There's Just Two Kinds of People: Those Who Draw Simplistic Dichotomies, and Those Who Don't

Over in the L.A. Times, Jonah Goldberg gets around to conceding that the Iraq war was a mistake, and goes on to make a sound point, with an illustration that underscores his point nicely—but not in the way he intended:

In the dumbed-down debate we're having, there are only two sides: Pro-war and antiwar. This is silly. First, very few folks who favored the Iraq invasion are abstractly pro-war. Second, the antiwar types aren't really pacifists. They favor military intervention when it comes to stopping genocide in Darfur or starvation in Somalia or doing whatever that was President Clinton did in Haiti. In other words, their objection isn't to war per se. It's to wars that advance U.S. interests (or, allegedly, President Bush's or Israel's or ExxonMobil's interests). I must confess that one of the things that made me reluctant to conclude that the Iraq war was a mistake was my general distaste for the shabbiness of the arguments on the antiwar side.

He is, of course, right that it's silly to speak of "pro-war" and "antiwar" folks as undifferentiated blobs. Which makes it curious that he's so eager to generalize in sweeping ways about what sorts of interventions "antiwar types" support, and what kinds of arguments they make.

Of course, this is in large part a function of an unfortunate institutional fact about opposition to war: It's groups like the execrable ANSWER who have the infrastructure in place to take the lead organizing protests and rallies. So the antiwar position gets associated with—and for once I can use the word without hyperbole—Stalinist positions that I suspect are not shared by the large chunk of the American public that opposed the war even back in 2003. This is part of the reason that, as I argued two years ago, protests are so often counterproductive, pushing the few people they do influence away from the position of the protesters. I've no doubt that at least a few folks who were "liberal hawks" in the run-up to the war were more eager to dissociate themselves from the "all-a-Halliburton-conspiracy" wing of war opposition than they were actually enthusiastic about the prospects for creating a happy little liberal democracy in Mesopotamia.

Still, it's a while since the giant papier-mâché puppets were put away, and there's little enough excuse at this point for pretending to believe—let alone actually believing—that this contingent is representative of the majority of Americans who could now be described as "antiwar." There were plenty of war critics who were making perfectly reasonable arguments back in 2003 and have now been proved largely correct—and I say "largely" only because it now seems that even some of the critics were too sanguine about the war. Making fun of the craziest possible subset of people on the other side of a binary divide is fun—I do it all the time. But Goldberg seems to have offered an inadvertent case study in the dangers of confusing your own entertainment with serious thinking about an issue. [Cross-posted @ NftL]

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  • ||

    "I must confess that one of the things that made me reluctant to conclude that the Iraq war was a mistake was my general distaste for the shabbiness of the arguments on the antiwar side."

    Support the troops - send them to die because it will really piss of the liberals.

  • Daniel DiRito||

    In 2004 most GOP pundits and candidates were traveling downstream in their "swiftboats" attacking every Democratic candidate that dared to criticize the Bush administration's war in Iraq. In 2006 you not only can't find the GOP "swiftboat", you can't find a Republican willing to jump in and try to navigate the hapless dingy against the strong current of voter dissatisfaction with the seemingly never ending war.

    Someone throw Jonah a lifeline!

    Read more here:

    www.thoughttheater.com

  • ||

    Second, the antiwar types aren't really pacifists. They favor military intervention when it comes to stopping genocide in Darfur or starvation in Somalia or doing whatever that was President Clinton did in Haiti. In other words, their objection isn't to war per se. It's to wars that advance U.S. interests (or, allegedly, President Bush's or Israel's or ExxonMobil's interests).

    Well, there are some of us who were opposed to the war *and* to intervention in Haiti, etc., because we believed that it was contrary to U.S. interests. Goldberg would be well advised to read "A Foreign Policy for Americans," by Poppa Goldberg's hero, Robert A. Taft, to understand where we're coming from.

  • ||

    Here are a few more types:

    A) The type of person who generally favors intervention until things go badly.

    B) The type of person who believes the strong have a right (when it's in their best interests) to help save oppressed and brutalized peoples from a gangster-dictator-murderer's genocide (see the Balkan Wars for a recent example).

    C) The type of person who sees little difference in principle between the Balkans and Iraq.

    D) The type of person who realizes that a liberated people must eventually take responsibility for their once-in-a-generation opportunity to govern themselves in a peaceful manner, or descend into sectarian civil war and await their next dictatorship.

  • Dan T.||

    This is part of the reason that, as I argued two years ago, protests are so often counterproductive, pushing the few people they do influence away from the position of the protesters.

    Well, in this case considering that now very few Americans think the Iraqi war is a good idea, I'd say war protestors have succeeded in their goal of swaying public opinion.

  • Ashish George||

    "I must confess that one of the things that made me reluctant to conclude that the Iraq war was a mistake was my general distaste for the shabbiness of the arguments on the antiwar side."

    Goldberg makes this claim without citing a single shabby antiwar argument from 2003. How easy it is to knock down bowling pins you never set up.

  • ||

    Seamus - amen to that. I've not read Taft's piece, but I was against the war from the start, and it's not because I'm a pacifist. Shit, I almost joined the reserves last year but decided I didn't want to get maimed or killed for Bush's bullshit, interventionist, pre-emptive war in Iraq. If we'd only been in Afghanistan, I might very well be over there right now.

    Anyway, Mr Goldberg seems like an idiot on this matter.

  • ||

    How about No Blood For Oil?

    What else is more important to shed blood for than the substance that makes western democracies possible?

  • fyodor||

    the dangers of confusing your own entertainment with serious thinking about an issue.

    Alas, all too true.

    But there's more to it than entertainment per se. There seems to be something in our psychology that makes us want to stick with "our" group against "theirs". Goldberg seems to be getting the inkling that that's what he was doing all along, yet by focusing on how the other group was doing it, he's continuing to do it himself.

    BTW, I think it's this same phenomenon of psychology that prevents more Muslims from openly condemning Islamic terrorists. That doesn't mean such behavior shouldn't be criticized, but it behooves one not to mistake normal, even if damnable, human behavior for something exceptional to others.

  • ||

    I'm antiwar, but not for any of the "typical" reasons. If the U.S. isn't going to really fight the war and project all the power it has, if we're always going to concern ourselves with minimizing collateral damage, then all wars we fight are doomed to become quagmires.

    I also don't think any Middle Eastern country is worth spilling a drop of American blood or spending a dime of American treasure. I'm all for any and all alternative energies, domestic drilling, more coal use, conservation, etc., anything that gives us the ability to flip OPEC the bird.

  • Dan T.||

    How about No Blood For Oil?

    What else is more important to shed blood for than the substance that makes western democracies possible?

    Because we could have spent the $300 billion we've wasted in Iraq on developing alternate energy sources?

  • ||

    ed - pencil me in for type B,C, and D. (although in B I would change the word "right" to "duty")

  • ||

    "In other words, their objection isn't to war per se. It's to wars that advance U.S. interests."

    The problem with the Iraq War is that it did not advance US interests. Many people pointed this out prior to March 20/03.

    If all the US wanted was the oil, it would have been much cheaper [and simpler] to go to Hussein and say "All is forgiven, we believe you. Just keep those nasty terrorists under control and you can buy anything you want."

    Instead, the US Government went in with the notion of 'liberating' Iraq for its own good.

    I realize this begs the question of 'how many times does a government have to commit genocide before it is neccessary to remove it?' I don't have an answer.

  • Rob McMillin||

    First, very few folks who favored the Iraq invasion are abstractly pro-war.

    This ranks as one of this year's top yuk-getters ever. Seriously? Whatever happened to the nutcases who said that WMDs weren't even important when it came to deciding whether to go to war, that we had a roomful of reasons? How could you not declare such people as in love with war for its own sake?

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  • ||

    "Well, in this case considering that now very few Americans think the Iraqi war is a good idea, I'd say war protestors have succeeded in their goal of swaying public opinion."

    I think the catastrophe that the occupation has become is doing a perfectly good job of that; I see no good evidence for crediting the shift to public protests, which (just eyeballing things) seemed to peter out before the real shift in opinion began.

  • ||

    "First, very few folks who favored the Iraq invasion are abstractly pro-war."

    Oh, please. How many years have we been reading about "National Greatness Conservatism," and the necessity of having overseas adventures for our country's "greatness," in National Review and the Weekly Standard?

    How many times articles comparing Red State Manly Men to Blue State Wussies have appeared on NRO? How many celebrations of Teddy Roosevelt?

    If there is one characteristic that binds together the boosters of the Iraq War, it is their pre-World War One attitude towards war as the health of the state.

    That, and a determination that the enobling experience of being a manly-man in military accrue only to other people.

  • Dan T.||

    I think the catastrophe that the occupation has become is doing a perfectly good job of that; I see no good evidence for crediting the shift to public protests, which (just eyeballing things) seemed to peter out before the real shift in opinion began.

    I see what you mean, but I think the people who did protest the war (and there were a lot more than the mainstream media let on) got the ball rolling and did manage to introduce the idea to the public that the invasion should not have happened.

  • ||

    Whatever happened to the nutcases who said that WMDs weren't even important when it came to deciding whether to go to war, that we had a roomful of reasons? How could you not declare such people as in love with war for its own sake?

    Is this serious? Are you telling me that I'm a nutcase, "in love with war" for its own sake, because I was pro-invasion while using the possiblility of WMD as just one of many factors? This sounds old hat, but that doesn't make it incorrect.... the man was killing women and children because they disagreed with him. We had the power to stop that, we used that power. Am I missing something here?

    How many times can you drive past your neighbor's house and see him hitting his wife before you go over and settle the matter? If you say you would never go over because it is his property, or you had no authority, or you're a pacifist, or you can't judge because that is his custom, or whatever, I guess that makes us different. You can call it pacifism all you want, I call it being something else that starts with a "p."

  • ||

    How many times can you drive past your neighbor's house and see him hitting his wife before you go over and settle the matter?

    Dude. You could, like, call the police.

  • ||

    I am anti Iraq War.
    However we should have invaded Iran twelve years ago.

  • ||

    nutcase,

    actually, 'hypocrisy' starts with an "H". This crap about being the police of the world is getting teh old. Your vapid example of the neighbor beating his wife is weak simply because the comparison fails on its face. A more apt analogy would be, instead of you going to "settle the matter" yourself, you steal money from everyone in town, then use it to pay for a bunch of other kids to go over and risk their lives by "settling the matter"...and at the same time, there are other men beating their wives all over town, but you never do anything about those guys, just this one particular wife-beater.

    If you think that policing the world to prevent injustices is a good role for our country, then we should put it to a vote and check it against the constitution. Otherwise, this horseshit about selectively "settling the matter" with certain baddies, but not others, rings incredibly hollow.

  • ||

    """I'd say war protestors have succeeded in their goal of swaying public opinion.""""

    Another person that doesn't want to admit that the facts on the ground, and the current administration's failures to address them, are swaying public opinion.

    People who want to shift the blame to people who have, or had, no ability to dictate the war efforts have no ability to produce solutions. If you can't determine the problem, you can't determine an effective solution.

  • ||

    Well, in this case considering that now very few Americans think the Iraqi war is a good idea, I'd say war protestors have succeeded in their goal of swaying public opinion.

    Umm, no. Public opinion has moved on this for a lot of reasons, but I bet practically no one has had their mind changed by a bunch of hippies with big puppets and 40-year old slogans.

    Dude. You could, like, call the police.

    And what if the police know all about it, and have decided the best thing for them to do is take kickbacks from the guy who's doing the hitting?

  • ||

    nutcase,

    "We had the power to stop that, we used that power. Am I missing something here?"

    You are missing a hard-headed analysis of the likelihood of success, and the responsibility to make every effort to ensure that all of the blood you are causing other people to spill is going to accomplish something. These have been fundamental considerations in Just War Theory for about 600 years of western civilization.

    Once upon a time, I considered the question of whether to invade Iraq to be a tough call, because Saddam Hussein really was that bad. He wasn't just another tin-horn dictator, he was one of the great monsters in the world, with maybe a million deaths to answer for.

    I wanted to liberate the people of Iraq, I really did, but I just couldn't escape the conclusion that the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld troika was going to screw it up, and make things even worse for the Iraqis.

    Good intentions only take you so far. You can say, "The execution was poor...," but you've got a responsibility to take the likelihood of success into account before you start a war, not just hope for the best and congratulate yourself for wanting to end oppression.

    I came to this realization about this crew before 2002 even ended. "Bush Derangement Syndrome," they used to call it. Because I'm such a deluded partisan, I thought the Republicans would screw this up.

    It would be funny, it it weren't for all the dead people.

  • ||

    RC Dean being a case in point.

    RC, do you still I'm deluded for coming to those conclusions about Bush's likelihood of success?

    Does predicting that this war would result in catastrophe as far back as 2002, and opposing it on those grounds, still reflect poorly on my judgement, character, partisan fairness, amd intelligence?

    Once upon a time, you were very certain that I was deluded, that I was of poor judgement, character, and intelligence, and that my ability to understand the issues was clouded by my politcal interess and beliefs. You devoted quite a few ones and zeros over the years making those points.

    I wonder, do you still feel that way?

  • ||

    Second, the antiwar types aren't really pacifists. They favor military intervention when it comes to stopping genocide in Darfur or starvation in Somalia or doing whatever that was President Clinton did in Haiti. In other words, their objection isn't to war per se. It's to wars that advance U.S. interests (or, allegedly, President Bush's or Israel's or ExxonMobil's interests).

    How does he account for Americans who supported the war in Afghanistan but not the war in Iraq? Is that possible in his universe?

  • ||

    We had the power to stop that, we used that power. Am I missing something here?

    Yes, the part about the intervension causing the same level of deaths, may be more.

  • ||

    Well, I pulled out my copy of "A Foreign Policy for Americans," and I found these nuggets:

    "except as such policies may ultimately protect our own security, we ahve no primary interest as a national policy to improve conditions or material welfare in other parts of the world or to change other forms of government. Certain we should not engage in war to achieve such purposes."

    "Nor do I believe we can justify war by our natural desire to bring freedom to others throughout the world, although it is prefectly proper to encourage and promote freedom. In 1941 President Roosevelt announced that we were going to establish a moral order throughout the world: freedom of speech and expression, 'everywhere in the world'; freedom to worship God 'everywhere in the world'; freedom from want, and freedom from fear 'everywhere in the world.' I pointed out then that the forcing of any special brand of freedom and democracy on a people, whether they want it or not, by the brute force of war will be a denial of those very democratic principles which we are striving to advance."

  • Dan T.||

    Umm, no. Public opinion has moved on this for a lot of reasons, but I bet practically no one has had their mind changed by a bunch of hippies with big puppets and 40-year old slogans.

    Probably not directly, but knowing that a fair number of fellow citizens are strongly against something is bound to have a some affect on people.

    In some cases, protests may have caused people to favor the war even more strongly because they don't like "hippies".

    But among the open-minded, seeing a enthusiastic demonstration will at least give people pause and wonder what it is about a situation that causes people to feel so strongly about it.

  • ||

    Ken Shultz,

    "How does he account for Americans who supported the war in Afghanistan but not the war in Iraq? Is that possible in his universe?"

    I used to be a devoted reader of NRO in 2001/02, and it's a pretty neat trick. The answer is, he overestimates the size of the opposition to the Afghanistan war, pretending that that the 5% who opposed it were actually the 40% who opposed the Iraq War. Then, he equates the motives of the Americans who opposed the Iraq War to those of the Americans who opposed the Afghan War. This allows him to claim that the entire left half of the country subscribes to the ideology of International ANSWER.

    It's kind of a neat trick, if you aren't worried about going to hell when you die.

  • ||

    "First, very few folks who favored the Iraq invasion are abstractly pro-war."

    That's right. Those folks who favored the Iraq invasion aren't abstract in the least! They are directly and obviously pro-war.

  • Thomas Paine's Goiter||

    I'm antiwar, but not for any of the "typical" reasons. If the U.S. isn't going to really fight the war and project all the power it has, if we're always going to concern ourselves with minimizing collateral damage, then all wars we fight are doomed to become quagmires.

    I'm generally anti-war as well, because my foreign policy mirrors my domestic: leave me the fuck alone.

    However, I'm on your team when it comes to the war itself. If we're going to fight the fucker, fight it properly. Win the damned thing and do not fight the fucking thing under the sphere of public influence.

  • ||

    Once upon a time, I considered the question of whether to invade Iraq to be a tough call, because Saddam Hussein really was that bad. He wasn't just another tin-horn dictator, he was one of the great monsters in the world, with maybe a million deaths to answer for.

    Not as great a monster as Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and Francisco Macias Nguema, all of whom we left alone. (In Pol Pot's case, we even engaged in a pro forma denunciation of the Vietnamese invasion that threw him from power.)

  • ||

    "First, very few folks who favored the Iraq invasion are abstractly pro-war."

    Three words:

    Victor.

    David.

    Hansen.

    This is George Bush's favorite historian, and the main theme of his works is that the material, intellectual, and moral progress of Western civilization can be traced back to certain extremely bloody victories. He's quite explicit about the necessity of killing large numbers of civilians in order to sufficiently punish and humiliate the enemy, and he declares the very brutality of these wars to be the driving force of our society's progress.

    So don't tell me these people don't support war.

  • ||

    How many times can you drive past your neighbor's house and see him hitting his wife before you go over and settle the matter?

    About 35 years.

    But if Hans Blix comes for a visit and he refuses to answer the door, then I'm liable to get mad.

  • ||

    How many times can you drive past your neighbor's house and see him hitting his wife before you go over and settle the matter?

    The Bush 2 version of settling the matter amounts to "Hey, let someone else beat your wife for a change!"

  • ||

    Jonah Goldberg is such a dick that he can't even concede he was wrong without trying to turn it into a simplistic smear.

  • ||

    You do have to hand it to the US, though. Before, you could blame all the killing on one guy - Saddam.

    Now Iraq has dozens of little tinpot dictators doing the killing. We've got that "division of labor" thing down pretty good.

  • ||

    "It's kind of a neat trick, if you aren't worried about going to hell when you die...This allows him to claim that the entire left half of the country subscribes to the ideology of International ANSWER." - joe

    I guess you'll be sharing the left side of his accomodations in Hades, then, since that's the exact type of nonsense you engage in on these threads with an amazing consistency.

    In fact, you're guilty of exactly the same thing when you claim that the views of "Victor David Hansen" are the views of everyone who doesn't agree with you when you spout off "So don't tell me these people don't support war." - joe

    So it's OK for you to attribute your interpretation of one historian's views to everyone who disagrees with you, but you think it's horrible to attribute International ANSWER's position on the war in Afghanistan with the rest of the left...

    Wow. That actually exceeds the quality of of pure, high-octane hypocrisy that I've come to expect from you. Well done.

  • ||

    "Support the troops - send them to die because it will really piss of the liberals."

    Come on. This is not the argument he is making. It would be more fairly presented as "Support the war because, for all its faults, nobody seems to have a better solution".
    Whether or not that's good thinking is debateable, but he certainly wasn't saying he supported the war because it would be fun to piss off liberals.
    This is the same reason many people, myself included, voted for Bush last time even though we had issues with the way he was handling things. Because what was the alternative? What was John Kerry's plan for Iraq? I'll wait......
    Don't feel bad, he doesn't remember either. The biggest, in some ways, the ONLY issue of that election, and nobody really knows what the other guy was planning to do instead of what we have now.
    So here's your chance, Democrats. What should we do now, and how should we deal with the way the world will be when we take that course of action? I want to hear some real answers. And sitting around blaming Bush doesn't get to be one of them. You are in power, you have to make the decision...what do you do? Iran is about to build a nuke...what do you do? We withdraw from Iraq and it degenerates into all out civil war; the Sunni region becomes a major al qaeda base....what do you do? Pakistan may be sheltering Bin Laden, but we don't want to go to war with them...what do you do? Real answers that don't start and end with "Bush messed everything up". Come on, let's hear it. I'm being sincere here. Change my mind.

    PS If your answer to anything is "Diplomacy", please remember that diplomacy is not a course of action, but a method of taking that course of action. Therefore you must include what that "diplomacy" would specifically be pushing for, and what force would be backing up that push.

  • ||

    "This is part of the reason that, as I argued two years ago, protests are so often counterproductive, pushing the few people they do influence away from the position of the protesters."

    Well, in this case considering that now very few Americans think the Iraqi war is a good idea, I'd say war protestors have succeeded in their goal of swaying public opinion.

    No, the war did that. (Or maybe the reporting on the war, pro-war people would say.) Not the protesters.

    I do think the gooniness of many of the anti-war protesters did in fact do far more do sabotage the early-stage anti-war movement than help it. Contra Goldberg, it wasn't the "shabbiness of their arguments" as it was that often no coherent argument was made at all.

    Seeing protestors with signs like "No to war!/Reparations now!" didn't make many people think, "Hey, these guys have a point" so much as make people think wonder whether they had a point about the war at all, or were just using the war as an attention-getting device on which to tack on their favorite, but unrelated, lefty causes. Indeed, so much of the fringe left jumped the tiny raft of the early anti-war movement that they capsized it with the sheer weight of their dumbfuckery.

    It's not so much being pro-war in order to "piss off the liberals," as being pro-war by default because some of the most visible "anti-war" folks early on obscured the real, reasonable anti-war arguments.

    For the most part, the protestors I saw did not help the anti-war movement, they distracted from it. They swamped it. They drowned it. They killed. The only reasonable and persuasive anti-war arguments that I saw were in libertarian websites and publications -- and we can guess how much of the American public saw them.

  • ||

    This thread has decended into parody. Can we concede that there were and are multiple reasons for supporting an invasion of Iraq and multiple reasons for being opposed to such action?

    There is a position that certain types of changes can only occur through military means.

    There is a position that this particular situation required a military response because there was no other credible deterrent present or proposed.

    There is a position that democracy can and should be spread by removing tyrants.

    There is not really a position that "war is cool, so lets do it."

  • ||

    One thing I do in dealing with Iraq is distinguish between the "war" and the "occupation," which are really two different things.

    The War was a smashing success--within a few weeks with minimal U.S. (and relatively minimal Iraqi casualties), we toppled a brutal dictator who had become a determined enemy and seemed by all accounts to have an active WMD program. That few or no WMDs were ultimately found is beside the point. It can be said with great certainty that the Saddam Hussein regime no longer poses a WMD threat to the world.

    The Occupation has been a stunning failure, I think most would agree. However, I would argue that post-Hussein Iraq was doomed to civil war regardless of how he was dethroned. Iraq is not a nation, but a fake state cobbled together by the British after WWI. We have managed to keep a somewhat unreliable lid on things there for a few years at the cost of about 2,000 American lives so far. The 'lid' appears to be in danger of falling off, despite our best efforts.

    Problem is, I see no pleasant alternatives. The most successful alternative would be to 'flood the zone'--occupy Iraq with several hundred thousand U.S. soldiers and create our own little police state there. Curfews, checkpoints, shoot-on-sight, the works. Politically, that's a non-starter and it contains no viable exit strategy unless the strategy is to stay there in that capacity for two or three generations until we can remake the cultures that make up Iraq. Doing so by force cuts against the grain of what it means to be American. Do we cut and run? I say yes, but why do I think that so many of the very folks who advocate that now would be screaming their heads off once the Iraqis start butchering each other? Personally, I don't really care if a bloodbath occurs there, because it is their business not mine, but I doubt that such will look good on CNN.

  • ||

    Jason Ligon

    'There is not really a position that "war is cool, so lets do it." '

    Speak for yourself.

    Aresen the barbarian. ;)

  • ||

    Dave - joe actually has a plan for how to fix all of this, with timetables and all sorts of other non-workable but reasonable-sounding moving parts. He has posted it before and I'm sure he can post it again.

    But joe's plan is just as unworkable as the current plan, which is simply an adaptation of previous courses of action by the current administration. The other side can introduce change for change's sake, but it wouldn't change a thing.

    The realpolitik answer is the one that would actually work. That answer is the same now as it was when we invaded. The answer is not to stick around trying to make the world a better place for the Iraqis or the Afghanis.

    The appropriate course of action was to go there, kill/capture as many of the guys who were involved in creating problems for the U.S., declare victory and leave. Maybe hang a big banner that said "Mission Accomplished. Don't Make Us Come Back." Maybe with a note posted in the United Nations that says "If anyone attacks us again, we'll flatten them as well. If it's one of the same countries, we'll flatten what we were kind enough not to flatten the last time."

    The "you broke it, you bought it" idea that we have to turn these countries into functioning nations is just a bad idea.

    I think that pulling Manuel Noriega or Saddam Hussein out of their rat holes and anyone associated with them and chucking them under a rock at Gitmo without trial for eternity is an acceptable solution to an unacceptable situation. I feel the same way about the guys we haven't gotten around to yet - Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, or even Hugo Chavez for that matter.

    But sticking around in these places to make them wonderful beacons for the rest of the world is just not my idea of enlightened self-interest.

    Of course, joe and his pals don't even have enlightened self-interest going for them - they think Kosovo was a brilliant idea because it was Clinton's violation of international law and the UN charter rather than a Republican's.

  • ||

    Dave,

    "Come on. This is not the argument he is making."

    No, it's not the argument he's making. It's the mindset that allowed him to believe all the incredibly weak arguments and shoddy evidence that were put forth before the war.

    Chris O,

    "...and seemed by all accounts to have an active WMD program." Not by the accounts of the people we sent to determine whether he had such a program. They reported back that he didn't appear to have one.

    "It can be said with great certainty that the Saddam Hussein regime no longer poses a WMD threat to the world." That could have been said by the Spring of 2003 without a single drop of blood being spilled. The administration began this war when they did in order to get it started before that information became widely known.

    "I would argue that post-Hussein Iraq was doomed to civil war regardless of how he was dethroned." Not all conflict has to become civil war and ethnic cleansing. Everyone points to Yugoslavia, but remember, there was a fanatical nationalist tyrant who was determined to stoke ethnic conflict in order to expand his, and his nation's, power. When you see a war, blame the politicians, not the people.

    "Problem is, I see no pleasant alternatives." The only option I can think of that has even a remote possibility of avoiding catastrophe is the Northern Ireland option. We link our standing down and withdrawing to political negotiations among the Coalition, the various Iraqi factions, and the insurgents. Those insurgents who have refused to join the political process because of the occupation become neutrals, or even allies, of the government. This splits the insurgency, removes a great deal of the popular support that insurgents depend on, and leaves the hard core opposition and the foreign jihadis as hunted men, even by their former comrades.

    There is not military victory possible, only a political solution. Our continuing presence makes that political solution impossible. We need to pull out of Iraq, not in order to leave the Iraqi government fighting the same war with fewer resources, but as a tool to help end the civil war, which would make the Iraqis' war against foreign jihadists relatively easy for them to win on their own.

  • ||

    ChrisO:

    I agree. The war was a smashing success, and the occupation a complete mess. There is a lot of blame to spread around on this. Bush deserves quite a bit. Unfortunately, he bet on the WMD horse and it bit him in the arse. I am quite confident that if we had found any significant number of WMD, the occupation would be going much smoother. However, the lack of WMD fed right into the looney-left "Blood for Oil" "LIES LIES LIES" garbage, undermining our justification and emboldening the terrorists. The loonely-left (as opposed to centrist, serious critics of the war) also get their share of the blame. I am not sure whether they are parroting the lies of the Islamists or vice versa, but they do strengthen one another.

    I give this biggest share of the blame, however, to China, Russia, and France. What? How could I say something so absurd, you ask?

    I give them the lion's share because they could have resolved this issue without war. Yet their desire to "stick-it-to-the-USA" was more important to them than to do the right thing.

    If those three nations had gone to Saddam and said "Get the hell out or we will back the US and Britain", Saddam would have been gone without a shot fired. They chose otherwise - and China is again doing this in North Korea.

    Put the blame where it really belongs.

  • ||

    Yes, I've posted these ideas before, rob.

    Neither you nor anyone else has been able to offer any reasons why it can't work. Except that, since I'm not working from your preferred ideology, I can't possibly be right.

    "Of course, joe and his pals don't even have enlightened self-interest going for them - they think Kosovo was a brilliant idea because it was Clinton's violation of international law and the UN charter rather than a Republican's."

    Kosovo was a good idea because:

    1. the military mission was aimed at stopping a military action - Operation Horseshoe, the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo by Serbian military and militias.

    2. the mission was sufficiently circumscribed that we had an excellent chance of achieving it.

    3. we had locals on our side, as we did in Afghanistan, on both the political and military end of things, allowing for genuine security in the liberated areas and the establishment of a political order that the public considered legitimate.

    4. the communities we ended up patrolling and defending were genuinely supportive of us, and of the operation.

    But, hey, if it makes you feel better to tell yourself that I don't have realistic ideas about what to do now, or that I base my beliefs purely on partisanship, have at it. It's been a pretty rough couple of years for you, politically, so you should take your relief where you find it.

  • ||

    Once upon a time, I considered the question of whether to invade Iraq to be a tough call, because Saddam Hussein really was that bad. He wasn't just another tin-horn dictator, he was one of the great monsters in the world, with maybe a million deaths to answer for.

    I wanted to liberate the people of Iraq, I really did, but I just couldn't escape the conclusion that the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld troika was going to screw it up, and make things even worse for the Iraqis.



    I think you're at the libertarian point of view if you say "United States Government" instead of intimating that the "Gore/Lieberman/their SecDef" would have gotten it right (see next paragraph for what I think you mean). I've learned a lot from the current war, and multinational (and not the "coalition of the willing" crap we were fed a few years ago) was the only way to successfully, and just as importantly, legitimately, pull off this endeavor.

    Unless you're saying that Gore would have made this a true multilateral effort, in which case I agree with you completely.

  • ||

    However, the lack of WMD fed right into the looney-left "Blood for Oil" "LIES LIES LIES" garbage, undermining our justification and emboldening the terrorists.

    I'm certainly not on the left of anything, and I never bought into the simplistic "blood for oil" mentality, but the simple and documented fact is that the Bush administration lied to get public support for this war. That's what undermined our justification for war. That, and the inability of loyalists to admit that they were had by a lying administration.

  • ||

    jf,

    Not even a genuinely multilateral coalition could have achieved success, if the Iraqi people themselves were not given the leadership role in their own liberation and nation-building.

    On the other hand, if we had held off until we had a legitimate Iraqi movement to partner with (and not the bullshit INC), the constitution of our coalition wouldn't have mattered much.

    The people who stopped the vote count in Florida, and who supported coups against two democratic governmentsd in our hemisphere, never had a prayer of creating democracy in Iraq, because they neither know nor care what actual democracy is.

  • ||

    The shabiness of the anti-war folks arguments. Only they turned out to be, well, right. Like the man said "not too shabby." Jonah Goldberg is a steaming pile of crap, a hired gun with no ideological principles of his own.

  • ||

    There is not military victory possible, only a political solution.

    Until the US gives up the idea of a nationalized Iraqi oil industry and starts looking at Iraqi oil in terms of individual property rights, it's gonna be extremely bloody over there whether US military stays there or not.

    Iraq's oil needs to be broken up into local institutions, set up by the locals. Until that happens, internal resentments leading to extreme violence and poverty will continue.

  • ||

    joe,

    You bring up two good points, and your clarification leads me to agree with you. I'm not sure that the INC wasn't the best we could have expected under the circumstances, but that is just a better reason the have not started the whole mess in the first place.

  • ||

    This is from an essay by Mark Twain:
    "A Savonarola can quell and scatter a mob of lynchers with a mere glance of his eye: so can a Merrill(1) or a Beloat(2). For no mob has any sand in the presence of a man known to be splendidly brave. Besides, a lynching mob would like to be scattered, for of a certainty there are never ten men in it who would not prefer to be somewhere else--and would be, if they but had the courage to go."

    The reason it's worth pondering is that it shows that even a lynch mob is of more than one mind.
    The next question is: besides Justin Raimondo, are there any splendidly brave among anti-war folk?
    Answer: Of course, but the hysteria of a big, big mob is just not that easy to quell.

  • ||

    Back to the initial post:
    "First, very few folks who favored the Iraq invasion are abstractly pro-war"
    Goldberg is a real straight shooter with this criticism. I know that because pro-choice people were never referred to as "pro-abortion" people at his National Review, since none of them are abstractly pro-abortion...

  • ||

    Not even a genuinely multilateral coalition could have achieved success, if the Iraqi people themselves were not given the leadership role in their own liberation and nation-building.

    I don't think that's even the half of it. We should expect all such experiments to fail--the same rose cooked up by some well intentioned local geniuses would have smelled as sweet. They certainly would have had all the same problems.

    ...but we failed because the leadership wasn't local enough? I'm not buying it. I'm more likely to buy into the democracy as contagion justification, which at least hides behind some semblance of self-defense. ...and I laugh at that.

    The road to hell is paved with the well intentioned failures of central planners and nation builders.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Making fun of the craziest possible subset of people on the other side of a binary divide is fun�I do it all the time. But Goldberg seems to have offered an inadvertent case study in the dangers of confusing your own entertainment with serious thinking about an issue.

    Well, sure, but suggesting that having a little fun and making serious points are mutually exclusive is also a bit of a binary fallacy. Having just responded to a co-blogger's criticism of the Goldberg column here (okay, so I'm plugging Inactivist, so sue me), I think on further reflection that Mr. Sanchez has a valid point here -- that Goldberg does fall victim somewhat to the very tidy-looking dichotomy he criticizes -- but I still hear too much of the "I told you so" crowd painting the issue in stark black & white terms, too; so to that extent I don't think the point Goldberg made lacks seriousness at all.

  • thoreau||

    You know, our most successful intervention in the Middle East was actually the first Iraq war.

    1) We kicked an army out of a territory and handed it over to local authorities. Kuwait is certainly not a liberal paradise, but it is a stable and prosperous country.

    2) We weakened the Iraqi army and established and enforced the no-fly zones, enabling the Kurds to rise up.

    3) The Kurds handled things from there, on their own, went through their own internal war, and have established a situation that may not be harmonious but is at least prosperous and stable, and full of promise for better things.

    The lesson I draw from this is that we should have announced a timetable for withdrawal in March of 2003. Of course, the only way that would have worked is if people in DC had paid more attention to laying plans for the immediate aftermath of victory: Domestic security, prompt elections, local leaders to manage the transition, etc.

  • thoreau||

    Then again, if I had been in charge, in late September 2001 we would have put every available Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Airman, CIA operative, Blackwater mercenary, whatever-they-call-the-Coast-Guard, FBI agent, street cop, postal worker, dog catcher, fire fighter, Park Ranger, and Boy Scout in south-eastern Afghanistan, BEFORE the fall of Kabul.

    Call me crazy, but I think that priority #1 should be finding the dude who destroyed 2 embassies, 2 skyscrapers, 4 airplanes, a chunk of the Pentagon, a chunk of a Navy ship, and more than 3000 people.

  • ||

    You know, our most successful intervention in the Middle East was actually the first Iraq war.

    Well, it wasn't too good for the Iraqi people but I think they were screwed regardless.

    Are you saying that the foreign policy strategy that is called "realism" even by it opponents works? Crazy!

  • ||

    There are only 10 kinds of people in the world, those who understand binary notation and those who don't.

  • ||

    Oh, "realism" works just fine, as long as it actually is realistic, which, sadly, is often not the case. For instance, not being realistic about the fact of global demand for Persian Gulf Oil, and the limited available political paradigms which can be employed to rule the populations of the Persian Gulf, while the inevitable extraction of said oil take place. Or not being realistic about the implications of each of those political paradigms in a world where destructive technology grows increasingly ubiquitous.

    Look, it may well be the case that the best that can be done is to pay off despots who tyrannize many dozens of millions of Muslims, for many more decades, in return for access to oil reserves. One should be realistic enough to clearly say that this is one's preferred option, however, and be realistic enough to discuss the possible downsides to such a choice, and no, saying that you support technology development to reduce dependence on Persian Gulf oil does not qualify, unless you failed to see the humour in the old "Far Side" cartoon, whrein the white-coated scientists crowd around a colleague's thoerem printed on a blackboard, one of them saying, "I think there's a problem with step 3", which reads, "Then a miracle happens".

    Of course, many of the people who supported invading Iraq had their own theorem with the step mentioned above, but that doesn't mean that those who opposed invasion, while failing to be realistic about the implications of that choice, are to be preferred.

  • ||

    "We need to pull out of Iraq, not in order to leave the Iraqi government fighting the same war with fewer resources, but as a tool to help end the civil war, which would make the Iraqis' war against foreign jihadists relatively easy for them to win on their own."

    For a guy who's spent the last three years knocking down strawmen about how easy the neocons predicted Iraq would be, this seems like a pretty flippant remark.

  • ||

    Oh, "realism" works just fine, as long as it actually is realistic, which, sadly, is often not the case. For instance, not being realistic about the fact of global demand for Persian Gulf Oil, and the limited available political paradigms which can be employed to rule the populations of the Persian Gulf, while the inevitable extraction of said oil take place. Or not being realistic about the implications of each of those political paradigms in a world where destructive technology grows increasingly ubiquitous.

    Whose not being realistic? There's a downside to supporting wicked despots but when your alternatives are anarchy and midevil religous warfare then it looks pretty good.

    Look, it may well be the case that the best that can be done is to pay off despots who tyrannize many dozens of millions of Muslims, for many more decades, in return for access to oil reserves. One should be realistic enough to clearly say that this is one's preferred option, however, and be realistic enough to discuss the possible downsides to such a choice, and no, saying that you support technology development to reduce dependence on Persian Gulf oil does not qualify, unless you failed to see the humour in the old "Far Side" cartoon, whrein the white-coated scientists crowd around a colleague's thoerem printed on a blackboard, one of them saying, "I think there's a problem with step 3", which reads, "Then a miracle happens".

    No disagreement there. I'm not one of those hoping for a miracle cure so we can stop having any relationship with those people. It would be nice but no magical thinking here.

    We'll always have the risk of terrorism and Bush's Leninist attempt to move history forward by force has only made a bad situation worse.

    Lebanon gets taken over by Hezbollah, Hamas wins the Palestinian elections and Iraqis being taken from there homes and being tortured to death for belonging to the wrong religion. The regimes in Jordan, Egypt and even Syria are not looking that bad anymore.

    This Neo-Con bullshit that all people in all places at all times want the Western concept of freedom is yet another idealistic intellectual movement that has been a disaster to humanity.

    And if you're going to argue that "realism" is what gave us 9/11 and made Arabs hate us I would counter that while that may be true it doesn't mean any other alternative would not have created more poverty and chaos and just as much resentment.

  • ||

    I've now decided that the Iraq war completely rules.

    It's fun.

  • ||

    I congratulate Jonah for arriving at the anti-war position, which puts him AHEAD of a Democratic Party still trying to triangulate on a non-existent backlash, and "joe", who gets his scripts from them.

    I suppose Jonah's point about the anti-war movement (never very much) has some validity, and a slender signifigance...but shouln't Goldberg now apologise for all the media-bashing? Y'know, all the "they never report the good news"?

    The "bad news" WAS the story - right Jonah?

  • ||

    Les: Can you provide this "simple, documented lie" by Bush? I have been asking liberals for this for years, and they have failed completely. Perhaps a libertarian can do it.

    For something to be a lie, the following must be true:

    1: The statement (either spoken or written) must be untrue given any reasonable interpretation of the words

    2: It must not be a slip-of-the-tongue or other mis-statement (a common problem with Bush).

    3: You must provide significant evidence that Bush KNEW the statement to be untrue at the time he gave it.

    The Niger statement does not even come close. It was not untrue in the first place. Bush both believed it to be true as spoken, and also believed in the logical inferences that a normal person would draw from it.

    If you are going to claim that only telling part of the truth is a lie, well, we are all liars.

  • ||

    Chalupa, you depart with realism when you imply that participating in the tyrinnization of many dozens of millions of muslims for many more decades will not very likely entail a great deal mideval religous warfare. It likely will, and as the inevitable failure to keep technology bottled up occurs, it will be the paradox of mideval warfare fought with advanced technology which will dominate the century we've just started. Oh, we'll survive, no doubt about it; but our society will be changed somewhat after we get done killing a half billion people or so.

    Nope, I don't have any magic beans either, but let's not pretend that most of those who opposed this war weren't possessed of their own version fantastical thinking or avoidance of reality.

  • ||

    Chalupa, you depart with realism when you imply that participating in the tyrinnization of many dozens of millions of muslims for many more decades will not very likely entail a great deal mideval religous warfare. It likely will,

    I dunno about that. For all the talk about how the Sunni/Shiite rivalry has been going on for over a thousand years, Saddam seemed to have it under control as do the governments of Saudi Arabia and Syria.

    fought with advanced technology which will dominate the century we've just started. Oh, we'll survive, no doubt about it; but our society will be changed somewhat after we get done killing a half billion people or so.

    Yet another reason that crazy Muslims need to live in police states by despots concerned primarily with their own self-interest.

    Nope, I don't have any magic beans either, but let's not pretend that most of those who opposed this war weren't possessed of their own version fantastical thinking or avoidance of reality.

    Maybe those who opposed the war from the left were foolish but I think those that opposed it from the right have largely been vindicated.

  • ||

    Josh,

    "For a guy who's spent the last three years knocking down strawmen about how easy the neocons predicted Iraq would be, this seems like a pretty flippant remark."

    I deserved that. That was a poorly-written sentence, and expresses much more confidence than I actually feel. As I wrote at the beginning of that post, I think the Northern Ireland option is "The only option I can think of that has even a remote possibility of avoiding catastrophe."

    I don't have a great deal of confidence that such a plan would succeed in bringing about a political settlement comparable to that in Northern Ireland. However, if such a settlement were reached, I am confident that the Iraqis would have little difficulty putting an end to the jihadist terror campaign.

    Andrew, "...and "joe", who gets his scripts from them."

    First, I was criticizing this war when a majority of Democratic Senators voted to authorize it, and haven't let up since.

    Second, Goldberg is still not "anti-war" in any meaningful sense, and is still well to the right of most Democrats, who are calling for a withdrawal of one form or another.

    Third, I just put forth an Iraq proposal that zero (0) Democratic politicians have been talking about. You, on the other hand, have yet to come up with an original thought on the matter. Project much?

    Chad, "There can be no doubt that Iraq has a reconstituted nuclear weapons program."

    "Saddam Hussein kicked the inspectors out."

    "War is not inevitable."

    "The commanders on the ground tell me that they have enough troops to complete the mission."

    Chalupa,

    "Maybe those who opposed the war from the left were foolish..."

    Too simplistic. While there was really only one anti-war argument from the right - the one shared by the odd triple of Justin Raimondo, Brent Scowcroft and Pat Buchanan - there were many different arguments from the left. ANSWER's position was not Howard Dean's.

  • ||

    Uh, no, because you seem to believe that the only mideval religous war that can occur is that which takes place between Sunnis and Shiites. You are in error regarding this, and you are in error in thinking that we will be competent managers of the tyrannization of many dozens of million muslims. We won't, because it's not the sort of thing we are good at.

    Chalupa, I understand your point about the likely futility of accelerating people into modernity before they demand it themselves; personally I think it is the nonhomogenous nature of the Persian Gulf and wider muslim world which makes it so problematic, in comparison to, say, South Korea, where a gigantic transformation was accomplished within a few short decades. I don't think you understand that your position is roughly akin to that of a Whig in 1850; they were faced with the untenable situation of roughly half of the United States allowing slavery, and the Whigs thought it could be managed. It couldn't.

  • ||

    "you are in error in thinking that we will be competent managers of the tyrannization of many dozens of million muslims."

    Technically, Will, Chalupa didn't propose that WE manage the tyrannization of millions of Muslims, but that local despots who know their cultures first-hand and who have established management systems and constituencies manage the tyrannization of millions of Muslims.

    And he didn't exactly propose so, so much as note that it would be better than the status quo.

  • ||

    joe

    You did NOT oppose the war, then or now. You criticised some of the arguments against, and the Administration...it was Bush-bashing. It was pure Kerry - you were for it, before you were against it...against it before you were for it.

    (Curiously, you thought Gore-Lieberman would have done a good job of it...but you didn't support Lieberman?)

    Your "original" thoughts are just a synopsis of DNC straddles - summits and partial withdrawls and timetables...how does that keep 60 guys from dying next month?

    The position of the Democratic Party is that their self-identifying base (to their credit) opposed the war from before it began...but their leadership caucus has followed in the wake of the Administration. They straddle the divide between their voters, and the American foreign policy establishment.

    As for that base joe - you may speak TO them...but you don't speak FOR them.

  • ||

    Too simplistic. While there was really only one anti-war argument from the right - the one shared by the odd triple of Justin Raimondo, Brent Scowcroft and Pat Buchanan - there were many different arguments from the left. ANSWER's position was not Howard Dean's.

    Fair enough. I shouldn't lump Howard Dean in with ANSWER or even Moveon.org.

    Will Allen,

    Uh, no, because you seem to believe that the only mideval religous war that can occur is that which takes place between Sunnis and Shiites. You are in error regarding this, and you are in error in thinking that we will be competent managers of the tyrannization of many dozens of million muslims. We won't, because it's not the sort of thing we are good at.

    Who says we'd be managing it? Syrian Baathists manage Syria and Mubarkists manage Egypt. Every country in the middle east has a (relatively) secular elite that is pretty good at keeping the insane majority in check.

    When is the last time there was an internal coup of a sitting Arab dictator? Its been a while.

    I don't think you understand that your position is roughly akin to that of a Whig in 1850; they were faced with the untenable situation of roughly half of the United States allowing slavery, and the Whigs thought it could be managed. It couldn't.

    Maybe you'd have a point if Arabs were rising up against these opressive dictatorships, but they're not. Its not being ruled by despots that pissses these people off its the existence of Jews and people from another race, religion and culture on their land.

    Arabs have been ruled by tyrants for a couple thousand years and there didn't seem to be any change in the trend until Bush decided that he was put on earth to free everybody.

    This connection of dictatorships leading to terrorism is silly. Maybe 19 kooks with box cutters coming after us every five years is the price we'll have to pay for being the richest, most prosperous country in the history of mankind.

  • ||

    I was never for the war, Andrew. The archives are readily available - shall we go back to 2002/2003 and take a look? I'm game, how about you?

    "it was Bush-bashing"

    Yes, the demonstrable dishonesty, irresponsibility, and incompetance that have always characterized the Bush administration was one of the largest reasons why I opposed their invasion of Iraq. Not that you'd have any way of knowing, but having your judgement vindicated on such an important question feels good.

    "Curiously, you thought Gore-Lieberman would have done a good job of it"...no, not really, if "it" refers to waging the same type of war in the same manner. They would have done so more competantly, but there were much larger problems with this war than its execution. As I've explained.

    "Your "original" thoughts are just a synopsis of DNC straddles - summits and partial withdrawls and timetables..." Your incapacity to recognize the differences among ideas that aren't your own does not mean those ideas are all the same. It just means you are either unable to unwilling to honestely consider what is being discussed.

    "how does that keep 60 guys from dying next month?" It doesn't. This war has screwed us so badly that we're forced to accept such costs for the time being, in order to avoid even larger problems. Thanks, hawks!

    "The position of the Democratic Party..." It's fallacious to claim that there is a position of the Democratic Party. They are not the Republicans, and thus, do not march in lockstep on this or most other issues.

    "...is that their self-identifying base (to their credit) opposed the war from before it began..." Yes, we did. My offer to go into archives still stands. You up for it?

    "...but their leadership caucus has followed in the wake of the Administration." Ted Kennedy didn't, Evan Bayh did. Nancy Pelosi didn't, Dick Gephardt did. And, of course, John Kerry tried to chart a middle course.

    "As for that base joe - you may speak TO them...but you don't speak FOR them."

    I can only speak for myself.

  • ||

    Chalupa,

    "Arabs have been ruled by tyrants for a couple thousand years and there didn't seem to be any change in the trend until Bush decided that he was put on earth to free everybody."

    That's not actually true. Evolutionary change towards limited monarchies and the growth in the authority of elected parliaments - some of which now include women as voters and members - has been occuring in the Arab world for decades. There's Syria, but there's also the UAE.

  • ||

    Chalupa, if you can't grasp how the despots in the Persian Gulf use the Jews, and the West generally, as a convienient outside target of rage, you're not paying attention. If you think that being the despots' paymaster won't inevitably involve us in the management of their despotism, you again are departing from reality. If you think that the people who are enraged are so lacking in resources and intelligence that "19 kooks with boxcutters", that must be dealt with every five years, is the extent of of what problems we will face in the oncoming decades, in the wake of our decision to participate in the tyrranization of these people, you are every bit as pollyannaish as one George W. Bush. Or perhaps as Stephen Douglas once was.

    Jefferson's "Firebell in the night" is beckoning.

  • ||

    "...and seemed by all accounts to have an active WMD program." Not by the accounts of the people we sent to determine whether he had such a program. They reported back that he didn't appear to have one.

    That's a bunch of post-hocery, joe. What there was before the war was uncomfortable uncertainty on that question. Saddam's own actions were highly suspicious (he was clearly bluffing to make folks think he had WMDs), and three different U.S. administrations, as well as most major foreign intelligence services, suspected that Iraq had an active WMD program. Bush had to make a tough choice based on incomplete, but not inconsiderable, intelligence. I personally don't think he can be faulted for making the choice that he did, based on the info that he had available. Now what came after the war, *that* can be laid at Bush's feet.

    "It can be said with great certainty that the Saddam Hussein regime no longer poses a WMD threat to the world." That could have been said by the Spring of 2003 without a single drop of blood being spilled. The administration began this war when they did in order to get it started before that information became widely known.

    Joe, that's just a bunch of conspiracy-theory bullshit, and I expect better of you. Without Russian and Chinese cooperation, we had little effective hope of reigning in Saddam through diplomatic means. The sanctions regime was already crumbling. We had no leverage.

    "I would argue that post-Hussein Iraq was doomed to civil war regardless of how he was dethroned." Not all conflict has to become civil war and ethnic cleansing. Everyone points to Yugoslavia, but remember, there was a fanatical nationalist tyrant who was determined to stoke ethnic conflict in order to expand his, and his nation's, power. When you see a war, blame the politicians, not the people.

    The problem is, Yugoslavia is *exactly* on point and you don't want to see it. Politicians are rarely anything but a reflection of the people they govern, for good and bad. Both states were cobbled together by outside powers at about the same time, albeit not in exactly similar ways. Such fake states are almost universally doomed to failure because they don't reflect longstanding cultural distinctions/boundaries. The '90s bloodbath there wasn't imposed from above. If anything, it bubbled up from the bottom. Milosevic encouraged it, but I think he leapt on a bandwagon that was already moving.

    Nothing is inevitable, I suppose, but I don't think it's a reach to say that such fake states can only be kept together by an iron fist. The real question is whether we want to be/have the balls to be that iron fist. I don't think so. If Iraqis want to fight it out amongst themselves, I don't think we can prevent it--certainly not by the half-measures the Bush Administration has taken.

    "Problem is, I see no pleasant alternatives." The only option I can think of that has even a remote possibility of avoiding catastrophe is the Northern Ireland option.

    Ulster is a tiny pissing match compared to Iraq, and it took 80 years for that shit to wind down to its current whimper. I suspect Euro-atheism probably had more to do with the end of "the troubles" than anything else. When the young people are mostly atheists and the churches half-empty on Sunday, who cares about a bunch of ancient Catholic/Anglican bullshit? I don't think Tony Blair magically made it all end with a bunch of clever political moves.

    There is not military victory possible, only a political solution. Our continuing presence makes that political solution impossible. We need to pull out of Iraq, not in order to leave the Iraqi government fighting the same war with fewer resources, but as a tool to help end the civil war, which would make the Iraqis' war against foreign jihadists relatively easy for them to win on their own.

    I think you're engaging in wishful thinking here, joe. Not everybody in Iraq wants a partition, but from what I read recently, the "Al Qaeda in Iraq" stuff is mostly history, and what you have now is largely undercover Iranian intervention on the side of the Shi'ite militias, which are supported by sections of the current government. They are playing a waiting game--once we leave, the battle for Iraq starts. It would generations of harsh U.S. occupation to alter the reality of what is about to occur in Iraq. We *will* mostly pull out of Iraq--I'm guessing as a Bush 'October Surprise' in 2008, and that's when things get interesting (in a sad way).

  • ||

    "No, it's not the argument he's making. It's the mindset that allowed him to believe all the incredibly weak arguments and shoddy evidence that were put forth before the war." - joe

    You seem to think that this somehow excuses your nonsensical attack, but I can't see why. If it's not the argument he's making, it's just the mindset you attribute to him. Stop arguing with the libertarian in your head, joe.

    "'...and seemed by all accounts to have an active WMD program.' Not by the accounts of the people we sent to determine whether he had such a program. They reported back that he didn't appear to have one." - joe

    Uh, no. They reported back that they couldn't tell if he had one or not because the Baathist regime wouldn't fully cooperate with inspections.

    "'It can be said with great certainty that the Saddam Hussein regime no longer poses a WMD threat to the world.' [1] That could have been said by the Spring of 2003 without a single drop of blood being spilled. [2] The administration began this war when they did in order to get it started before that information became widely known." - joe

    Again, no. 1) Not true, because Saddam's Baathist regime would not comply with inspectors. 2) Not true, because the administration went to war after getting the authority to do so via a Congressional resolution with bi-partisan support. You can read the resolution here:
    www.c-span.org/resources/pdf/hjres114.pdf

    Just a little further FYI on the votes for the resolution: 81 of the 208 Democrats supported the resolution in the House of Representatives and 19 of 44 Democrats in the Senate - including Kerry and Edwards, the Democratic Party's presidential campaign ticket.

    "'I would argue that post-Hussein Iraq was doomed to civil war regardless of how he was dethroned.' Not all conflict has to become civil war and ethnic cleansing. Everyone points to Yugoslavia, but remember, there was a fanatical nationalist tyrant who was determined to stoke ethnic conflict in order to expand his, and his nation's, power."

    Yugoslavia IS a perfect example, joe. Just like in Iraq, as you point out, there was "a fanatical nationalist tyrant who was determined to stoke ethnic conflict in order to expand his, and his nation's, power."

    The primary difference being, of course, that Hussein had already actually tried to expand his and his nation's power by conquering another country (Kuwait). You've made a great case for why intervening in Yugoslavia made no sense and intervening in Iraq was just finishing off a megalomaniac who was still routinely shooting at U.S. aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone. Shooting yourself in the foot hurts, doesn't it?

    "Same as in Iraq, When you see a war, blame the politicians, not the people." - joe

    With platitudes like that, I can't believe you actually support the Democrats. Of course, you only mean that when you're referring to wars during Republican administrations. At least libertarians believe that no matter which side holds the reins of power.

    "The only option I can think of that has even a remote possibility of avoiding catastrophe is the Northern Ireland option." - joe

    So you're willing to give U.S. troops in Iraq another few decades to set the stage for your plan to work? It took longer for the stage to be set for peace in your exemplary N. Ireland example (the Troubles lasting roughly from the late 60s to the late 90s) than it took after we conquered Japan and re-constructed it (official U.S. occupation lasting roughly from 1945 to 1952.)

    "[1] We link our standing down and withdrawing to political negotiations among the Coalition, the various Iraqi factions, and the insurgents. [2] Those insurgents who have refused to join the political process because of the occupation become neutrals, or even allies, of the government. [3] This splits the insurgency, removes a great deal of the popular support that insurgents depend on, and leaves the hard core opposition and the foreign jihadis as hunted men, even by their former comrades." - joe

    Nice plan. Wonder why no one else has thought of it. Oh, that's right, because it wouldn't work. Here's why:
    1) We're already conducting political negotiations with the Coalition, so attaching withdrawal to that is only giving up something for nothing - specifically what we give up is the ability to conduct further operations in support of the Iraqi gov't. Also, withdrawing regardless of conditions on the ground for political concessions that will fall apart without U.S. presence is a BAD idea.
    2) Why would they do this? What would their motivation be? To get the U.S. and coalition forces out of Iraq? How long do you think they would remain allied or neutral with a gov't that they would rather overthrow? They wouldn't. This is just you spitballing at what you HOPE would happen following withdrawal and ignoring the historical lessons about what happened to S. Vietnam and its people after we left them to the "peace" agreed to by the N. Vietnamese.
    3) See response to 2.


    "[1] There is not military victory possible, only a political solution. [2] Our continuing presence makes that political solution impossible. [3] We need to pull out of Iraq, not in order to leave the Iraqi government fighting the same war with fewer resources, but as a tool to help end the civil war, which would make the Iraqis' war against foreign jihadists relatively easy for them to win on their own.

    1) Actually, war is simply politics by other means. Military operations are almost always conducted in support of political goals. In fact that is what has been happening since the U.S. first fought Iraq during Desert Shield/Storm and continued to fight Iraq in the air over the no-fly zones throughout Operations Northern and Southern Watch. 2) Actually it is the presences of coalition forces that actually gives Iraq a chance at creating an independent nation - I think this is a slim-to-none chance, but that's another argument. 3) Pulling out of Iraq would do exactly to Iraq and its citizens what pulling out of S. Vietnam did - "leave the Iraqi government fighting the same war with fewer resources."
    How does taking away the tools to prevent violence help end the civil war? It doesn't. Which would make the Iraqis' war against foreign jihadists infinitely more difficult, rather than "relatively easy for them to win on their own."

    "Bush deserves quite a bit. Unfortunately, he bet on the WMD horse and it bit him in the arse." - Chad

    I agree that the blame belongs to the guys who made the decision to go to war. But while those who opposed the Iraq war have successfully made the "WMD was a lie" an "accepted truth," the reasoning in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public law 107-243, 116 Stat. 1497-1502) actually listed about 10 reasons, including this list (from wikipedia):
    1 Iraq's noncompliance with the conditions of the 1991 cease fire, including interference with weapons inspectors
    2 Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, and programs to develop such weapons, posed a "threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region"
    3 Iraq's "brutal repression of its civilian population"
    4 Iraq's "capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people"
    5 Iraq's hostility towards the United States as demonstrated by the 1993 assassination attempt of former President George H. W. Bush, and firing on coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones following the 1991 Gulf War
    6 Members of al-Qaida were "known to be in Iraq"
    7 Iraq's "continu[ing] to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations," including anti-United States terrorist organizations
    8 Fear that Iraq would provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists for use against the United States
    9 The efforts by the Congress and the President to fight the 9/11 terrorists and those who aided or harbored them
    10 The authorization by the Constitution and the Congress for the President to fight anti-United States terrorism

    "Neither you nor anyone else has been able to offer any reasons why it can't work." joe
    I trust that you can see why I think this argument is null.

    "Except that, since I'm not working from your preferred ideology, I can't possibly be right." - joe
    My preferred ideology? I would have seen us out of Afghanistan and Iraq in short order, actually. But you continue to think that I'm the guy who argues whatever the opposite of your position is. In reality, my position isn't as simple as your red-blue glasses make the world look.

    "Kosovo was a good idea because"... - joe
    I know your partisan blinders don't allow you to admit that it was a bad idea because it had NATO violating its charter and the UN charter under which it was created. However, the 4 points you make are equally applicable to any use of military force, as demonstrated below:

    "1. the military mission was aimed at stopping a military action - Operation Horseshoe, the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo by Serbian military and militias."
    The military mission was aimed at stopping a military action - Operation Iraqi Freedom, to prevent further ethnic cleansing of Kurds by Iraqi military and militias. It says so right in the congressional resolution.

    "2. the mission was sufficiently circumscribed that we had an excellent chance of achieving it."
    The mission was sufficiently circumscribed that we had an excellent chance of achieving it in Iraq, as well. Remove Saddam, set up a replacement gov't. That's essentially what we did in Yugoslavia, which then fractured. But just like in Iraq, when the Kosovo war ended Kosovo was in chaos and while nominally still part of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav government has no say or practical influence over the affairs of the province, which is run as a UN protectorate under a UN-appointed governor. (Paraphrased from wikipedia).
    Sticking around indefinitely to help the Iraqi gov't seems a bad idea, but it's essentially no different than the ongoing UN presence in Kosovo.

    "3. we had locals on our side, as we did in Afghanistan, on both the political and military end of things, allowing for genuine security in the liberated areas and the establishment of a political order that the public considered legitimate."
    We had locals on our side in Iraq, too, politically and militarily. But if you're looking at the Kosovo outcome as an example of a "win" then you must expect either the US or the UN to remain there at least as indefinitely.

    "4. the communities we ended up patrolling and defending were genuinely supportive of us, and of the operation."
    Same as in Iraq. You really think the majority of people in Iraq would rather have a bunch of executioners in charge of their neighborhoods than the U.S. military? Oh, right, of course you do. No matter how bad it is and even with the occasional atrocity, U.S. forces in your neighborhood are better than the alternative batch of insurgent and internal thugs.

    "But, hey, if it makes you feel better to tell yourself that I don't have realistic ideas about what to do now, or that I base my beliefs purely on partisanship, have at it." Thanks. I think I've demonstrated that pretty clearly.

    "It's been a pretty rough couple of years for you, politically, so you should take your relief where you find it." - joe
    It has been a pretty rough couple of years, but not for me.

    "The people who stopped the vote count in Florida, and who supported coups against two democratic governmentsd in our hemisphere, never had a prayer of creating democracy in Iraq, because they neither know nor care what actual democracy is." - joe

    joe, you've gone completely off the rails at this point. Do you actually believe the DNC's "Florida elections were stolen" talking points? Even THEY don't believe them. But it's pretty funny that you somehow make the leap to believing vote counts in Florida are related to policies in Iraq. I'd love to see the step-by-step that shows the linkages.

    Of course, you'll have to put down your Big Gulp-sized glass of Kool-Aid first, so I won't hold my breath.

  • ||

    joe

    I don't need to look at the archives...you're doing it right in this thread - talking out both sides of your mouth. And you always have. I didn't pick up on it for a long time, because it was natural to ASSUME that you were anti-war - but as I think back, it was always a "close call" right? Even when you concede that no matter how competantly done...we would be in about the same place?

    When I cite the position of the DP, I mean the position they are IN, not the positions they take - their situation. Of course Pelosi is anti-war - what else COULD she be, representing San Francisco? SOME Democrats have to be anti-war, given their constituencies...but most can, and do, straddle. Even Pelosi is the mousiest war critic I've ever seen. Compare her to Fullbright, or Eugene McCarthy!

    How can this be? The Dems STARTED with a self-identified base that was 80% antiwar when the nation was almost evenly divided. They have arrived at a base that must be 100% in a nation that is running 60% against, which can only go higher.

    But their cosmetic talking points haven't evolved at all?

  • ||

    Chalupa, if you can't grasp how the despots in the Persian Gulf use the Jews, and the West generally, as a convienient outside target of rage, you're not paying attention.

    And if they had democracy they'd be even poorer and more miserable and they would still blame others.

    "When people have a choice between hating others for their success or hating themselves for their faliures they rarely choose the latter."- Thomas Sowell

    You are mistaken to make the seemingly reasonable assumption that Arab anger at the West and Israel is based on reason at all.

    you think that the people who are enraged are so lacking in resources and intelligence that "19 kooks with boxcutters", that must be dealt with every five years, is the extent of of what problems we will face in the oncoming decades, in the wake of our decision to participate in the tyrranization of these people, you are every bit as pollyannaish as one George W. Bush. Or perhaps as Stephen Douglas once was.

    Look, this is silly. I come from Arab descent. I would love Arabs to have Western, capitalist, secular democracies.

    But look at the results were we've tried to push the issue. Lebanon is taking a break between Hezoballah's last provocation of Israel and the next one. The Palestinian territories are in anarchy. And need I mention Iraq? The status quo might not be good but there are things worse.

    And by your logic, if supporting dictators causes Muslim anger (and by the way, why are not the presidents of Syria and Iran less popular in the Muslim world) then this push for democracy should be making us more popular.

    Arabs hate for reasons Westerners have trouble understanding. We tend to believe people hate due to rational grievances like we often do.

    Arab hatred is based more on ethnic and religious bigotry then anything else. Why doesn't Saddam Hussein not elicit the same type of hatred in the Muslim world as Israel? If Arabs were rational the Butcher of Baghdad, who has killed many times as many Arabs and Muslims then in Israel's whole existence, would be a hated figure. But the fact is he speaks the same language and has the same religion as other Arabs (and stands up to those who are seen as "the other") makes him a hero.

    It bears repeating, Arab hatred is based more on ethnic and religious bigotry then anything else.

    The slavery analogy is nonsense because the push for freedom of the slaves came from within the country/society. Americans were ready to organize, to fight and die in large numbers to end slavery and preserve the union. When Arabs are just as willing to die for freedom and democracy as they are for killing Jews and getting Americans out of Iraq then your analogy will make sense.

  • ||

    Chalupa, I never once said that hatred for us in the Persian Gulf was rational. What is "rational" is merely a byproduct or one's assumptions, after all, and ultimately everyone makes assumptions about the world that cannot be empirically proven. I said that our continued involvement in the region, via our decision to be the despots' paymaster, would inevitably make us targets of the rage that resides in that region, whether you or I or anyone else considers it rational.

    You, for some reason, believe that highly motivated, enraged groups of people with resources, and not entirely comprised of people with low intelligence, will only pose a problem to us in the periodic form of "kooks with boxcutters" for many decades into the future. Chalupa, there is exactly zero, nada, zip, in the way of rational thought to believe this is the case, which is a bit ironic. The whole of human history informs us that highly motivated groups of people with resources, who have some leaders/members possessed of above-average intelligence, will, if given time, be very resourceful in executing tactics that they put their mind to.

    The analogy with slavery is not that African slaves are like the people of the Persian Gulf, or the greater American population of the era. The analogy is that people like you are like the Whigs, in that you think an inherently umanageable situation can be successfully managed. You think we can pay despots to successfully manage the tyrranization of the Persian Gulf's population, in order for us to access oil, without us becoming targets of violent groups, beyond a "few kooks with boxcutters". This is entirely irrational, in that it ignores the adaptive qualities of human beings, and the fact that technology is never kept bottled up. It has never happened before in human history, and it is supremely unrealistic to think that it will start happening now.

  • ||

    For The Record

    I think "joe" has all kinds of personal opinions, concerns and interests...but I believe little of that ever gets reflected in his comments here - I think he reads from a script.

    And the script is not a philosophy - or even an ideology - it is pure partisanship. He is selling the notion that there is a party of Good Guys, versus a party of Bad Guys...and the Good Guys are good in some all-purpose sense: the Democratic mechanic, manicurist and book-keeper all do a better job, without over-charging.

    Libertarians are supposed to believe that crap?

  • ||

    (Guaranteed to be more accurate at forecasting the future than upcoming election prognostications from Dems or Repubs.)
    For everyone dogpiling onto joe on this thread, here's my predition for his response:

    Look for joe to abandon this thread, or at least to fail to respond to most of the points dogpiled onto him. Most likely he'll slip on a set of IPod headphones blaring non-stop DNC-and-farther-left talking points that are color-coordinated to match his partisan blinders. If he posts at all, it will be to pick a small sub-item of a post to continue quibbling about as though he'd somehow responded successfully to all of the other points.

  • ||

    rob, of your 10 reasons, the only one that cut any ice with me was significant Saddam/Al Qaeda collusion. As I said,
    "... I would agree that invading Iraq could be justified if it is shown that Saddam and al Qaeda were seriously in cahoots. I don't believe that such action is never proper." - Me, right here, back in June 2004. (last comment)

    But the contacts between the two were nowhere near as strong as those between AQ and the Talibanis running Afghanistan. The strongest support Saddam gave terrorists were the bonuses he paid the families of suicidal jihadis, who, while a threat to Israel, hadn't attacked the U.S.

    In order to fear Saddam feeding WMDs to international terrorists you have to believe that

    a.) He had WMDs to share and
    b.) He was close enough to terror groups to engage in such trade.

    There just doesn't seem to be good evidence for either idea.

    Kevin

  • ||

    Chris O,

    "What there was before the war was uncomfortable uncertainty on that question." My point is, the Hans Blix team was well on its way towards dispelling that uncertainty. They offered preliminary reports that indicated there were no WMDs, and would have made definitive statements if given the time. Bush didn't have to make a decision based on incomplete information, because the information was being completed. He just didn't like what the facts said.

    "I suspect Euro-atheism probably had more to do with the end of "the troubles" than anything else. When the young people are mostly atheists and the churches half-empty on Sunday, who cares about a bunch of ancient Catholic/Anglican bullshit? I don't think Tony Blair magically made it all end with a bunch of clever political moves." You don't understand the situation very well. The conflict in Northern Ireland was nationalist, ethnic, and ideological in character, not a religious war. Most of the IRA were athiest Marxists. People just use the "Catholic/Protestant" terminology because it is convenient shorthand.

    Andrew, "I don't need to look at the archives" Yeah, basing your statements on your feelings instead of evidence was how you operated when you were a hawk, so it's not surprising you're doing the same thing now that you've decided to play at being a dove. How Horowitz of you.

    "talking out both sides of your mouth" You mean, expressing ideas that don't fit on a bumper sticker? Recognizing the complications in the real world, and expressing thoughts that are appropriately complex? Same old "with us or against us" Andrew that you were when you called me "objectively pro-Baathist."

    "but as I think back, it was always a "close call" right?" No, it ceased being a close call by the Fall of 02, when it became apparent that Bush was going to go forward with all the honesty and competance we've come to expect.

    "Even when you concede that no matter how competantly done...we would be in about the same place?" The same war carried out more competantly would have led us to about the same place. But a more competant approach to the Iraq question from the beginning wouldn't have produced the same war. Although that's probably too complicated a thought for you, and just looks like I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth.

    And since you're such a wonderful mind-reader, would you mind telling the class which "script" my idea about the Northern Ireland Model comes from?

    I didn't think so.

  • ||

    rob,

    "If it's not the argument he's making, it's just the mindset you attribute to him. Stop arguing with the libertarian in your head, joe."

    As I wrote, I used to read National Review Online on a daily basis, and am quite familiar with where Jonah (Doughy Pantload) Goldberg is coming from. For example, I'm familiar enough with his thinking to know that he's not a libertarian, you fool.

    "Uh, no. They reported back that they couldn't tell if he had one or not because the Baathist regime wouldn't fully cooperate with inspections."

    Incorrect. They reported back that the Iraqis were not fully cooperating, but that they would be able to complete their mission anyway.

    "because the administration went to war after getting the authority to do so via a Congressional resolution with bi-partisan support" has nothing whatsoever to do with my statement that the administration began the war before the Blix team could finish its work. Nice dodge.

    'Yugoslavia IS a perfect example, joe. Just like in Iraq, as you point out, there was "a fanatical nationalist tyrant who was determined to stoke ethnic conflict in order to expand his, and his nation's, power."'

    There was no civil war in Iraq befor the war, rob. Quite the opposite, Saddam used his security apparatus to squelch separatism and prevent a civil war, much as Tito did. Which makes the rest of your point moot.

    "So you're willing to give U.S. troops in Iraq another few decades to set the stage for your plan to work?" Nope. If it can't be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time, we have to just leave. I think we have one last shot, and the negotiations in Northern Ireland are the template we should follow.

    As to why my outlined plan can't work:

    "1) We're already conducting political negotiations with the Coalition" Um, having conversations among our allies isn't the point. Did you miss the part about the insurgents and the political factions in Iraq? I can't tell if you're being dishonest or stupid with this remark. I suggest that we and our allies sit down with our enemies, and you respond by pointing out that we're already talking to our allies? What the hell, rob?

    "2) Why would they do this? What would their motivation be? To get the U.S. and coalition forces out of Iraq?" Since the CIA and Pentagon have long been telling us that the presence of the US is the biggest factor fueling the insurgency, yes, the promise of ending the occupation is a powerful card we hold. In addition, negotiations would provide a means for the Sunnis behind the insurgency to secure their communty's future, in terms of power sharing and oil revenues. Finally, there's the fact that there are currently Shiite militias and govenrment security forces slaughtering their co-religionists by the hundreds in grotesque ways, and they'd probably like to see that brough to an end.

    "How long do you think they would remain allied or neutral with a gov't that they would rather overthrow?" Given a successful settlement, the size of the force desiring to overthrow the government would be small enough for a strengthened Iraqi government to handle.

    "1) Actually, war is simply politics by other means." First, don't ever lecture me on platitudes again. Second, war is one means, but it is not always the best. In this case, military means have no hope of achieving the desired ends, so we should put our efforts into more useful projects.

    "How does taking away the tools to prevent violence help end the civil war?" The presence of the US military is not a tool to prevent violence. According to our own intelligence and military apparatus, it is driving much of the violence. You're just assuming your conclusion.

    To restate, for your benefit, ending the occupation would eliminate the primary motivator for the insurgency. The constant death and destruction in Iraq definitively disproves your assertion that the American presence prevents violence.

    "3) Pulling out of Iraq would do exactly to Iraq and its citizens what pulling out of S. Vietnam did" Maybe, maybe not. But there is at least a chance that the Iraqi insurgency, much like the IRA, would turn from warfare to politics if the occupation was ended. Sinn Fein is still trying to win control of the Ulster Assembly vs. other parties in the region - but now that the occupation is ending, they're doing it with ballots instead of bullets.

    One further difference, in Vietnam, we left the South Vietnamese government without any outside support, against an enemy that was supported by a superpower. The opposite would be the case with an American redeployment from Iraq - the Iraqi government would continue to enjoy the support of the United States and our allies, while the insurgency would not have a foriegn sponsor to speak of.

    "Operation Iraqi Freedom, to prevent further ethnic cleansing of Kurds by Iraqi military and militias" Had our mission been limited to stopping Iraqi government/Sunni Arab depredations against the Kurds, it likely would have been successful. Oh, wait, that was our mission for 11 years, and it was successful. Unfortunately, in OIF were not limited to stopping a military operation, but fairy-dust nation building, which is quite a bit harder under even the best of circumstances.

    "The mission was sufficiently circumscribed that we had an excellent chance of achieving it in Iraq, as well. Remove Saddam, set up a replacement gov't." A much larger task in a country of 27 million than in a region of 3 million, and a much more difficult one among a tangle of mutually-hostile groups than in an ethnically and religiously homogeneous country. Shallow thinking that leaves out important facts isn't helping.

    "We had locals on our side in Iraq, too, politically and militarily." In the Kurdish areas, yes, and the outcome there has been relatively happy. In the rest of Iraq, no. In fact, when a Shiite militia offered to fight alongside Coalition forces, they were told that any Iraqis that appeared on the battlefield armed would be considered an enemy force. And we can see how poorly things have turned out in those areas. Do you really not know these things, or do you just not care about being truthful?

    "But if you're looking at the Kosovo outcome as an example of a "win" then you must expect either the US or the UN to remain there at least as indefinitely." I completely support remaining in the Kurdish areas to protect their stable, democratic communities, for as long as they need us. But that's not the debate and you know it.

    "4. the communities we ended up patrolling and defending were genuinely supportive of us, and of the operation."
    'Same as in Iraq.'

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!! I'm not even going to comment. I'm just going to let your self-refuting idiocy stand as a testament to itself.

  • ||

    kevrob - The idea that Saddam wouldn't supply WMD's to terrorists because he ONLY paid for suicide bombers to attack Israel is a bit odd considering that he also authorized an assassination attempt against former Pres. George Bush, Sr.

    Regardless of whether those reasons cut any ice with you personally, those were the reasons for the resolution and for Congress's authorization of force.

    To claim that WMD's were the only reason is obviously false. Just because it turned out not to be the way all of those voting for the resolution (Repubs AND Dems) believed it to be, it does'nt make the WMD's argument either 1) the only reason for going to war 2) nor does it show that only Republicans believed that Saddam's guys were playing "hide the WMDs."

    Frankly, although I agreed with te reasoning behind not finishing Saddam off the first time, we should have gone ahead and finished him off the first time one of his SAM sites opened up on aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone.

  • ||

    rob the weak troll,

    "Look for joe to abandon this thread, or at least to fail to respond to most of the points dogpiled onto him."

    Neener neener nee-ner.

    Don't you ever tire of being made to look the fool?

    You should stick to opponents of your own limited stature.

  • ||

    "The idea that Saddam wouldn't supply WMD's to terrorists because he ONLY paid for suicide bombers to attack Israel is a bit odd considering that he also authorized an assassination attempt against former Pres. George Bush, Sr."

    Uh, we don't have to guess at this anymore. We have a definite answer.

    We know, and have known for years now, that there was no operational relationship between the Iraqi govenrment and Al Qaeda. We know, and have known for months, that Saddam Hussein declared Al Qaeda an enemy of his government. You know, sort of like us dirty hippies have been telling your for five years already?

    Well, the rest of us know these things, rob. You're quite good at not knowing things.

  • ||

    "As I wrote, I used to read National Review Online on a daily basis, and am quite familiar with where Jonah (Doughy Pantload) Goldberg is coming from. For example, I'm familiar enough with his thinking to know that he's not a libertarian, you fool." - joe

    So let me get this straight, joe, you're here to argue with conservatives on a libertarian web-site? And you call ME a fool? That would make you a real dolt, wouldn't it...

    "Incorrect. They reported back that the Iraqis were not fully cooperating, but that they would be able to complete their mission anyway." - joe

    Really? So Hans Blix DID NOT "personally admonished Saddam for 'cat and mouse' games and warned Iraq of 'serious consequences' if it attempted to hinder or delay his mission?"

    "In his report to the UN Security Council on February 14, 2003, Blix claimed that 'If Iraq had provided the necessary cooperation in 1991, the phase of disarmament -- under resolution 687 -- could have been short and a decade of sanctions could have been avoided.'"

    Saddam had jerked weapons inspectors around for a decade, but you think Blix was "just about" to solve the case once and for all? That's just plain funny.

    "There was no civil war in Iraq befor the war, rob. Quite the opposite, Saddam used his security apparatus to squelch separatism and prevent a civil war, much as Tito did. Which makes the rest of your point moot." - joe

    How so? Because you prefer to see people crushed under Saddam's heel and interred in mass graves but in Kosovo it is a tragedy that must be stopped? No matter how you frame it, Kosovo and Iraq are the same in that respect.

    "has nothing whatsoever to do with my statement that the administration began the war before the Blix team could finish its work. Nice dodge." - joe

    It was your Democratic Party buddies who signed the authorization, joe. That's not a dodge. That's your team, the Donkeys. I'm not a Republican, so I don't have to worry about how many of what you consider "the other team" signed the document. You're the guy here shilling for the Democrats.

    "Nope. If it can't be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time, we have to just leave. I think we have one last shot, and the negotiations in Northern Ireland are the template we should follow." - joe
    So what, 30 years is a reasonable timetable based on the N. Ireland template? Even I think we should have been out earlier THAT. Say, shortly after "major combat" ended...

    "Did you miss the part about the insurgents and the political factions in Iraq?" - joe
    If it were only insurgents from other countries, rather than insurgents AND internal struggles between various ethnic and tribal groups, you might have a point, joe. But that's not the case. The strife is not going to stop if the U.S. picks up and leaves, it will undoubtedly intrensify. Frankly, that's OK with me, but you're the one bemoaning the fate of the poor Iraqi people.

    "I suggest that we and our allies sit down with our enemies, and you respond by pointing out that we're already talking to our allies? What the hell, rob?" - joe

    Sorry I confused you. Allow me to add the one word that will undoutedly clear this up for you: We're already conducting political negotiations [along] with the Coalition, so attaching withdrawal to that is only giving up something for nothing - specifically what we give up is the ability to conduct further operations in support of the Iraqi gov't. Also, withdrawing regardless of conditions on the ground for political concessions that will fall apart without U.S. presence is a BAD idea.

    In other words, without the Coalition and U.S. presence, all of the groups (inisurgent and internal) will turn on the gov't and try to take over for themselves. Is that the solution you're arguing for? Like I said, I really don't care what happens to Iraq. But do you think, realistically, that the groups causing mayhem and violence will do LESS without Coalition forces around to hamper them?

    "Since the CIA and Pentagon have long been telling us that the presence of the US is the biggest factor fueling the insurgency," - joe
    The insurgency, yes. But the internal groups? No.

    "the promise of ending the occupation is a powerful card we hold." - joe
    Yeah, but once played it holds no power at all. Once you've given the bad guy your gun and ammo, it's not like you can still use it to keep him from attacking your friends.

    "In addition, negotiations would provide a means for the Sunnis behind the insurgency to secure their communty's future, in terms of power sharing and oil revenues." - joe

    Such negotiations can be successful regardless of whether the Coalition offers to pack up and leave. If the Iraqi gov't asks us to leave, then I say fine, and good luck to you. I'd be happy to leave regardless. But I recognize that it means letting Iraq turn into a complete charnel house, while you seem to suffer from the delusion that leaving won't remove the last obstacle to internal strife that will make Rwanda look like Kosovo.

    "Finally, there's the fact that there are currently Shiite militias and govenrment security forces slaughtering their co-religionists by the hundreds in grotesque ways, and they'd probably like to see that brough to an end" - joe

    No, they'd be happy to see it go on and on and on until their faction is in charge - even if that means only 1 guy is left alive in the entire country.

    "Given a successful settlement, the size of the force desiring to overthrow the government would be small enough for a strengthened Iraqi government to handle." - joe

    Given the ability to crap diamonds, I'd be living a life of leisure on an island in the Pacific. The reality is much more likely to be as I described just before I quoted your inanely optimistic hope for a settlement.

    "First, don't ever lecture me on platitudes again." -joe
    Then don't mouth platitudes that you only apply to people you consider to be "the other team."

    "Second, war is one means, but it is not always the best." - joe
    What was that about platitudes, again? Here you go, right after claiming it was a great idea in Kosovo, but not in Iraq. You honestly can't see the glaring similarities? Wow. Those partisan blinders are effective!

    "In this case, military means have no hope of achieving the desired ends, so we should put our efforts into more useful projects." - joe

    Says you. I would say that a realistic assessment is that the group most likely to end up on top if the U.S./Coalition pulls out will be whoever has the most people and firepower. In other words, those with the military strength. Only military force can counter that, and it looks like you're advocating that the only force capable of keeping what little peace can be had should go home. No "settlement" and "withdrawal" is going to change that.

    "The presence of the US military is not a tool to prevent violence. According to our own intelligence and military apparatus, it is driving much of the violence." - joe

    Says you. But while I recognize that it is a double-edged sword, increasing insurgent activity but acting as a damper on internal groups to keep what little peace can be had, you actually seem to believe that the insurgents are the only bad guys in town.

    "You're just assuming your conclusion." - joe
    No, I'm saying that I think that violence is likely to further escalate - a fairly realistic assessment given the strong motivating factors of the various factions. You're the guy who looks at this mess and thinks that if only the Sheriff left town, those darned rowdies would behave better.

    "ending the occupation would eliminate the primary motivator for the insurgency." - joe

    I agree. Now if insurgents from outside Iraq were the only problem, you might have a point. But the Coalition and U.S. forces are there to keep the peace between internal groups until the Iraqi gov't is strong enough to do it on its own. Taking that out of the equation and bailing out will lead to further internecine carnage.

    "The constant death and destruction in Iraq definitively disproves your assertion that the American presence prevents violence.' - joe

    Or it shows that the U.S./Coalition forces are the only thing that stands between even- and ever- greater bloodshed until the Iraqi gov't forces are able to take their place. Which do you think is more likely? Your rose-colored view of your "solution" or the reality of bloody human nature? I'd bet on the latter, sadly.

    "there is at least a chance that the Iraqi insurgency, much like the IRA, would turn from warfare to politics if the occupation was ended. Sinn Fein is still trying to win control of the Ulster Assembly vs. other parties in the region - but now that the occupation is ending, they're doing it with ballots instead of bullets." - joe

    What kind of odds would you give it? I'd say if we were 30+ years on, like Ireland was, you might have a shot at making the "Ireland template" you laud a 50-50 shot of success. As it is, I'd guess your plan has about a 2% chance of success. I'd love to play poker with a guy who is willing to bet all his chips on a 2% shot at winning.

    "One further difference, in Vietnam, we left the South Vietnamese government without any outside support, against an enemy that was supported by a superpower." - joe

    Yeah, because Iran and Syria and other nations in the region aren't salivating at the thought of nearly-defenseless Iraq...

    "The opposite would be the case with an American redeployment from Iraq - the Iraqi government would continue to enjoy the support of the United States and our allies, while the insurgency would not have a foriegn sponsor to speak of." -joe

    What form would that support take? The only support we can offer is blood and treasure and that can't be done with your plan to move out of iraq and into nearly every other semi-U.S.-friendly nation in the region. My guess is once we're out of Iraq, we'd let it fall before we got involved in that "quagmire" again. Look at the political price being paid now, and that paid for Vietnam. No spineless politician would put his hand on that hot stove after being burned by folks like you... So you'd have no support to prevent total carnage. Again, fine by me, I'm not an Iraqi. But aren't you the guy who thinks they deserve better?

    "Had our mission been limited to stopping Iraqi government/Sunni Arab depredations against the Kurds, it likely would have been successful. Oh, wait, that was our mission for 11 years, and it was successful."- joe

    It was. Saddam's forces kept shooting at our aircraft, but yeah, it was mostly successful.

    "Unfortunately, in OIF were not limited to stopping a military operation, but fairy-dust nation building, which is quite a bit harder under even the best of circumstances." - joe

    So, nation-creating and nation-building in Kosovo is good, but the same attempt in iraq is bad. I'm sure you can see why I think you are blinded by partisanship on this subject.

    "A much larger task in a country of 27 million than in a region of 3 million, and a much more difficult one among a tangle of mutually-hostile groups than in an ethnically and religiously homogeneous country. Shallow thinking that leaves out important facts isn't helping." - joe

    Sure, but if it's worth blood and treasure for 3 million, why not for 27 million? Why not for the entire planet? I think nation-building is a bad idea regardless. You think it's a bad idea when "the other guys" try to do it. Yugoslavia was every bit as ethnically and religiously diverse. That's why there was genocide - or are you so dense you think that Serbs, Albanians and Croats and Muslims are somehow more the same than Sunni, Shiite and Kurds?

    "In the Kurdish areas, yes, and the outcome there has been relatively happy." - joe

    One worthwhile outcome, at the very least, eh?

    "In fact, when a Shiite militia offered to fight alongside Coalition forces, they were told that any Iraqis that appeared on the battlefield armed would be considered an enemy force. And we can see how poorly things have turned out in those areas. Do you really not know these things, or do you just not care about being truthful?" - joe

    So the Shiite were friendly enough to offer to fight alongside us and this proves that you were right that we had no groups friendly (at least initially) to the U.S. HOW? Now it's my turn to ask you the same sort of pedantic question: Do you really not see how you are contradicting yourself, or do you just not care about being truthful?

    "I completely support remaining in the Kurdish areas to protect their stable, democratic communities, for as long as they need us. But that's not the debate and you know it." - joe

    So, your genius plan is STILL "out of Iraq, except where the Kurds are, and into every other nation in the Middle East"? You'll pardon my skepticism, I'm sure....

    "4. the communities we ended up patrolling and defending were genuinely supportive of us, and of the operation."
    'Same as in Iraq.'

    "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!! I'm not even going to comment. I'm just going to let your self-refuting idiocy stand as a testament to itself." - joe

    OK, you give that a shot and while you're at it, explain to me how YOUR example of Shiites wanting to fight alongside U.S. troops and Kurdish support somehow means the U.S./Coalition forces did NOT equal "the communities we ended up patrolling and defending were genuinely supportive of us, and of the operation."

    Again, I won't hold my breath any more than I have held my breath waiting for you to set down your Kool Aid and show me how you make the leap to believing vote counts in Florida are related to policies in Iraq. I'd STILL love to see the step-by-step that shows THOSE linkages. I bet the best you could do would be a "6 Steps To Kevin Bacon" maneuver:

    1. Saddam knew Hans Blix
    2. Blix knew Kofi Annan
    3. Kofi Annan once met former Pres. Bill Clinton
    4. Clinton is married to NY Senator Hillary Clinton.
    5. Hillary Clinton signed off on the resolution to use force against Iraq with John Kerry.
    6. John Kerry was a Senator who knew Al Gore when he was vice President, and watched the Florida voting fiasco on TV.

  • ||

    The analogy with slavery is not that African slaves are like the people of the Persian Gulf, or the greater American population of the era. The analogy is that people like you are like the Whigs, in that you think an inherently umanageable situation can be successfully managed. You think we can pay despots to successfully manage the tyrranization of the Persian Gulf's population, in order for us to access oil, without us becoming targets of violent groups, beyond a "few kooks with boxcutters". This is entirely irrational, in that it ignores the adaptive qualities of human beings, and the fact that technology is never kept bottled up. It has never happened before in human history, and it is supremely unrealistic to think that it will start happening now.

    I think our positions may not be too far apart. I never said we wouldn't be targeted. I think we will no matter what.

    And I don't think there's anything short of invading Israel and killing all the Jews or converting to Islam that will totally get rid of the threat.

    Still, I don't see how on earth pushing for democracy is going to make things better. And we're ignoring the question whether its even doable.

    I think we agree on certain points, though.

    1. There is no good option, just bad and worse
    2. We'll be targets of terrorism no matter what
    3. Arab hatred of Westerners is not rational

    So what is our disagreement? I don't think you sound like a Neo-Con who wants to sprinkle freedom dust which will make Arab Muslims like us. You may even think, like me, that the Iraq war was a bad idea.

    What I would do is push for democracy where it would be better than the status quo (factoring in the interests of the US, region and world in that order). I don't think that's the case anywhere in the middle east except Iran, if it counts.

    We will be targets, we will be hit and many civillians will die regardless. I acknowledge the weekness in my argument but think its BY FAR the best option.

    What is it, that makes you think that supporting democracy in the Muslim/Arab world would be better for our long term interests? What evidence is this belief based on?

    Also, since you acknowledge Arab hatred of America is irriational why do you believe that no longer supporting dictators will make a difference, especially when you consider that some of these dictators themselves (often the worst ones) are beloved? If it were the case shouldn't the Bush administration be the most popular American administration in history in the Middle East?

    MY POINT IS THAT PUSHING FOR CHANGES THAT WILL RESULT IN CHAOS WILL CAUSE MORE HATRED THAN SUPPORTING DICTATORS, JUST LIKE TAKING OUT SADDAM HAS CAUSED MORE HATRED THAN SUPPORTING HIM

    You can't just keep attacking my argument (which I admit is flawed) without rationally saying while an alternative course is better.

  • ||

    "rob the weak troll... Neener neener nee-ner. Don't you ever tire of being made to look the fool? You should stick to opponents of your own limited stature." - joe

    Every once in a while you surprise me, joe. Of course I should know better than to doubt the tenacity of a fanatic partisan. But you've pulled that "duck and cover" thread-fleeing maneuver often enough that I figured I had at least a 50-50 shot of being right.

    I guess I should have known better, just like your Democratic pals in the House & Senate who signed the resolution to authorize force against Iraq should have known better, right?

    "Uh, we don't have to guess at this anymore. We have a definite answer." - joe

    Yep, hindsight is 20/20. But the fact is, we didn't know then. In fact, if we hadn't invaded, we probably STILL wouldn't know because Saddam would STILL be jerking Hans Blix and the inspection teams around like he did for the 10 years prior to the invasion.

    You sound like a guy who has a biopsy to determine whether or not he has cancer, and then sues the doctor for unnecessary surgery when he tells you that you don't have cancer after all!

    "We know, and have known for years now, that there was no operational relationship between the Iraqi govenrment and Al Qaeda. We know, and have known for months, that Saddam Hussein declared Al Qaeda an enemy of his government. You know, sort of like us dirty hippies have been telling your for five years already?" - joe

    Hindsight is 20/20. Do you blame the Democrats who voted for the authorization of force as well? They obviously should also have known, so that makes them lying liars who knew better, right? Or were they just too stupid to know what you already had figured out? I'm guessing they had more information than you did, so basically they made a more informed decision than you, but as things turned out you just happened to get lucky.

    "Well, the rest of us know these things, rob. You're quite good at not knowing things." - joe

    Aw, shucks, joe, I could never compete in this regard with a champ like you. I mean, a guy who ignores the facts and focuses on mythical "stolen elections" that somehow are directly linked to Iraq war policy? You're a real world-beater!

  • ||

    rob,

    You know your shit is weak, so now you've degenerated back to the "you supported Saddam" bullshit.

    Buh bye, son. All done.

  • ||

    Our disagreement, chalupa, is that you reduce the people who will attack us to "kooks with boxcutters". For someone who calls himself a realist, this is extraordinarily irrational.

    I favored the invasion because I think it quite likely we will end up slaughtering tens of millions of people before this conflict is resolved, and before doing so, I'd prefer to at least try to give the people in the Persian Gulf a chance to engage in self governemnt, with the ability to control their natural resources, and thus pursue their enlightened self interest, meaning trading peacefully and profitably with the rest of the world.

    Since I began with the baseline that a titanic slaughter was the most likely outcome (really, has a militarily, economically, and politically weak, yet hostile, population, sitting upon a natural resource extremely highly demanded by much more powerful populations, ever avoided slaughter, in all of human history?), and I think it is an outcome which would do great damage to the slaughterer as well as the slaughtered, I was willing to take a longshot to see if there was some way to bring those Persian Gulf populations into the modern world at a more rapid pace. I never had high hopes. I just wish people like you (I'll ignore for now the fantasists who would have us think that if Congress just passes the right laws, we won't demand Persian Gulf oil anymore) would stop pretending that it is still the 19th century, when it was much easier to blunt the hostile actions of people with resources, intelligence, and motivation for massive killing. Kooks with boxcutters, indeed.

  • ||

    I favored the invasion because I think it quite likely we will end up slaughtering tens of millions of people before this conflict is resolved,

    Depends on what you mean by "before this conflict is over". Do you mean in the ongoing struggle between Islam and the West which has been going on, on and off for a thousand years?

    Or do you mean in the next 50-100 years or so?

    If you really think the "war on terror" is that serious then we disagree on more than I thought. Let me quote John Derbyshire, a much more rational thinker than Jonah Goldberg but also from the National Review...

    do understand that our civilizational confidence is going through a rough patch ? that the West is currently indulging itself, in the way that people and civilizations will indulge themselves when they believe they can afford to, in guilty agonizings about our past imperialism, colonialism, slavery, and so on. I am sure these pleasurable guilt-spasms will pass, as all things do pass. In the meantime, just look at us ? at our wealth, our power, our capability. And look at them ? the jihadis! This is war? Nonsense....

    In WW1, the empires of Britain, France, and Russia went to war against those of Germany, Austria, and Turkey, for a variety of motives on all sides. This was 19th-century Great Power politics come to a head, three great empires against three other great empires in a world-shaking clash of arms, with no ideological or religious principle at stake....

    In WW2 the militarized dictatorships of Germany and Japan (with some lesser allies) sought to impose their wills on, respectively, Europe and Asia. There was a strong ideological component in Germany?s case (racial destiny, hatred of Bolshevism), and a lesser one in Japan?s (hatred of European colonialism, cultural arrogance), but the other parties were just trying to grab spoils, or save themselves ? even Stalin?s Russia, which fought its war largely in a spirit of atavistic nationalism, not Bolshevik evangelism. WW2 was mostly just Great Power politics run amok ? another tremendous clash of national arms, fired up with some 19th-century intellectual pathologies...

    In the Cold War, which I will allow can fairly be called World War 3, the Western democracies faced the USSR and Maoist China, two great old nations with huge armies and (soon, in the USSR?s case, somewhat later in China?s) nuclear weapons...

    In the current conflict, all the modern industrialized nations are opposed by a loose rabble of religious fanatics, whose sole claim on our attention so far has been (1) to conduct some sensational, but suicidal, and ? by comparison with WWs 1, 2, and 3, trivial ? raids into civilized territory, and (2) to seize control of some worthless countries (Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia) and, by misgovernment, make them even more worthless. This is not a war, and by calling it one, we flatter the jihadists far beyond their deserts. No jihadist nation ? let alone any jihadist group ? can field an army against us. We are frightening ourselves with bogeymen.

    Amen to that.

    There is no terrorist threat and there is no serious problem. It is not a "war" when the enemy strikes every decade or so. It is random violence that you get from fringe groups every now and then.

    Common sense tells me that if terrorists can't hit the homeland as often as junior high kids shoot up their schools that we shouldn't be losing sleep over the so called war on terror.

  • ||

    The dialogue between Will Allen and Chalupa has been by far the most interesting commentary on this thread.

    I DO wonder at a puzzling thing - the net effect of all American policies in the Gulf has been TO KEEP IRAQI OIL OFF THE MARKET. Why?

  • ||

    Chalupa, you and Derbyshire are stuck in the 19th century, or first half of the 20th century, where the massive killing of outsiders required control of a industrialized nation-state. That world is gone. Now, as Pakistan and perhaps North Korea have demonstrated, one only need control of a primitive nation state to acquire the ability to kill millions outside of the nation state's borders. The world on the horizon, which I guess to be anywhere from ten to forty years away, is one where political entities which do not control a nation state will have the ability to kill millions. No, that doesn't mean our society will face an existential threat. It does mean that we will kill millions of people to prevent an existential threat from arising.

    It is already a certainty that classical nuclear deterrence is going to fail catastrophically; the model always depended on a limited number of nuclear actors, which allowed for some degree of predictability. As the number of nuclear actors grow, even if they are still nation states, predictability becomes exponentially more difficult to maintain, and the odds of massive miscalculation grows exponentially, even if we assume that all the actors have the same view of what is "rational", and the model fails.

    Once one factors in the possibility of surreptitious deployment, and non nation-state actors, the chance that we won't see a major city destroyed in a moment within the next fity years or so is very, very slim. Is this an existential threat? Nope, but an existential threat is not required to trigger a massive slaughter.

    For some reason, people like you and Derbyshire have adopted the extremely unrealistic notion that human beings, and human organizations, are static.

  • ||

    Chalupa, you and Derbyshire are stuck in the 19th century, or first half of the 20th century, where the massive killing of outsiders required control of a industrialized nation-state. That world is gone. Now, as Pakistan and perhaps North Korea have demonstrated, one only need control of a primitive nation state to acquire the ability to kill millions outside of the nation state's borders. The world on the horizon, which I guess to be anywhere from ten to forty years away, is one where political entities which do not control a nation state will have the ability to kill millions. No, that doesn't mean our society will face an existential threat. It does mean that we will kill millions of people to prevent an existential threat from arising.

    It is already a certainty that classical nuclear deterrence is going to fail catastrophically; the model always depended on a limited number of nuclear actors, which allowed for some degree of predictability. As the number of nuclear actors grow, even if they are still nation states, predictability becomes exponentially more difficult to maintain, and the odds of massive miscalculation grows exponentially, even if we assume that all the actors have the same view of what is "rational", and the model fails.

    Once one factors in the possibility of surreptitious deployment, and non nation-state actors, the chance that we won't see a major city destroyed in a moment within the next fity years or so is very, very slim. Is this an existential threat? Nope, but an existential threat is not required to trigger a massive slaughter.

    For some reason, people like you and Derbyshire have adopted the extremely unrealistic notion that human beings, and human organizations, are static.


    In the future will nuclear weapons be as easy to get as handguns? All a jihadi has to do to through America into economic chaos is have a couple well cordinated shootings at shopping malls and schools. If your goal is chaos not much can be done to stop you. Why are they able to find hundreds (thousands) of loons to die a week in Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq but not a single one in five years to come to the United States.

    I don't share your pessimism, but for the sake of argument let's say its true. How exactly is creating more Iraqs in the middle east is supposed to help?

  • ||

    "You know your shit is weak, so now you've degenerated back to the "you supported Saddam" bullshit. Buh bye, son. All done." - joe

    That's it? Your backed into a corner so far that all you can do is CLAIM my argument is weak and throw up some straw man nonsense that tries to make it seem like I'm saying that you supported Saddam?

    Please. No one is even remotely fooled by that. You got beaten fair and square, suck it up and admit it like a man.

    That won't happen, tho, because you're just plain pathetic, joe. You're acting like a kid who picks a fight with a guy twice his size and intelligence, gets his head handed to him, then starts talking about how the guy who beat you is lucky that you quit when you did.

    Come to think of it, that's kind of been the Democratic party stance since Bill Clinton left office.

    The elections are going to be entertaining this time, at least. If the Dems win big, they'll have to actually DO instead of TALK, and as an added bonus (IMO) the U.S. might actually get some sensible approaches to domestic civil rights issues. Of course, this means I'll have enjoyment of watching you squirm while libertarians take you and your party to task for all of your nonsense.

    If they don't win big, well, I won't have to worry about foreign policy much, but domestically things will continue to blow. Then again, at least I'll have the entertainment of watching you snivel like the whiny little "girlie-man" you are about how all the elections were "stolen"! (Ok, the "girlie man" thing was admittedly only because you went all ad hom - the surest sign that you've been beaten like a pinata.)

  • ||

    I don't understand your question. As to my pessimism, if you could perhaps provide a historical example of highly motivated groups of people with resources and members possessed of above-average intelligence who have been permenently denied technology which they have endeavored to acquire, perhaps my pessimism would be reduced. What has always struck me as ironic regarding the so-called "realists" is their assumption that developments would unfold in a manner that is wholly inconsistent with human history.

  • ||

    I don't understand your question. As to my pessimism, if you could perhaps provide a historical example of highly motivated groups of people with resources and members possessed of above-average intelligence who have been permenently denied technology which they have endeavored to acquire, perhaps my pessimism would be reduced.

    Japanese imperialists and Nazis never got nuclear weapons

    Many groups were "permamentley denied" technology they wanted to aquire.

    Add Muslim extremists to the list. The days when a group of individuals, who are OPPOSED BY ALL THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD can build a nuclear weapon without state help seems to me to be a long period away. I'm not a nuclear physcist so if there is one out there that wants to jump in and let him. All you need to do for now is keep suicidal loons from running countries and we'll be ok.

    I'm sure eventually it'll be much easier to build nuclear weapons but we might as well be worried about kids that are shooting up their schools eventually having nuclear weapons.

    We're both somewhat pessimistic but on different scales. My question, once again, is how creating more Iraqs help the situation?

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