Magical Realism About Our War

We’re back from a six-day 2,600 mile motorcycle trip to northern New Mexico from southern California. A spectacular trip, marred by a logistical problem which kept us from dining with Porphyrogenitus who drove a long way to meet us, only to find that we weren’t there yet. Tenacious G rode spectacularly, and safely, and I’ll probably post some moto-related comments over at Armed Liberal.

It was also an enforced vacation from media; much of the day was spent in the solitude of my helmet, and the physical and social demands of the trip left little time for sitting and reading.

It was great…I spent a lot of time thinking, which (as some commenters have pointed out) is often rare for me. One of the major issues is finding a way to articulate my continued negative view of John Rawls, and my (so far undefended) opinion that his philosophy is somehow a part of the overall scheme of ‘Bad Philosophy’ that I discuss so often.

Coming home and reading my email, I was directed by a friend to a column by Mark Helprin, who is one of my favorite novelists, and has been known on occasion to write a good political speech. The column is titled ‘War in the Absence of Strategic Clarity‘ and subtitled ‘More than merely winning the war in Iraq, we needed to stun the Arab World

This one is a corker, and while I disagree with certain aspects of his analysis of the problem in the Arab world (although I’ve got to yield to his greater direct knowledge of it in his years in Israel), I think that he nails the domestic issues squarely. I have to quote this:

America has approached the war on terrorism as if from two dreamworlds. The liberal, in which an absurd understanding of cause and effect, the habit of capitulation to foreign influence, a mild and perpetual anti-Americanism, reflex allergies to military spending, and a theological aversion to self-defense all lead to policies that are hard to differentiate from surrender. And the conservative, in which everything must be all right as long as a self-declared conservative is in the White House – no matter how badly the war is run; no matter that a Republican administration in electoral fear leans left and breaks its promise to restore the military; and no matter that because the Secretary of Defense decided that he need not be able to fight two wars at once, an adequate reserve does not exist to deal with, for example, North Korea. And in between these dreamworlds of paralysis and incompetence lies the seam, in French military terminology la soudure, through which al-Qaeda, uninterested in our parochialisms, will make its next attack.

The war is waged as if accidentally, and no wonder. For domestic political reasons and to preserve its marginal relations with the Arab World, the United States has declined to identify the enemy precisely. He is so formless, opportunistic, and shadowy that apparently we cannot conceive of him accurately enough to declare war against him, although he has declared war against us. Attribute this to Karl Rove’s sensitivity to the electoral calculus in key states with heavy Arab-American voting, to a contemporary aversion to ethnic generalities, to the desire not to offend the Arab World lest it attack us even more ferociously, to the fear of speaking truth to oil, to apprehension about the taking of hostages and attacks upon embassies, and to a certain muddledness of mind that is the result both of submitting to polite and obsequious blackmail and of having been throughout the course of one’s life a stranger to rigorous thought. Reluctance to identify the enemy makes it rather difficult to assess his weaknesses and strengths. Thus, for want of a minimum of political courage, our soldiers are dispatched to far-flung battlefields to fight an ad hoc, disorganized war, and, just as it did in the Vietnam War, Washington explains its lack of a lucid strategy by referring to the supposed incoherence of its opponent. From the beginning, America has been told that this is a new kind of war that cannot be waged with strategic clarity, that strategy and its attendant metaphysics no longer apply. And because we cannot sufficiently study the nature of an insufficiently defined enemy, our actions are mechanistic, ill-conceived, and a function of conflicting philosophies within our bureaucracies, which proceed as if their war plans were modeled on a to-do list magnetized to some suburban refrigerator.


I’ve found myself flanked by people like Atrios and Hesiod on one extreme – people who in one breath claim that the Bush Administration is criminally incompetent, and in the next claim that it is working a vast and subtle conspiracy of which the current war is only a minor manifestation, and people like Trent and Tom Holsinger on the right, who claim that there is a plan, but it is so grand and subtle that – like the Ark of the Covenant – my merely human mind would melt if I were to be shown it (please understand that I’m being rhetorical and hyperbolic on both extremes, but that I believe that the core arguments do in fact point in those directions). And what I believe is that we have a President who is trying to … as Helprin puts it so well … win the war on the cheap, so it won’t be a political liability at home or abroad, and is doing so in an ad hoc fashion.

We’re doing well on the military side, that is certain. But as theorists of guerilla wars have noted, and as my reading of Col. Harry Summers’ book, ‘On Strategy‘ and other works have brought me to understand, we came close to winning the Vietnam war militarily – but lost it all the same.

That’s not out of the question here, either.

64 thoughts on “Magical Realism About Our War”

  1. Here is what I don’t get. The very same people who use the “win the war on the cheap” phraseology also decried the $79B supplemental appropriation and the proposed $87B appropriation. And then they go around proposing a draft without proposing a statutory increase in the size of the military.

    We have committed more than half of our armed forces to this struggle.

    And at our current force levels, we are looking at $160B or so in additional expenditures over 2 years. What would not on the cheap look like?

    Imagine the President coming and asking for $200B or $300B per year. Just try to imagine that. The liberals would dropkick him out of the oval office, and we will lose the war on terror.

    Hell, we can do that for free.

    **Here is an explanation of the strategy that won’t make your brain melt. It isn’t really that subtle, and it comes from our published doctrinal materials.

  2. Welcome back.

    Col. Summers is one of my faves. Second on my list after BHL Hart.

    Winning the election in 2004 is a very important part of the war. Think Lincoln September 1864. If Lincoln had lost the war would have ended in a stalemate. A second war over runaway slaves would have been a distinct possibility.

    So it is with Iraq.

    Those who wish to wash our hands of the situation ala the Marsh Arabs will just bring us back to the region in strategically worse shape.

    As to enough troops for a second war. Why? Where is that war going to be? We are not needed to defend Korea. An extra carrier battle group or three might be a good idea but more boots are of relatively little use.

    Currently we have troops stationed all over the world in places they are currently un needed. Germany. Japan. Korea. In those places an Air Force presence would be sufficient.

    In the long run I see the need for a 14 carrier battle group fleet rather than another division or two. A bigger airlift capability might be better than another division.

    I believe (despite the conventional wisdom) that Rummy is correct when he says the troop numbers are adequate. Adequate for what? Adequate for the plan. Since you don’t know what the plan is how can you say if there are enough troops? All you can say is that there are not enough troops for your plan.

    What if the plan is to show apparent weakness to draw our enemies into an untenable position? In that case your complaints of not enough troops may actually be part of the plan.

    Always go two levels deeper in your thinking. Every thing is and is not what it seems.

  3. My fear is that *most Americans* want to win this war on the cheap. They want to win, but not at the cost of thier son or daughter; they want better schools and education, but not at the cost of their tax cut; they want traffic congestion to ease, but not at the cost of carpooling or wider highways; they want energy independence, but not at the cost of the SUV. Helprin’s arguement hits squarely on the current government – but that government reflects its citiznery…divided, unsure, and awaiting direction. Much like a heart in fibrillation, a lot of energy is expended in an uncoordinated manner that leads to death. Unfortunately, without another shock (which will likely involve a mass casualty attack within our boundaries), we’ll continue to muddle along.

  4. Welcome back (were your dreams your ticket out? Sorry, I suffer from Kotter flashbacks).

    As far as the blindness on the Right IMO there is a degree to which you over-emphasize it – some of the most cogent, that is to say less feavered and paranoid, critiques of the current Bush plan have come from the Right, especially in regard to pushing for a military buildup and waging the war more assertively and being more blunt and less “sensitive” – about what it entails – but beyond that, the blindness on the Right to the degree that it exists and is real (and it’s out there and I have to fight it off myself) is IMO generated by the rather obvious fact that there is, at the moment, simply no realistic alternatives to the Bush Administration. General MacClellan certainly would be a disaster.

    With even relatively sensable Liberals like Matt Miller (I recommend his book, btw; not that it’s perfect but it’s worth a read) thinking that the way we should restrain spending right now is in curbing defense spending (these guys are *always* one-note-wonders when it comes to what spending programs they’re willing to see cut. They should just train a parrot to squak “Awk, Cut Defence, Awk”. That – and endless tax rises – are what pass for “Fiscal Conservatism” during Wartime), there is certainly no confidence whatsoever to be had that giving the helm to that side of the spectrum will result in effective warfighting. Especially since it will include undue deference to pseudo-noble (“pseudo” meaning “faux) organizations like the UN and defering too much to the self-interested “advice” of former allies (btw, while you were gone, Tom Friedman had a good piece – one of his “hits” in his “hit and miss” column style, worth reading check it out. I also recommend this).

    Lincoln’s efforts weren’t perfect, either, though in retrospect they look better because they ultimately prevailed – because he was determined and would not waver. IMO, Bush has that where the alternatives clearly do not (they indicate with every stance they take and the tone of every statement they make that they would emphasize “other priorities”).

    So we’re out here, most of us who believe it is vital to win the war rather than engage in a half-assed mockery of it (as the alternatives to Bush would do) emphasizing process and going along to get along and not making waves when making waves are called for (the important thing to them being not to trouble the Crowned Sheep of Europe), thus projecting our hopes into Bush because the alternatives are too grim to contemplate.

  5. Part of the trouble we’re in is that the core of the threat to us exists in countries that we’re not necessarily in a position to deal with yet. While there’s a lot of talk about how Saddam Hussein is connected with Al Qaeda, truthfully, his support of the organization was probably that of a minor player (Hussein’s connections to the PLO, the Al Asqua Martyr’s Brigade, and homicide bomings in Israel are probably much more tenuous).

    I think most of us can agree that the three nations most behind Islamic Terror are:
    1. Pakistan
    2. Iran
    3. Saudi Arabia
    I think that also, all of us pretty much agree Islamic hardline leaders (Sunni and Shia) are THE ENEMY in the war, and winning the war is not going to be done by Black Hawk Down-style attrition battles, but rather slamming the political and social (read: religious) institutions that most want us dead. However, you can’t just go across the Saudi border with a couple of Ranger battalions and ice this prince or that sheik. We’ll, you could, but then you’d confirm the beliefs of most of the Islamic World that we’re all just about hegemony and nothing else.

    I also think that it’s not enough just to bring down instutions – you have to replace them as well. The importance of a Democratic Iraq can’t be overstated – you have to show the Arab people, the “street” as it were, that there’s an alternative, that they don’t have to be someone else’s peons. More than any other Middle Eastern nation, Iraq possesses the raw material to do this.

    So, Iraq becomes the first step in the war. Take Iraq and you do two very important things. One is to provide the “Free Arab” homeland that is so vital to the political and social war we’re in. The other is to strategically position ourselves to knock over Iran and Saudi when we’re good and ready to do so. Look at a man and you can tell we really can’t deal with Iran militarily without holding Iraq. In the case of Saudi Arabia, controlling Iraq completes a chain of “containment” around the nation, made up of nations that surround Saudi (Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, etc. plus of course Israel) that are largely friendly to us and have long memories of how they were treated in past years by the house of Saud.

    That containment strategy is important, as because Saudi Arabia contains the two holy cities, we as a Christian nation, regardless of our motives, would never be tolerated for such direct military action. On the other hand, there are plenty of Arab nations that have the motive to deal with the Saudis (see the list above), but simply lack the means. Certainly we can provide the means in spades, if we’re a little patient.

    In Pakistan’s case, because they have nuclear weapons, again direct military action is not a good idea. Also, we have at least cordial terms with the Pakistani establishment, and loosing those ties may not be worth the immediate payback of hosing whatever Taliban remain in the Northwest Frontier. However, Pakistan can be dealt with via carrot and stick. And the stick in this case becomes India, with increasing Israeli support (who DOESN’T think Israel is a proxy for us in aiding India?).

    The basic strategy of the Bush Administration is sound, and it even doesn’t require lots of military forces in the long run. What Bush is lacking is the ability to clearly articulate the strategy in a way that the common may can understand. I think that Americans (and in fact much of the world) will buy into the straegy, but there’s been such little word from the White House that I fear the effort will die simply from lack of communication. Where’s Ari Fleicher when you need him?

  6. I think Pakistan was the first country we dealt with in the war on terror. If they hadn’t played ball, we would have had to invade them before going to Afghanistan.

    They played, but our game – hardball. We have US troops on the ground there, they are helping us capture the bad guys (the biggest fish have been captured in Pakistan with Pakistani help).

    Musharraf has purged the radicals from his government, for the most part, and undertaken democratic reforms. All of that, and he is still in power, and not, at least visibly, by the US propping him up.

    We will eventually have to deal with all of these countries, but they will not all require an invasion. Pakistan took to some strongarming. Iraq took a full on invasion. Iran will probably fall to its own people assisted by our covert suport. It remains to be seen what happens with Syria and Saudi Arabia.

    But by being in Iraq, yes, the map shows that we are in a position to influence those places now in ways that we weren’t before.

    People hate WWII analogies, ancient history they say, and this isn’t WWII. Well, no, it is WWIII or IV depending on how you count it.

    But after Pearl Harbor, the first place we invaded was Morocco. We had to set the stage for the final battle, which didn’t come for years.

  7. I have said repeatedly that the war has been waged on the cheap.

    That said, I would still disagree with much of Helprin’s piece. He is a great fiction writer, I highly recommend “Soldier in the Great War” and “Memoir from Antproof Case.” You’ll never think of coffee the same way after reading the latter.

    Helprin seems to discount the existance of any aspirations of the Arabs common to US humans, like desires for freedom or prosperity.

    He advocates a “coup de main.” WTF is that?

    Then he ascribes the economies or restraint taken in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to some Karl Rove calculus to assuage Arab-American voters. Give me a break.

    The real reason for the economies and the restraint is that the war must not intrude on the lives of the natural or swing Republican constitutencies by interfering with tax cuts or the progress of their scions through college, which his crusade would do by making a draft necessary.

    You can always distinguish this war from other wars, not by its conduct overseas, but by the domestic policies being installed at home.

    Yeah, no more overtime pay, bring on privatization, outsourcing, and huge tax cuts for the wealthiest that all kinds of Nobel laureates in economics, Bill Gates Sr., Warren Buffett and George Soros have criticized, while we slide into huge debt. Gov’t debt being an income redistributor – to the rich.

    That’s some way to produce social unity in the face of war.

  8. klaatu, you’ve also said a bunch of other crap. The only consistency shown in your harangues has been the use of whatever seems best to assault Bush and his supporters at any given moment. And now you invoke “social unity in the face of war”.


    And then want to break the bank on the proverbial “other priorities”, unrelated to war, as if one has to bribe your side if one expects to get any support from it, and also as if Bush hasn’t presided over an increase in spending on domestic programs that has, so far, outstripped that of the latter years of the Clinton Administration. Deplorable – typical propagandisting deception on your part. I expected no different, of course.

    Essentially, you and yours are so filled with mean-spirited venom and every vice you accuse those you despise of engaging in that there is hardly ever any actual merit in what you say, because the naked political calculus, putting your own spite ahead of the country, trumps everything.

  9. Btw, I’ve been reading up on what Lincoln faced, and plus la change, the kinds of things that Democrats said about him are little different from the kind of venom they’re spewing about Bush (and then acting all hurt and victimized when the mildest of rebukes are returned in the face of this stuff).

    But, of course, these are the good people – feel their goodness wash over you in a wave.

  10. Yes, it is really too much having to hear lecturess about “social unity” from those who have been beavering away the whole time trying to create divisions for them to exploit. Using whatever slur and distortion to do it. The pointing fingers at Bush for what they’ve done just shows how shameless they are.

    klaatu’s holier-than-thou posturing gets hard to take. If you remember the polemics he has engaged in. Him and those he admire are hardly uniters. Except on their own totally uncompromising terms, demanding everyone support them and their positions and complaining of lack of social unity when we don’t all submit.

  11. Well, I’m glad we settled that.

    I assume from their comments that Porphy and his Sancho Panza, Igor, are in favor of the megadebt producing tax cuts, the loss of overtime pay for many workers, the “privatization.”

  12. Yesss, klaatu my lord, whatever you say. I’m always here to appear and jump in whenever you make ad hominem attacks, and only then.

    Gort, stooge and sidekick of klaatu

  13. The reason why this war is being fought at the level it is, which I would not say is “on the cheap,” but less than full scale mobilization, is because we are not really a pay any price, bear any burden kind of country any more.

    The President is walking a fine line, and I really doubt that if he went to the American people and said, I am rescinding the tax cuts, and by the way I am going to spend another $200B on this war this year, I don’t think that people will suddenly go hooray, I support the war, it really isn’t about oil after all.

    The American people support the war on terror and the current battle in Iraq, and part of that reason is because it is a bearable burden.

    I like when people point to rich people like Gates,Sr. (rich in his own right before Bill, Jr. started his little company), George Soros, and Warren Buffett like high tax rates. Does anyone on this planet believe that the portfolios of those people are structured in such a way that they have maximal exposure to taxation? Have any of these guys ever written a check to the government for more than their minimal tax liability?

    Does anyone know what Bill Gates, Sr. does for a living? He’s a lawyer. A tax lawyer. A tax lawyer specializing in inheritance. He sets up all those trusts and things to protect people’s assets when they die. So he doesn’t really believe that the government taking the maximum amount from an estate is the best thing – he has worked his entire life keeping the government’s hands off of estates. If you get rid of the death tax, you get rid of Mr. Gates’ practice.

  14. Liberals attacking conservatives for deliberately running this country into the ground are precisely as constructive as conservatives attacking liberals for running this country into the ground. Almost every political argument in blog comments evolves in short order into an argument about what’s wrong with all of you, and how our side doesn’t engage in the kind of destructive, harmful, ill-informed, misguided and generally stupid that your side does.

    It’s predictable, and a completely predictable waste of time.

    klaatu doesn’t represent anyone other than himself, and neither does Porphy. Or Gort, one presumes.

    This is a great post, but this comment thread has devolved into toddlers fighting over Hot Wheels.

  15. I disagee with blaster that “we are not really a pay any price, bear any burden kind of country anymore.”

    We can be, if the public senses that the burdens will be borne equally.

    The reference of the rich guys was to make the point that they were in favor of rich guys paying more taxes. They stepped up and said: it’s better for the nation and the economy that we pay more rather than incur this huge debt.

    Gates, Sr., deals with the law as it is for the benefit of his clients. I do the same. Using the law for your client doesn’t mean that a lawyer has to agree with it as a matter of public policy.

    Which is why he leads the movement to retain some sort inheritance tax.

  16. I don’t think that public support, at least in this case, has much to do with perceived fairness of tax rates or whatever.

    We haven’t really been that way since WWII.

    That isn’t to say that we have become a shallow culture that cannot win wars, but the terrorists thought that we had. They misjudged. But they are attempting to run out the clock in Iraq, and get us to give up. It is working with some people.

    But the majority of Americans have not yet fallen for it.

  17. And, klaatu, my point about the rich guys is that talk is cheap. If they want to increase how much they pay in taxes, I am sure that they can restructure their respective portfolios to do so. Or just write a check to the Treasury, unbidden.

    Why don’t they do that instead of saying my taxes should go up?

    Because they don’t really mean it. Raise their tax rates, they have dozens of accountants in their employ who can make it work for them. They won’t tell them, oh, don’t worry about the tax consequences.

    Me, I just have me and TurboTax.

  18. I want to go back to the “on the cheap” argument. Let’s say that Bush decided to go for the “hard times, sacrifice, etc.” line and request $200-300B in new defense spending, financed by whatever tax scheme you like. What would this money pay for? What would the Pentagon do that they are not already doing?

    I am only a reasonably-informed civilian, so I can’t claim any particular expertise in military affairs, but it seems to me that there are a few areas within the military that need some budgetary lovin’ from Congress–specifically, airlift/transportation and military police/civil affairs. I’m not really convinced that we are massively short-handed on a broad scale, as some people like to claim.

    Two issues occur to me regarding the possible military police/civil affairs deficit. The first is this: I think, at least for the next few decades, that our civil affairs officers will most benefit from experience with Middle Eastern/Arab/Islamic culture. Could the Pentagon be intending to subcontract some of this work to American-trained Iraqi forces? This idea intrigues me….

    The second issue involves the recent arrest of Captain Yee, as well as a translator who also worked at Gitmo. Press accounts have noted that Captain Yee had been under watch for a while before his arrest, and that there were an undisclosed number of similar investigations in process. It sounds to me like the Pentagon is cleaning house, which may mean that they don’t want to start recruiting more civil affairs specialists until the potential for a network of terrorists within the military has been eliminated.

    Any thoughts on these topics?

  19. From reading the post and some of the comments, I see that Bush has succeeded in introducing fear and anger into our citizenry. The subject always is war, terror, war, terror.

    Of course Bush will win in 2004 if he scares everyone in the country, as he has been doing.

    But look at what he has accomplished with his “war.” All over the world people who loved Americans now hate them. He has divided the country – you can see the proof in the comments on this blog. He has crippled our economy. He has taken a huge surplus and is building an outrageous deficit. He has reduced our civil liberties. He has REDUCED our security. Now we have terrorists attacking our men in Iraq.

    Iraq has nothing to do with the fight against terrorism. We would have been a lot better off if we had concentrated our efforts, both militarily and economically, in Afghanistan. The war seems to be starting all over there.

    Now that we are in Iraq we need to do good by the Iraqis. But we can cut our losses and give the political and economic job to the UN.

    And instead of war, we need to talk about peace. Wesley Clark is a general that talks about peace. I don’t know much else about him. But to me, this is enough. Let’s make friends of our former allies. Let’s treat everyone in the Middle East with respect. Let’s bring peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

  20. Welcome back.

    Winning wars and winning elections are entirely separate and disparate constructs and anytime they are mixed for political economic gain, the result is “Absence of Strategic Clarity”, and if left unchecked – the dreaded “quagmire”.

    Exploiting 9/11 is beyond contempt, and Bush and his rightwingideologue Pax Americana warmongers must be held accountable for this political affront to the people of America, Iraq, and the world.

    First, many of us liberals are not that liberal, and fully support ruthlessly hunting, capturing, or killing every single jihadist mass murderer and those that aid and abet them on the planet. We rejoice and applaud those victories. Yet, we cannot tolerate a leadership politicizing hyped, cherry picked, and not credible threats, to hurl America to a war, and a woefully misguided, exceedingly costly, and pathetically mismanaged nationbuilding enterprise against the wrong Muslims. Somewhere truth must hold sway. Iraq could have and should been dealt with through the UN originally.

    Discourse, debate, disclosure, and transparency are healthy and the truly American approaches necessary to unearth the critical facts and truth. Sliming or demonizing opposition while cloaking and evading abuse and failure is the height of hypocrisy, and patently un-American activity.

    We have all been duped. The immensity of this reality has “shocked and awed” America left and right into a mix of anger, torpor, denial, and disgust.

    Until America gathers the courage to demand disclosure and transparency from this leadership
    *(9/11 investigation,
    *the several Saudi issues,
    *the incestuous oil, energy, and private military cartels profiteering from the Pax American war agenda,
    *the intelligence failures or hype falsely justifying the Iraq war,
    *the ravaging of the Bill of rights,
    *the creepy sliming of every and any voice of opposition or dissent,
    *the cloaking and evasion of the missteps, failures, deceptions, abuses, and
    *the costs, timeframes, exit strategies, ultimate objectives – in short the basic accountability of Iraq, and the neverendingwaronterror)

    – America will continue drifting like a rudderless ship tossing and turning in the tempest and waiting ill-prepared for the next disaster.

    These issues transcend left/right, democrat/republican, liberal/conservative, dove/hawk framing and cut to the heart of how we the people define America.

    Are we the predatory, crony capitalist, isolationist warmongering empire Arabs and much of the rest of the world distrusts and loathe, –
    Or will we force a change of course and return American leadership and agenda to the noble purposes upon which this nation was founded, and which many brave men like you have fought and died defending?

    “Deliver us from evil.”

    The choice is ours to make. Yet, we are remain at false odds, and largely silent to the important questions of the day because of hysterical blindness of partisanship and the horrible reality that America has been duped.


  21. Paul Siegal’s comments are typical of the kind of thinking that will lose this war. He just doesn’t get it – that there are really, really bad people in the war who simply aren’t interested in “peace” except on their terms: convert to Wahhabi Islam, institute Sharia law, etc. Iraq is central to the war on them, for reasons others above have discussed, which amount to basically putting a pro-democracy society in the middle of the land of the enemy. Too many don’t realize that humanity has not changed since the days of Hitler and Stalin, and evil is still there, still active and, with modern technology, more dangerous than ever before. They imagine that some sort of internationalist organization can make all the bad-guys go away. They are wrong, dangerously wrong!

    The more sophisticated left are bordering on treason with their attacks on the war and Bush, and the extremely biased and misleading press reports, but there is nothing new here.

    They did the same thing with Vietnam, and it worked – the “heroic” Viet Cong won – ONLY because of the behavior of the left (greatly enabled by Johnson). Millions of Vietnamese voted with their rowboats about how THEY felt about this victory, but the left is not sorry.

    Now they are calling for the UN’ization of the war, which would be the equivalent of a US surrender, and would be seen that way by the terrorists. The UN is so incompetent that it is still keeping Palestinians in UN administered refugee camps set up 55 years ago! Those who imagine that the UN will solve anything by taking control have been ignoring reality too long, or have never had a good grasp on it.

    For its part, Administration has failed to adequately inform the American people. It has failed to adequately take on the left wing congress. It has adopted too much of a fortress mentality, with Rummy never admitting that anything might be wrong, Ashcroft making the hysteria about the very-much-needed Patriot Act even worse by his incompetent defense of it, Powell failing to achieve anything in the world of diplomacy, and Bush too confident in ultimate success to feel the angst of the people.

    This tactic works okay for a Democrat president, because the press will go along with it. But Republicans have to recognize that the press that most Americans get their news from (the broadcast news networks, New York Times, LA Times, AP) are uniformly hostile to the right, hate Bush with a passion, and will do their best to make Bush look bad – even if it hurts our country in this war.

    Also, the left is still so insanely angry about Bush becoming president in the first place that their normal misbehavior will be grossly amplified. One of the enemies in World War IV is the left in the US – which constitutes a fifth column that the Islamofascists are counting on – just like General Giap did in Vietnam – successfully. Bush needs to get ahead of this mob of negativity. He needs to show more leadership.

    IMHO Bush should have gone the “hardship, sacrifice” route right after September 11th. Roosevelt understood that, with all sorts of ways for ordinary citizens to participate and sacrifice, even when there was no real need for it (e.g. air raid wardens in Topeka, Kansas). Now it’s too late for Bush to do so, unless there is another major attack, and Hilary is carefully positioning herself to take the presidency if another attack occurs during Bush’s watch.

    We are definitely trying to fight a world war on the cheap. The problem isn’t the number of troops needed for Iraq, it’s the number needed for a number of contingencies that may arise.

    For example, given North Korea’s vast underground installations, it would be necessary to invade and occupy it to achieve denuclearization. Bombing won’t do it. Interdiction won’t do it, because the hard-to-get (read: terrorists will pay big money for it) part of a nuke can be smuggled out in a bowling ball bag! And the Norks have sufficiently indoctrinated their people that most would fight – like the Japanese in World War II – unlike the Iraqis.

    Or, Pakistan could be taken over by the Islamofascists – of either the Iranian variety or the Al Quaeda type. At that point, we would have the moral equivalent of the Taliban with nukes, in a country of 160,000,000 people! While that population and nuke supply would be rapidly reduced by the ensuing nuclear war with India, it would not be a time when we want to be short of troops or equipment!

    Iran could do something requiring intervention. They are about to back out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (they have effectively done so already). That means Ayatollahs with nukes and delivery systems that can hit Israel and Europe. Again, troops may be required. Or Iran could collapse in a way that requires intervention to keep the peace.

    Saudi Arabia could crash. We would need to pacify it and protect the oil (because regardless of how much the left cries “it’s the oil…,” etc, they haven’t offered any credible alternative, and have kept us from developing any more local oil).

    I think its fair to call this World War IV (as the CIA and Pentagon already do – WW-III was the cold war).

    We need a bigger military. We are spending only 3% of our GDP on our defense, when in WW-II we spend 130% of our GDP on it! Our defense expenditures, in percent of GDP, are near the lowest since before WW-II.

    We need to get a war spirit among our people, because it sure as hell exists among our enemies. The “War on Terror” is starting to feel like a phoney war like the “War on Drugs” or the “War on Poverty.”

  22. If Bush truly intended or ‘…needed to stun the Arab World’, – he should have ordered the unchallengeable American military into the heart of Islam, and against his alleged “good friends” in the House of Saud who abundantly fund and nurture the real threats to America, and the mass murderers responsible for the horrors of 9/11.

    Deny, defend, and evade all you want John Moore, but this war in Iraq, is “all about the oil”, and the singular profits of the oil, energy, and private military cartels in the Bush oligarchy, or Bush would have been honest with the American people from the start about the reasons, the costs, the timeframes, the objectives, and the exit strategy. We are waiting still for Bush to be honest with the American people.

    You rely on the same hollow phantasmagoria, and rightwingideologue truebeliever myths and liturgies to promote exactly the kind of agenda many of us reject.

    Your side held power and your will and way marched forward unchecked for years because we were slimed as anti-American, never given voice, and because the complicit parrots in the mainstream media refused to question any of the Bush policies or agenda, no matter how outrageous, visionary, predatory, costly, bloody, or deceptive.

    The questions are being asked now, and the fundamentalist republicans, rightwingideologues, and truebelievers may hypocritically question the “civility” of the questioners, – but the people want an honest accounting as opposed to the visionary and airy substantless promises of what may someday, if Allah knows how – and everything falls into perfect Pax Americananess, may possibly happen – and the hard facts of these answers, the few of them that manage to seep into the mainstream are alarming indeed.

    America is “shocked and awed” by the enormous weight of this deceptive war, and questioning its necessity.

    Again. We should be in Saudi Arabia, striking at the heart of Islam, not bogged down in a hundreds of billion dollar nationbuilding enterprise in Iraq benefiting a few cronies in the oil, energy, and private military cartels of the Bush oligarchy.

    America is not more secure, nor are we more prosperous. We demand disclosure and transparency from your leadership, because quite frankly Bush has exhausted all credibility.

  23. ARGH. Look at the nuts come out of the woodwork. Tony, learn to put spaces in your cliched phrases. Paul, can you say “self-parody?” I knew you could.


    A couple of points…. First, we spent 130% of GDP on defense spending during WWII? I know we spent a lot of money then, but surely 130% is a typo?

    If North Korea goes hot, it will require ground troops. They will NOT be American ground troops (generally speaking), however. They will be South Korean troops, supported by American naval and air power. We have the necessary personnel already allocated to deal with North Korea.

    Saudi Arabia could crash out, but as long as we grab the oil fields (not an overwhelmingly difficult task, as the fields are concentrated geographically), how does the map get worse from our perspective? Grabbing and defending the oil fields would be an extension of our Iraqi mission, and the economic impact would be dampened once Iraqi oil production gets fully online–and that process is moving along briskly.

    Pakistan going Islamist or Iran going nuclear are both troubling prospects, but neither are inevitable in the very short run, and both are being intensely scrutinized. We’re probably trying to keep the situation in Pakistan frozen for the moment, while building up regional stability in Afghanistan and India, and judiciously stirring the pot in Iran with the general goal of Iranian Revolution II: Return of the Students.

    Again, “hardship and sacrifice” involves staggering amounts of money, considering how rich we are as a nation. What would the Pentagon do with all that cash? We can’t just magically toss gold and wood into our barracks and get more troops! If we are going to maintain our policy of a volunteer military, an EXCEEDINGLY successful policy, it takes a lot more time than money to grow. About the only way to spend large quantities of cash and get trained troops in the short run is to hire mercenaries–a solution that does not fill me with enthusiasm.

    Could someone respond to my thoughts about the need for civil affairs personnel in my previous comment? Porphy, A.L., anyone?

  24. Blanket dismissals aside, if we had “…an EXCEEDINGLY successful policy”, then we could move forward.

    Sadly we do not, and the sooner we recognize and accept this ugly fact, the sooner America can restore legitimacy through-out the world.

    Bush policies and the visionary and unsustainable rightwingideologue Pax Americana agenda are miserable failures that all America must reject for the good of the country and the world.

  25. Well, my goodness… Tony Foresta infests hear here too. Tony, if it were all about the oil, we could take it from the Mexicans or even better, the Cuba loving Venezuelans. It’s much cheaper, closer to home, etc to do so. So it ain’t about the oil… only the dummies believe that. Some people have limited processing power, so if you throw in the word Oil and the word Bush, they assume that those two things go together and are the explanation for everything. The world’s a bit more subtle, however.

    Iraq’s was partly about disarming an unstable dictator who apparently had WMD’s and was dealing with terrorists. Now we wonder about the WMD’s – although I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer to the question of why Saddam put up with 12 years of sanctions if he didn’t have WMD’s, when it was so easy to end the sanctions in that case. And I find it sickening when so many on the left, who are on record as approving of attacks on Iraq and of being sure of it having WMDs now hammering Bush for actually going after Iraq. Of course, many of them were much happier about all this when Clinton was bombing Iraq, but many, including the impolitic Teddy Kennedy, stated last year that they were certain that Iraq had WMD’s. All about the oil, indeed!

    Iraq was and is also about putting an American presence in the heart of Islam. It’s about putting our forces on the borders of two of the worst terrorist states: Syria and Iran – especially Iran. It’s about changing the dynamic of the middle east by creating a prosperous federal democracy in the midst of all the tyranny’s. It’s about showing the middle eastern world that there are alternatives to tyrannies or nihilistic terrorism.

    It’s also about throwing a challenge in the face of all of the muslim terrorists. They have to either throw us out of Iraq, or admit defeat. So instead of blowing up innocent Americans or Australians or Israeli’s, they get to attack well trained, well armed American troops. They can’t afford to not do so, because they will look weak to their fellow nasties. And when they do the attacks, we capture them; we kill them; we track them down and gain intelligence about their supporters and their leaders.

    Saudi Arabia would not be nearly as strategic a conquest, as it sits alone on a peninsula. Besides, I suspect that when Bush pulls the strings, the Saudis dance at this point. Just because we don’t openly go after them doesn’t mean that we don’t have those princes shaking in their boots and doing what we say!

    Regarding the issues I raised about troops on the ground…

    The 130% figure was not a typo in my article, but apparently was in my source. I now find it to be 37.9% of GDP or 89.5% of all federal spending.

    As far as sacrifice, I could see things like strongly establishing large emergency response organizations (like the air defense wardens) with lots of public participation; war bond drives; asking people (everyone, not just the rich) to give up a little bit of income to directly fund the war (basically, a token amount per person to give a feeling of participation); weekly or monthly threat updates to people with maps, names, example scenarios, etc. In other words, try to work up a bit of a feeling of a nation in danger, which indeed we are.

    The oil fields are only part of the problem if Saudi Arabia crashes. After all, while we want a stable supply of oil, this war is really about terrorism. So if Saudi crashed, it would have to be occupied and de-Wahhabiied, and that takes lots of troops.

    Another reason I didn’t mention for the increase in troops is the need to rest the ones we have. Otherwise we are going to have a lot of refusals to re-enlist – especially in the reserves, and this could be devastating. In situations where things are tough, the people who usually leave are those with young families – which means your lose your up-and-coming officer and NCO corps.

    We have been abusing the reservists since the Clinton years, when suddenly those who signed up to defend the country were instead called up for feel-good missions or to defend Europe’s interests (Bosnia, Kosovo).

    Now we need them for a real war, but we are wearing them out. And the same is true of regular duty troops.

    After I left active duty, I was a reservist. Had I stayed into the reserves into the Clinton years, I most certainly would have dropped out because I would have making enormous economic sacrifices for nothing really important. Those same reservist who made those sacrifices are still at it, even though the cause is more important.

    Furthermore, a Democrat controlled congress intentionally forced the pentagon to put ALL members of certian war-critical specialties into reserve units, so that we could not go to war without calling up the reserves. This was especially true with civil affairs units, which we badly need now.

    So we need bigger forces – to give the ones we have a rest, and to be ready for contigencies that happen due to enemy action or happenstance rather than our plans. And Rummy is right that we need to restructure. He wants to move around some units so that he can have critical warfighting units on regular active duty, rather than being forced to call up reserves.

  26. Sam, regarding, CA, the entirety of the CA capability is in the reserves. Since we need CA with every conflict, they deploy every time.

    There is a reason why critical skills like this are in the reserves – GEN Abrams, when architecting the “Total Army” was among those who believed that President Johnson’s failure to do a “full mobilization” caused the loss of public support, which led to our loss in Viet Nam.

    It was his idea that by putting the critical skills in the Reserves, it would force mobilization of the Reserves, increasing the “shared hardship,” and further force politicians to have to “think about it” more, and if it were done, it would engender more public support, because everyone would have some literal skin in the game.

    This has been an abject failure on all counts. Not that we haven’t had an effective military, since, we certainly have. But all those other goals are failures, and lead to repeated and extended deployments for our reserves.

    Rumsfeld is taking that 30 year old policy on, like moving critical units and skills back into the active forces (for example, everyone loves the AC-130, but 2/3 of them are in Reserve units). Of course he was accused of attempting to subvert those goals of Abram’s policies, but in actuality, he is trying to change out a failed policy.

  27. Tony’s bizarre contradiction of calling the Iraq war a deceptive war but then calling for a war against Saudi Arabia – on the basis of far less evidence – only demonstrates that Tony’s “ideas” reflect nothing but partisan hatred.

  28. Regurgitating the same tired, airy, substantless, and visionary rightwingideologue mythologies does not give them any more veracity or validity.

    There are plenty of “unstable dictators, with WMD and dealing with terrorists in this subtle world John, and Bush is not rushing off on preemptive unilateral regimes changes anywhere but Iraq with 20% of the worlds oil, and longtime ties to the Bush oil, energy, and private military cartels and cronies.

    All the hype and deceptions justifying the war have been resoundingly debunked. Weren’t you paying attention?

    Sure we know Saddam had at one time WMD and development programs because Cheney and Rumsfield aided and abetted in Saddams’ acquisition, and turned a blind eye to his use of them. That was before Desert Storm and the Inspections process.

    Of course Saddam wanted WMD. So do many maniacs in this subtle world. Saddam used the specter of WMD, and his bloodthirsty history as a deterrent to aggression from other regional enemies, including terrorist organizations like al Queda who loathed Iraq’s secular Islam.

    You keep relying on the same tired hollow, empty Rove homilies to defend your leaders failures, and abuses; neither of whom have any remaining credibility. You need a new pitch.

    In case you did not know John, America does not have the right, and most American’s (Bush and his clan being a notable exception) would not tolerate “taking” oil or any resources from anyone. That is colonization and piracy, and it is illegal in most circles. Marauding other nations resources may be acceptable in the whacko rightwingideologue propaganda covens and amongst the droves of mindless truebelievers parroting the Bush party line, but it is certainly not acceptable to the rest of the planet, and patently un-American.

    This fiction is part of the Pax Americana empire myth the right proselytizes and holds so dear, that imagines thebabyjesus somehow sanctions America’s preordained, and militarily enforced right to world domination. You might want to check your own processing because that kind of thinking failed for Rome, Spain, France, England, and it failed in Germany as well. History is strewn with the corpses and rubble of empires rising and eventually destroyed. World dominatin may be your and Bush’s vision of America, but it is not ours. See the link I posted above. We will not tolerate America as empire.

    Like it or not, the world is a kind global village. Fractured, divided, conflicted and generally hostile perhaps, but connected in many essential and critical ways by basic human need, and political and economic expediency.

    While we all accept that America has the right to strike out and render harmless any threat anywhere, any time we please – you are sorely mistaken if you believe that America has the right to colonize and force political or religious reformation on sovereign nations militarily.

    That imperialist vision is a rightwingideologue myth, – a nightmare more accurately, and it is an agenda America can neither afford, achieve, nor in good conscience countenance.

    Subtle indeed.

  29. you are sorely mistaken if you believe that America has the right to colonize and force political or religious reformation on sovereign nations militarily.

    And yet you recommend striking at the heart of Islam.

    I never get it why Leties will grasp onto any poisonous idea so long as it is against George Bush.

  30. By the way, Robin you do not speak for me, nor can you put false words into my mouth or imagine my motivations. I said America has the right to strike at threats, and especially those in the heart of Islam and particularly Saudi Arabia. I do not say, and would not accept colonization, you righties call it invasion and occupation, – and religious reformation; you guys call it democratization of Saudi Arabia or any nation. Striking at and eliminating threats is far different, than colonizing and religious reformation of sovereign nations. Truebeliever hysterical blindness and pathological partisan to Bush in the face of obvious failure, deception, abuse, malfeasance, and neglect – prevents you from comprehending this distinction.

    I want Bush to answer questions and be held accountable for some of the most radical abuses of power in American history. First and foremost hurling the nation to war and an exceedingly bloody and costly nationbuilding enterprise against the wrong muslims based on hype and deceptions.
    Perhaps those answers, if any one of them were ever forthcoming – would silence me, and others on the left. Of course Bush is above reproach and is insulated by some divine myst the protects him from disclosure and transparency, unlike every other president and politician in the history of the United States of America.
    The hypocrisy would be hilarious, were it not so alarming.

    All the American people are given in answer to these questions are you guys whining about being mean to the boy who cried wolf king, – a glaring hypocrisy in light of the rights savaging of Clinton and Chelsea for Gods sake, – and a relentless spew of deceptions evasion, misdirects, silence, and wild substantless, grossly offensive, and FALSE accusations of anti-Americanism from Bush.

    We want disclosure!

    Bush is cooking his own goose, and the longer he avoids being honest, the hotter will grow the kettle.

  31. Tony,
    The justifications for attacking Iraq were and are much stronger than those for attacking Saudi Arabia. It’s not clear that you speak for anyone other than yourself WRT attacking Saudi Arabia; in fact, I haven’t heard of anyone else propose that we do it, even now, let alone earlier this year or last year.

    Where is the great call for this Saudi war? Bush managed to get a strong endorsement from Congress for his approach to Iraq, regardless of the current back biting and whining. Where is your chorus?

    And stop with the BS about an American empire. If we’re still in control of Iraq in 5 years then start whining, and if it stretches to 10 years then I’ll agree with you, but for now I see no evidence that we want an empire.

    Look it. It’s costing us more to rebuild Iraq then they’ll generate in oil revenue over 10 years, if they’re lucky. Why would we want this deal if empire were the motive? Cutting a deal with Saddam would have been easier and cheaper than an invasion. AND Halliburton would have been just as happy rebuilding Iraqi oil fields for Saddam as it is doing it for us. The empire and the we-did-it-for-the-oil theories just don’t stand up to economic scrutiny.

  32. John,

    I think you aren’t quite getting my point about the money. It’s not about where the money would come from, or what sacrifices would be asked, it’s about where the money would GO. Ok, so we increase the defense budget by $300B. What does the Pentagon do with the money?

    The Pentagon would probably want to recruit more soldiers, CA officers, etc. (I’m also assuming that the force cap is raised with the increase in budget), but my point is basically that these numbers take time to grow properly. You can’t just throw more money at the issue and get proportionally accelerated results. I agree with your points about moving CA units to active service–it sounds like an excellent idea, but I’m still convinced that changes like that take more TIME than MONEY, and the two aren’t fully exchangeable.

    We didn’t go the sacrifice/hardship route because we didn’t need to. It wouldn’t have accomplished anything other than smacking our economy around when it was already feeling a bit under the weather. The proof of this is history. We were able to execute successful operations in Afghanistan and Iraq with our current force structure, and do so at historically unprecedented measures of success.

    That said, the Pentagon should get an increased budget, and Rummy’s modernization ideas sound reasonable. We can definitely do better, but advocating the conscious adoption of sacrifice/hardship measures implies that we must have drastic changes if we want to survive. Things aren’t THAT bad.

  33. Statements tend to get blurred in the partisan shuffle and attack responses. I do not propose a war, or a large-scale attack on Saudi Arabia. In fact I reject these invasion occupation scenarios entirely, anywhere as impotent and fruitless against the asymmetric threats posed by our jihadist enemies. I do however propose striking at any and every threat, and if said threat happens to be in Mecca, Medina, or Riyadh then – Allah be praised – we not be swayed from our necessary duties. .

    The fact that no one is talking about Saudi Arabia alarms me, and is precisely why I raise the issue at every possible occasion. It sticks in the craw of even many righties, but the Saudi bad news is continuously swept off the radar, and forgotten in the next news cycle. This is part of the disinformation campaign the dumbing down of the peoples access to information by the Bush administration. Do you know about the 140 Saudi exited out of America when all other aircraft were grounded in the hours and days after 9/11 by the Bush administration? Why would Bush allow and actually aid and abet the escape of important, maybe critical witnesses to the most pivotal event on modern American history? The Saudi’s are complicit in the horrors of 9/11. Members of the royal family acted as enablers for the San Diego cell responsible for the mass murder and mayhem of 9/11. The House of Saud is the primary funding and nurturing source for all the jihadist mass murder gangs, including al Queda. The wahabi imams teach four-year-old Saudi children that Allah sanctions the killing of Americans and Israeli’s

    Americans do not hear anything about Saudi Arabia, nor is there any pressure put on Saudi Arabia for exactly the same oleaginous reasons Bush redirected everyone attention on Iraq, – namely Bush’s cronies in the oil, energy, and private military cartels singular profiteering as a result of both agendas.

    You expect me to trust Bush, and quite frankly my brother, I do not. Your leader has developed on his own, huge and serious credibility issues, and we – and if you think I am alone I have the video from three protests where hundreds of thousands of Americans like me who voiced our rejection of your leadership, – and we want disclosure. We want an accounting, cost estimates, timeframes, a written plan, and an exit strategy for both Iraq, and the alleged war on terror. Then we can begin asking for the same transparency with regard to failing domestic policies and agenda.

    Lastly – I did not make up the Pax Americana empire myth – you guys did. This is the rightwingideologue propaganda covens – you guys call them think tanks – dream, we call it a nightmare – officially known as the “Project for a New American Century – envisioned by the high priests in the fundamentalist republican oligarchy like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton, Lewis Libby, and both Bush’s who have long planned for, and are now exploiting the horrors of 9/11 to implement their creepy vision of world domination through military superiority – the Pax Americana.

  34. Well, for starters, I’l state that I actually agree with Tony on one thing…that the real ‘center of mass’ is in Saudi Arabia. Having said that; it’s not clear to me that overt or covert military acts in Saudi are the correct step to take now or to have taken post 9/11.

    As noted, iraq was the ‘low hanging fruit’ militarily and legally, and, if you buy into the notion that the states in the ME needed to be reformed, was a logical place to make a first step.

    Tony, let me pose a question to you. What, exactly are you talking about when you say we should ‘be in the heart of Saudi Arabia’?? If you’re really suggesting that we should have simply invaded them, you’re nuts. It would have been a causus belli for the entire Muslim world, and we would have then been guilty of falling into Bin Laden’s plan to foment war between the Muslim world and the West – a war which will have only one, sad, outcome.

    If you’re suggesting some kind of covert operations to capture and assassinate those driving militant Islamism, I’m badly troubled by the both morality and lack of practicality of what you’re suggesting.

    Maybe I’m missing your point; everyone here gets your take on Bush & Co; so save the endangered pixels and please help me understand what a real alternative – to Bush’s war on one hand and to appeasing those who have killed Americans and will do so again if given the change – might be.


  35. Tony,
    Trust Bush? Not me! I trust him about as far as I could spit. But, taking out Saddam was the right thing to do, if the wacky neo-con plan that you’re talking about helped us do it, then that’s fine with me. If our goals are aligned on an issue, I’ll support them… maybe while holding my nose. Just remember something. ALL politicians are arrogant assholes, every last one of them. Bush isn’t a sweet talker; but I don’t’ see him as any worse than other politicians. I can work with that. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve felt anything better than pragmatism about any politician. Idealism? Sure I’m still idealistic. Politics will let you down every time. That’s why it’s the science of the possible instead of the perfect.

    And what if in 10 years Iraq is up and running as a democracy? Would that be so bad? The times of tyrants hiding behind the concept of national sovereignty are over. They could BARELY be tolerated when they minded their business and ONLY tortured their own people. Now, with terrorism evolving the way it is, they are intolerable, national sovereignty be damned. These are ALL made up countries anyway, completely arbitrary. Human suffering, human rights, especially illegitimate/undemocratic governments trump national sovereignty every time. Hmmm, sounds kinda po-mo don’t it?

  36. I appreciate your response A.L. “First in the heart of Saudi Arabia” was a hasty misprint, and should have been heart of Islam.

    Secondly, “causus belli for the entire Muslim world,” and the “Bin Laden’s plan to foment war between the Muslim world and the West” has nothing to do with us. We did not declare war on Islam or prior to Iraq any Arab nation – rather the jihadists have declared war – JIHAD on us, and for them the end “will have only one, sad, outcome.” The wahabis, and the jihadist mass murder gangs seek an Islamic reformation and domination of the world. This is the message duplicity nurtured and abundantly funded by the Royal family in a Faustian arrangement for their own insularity and immunity.

    Armies cannot kill the jihadist meme. We must crush the spirit of jihad. We cannot negotiate a settlement, something the Israeli’s have attempted to communicate to the world for since the 67 war.

    The jihadists do not seek peace. They seek war, world domination, the total and complete destruction of Israel and America, and the implementation of the primitive depravity of a jihadist Islamic world order. Progressive, or moderate Islam abets this unholy jihad, and insanity because it is the only successful political and military tool great Islam has to weld and defend against the encroachment, and abuses of the west.

    This is the great crime Bush committed in Iraq, against one of the few truly secular societies in the Arab world, by feeding into and basically proving exactly almost word for bloody and unholy word precisely what bin Laden and other jihadist madmen warn, – that the west is at war with Islam, against all Muslims, that the west, and most particularly America intends to maraud and pirate the only valuable resource in the Muslim world, that the west and particularly American has no problem committing acts of terror and aggression (20 – 30 Thousand innocent Iraqi have been killed in Bush’s war) (INNOCENT IRAQI’s). Bush is playing exactly into the jihadist hands for the singular profits of his cronies in the oil, energy, and private military concerns who this year back, and the next year attack this Arab today, and that Arab tomorrow in furtherance of their own ill gotten booty.

    This silly charade went virtually unnoticed for years outside of Israel, as America funded and armed both Saddam and bin Laden at different times for different partisan and economic interests (always) ALL ABOUT THE OIL!

    9/11 changed everyone’s perspective. Now we know these freaks are coming. That is why Bush’s oil, energy, and private military cartels have reacted so radically and with such violence and in such a general way. Jihad is upon us. America does not have any choice in the jihad, and no option but total and complete victory, and that will require forceful redress in the heart of Islam, and against the House of Saud funding and nurturing machinations.

    Mind you brothers eight years separated the 1st and final WTC attacks, and we can offer these guys Palestine, Iraq, 100 trillion dollars, Disney World and Brittany Spears and it will not alter their unholy psychotic ambitions – they seek our destruction. Again, we are not talking about every Muslim, or all Islam, – but particularly the wahabi’s and their jihadist mass murder organizations.

    Bush is wasting time, money, and blood fighting the wrong Muslims. In fact, when the truth is told, Saddam would have been more likely to work with America to defeat the jihadists like bin Laden (WHO HATE SECULAR MUSLIMS) and seek their destruction as well.

    The joker card is WMD. Once one of these freaks, just one, – just one psychotic jihadist freak gains access to a workable WMD, – we will truly face “a day of horror like none we have ever seen,” because there will be no restraint and absolutely no hesitation in using it to the greatest affect.

    For this reason, I press exceedingly hard for redress of the abundant funding flowing out of Saudi Arabia. Cutting off the funding will afford us the time to hunt, capture, or kill every single jihadist mass murderer on the planet. Failure to do so in the near future will – I fear – lead to epic if not catastrophic consequences.

    This is by the way the exact message all the worlds intelligence agencies covertly and quietly deliver.

    “Deliver us from evil”

  37. A.L. et. al.,

    I’ve been working with Tony on the answer to that very question re: “what are you talking about re: Saudi Arabia”?

    Tony has a guest blog coming (yes, you heard that right) on that subject. It will run on Friday, and outline in his words what he thinks we should do about the Saudis.

    I expect a lively comments section.

  38. I look forward to it!

    Tony has a truly unique style. The guest blog will be worthwhile because for some strange reason, there is sometimes a few things in his tirades that seems like everyone could agree about… if only he’d stop waving all those red flags in front of the bulls!

  39. Tony plays the strawman game some more with:
    America does not have the right, and most American’s (Bush and his clan being a notable exception) would not tolerate “taking” oil or any resources from anyone. That is colonization and piracy, and it is illegal in most circles. Marauding other nations resources may be acceptable in the whacko rightwingideologue propaganda covens and amongst the droves of mindless truebelievers parroting the Bush party line, but it is certainly not acceptable to the rest of the planet, and patently un-American.

    Tony of course presents no evidence for these defamatory claims, as usual. If Tony continues this practice, of course, Joe, you will get a “lively” comments section from a guest blog of Tony. Frankly, Joe, I expect that you will be greatly lowering the standards of your blog to post any screed of Tony’s.

    Tony claims to be attacking myths, but keeps repeating myths on which he’s long and often been refuted such as the claim that the US funded and armed Bin Laden. Not to mention faked statistics like “(20 – 30 Thousand innocent Iraqi have been killed in Bush’s war) (INNOCENT IRAQI’s)” and long debunked conspiracy claims of Saudi’s being secreted out of the country.

    In one breath, Tony falsely claims that the US is attempting “religious reformation” of “soverign” nations. Tony states that “I do not say, and would not accept colonization, you righties call it invasion and occupation, – and religious reformation… ” but in the next calls for “crush[ing] the spirit of jihad”. Good luck getting a coherent guest blog out of Tony.

  40. Tony has a unique style? Have you ever heard of Indymedia? I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but Tony’s “style” is, quite unfortunately, not unique. I believe the cause is medication–either an insufficiency, or an overabundance; I cannot tell which.

    Tony, dear boy, SPACES go between words. It won’t fix all of your problems, but baby steps, man, baby steps.

  41. Thanks for the criticism and I look forward to the discourse as well. It is after through open discussion and airing of facts that progress is made.

    Thanks also for pointing out a mistake Robin, which I recant and correct here.

    Although it is well documented that the Reagan government did directly funded and arm the mujahedin of which bin Laden was a chief commander in Afghanistan’s war against Russia, – I stand corrected on the “innocent Iraqi’s killed” number which I confused with casualties. The number of innocent Iraqi’s killed is somewhere between 7 and 9 thousand, and it is in fact CASUALTIES that number 20 – 30 thousand.


    The distinction I make is that Bush and the rightwingideologues openly admit the goal of “democratizing” the Middle East, which I frame as religious reformation since most of the Arab governments are in fact Islamic.

    The jihadists transcend religion by proselytizing mass murder as religious quest, which I frame as crimes against humanity, and warranting immediate redress.

    In the end, we seek the same ends. I want those responsible for 9/11 punished just like you. I want America to be secure and prosperous, just like you.

    We divide on tactics, policies and agenda, and the cloaking and deceptive selling of policies and agenda, – not the essential mission.

    I believe Bush could have worked with the UN and the rest of the world, and the “serious consequences” mandate would have eventually lead the decapitation of Saddam and the de-Ba’athification of Iraq, only with a *true* multilateral coalition, and with far less cost in blood and money to America. We were denied that opportunity by Bush’s deceptive rush to war. And with no WMD, we must – it is our duty as American’s question why that way, and why then?

    The problem is we (the American people) never get any answers from Bush on anything, until the bill is delivered, and the meal devoured.

    I for one am not so sure, Saddam did not have some kind of WMD capabilities, even though is silly for anyone to argue, that there exists today any substantiation or proof. This begs the question – where is the WMD if it did exist?

    If you believe Bush’s pre-war rhetoric than I must ask if you can sleep at night, because the WMD is no longer in Iraq, which means someone else has it, – a prospect I find more than disturbing.

    If you believe Hans Blix, that there never was any WMD after the early 90’s, – then again Bush has many question he MUST answer, and particularly why he was in such a hurry to rush to war. The questions are more complicated in light of the admitted miscalculations, overestimations, exaggerations, cost cloaking and evasions regarding the ensuing nationbuilding enterprise.

    We should have been allowed the opportunity to raise these questions prior to the war, – but here again Bush must answer to why any questioner was slimed as anti-American (which many of us find grossly offensive, cheap, and underhanded) for asking what seemed to us then, and have proved to be now obviously necessary and pertinent questions.

    Both the WMD is gone, and Bush is guilty of heaping the costly and bloody burdens of a deceptive war on our children, – or the WMD is out there now in the hands of someone who is very likely to sell it, or use it against us.

    None of these important questions even touch upon what to me is the far more important concern regarding the Saudi funding and nurturing of jihadist mass murderers.

    I look very forward to your comments, and hopefully some discoveries.

  42. If you believe Hans Blix, that there never was any WMD after the early 90’s

    That is an awfully BIG if. I don’t believe Hans Blix. He says that the Iraqis destroyed their WMD immediately following the Gulf War. But WE KNOW this is not the case. We know they still had stuff in 1998. That’s not just me. Try Richard Butler, who was in charge of UNMOVIC in 1998:

    As for not finding these weapons allegedly in Iraq, Butler said he is sure Saddam had them. He said Saddam was addicted to the deadly weapons, and whether they are still in Iraq but hidden, moved or destroyed, they did exist.

    “Don’t believe those who say they aren’t there just because we haven’t found them. Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Butler told the crowd. “Iraq certainly did have weapons of mass destruction. Trust me. I held some in my own hands.”

    We should have been allowed the opportunity to raise these questions prior to the war, – but here again Bush must answer to why any questioner was slimed as anti-American (which many of us find grossly offensive, cheap, and underhanded) for asking what seemed to us then, and have proved to be now obviously necessary and pertinent questions.

    Find one – just one – instance of the President sliming someone as anti-American for “raising questions.”

  43. I think we should try to spend more time making proposals for concrete changes in policy and less time bashing Republicans and Democrats. I find partisan bashing really tedious and boring and I really don’t understand why so many can spend so much time doing it.

    Here are some of my big proposals for what we ought to do to make America and the whole world a safer place:

    • Have a *Manhattan Project level of effort to create cost-effective alternatives to Middle Eastern Oil.* Fund tens of billions of dollars per year in *basic research for photovoltaic materials*, new nuclear reactor designs (thorium and other designs that do not create stuff useful for nuclear weapons), lithium-polymer batteries, ways to gasify coal (*including a bigger effort to refine the Brookhaven National Lab coal metabolising bacteria*), ways to extract energy from oil shale and oil sands more cheaply, and many other approaches.
    • Expand the DOD budget by a few hundred billion per year and tell them they have a couple of years to get ready to invade North Korea.
    • Spend a couple of billion per year senidng in radios and books into North Korea and doing anything else in terms of covert operations and other moves to weaken the North Korean regime.
    • Tell Iran that after North Korea is defeated they are next unless they destroy their Bushehr reactor and turn over all their uranium purification centrifuges.
    • Tell the Saudis they can no longer get visas to visit the United States if they are males between the ages 17 and 40.
    • Stop letting Muslims get permanent residency and citizenship in the United States.
    • Build a wall on the border with Mexico for about $4 billion to $8 billion. It currently costs Arabs ahout $30k each to get smuggled into the United States thru Mexico. We should see that price go way up with a properly secured border.

    You want to solve a big problem then make big moves.

  44. I said – ” here again Bush must answer to why any questioner was slimed as anti-American (which many of us find grossly offensive, cheap, and underhanded) for asking what seemed to us then, and have proved to be now obviously necessary and pertinent questions.” and I repeat it now.

    Bush must answer for Cheney, Ari, and Rumy, herr Delay, herr Ashcroft, herr Ridge and numerous other rightwingideologues shamelessly flinging baseless and false accusations of anti-Americanism upon the peace protesters – (who were herded into “free speech zones” – metal corrals by armored riot cops on horseback) – all things French, and upon every questioner, or voice of opposition or dissent.

    Bush must answer to why the Dixie Chic’s were slimed by sensationalist sloganeers like Limbaugh and targeted by conglomerates like Clear Channel for raising (…what seemed to us then, and have proved to be now, obviously necessary and pertinent questions.) I might add legitimate.

    Bush must answer questions, and provide disclosure, transparency, and an open accounting for each and every policy and agenda, – because – quite honestly – we do not trust the president to administer executive decisions with the best interests of the people in mind.

    And those silly single sourced partisan promises for what someday might or sure to come – just you wait and see – it’s just around the corner assured to appear at any moment – fictions do not hold water. Put up, present your evidence, make your case, – or admit to the deception.

    We have the best stuff, the best people, the drug induced Iraqi scientists, and many millions of dollars in bribe money, and the team is packing up. There is no WMD. Face it. Stop pretending it will magically appear, or that we believe any of the hollow false promises.

    We don’t.

    It’s the credibility thing – and we want facts now, hard evidence, paperwork, proof, substantiation – Bush and your words are no longer valued, believed, or trusted. We demand disclosure and transparency from your leadership.

  45. Oooh, “Herr” Ashcroft! He’s German! German is scary!

    What “questions” did the Dixie Chicks raise? None. They said they were ashamed that the President was from Texas. That’s not a question.

    But really, don’t bother answering, because as has been posited over at Bill Quick’s place, you really are just a bot stringing together the idiotarian phrases together in random order.

  46. (Sigh) Why do so many of these comments have the feeling of boxing at shadows? So few have substance.

    1) What’s the hurry? The nature of this war is generational; there is no quick fix. America has made a good start, but this is just round one. The Cold War didn’t arise full blown; It came as a series of shocks. It took years to realign our policies. This will, too.

    2) Was the flypaper strategy planned? I don’t think so. You can contingency plan only so much. The enemy still has the power to surprise you. It feels like the strategy is the result of the fact that the Iraqi’s wouldn’t fight us, but the foreign fighters would.

    3) Do the Islamic fundamentalist have to be humiliated to win this war? Yes, but not necessarily militarily. We’ve been there; done that. Anyone with a smiggon of military knowledge knows the Afghan and Iraq wars were marvels of efficiency. They are going down in the history books as the first taste of information age warfare. If the Islamists aren’t humiliated already; they are bonkers. But, military force will not win this war.

    4) If not, what will? Winning hearts and minds. The problem here is a miscalculation; the Arabs are caught up in a malignant fantasy. They are projecting their feelings of inadequecy onto us. Their culture and religion hold the falsehood that they are the pinnicle of civilization. Their senses tell them this is not so, but rather than rising to challenge and best us at our own game– they punt. They choose to project their faults on us. Of course, This gets them no where; inappropriate action never does. We must teach them that terrorist action is inappropriate.

    5) How? By killing a bunch of them. And by redirecting their energies out of self defeating actions into life affirming activites.

    6) How? By helping them get a life. Most of the terrorists are between 14 to 25; the prime group hit by Arab helplessness now. Get them a job and hopefor the future; a girlfriend or wife; money in the bank and the temptation to kill us will fade. you can’t give anyone pride and self esteem, but you can help them earn them. We can make Iraq an Arab Hong Kong. Make it a magnet for every ambitious person in the Middle East. Ten years from now Iraq will be triple it’s population– mostly from immigration. And we’ll eventually make a buck out of Iraq.

    7) Is there anything else? Yes, the world is going through an adjustment in foreign policy from the break-up of the Soviet Union. Coalitions that held together for forty years are breaking up too. Erstwhile friends want to balance us; they think us too big for our britches. Many of our actions during the cold War have come back to haunt us. Fortunately, the war on terror has stripped away our illusions. The first step in deciding correctly is seeing accurately.

    8) Oh Yes! The war is hastening the breakup of the Democratic Party. They have become so left-wing, reactionary and hysterical that their constituents must look on in horror. They no longer address mainstream issues; this will cost them votes. A humiliating defeat in 2004 could snap them out of this self distructive behavior just as 1976 did for the Republicans. If not, they are out of power for decades until new leadership arises.

  47. Tony,
    Those Iraqi casualty and death figures are bogus. Oliver Kamm does a great job debunking them here and here.

    Also, I not sure why you think Bush has to take responsibility for thing other people, like Limbaugh, do. And I have to second Randall’s point, that it would be better to talk policies than politics. Your repeating the same unsubstantiated claims over and over is getting very, very boring.

    Note you providing a link to those Iraqi casualty figures, allowed me the opportunity to provide links to refuting evidence. This kind of interchange is what can make this a useful debate. Constantly slandering Bush, without supporting evidence, is NOT helpful in this forum, and is a constant distraction to the discussion at hand.

  48. Tony continues to make false and misleading claims:

    Although it is well documented that the Reagan government did directly funded and arm the mujahedin of which bin Laden was a chief commander in Afghanistan’s war against Russia…

    Bin Laden was not a “chief commander” of US funded elements of the mujahedin. So Tony’s backhanded swipe at President Reagan – oft repeated by Tony and oft debunked – fails. Moreover, covert funding of the Afghan opposition to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan began under President Carter.

  49. Your alleged refutation Robin Roberts holds little water with me, since I have never heard of Oliver Kamm, and just because some truebeliever chirps out some accusation or hollow refutation, does not mean any of it is true. Again, you guys are suspect. My link came off of a search on the UN site. Regardless of the exact number, and I respect your challenge, and accept that we must all work to arrive at accurate facts and truth in these important matters, – many innocent Iraqi’s have been killed, and many more injured as a result of Bush’s war.

    I beg to differ with your unsubtantiated assertion regarding bin Laden’s military role in Afghanistan Robin. Again, just because you fling silly insults and make a wild accusation or claim does not give it any veracity or validity.

    The right does not define the left, and as passionately as truebeliever want America to be rightwingideologue one party nation, – the rest of America does not. The democrats are strong and growing stronger, and it is Bush and the republicans who have many questions to answer, who refuse accountability, and who are tumbling in popularity. You guys have huge and growing “credibility issues.”

  50. Tony, one of the most amusing things about your posts is the immense amount of hypocrisy implicit in them.

    “Truebeliever”, “unsubstantiated allegation”, “Silly insults”?
    Pot, meet the kettle.

    There are several biographies on Bin Laden. His involvement in the Afghanistan conflict is well documented and doesn’t match your fantasies.

  51. What was Randall Parker’s point about partisanship over substance? Might be good to remember about now.

    Tony, I’d be inclined to believe just about any blogger ovber a press release signed by Kofi Annan himself, given the U.N’s record with the truth. Which illustrates, as Tony’s post does, that the 2 sides of this debate are less a clash between different sides these days, and more a clash between different universes.

    The difference between Tony and me is, I’m willing to read a U.N. release skeptically, consider its claims, and look for concrete refutations. Tony, if you don’t intend to offer your opponents that courtesy when they use links to bolster their case, my recommendation is that your reply be confined to just one sentence:

    “I refuse to accept any source you put forward, and you probably won’t be anamored with mine, so there’s no point discussing this.”

    Because if that’s your position, there isn’t any point – and everything else is just a waste of electrons.

  52. I think I get it now. The right doesn’t define the left and the left doesn’t define the right. Tony does. Yup. I get it now. Where do I find your definitions at, Tony? A mayo jar? MOST folks who claim party affiliation with the Dems would call themselves ‘liberal’. I believe that MOST Reps would call themselves ‘conservative’. You sound liberal to me. Note I did not say you sounded like ‘A’ liberal, but rather, liberal. Is it your way or no way, or is that just my ‘alleged’ reading (both the lines and between) of your words that’s giving me that impression?

  53. Instead of laying blame I say we make concrete proposals for policy changes. Do you want to change the world and make it a better place? Or do you just want to say that “my side is better than your side”?

    I mean, doesn’t this get old? What’s the point? Heavily partisan attacks do not change the minds of those holding opposing views. If you want to change the world then you have to change minds. If you want to change minds then you have to provide them with evidence and reasoning for your own preferred policy changes.

    Think about this: most readers are going to see this long thread and roll their eyes and not even bother to read the vast bulk of what gets said here. Say less and say it more carefully and you will accomplish more.

  54. Of course I “…intend to offer your opponents that courtesy when they use links to bolster their case,” – but I am not allowed to view those “bolsterings” “skeptically”?

    My point, and forgive me for miscommunicating to everyone by mistakenly giving a number that was incorrect. I intended to draw attention to, and make the point that – many innocent Iraqi’s have been killed and injured in this war. (If this thread accomplishes anything, let it be an awareness and perhaps an investigation into the extent of innocent Iraqi casualties, – which does not seem to warrant much news here in America.)

    What do you believe? I am willing and open to review, and desire discussion and attention to these issues, and I am not any more convinced by Mr. Kamms refutation, then you are about the capabilities and activities of the UN.

    Arguing numbers which are fluid estimations at best is irrelevent to me, – rather the larger point I was hoping to touch upon concerns the death and destruction innocent Iraqi’s have suffered, and continue to suffer as a result of this war.

  55. Tony, forgive me, but you’ve left a hanging curveball out there and I want to be the first to take a swing.

    If your criterion is the number of innocents killed; the calculus of suffering must necessarily be relative. How many died in the invasion becomes the denominator, and how many died per month through Saddam’s brutality and through the sanctions which he himself imposed on his people the numerator.

    That will tell you how many months it will be before we’re in net positive territory, and my guess is that it will be a relatively small number.


  56. Good point A.L. but without debating how many Iraqi’s were being killed each month, or how good or bad the average Iraq life was under Saddam prior to the war – the reality is that Iraqi’s are suffering quite a bit now as a result of this war, and we dishonor them and the mission by ignoring tempering this ugly truth.

    Iraqi’s may suffer less in the future, and may have suffered more in the past, but that does not allow us or them the luxury, of excusing or ignoring, or in any way justifying the current suffering and the sad fact that American fire power killed or injured many innocent Iraqi’s in this war.

    Your argument advances a kindler gentler application of theendsjustifythemeans myth and motif, that I reject. It may apply in some circumstances, but not in this war.

    Was there a better, ie. less bloody, less costly, and less disruptive way of achieving the noble objectives. (Beheading Saddam’s regime, deBa’athizing Iraq, liberating Iraqi’s) That is one discussion, and a discussion we all must have in earnest.

    The other discussion, which is quite distinct, separate, singularly relevant, yet often lumped with the first question inolves the “misrepresentations of, or the use of not credible intelligence, or the failure to prevent the use of not credible intelligence relentlessly employed and used in a very well orchestrated marketing campaign to justify, sell, and push America to war?

    America will eventually achieve our military objectives, and there is no doubting our unchallengeable military, – but the peace and the political and economic objectives in Iraq are overarching, unsustainable, exceedingly costly, bloody, long, unnecessary, and ultimately focused on the wrong muslims.

    Again my primary point is that America has the right to attack and nuetralize threats, and especially imminent threats, – but we do NOT have the right, and cannot afford or in principle countenance imposing democracy militarily in Iraq, the middle east, or anywhere in the world.

    Nations should adore, not abhor America.
    People should trust, nor fear America.
    America must defend freedom, not militarily impose our will and way on soveriegn nations.

  57. Tony,
    Do we need to go over the whole list of reasons and justifications for invading Iraq?

    In my mind, the number one reason was to end the war. It’s been going on since the supposed end of the 1st gulf war and has never stopped. Actions included enforcement of the no fly zones, economic sanctions, and occasional bombardments of various types. The fact is the war never ended, and it’s continuing costs, financial and human, were substantially greater than zero.

    So, if you wish to talk about the suffering and deaths of the Iraqi people, you absolutely have to analyze it on relative terms. And if you believe the “million babies” killed by the boycott myths, you would have been even firmer in the camp of, “let’s end this thing once and for all!”.

    So, Tony, be specific. What should we have done differently? Should we have let the low intensity conflict, of 12 years and counting, to continue indefinitely? Even with the concurrent abuse and deprivation of the Iraqis? Or do you really think Saddam should be given even more time (more than the 12 years already lost!!!) to behave?

    If you do think something was needed other than the maintaining the status quo, then please provide your plan in a numbered list in chronological order so that it may be discussed rationally. You may create another numbered list to highlight where you perceive your plan to be superior, in any aspect, to the bush plan. Then we can have a discussion.

    Also, with respect to Oliver Kamm’s analysis of Iraqi casualties: Please read his analysis and let us now which points you disagree with. Just saying you do not except them effectively ends this discussion; and if this is indeed your view, then please do not bring up the subject again as you would only be repeating baseless statements as facts.

    This is it Tony. I’ve tried to play nice and understand your points. If you respond with the usual thoughtless, stream-of-consciousness patter, then you must indeed be classified a troll, as you STILL would not be making any contribution to the discussion.

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