Phelpsian Foreign Policy

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British PM Gordon Brown responded to last week's botched terrorist attacks by ramping up police work and telling his government to back off using some of its "war on terror" rhetoric.

Gordon Brown has banned ministers from using the word "Muslim" in ­connection with the ­terrorism crisis.

The Prime Minister has also instructed his team – including new Home Secretary Jacqui Smith – that the phrase "war on ­terror" is to be dropped.

The shake-up is part of a fresh attempt to improve community relations and avoid offending Muslims, adopting a more "consensual" tone than existed under Tony Blair.

That got Michael Ledeen fuming:

Maybe the Gordon Brown government will come to be seen as a test case for the multiculti Left's approach to "the war (shhh)," and if it fails quickly enough, it might help us sort out the real choices for November '08. After all, British failures have often been inspirational for America, sigh.

Alex Massie shudders a little at Ledeen's implication: Brown's denialism will lead to more terrorist attacks, and since we need right-thinking terror hawks in office to win the war, well, thems the breaks. More Massie:

While there is clearly (and obviously) an important ideological aspect to the struggle against this kind of terrorism, it's also the case that the battle to defend "British values" and "our way of life" is also a police and intelligence operation rather more than it is any kind of war that can be won by military means. This was, of course, also true of the long struggle against the IRA.

All true, but this stuff doesn't matter to the Ledeens (and Liebermans) of the moment. They want to attack Iran and overthrow the Mullahs. The only way to gin up support for that in a country as gloomy and ironically detached as this one would be for everyone to get as terrified as they were on and right after 9/11. It's only right after a terrorist attack that the citizenry locates its moral clarity. Fred Phelps' protesters tote around signs that use a super-insane variant of that logic: Only when the terrorists attack or a soldier gets killed will you saps realize that the terrorists hate us for our gay rights and fornication.

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  1. Let’s drop a LOLbomb on Iran… free magazines, newspapers, TVs with satellite cable and satellite internet for all Iranians! Surely we could provide that with just a fraction of the money spent on one of our ridiculous ‘wars’. The rest of the money can go to achieving oil independence. LOLOLOLBOMB.

  2. I was wondering if Reason was going to blog this.

    There is another aspect of Brown’s marching orders that the Boston Globe chose to focus on – in his public statement following the attacks, Brown eschewed all militarist language, and described them as “crimes.”

    Just right, Mr. Prime Minister. Don’t let the bedwetters bully you. They’ve only led us to defeat and disappointment anyway.

  3. Steven,

    I propose we airdrop copies of “Just a Girl” by No Doubt, with local translations of the lyrics, throughout the greater Middle East.

  4. joe, do you want them to hate us even more?

    Send them something good. Like Garbage.

  5. Hey, they were still a ska band when they recorded “Tragic Kingdom.”

  6. Sorry, I can’t go along with your idea of sending them No Doubt. I’m only happy when it rains, joe.

    Well, I guess we could send them Gwen Stefani, if they agree not to send her back.

  7. Hey, they were still a ska band when they recorded “Tragic Kingdom.”

    joe, do you want them to hate us even more?

    lolz aside, i would say this is something of a good thing to be sure, seeing as the uk has a far different problem with their muslim population than the us does.

  8. They hate us because we want their oil for relatively cheap.

  9. Look, it’s very simple: we air-drop ska music with a feminist message, and they Pick It Up Pick It Up Pick It Up!

  10. “Thank God for 9/11”

    I do…every day.

  11. “They hate us because we want their oil for relatively cheap.”

    Cheap compared to what? Certainly not the cost of production. The margins on Middle Easten oil would make an old school robber barron blush.

    The rest of the world is being robbed by the Middle East and the money is going toward it’s downfall.

    Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.

  12. Yes, and I believe that the Giuliani campaign will seek to move the general election to September 11, 2008, in the unlikely event that he wins the GOP nomination.

  13. I can’t connect the dots. What is the path from Brown to Phelps?

  14. Yes, KenK, endless quagmires are our civilization’s only hope.

  15. I can’t connect the dots. What is the path from Brown to Phelps?

    No connection… it’s Ledeen and Phelps. Both of them think it’ll take some big terrorist attacks to rally people to their POV without stopping to consider what that says about their POV.

  16. Gordon Brown has banned ministers from using the word “Muslim” in ?connection with the ?terrorism crisis.

    Good start, now let’s ban “car” “bomb” “airport” “doctor” “fire” and all equivalents.

    This just in from the BBC:

    ________ ___ crashes into _______

    A ___ which was on ____ has been ______ at the main _______ building at _______ ______.

    Let’s turn the news into MadLibs! Awesome!

  17. Well, Brown’s new attitude hasn’t stopped the UK from arresting people for advocating terrorism via website posts.

    It’s funny – if you post “Israelis should bomb Palestinians”, you’re just discussing a possible state action so it’s a political argument and not illegal under UK law. But if you post “Palestinians should bomb Israelis”, you’re under arrest, baby.

  18. Right, because the IRA stopped bombing when the government stopped describing terrorism as Irish, which was really what was offending them all along. Problem solved!

    This is like the Jimmy Carter approach to Communism: just don’t make them mad and they won’t do anything rash like invade Afghanistan. And when Jimmy applied his philosophy to Iran, it gave us the mess we’re stuck with today.

    I’m not in favor of a military invasion of Iran, but a cowardly refusal to acknowledge reality isn’t going to get us anywhere either.

    People weren’t terrified after 9/11, they were ANGRY. Bush didn’t get the highest approval rating in history by ordering the military to hide under their beds.

  19. Gordon Brown has banned ministers from using the word “Muslim” in ?connection with the ?terrorism crisis.

    “Mohammedan,” “Musselman,” and “Damned woggy bastards” are still acceptable.

  20. Guys like Ledeen seem to want to have it both ways – however you frame the War on Terror, it is clearly not a war on Muslims. If you want to insist that it is, then you are advocating rounding up or attacking Muslims even if they’ve done nothing wrong because they’re part of the group that you’ve declared war on.

  21. Joe: No Doubts best work is all that covering Madness back in the day. I mean, shit, next you’ll be saying we should send them Goldfinger and Save Ferris (both of which are better than No Doubt, but still at best ‘mediocre’ although pretty good in concert).

    At least let’s send them some real ska, like the aforementioned Madness or The Toasters or Skatellites or The Special. Shit, even Mighty Might Bosstones’ early stuff (sure, okay, ska-core) or Dance Hall Crashers or Let’s Go Bowling…seriously, No Doubt? Why do you want Iran to hate America, joe?

  22. Four years after the invasion of Iraq was launched, allegedly in response to the 9/11 attacks, allowing Osama bin Laden himself to walk freely away at Tora Bora, people still feign confusion over why it is a bad idea to discuss terrorism as a military problem.

    At least, I hope they’re faking it.

  23. EDIT: The Specials, that is. Oh, or Skinner Box, or the Skafflaws. Hell, I’d send them Five Iron Frenzy before I inflicted No Doubt upon Iran.

  24. Four years after the invasion of Iraq was launched, allegedly in response to the 9/11 attacks, allowing Osama bin Laden himself to walk freely away at Tora Bora,

    Ummm… right. Please step away from the crack pipe.

  25. It’s a race between those who can stoke the most fear:

    between those want to bomb Iran (who of any importance said what about this?) . . .

    and those who say that the aforementioned are secretly plotting to drop da bomb any minute (OMGWTFDECEPTICANS!)

  26. Send them something good. Like Garbage.

    Hey, they were still a ska band when they recorded “Tragic Kingdom.”

    Hey, I have both. Does that mean you both hate me or both like me?

  27. Ah, ska… the last, desperate hope for high school trumpet players to be in the kind of band that gets laid.

  28. England must bow to the will of Allah to find peace, but then they would have to join the jihad.

  29. Yea TallDave, joe believes the military just let him “walk away”. Rummy just pushed the “abort” button when the missile was about to hit. Cuz you know, he was saving some of that post 9/11 hero-goodness for later.

  30. Tall Dave,

    Where’s Osama, then? Boy, good thing we kept pushing the military botton, huh?

    BTW, the IRA bombings stopped when the UK made a political deal with the IRA. The decades of military action and occupation only served to increase the terrorism British subjects were subjected to.

  31. I can’t resist pointing out again that a lot people who say anyone who wants to fight terrorism is using the “politics of fear” are the same ones saying if we don’t ban SUVs we’re all going to drown from global warming.

  32. Finkelstein,

    You know as well as I do how bin Laden got away – by being escorted out of the mountains by the Taliban allies we hired to block his escape. Thank the Iraq War for the personnel shortage that made such outsourcing necessary.

    The only think your silly straw-man does is call attention to your complete inability to formulate a counter-argument to what I actually wrote.

  33. SugarFree: I like it because I can dance to it, without having to know how to dance :-).

  34. Where indeed, Joe. You’d think if he were alive, he would be the one on the July fourth tape.

  35. Dance Hall Crashers are boss.

  36. joe,

    Four years after the invasion of Iraq was launched, allegedly in response to the 9/11 attacks, allowing Osama bin Laden himself to walk freely away at Tora Bora,

    Let’s see, Tora Bora, Dec 2001 (no one really knows if Osama was even there, btw). Invasion of Iraq, April 2003. Yep, invading Iraq clearly let bin Laden escape, presumably through the machinations of some kind of time travelling cyborg. What could we have been thinking?

    BTW, the IRA bombings stopped when the UK made a political deal with the IRA.

    Great! We just need to let those disaffected, disenfranchised British Muslims create their own Islamic state in Britain, and things will be hunky-dory. (Time to invest in UK burka manufacturers!)

  37. who needs bombs? everybody skank!

  38. who needs bombs? everybody skank!

    Truer than you might think.

    One major cause of Iranian unrest is the fact Iranian women are being driven to prostitution by the economic idiocy of the mullahs. I’ve seen more than one article noting Iranian women are increasingly common in European brothels.

  39. TallDave is definitely not rude enough.

  40. Am I reading this post wrong or is David Weigel supporting the omission of important details of such attacks in government briefings?

    Forget the strawman argument about how this affects any police or military efforts (strawman as in completely unworthy of debate) and just explain to me how this is a legitimate policy in a free society.

  41. Sorry, I’ll try to do better.

  42. I suggest you get yourself a pork pie hat and a skinny tie before you embarrass yourself further.

  43. James Ard,

    Funny how bin Laden knew John Kerry would be the Democratic nominee for president three years after he was allegedly killed.

    TallDave,

    no one really knows if Osama was even there, btw

    American soldiers heard him apologizing to his troops over a walkie-talkie they took off a dead fighter at Tora Bora. He was apologizing for leading them to death and defeat in this place.

    Invasion of Iraq, April 2003. Transfer of Special Forces units o- like the ones involved in the fighting in Tora Bora – from Afghanistan to Iraq began in the Autumn of 2001.

    Get your facts straight.

    We just need to…

    What “we just need to” do is ignore the fuck out of the people who’ve failed so miserably in their “War on Terror” strategy, and let grown-ups determine our strategy from here.

  44. Timothy,

    Fashion advice noted.

    I do think it’s possible to overstate the Islamist threat. Eventually the oil is going to run out and Mideast countries that haven’t liberalized will go back to being extremely poor.

  45. Right, because the IRA stopped bombing when the government stopped describing terrorism as Irish, which was really what was offending them all along. Problem solved!

    The problem with focusing on the muslim aspect is that it leads to an error in logic – the terrorists are muslims, therefore the muslims are terrorists. It encourages the all apples are fruits, all fruits are apples fallacy.

    Ironically, this is exactly what the militants want, since equating islam and terrorism seperates that moderate to liberal muslims from the mainstream of western society.

  46. why don’t we send iran dub instead? (of the scientist or king tubby variety) i’m sure hashish, mint tea and dub go nicely together.

  47. American soldiers heard him apologizing to his troops over a walkie-talkie they took off a dead fighter at Tora Bora. He was apologizing for leading them to death and defeat in this place.

    Says who? Tommy Franks says no one knows. I think he’s in better position to know than anyone you can cite.

    Invasion of Iraq, April 2003. Transfer of Special Forces units o- like the ones involved in the fighting in Tora Bora – from Afghanistan to Iraq began in the Autumn of 2001.

    Oh what a crock of shit. The military wouldn;t have transferred critical operators, and you obviously have no idea what the Afghan mountains are like if you think a few more spec ops would have made any difference. The Soviets had far, far more troops and they couldn’t finish off the mujahedin either. Our troops are not as dumb as you.

  48. joe,

    I don’t know. Would President Gore have caught bin Laden? I’m not sure there was an easy home run against al Qaeda, whether or not we were mucking about in Iraq. I think we’ve done fairly well in Afghanistan, all told. Look at how well we’re doing compared to everyone else who has attempted to intervene there. Better beats worse in my book.

    Of course, bin Laden may be a corpse–I have no idea.

  49. The problem with focusing on the muslim aspect is that it leads to an error in logic – the terrorists are muslims, therefore the muslims are terrorists.

    Maybe in those prone to logical fallacies.

    The problem with not recognizing the Islamic nature of the problem is that unfortunately most terrorists are Muslims. If you put together a policy that judges atheists and Amish to be a similar threat, you’re going to have a policy that clearly doesn’t reflect reality.

  50. dhex: We can send them dub, it might be calming. Dub, opium, mint tea…it’ll be the most sedated jihad EVAR!

  51. The mission, that I chose to accept on your behalf, involves the Impossible team going to Afghanistan and taking out Evil Bert.

  52. What “we just need to” do is ignore the fuck out of the people who’ve failed so miserably in their “War on Terror” strategy

    Which is why we’re not following the failed Clinton/Gore model of tossing a few missiles around that led to 9/11, and instead are following the Bush model that has led to the creation of two relatvely liberal democratic states (in which free and fair elections have been held, free press established) which so enrages the Islamist terrorists that they have been sucked into a fight they’re losing in their own backyard, a result of which is that America has not suffered a major terrorist attack since 9/11.

  53. “Eventually the oil is going to run out and Mideast countries that haven’t liberalized will go back to being extremely poor.”

    This is the basis of my strategy of encouraging wasteful uses of oil. A little global warming is worth it if it returns the Middle East to the margins of the consciousness of the civilized world.

  54. Some people prefer the “war” model to guide our struggle against terrorism. I find this to be an error, for such a model (among other things) artificially elevates the status of terrorists, overstates the extent of the actual threat terrorism poses, and causes us to rely too heavily on militaristic approaches to the threat.

    I prefer a “terrorism as vandalism” model for our struggle against terrorism. Thinking of terrorists as souped-up vandals has a lot of advantages, I think. For one thing, fear would no longer be the basis of our policy.

  55. which so enrages the Islamist terrorists that they have been sucked into a fight they’re losing in their own backyard

    Sucked into the fight? More like “gleefully welcomed the opportunity to kill American soldiers and train jihadists under perfect conditions.” Oh, and make lots of money for the cause. Invading Iraq was the greatest gift we have ever given to international terrorism. It is we who were sucked into the fight, while they sit back and pick their spots at their leisure. And they aren’t “losing” anything: our credibility and leverage in the world is at an all-time low. We are so weak that Iran feels free to take British soldiers prisoner with absolutely no fear of reprisal. For them (Iran and the terrorists as well) Iraq is a near-perfect turn of events; for us, it is a political, strategic and moral catastrophe.

  56. TallDave,

    Says who?

    The U.S. Army, CIA, and NSA. Google “tora bora bin laden radio” if you’re unfamiliar with the facts – there are not shortages of official acknowledgements. Here are a couple of stories I got:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/12/16/wtora16.xml

    http://www.taylormarsh.com/archives_view.php?id=1597

    The military wouldn;t have transferred critical operators

    Oh, no. Of course not. Lord knows the administration didn’t prioritize Iraq over Afghanistan. It’s not as if they have spent several years saying that Iraq, not Afghanistan, was the central front of the war on terror.

    a few more spec ops would have made any difference

    They had enough troops on scene to cover three sides of the battlefield, but not the fourth, so they gave the task to locals. Yeah, no way more American troops would have been useful there.

  57. Which is why we’re not following the failed Clinton/Gore model of tossing a few missiles around that led to 9/11, and instead are following the Bush model that has led to the creation of two relatvely liberal democratic states (in which free and fair elections have been held, free press established) which so enrages the Islamist terrorists that they have been sucked into a fight they’re losing in their own backyard, a result of which is that America has not suffered a major terrorist attack since 9/11.

    Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were in church.

  58. What is to be gained by not using the words “Muslim” and “Islamic” in discussing terrorist attacks? Trying to “avoid offending Muslims” should be a non-issue. This has nothing to do with stirring up fear or preparing to bomb Iran or tarring all Muslims as violent jihadists; it’s just a matter of using honest language to discuss what’s actually happening.

  59. “This is like the Jimmy Carter approach to Communism: just don’t make them mad and they won’t do anything rash like invade Afghanistan. And when Jimmy applied his philosophy to Iran, it gave us the mess we’re stuck with today.”

    Actually, detente was a Nixon / Ford policy. Carter largely undid it. Most of the weapons systems Reagan fans credit with forcing the Soviets to realize that they couldn’t compete in the arms race without liberalizing their economy [thus setting the dominoes into motion that toppled the Soviet empire] got started under Carter.

    And Carter only “did everything Iran wanted” if you consider sheltering and refusing to extradite a mass murderer back to Iran and seizing Iranian assets held in US banks to be compliance with Iranian wishes.

  60. Cheap compared to what?

    Cheap compared to what they would get if they held on to it until its value went up more. Cheap compared to what they would get if they waited until they could use local people and technology to get it out of the ground and refine in. But you knew that, Karen.

  61. Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were in church.

    And it’s Joe for the win!

  62. Daze,

    What is to be gained by not using the words “Muslim” and “Islamic” in discussing terrorist attacks?

    The avoidance of distracting information that encourages people with agendas to hijack the vital business of government with their looney-toons “Clash of Civilization” fantasies.

  63. Look, if you’re not afraid of a few hundred illiterates living in caves you’re obviously out of touch with reality!

  64. The U.S. Army, CIA, and NSA. Google “tora bora bin laden radio” if you’re unfamiliar with the facts – there are not shortages of official acknowledgements. Here are a couple of stories I got:

    And lots of others say he was in Pakistan. The radio traffic may have been a recording meant to confuse us. Franks is right when he says we don’t know.

    Oh, no. Of course not. Lord knows the administration didn’t prioritize Iraq over Afghanistan. It’s not as if they have spent several years saying that Iraq, not Afghanistan, was the central front of the war on terror.

    Yeah, I’m sure they were saying that in 2001. Please.

    Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were in church.

    Bwahahahaha! You spin that fable about bin Laden getting away because of Iraq, and then characterize free elections and free press, both vetted by internation orgs, as a religious belief?

    OK, Holy Joe. Preach on brother! Convert those heathen warmongers!

  65. Sucked into the fight? More like “gleefully welcomed the opportunity to kill American soldiers and train jihadists under perfect conditions.”

    LOL I’m pretty sure the conditions were better when they could train without being stomped on by JDAMs.

    But even if we accepted that rather silly logic, it should cut both ways: Iraq is also the perfect training ground for U.S. forces. And guess who has better institutional memory?

    It is we who were sucked into the fight, while they sit back and pick their spots at their leisure.

    They seem to pretty restricted in “picking their spots,” given that we’ve gone six years where nearly all the attacks happen in their backyard.

    And they aren’t “losing” anything: our credibility and leverage in the world is at an all-time low.

    AQ is damaging their own credibility in Iraq. Setting off bombs against the infidel is one thing, killing Muslims in Iraq makes them considerably less popular. Note how well this worked out for them in Anbar. Meanwhile, we remain the world’s economic and military hyperpower.

    We are so weak that Iran feels free to take British soldiers prisoner with absolutely no fear of reprisal.

    Huh? We could have bombed Tehran to the ground if we wanted to. That’s restraint, not weakness. But aren’t you the guys arguing AGAINST that kind of action?

  66. The avoidance of distracting information that encourages people with agendas to hijack the vital business of government with their looney-toons “Clash of Civilization” fantasies.

    Brown thinks that euphemisms will make Muslims less hostile. You think euphemisms will make people with agendas less loony. I think you’re both mistaken. We shouldn’t sacrifice clear, accurate language for fear of making dumb people dumber or evil people eviler.

  67. Look, if you’re not afraid of a few hundred illiterates living in caves you’re obviously out of touch with reality!

    Exactly, people go on and on as though AQ could somehow crash 2 planes loaded with fuel into the World Trade Center, creating a fiery inferno in which 3,000 people died, $1 trillion in damage was caused, and NY’s skyline was altered forever.

    As if!

  68. Look, if you’re not afraid of a few hundred illiterates living in caves you’re obviously out of touch with reality!

    This week’s London and Glasgow attacks were not committed by illiterate cave dwellers.

  69. You know as well as I do how bin Laden got away – by being escorted out of the mountains by the Taliban allies we hired to block his escape. Thank the Iraq War for the personnel shortage that made such outsourcing necessary.

    Sigh. Do I really even need to point out that there are more troops there NOW than in Dec 2001, even as we have far more troops in Iraq?

    Never mind, I’m sure that’s heresy.

    As I’m sure it would be to note we have a few hundred thousand Iraqis fighting AQ and defending the relatively liberal democracy your dogma says can’t possibly exist in Iraq.

  70. No, but you need to realize that there were fewer Special Forces troops in Afghanistan in December than there were in October.

    This stuff is universally acknowledged at this point. I’ve given you all the leads you need to clear up your misunderstandings.

    But, true Republican partisan that you are, you don’t want to clear up your misunderstandings.

    BTW, your “relatively liberal democracy” has more political murders every month than there were under Saddam, and has collapsed into civil war.

  71. Tommy Franks is America’s Wilhelm Keitel. He disgraced himself with his sycophanitic parroting of White House talking points and his refusal to stand up to the political leadership.

    I don’t give a crap what Tommy Franks says – you may as well quote Dick Cheney.

  72. Let’s just agree that the belief that there was no shortage of American troops at Tora Bora that contributed to bin Laden’s escape is perfectly consistent with, and has just as much supporting evidence as, the description that Iraq is a liberal democracy.

    BTW, my “dogma” about liberal democracy tells me that it can only come about if the people in the society in question bring it about by themselves, on their own terms.

    You know, like in Kurdistan during the 1990s.

  73. If it’s a new week, then it must be a new “let’s refight the Second Gulf War” thread on Hit n Run… Surprising that John hasn’t made an appearance yet.

    Look, I agree with you, TallDave, on the war in Afghanistan. It was entirely necessary, and I think it’s a large reason why so many of the Al Qaeda attacks since 9/11 have been so inept. I would rather that we had surrounded Tora Bora, et al on four sides rather than three, and not cared so much whether Musharraf’s government survived so long as UBL and his friends did not. It is a mockery to the survivors of 9/11 that so many of the people responsible for those acts are still breathing, somewhere in the NW regions of Pakistan.

    Where I totally disagree with you is the idea that removing Hussein in any way aided our efforts against Al Qaeda. He and his sons are dead, and those are good things, but in no way are they worth ~3,000 US dead, ~6,000 seriously wounded, or $600 billion plus spent. Hussein, for all his vast war crimes, was a secular regime, and gave only slightly more succor to AQ than we did, and probably nowhere near as much as elements of the Saudis.

    I would like to think that the liberal democracy you cite in Iraq will survive longer than a tenth of a second after we leave, but I don’t think that’s the case. Democracy requires that the losers of an election feel like they won’t be hunted down and killed by the winners; that they’ll be given time to compete in the next election. With the plethora of death squads, I’m not confident that’s the case.

    Let’s turn the question around. If there is a relatively liberal democracy in Iraq, then we’ve won, right? And if we’ve won, then there’s no further reason for US forces to be there anymore. So bring them home.

    As far as Iraq providing training for US troops, that’s true although I think doubling the size of NTC would have been a lot cheaper. Regarding AQ losing credibility in Iraq, you are probably right. After two-three years of saying that victory is around the corner, you’re bound to be right someday.

    So what would I do? Withdraw from Iraq. Keep forces in Kurdistan, if the peshmerga wish them to remain (and with a few hundred thousand angry Turks over the border, they probably will.) Give green cards to those Iraqis who’ve collaborated with us and fear the worst. Expand operations in Afghanistan and NW Pakistan until the leaders of the 9/11 plot are dead (preferable) or dragged back for trial in the US. Give the inmates in Gitmo their day in court. I think John’s idea of Geneva Convention military tribunals is an excellent one.

    Keep in mind that every month Congress screws around on this costs on average 60 dead soldiers, 150 wounded soldiers and 15 billion dollars. But by all means, take your time; there’s an election to win after all…

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