They've Created a Lamonster

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Speaking of Ned Lamont… President Bush's short speech responding to the foiled UK airline attacks has an interesting parallel. On February 9, the president gave a speech in Los Angeles about another smashed terrorist plot. His emphasis on the reasons for its failure was politically specific.

Their plot was derailed in early 2002 when a Southeast Asian nation arrested a key al Qaeda operative. Subsequent debriefings and other intelligence operations made clear the intended target, and how al Qaeda hoped to execute it. This critical intelligence helped other allies capture the ringleaders and other known operatives who had been recruited for this plot.

Bush's apparent goal was to tie the US's success to the controversial NSA spying program. It seemed to work.

Yesterday, when Bush addressed the UK plot, he mentioned giving law enforcement the "tools" to fight terror—NSA spying, hint hint. But he led with a none-too-subtle linkage of the foiled attack and the war in Iraq.

The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.

A stark reminder, get it? You kids who were doubting my strategy—you, in Connecticut? How do you feel now? And if Bush's speech didn't push the message far enough, the pro-war punditocracy, GOP, and Lieberman himself spelled it out in Christmas lights.

Here's the political problem—the PATRIOT Act, the NSA spying program, and all of the other security state measures initiated since 9/11, while upsetting to libertarians (like me), are relatively popular. The Iraq war is not. Arguing that secret government surveillance thwarted an attack is intuitive. Arguing that keeping 138,000 troops in Iraq had something to do with it is counterintuitive.

If the Ned Lamont victory convinced the GOP to swing its national security arguments from the spying issues back to the Iraq war, isn't that a boon for Democrats? It's like taking your army from the high ground and making them confront the opposing force on quicksand.

NEXT: Poor Joe Lieberman

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  1. im scared man. im scared for the future of this floating space colony we call earth and beautiful but primitive hairless apes that inhabit it.

  2. Yes, Bush might be better off linking Iraq to the terror war rather than vice versa. Still, his speech immediately following the British roundup was, as always, so halting and painful to listen to, I have trouble remembering the points he tried to make.

    I miss the Great Communicator

  3. The Global War on Terror is working.

    Any fool can see that.

  4. The Global War on Terror is working.

    Any fool can see that.

  5. You, David Weigel, were the one who mentioned Iraq. That wasn’t in the statement you cited. And the server squirrels kept this comment from appearing directly under yours.

  6. What Robert said.

    I assumed that by “war” the President was referring to the greater struggle against those actual terrorists out there who are killing and plotting to kill actual humans.

  7. Yeah, throw all the arguments about the merits of anything, Iraq, NSA spying, blah blah blah, out the window. I’m pretty sure the ‘war’ Bush refers to is the ‘war on terror,’ not specifically the ‘war in Iraq.’ That’s pretty standard White House language.

  8. As far as things that are upsetting to me.
    -Having no right to privacy when it comes to filling out my taxes, is way up there.
    -Not being able to have normal carry on luggage while travelling, it not as high.
    -Knowing there is the chance that the NSA could listen to my phone which I already know is not a secure communication device is way down.

    I think I mentioned something about this before, and I am puzzled that others don’t feel the same way.

  9. And you guys think that most Americans don’t immediately think of Iraq when they hear “war with Islamic fascists”? Especially if you put Bush’s remarks in context with Lieberman’s and all the other fanatics who are convinced that our Iraq strategy makes sense. I don’t believe Bush really wants to emphasize that the Brits headed off this attack by using the strategy the Dems keep talking about – police intelligence and legal surveillance. Interesting quote from TNR:
    “British investigators, in all cases, have to obtain and comply with court-issued warrants for any surveillance. This week’s counter-terrorism success should demonstrate how possible it is, and remains, for open-society to combat jihadism while preserving the rule of law.”

    Why didn’t Bush or Lieberman mention that I wonder.

  10. Oh yeah, and I see the war in Iraq and the war on terror as one and the same.

    If we win in Iraq, we have an ally. An Arab country that is a democracy, one less place where our enemy can recieve funding, training, shelter, technology ect. There will be one more country reliably selling oil, so that other countries will be less effective at using it as a blackmail chip.

    Also, we will have shown the enemy that contrary to the lessons they learned from Beirut and Somalia, we are able and willing to fight the distance (even though this is not really that costly a war, in human terms).

  11. Dave Weigel: the NSA domestic spying program is popular with this libertarian, except for one thing. It is illegal, because Bush is just brazenly refusing to obtain the warrants that the criminal law MANDATES for such surveillance.

    Obey the law, obtain the warrants, and this libertarian has no problem with intercepting domestic calls when there is grounds to believe terrorists are communicating.

  12. So suddenly the hawks are arguing that when George Bush talks about war with Islamic fascists, he’s only talking about the War on Terror, and Iraq isn’t involved?

    Since when do Bush-supporting hawks believe that Iraq isn’t part of the War on Terror?

    And he, and Lieberman, make this point in obvious reference to the people who voted for Ned Lamont, whose victory was widely seen, and for good reason, as a repudiation of Bush’s Iraq War?

    Not buying it.

  13. Bush’s comment was a direct reference to the UK airliner plot. What’s not to buy?

    One may be both against the war in Iraq and in favor of defeating global terrorist networks. It’s not either/or.

  14. Comments weren’t working on the other Lamont thread, so I’ll cheat and post them here:

    Nothin’ fer nothin’, but I did find this interesting:

    What’s significant about Lamont is not so much his antiwar stance, as that he was able to take a strong antiwar position and put it into a context that looked electable and broad. He never just talked about war in Iraq. He always said, we spent $250 million a day in Baghdad and Basra and that money could be spent in Bridgeport and New London.

    He mentions New London, CT. If I were a citizen of New London, I’d be very nervous about large ‘improvement’ spending being promised by any elected official. Next thing you know, a shiny new bulldozer is parked in front of your house marked “NLDC: Building A Better Tomorrow”…

    just sayin’

  15. So suddenly the hawks are arguing that when George Bush talks about war with Islamic fascists, he’s only talking about the War on Terror, and Iraq isn’t involved?

    Since when do Bush-supporting hawks believe that Iraq isn’t part of the War on Terror?

    I think you’ve hit on the exact problem with the reactionary knee-jerk bush supporter: Iraq is about the war on terror, until it isn’t. Iraq is about WMD’s, except when it’s not. Torrorists are why were fighting the war in Iraq, except when we’re not.

  16. “If we win in Iraq, we have an ally.”

    Who do you mean “we”? Rumsfeld has already stated in public that it will be up to the Iraqis, not us, to defeat the insurgency.

    The Pentagon’s plan is to pass the buck, then cut and run.

    I find it funny that the Dems can’t figure out how to handle the cut and run name calling. They better figure it out fast. Kerry never squashed the “flip-flop” label and it was instrumental in his defeat. Despite the fact that the biggest Iraq flipping and flopping was Bush’s reason to go to war.

    When we leave, that place, it will be in shambles. Dems and Repubs will be point fingers trying to place blame. Sound familiar? Wasn’t one lesson from Vietnam that the U.S. population will not sustain support for a war when they don’t understand the reason for fighting? There are 5 or 6 reasons Bush has given, but will the real reason please stand up

  17. Paul,

    Supporting democratic reforms in the Middle East are at the heart of our efforts to defeat terrorism, until they’re not.

    ed,

    I seem to have lost you. I said that the Bushies claim that Iraq is at the heart of the War on Terror – it’s their central defense of their behavior regarding the war. Then, suddenly, several commenters claim that it is absurd to read Bush’s words about the war against Islamic fascists as having anything whatsoever to do with Iraq, because he was clearly, they say, referring to the War on Terror.

  18. “even though this is not really that costly a war, in human terms”

    American humans that is. This kind of thinking is why the Iraqis will not be our allies no matter the outcome of this war. Middle Easterners are not stupid. They know our history and know we are only in this for strategic reasons and not for their well being.

  19. (even though this is not really that costly a war, in human terms).

    I didn’t know that Iraqis are not human. Thanks for the info.

  20. Isn’t that the whole point of the War on Terror, to confuse the meaning of War?

  21. the best part about Lamonts (slender) win is the hysteria it provoked: Ct Overrun with Mobs of Communist Cannibals!!!!!!!!!
    If true, it would be an improvement……

  22. Kwais,

    I defy you to give me one metric that the Bush administration will cite publicly to define victory. And “we’ll stand down when they stand up” is not a metric.

    You can’t “win” when you can’t even define it. And given the continuing escalation in casualty rates, we are not even “holding our ground”

    As to your notion of Iraq as ally, I’ll give you 3 to 1 that they’ll be Iran’s (or at least a Shia protectorate) before they’ll be ours. Place your bets.

  23. “I said that the Bushies claim that Iraq is at the heart of the War on Terror – it’s their central defense of their behavior regarding the war. Then, suddenly, several commenters claim that it is absurd to read Bush’s words about the war against Islamic fascists as having anything whatsoever to do with Iraq, because he was clearly, they say, referring to the War on Terror.”

    So when Bushies say so, terror=Iraq, and when they don’t say so, terror=Iraq? If the complaint is that they’re spuriously connecting terror with Iraq, then why complain about it when they don’t?

  24. Because, Robert, they transparently are.

    If I’ve spent the last five years complaining about “Jewish dogs,” and one day I say we’ve got to fight harder against the dogs, what the hell do you think I’m talking about?

  25. On that one day, would I complain that you’re imputing a religion to the dogs? Would I use your statement on that day to say to others that you’re conflating Jews with dogs? That’s what David Weigel was doing.

    If you want to convince someone, use a convincing example. If what you have at hand is not a convincing example, shut up about it.

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