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Make Yourselves Comfy, Troops...

You aren't going anywhere for a long time...

NY Times story:

While Washington is mired in political debate over the future of Iraq, the American command here has prepared a detailed plan that foresees a significant American role for the next two years.

The classified plan, which represents the coordinated strategy of the top American commander and the American ambassador, calls for restoring security in local areas, including Baghdad, by the summer of 2008. "Sustainable security" is to be established on a nationwide basis by the summer of 2009, according to American officials familiar with the document.

The detailed document, known as the Joint Campaign Plan, is an elaboration of the new strategy President Bush signaled in January when he decided to send five additional American combat brigades and other units to Iraq. That signaled a shift from the previous strategy, which emphasized transferring to Iraqis the responsibility for safeguarding their security.

That new approach put a premium on protecting the Iraqi population in Baghdad, on the theory that improved security would provide Iraqi political leaders with the breathing space they needed to try political reconciliation.

The RNC must be going nuts. If Iraq is still the key issue next November, it will be an albatross around the neck of every Pub candidate, but Bushncheney simply won't budge on this issue.


Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (58)

superdestroyer:

the flip side is that the Democratic nominee (Hillary Clinton) will actually have to talk about her plan for Iraq. The Democrats want to pull out now because all of the political damage occurs during the Bush Administration and they do not have not make any proposals.

Image the first year of the Clinton Administration and she has to decide to either admitt a couple of million refugees fron Iraq into the U.S. or she has to let them die in Iraq. She also does not want to preside over the picture of the last Americans hopping a helicopter from the roof on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

kevino:

Yes, the troops will still be in Iraq during the 2008 election - just as the Democrats have planned. The Democrats have the power to put a stop to this thing by not voting for more funding. But they won't do it. They don't have any ideas. They are afraid to take responsibility for what happens next. And the more casualties the US takes, the better the Democrats chances in the election.

Democrats: impotent, incompetent, and corrupt.
Lee Ward:

We're in an out-of-control, over-loaded truck barreling down a steep hill towards the abyss below. The wheels are running flat, the brakes are overheating, and the radiator is running dry.

Cutting off the fuel isn't the right answer.

Cutting off funding is a last ditch desperation measure. The generals need to make an exit plan, tell us what it would cost, and then we fund it.

kim:

That's right, Lee, we're winning; I'm sorry you can't enjoy it. The Iraqis are just beside themselves with self-determination.
====================================

Lee Ward:

lol! You're totally delusional -- try coffee, or shock therapy, or something - lol.

kim:

Purple-Fingered Majesty to you, Tyrant Lover.
============

Lee Ward:

lol - Oh I do apologize, kim, but you know its all Jimmy Carter's fault. Jimmy made me do it.

Does professional apology-making for universally-despised cowardly liars pay well, or is this an all-volunteer gig for you?

kim:

History will treat Bush well. He's put in place the best peacemaker ever, and that is commerce, through all the trade deals. He has also encouraged the greatest economic expansion of all time and he has addressed a gathering challenge to civilization. He has not beaten his own drum well. The best don't.
==============================

kevino:

Lee:

That's total BS, and you know it. In the first place, the actual mechanics of the retreat are very simple. It took less than a month to fight our way in. Do you really think that it will take longer than that or will be harder to pull back to Kuwait? That's stupid. In the second place, the "exit plan" is a political problem. That is not something that generals get to decide: political leaders do that. The 2006 election was all about Democrats telling voters that the Bush administration refuses to get us out. Elect Democrats and we will - in your words - change direction in Iraq. OK, now that Democrats actually got elected, their position is "We can't decide on a new direction in Iraq, the generals (i.e. Bush administration) has to do that." And finally, the first step in all this - and what was promised in the election - was to set a deadline. Now that your politic party has to power to set and enforce a real deadline, can you explain why you can't do it?

And I love you latest excuse about how pulling funding is a "last ditch desperation measure". LOL. In case you haven't noticed the position of your party is that we have young men and women dying in a war that not only cannot be won, it is already lost. That's a pretty desperate situation, don't you think? Why are you not setting a deadline? What is the delay? You use the tools you have, and your party isn't doing anything except "jawing".

Democrats have the power but won't use it.

Lee Ward:

The economy is booming in large part because of the failing dollar, making our goods cheaper overseas, spurring sales and production.

pssst, the emperor doesn't beat his drum on this issue because he has no reason to beat his drum - when he talks of the economy all he does is lie and claim that his tax cuts are behind the expansion. Just .. more.. bullshit.

Lee Ward:

" It took less than a month to fight our way in. Do you really think that it will take longer than that or will be harder to pull back to Kuwait?"

Yes, I think we owe it to our troops that have fought, been wounded, or been killed over there to exit this debacle the right way.

kim:

Actually, k, it's a Democratic quagmire. There is no solution for the Democrats that has them looking good. Why do you think they are screaming so much about 'lying'.

And the problem generalizes to the whole War on Terror. Or is it Terra ists? Unless Islamic radicalism magically evaporates, and it might, mind you it it a mirage, then continuing events are going to further marginalize the Democrats. Why didn't the rest of the Democrats follow the lead of two VERY HIGH PROFILE Democrats, Schumer and Clinton, and allow citizens, in good faith, to report suspicious packages under train seats?

Answer? It's subways elsewhere, but trains in New York. When you decrypt that, answer back.
================

kim:

Ah, Lee, tax cuts only primed the pump. Confidence has enthused commerce and Deus knows it hasn't been Allah enthusing. The cop is back on the beat. The polity need no longer be agoraphobic.
=====================================

kim:

Ah, apparently John Doe is still HOT. Reps King and Pearce have it back in. Let's see now how Democrats without commuter trains in their districts vote, now. Do they feel safe enough from terrorism to demagogue the race issue, as usual?
=========================

kevino:

Lee,

RE: "Yes, I think we owe it to our troops that have fought, been wounded, or been killed over there to exit this debacle the right way."

In the first place, you have now, finally, arrived at a position that I've been advocating for years. Congrats. But that puts you back at "exit strategy", something the Democrats as political leaders are required to produce and can't. You can't defer that issue to generals and the Bush administration.

You are also avoiding the critical question: what do Democrats propose to do about Iraq? They promised a "New Direction". OK, where is it? Do they intend to place deadline - as they said that they would - or are they simply frauds?

Lee Ward:

"But that puts you back at "exit strategy", something the Democrats as political leaders are required to produce and can't."

Get out as quickly as safety and prudence allows. If the Iraqi government wants to plead a case for specifics on the exit, fine.

Democrats do not need to fix King George's blunder. We do not need to make it right in your eyes that we can leave now - that calls for solving the unsolvable. It's totally f8cked up mess that cannot be fixed militarily, and until we have a Democrat in the White House it cannot be fixed diplomatically.

We just need to get our troops, contractors, and civilians out in a safe and orderly fashion.

kevino:

By the way, the New York Times has an editorial called "No Exit Strategy" that interesting:

The American people have only one question left about Iraq: What is President Bush's plan for a timely and responsible exit? That is the essential precondition for salvaging broader American interests in the Middle East and for waging a more effective fight against Al Qaeda in its base areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And it is exactly the question that Mr. Bush, his top generals and his diplomats so stubbornly and damagingly refuse to answer.

Completely missing from this editorial is the word "Democrat". The NY Times considers it a given that Bush will not formulate a plan to get out of Iraq, but apparently the editorial staff has completely forgotten about the election of 2006 because no one else is assumed to have the power to force the Bush administration to change. Democrats - in the eyes of the wise at the NY Times - are absolved from any and all responsibility to lead.

Apparently, Bush is just too smart and too powerful for those poor, poor Democrats to do battle with.

kevino:

Lee,

You still haven't answered the fundamental questions:
1. Where is the Democratic exit strategy?
2. When do we expect the Democrats to set a deadline?

None of your arguments or excuses get you around the fact that Democrats promised to set a deadline and set a "New Direction" and these gutless idiots haven't produced a thing.

And, of course, I'd love to hear the plan for dealing with the safety and security of the region and for dealing with the threat of global terrorism.

kevino:

By the way, I'm reminded of the Lee Iacocca commercial: "Lead, follow, or get out of the way".

The Democrats version: "Can't lead; won't follow; refuse to get out of the way. Instead, cheer our enemies, undermine our friends, cry about the results, and refuse to accept any responsibility for their actions."

kim:

Keep up the fire, k, you've got 'em pinned down in a quagmire. Let me run around and set about draining the swamp. It's the only EXIT STRATEGY possible, for all of us. Try to distinguish between Democrats and allligators; it's difficult, I know.
============================

kim:

Save the wetlands. A world without the diversity offered by active terrorism will be a world that has forever lost something so perfectly and gorgeously human. What are we leaving for our children?
=======================

Allen:

Why should the Demos have a exit plan. This is Bush's war, it's his problem. Seems like both pugs and dumos have agreed to wait for the Sept report before any deadline appears.

And more and more puggies are starting to change sides, agreeing we need to withdraw. Guess they can see the upcoming elections and will do what they can to get re-elected. Kinda flip flopping aren't they?

Lee Ward:

The reason the NY Times doesn't mention the Democrats, kevino, is that it isn't Congress's job to make the plan. Bush is still the commander in chief, and it is still his job to lead us through the war. Congress doesn't have the information to make a plan - that's up to the White House to do working through the military. It would take a Democratic coup for Democrats in Congress to take command of the military as you suggest. Were you born yesterday? Or do you just hang out with the failures over at conservative blogs too much...?

Empty rheteoric abounds from the right - but it's all just more lies and excuses and smoke and mirrors -- aka Bullshit.

"Apparently, Bush is just too smart and too powerful for those poor, poor Democrats to do battle with."

lol! Give some of your medicinal herbs to kim, and no operation of heavy machinery!

Paul Hamilton:

Re, note #1: SD, I don't think it will happen that way. Vietnam wasn't Nixon's war, it was LBJ's because he's the one who really expanded it. Nixon ended it, and even though that iconic helicopter shot looks bad in the history books, at the time, we were just glad to be out of there and I think that's the attitude that will exist when we finally leave Iraq.

Re, note #2: Kev, this is Bush's war and it's the Republicans' war. No amount of finger pointing will convince anybody otherwise. That said, you're right that there's more heat than light coming out of the Dem ranks. We should tell the Baghdad government that they've got 30 days and we're going to be leaving just as quick as we safely can. The end.

jeff:

Kevino...you can't possibly be that stupid....ok mabey you can. Do you know what a veto is? Do the democrats have a 2/3 majority to defeat a veto?
This is absofuckinglutely bush and the republicans war. I am amazed that it has taken the wizbang nutjobs this long to start the spin to blame the dems for the war. What took so long?

superdestroyer:

Paul

The time of blaming the previous administation is over. If millions of Iraqis are trying to get out of Iraq, the Clinton Administration will be making the decisions on what to do. IF the country goes to hell, the current adminsration will be blame. Remember, the Democrats are claining that they can use diplomacy and coalition building to make everything great in Iraq. The Democrats need for IRaq to fail totally before January 2009 so they can throw up their hands and walk away.

Lee Ward:

"Remember, the Democrats are claining that they can use diplomacy and coalition building to make everything great in Iraq."

I'll call Bullshit on that. Nothing will make Iraq "great" - but with diplomacy we may keep the country from falling into the abyss.

"The Democrats need for IRaq to fail totally before January 2009 so they can throw up their hands and walk away. "

The Democrats will get us out of Iraq, regardless of its failure or success come January 2009.

Paul Hamilton:

SD, blame is irrelevant and I think once the fighting stops, there may actually be an influx of people back into Iraq. This is not Vietnam in the sense that someone new from outside is going to take over and wipe out the old. The Sunnis and Shia have been in Iraq all along, and I think that people might move to new locations within the borders of the current Iraq for their own safety, but there should be a place for everyone.

Paul Hamilton:

Lee, who are you suggesting that we be diplomatic with? The only faction in Iraq that seems to want anything to do with us at all are the Kurds... And if you think either Iran or Syria are going to help us out, you're deluded.

superdestroyer:

Paul,

What makes you think that the killings and bombings will stop once the Americans leave. I know that it is the moveon.org model but everyday there are bombs going off at in markets that kill dozens of Iraqis and not a single Americans. How does the U.S. abandonment stop this.

Everyone who has had anything to do with the U.S. will have to get out as fast as possible when the U.S. leaves. In addition, the infrastructure will totally collapse and cause a larger exodus.

Anyone who thinks that the U.N. can fix Iraq needs to remember who quickly they got out after their compound was bombed.

Paul Hamilton:

SD, it's not about the Americans. We've already proven ourselves incapable of controlling events, only delaying them. When we leave, the civil war will continue until a political equilibrium is reached and then the fighting will stop and those who left because of the fighting will return.

kevino:

Oh this is fun!

Allen (and others):
RE: "Why should the Demos have a exit plan. This is Bush's war, it's his problem."
No, we, America, our country is at war. It is a problem for all of us. And for Democrats to promise a "New Direction" in Iraq and then leave the country hanging is called "fraud". If Democrats are not prepared to accept their responsibilities in this matter, then they should not run for elected office and assume the mantle of leadership. Democrats should shut up and stay at the kiddie table.

Lee (and others):
RE: "The reason the NY Times doesn't mention the Democrats, kevino, is that it isn't Congress's job to make the plan."
Well, then they shouldn't promise that they had ideas, then should they? They have the ability to make a plan and drive it.

Even worse, you seemed to have missed the point. Let me call it to your attention once again: Congress can act to force a schedule. They have that power (and more). I still don't see one word about them taking responsibility to act so that this may be brought to a close.

RE: "Empty rheteoric abounds from the right - but it's all just more lies and excuses and smoke and mirrors"
LOL. That's just too funny. (I'm not often on the "right" although I am on this issue.) I am holding your feet to the fire and asking for action. Now go back and reread what you wrote. In particular, note which side is only offering excuses.

RE: "Bush is too powerful"
Consider recent US history. Republicans took over Congress in 1994. They pick up and drive the legislative agenda against a very powerful and popular President. They continue to propose, and he approves or modifies plans, but he cannot drive the agenda - the GOP does. In 2006 Democrats take control of Congress against a lame duck President with some of the worst popularity numbers ever. In six months they've managed to drag their popularity numbers to below his, they cannot drive any kind of agenda, and on Iraq, the number one issue on their plate, they cannot pass anything and are deferring to his leadership on the issue.

Bottom line: The leadership of your party is going up against George W. Bush - and losing. Badly.

Paul:
RE: finger-pointing
That's all the Democrats have been able to do. I have asked for a Democratic response in this forum and others. I never get a response because the Democrats have nothing to add accept finger-pointing. It's all Bush's fault.
Now that the Democrats have the power to act, they still can't do anything but blame Bush.

jeff:
RE: Veto
You really should know better. In this forum (and others) the issue of a veto has been debated repeatedly. Try to keep up.

What I wrote was "by not voting for more funding". Do you understand? The House doesn't approve of any more money for Iraq. It cannot be vetoed, but the President will have to withdraw because he won't have the money to spend.

Lee:
RE: "The Democrats will get us out of Iraq, regardless of its failure or success come January 2009."
Then why the delay? Democrats have the power to do it now. We could be out in less than a month.

Oh, that's right. Democrats want the war to continue into the election with more US casualties to maximize their chances in the elections. Isn't that was this is really all about? Democrats getting our soldiers killed so that they can win an election?

Lee, since you cannot explain your party's policies regarding Iraq, perhaps Lee can explain two things:
1. It certainly appears that the Democratic Party's position in the 2006 election was a fraud. Why should I as a voter throw my vote to a party that swindled me in the 2006 election?
2. It certainly appears that the Democratic party is willing to get our soldiers killed in a war that they believe is already lost so that they can win an election. Why should I vote for a political party that is so corrupt that they would do that?

Lee Ward:

I can't defend your arguments, kevino - it's your contention that the Democrats can extricate the US from Iraq in a month - and you think they fact that they aren't choosing to do this has sinister overtones.

The plain facts are that you cannot get us out of Iraq overnight without plunging the country further into chaos. Ask any of Bush's generals.

Paul Hamilton:

Kev, the only one I can speak for is myself and as I said above, I think we should give 30 days' notice to Baghdad and start getting out as fast as safely possible. Further bloodshed serves no purpose.

No, I don't expect the Dems in Washington to have the sort of moral courage to be so plain as I am.

kevino:

Lee:

Fraud. You don't like a month? Fine: pick a date. You can't bring yourself to set a deadline? Then what is your party doing with its resolutions that it cannot get through the Senate? If you can't answer that, how about saying what you will do while the war continues?

Your party can't find a "New Direction". Hell, they can't find the men's room with a map. All of their tough talk before the election of 2006 was just talk. Now they can't pick a date. They can't pick a date for a date.

RE: "The plain facts are that you cannot get us out of Iraq overnight without plunging the country further into chaos. Ask any of Bush's generals."
I don't recall you saying that before the 2006 election. (The rest of us did.) I certainly don't see the leadership of your party saying that then or now. That certainly isn't an issue in any of your party's proposed legislation on the subject. Given that the leadership of your party considers Iraq already lost, isn't it a bit silly worrying about the Chaos that will happen after we withdraw? Given the hopelessness of the situation - as described by you today (i.e. "We're in an out-of-control, over-loaded truck barreling down a steep hill towards the abyss below. ...") aren't you being silly worrying about chaos in Iraq after the fall?

In any case, I asked if you could answer a couple of simple questions. Apparently you can't. In case you didn't notice, I just accused your party - again - of swindling the American people in 2006 and getting our soldiers killed for no reason. That's a pretty serious allegation. You could, of course, counter by showing that the leadership of your party was actually up-front with the American people about their "New Direction" in Iraq and by showing that they are delivering on that promise. You could counter by showing that the leadership of your party really thinks that the war isn't lost or that there are good reasons for our troops to be staying. How about it?

Or you could just yield to the obvious: your party will say or do anything to win an election.


Paul:

Thanks. At least you're being honest about it. You should realize, then, at least one reason why I have a problem with Democrats on national security. The Democratic party doesn't have the moral courage to stand up to the American public. How can we expect them to stand up to determined young men with guns? If they will give up their principles for the sake of political expediency, then terrorists will think that they can change US policy by force. That is effectively what they have done in Iraq, by killing enough people (Iraqis and US soldiers) they will get us to quit.

How can we elect a political party whose leadership has no courage? Even if they come up with some ideas, a political party that doesn't have the courage to articulate those ideas and follow through can't be trusted to actually do what we elect them to do.

Democrats: worthless and weak.

Paul Hamilton:

If there is a legitimate threat to America, I don't believe ANYBODY opposes dealing with it. But Iraq doesn't qualify. So we can stand up against real terrorists -- self-defense doesn't really require a lot of political courage because there's no opposition. The problem with Iraq is that Bush got about a two-year free pass to define the war as he saw fit, and just about every Dem went along with him. Now the war has been exposed as a fraud, but the folks whose job it should be to stand up against Bush and his obsession are on record for supporting him in the past. You've got a whole congress full of "I was for the war before I was against it," and you better believe that Bush's political brain trust will have no hesitation to use Dems' records against them. The result is a whole lot of whining and very little action.

However, if you think the Dems are "worthless and weak," how about the other side, which is blind and obsessed and refuses to acknowledge that the war long ago stopped being worth the cost in lives and fortune. We need an honest assessment of what's going on over there, not this complete politicization which, in a tightly-balanced congress, results in nothing being done but more bleeding.

The people are fed up with this war, but as usual, the politicians are about a year behind the public. I do think that if things are as bad in Iraq a year from now as it is today, you'll see a stampede of Republicans who have to face the voters telling Bush to go Cheney himself and finally doing the right thing, even if it is just to save their own hides.

Lee Ward:

kevino - it's too late - Your president blew it. Finding a way to blame this debacle on the Democrats should not be your all-consuming passion. Get a hobby...

kevino:

Paul:

RE: Blind and obsessed
We can debate the war itself, but that is not important. What is clear is that the neo-cons had an idea and took a big risk to carry through on that idea. You may not like the idea or the way that it was carried out, but they showed real courage. President George W. Bush was willing to stake his presidency on an idea that he was going to make the world a better place. You may think that he's wrong, and you've got to admit that he has guts.

Democrats are worthless and weak because they don't believe in anything. As you yourself correctly stated: they don't have "moral courage". They have the power to act, but they won't. They have said what they would do, but they won't do it. They have said that the war is already lost, that it cannot be won, and that we are making things worse by being there. And yet, they have no intention of getting out.

If they are willing to cave in on the most important legislative agenda item that they have, you have to wonder what else they are willing to cave in on. Can they be trusted to follow through on what they say? I don't think so.

Lee Ward:

"President George W. Bush was willing to stake his presidency on an idea that he was going to make the world a better place."

President Bush didn't risk anything - he lied his way through his 2004 re-election by telling America that the mission was accomplished, and we were making great progress in Iraq - all bullshit.

Make the world a better place? More bullshit. He set out to secure the oil industry's interests in the middle east while ridding the region of the guy his Dad was too damned afraid to take out a decade earlier - all under the false pretenses of fighting terrorism.

Making that lying jackass out to be some noble purveyor of good is crap.

He sold this country down the river with his administration's river of lies, and he will rightfully go down in history as one of the worst presidents ever.

kevino:

Lee,

RE: "Your president blew it. Finding a way to blame this debacle on the Democrats should not be your all-consuming passion."

Oh, it isn't. I'm not particularly interested in proving that Democrats are to blame. That's too easy and not nearly as much fun.

No, I have much more interesting things to show:
1. Over the last couple of years, many on the Left have said a lot of stupid things about the war. In particular, that our withdrawal from Iraq won't have consequences. Oh, but listen to the Left now. We can't withdraw right away. Oh, no. Chaos would envelope the country. It's great fun to hear after all this time. (You guys are years behind the rest of us.)
2. The cowards have taken over the party. They deserve to slapped around in public. They have the power to act, and they can't do it because they don't have the guts.
3. In case you didn't notice, I just called the leadership of your party swindlers. Not just gutless but gutless cheats. Neither you or any other defender of your party seem to have the ability to refute that claim. Sad, isn't it?
4. And finally, if your party believes that (1) we cannot win,(2) we already lost, and (3) we are making things worse, then I have to ask why the Democrats are still not doing everything to bring this to a close. I point out the simple fact that they are allowing young men and women to die in a war for no good reason. I then point out that it is in their political advantage to do this. What does that make them?

I know. I know. Just keep saying it: "It's all Bush's fault. It's all Bush's fault."

And, you know, that's the really sad part about this. For all the bad behavior and stupid narcissism that the Democratic party represents, I don't think that they will ever take responsibility for the damage that they have done in the world. Even after this is over, the Democrats will have won huge political advantages by undermining US policy. But in so doing, they will set events in motion that will make the world a really horrible place. They won't care: they blame it all on Bush.

Finger-pointing while the world burns.

kevino:

Lee:

RE: President Bush didn't risk anything
Yes, he did. All presidents are deeply concerned about their place in history. Bush knows that his place in history - his entire presidency - is totally dependent upon events in Iraq. It is the one thing that defines his presidency.

RE: Making the world a better place
You may not like the decision, but you should be able to look at the world as it is. The justifications for was by neocons are to rearrange the Middle East to promote ideas that are positive. The justifications for war that are in the Senate resolution outline a perceived threat to our security and the security of the world. And finally, the justification for war on humanitarian grounds is very compelling: life under Saddam with the UN sanctions was very, very bad. This was discussed in a piece by Jay Tea. You have a built-in lack of good faith, here, but that isn't proven. I and many others think that he was motivated by a desire to make the world a better place.

What is your counter position and what is it based on?

RE: Lying jackass
OK, let's say you're right. You have no real proof, but let's say for the sake of argument that he "Inflated the intelligence about the threat to the United States".

OK, that's taking a huge risk, isn't it? That's taking an even bigger risk than what I talked about earlier. If it gets out that he lied us into an unnecessary war, he can be impeached. Certainly he'll end up a one-term president who left office in disgrace.

Lee Ward:

YOU and your fellow conservatives started the damn fire, and you're blaming us for not putting it out fast enough - and what are YOU doing about putting out the fire, kevino?

Absolutely nothing. All you're doing is trying your damndest to make it someone else's fault that the fire is out of control and still burning.

Nice try, chump - but the putting the chimp in charge was your idea, not ours - now take responsibility for your bad BAD choices and let the grownup do their best to fix this mess.

Want to help? Read up on Murtha's plan (see post above) and let your Congressperson and the White House know that you fully support the Democrats in this effort to get us out of Iraq.

But you won't do that, will you? You're just a lousy patriot who made BAD choices for the last 6 years, and who now wants to blame the resulting crisis on someone else.

Peddle your guilt elsewhere - I won't have any of it - it's all yours, kevino, and history will remember the great patriot conservatives who sold their souls for a lousy stem cell veto and a flag burning amendment.

You and your ilk disgust me.

kevino:

Lee:

RE: "YOU and your fellow conservatives started the damn fire, and you're blaming us for not putting it out fast enough"
No, I'm simply pointing out that your side has the power to act and hasn't done so. Again, put aside your obsession with blame. It's not about blame.

(And if you knew anything about me you'd know that I'm not a conservative.)

RE: "All you're doing is trying your damndest to make it someone else's fault that the fire is out of control and still burning."
No, I'm not. Get a grip on yourself.


RE: "Nice try, chump - but the putting the chimp in charge was your idea, not ours - now take responsibility for your bad BAD choices and let the grownup do their best to fix this mess."
I'd have more confidence if Democrats acted more like adults.


RE: Murtha's plan
Read it before. Not wild about it. It's a half-way measure that will be greeted with great pleasure by the bad guys and probably undermine all efforts to work with allies in the region. If the Arab Street sees it as a retreat, we've got big trouble.

But go ahead: at least it shows some guts.

RE: Want to help?
Not really, because I think that your side is totally wrong and because it's a half-way measure without much contingency planning.
1. I think that Islamic extremists will read this as a huge victory. Bin Laden and others will have been proven correct: kill enough Americans, and they run for home.
2. Our allies in the region, people who risked their lives to side with us, will realize that they picked the wrong side.
3. The Sunnis and the Shiia will gear up for real civil war. Money, arms, and manpower will flow in from outside.
4. Confidence in the Iraqi government will be tested as violence increases and the threat of escalation grows.
5. America will obviously withdraw from the Middle East - for a generation at least. Certain people will be confident that they can do whatever they want.
6. Any further actions by the US are suspect. Having proven itself to be a paper tiger, US policy abroad is lessened.

No, once you decide to go to war there is only one way out. You leave when the other side cannot claim victory. Anything else is called a "defeat".

--------

Want to hear a funny one? Some friends and I talked about the future elections. A couple of us are thinking about voting straight Democratic. This slow Chinese water-torture is bad enough. Let's let the Democrats run it all, and watch them run it right into the ground. They'll never accept responsibility for what they did, but the American public will finally realize the terrible price to be paid for this madness. If we're going to go down, let's do it once and for all.

Lee Ward:

"No, once you decide to go to war there is only one way out. You leave when the other side cannot claim victory. Anything else is called a "defeat".

So we don't define victory or defeat -- our enemy does? Doesn't that place us at their mercy? So long as al-Qaeda continues to claim success we have to -- in your mind -- waste more money and more lives until they say "uncle"? Did I understand correctly?

You're willing to let the enemy define the terms and conditions under which we can leave. It was lost before it started with an attitude like that. What an absolutely amazing thing to say. We can't leave until the enemy declares they've been defeated? amazing.... archaic - no less.

And in case you haven't noticed, your administration is making slow progress towards withdrawal. It is no longer a question of 'if' it's a question of 'when' and 'how quickly', and a huge argument over that -- but tell me, kevino - when did our enemies say they've been defeated? When did they give George Bush the signal that it's ok to secure Iraq and get out because they admit defeat? I don't recall hearing that, but that's the direction GWB is headed in.

"RE: Murtha's plan - Read it before. Not wild about it. It's a half-way measure that will be greeted with great pleasure by the bad guys and probably undermine all efforts to work with allies in the region. If the Arab Street sees it as a retreat, we've got big trouble."

What difference would it make? What does their perception of the reason why we're leaving have anything to do with the future?

Paul Hamilton:

Kevin said in reply #38:
>>President George W. Bush was willing to stake his presidency on an idea that he was going to make the world a better place. You may think that he's wrong, and you've got to admit that he has guts.

I agree completely. Bush came to office as a man on a mission. Now I personally don't believe that it was a RATIONAL mission, but he certainly was serious about it -- serious enough that he used an entirely irrelevant incident as the justification to start a war he'd planned long before he ever took office.

You can argue whether or not what Bush did was right, but he was certainly steadfast about it from the very beginning clear through to today.

That said, I still don't think that Bush will be viewed by historians as great for his time in office. It's one thing to have a clear vision for your service, but it's quite another to *impose* that vision on the American people by duplicity and maintain that vision long after objectively it has failed.

Kevin said in post #43:
>>2. Our allies in the region, people who risked their lives to side with us

Name one. I'm serious. Name anybody in the region who is really in it for the United States and Bush's vision of the NeoCon mideast... People risked their lives for their own enrichment and political gain. Just look at the Iraqi parliament taking a month off while we bleed for their sorry asses. Do you really believe they are on our side? And how about the Sunnis or Shia? They both want our help to defeat the opposition, but the moment they stop shooting at each other (when realistic borders are drawn that reflect ethnic reality in the region), they'll turn on us in a heartbeat. They don't want to be a part of a democratic Iraq, they want power for themselves.

Continuing...
>>5. America will obviously withdraw from the Middle East - for a generation at least.

I sure hope so. Outside of the oil we need for our energy addiction, we have no interests in the region. Saudi Arabia is our best bud in the area and has one of the very worst records in human rights. We overthrew Saddam's government, which was actually far more tolerant than Saudi Arabia's. It's the same old Cold War mindset at work again -- there are THEIR dictators and OUR dictators. THEIR terrorists and OUR freedom fighters. Any halfway objective view of the region would find that the whole region is a powderkeg with no redeeming values. All they want from America is our money -- and that goes for places like Saudi Arabia and Israel alike. But if we try to get them to follow our ideals, fuggedaboudit!

Why should we bleed for these people? For crying out loud, let's take one-tenth the money we're spending on Bush's war and invest it in research for renewable energy and tell the entire mideast to go take a hike!

Lee said in #39:
>>Make the world a better place? More bullshit.

I don't think it was bullshit at all, at least from his perspective. Bush sincerely believed, and believes today, in an end-times worldview. By that standard, there are the believers and the adversary. You're either on the side of light or darkness... With us or against us. Obviously 9-11 was darkness at it's blackest. And looking at it through his eyes, it makes sense that an attack on the forces of darkness anywhere is an attack on them everywhere.

Now I don't believe in this view -- it makes powerful religion and terrible politics, but the American people knew he was a fundamentalist at heart and so nobody should have been surprised that he sees the book of Revelation as a foreign policy statement.

kevino:

Lee:

RE: The enemy gets to define defeat
We will be leaving the battlefield to them. In fact, we will be leaving an entire theater of war, while those that ran us off are still there. That look like an American defeat to me. The claim will be made that they outlasted us.

The youth no longer saw America as a superpower.

After leaving Afghanistan they headed for Somalia and prepared for a long battle, thinking that the Americans were like the Russians. ...

The youth were surprised at the low morale of the American soldiers and realized more than before that the America soldiers are paper tigers. After a few blows, the Americans ran away in defeat.

After a few blows, they forgot about being the world leader and the leader of the new world order. They left, dragging their corpses and their shameful defeat, and stopped using such titles. ...

When this great defeat took place I was in Sudan, and it pleased me very much, just as it pleases all Muslims. God willing, the next victory will be in Hijaz and Najd, [provinces of] Saudi Arabia, and it will cause Americans to forget the horrors of Vietnam and Beirut.

This is a conflict for the hearts and minds in the region and throughout the world. If the Arab Street perceives us as week, then we will have lost a great deal.

And, by the way, there is a big difference between "until your enemy cannot claim victory" and "until your enemy declares that they've been defeated".

RE: We are already withdrawing
I agree. Democrats have done an excellent job talking the American public into defeat. If that were not so, your party would have been wrecked in 2006 instead of taking power.

RE: What difference does the Arab Street make
(I'm assuming that is what you meant by "their".)
The hearts and minds of the Arab Street is everything - it's the name of the game.

When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.

Islamic fundamentalists have to recruit just as we do. It is difficult to recruit followers if you side doesn't see any way to win. Bin Laden and similar leaders are telling Muslims that we can be defeated, and they have to show how. They don't have to defeat the American army: all that they have to do is outlast the American people. Just kill enough people, and the Americans will lose heart and go home. Their fighters will win because they have the will to win (and our side doesn't).

All over the Middle East, families have been deciding whether or not to send their young men to fight the Great Satan. The enemy needs those volunteers, and they won't get them if they think it is a lost cause, that their young men will die for nothing.

All over the Middle East, there are individuals who are deciding whether or not to cooperate with moderate voices in the Arab world, with the West, or with pro-western groups. If the US and its allies fail, particularly if they leave before a stable government is established in their area, those that cooperated with us may be killed, like the people who cooperated with us in Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam. The price for picking the losing side in a war is frequently death.

Even more importantly: if Iraq thrives as a government that is reasonably secular, strong, independent, and reasonably respectful of human rights, it can become a positive alternative to the kind of state proposed by the Islamic fundamentalists. People living in the region can look to it as an example and ask, "Why can't we have something like that? Why won't that work here?"

kevino:

Paul:

RE: President Bush in office
I don't think that Bush came to power with a mission, certainly not nation building. I think that he came to the idea after 9/11. It is the continued misery in the Middle East and the Islamic leaders who were using the West as a scapegoat that created the environment for terrorism.

I don't think he lied to get the war, either.

I don't think that history will be kind to him in the sense that he didn't manage the war well, and the public relations battle got away from him.

RE: We don't have allies
We have lots of people in Iraq who put their lives on the line to make this experiment possible. Simple examples are the people who voted in the elections. When they voted, they were willing to mark their thumbs with permanent ink. How easy would it be to round up and start killing everyone that voted? Some of those people went to the polls, stepping over dead bodies along the way, and put their lives on the line to vote.

Are they in it for Bush's NeoCon vision? No. They don't know what that is, but if it is in our national interest and Bush's NeoCon vision for a free and independent Iraq to emerge, then our interests coincide.

RE: "They want power for themselves"
That's a very strong and overly negative view. Do people act in their own self-interest? Certainly, and even then they can set aside self-interest for the benefit of others or to ensure a batter quality of life for their children. Having a government that respects the rights of all people is in my self-interest, even if I am Shia or Sunni. A free and independent Iraq is certainly an advantage unless I was well-connected under Saddam.

While all of you are drowning in negativity about the hopelessness of this, can I ask you to consider the situation in Northern Ireland? Years of religious bloodshed with endless power-plays by corrupt political groups were the norm. The British divided the two sides and stayed in the middle for years. What happened? They found a way to get along just fine. It took a while, but many of the checkpoints are open, many of the old prisons are gone, and school kids talk about the religious prejudices like its ancient history.

RE: Why should we bleed for these people?
Because as long as these people live in misery and their leaders tell them that the West is to blame for their problems, they will come after us. We live in free and open societies, and that makes us easy targets. You can't play defense, and you can't just claim that we'll sit back and take the blows. Some have suggested that, but they don't realize how ugly that can get and what is required of the population.

As you and I discussed in another comment thread: we have in our hands the ability to help them, to end to the misery. To set a positive example for people who want a better life for themselves and their children, and to send a shiver down the spine for all of the two-bit dictators in the world making trouble.

Because it is in our self interest in other ways, not just safety.

Because, in a way, we owe these people because we helped make the mess in the first place.

And because when a society asks "Why should we bleed for anyone else", that is no longer a great society. It is, in fact, a society that can't justify it's own existence because it really doesn't stand for anything except it's own self-interest and immediate gratification.

Oh, I know. We can't take on all the world's trouble makers. But I can't help wonder what would have happened if we started to stop all genocide, for example - very hard. I remember Skinner's conditioning from psychology class. You don't have to reward or punish all the time: you just have to do it enough that the possibility of reward or the possibility of punishment weighs on the subject's mind. That is enough to elicit the desired response.

RE: "Obviously 9-11 was darkness at it's blackest."
Not even close. It can get much worse than that.

Paul Hamilton:

Great comments, Kev. I'll just touch on a couple of your remarks.

>>I think that he came to the idea after 9/11.

It's on the record that Bush and his cabinet were planning for an attack on Iraq on Sept. 11, 2001. The same day. And we knew that Iraq was not responsible. That's obscene.

>>Simple examples are the people who voted in the elections.

Indeed. And now our latest plans are to support the Sunni militias against the Shia. Saddam was a Sunni, and they are about 20% of the population of Iraq, so our military plans are making a travesty of the elections that those people risked their lives to participate in. This is how far things have fallen in the past three years.

>>A free and independent Iraq is certainly an advantage unless I was well-connected under Saddam.

Except there is nothing which indicates that will be the case. Maliki has had plenty of time to establish himself as a popular leader and has failed miserably. Every indication is that the majority of Iraqis want someone like al Sadr as their leader, and I promise you there will be no freedom or independence under his rule.

>>Because as long as these people live in misery and their leaders tell them that the West is to blame for their problems, they will come after us.

I was speaking specifically about the Iraqis. To expand on that point, we invaded their country and civil war has followed in the wake of that invasion. We've promised them a lot and delivered almost nothing. Our utter imperialism and incompetence in Iraq has *confirmed* everything that the Islamic radicals were saying about us -- that we want to take over, that we have no respect for Islamic beliefs, and most sadly of all, that we talk big but really are weak. Just leaving Iraq won't prove us weak -- that's already a done deal just like with the Soviets in Afghanistan. We need to get our act together and figure out an effective means to deal with terrorists and invading nations is not it. That's been proven conclusively -- TWICE.

>>a society that can't justify it's own existence because it really doesn't stand for anything

You lead by EXAMPLE. You become the City on the Hill whom others seek to follow, not an aggressor nation who just barges into to another sovereign nation against the will of the entire world. And you don't make excuses and parse the definition of torture either -- that's what I'd expect from people like Saddam, not the president of the United States! Where are all the things that we used to stand for for over 225 years? It's getting so I hardly know the place...

kevino:

RE: "It's on the record that Bush and his cabinet were planning for an attack on Iraq on Sept. 11, 2001. The same day. And we knew that Iraq was not responsible. That's obscene."
We knew that Iraq was not responsible on Sept. 11, 2001? I doubt that very much. I don't think anyone could think about that level of detail on that day.

If you are saying that we were planning to attack Iraq on Sept. 10, 2001, I'd have to ask why? Was it an extension of the post-1991 enforcement policies? Was it normal contingency planning? Was the possibility of war being considered based on any of the justifications for war that are listed in the Authorization of Force?

If a major part of the Authorization of Force was that Iraq aided al Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks, then your anger would be justified. However, that isn't the case, is it? The Authorization includes a long list of reasons, and the al Qaeda link is very small and carefully worded: "Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq." Given the presence of al Zarqawi, Ansar al Islam, and others in Iraq, the statement is still true.

Also, there is significant evidence linking Iraq to the 1993 WTC bombing. Granted, the building didn't come down and fewer people were killed, but it is a terrorist attack on Americans on American soil. Does that count?


RE: Supporting militias
Yes, and I think that supporting militias is a very bad idea. We are cutting a lot of corners to show progress. This whole experiment is on a "Get it done now, and fix the problems later approach." I'm not sure what you're trying to prove by this, other than the usual, "Things are bad in Iraq so we should just quit."


RE: "Maliki has had plenty of time to establish himself as a popular leader and has failed miserably. Every indication is that the majority of Iraqis want someone like al Sadr as their leader, and I promise you there will be no freedom or independence under his rule."
Actually I think that Sistani has more support the al Sadr.

All the polls that I remember show substantial support for Maliki, not only the Shia but a majority of the Kurds. And by the way, all of the polls that I have seen show that the Iraqi people, even after all that they have been through, still believe that they are better off today than under Saddam. That's huge.

Granted, the Sunni minority is not impressed: many were the privileged class under the old regime. But the current government does have support.


RE: "We've promised them a lot and delivered almost nothing."
What exactly did we promise them? We promised them an end to Saddam's regime? OK. We sort of promised them economic aid and an end to UN sanctions. We did that, too. A lot of this is up to them. We're there to help, but it's up to them.

And I love the way it all has to happen immediately. Forget the fact that Europe took decades to put back to together. Forget the fact that Kosovo is still a basket case. No, it's all got to be perfect, it's all got to happen right now.


RE: "Our utter imperialism and incompetence in Iraq has *confirmed* everything that the Islamic radicals were saying about us -- that we want to take over, that we have no respect for Islamic beliefs, and most sadly of all, that we talk big but really are weak."

Concerning imperialism: that's just a joke. If this were imperialism, we wouldn't be holding elections. There wouldn't be an Iraqi government. There wouldn't be any discussion of leaving - ever. We'd take their oil fields, run the population away to other areas, and kill anyone who came close. Or, we'd set up a puppet government under a different strongman, called him a Baathist, and move on. Or, we'd be the ones stirring up civil war and stealing the oil. Or, we would not have invaded at all, but stuck a deal with Saddam and kept the UN sanctions in place to keep the population under control. We don't work that way. We have a long history is defeating armies, freeing people, and leaving only places to bury our dead.

Concerning "we talk big what we really are weak". Promoting weakness is your department. Congratulations. We've won all the battles, but we're about to lose the war.


RE: "Just leaving Iraq won't prove us weak -- that's already a done deal just like with the Soviets in Afghanistan. We need to get our act together and figure out an effective means to deal with terrorists and invading nations is not it. That's been proven conclusively -- TWICE."
Leaving Iraq will certainly show that we are weak: our enemies have certainly made that very clear. We are proving their point about how we can be beaten. And let's not mince words, here: we are "leaving" or "redeploying" - we are surrendering a theater of war to the enemy that defeated us. We are beaten. We are defeated. We lost. Yes, that shows weakness. And the way that we were defeated makes it even worse.

If you are comparing us to the Soviets in Afghanistan, you're way off. That was imperialism - no doubt about it. Looking at what I wrote above: (1) There were no elections. (2) They installed a puppet government. (3) There was no discussion of leaving - ever. The Soviets didn't invade to fight terrorism; they were taking territory and propping up a failed Communist government - period. That's not proof of anything related to terrorism.


RE: "Leading by example"
Leading by example sounds a lot like an excuse by the fat, dumb, and happy to do nothing. As I said in the other comment thread, the narcissists seem to be saying that, "We will enjoy the fruits of liberty here at home, and it sucks to be you."

I'm not sure that that's an example that you want the rest of mankind to learn. Part of the lesson is, "See what a good life we have? When you follow our model, your life can be this good." True, but the related lesson that is being taught is: "We don't care about what happens to others. Why should we bleed for you people?" If the day ever comes that things go badly for the US. In particular, when the villagers strike back, at lease you may understand why: if we don't care about them, why should they care about us?

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required--not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right.

-President Kennedy

Apparently, doing what is right is not a priority any more.

Another lesson being taught is that Americans don't remember their own history. The country was once part of a great empire. Some started an illegal insurrection to break away from that empire, and they succeeded - with the help of another empire. Without that (illegal) aid, we would never have won the revolution.

I don't find this a very useful plan, because the people in the huts and villages can't escape their plight. They may live in a terrible autocratic system. One day, perhaps, they get a new dictator who takes power, but the cycle of misery just keeps going on with no end in sight. Without outside aid, how does this end?

I also notice that you didn't address the issue that this environment of radical Islam and misery is where terrorism comes from. The battle to stop terrorism is very much in the minds of those miserable people in the huts and villages. Organizations with money will recruit people who have little to lose and who blame the West for their problems. And why shouldn't those people come after us?

And finally, I had to laugh about you complaints about how this country was "unrecognizable". What with the TV cameras in the streets, public pat-downs at public transportation centers, and police raids without search warrants. Oh, sorry, that was my last trip England.

We're not perfect by any means. And our political leader is not responsible for everything that happens in his country. Each person is responsible for his or her own actions. But lack of perfection shouldn't be an excuse to do nothing.

On a slightly different note...

If you think that things are bad now, wait tell you see what happens if the terrorists really get going on us. They been very busy elsewhere and the bozos that have tried to attack us after 9/11 have been so badly trained that their results are pathetic. I hope that it never happens, but I can see what is certainly possible. When Americans learn the hard way how really vulnerable they are, they are in for a shock. Forget WMD attacks or spectacular airplane stunts. Think down-and-dirty strikes right at the heart of America. The country will suffer terrible economic and social upheaval. And after it's done, the country will look more like Israel than anyplace else. Every town in the country will have to rebuild their schools into central areas surrounded by fences and armed guards. You'll National Guard or uniformed militia on street corners with automatic weapons. Malls will be closed completely or have limited hours with difficult security constraints.

You have shown weakness to a determined enemy. There is no defense against what can happen next - not in a free society.

And while some people will say, "We can win by not being afraid," there are some loses a society just can't take, and a society raised on individual comfort doesn't have a very high pain threshold to begin with.

And if the bad guys are smart about it - and there's no reason to think that they aren't - the structure of cells will be 100 men or less. That means they can be trained and equipped anywhere - without state sponsorship. There will be no group to negotiate with and no country to fire cruise missiles at. Americans will be badly hurt, will feel helpless, and then become enraged. And there won't be any constructive outlet for that rage. Mosques will be burned. Muslims will be lynched. The Muslims, of course, will want to defend themselves or strike back, while other Muslims throughout the world consider revenge. Game on.

If the villagers looking up to the city on the hill decide to burn it down, things are going to get very ugly, especially for the people in the city.

Paul Hamilton:

Regarding what the Bush Bunch said and did about Iraq on 9-11, read "Plan of Attack" by Bob Woodward. It goes into great detail.

As to why, you'd have to ask Bush because it's HIS obsession. I've heard excuses all the way from spreading democracy to "they tried to kill my dad." Take your choice, but he had it in for Iraq starting about 1998.

>>What exactly did we promise them?

What's the official name of our invasion? "Operation Iraqi Freedom." That's the promise right there and we have failed to deliver four years later.

>>Apparently, doing what is right is not a priority any more.

Trying to do war on the cheap, based on lies, with insufficient forces and against the will for the whole world -- except for UK and a couple backwaters whom we bribed for lip support -- is not "doing what's right." It's doing what George W. Bush wanted, his minions arranged and a criminally-negligent congress enabled. Desert Storm was doing the right thing and doing it the righ way so that we WON. It's not doing it right if you are doomed to failure from the very start, and that's exactly what happened since their "war planners" consisted of people who told Bush that the Iraqis would throw flowers and build statues in his honor. You know what they say about good intentions, and we've sure gotten to the place they tend to lead...

>>One day, perhaps, they get a new dictator who takes power, but the cycle of misery just keeps going on with no end in sight. Without outside aid, how does this end?

Well, you know what, maybe they would CHOOSE a dictator over an occupation by a foreign power. Make people miserable and desperate enough and they'll accept a lot of things. But the Iraqi people did not ask us to invade them -- there was no internal revolt, no civil war prior to our invasion. George W. Bush is a NeoCon through and through -- he believes not only in a Christian end-time doctrine, but also one who believes that if you just wave America in somebody's face, they'll automatically salute and cheer. HE WAS WRONG! Iraq was to be just the first step in a Pax Americana which would have run roughshod all over the mideast -- that's why our plans were for literally dozens of military bases in Iraq which would be the staging areas for invasions who knows where, though Syria and Iran are obvious targets. But it all was premised on the belief that we would be acclaimed as liberators in Iraq. They had a terrible dictator and OF COURSE they'd welcome anybody who would depose him. HE WAS WRONG! This is not just about the military situation over there -- it's about how Bush and the NeoCons completely misread the politics of the region and the attitudes of the people. But what could you expect from a bunch who didn't know the difference between a Sunni and a Shi'ite before we invaded...

>>Some started an illegal insurrection to break away from that empire,

Invalid analogy. The American colonists were united against the Brits. Obviously the Iraqis are not united. Furthermore, the Brits were an EXTERNAL force occupying the colonies. We fought for our own independence. In Iraq, we were the outside force. We invaded and overthrew their government and put a military occupation in place that remains to this day. So maybe you can see why the insurgents have a lot of local support just from studying our own history.

>>Oh, sorry, that was my last trip England.

England doesn't have a bill of rights to defend individual freedom. Over here, we have them, but we're just giving them away. Who's more pathetic?

>>The country will suffer terrible economic and social upheaval. And after it's done, the country will look more like Israel than anyplace else.

Wow. With all due respect, it seems that in your case, the terrorists have already won. And your statement which follows is even worse:

>>There is no defense against what can happen next - not in a free society.

So you're willing to just give up the freedom that so many people have died for because -- again, with all due respect -- you are AFRAID that there will be widespread small scale terrorism that will create upheaval in society.

Let me tell you this, if our own government attempts to impose a police state on us FOR WHATEVER REASON, there are millions of Americans who will not just surrender to anyone, terrorist or "authority" alike.

>>there are some loses a society just can't take, and a society raised on individual comfort doesn't have a very high pain threshold to begin with.

You're right. Between the combination of the proverbial boiling frog and a continuing campaign to keep the people cowered and pliable by fear, Bush has destroyed more of our freedoms than every president who has gone before him put together. But I have a little more confidence in the American people than you do, apparently. I don't think that our response to such a scenario as you envision would be surrender to a dictator, but rather the people rising up in the their own defense. We wouldn't have the army on our street corners, we'd have our own people taking it on themselves to be their own defense.

But anyway, I think you're wrong about your bleak vision of the future. We, the people are not so fat and happy as you might think. There's a backbone in all of us -- that's our heritage as Americans, and I believe in it completely. Push us hard enough and we WILL push back.

Yes, there were moments of fear and over-reaction in times of crisis. Right after Pearl Harbor, or the first Soviet nuke, people were afraid. But then they steeled their resolve and met the situation head on. Joe McCarthy pled the kind of fear you believe will overwhelm us, and for a time, he had an audience. But then people realized that his "commie behind every bush" was false, and it was designed to lead us into accepting the kind of intrusion into our private lives that runs contrary to everything America is built on. And we rejected him.

I'm really surprised that I'd be the one to say this, but if you want an example of a person who really led the nation against a common foe, look to FDR, or more recently, Ronald Reagan. Never once did either of them suggest that we retreat into a bunker mentality -- or a duct tape and plastic wrap one, if you will. If we get small scale terrorism in this country, we'll deal with it. And we'll do so without troops on every corner. I believe that because I know that *I* wouldn't tolerate it and if I wouldn't, neither would millions of others. We'd rise to our own defense, not fearfully hand the job over to Big Brother.

>>Americans will be badly hurt, will feel helpless,

Nope. I have the means to defend myself right here in this house. I'm not helpless and won't let anybody TELL me that I'm helpless. You know, you really need to talk to some New Yorkers. They were the ones most intimately touched by the attacks of 9-11, but they didn't just lie down and wait for the end, nor did they got crying for somebody to come in and protect them. There's a great documentary film called "Seven Days in September" about the attacks on the WTC and the week that followed. The people of NYC were an example to all of us and their courage and deeds are all the proof I need that when times get rough, we'll do the right thing.

kim:

Paul, google Venona.
==========

kevino:

Paul,

RE: Bush, Iraq, and 9/11
As I said, if Iraqi involvement in 9/11 was a major justification for the Iraq war, then you would have a point. Too bad it doesn't work that way.

RE: "What's the official name of our invasion? 'Operation Iraqi Freedom.' That's the promise right there and we have failed to deliver four years later. "
They have Constitution that they ratified. They had an election. They certainly have more freedom than they had under Saddam. Their situation is much better than those in Kosovo. If you contend that we have only given them the tools to govern themselves and to be free and not freedom itself, my reply is "Freedom isn't free."

RE: "Trying to do war on the cheap, based on lies, with insufficient forces ..."
There are criticisms of President Bush's conduct of the war that I myself have made in various forums and to my elected officials. He's certainly doing it on the cheap because of the political situation that he finds himself in.

I have to laugh about the "insufficient forces" crap. Let's see, prior to the invasion the Left screamed that we didn't have enough troops and that the casualties were going to be massive. We struck hard, moved fast, and won because of our mobility. Then the Left wailed that we were out of supplies: our poor troops didn't have enough food and water. OK, which is it, we didn't send enough troops (which would have created a worse supply problem) or we have too many troops creating a supply problem? More of both? Oh, that slows mobility, doesn't it. So when we call out for more troops later on, the Left says it's already costing too much "blood and treasure".

Yes, I am critical of certain aspects of the way that the war has fought and the transition has been handled. However, I am much more critical of the conduct of the Left. Having abandoned the policy of "Politics stops at the water's edge", they have offered little if anything positive toward how this can be successfully concluded. They have criticized everything they can. They have obstructed progress everywhere possible. They continue to advertise the successes of the terrorists. They continue to undermine our troops. They continue to shake the confidence of those that are aiding us in this effort.

I'll say it again: the bad guys cannot win against our army. They only way that they can win is to convince the American people to quit. The goal of the terrorists is the same goal as the Left, and that goal is being reached.

RE: "Doing what's right"
And you're avoiding the basic issue of what we should do to help people like the kind that President Kennedy was talking about. I have looked ahead to read, and don't see and answer. There's a lot of sound and fury, but I don't see an answer to that basic question.

And I've noticed that about all of your writings on this subject. It's very ME-oriented.

RE: "Well, you know what, maybe they would CHOOSE a dictator over an occupation by a foreign power. Make people miserable and desperate enough and they'll accept a lot of things. But the Iraqi people did not ask us to invade them -- there was no internal revolt, no civil war prior to our invasion."
Well, actually there were. That's why the Kurds and Shia got slaughtered in huge numbers. Remember? And I'd also point out that even after everything that these people have been through, the polls show that the majority of Iraqis are still in favor of overthrowing Saddam. They didn't ask us first? No, that's silly: they had no way to do so. But a lot of Kurds and Shia died fighting Saddam, don't they count?

RE: American history lesson
It was an illegal insurrection: it was a rebellion. The Declaration of Independence was an act of treason against the legal government of the time.

RE: "The American colonists were united against the Brits."
No, a very large number of people opposed the rebellion. They were frequently the majority in some areas. The way that their voices were silenced is something most history books like to overlook.

RE: "Furthermore, the Brits were an EXTERNAL force occupying the colonies. We fought for our own independence."
No, we were part of the British Empire. That was the legal government.

RE: "In Iraq, we were the outside force. We invaded and overthrew their government and put a military occupation in place that remains to this day."
French forces during the revolution were illegally on British soil in action against British forces. And, of course, if we stay in Iraq - particularly after the Iraqi government asks us to leave, then your term "military occupation" has some weight. But that hasn't happened. And since our military is working with the legitimate Iraqi government instead of dictating to the civil authorities, the whole "military occupation" idea falls apart. (A friend of mine lived in Eastern Europe when the Soviets came in after WW2 and established a puppet government. He'll tell you what a military occupation is really like.)

RE: "So maybe you can see why the insurgents have a lot of local support just from studying our own history."
The Sunni are a minority, and yet their leaders controlled the country. We took their guy out of power, and now they want it back. Because they are a minority, they cannot hope to regain power through the political process. Some have chosen to use force. The Shia see an opportunity for revenge and to dominate the politics of the country. In the event that the government fails, they can dominate or exterminate their long-time foes. If the country splits apart, they get to control most of the best areas.

The hard part here is to get these parties to seek a political solution. A great deal of progress has been made. But not fast enough to satisfy you guys.

RE: "England doesn't have a bill of rights to defend individual freedom. Over here, we have them, but we're just giving them away. Who's more pathetic?"
I don't think that anyone is pathetic. My point is that why the Left loves to cry about the terrible losses of Liberty, they are making much ado about nothing, they don't understand what is really at stake for the future, and they tend to ignore the excesses by their own party. Also, I would point out that England gave up a lot of those rights specifically to deal with the IRA bombing campaigns.

RE: "Wow. With all due respect, it seems that in your case, the terrorists have already won. ... So you're willing to just give up the freedom that so many people have died for because -- again, with all due respect -- you are AFRAID that there will be widespread small scale terrorism that will create upheaval in society."
You don't know me at all, so you jumping to a series of conclusions without any basis in fact. My point is very simple: people need to consider what happens next. A big part of that is to consider what is possible. Think like a bad guy. What would you do, and how would you do it? The Left has adopted a pacifist philosophy in the fact a vicious enemy, I probably will never be able to get them to accept responsibility for what they have helped to create, but I can try to warn them.

By the way, I'm a Libertarian. I want maximum individual civil rights. That's why I end up fighting against Liberals so much.

And my statement still stands: There is no defense against what can happen next - not in a free society.

I hear a lot from ignorant people on the Left who haven't stopped to consider how ugly it can get. They make the usual blanket statements about how, "If they hit us, then we'll take appropriate action. As long as we aren't afraid, they win."

And this is based on, what?

RE: Not surrender to a dictator
I never said we would.

RE: "There's a backbone in all of us -- that's our heritage as Americans, and I believe in it completely."
Ah, yes, we will do just fine because of our heritage. As you said yourself, we as a very soft society. My parents were part of the Greatest Generation. Their children have not proven to be worth much and certainly not up to the standards of their parents.

Hell, what is this debate really about? Many on the Left are against this war because it is a war. Because they feel war is always wrong. Why? For many, if not most, it simply offends their sensibilities. It's so horrible they can't even think about it. And so they refuse to consider it even when the alternative is hundreds of thousands of people dying and millions of people suffering. That's OK: they can live with that because they don't have to see it. Some defend the status quo. Some seem to imply that that's the way those people choose to live. Others just throw up their hands and give up: it's impossible to do anything about it.

How will people like that react when the fighting is brought to their door? Answer: Blame Bush.

RE: "Push us hard enough and we WILL push back."
I want to come back to that one, because you're making one of my points for me.

RE: "There were moments of fear and over-reaction in times of crisis. Right after Pearl Harbor, or the first Soviet nuke, people were afraid."
Ah, yes, history. We will do well because we have always pulled through. As I said above, the country is changing. The past may not be an accurate barometer is what happens. And those threats were external, and we were fighting countries. This country can fight countries just fine. This enemy will be very different.

RE: "Look to FDR, or more recently, Ronald Reagan. ..."
Do you see how funny those words are? The irony is delicious. Your argument might actually work if you could point to a strong political leader who is actually still alive.
I've read a lot of translated articles from writers in the Middle East, and you might be interested to know that the Arab Street saw one strong American leader, one that was feared by some and looked at with hope by others. A few years ago the argument in the Arab Street was that bin Laden and others had grossly miscalculated about the Americans: the Americans were much tougher than they thought. The current thinking is that Bush was an exception - a one of a kind leader. They didn't count on him, but after he's gone there isn't anyone else like him. They may be right.

RE: "I have the means to defend myself right here in this house. I'm not helpless and won't let anybody TELL me that I'm helpless."
Yeah, it's all about you. You're safe enough in your house. That's nice.

RE: New Yorkers after 9/11
I don't need to see a documentary: I talk to new Yorkers every week. Many in my friends and family are from New York. My company does a lot of business there: we lost a few people.
A lot of extraordinary things happened. A lot of things that we can be proud of. But even with that one attack, people make changes. Companies are moving assets out of the city. Disaster planning has a entirely new set of priorities. I haven't visited recently, but the last couple of times that I was there tourism was way off. And not just in New York: that is happening in a lot of cities.

That's a small sample of what I meant by "economic and social upheaval".

kevino:

Paul,

OK, let me come back to this little gem: "Push us hard enough and we WILL push back."

I haven't got time to give you the whole scenario, but I'll give you a simple outline.

Groups can be trained with 100 men or less without state sponsorship and without raising suspicions. If I were the bad guys, with good imported technical help, I could do it inside a western country. The target will be school children, because it is a devastating attack and because it will cause the population to take very expensive counter measures. And I would attack the heartland: small cities and towns on a given day in almost every state.

Now, you say, "We WILL push back." Against whom? My organization is in one country, living in a wild, uncontrolled area. I may be posing as a religious order. Even if you illegally invade that country and take me out, another organization will take it's place. The cells that attacked you are all dead. The training facilities may or may not still exist. There is no country that is responsible. The money was pulled together by religious groups. The movement of funds is a minor problem, and the communications is very safe. Yes, the country will want to do something, but it's hard to push back against a ghost.

Even worse, if my attack succeeds and if I am killed, I become a martyr and thousands line up to do what I did.

You seem to imply that America would be angry: angry enough to do something really nasty. And you're right. And this is something that the Left doesn't always think about. If the next set attacks is really bad, what will the US do? And shouldn't we be trying to prevent that from happening?

Part of what the bad guys will try to do in the US is to create racial tensions inside the country. If they can't create hate crimes through anger, they may simply fake events to achieve that goal.

I was talking to one of my liberal relations about Iraq transferring WMD technology to terrorists. Even if they don't give whole weapons to terrorists, the transfer of knowledge is dangerous. My liberal friend (very anti-war) acknowledged that and talked about one of the bad possibilities. And so I asked the question: "And how do you think America would respond, given that Iraq certainly gave them the technology?" It took quite a while for that person to figure out what we'd do in return. It's not a pleasant thing.

Paul Hamilton:

>>Too bad it doesn't work that way.

Bush used 9-11 as an excuse to invade Iraq. Otherwise, he never could have gotten the war past congress. So yes, it certainly DOES work that way. He created "Saddam bin Laden" and created the spectre of more and worse 9-11s originating in Iraq.

>>They certainly have more freedom than they had under Saddam.

No they don't. It might be theoretically true that they have more freedom, but when the land is in the throes of a civil war, their freedom is actually much less. You, yourself, raised an apocolyptic vision of an America with terrorists roaming around -- that's just daily life in Iraq, only a hundred times worse. The fighting eliminates their freedom.

>>And I've noticed that about all of your writings on this subject. It's very ME-oriented.

Well yeah. I'm not a spokesman for any group and I don't have the ego to claim that my ideas are the only ones which anyone should follow. The opinions I state are what I believe. If I say that I'm not afraid of terrorists, I'm not. If I say that I have protection for myself and my family, I do. Maybe more people should do the same thing and then we wouldn't have our Chicken Little problem where everybody thinks the sky is falling and only the government can deal with it. If you claim to be libertarian, you should know better than most that we all have to stand up for ourselves in all aspects of our lives. I'm not going to be stampeded into fear which is not realistic no matter how hard the government tries.

>>That's why the Kurds and Shia got slaughtered in huge numbers. Remember?

The Kurds were not slaughtered in "huge numbers" compared to the current mutual genocide that's going on. Yes, any killing is too much, but if you're arguing that our invasion has "cured" the problem of Saddam, I'd say that the cure is much worse than the disease for the average Iraqi. As for the Shia following Desert Storm, you make a good point. We made a promise to them that we had no business making. They held up their end and we did not, the result was a slaughter. But again, the numbers dying now far exceed the acts of revenge by Saddam so the current situation is more widespread and much worse.

>>No, a very large number of people opposed the rebellion.

But we still weren't killing each other on the streets, so comparing Iraq to Revolutionary America just does not work. When Bush first brought this up, I LOLed...

>>The hard part here is to get these parties to seek a political solution. A great deal of progress has been made.

Where? The Sunnis and Shia continue to kill each other every day. Terrorism in Iraq is so common that a few dozen innocent people killed by a bomb doesn't even rate a headline anymore. And the rate of violence is not decreasing -- there is no progress. And I would again remind you that the popular idea in the military right now is to back the Sunni militias against the Shia, so we are re-establishing the situation which existed before the invasion. That sound to me like our efforts to democratize Iraq have failed utterly.

>>they are making much ado about nothing,

Says you. Maybe you don't mind a snip here and a snip there from the constitution, but I do. Habeas corpus is important to me and it's gone. Separation of powers is too, but Bush believes in a unitary executive. My bank account, medical records, emails, etc, etc, etc are NONE OF THE GOVERNMENT'S BUSINESS without a proper warrant. But in the name of fear, Bush has thrown it all out the window and that is not "nothing." In the name of "what's at stake for the future," you're willing to give away everything that defines America and makes it unique in the history of the world. I'm not. If terrorism happens, we can deal with it WITHIN the framework of the constitution.

>>There is no defense against what can happen next - not in a free society.

Fine. I'll take my chances with freedom. You'd be "safe" inside a prison, maybe. The terrorists couldn't get in, but you couldn't get out either. If that's an acceptable trade to you, then fear has truly won out in your life.

>>RE: Not surrender to a dictator
>>I never said we would.

The heck you didn't! You said a free society cannot cope with the threat of terrorism, so your "solution" to terrorism is to eliminate freedom. Even in your most apocalyptic scenario, there would only be a relatively few terrorists doing relatively slight damage. But you would just surrender your liberty to them -- or more accurately the FEAR of them -- without a fight! Jeez, wake up and read your own words! Is freedom worth so little to you that you'd just hand it over the first time some nut blows himself up a thousand miles away??

>>Their children have not proven to be worth much and certainly not up to the standards of their parents.

They've never been tested, and that's a good thing. But I believe that there is greatness in just about all of us and that, should the need arise, our people will respond.

>>Many on the Left are against this war because it is a war. Because they feel war is always wrong. Why?

A few, not "many." I believe that most wars are political in origin, and many more exist because of greed, but sometimes war is thrust upon us. 9-11 merited a strong response. Unfortunately it got a half-assed response in bin Laden's backyard and the invasion of a country who had nothing to do with the attacks. That's why I oppose the war in Iraq, but you'll never hear me say that we shouldn't be dealing with the threat of terrorists in a multinational effort using the most effective tools available. And before you say that stuff like the PATRIOT Act is effective against terrorism, I mean that any efforts should respect the liberties of the American people, because without that, we've already lost.

>>And those threats were external, and we were fighting countries. This country can fight countries just fine. This enemy will be very different.

I don't believe we have a serious domestic terrorist problem. All the 9-11 terrorists were foreigners, and the clowns who've been accused of terrorist threats in this country aren't exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer, so let's try to maintain some perspective. As for fighting countries, yeah, that's why invading Iraq as a response to terrorist threats was COMPLETELY IGNORANT! As usual, we were fighting the last war -- or in this case, fighting WW2 again, since we didn't learn a thing from Vietnam. However, we do know how to cripple the terrorist threat -- international cooperation, cutting off sources of funding, interdicting communications, and tracking the activities of known terrorist groups. You seem to think that terrorists are going to just pop up out of nowhere within our borders. If that was going to happen, it would have, already. Yes, 9-11 was bin Laden's version of Charles Manson's "helter skelter," It was supposed to be the inspirational opening shot that would trigger widespread fighting. But it didn't happen. Yes, there will always be a few radicals who will appreciate the "glory" of dying in a terrorist act, but 99.999% of people reject it, and not only for themselves, but will work against those who DO fall for it. The United States is not fertile ground for radicals.

>>Your argument might actually work if you could point to a strong political leader who is actually still alive.

Great leaders rise to the occasion. In times of relative peace and prosperity, a caretaker government is just fine. But when America was threatened, both economically and later militarily, FDR was there to provide calm, confident leadership. And though I don't like Reagan's domestic policies one bit, he was probably the ultimate cold warrior. He didn't scare us or try to get us to swap our freedoms in response to the Soviet threat. Instead, he led from the front and made us believe that America's greatness would prevail. Compare that to the current president's babbling. It's hard to believe that many Republicans actually thought Bush would be another Reagan...

>>You're safe enough in your house. That's nice.

Yes it is. Knowing what I know helps immunize me against all the scare talk. The knowledge that you are prepared defeats fear. Rather than ridicule me, maybe you should encourage others to become prepared themselves rather than just to look to Big Brother to be the only one who can help them, but at a terrible cost.

>>Companies are moving assets out of the city. Disaster planning has a entirely new set of priorities.

Nothing wrong with that. Of course we should have de-centralized and recognized the threat of terrorism long before 9-11, but a lot of folks ignore the obvious. And again, this sort of knowledge and preparation makes us stronger both in actuality and in our own minds. There is no knockout blow that the terrorists can strike.

>>And not just in New York: that is happening in a lot of cities.

Yeah, sometime to a ridiculous degree. On the day after 9-11, the police cordoned off the parking lot for city hall here with yellow tape. That did a LOT of good, didn't it? And on the Saturday after the attacks, I was walking my dogs down to the river in the neighborhood where I used to live and encountered a group of uniformed men who were doing a lot of milling around and staring at things. I asked what they were doing and one responded that they were "Just checking it out." I have no idea what "it" was or why there was a necessity to check out anything on a riverbank that was devoid of any buildings or people in a small town with no strategic or even symbolic value to anybody. But I guess they thought they had to do something. And that's the problem.

The fear has us behaving irrationally. You seem to really believe that the terrorists are going to be coming down your street any moment now. I do not. That doesn't mean that I discount the threat of terrorism, just that I have not made the threat imminent and personal. I'm prepared to defend myself and my family, but that's against all sorts of threats -- not just terrorists, but also criminals. That's just common sense. But I'm not constantly staring out the window muttering, "Doom... Doom..." either.

I guess it's just a matter of confidence. I believe in myself, my country and my people and live my life accordingly. If I worry at all, its about those who worry too much and sacrifice too much because of the fear until there's nothing left to lose. You mentioned that my notes were all about me, well I value my freedom more than just saving my skin at any cost. I guess that's selfish too, in a way, but its a way I can live with.

Paul Hamilton:

Re, your note #53:

Several assumptions there which I believe to be false...

>>Groups can be trained with 100 men or less without state sponsorship and without raising suspicions.

Highly unlikely. Somebody would talk. Terrorists are radicals by definition and radicals always talk too much for their own good. Both the terrorist plots in the UK were stopped because they couldn't keep it to themselves. In one case, one person was so stupid as to talk about it on an internet chat board!

>>Even worse, if my attack succeeds and if I am killed, I become a martyr and thousands line up to do what I did.

That hasn't happened so far. If anything, the support for terrorism is DROPPING, not increasing. You seem to envision millions upon millions of madmen bent on their own destruction. I'd really like to see the evidence. Are there hotbeds of extremism. Yes there are. But it's the same places over and over again -- it is NOT spreading globally. Furthermore, even if you do have a madman or two, there's still a modicum of knowledge and skill required to carry off a successful terrorist attack. If you examine the Miami and Fort Dix groups, you see a lot of big talk but no workable plans. The recent London and Glasgow attacks were almost comical in their ineptitude. Yes, we need to take stuff like this seriously, but again, let's not magnify the threat totally out of proportion in terms of either numbers or actual threat.

>>The movement of funds is a minor problem, and the communications is very safe.

Wrong on both counts, especially the money. I believe that close monitoring of international transfers of funds has been the primary weapon in stopping potential terrorist attacks and we've been very successful at it. And if you think communications are not being monitored, you just aren't paying attention.

>>And shouldn't we be trying to prevent that from happening?

We are. See the above.

>>Part of what the bad guys will try to do in the US is to create racial tensions inside the country.

Read this from my local paper just today: http://www.theheraldbulletin.com/local/local_story_207215858.html

This isn't TERRORISTS creating strife, it's the continuing drumbeat of fear coming from our own government and from people who might even be well-intentioned, but are doing a great dis-service to the nation. Again, when people let their fear get the better of them they are doing the terrorists' work for them. The madmen don't have to life a finger if we do their work for them.

>>Iraq transferring WMD technology to terrorists.

There's no evidence this ever happened and Saddam's WMD program was destroyed during Desert Storm and never re-started. If you want to worry about any nation, the one with a proven record for exporting WMD tech is our "friend" Pakistan. And of course our "friend" Saudi Arabia has been the biggest funder for terrorist for a long time. So maybe we need to get our priorities straight and deal with the genuine threats that are out there, not make stuff up to excuse a war after that fact.


kevino:

Paul,

Sorry for the delay in responding: very busy at work at socially. And I don't have much time, so I'll pound this out as fast as possible.

RE: "Bush used 9-11 as an excuse to invade Iraq. Otherwise, he never could have gotten the war past congress. So yes, it certainly DOES work that way. He created 'Saddam bin Laden' and created the spectre of more and worse 9-11s originating in Iraq."
Your original point was that it was obscene that we had planning to invade prior to 9/11. I showed how that was justified and prudent. You haven't proved otherwise. Your implication was that he blamed Iraq for 9/11. Not so: certainly not in the Justification that Congress passed. Your now hedging to say that the justification included that Iraq's aid to terrorism might create more 9/11's. That is correct: that is in the bill.

Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in `material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations' (Public Law 105-235);

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material an unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

RE: "No they don't. It might be theoretically true that they have more freedom, but when the land is in the throes of a civil war, their freedom is actually much less. You, yourself, raised an apocolyptic vision of an America with terrorists roaming around -- that's just daily life in Iraq, only a hundred times worse. The fighting eliminates their freedom."
Anyone who is a victim of crime is, indeed, not free. But given the level of freedom enjoyed today versus what was happening under Saddam, there's no comparison: it is more that "theoretical". Saddam was a gangster, and he ran the country like any gangster would. The numbers of dead between 1991 and the invasion are staggering. Even with the current level of violence, fewer people by far are being killed.

And under Saddam, there was no hope that it would ever get better.

RE: "And I've noticed that about all of your writings on this subject. It's very ME-oriented."
You missed the point, and I don't mean to pick on you: I find this with a lot of liberals. There is frequently a self-centered view of events. Empathy is reserved for groups that are important to the political process. The other comment string brings this to light even more clearly.

RE: "That's why the Kurds and Shia got slaughtered in huge numbers."
The fact that you cannot dispute is that the Kurds and the Shia, against fearful odds, did, in fact, rise up against Saddam. They tried, and they died. But they did make an effort to end their oppression, and the fact that you also don't dispute is that polls still show a majority of Iraqis are in favor of the regime change.

RE: American revolution: Everyone was not united against the Brits
Sounds like you are yielding the point. I also don't hear a lot to dispute the view that we had foreign help during the revolution. There are similarities.

RE: "The Sunnis and Shia continue to kill each other every day. Terrorism in Iraq is so common that a few dozen innocent people killed by a bomb doesn't even rate a headline anymore. And the rate of violence is not decreasing -- there is no progress."
Are all Sunnis and Shiites killing each other? No. Are Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds participating in a political process? Yes, they have. Lots of progress was made, particularly in the level of participation by the Sunnis in the second election. They gave up their boycott and voted. Shia could have dominated the process, but they opted for power sharing. But, you know, I really won't argue the point. I believe you: I believe that America - today - cannot do this job. The time allowed for this government to survive may be very short, and the probability that it can maintain control is not very good.
If someone says "I can't do it", they're probably right: they can't. America appears to have talked itself into a defeat. Let's see if they can live with the consequences.

RE: "Habeas corpus is important to me and it's gone."
If it were gone, you would not have been allowed to write that statement.

RE: "Separation of powers is too, but Bush believes in a unitary executive."
I doubt that you have complained about executive privilege nearly as much as I have. Most of my liberal friends had a different view during the Clinton administration.
RE: "My bank account, medical records, emails, etc, etc, etc are NONE OF THE GOVERNMENT'S BUSINESS without a proper warrant."
Oh, good. Then I assume that you lobbied against the Clinton administration proposal to log all of the banking and credit card transactions? I can assume that you lobbied against the Clinton Administration proposal to build the database of all the travel done in the country? I can assume that you lobbied against the Clinton administration changes that opened up your medical records by the government (when HUD changed the medical id requirements)? I can assume that you lobbied against the Clinton administration when it violated the Law to build an illegal database of gun owners by illegally taking and storing sales records? I assume that you lobbied Congress to investigate the Clinton administration for illegally acquiring hundreds of FBI files on its political opponents?

RE: "You said a free society cannot cope with the threat of terrorism, so your "solution" to terrorism is to eliminate freedom."
I never said that a free society cannot cope with the threat. To be honest, I don't know what will happen. Even if I had, that certainly doesn't imply that I support that solution. In fact, if you read what I wrote, I never proposed a solution at all.

My solution would have been to say that this is a game I don't want to play: time to change the rules. My solution would be to confront terrorism whenever possible, contain whenever possible, provide a positive alternative, and eliminate as much as possible the environment where terrorism grows. I'm not going to get that. America went all-in and is about to go down in defeat. I'm simply pointing out that what happens next can get very ugly.

RE: "They've never been tested, and that's a good thing. But I believe that there is greatness in just about all of us and that, should the need arise, our people will respond."
Iraq is a test: we're failing for the worst of reasons, and many know it.

We are being tested in other ways as well. The Cartoon Wars were interesting because it represented a change in Islamic tradition, specifically Islamic tradition is supposed to be honored by the West. That idea ran up against the West tradition of Free Speech, and Free Speech lost. MSM outlets all over the US and throughout the West yielded to presumed pressure and bowed to Muslim sensibilities.
In addition, there are signs that this country is making special accommodations to Muslims by public school systems, by scheduling prayer time and setting aide physical facilities. This is contrary to the established legal precedent in this country for decades, and it is clearly taking place because people are clearly afraid to take on the Muslim community.

RE: "9-11 merited a strong response."
And future terrorist attacks and threats will warrant a strong response, too, but we won't get to. The case against the country or group may not be very good, and as you yourself indicated in an earlier comment, one of the consequences of the Iraqi defeat is that we will leave the Middle East and never come back. Boots on the ground are the only thing that they are really afraid of, and they see clearly that the US is not prepared for a sustained fight on the ground. An air attack is likely to be seen as an illegal aggression against a Muslim country, it will likely encourage violence against us, it will likely harden the population in favor of an otherwise unpopular regime, and it will be seen as a cowardly move by a country that doesn't have the guts to take them on face-to-face.

RE: "I don't believe we have a serious domestic terrorist problem. All the 9-11 terrorists were foreigners, and the clowns who've been accused of terrorist threats in this country aren't exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer, so let's try to maintain some perspective."
I don't believe we have a problem today: the future is more interesting. Al Qaeda dealt us a serious blow, but they're the Backstreet Boys of Terrorism. Their level of training was pathetic. You're learning the wrong lessons of history if you think that that's the best that they can do.

RE: "The United States is not fertile ground for terrorists."
The US today may not be a fertile ground, but even that may change. And that doesn't mean that we won't be a good target. The battle today will be between those that want to expand the influence of Islam by immigration and those that want violent confrontation. Both have been successful. The compromise is obvious. Advances will continue in some western countries where Islamic fundamentalism has created areas of control, specifically neighborhoods in Europe where Islamic fundamentalists operate as their own quasi-independent government and where the civil authorities have little or no control. In countries where the gangs are constrained by civil authorities, violence will be used to force concessions. The US and the UK will certainly fall under this category, but they will be singled out as the example for what happens to those who get in the way. (Envious Europeans may particularly enjoy this as a way to bring the US down.)

RE: "Great leaders rise to the occasion. In times of relative peace and prosperity, a caretaker government is just fine."
Great leaders are a product of their country and the time in which they live. We are being tested, and our leadership is pulling us down.
I keep thinking about Solzhenitsyn's address to Harvard in 1978:

A Decline in Courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party and of course in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life. Political and intellectual bureaucrats show depression, passivity and perplexity in their actions and in their statements and even more so in theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable as well as intellectually and even morally warranted it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and weak countries, not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.

RE: "RE: "You're safe enough in your house. That's nice." Yes it is. Knowing what I know helps immunize me against all the scare talk."
Again, you missed the point. A lot of your writings and a lot of what is written and talked about by the Left is very self-centered. You're safe in your house, so you're not worried. You certainly don't seem to be very concerned about other people, either in this country or in other countries.

I, myself, am pretty sure that I'm more knowledgeable about this than most, and I'm very well prepared. (I have years of experience dealing with criminals.) In addition, my kids are all grown, my retirement is coming soon, and my community has almost zero risk of being directly affected. The difference between us is that I know the risks very well (because of my background), and I care about the people who will be affected, even if I don't know their names.

RE: "Of course we should have de-centralized and recognized the threat of terrorism long before 9-11, but a lot of folks ignore the obvious."
But this may be very hard on our cities, and there are many assets that cannot be easily de-centralized without incurring very high costs. And it is an example of what happens when you end up playing defense. (More on this later because it looks as though you responded to the other part of my comment.)

And yet -- no weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower. In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal. ...

Western thinking has become conservative: the world situation should stay as it is at any cost, there should be no changes. This debilitating dream of a status quo is the symptom of a society which has come to the end of its development.

- Solzhenitsyn

kevino:

RE: "Somebody would talk"
No they won't. I didn't pick the 100 man figure out of thin air: it comes from an understanding of how organizations like this are created:
1. Radicals, in fact, are very dedicated to the cause. You're talking about developing assets that are willing to die for the cause.
2. While it may be true that untrained amateurs blabbed, that it no reason to assume that well-trained assets will make the same mistake.
3. Teams can be assembled and trained, even in Western countries, because almost all of the training involves legal activities with legal instruments. (You can't arrest someone for being good with their hands, receiving martial arts training, or modifying garage door openers.)
4. You use secrecy as a way to tell which cells are effective and disciplined. You send them on precise training runs and see if police show up.
5. You use secrecy as misdirection: second-string cells can be sent on training exercises. To ensure that they will be stopped, you drop an anonymous tip on them. While the police pick up pairs of young men carrying packages of religious materials in front of the tube stop at major sporting events, your best cells are driving by with the car bomb.
6. What's to tell? Each cell as part of their training will be given several training exercises. They won't know which one is the actual attack.
7. In the worst case, you will uncover a single cell. 90% of my manpower is still in place.
The biggest threats to gangs in inner cities is that their defense of territory and their primary methods of raising funds come from their reputation. Therefore, a lot is known about them and their members by external intelligence. That doesn't apply to terrorist organizations, and you can be certain the trying to get inside such organizations is very tough. (See history of the IRA or Israel's counter terrorism squads.)

RE: "If anything, the support for terrorism is DROPPING, not increasing."
I saw that poll, too, and I hope that it's true. But I wouldn't bet the farm on it:
1. Their methods weren't the greatest.
2. Numerous polls show significant support for terrorism by a minority, even in Western countries, and a violent minority is all that's required.
3. With the success of the Iraqi defeat and Muslim forgetting about the Muslim-on-Muslim terrorism (particularly by al Qaeda in Iraq), support for terrorism against the West may grow again.

RE: Past attacks
It takes several years to develop the kind of assets that I'm talking about, and that hasn't been tried - yet. To date, almost all of the attacks have been botched. However, let me remind you that the 7/7 and Madrid bombings were very bad. Certainly when the parent organizations begin to rebuild and reprioritize, those kinds of successes are certainly going to come back in our future.

By the way, the Glasgow mess is a good example of what I was talking about before. It was carried out by an inept small group virtually without training. Several of the individuals were persons of interest by MI5, a group that is one of the best in the world. And yet, they got off the attack. Why? Because they didn't have a reason to arrest them. They sort of knew it was coming, but they didn't know enough about the precise time to stop it.

Here's the trick: law enforcement works by being a general deterrent to crime by their presence and by investigating crimes after they occur. (Jeff Snyder). Against terrorism, that's ineffective. Terrorists, like all criminals, know how to avoid the cops. When they run into cops, it's either bad luck or bad planning on their part. Mostly, criminals work hard at trying to cover up the crime so they won't get caught later. Terrorists don't care. In many cases, they plan to die in the attack. If not, they're happy to go to prison for the cause.

RE: Movement of funds and communications
Once the funds are in Europe, and certain countries that will be providing the funds will certainly help that, it is impossible to track. Yes, the terrorists need to stop using the usual electronic funds transfers, and, yes, they need to stop raising the funds the way that they have and trying to use them directly without laundering, but that's a matter of adapting to law enforcement. The EU makes this all very easy: no borders.

Communications on the local level is done face-to-face. Coordination of timetables is not through language but steganography: you hide the message inside another type of message. For example, you call your girlfriend back home every week. If the schedule is good, it's a normal conversation. If not she says, "Oh, guess who's pregnant?" You ask for details, and it's a certain name (target) at a certain date. An example of a broadcast message are personals columns. And, of course, for internal traffic, throw-away phones and such are great.

RE: "There's no evidence this [transfer of WMD technology] ever happened and Saddam's WMD program was destroyed during Desert Storm and never re-started."
There is no evidence that his WMD program was destroyed: lack of evidence to the contrary doesn't prove your point. The best that you can say is that assuming weapons weren't spirited away, the program was put on hold waiting for the opportune time to be restarted. He never got the opportunity to restart it because he lost power.

Knowledge is power. Once you know how to build it, you can build it when you have the resources again, but you also have the ability to teach others. President Clinton did the right thing destroying the pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan. There was sufficient evidence to suggest that Iraq was helping Al Qaeda make VX gas. The Iraqi WMD program was in the hands of the Iraqi secret police and elite units of his military. Those organization were assisting in the training of terrorists in Iraq, including Ansar al Islam. Did they or did they not produce ricin? Did they or did they not have botulinum [sp?]? Were they or were they not experimenting with simple chemical poisons such as cyanide?

The transfer of technology was certainly a realistic possibility.

And by the way, and even bigger threat, and one that raises the possibility of another successful attack is the simple fact that the Iraqi secret police and their military was helping to train terrorists. I've seen some of the training that al Qaeda was using, and I'm not impressed. The Iraqis would do a much better job.

Here's the bottom line: I've seen and heard a lot of statements made by people who don't know and haven't thought about terrorism. And a lot of these people have said some pretty stupid things on the subject. One of those, is Representative Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH). She got elected in 2006, and after her election she attended the briefing sessions on terrorism that are available to all new members of Congress. Afterwards, she said basically, "Whatever you know about terrorism, it's worse." Well, at least she finally has a clue.

Paul Hamilton:

>>I showed how that was justified and prudent. You haven't proved otherwise.

I've said in other discussions that Saddam was the perfect political punching bag and politicians from both parties used him on a regular basis to "prove" they were tough on defense. The truth is that after Desert Storm, he was no threat to anyone, political posturing notwithstanding.

And yes, it was obscene because this nation has NEVER been an aggressor prior to our invasion of Iraq in 2003. It's even worse because it was based on lies and political opportunism. It's my belief that Bush spit on the graves of the 9-11 dead with his actions of 2002 and following.

>>The numbers of dead between 1991 and the invasion are staggering. Even with the current level of violence, fewer people by far are being killed.

You'll have to show me some figures from a reliable source to back that up...

>>You missed the point, and I don't mean to pick on you: I find this with a lot of liberals.

I repeat, I want **everyone** to be capable of defending themselves, their families and their neighbors and prepared for emergencies. I'm not just kissing everybody else off, I hope that people will look at me as an example and follow my lead. I can't force them, and some people never will do anything until the wolf is at the door, but it won't be because I'm not encouraging them.

>>Most of my liberal friends had a different view during the Clinton administration.

Without going into a lot of details, I had my eyes opened to the threat of over-zealous executives by a good cyber-friend named Ron Barney. He was libertarian to the core and he was the one who first challenged me to examine a lot of my suppositions and the result was that I don't trust ANY president, period. The moment the president stops being afraid of the American people, this nation is in big trouble, and I think I can safely say that Bush has created a boogeyman that scares most of our people to the degree that they are willing to surrender their freedoms to the executive in exchange for the promise of security. It's an incredibly dangerous situation. And if a Dem was doing the same thing, I'd be screaming just as loud. The reason I am a Dem is because I am a populist as well as a libertarian and in general, Democratic policies do more good for more people than Republican ones, but when it comes to power, I don't trust either.

>>Iraq is a test: we're failing for the worst of reasons, and many know it.

Wrong. Iraq was a pig in a poke. It was only when the truth about how Bush manipulated information to the public to sell them the war got out that the support evaporated. The fact that he's been completely inept in its execution has made the evaporation more rapid. The American people will accept great sacrifice for a great purpose. Ask anyone who was around during WW2 whether they resented what they did. But they have no tolerance for WASTING lives or for politicians who characterize a situation as a real threat when really it's nothing but politics. It was true in Vietnam and it's true in Iraq.

To prove my point, why was Bush afraid to put ANY meaningful number of troops in the ground in Afghanistan for fear of the political repurcussions of loss of life, but there is no end to the bloodshed he's willing to tolerate in Iraq. When standards are that far apart, the only conclusion I can draw is that he never wanted to fight in Afghanistan at all but always wanted to invade Iraq.

>>You certainly don't seem to be very concerned about other people, either in this country or in other countries.

See above for my attitude about my neighbors and fellow citizens. As for the rest of the world, we are not the world's policemen. If someone asks us for help, we can consider if the benefit is sufficient to justify the costs in blood and treasure, but nations are not people. Nations do not have moral obligations, they only have self-interest. If individuals want to fight, they can and should -- look at cases where individual Americans joined WW1 and 2 long before the nation itself became involved. But when I look at places like East Timor and Darfur where there have been humanitarian disasters with nary a blink from us, you'll excuse me if I view this odd overreaction to the situation in Iraq with jaundiced eyes...

A comment - my sister was a personal friend of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. She was married to the brother of James Dickey, who was very close to Solzhenitsyn and they often met when he was in this country. So I've heard her go into long speeches about him and the nobility of his cause, and you'll get no argument from me about it. That being said, again, it's not our place to resolve the world's every problem. We are not the Roman Empire and Bush's Pax Americana blew up in his face, thank goodness! I don't want to live in an empire.

>>no reason to assume that well-trained assets will make the same mistake.

If Bush would have taken the warnings he got seriously, 9-11 would have been stopped because even that bunch, which was the cream of the al Qaeda crop, left footprints all over the place. The folks who are left after our efforts are nowhere near as disciplined or talented. And having been a student radical in late 60s and early 70s, I can tell you for a fact that very often, the more enthusiastic a person is, the looser their lips. Yes, there will always be a few who are skilled and silent and very dangerous, but they are a tiny minority and if you have a hundred people in a terror cell, there is no way on earth you'll have a perfectly silent group. This is why we have to have skilled experts constantly on the lookout for the telltale signs of terror plots.

>>You can be certain the trying to get inside such organizations is very tough.

I'll see your Israel and raise you a KKK. There is evidence that 20% of the membership of the KKK in the 60s were actually paid informants and government agents, and certainly these were very dedicated people -- probably the best terrorist force this country has ever produced. But when law enforcement got serious about them, they never stood a chance. I'm not nearly as pessimistic about our knowledge of terror cells as you are.

>>support for terrorism against the West may grow again.

Between Osama's "helter skelter" and Bush's aggression in Iraq, I really can't imagine what force would effectively radicalize the Arab street more than past events. You're right that it only takes a tiny minority to create trouble, but if Jihad hasn't gone big time by now, I don't think it's gonna happen. And, for all the big talk by a few European Muslims, I'm not seeing much action -- thank goodness... But it's just a fact that talking radical is easy. Doesn't take much effort or sacrifice to shake your fist and yell, but it's the NEXT step that really matters. And it would appear that almost no one is taking that step. And the same thing was true in this country in the 60s. Yeah, there were big turnouts for protest marches and demonstrations, but for all the talk about revolution, it never happened because there simply wasn't the stomach for it. I seriously doubt there's the stomach for it anywhere else today.

>>There is no evidence that his WMD program was destroyed: lack of evidence to the contrary doesn't prove your point.

We went to every site where we knew he had facilities and checked a gazillion others just to be sure. There was NOTHING current. The old sites were abandoned, the other sites came up empty. Iraq was the most closely serveilled nation on earth from Desert Storm through the invasion. Any attempt to spirit away WMDs would have been detected, most likely at the source. You're right that a lack of evidence isn't an evidence of lack (and this time I got the quote right that I butchered over on Classic last week...) but when you have absolutely nothing to show me of the existance of a program post 1991, I will follow Occam and believe that it was destroyed.

>>Those organization were assisting in the training of terrorists in Iraq,

Well, maybe. The problem I have with that is the idea that any dictator would hand over what should be his most effective weapons to a bunch of loose cannons like terrorists. Seems to me that his better course would be to equip his own elite forces, utterly loyal to him, with these nasty weapons, not give them to folks who could just as easily turn around and use them against him. I do believe that Saddam gave material support to terrorists, but only in limited forms -- mostly cash -- and for the primary purpose of his own publicity. I've never seen any evidence that he provided any terrorist group with WMDs at any time.


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