All Those Bionic Upgrades Paid Off!

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America's loveable veep has survived a murderous assassination plot:

A suicide bomber attacked the entrance to the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney, killing up to 23 people and wounding 20.

Cheney was unhurt in the attack, which was claimed by the Taliban and was the closest that militants have come to a top U.S. official visiting Afghanistan. At least one U.S. soldier, an American contractor and a South Korean solder were among the dead, NATO said.

Cheney said the attackers were trying "to find ways to question the authority of the central government." A Taliban spokesman said Cheney was the target.

Bush and Cheney are two of the least popular executives to hold power in a long while, and we're informed by their partisans that their enemies are "unhinged" and wracked by "Bush derangement syndrome." Nonetheless, the two assassination attempts directed at the men happened overseas. Cheney survived this one, Bush dodged a bum grenade in Tblisi in 2005. Does anyone have a good theory for why a president that inspired so much loathing has begged 200% fewer assassination attempts than Gerald Ford on these shores? Are the plans just being neutralized sooner? That doesn't explain everything—the sympathy boost a POTUS gets from a death threat makes it worthwhile for the White House to leak that it's just quashed one.

NEXT: The Libertarian Party: "There is absolutely no reason for us to dance with either George or Hillary."

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  1. Does anyone have a good theory for why a president that inspired so much loathing has begged 200% fewer assassination attempts than Gerald Ford on these shores?

    Because all the energy that previously would have gone into botched assassination attempts is now being channeled into flame wars in blog comment threads.

  2. Does anyone have a good theory for why a president that inspired so much loathing has begged 200% fewer assassination attempts than Gerald Ford on these shores?

    Warrantless wiretaps?

  3. In all seriousness, if you hate Bush enough to take a shot at him, you probably hate Cheney a lot more. This should be official policy – every veep should be an extremist boogeyman of the president’s views. It rules out everybody but the people trying to impress Jodi Foster. And most of them are still trying to get into that darn panic room.

  4. Does anyone have a good theory for why a president that inspired so much loathing has begged 200% fewer assassination attempts than Gerald Ford on these shores?

    second Jesse and would add that “Bush derangement syndrome” was the same that caused mass exodus of Hollywood elite to Canada.

    oh that’s right – all smug talk, no action.

    (MATT DAMON!!!)

    oh – and am glad the Vice President is okay.

  5. Access? I work with a guy who was a secret service agent in the Ford administration and he talks about things like trying to secure a golf course during a pro am that the Prez was playing.

  6. How is zero 200% fewer than two?

  7. Because everybody knows that this prez will fuck you up if you even think about killing him…

    unless, of course, you’re wearing your tin foil hat…

  8. “Does anyone have a good theory for why a president that inspired so much loathing has begged 200% fewer assassination attempts than Gerald Ford on these shores?”

    Gee Dave you seem almost disapointed about that. Sorry Bush and Chaney have disapointed you so much by not doing the right thing and getting their heads blown off.

    The answer is that since the Civil War, Americans don’t kill each other to settle political differences. That last and only President to be the victim of a real political assasination was Lincoln. The rest of the assasinations, grassy knoll theories aside, have been carried out by lone, derranged loosers. The Secret Service and law enforcement over the years has gotten a lot better at stoping the lone whackjob before he can strike. For example, no President would ever take a miles long ride through a major city in a drop top convertable like Kennedy did in Dallas.

  9. #1 – Corn Syrup

    #2 – Ritalin

    #3 – We’re all just pussies now!

  10. the “Leader of the Free World” trademark has fallen on bad days.

    there’s a growing recognition that Bush is a mascot/front man, and plunking him would be akin to calling a hit on Aunt Jemima because of a beef with Pepsico.

  11. Cheney said the attackers were trying “to find ways to question the authority of the central government.”

    It should be easy to spot the Taliban, then. They’d be the guys wearing the QUESTION AUTHORITY buttons.

  12. the last 3 posts almost made me piss my pants lol

  13. Reason Man:

    #4: Cheney shoots back!

  14. “Does anyone have a good theory for why a president that inspired so much loathing has begged 200% fewer assassination attempts than Gerald Ford on these shores?”

    Because, contrary to what Fox News and John tell you, despising Dick Cheney doesn’t make you member of the Manson Family.

  15. John,

    When the surge fails and we pull out of Iraq, I am not going to accuse you – even once – of hoping for mass slaughter between Iraqis, or of celebrating when there are bombings.

    I’m not going to do this, even once, because only a real piece of shit would make such an accusation.

  16. “When the surge fails and we pull out of Iraq, I am not going to accuse you – even once – of hoping for mass slaughter between Iraqis, or of celebrating when there are bombings.”

    Why would I hope for that anyway? If we leave and the place becomes peaceful, that means we won. It goes right back to the same point that never responded to in other threads, if things will go well after we leave, then we won and the invasion was a success.

  17. “Because, contrary to what Fox News and John tell you, despising Dick Cheney doesn’t make you member of the Manson Family.”

    Did you bother reading my post Joe? It said because Americans don’t kill each other over political differences and the only assination attempts are made by derranged loosers. Further, I assume you were also appalled when Clinton blamed Oklahoma City on talk radio. I somehow doubt you disagreed with him.

  18. “Why would I hope for that anyway?”

    Because it prove you, and your side, wrong about the need to continue and escalate the war in order to avoid catastrophe.

    “If we leave and the place becomes peaceful, that means we won.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have the REAL reason for the war, v. 5.0: to avoid the civil war that, uh, wasn’t happening when we invaded.

    Apparently, an Iran-allied, Shiite dominated Iraq, with no functional democracy in the country, including where it formerly existed in Kurdistan, now qualifies as victory.

  19. Maybe the fruitcakes that would think killing a president a good idea are all hopped up on anti-psychotic drugs?

  20. The Taliban has spokesmen…

    How do you pitch that gig on a resume?
    “Excellent communications skills. Can make sure boastful rhetoric makes it into the in-boxes and newsfeeds of every media outlet without anyone ever tracing it back to us. Experience with ProTools.”

    Do the Taliban have a podcast as well?

  21. “Apparently, an Iran-allied, Shiite dominated Iraq, with no functional democracy in the country, including where it formerly existed in Kurdistan, now qualifies as victory.”

    Yeah that sounds so much worse than a murderous totalitarian state with a huge military and a proven track record of invading its neighbors and pathological loathing of the U.S. Further, if that is the outcome, then why do you think the U.S. should leave? It is so much fun to watch you try to wiggle out of the corner you have painted yourself into. If the consequences of the U.S. leaving are so bad, then how can you possible support leaving? If the consiquences are not bad and the U.S. can go home and concentrait on other threats like Iran and North Korea and no longer have to worry about Iraq, then how can you say the invasion was a failure?

  22. John: your lofty “Americans don’t…” assertion is laughable. Neither do Russians, as it happens. Or Chinese. In fact, the relative safety of political leaders from assassination by extremist groups is a key tell of “stability.”

    I think it’s likely that political assassinations rely not on a handful of fanatics, but on a broader base of support. In order to make it worthwhile, there has to be a group waiting in the wings to take advantage of the assassination or else there’s no point. If Bush or Cheney are killed it will mean precisely zero. So why make the effort? If, on the other hand, Yitzhak Rabin is murdered, you can derail the peace process. Or if one of the large number of Gemayel brothers is killed, you can shatter the Lebanese government.

    The bottom line is that there is no coherent motive for killing an American president, or a Russian one, for that matter, since both will be spontaneously replaced by the elites that spawned them. Thus such assassinations and attempts that do occur are the province of people with incoherent motives.

  23. “Does anyone have a good theory for why a president that inspired so much loathing has begged 200% fewer assassination attempts than Gerald Ford on these shores?”

    How about because there wouldn’t be any point? Any hypothetical assassins would have to go through half of Washington to get to someone who wasn’t a socialist warmonger.

  24. “John: your lofty “Americans don’t…” assertion is laughable”

    Yeah, we certainly kill each other over political differences, I guess that is why like Russia and China we have had millions die at the hands of the government and several bloody civil wars since our one and only foray into political killing in the 1860s. Russians never assasinate their leaders, I guess that is why Kirov, Tsar Alexander, and Beria all lived to a ripe old age. Put your tinfoil hat back on.

  25. The answer is that since the Civil War, Americans don’t kill each other to settle political differences. That last and only President to be the victim of a real political assasination was Lincoln. The rest of the assasinations, grassy knoll theories aside, have been carried out by lone, derranged loosers.

    It’s really quite amazing – Amercians will kill for almost any reason – love, money, revenge, sport…but not political power.

    That only happens in other countries. We just have lone nuts.

  26. You know, I have no idea why the crazies have been more active in some eras and less active in other eras. I don’t really see how activity (or lack of activity) by the crazies has anything to do with a politician’s overall popularity or divisiveness or lack thereof or whatever.

    If you’ve got one crazy who tries something, that says nothing about the other 99.99999% of the population.

  27. “Yeah that sounds so much worse than a murderous totalitarian state with a huge military and a proven track record of invading its neighbors and pathological loathing of the U.S.”

    Better? Maybe, maybe not. Worth the price in blood and treasure? Not by a long shot. A “victory?” Hell, no!

    “Further, if that is the outcome, then why do you think the U.S. should leave?” Because I don’t think that will be the outcome, if we redeploy and revise the mission in an intelligent manner.

    I hope that was fun for you.

  28. Also, John, I don’t get your Lincoln exception – John Wilkes Booth was not in position to gain political power from Abe’s death. I know he was part of a small conspiracy, but that was just a group of nuts instead of a lone one.

    Or so the story goes.

  29. Killing to assume power in the aftermath is something done by Generals, Party Secretaries, members of rival families, close henchmen, and Movement Leaders. In other words, people who actually have a chance of assuming power in the aftermath.

    Lone nuts (or small groups of nuts who lack the necessary numbers to assume power in the aftermath) kill or try to kill because they’re nuts.

  30. “Also, John, I don’t get your Lincoln exception – John Wilkes Booth was not in position to gain political power from Abe’s death. I know he was part of a small conspiracy, but that was just a group of nuts instead of a lone one.”

    Good point Dan T, but Booth did have a few followers, was a successful person, and really thought that killing Lincoln would allow the South to rise. Further, a lot of Southerners wanted to continue the war as a guirilla war. Booth was really just taking Jeff Davis’s advice and continueing the war by other means. In that sense, it was a more political assasination than say Oswald, but you are right that it wasn’t a political assasination in that it wasn’t made to let anther party take power. It is not as if Andrew Johnson bumbed him off to be the President.

    “Further, if that is the outcome, then why do you think the U.S. should leave?” Because I don’t think that will be the outcome, if we redeploy and revise the mission in an intelligent manner.”

    Then we won Joe. We wiped out one of the worst governments on earth and gave the people of Iraq the chance to build a better country, and also enabled the U.S. to end the semi hot war they had been conducting on the Iraqi people for the last ten years. History will tell whether it was “worth it” or not, but if the U.S. leaves and Iraq doesn’t fall into chaos and the Iraqis assume responsibility for their own security with the only elected Arab government, I don’t see how you can call that a defeat.

  31. Picture of John seen here.

  32. Word games, John. You were denouncing exactly that outcome, holding it up as the reason we had to keep sending our troops off to kill and die, as recently as a year ago. And now, you’ve been forced to dumb down your defition of victory to what you used to call defeat and disaster.

  33. asdf:

    He’s buffed up, and I like what he’s done with his hair! He’s a real man!

  34. No, asdf, sadly enough, John really believes it.

  35. it was a more political assasination than say Oswald, but you are right that it wasn’t a political assasination in that it wasn’t made to let anther party take power. It is not as if Andrew Johnson bumbed him off to be the President.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that perhaps Johnson was behind the whole thing. Much like Oswald, Booth didn’t stick around to tell many tales.

    Now, I’m not saying I have anything resembling proof of this, only that I can only hear the same basic lone nut theory so many times before it starts to sound suspicous. Not to mention Oswald’s CIA ties, Ruby’s mob ties, John Hinkley’s family ties to Bush, etc.

  36. So it’s because the method of succession is so well defined through both law and practice. It would have to be a pretty large conspiracy to take out all the designated successors and have there be enough turmoil to actually gain power. As John said, the conspiracy involved with Lincoln’s assassination is the closest we’ve had to this. And with term limits, there’s not really much of a usurper, like many of Stalin’s assassinations. Even in Russia, Tsar Aleksandr II was done in, but there was no movement to replace him, the Narodnaya Volya types thought people would just spontaneously rise up and claim their freedom or whatever. So really the difference in effect, whether it’s lone (or small-groups of) crazies or conspiracies, the ability to change much just isn’t there.

  37. Weigel, did you by any chance watch 24 last night?

  38. John: Beria was executed by the State. State murder is not the same as conspirators planting a bomb, which was the subject under discussion. I thought the matter at hand was the murder of state leaders for political reasons. If you want to discuss state repression, that’s fine, but that wasn’t the conversation we were having.

    And your assertions fall down in any case: Martin Luther King was killed for purely political reasons by a man with political motives, leading to riots across the US. If you’re going to dismiss ethnicity as a political motive, then the Chechen War never happened.

  39. Nice way not to respond to any of my points. What would be victory then? Iraq being a 51st state? Saddam killed in the neighborhood of 10,000 people a month. The country was being destroyed by U.S. sanctions and was completely falling apart. If say next fall the U.S. goes home and there is an elected government that handles its own security with some help from the West and isn’t threatening its neighbors with invasion, how can that be a defeat?

    You get most mad and insulting when you can’t respond to the point.

  40. Does anyone have a good theory for why a president that inspired so much loathing has begged 200% fewer assassination attempts than Gerald Ford on these shores?

    Presidents used to get out a lot more. Now the security bubble is bigger, tougher, and more omnipresent.

    I don’t recall any assassination attempts on Clinton or Bush the Elder. Am I forgetting any?

  41. I thought Hussein tried to have GHW Bush assassinated. remember GW Bush saying “He tried to kill my daddy!”?

  42. Some James,

    Ultimately, it is because we have pretty strong institutions and we don’t have a culture of killing each other over politics. Even if you killed Chaney and Bush and made Pelosi President, it wouldn’t change that much. Further, people would be so repulsed by the murder of the President and Vice President they would immedtately become martyrs and heros. For example a lot of people in this country hated Kennedy, but once he was assasinated all of that talk ended outside the confines of the Birch Society.

    That said, it is a fragile veneer. If we ever did start having a lot of assasinations, political violence becomes a very addictive thing.

  43. John,

    According the dumbest human being ever to be appointed president, victory is:

    A democratic Iraq, that is our ally, and serves as an inspiration for democratic reform throughout the Middle East. That was what you were arguing for for years.

    The situation you are now refering to as victory meets none of those conditions.

    “Saddam killed in the neighborhood of 10,000 people a month.” You’ve been schooled on this talking point 1000 times by now, but ok, I’ll do it again:

    That is only true if you are referring to a time period including the Iran/Iraq War, when we were supporting Saddam, and the suppression of the Shia uprising. He was not killing anywhere close to that number at the outbreak of the war. Your statement is as true as saying that the German government killed an average of 1 million people per year in death camps between 1041 and 1953, so therefore, launching a war in 1953 that only killed 500,000 Germans per year would be a humanitarian gesture.

    BTW, I never said that such an outcome would be a defeat. You should have learned by now that silly black/white strawmen are both useless and dangerous.

  44. We just have lone nuts.

    …oh, never mind.

  45. Let me revise that:

    Launching a war in 1953 that killed 500,000 Germans a year, and ended up with the country ruled by a dictatorship with close ties to the Soviet Union, would be a humanitarian and political victory.

  46. “highnumber | February 27, 2007, 1:51pm | #
    We just have lone nuts.

    …oh, never mind.”

    that’s what meletary lawyers (sic) crave.

  47. “BTW, I never said that such an outcome would be a defeat. You should have learned by now that silly black/white strawmen are both useless and dangerous.”

    You killing me Joe. I love, “its not a defeat but its not a victory either”!! Are we back now to the old canard that things were better with Saddam? Again, when we leave Iraq, Iraq will no longer be a threat to Kuwait or any of the gulf states. From 1990 until 2003, the U.S. spent billions and kept 10s of thousands of troups in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and put in place sanctions that were very cruel to the Iraqi people. Under your scenerio, the U.S. gets to go home, no longer have to maintain those 1000s of troops or victimize the people of Iraq with sanctions and Iraq gets to have an elected government and an end to totatalitarian rule and hope for better things in the future, but “its not a victory.” Yeah whatever.

  48. If a US VeeP characterizes his enemies as anyone trying “to find ways to question the authority of the central government,” then I think we as a nation are f-cked.

  49. I love it how you don’t hold Saddam in any worse light for starting the bloodest war of the last half of the 20th Century. None of those deaths are his hands at all. And of course there was absolutely no danger of him launching any more wars. No never!!

  50. If say next fall the U.S. goes home and there is an elected government that handles its own security with some help from the West and isn’t threatening its neighbors with invasion, how can that be a defeat?

    So if Iraq elects leaders that, instead of wanting to invade Iran, choose to align themselves with Iran and work toward the destruction of Israel and actually DOES become a threat to the United States, something Iraq was not before the invasion, that would qualify as a victory in John’s world?

    Hooray! We overthrew a tin-pot dictator who really wasn’t a threat to anyone and replaced him with a regime who’s friendly with Iran and hates the United States! Mission Accomplished!

  51. How is zero 200% fewer than two?

    I guess Bush has inspired -2 assassination attempts in the US. That’s a great way to achieve immortality, btw.

  52. blooder (sic) than Vietnam, John?

  53. In fairness to John, I’m sure the Iran-Iraq War was much bloodier than Vietnam.

    In unfairness to John, the outcome of that war seriously damaged his military. By the Gulf War it was just a paper tiger. Sure, they occupied Kuwait, but it was Kuwait. Even with 12 years to theoretically prepare between Iraq Wars I and II, the ground war was basically over in a month. Yes, we’re the most powerful military, but still, it’s not like we weren’t around if he were to have tried something again.

  54. John,

    I think what Joe is trying to tell you is that your version of victory in the past is quite different from your version of victory in the present. Whether or not he is claiming the U.S. as victorious or defeated is not the issue. It’s your changing view of “victory” that he’s attacking.

    Now, I’ll step aside and let you two continue 🙂

  55. ‘I love, “its not a defeat but its not a victory either”!!’

    So did Eisenhower. Life’s like that sometimes.

    Anyway, I’m glad that you are backing down from the crazy-unrealistic outcome you were so committed to a year ago, and have come to realize that it ain’t going to happen. Whether the dumbed-down version you’re willing to settle for now, the one I was holding out at the best case scenario four years ago, is worth the price that we, and the Iraqis even moreso, have had to pay is a question we can debate in the unlikely case that such a thing actually comes to pass.

    Here’s hoping.

  56. “I love it how you don’t hold Saddam in any worse light for starting the bloodest war of the last half of the 20th Century. None of those deaths are his hands at all. And of course there was absolutely no danger of him launching any more wars. No never!!”

    John, Line 3, there’s a gentleman from the Ministry of Straw for you.

  57. Damn, John, I never would have believed I’d be forced to agree with joe, but you made me do it. If you believe what you’re saying, you’re guilty of the most Machievallian end-justifies-the-means bullshit I’ve ever heard.

    Let’s recap…
    On 9/11 thousands or Americans are brutally murdered by terrorist thugs.

    In response, the Congress authorizes the President to destroy those responsible. The President sends troops into Afghanistan, removing the Taliban from power and effectively neutralizing Al Qaeda.

    Based on faulty intelligence and, I’ll be generous, wishful thinking, the President’s little wizards start babbling about mushroom clouds over Cleveland and he has the military invade Iraq.
    That basically brings us up to date.

    You say:
    “Then we won Joe. We wiped out one of the worst governments on earth and gave the people of Iraq the chance to build a better country”

    I dunno John…during the whole lead-up to the war debate I don’t remember anything about “nation building”. I don’t remember the president going to the people and saying “Yeah, Iraq has a really shitty government and we need you, your children and your money to go make it a better place”. No, I heard a lot of hysterical, terrifying nonsense, and only now do the True Believers drag out the “Well, Iraq’s a better place…” crap.

    I can only hope the politicians haven’t been paying attention to how quickly people can be convinced that “it all worked out for the best, right?”, because if they have, us common folk are totally screwed.

  58. Jimmy,

    I don’t recall ever argueing that victory meant anything more than the Iraqis dertermining their own futures and having a humane non-threatening government in Iraq. How could their possibly be any other definition of victory, unless you really want to anex the place? It is Joe that is moving the goal posts because he has argued himself into such a corner. If the place really is going to fall into anarchy, then U.S. can’t leave. Joe gets around that by saying that Iraq won’t fall into chaos and will do well without us. To which, I respond, great, then we won and Joe’s head explodes and he starts ranting obscenities and accusing me of calling him a traitor.

    “the outcome of that war seriously damaged his military.”

    I don’t know that that is true. It remains to be seen. Certainly, the U.S. got a hell of a lot better at fighting insurgencies and understanding the nature of 21st Century Warfare. Are the Generals whining? Sure they are. That is what generals do. They always want more troops and bigger toys to play with. If it were up to the generals, we would have a 5 trillion dollar gold plated military that never went anywhere or did anything. I think you have to wait until the end of the war to make that judgement.

    “it’s not like we weren’t around if he were to have tried something again.”

    That is just my point. We were around sitting in Saudi Arabia year after year spending billions and accomplishing nothing except inflicting misery on the Iraqi people.

    “So if Iraq elects leaders that, instead of wanting to invade Iran, choose to align themselves with Iran and work toward the destruction of Israel and actually DOES become a threat to the United States, something Iraq was not before the invasion, that would qualify as a victory in John’s world? ”

    Ah, but according to Joe that is not what will happen. He said above he doesn’t beleive that will happen. If what you are saying is true, then maybe we should slug it out and stay and make sure the right people are in power in Iraq. Further, so what if they do elect a leader who allies them with Iran? How is that any worse than Huissain. It is not like Saddam was our ally.

  59. Then Clarke, if the motivation for the war was to eliminate Iraq as a threat, which it partially was, then how is Iraq going to be a threat after we leave? Whether the war was justified or not and I think it was, is a separeate question from whether we won or not. We could invade Mexico tommorow for no reason and still win the damn war. You conflate the two points.

  60. All Those Bionic Upgrades Paid Off!

    Yeah, once they got the glitches worked out of the IFF routines in Cheney’s fire-control software.

  61. Lunch:

    And the new design looks great, too!

  62. “I love it how you don’t hold Saddam in any worse light for starting the bloodest war of the last half of the 20th Century.”

    Look, the Iran/Iraq war was certainly bloody, but it doesn’t even make the top 10. See this for a rough comparison.

    Am I glad Saddam and his line are dead? Yes.
    Am I glad we showed there are no WMDs (practically) in Iraq? Yes.
    Was it worth over $370 billion, 3,000+KIA, and 22,000+ WIA? Hell no, and I’m not even counting the dead Iraqis in this weighing.

    Was invading Iraq the best of a bad selection of choices? I don’t think so. For less than $600 billion and 3,000 Americans, you’re telling me we couldn’t have found some other way of killing Saddam & his kids and let some other general/militia leader/mullah run Iraq and keep the oil flowing? Invading with 150,000+ troops was the best we could do?

    What happened is that we believed our own Wilsonian bullshit about nation-building. To crib from the homicidal maniac, the War Nerd, “Bush drove our car into a tree, and it’s not going to untotal itself…” To answer Johnny Clarke, Bush may not have said anything explicitly about nation-building w/regards to Iraq (I dunno yes/no, just not willing to track down a quote), but there were plenty of supporters at the time who were. I personally sat through an hour talk from Thomas Friedmann where he argued in part that nation-building was the only worthwhile reason to invade Iraq

    So, what should we do? I offered some ideas back on 2/13. Iraq’s broke. It ain’t getting any better. After four years, I have lost faith with pundits (strategypage.com, I’m looking at you.) who promise that things will be all better in six more months.

    All in my humble, woefully uninformed opinion, of course

  63. “Joe gets around that by saying that Iraq won’t fall into chaos and will do well without us.”

    No, I don’t. I expect Iraq to fall into disaster, but hold out the hope it will not.

    Nor do I advocate for a complete withdrawal.

    I guess John goes to debate with the opponents he’d like to have. Apparently, the opponents he’s got are too much for him.

    And you puny-brained arguments have never even caused me to break a sweat.

  64. Jimmy,

    Actually, the rhetoric from the war supporters shifted to “we’re going to make Iraq a wonderful place” about three years ago.

    The shift John is envincing now is to change his definition of “a wonder place.” As recently as a year ago, the outcome he now celebrates as “victory” was the horrible bogeyman that we had to keep feeding our troops into the meat grinder to avoid.

    Now, if a Shiite dictatorship closely allied with Iran is able to pacify the Kurdish and Sunni areas, John is going to say “I meant to do that” like Pee Wee Herman.

  65. “John is going to say “I meant to do that” like Pee Wee Herman.”

    Hi john. Wanna go to the movies? We can put the popcorn in your lap.

  66. Booth may not have been in a position to gain political power, nor any conspirators, but the motivation for that act could certainly have been political or military. On one level, killing Lincoln was an act of revenge by a Confederate dead-ender, but it would be easy to conjure up more elaborate plots, and some have. The most popular one seems to have involved snatching Lincoln and trading him for various Confederate POWs. Some, Mary Lincoln included, suspected V.P. Johnson of involvement. I haven’t studied the matter, and give no particular credence to one theory over another. One important distinction must be that Booth and any Dixie loyalists who may have helped him did not think that they were killing “their President”, but attacking an enemy war leader. I’ll leave aside the question of the propriety of a partisan of one combatant killing the civilian leader of its enemy, especially when done by someone in mufti.

    Kevin

  67. joe, I’m probably asking you to repeat yourself, but if you don’t “advocate a complete withdrawal”, and you aren’t keen on the surge, what do you advocate?

    I expect non-Kurdish Iraq to implode and partition with ‘India in 1947’ level ugliness. I also think it’ll happen with or without our being there. Isn’t there already commentary that the violence now is an example of on-going ethnic cleansing and partition? Accordingly, having troops in non-Kurdistan can only delay the inevitable. I value 750 additional american dead (3000/4 years, as my cost/year) and $95 additional billion (same logic) more than I value the length of that delay.

    Is there a better choice available?

  68. Gray Ghost,

    I think we’re pretty close. I advocate three things:

    1. A security guarantee for the Kurds, including something between a brigade an a corps stationed in their area.

    2. A meaningless bit of doubletalk akin to the “One China Policy” to describe the Kurds’ legal status.

    3. The presence of rapid reaction forces in Kurdistan, Kuwait, and elsewhere in the region.

    4. The loud announcement of our withdrawal from the rest of Iraq, followed by the real thing, carried out alongside a diplomatic offensive aimed at promoting a settlement of the civil war and the agreement of the surrounding countries to promote that settlement and swear off making trouble. I believe out withdrawel is a necessary condition for this to work, and should used as a tool to change the political dynamic in Iraq.

  69. Four things!

    Or maybe five.

    Tell you what, I advocate things.

  70. The loud announcement of our withdrawal from the rest of Iraq, followed by the real thing, carried out alongside a diplomatic offensive aimed at promoting a settlement of the civil war and the agreement of the surrounding countries to promote that settlement and swear off making trouble. I believe out withdrawel is a necessary condition for this to work, and should used as a tool to change the political dynamic in Iraq.”

    We are leaving but we will make everyone “sware not to make trouble”. Yeah, just like North Vietnam swore they wouldn’t invade the South at the Paris peace talks. Oh God, Joe you are funny. If what you are saying is true, then we have to stay because there is no way you could leave the country and replace our presence by asking everyone to play nice.

  71. “The shift John is envincing now is to change his definition of “a wonder place.” As recently as a year ago, the outcome he now celebrates as “victory” was the horrible bogeyman that we had to keep feeding our troops into the meat grinder to avoid.”

    That is just bullshit and you know it Joe. I never argued that. You are just desparately afraid that the U.S. really might win in the next year and Iraq really might stand on its own and you have to have some way anyway to celibrate a defeat rather than admit you might have been wrong .

  72. Fear and Surprise. Surprise and Fear.

    What about the comfy chair????

  73. Yep, that’s what everyone’s afraid of. Just because “past performance is not indicative of future performance” doesn’t mean that “future performance will inevitably be the opposite of past performance”

    I wish it were otherwise in this case, because I don’t like us losing any more than I like us getting dragged into pointless wars that distract from the conflict that we’re actually fighting, but I don’t see victory on the horizon in Iraq. The best hope is to contain a bad situation as best we can, while we get away doing the least harm to ourselves and other places (disregarding harm done to both prior).

  74. Yep, my real fear is that Iraq is going to turn into a warm Minnesota. By next year. It must be nice to be able to read minds over the internet, so you can disprove “my real fear,” instead of having to address what I’ve written.

    Now, John, take it back, or I’m going to look into the archives, find some of your more outlandish “freedom, democracy, and a pony” statements, and make you look like even more of an ass than you already do.

  75. With a peace settlement, you have something to bitch about if it’s broken. You can start regaining the international legitimacy that was spent invading Iraq. It’s a poor victory laurel, but it seems like the best thing we can achieve now.

    In practice, I agree with you that a settlement would be treated by most of the parties just like the 73 Paris Peace Talks. Of course all of Iraq’s neighbors will continue to interfere after a settlement. And I don’t think that joe’s hypothetical settlement would extinguish the strong possibility of the civil war continuing.

    Where I disagree with you is that such interference compels us to stay and spend 750 dead, 5500 wounded, and $95 billion per year.

    Aside, I understand that reason does not incorporate a spell-checker in their blog software, and Lord knows I’m not perfect, but John, how do you misspell a direct quote?

    After preview: You are just desparately afraid that the U.S. really might win in the next year and Iraq really might stand on its own and you have to have some way anyway to celibrate a defeat rather than admit you might have been wrong.

    Let’s ignore the ad hominem and address the meat: the U.S. really might win in the next year. Who else believes this will happen?

    No, change that. I used to believe that all it would take would be six more months. I’ve mentioned strategypage before. It’s a site I feel has some good analysis of military affairs. James Dunnigan is one of the finest military historians and analysts going, IMHO. But the common refrain from these guys was that victory was right around the corner, and that we needed to just hang in there.

    There was a thread below this one that I’ll borrow—poorly—from. I thought that things would improve as soon as Baghdad was taken. Then it was as soon as the U.S. could get the reconstruction authority set up in Baghdad. Then it was as soon as everyone in the deck of cards was captured. Then it was as soon as Saddam was captured. Then it was as soon as the Iraqi government had elections. Then it was as soon as the Sunnis were brought to heel. Then it was as soon as Zarqawi was found. After Saddam dies, they’ll see reason, and quit…

    Now we’re to wait, to give the surge a chance. Petraeus will save us. Screw it. After a number of these, I’m more to blame for continuing to believe you than you are for trotting out the next secret to victory.

  76. I want to get a little bit away from my negativity about victory being “around the corner” (“on the horizon” would be a more appropriate analogy anyway, as the horizon stays the same distance [6 months] away as you approach it). Oh, I haven’t done it yet.

    Anyway, I do really like Petraeus and I’m hopeful that it’s not to late for him and his “Brain kids” or “dream team” or whatever to fix a worsening situation. What I’ve heard of these people I’ve liked, and they sound like a far cry from the neocons who dragged us in there. However many of them are also big pictures types seemingly, so we’ll see. So while all may be not lost, and there may be some reason for hope, there isn’t much, and it’s not like we can expect victory, just a maybe-slightly-better-than-anticipated disengagement with less calamity than expected or is likely.

  77. “Does anyone have a good theory for why a president that inspired so much loathing has begged 200% fewer assassination attempts than Gerald Ford on these shores?”

    Because Bush didn’t pardon Nixon. Oh, and with the exception of tenured college profs, all the baby-boomers grew up.

  78. “Picture of John seen here.”

    Irrespective of what John believes, why the ubiquitous personal attacks?

  79. I would only point out that joe’s plan to sprinkle US troops all over the region, isolated in cantonments, leaves intact the fundamental motivating grievance of AQ and its fellow travellers, while reducing our ability to actually engage them in theater.

    Not sure what the point is of leaving our troops there. They won’t be engaged in any kind of nation-building, that’s for sure. Are we worried about someone invading Iraq/Kuwait/Saudi? Who?

    They were in theater originally to deter Saddam. If we don’t need to deter Saddam anymore, and we aren’t going to help the Iraqis with their “internal security issues” (other than a brigade hanging out in Kurdistan, the area where they are needed the least), why do we need troops in the Middle East at all?

  80. RC:

    that might leave intact the motivation of the AQ that attacked us on 9/11, but not necessarily the motivation of many of the groups operating in Iraq. “al-Queda in Iraq” doesn’t completely overlap with “al-Queda” (from what I’ve read), and Iraqi insurgents are unlikely to be concerned with our troops once they’re out of Iraq.

  81. RC Dean – it’s quite simple: U.S. soldiers, fight, get maimed or are killed to protect the Saudi Monarchy, and the Saudi King continues to demand dollars for his oil.

    It’s about the only incentive left for U.S. dollars to be a reserve currency. Knock that out, and suddenly U.S. dollars will be a lot less attractive to foreigners, and you will see prices shoot up dramatically.

    Since Greenspan bumped of Bush I, and then got Clinton reelected (he was good at timing the inflationary booms just right) presidents have learned to keep the Fed happy. So they send soldiers off to die.

  82. ‘We are leaving but we will make everyone “sware not to make trouble”.’

    Well, I remember when I was negotiating with Gorby in Iceland, and he said he would agree to reduce the Soviets’ ICBM arsenal to 1500 warheads, I shouted out “No backsies!” A lot of people don’t realize it, but that’s how most international diplomacy works.

  83. Er, ah, when I negotiating with Krushchev over Cuber, and he said he would remove the missiles, it just so happened that Bobby was bending ovah to look up this Russian babe’s dress, and he sawr that Kruschev had his fingahs crossed behind his back.

    So I made him promise again, with his hands in front of him, before I took his word for it.

  84. “And I don’t think that joe’s hypothetical settlement would extinguish the strong possibility of the civil war continuing.”

    Neither do I, but it’s worth a shot.

    And the president agrees with me. The White House announced that they’re openning up direct talks with Iran and Syria over Iraq.

    How do you type that laughing trombone sound again?

  85. RC,

    I don’t believe Al Qaeda’s fundamental grievance is the presence of American troops in the Middle East. Al Qaeda’s fundamental grievance is that people like them aren’t in charge.

    “Not sure what the point is of leaving our troops there.”

    I would say, to protect the Kurds against the Arabs, the Persians, and the Turks; and to carry out operations like those we’ve done in Somalia and the Phillipines in the very plausible case that Al Qaeda groups establish an area of operations.

  86. Does anyone have a good theory for why a president that inspired so much loathing has begged 200% fewer assassination attempts than Gerald Ford on these shores?

    You know, I have no idea why the crazies have been more active in some eras and less active in other eras.

    My best guess for the current lull is modern antipsychotics. Prior to that I’m guessing it had to do with what proportion of the crazies were locked up.

    My apologies if I missed someone else saying this in the thread, but my eyes glaze over when Joe and John argue over Iraq. Again. And again. And again. I tried to read all the other posts.

  87. Indeed, it is worth a shot.

    RC brings up a great point. W/out Saddam, and assuming the Iranians aren’t going to be lobbing missiles at anyone, just who are the troops supposed to protect against? Especially since the country most likely to invade the new Kurdistan will be Turkey.

    How do you type that laughing trombone sound again?

    Dunno, I like this sound better for the same thing.

  88. I would say, to protect the Kurds against the Arabs, the Persians, and the Turks; and to carry out operations like those we’ve done in Somalia and the Phillipines in the very plausible case that Al Qaeda groups establish an area of operations.

    I thought I previewed. Really.

  89. close tag damn it.

  90. “Especially since the country most likely to invade the new Kurdistan will be Turkey.”

    Two words, Ghost. Kirkuk. Oil.

  91. I wasn’t thinking of Kirkuk oil, so much as the PKK and the Southeast Anatolia Project.

    Turkey’ll want security for a project that large. I doubt they’ll give up what they’ve built. Not sure if having an autonomous Kurdistan will satisfy the PKK or if it’ll embolden them. Should be interesting in any case

  92. why hasn’t anyone tried to kill Bush? Three words: President Dick Cheney. Why do you think Bush picked him? If I were president, I would pick the least charismatic, scariest guy i could find for my veep.

  93. Gray Ghost,

    Convincing the Kurdish leadership to sit on anybody making trouble in Turkey would have to be part of the deal. It’s not as if we are without any leverage over them.

    The deal, if President Cheney is smart enough to strike one, if going to amount to a series of agreements among each country not to make trouble in each other’s back yard.

  94. Hey, remember the shells in the IEDs that could only have possibly come from Iran, with the support of people at the highest levels of the Iranian government?

    Our troops raided a factory in southern Iraq, and they were manufacturing them there. With parts imported from pretty much every country in the Middle East except…wait for it…Iran.

    ‘A raid in southern Iraq on Saturday seems to have complicated the case. There, The Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.), troops “uncovered a makeshift factory used to construct advanced roadside bombs that the U.S. had thought were made only in Iran.”‘

  95. I thought building shaped charges only required a decent machine shop?

    Nah, the whole IED flap is give people the vague feeling that Iran is hostile. With all the naval assetts moving into the Gulf, I think the official cassus belli will probably be some battle between Iranian gunboats and U.S. warships.

    Sine the end of the 19th century, the U.S. government has usually used attacks on U.S. ships to justify attacking other countries.* The Korean and Gulf wars I and II are exceptions to the rule.

    *Pearl Harbor was a surprise to FDR – he had been trying to get the Japanese to attack the East Asia fleet. Read Admiral Winslow’s “The Fleet the Gods Forgot” for the details.

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