s themselves pound nails and dig wells? Why are our well-trained and incredibly armed warriors being poked into this need simply because they are there?

    Or has someone somewhere decided that it’s safer and there will be less of a body-count if American soldiers don’t actually — you know — fight a war?

  22. “What exactly are Bush, Cheney and Rummy “risking” in Iraq, Mark?”

    Well, considering the narrative that the whole “War on Terror” is a sham to ensure conservative domination of domestic politics, quite a lot, actually.

    But then, internal consistency has never been one of the strong points of the out-there Left. When the “War for Cheap Oil” sent gasoline prices skyrocketing, the morph into the “War for Corporate Windfall Profits”.

    And of course getting back to the question, there’s the whole “legacy” thing. No one wants to be remembered as the President whose bravest moment came in facing down an aquatic killer bunny. People with Presidetial-sized egos worry about things like legacies. Hence, Bill C.’s recent meltdown over criticism of his Administration’s anti-terror policies. (Such worries may explain Sandy Berger’s prediclection for stuffing docs in his jock, too.)

  23. I think Bush and his pals have made enough to hire a posse of sycophants to constantly tell them what a great job they did when they retire…their legacy, such as it is, will be as shining as they want it to be.

  24. Monkeyboy,
    Your comments bears no relation to reality, and only reflects upon yourself. I have no illusions as to the realities of Washington influence politics, but your constant vague insinuations of corruption get tiresome.

  25. Hehe, Robin,

    I’m not making “vague insinuations of corruption.”

    I’m stating it openly.

    I think the only goal of the current crop of Republicans is to put as much government money as possible into their own pockets.

    They create a problem, then implement a “solution” that funnels billions of dollars to companies they and their cronies own.

    Whether we win in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether New Orleans gets rebuilt, whether future generation of Americans have to work in Chinese-owned sweatshops to pay off the massive debt they’ve built up…

    …is completely irrelevant to them.

    Is that clear enough for you Robin?

  26. And hence Monkey, you make Marc D.’s point all over again; a significant portion of the population finds it impossible to think outside the box of immediate personal gamesmanship.

    In economics a similar problem is called “The Tragedy of the Commons“; in politics, if the analogy holds and what we hold in common is considered “somebody elses problem” (if it is seen as a problem at all) then the common ground will fall into ruin.

    There’s an essay in that, but it’s late. Bottom line, the moral equivalent of grafitti is not helpful. But maybe that’s just my opinion

  27. I think the real damage, Mark, is that you guys hold these clowns to such low standards. Everything they do, no matter how screwed up it is, is hailed as a great triumph.

    As long as they quote a little scripture and wave a few flags, you guys let them get away with anything.

    They aren’t the ones who are paying (and are going to keep paying) for their fiascos, it’s your kids.

  28. I think your missing the point of your famous econ example, Mark.

    The point of “The Tragedy of the Commons” is that if someone is able to gain all the benefits from an act, yet make everyone else pay the cost of that act, they will do it.

    Which is exactly what I think Bush and his pals are doing…

  29. No, I’m not missing the point at all. I think one side in the Iraq debate is taking the issues about how the future will unfold seriously, and the other is not.

    I think the spinners on your side are doing damage to the Commons, and I think I’ve made a case. I’m not saying the Bush Doctrine has been an unqualified success (far from it) but I am saying that opponents have yet to get out of the starting blocks, metaphorically speaking.

    Your own arguments boil down to mututally inconsistent attacks on Bush’s personality, and smears about any supporters beins susceptible to those who “quote a little scripture and wave a few flags.”

    Pardon if I remain unconvinced by the depth of your analysis or the honesty of your approach.

  30. I don’t know any other way to put it, Mark.

    If I see someone rob a bank, should I accuse them of jaywalking?

    If by “my side” you mean fiscally conservative Republicans, I think we’re willing to let the Middle East sort itself out and use the money we save to compete against China…before it’s too late.

  31. If you’re a fiscally conservative Republican, I’m a, well, monkey.

    That “quote a little scripture and wave a few flags” schtick sticks out like a sore thumb. Not something even the most pragmatic of Republicans are likely to spout. But any disinformation in the service of a good cause, right?

    Keep poisoning the well, dude. It’s not like your children are going to have to drink out of it.

  32. I was going to post a ditto to Kirk’s comment last night with my own take on monkyboy’s efforts here and stopped short of doing so for the sake of abiding it. But I have say today that I sit here in awe of monkyboy’s insuperable synthesis of devil’s advocate strategy and bread crumb tactics. Monkyboy is a giant among argumentative men.

    If we could field an army of monkyboys against the terrorists on monkyboy’s preferred forest of battle, to which, no doubt, this army could lead them swiftly to, the terrorists would be dead in a matter of weeks. Causa mortis: melancholia driven suicides.

    No, monkyboy, if you saw a robbery you would not bring up jaywalking. However, you would, if someone else saw a robbery and accused the robber of robbery. That’s the bread crumb and you take another from the next response and the next, or you leave one of your own if the last didn’t have one to suit, until the conversation hangs dead in a far off tree and your opponents lie scattered and dazed along the ground.

    And seeing now that Mark Poling has bitten on the irresistible “fiscally conservative Republican” bread crumb you set (if someone hadn’t responded to it, I would have; it’s just that irresistable), I wait in suspense for the tree you will appear in next and the crumb you will set.

    Monkyboy is way too humble; monkyking befits you much better.

  33. #15 from Bart Hall (Kansas, USA):
    >Nearly two million Iraqi exiles and refugees have returned
    >to the country in the last three years.

    Bart, if you don’t mind, where is this coming from?

  34. Perhaps monky’s mission is in fact the diversion of attention and the ratholing of discussions before they gain momentum. It might be instructive for someone to reverse engineer the contexts in which that behavior occurs.

  35. Tim, I suspect reverse engineering the contexts will provide only a leprechaunish explanation. Monkyboy is truly delightful in that way and oh so frustrating.

  36. “The next administration will have to fix the mess they made in Iraq, and the next generation of Americans will have to pay the bill.”

    Forget Iraq. A sideshow at best. This year more than 3,000 Thais were killed by Muslims. Perhaps a half million to a million in Darfur. Iraq is not even worth discussing as a “disaster.”

    What IS a disaster is the Belgian Jihad, where Muslims in Belgium are openly trying to burn Belgians out of their own country. What IS a disaster is MOZART being banned in Germany because Muslims object. Europeans have no place to go to escape Muslims, and will turn to fascist ethnic cleansers like Milosevic or Miladec rather than don the burqa or such.

    What this will end in is bloodshed on a global scale. Muslims are intent on “submit or die” and most non Muslims have made the decision not to submit or die and not quibble about the methods employed either.

    Iraq, Afghanistan (and the abject failure of NATO to even fight, much less supply any troops), Iran (already has nukes, count-down to nuking Tel Aviv and LA), and Pakistan (basically surrendering to Al Qaeda) are part of a larger struggle. Simply put Muslims and non-Muslims cannot exist in the inter-connected Global Village and the sorting of that out will be awful and bloody.

    This is the OTHER great failing of Libs, Dems, and folks like Monkey. They think that GWB, who will soon be gone, is the main threat. Instead of Muslims have one message world-wide. Submit to us or we kill you.

    I have many differences with GWB, but I know who my enemy is. It’s the guy who wants me to convert to his religion or he’ll kill me.

  37. That snippet combines Amir Taheri’s piece in “Commentary Magazine”:http://www.commentarymagazine.com/ of June ’06 (unfortunately behind a subsription) with other reports I have seen that refugee returns are continuing this year at several tens of thousands per month.

    Here’s a list of Taheri’s observations:

    a) 1.2 million refugees have returned to Iraq. Refugee camps in Turkey, Iran and Syria have closed down.
    b) Pilgrimages to Shiite holy sites have skyrocketed. An estimated 12 million pilgrims visited sites in 2005 alone.
    c) 3,000 Iraqi clerics have returned home.
    d) The new Iraqi dinar has risen 23 percent to the Iranian rial, 17 percent to the Kuwaiti dinar and 18 percent in one year to the U.S. dollar. Most Iraqis, Kuwaitis and Iranians treat Iraqi currency as a safe medium of exchange.
    e) Iraqi gross domestic product: up 52.3 percent in 2004.
    f) Inflation: down from 70 percent to 25.4 percent.
    g) Unemployment: down from 60 percent to 30 percent.
    h) Iraq now exports food to neighboring nations. Pre-invasion: dependent on United Nations rations.

    The US Department of State reported March ’06 oil production of 2.05 mbd, which is approaching pre-war levels. It had been higher in ’04, fell sharply with the violence in ’05, and is now coming back up as things settle down.

    Oil production will be limited for years primarily owing to decades of nearly non-existent infrastructure maintenance in the Iraqi oil patch, but it’s a reasonably promising situation.

    But “America destroyed Iraq” as the Left likes to chant. Utter *B*arbara *S*treisand.

    And by the way MunkyButt(#18), though I make my living as a farmer I have never asked for or received a single nickel of federal Farm Program subsidies. One more example of how you have not the slightest clue what you’re talking about.

  38. Armed – I like your analysis, probably the best liberal critique I’ve read in a long time.

    My concern is this — Does the fecklessness and surrender monkey attitudes of the Dems allow the Administration to get a free pass on teh un-serious execution of the war?

    That is, does all the srategic redeployment crap provide cover for fighting this with one hand behind our backs …..and ending up looking tough while doing it?

    We need a real opposition to hold the party in power’s feet to the fire. Unfortunately we get this D-R kabuki play.

    What a bunch of girly men we have in Washington. I’ll bet most of them started as high school class presidents and haven’t ever made a payroll, hit a sales quota or discovered anything useful. This is crapola.

  39. Jim (#40) — minor correction. Canada’s Princess Pats (_Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry_) have been giving a very good account of themselves in Afghanistan. Kicking the sheetheads around pretty hard, taking some casualties, and generally getting combat hardened for the first time in two generations.

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