Barry Eisler

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rumsfeld Redux

Not to worry, the second part of The Roots of Arab Muslim Sickness is on the way. But first...

Today Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave a speech to the American Legion's annual national convention in Salt Lake City. You can read more here and here.

The excerpts I've read are depressing. For example, the Secretary asked, “With the growing lethality and the increasing availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?”

Quick question: does anyone here believe vicious extremists can be appeased?

I guess not. But then why... oh, I get it. The question is rhetorical. Its real meaning is, "If you disagree with our policy, you must favor the appeasement of vicious extremists."

Even if you think the Bush administration has been doing a fine job (took a lot of discipline not to say "heckuva job" there) of protecting the nation, isn't this kind of simple-minded demagoguery off-putting?

Back when I was in law school, I was taught that if you can win on the facts, argue the facts. If the facts are unhelpful, attack the credibility of the witness. That's what this is. If things were going well in Iraq and Afghanistan, members of the administration would rightly trumpet progress and success. But they're not. They're attacking their critics, instead. I guess they feel they have no choice. And maybe they're right. After all, what else are they going to talk about?

Rumsfeld also said, "This enemy is serious, lethal and relentless. But this is not well recognized or fully understood.”

Show of hands, please: anyone here who doesn't recognize and fully understand the serious, lethal, and relentless nature of our enemies?

Okay, good: we all agree on the nature and severity of the threat. But then why... oh, I get it. The administration senses it's vulnerable to a discussion of how it's protecting the nation. If you disagree with how, the idea is that you must not really understand what's going on. The implication, of course, is that you're... an appeaser!

Back when I was in the CIA, I was taught, "Deny everything, admit nothing, make counter accusations." Refusing to discuss what's going wrong in Iraq and how we might make it less wrong while accusing your critics of appeasement is straight out of the playbook. If I weren't so disgusted, I'd be proud.

The Secretary claims that the American news media is part of the problem because it tends to emphasize the negative rather than the positive: for example, there was more coverage of what happened at Abu Ghraib than to Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith's winning the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I feel tremendous gratitude and respect to all our fighting men and women, and particularly to anyone who has been awarded the CMH. From the heart, thank you, Sgt. Smith.

But I have a feeling that if misdeeds at Abu Ghraib received more coverage than Sgt. Smith's heroism elsewhere, it was probably because people rightly sensed the somewhat larger geopolitical ramifications of what happened at Abu Ghraib. I don't doubt that there's bias in the media, but suggesting that bias is what put and kept Abu Ghraib on the map to the exclusion of stories of individual heroism is silly at best.

For people who claim to have all the right ideas, Rumsfeld and company come off seeming awfully insecure. Do they know something that we... do?
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54 Comments:

Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

Show of hands, please: anyone here who doesn't recognize and fully understand the serious, lethal, and relentless nature of our enemies?

I recognize it, but I’m not so sure those arguing “we should better understand our enemy” do. It may be a political tactic to deny and accuse, but it may also have some merit; if you believe (as I do) that the enemy isn’t really interested in negotiations aimed at a more peaceful world (unless they get to run it). Many on the left claim they understand it, but arguments against responding to terrorist acts make one wonder what it is they do understand (is it that we are to blame for the terrorism in the first place and therefore deserve it)?

If you disagree with how, the idea is that you must not really understand what's going on. The implication, of course, is that you're... an appeaser!

Careful, Barry … this isn’t so different than the opposite view: that if you aren’t against the administration (Rumsfeld, et al), you must not really understand what’s going on … the implication … that you’re a Neanderthal … warmonger, etc.

Yesterday, Richard started his defense of the chimpanzee theory with “There's been a lot of talk in the last few years, both in evolutionary biology and, oddly enough, in corporate training, …”

This might be the start of a persuasive argument to those on the left, but to at least some on the right, it’s what might lead to the Rumsfeld statement you quoted.

by which is meant any way of behaving that, rather than serving any useful purpose, simply satisfies deeply felt pre-human (or at least pre-modern human) genetic tendency,. The tendency includes sexual drives and possessiveness, hierarchical power and dominance, grudge bearing and vengeance, kin and tribal ties, and so on. The corollary is that in modern, co-operative settings, much of this stuff is superfluous to requirements, and can often be dangerously counterproductive. The problem is that it feels too good to want to give up.

Maybe we can simplify (dangerous word, I’m sure) the above down to “it feels too good to want to give up—life” … Hobbes theory on the state of nature seems more appropriate in the modern world (scary as that may be, but the world can be a scary place) … the right to defend oneself by whatever means (I’m talking survival here), far outweighs the morality of the moment (i.e., Israel’s right to exist might require bombing civilian populations to get at her enemy—especially if they are entrenched in civilian populations).

When Richard added Clinton’s crying as a willingness to acknowledge error and apologise, to take a rational stance, as an example for the chimpanzee theory later on, Rumsfeld’s words (for me) make their point.

Those on the right think the battle is one of survival (and in Israel’s case, I don’t see how it can be denied). No one is advocating war (nuclear or otherwise) for the simple sake of revenge, but to assume it should never happen (or that it can be avoided because we should all act rationally) is a bit naive. The cumulative effects of several terrorist strikes against this country over time (and several administrations—Republican & Democratic) has proved, if anything, that doing nothing only encourages further attacks. Rumsfeld may be playing politics and it may come off to some as insulting that his argument reads weak, but it is equally mind boggling to those on the right that we should try and better understand the root causes of terrorism so we don’t act like chimpanzees on a rampage.

But I have a feeling that if misdeeds at Abu Ghraib received more coverage than Sgt. Smith's heroism elsewhere, it was probably because people rightly sensed the somewhat larger geopolitical ramifications of what happened at Abu Ghraib.

Abu Ghraib has been an especially hard one for me to swallow … not because of the injustices done to prisoners there, but because of the hullabaloo made over it. Yeah, we looked bad. Yeah, the Arab world had a rallying point. Sorry, but compared to televised beheadings, it was much ado about nothing. I understand two wrongs don’t make a right, but let’s get serious about this. If the media of today (hi-tech nature of it) were around during World War II, we’d all be speaking German.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 4:47:00 AM  
Blogger Barry said...

Charlie, good points. Don't worry, I'm an equal opportunity employer when it comes to despising demagoguery, whether it's the right calling the left appeasers or the left calling the right warmongers. Good sense tends to get buried under such effluvia, regardless of the direction of the flow.

I give Bush and company credit for understanding the nature and severity of the Islamofascist threat. Which makes it all the more disappointing for me that their vision is so myopic and their tactics so bumbling.

I know that leads to a whole new discussion, and mention it only as an example of the possibility of acknowledging that you can agree on the end while still disagreeing on the means.

Cheers,
Barry

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger David J. Montgomery said...

The part of this statement that struck me was his calculated use of the term "appeased."

I don't disagree with his position -- I suspect (fear?) that some people really do think Islamofascists can be appeased.

I appreciate a nice rhetorical turn of phrase, however. And any time you can subtly compare your political opponents to Neville Chamberlain, it's a cunning tactic.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 1:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

I give Bush and company credit for understanding the nature and severity of the Islamofascist threat. Which makes it all the more disappointing for me that their vision is so myopic and their tactics so bumbling.

Okay, I'm with you on this (but probably differ on methodology). The problem becomes this: Would the worldwide response have been any different if Bush had gone gangbusters into Iraq (short of nuking it)? We'll never know if it would have suppressed the civil war/insurgency, but I'm pretty sure the U.S. would've been blamed for overkill the same as Irael was in Lebanon.

Unless, of course, you're against the Iraq war in total (Kucinich/Dean), then I can understand thinking the methodology of fighting terrorism was/is wrong. I can respect that; a genuine difference of opinion. It's the half-hearted support (the Democrats who approved it politically (Hillary, et al) because it was popular at the time and now find it all so wrong). I tend to believe political opportunism is one welcomed by-product of any war by either party; the Dems know it now as well as the Reps knew it when Kennedy first poked our nose into Vietnam.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 1:25:00 PM  
Blogger BayAreaKen said...

Charlie, when you say
"Many on the left claim they understand it, but arguments against responding to terrorist acts make one wonder what it is they do understand..."

Who is saying people on the left don't want to or won't respond to a terrorist threat (or even understand what it is)? It's insulting to be labeled incorrectly. In this case (and more by the Roves of the world, than you), the implication is that lefties will ignore the real world threat of terrorists or do nothing to stop them (before or after an attack). Bullshit. Lefties are simply for a more sensible defense against terrorists, and not for the wholesale "preemptive" wars this administration has bestowed on us.

Further, in the same post, you write, "The cumulative effects of several terrorist strikes against this country over time (and several administrations—Republican & Democratic) has proved, if anything, that doing nothing only encourages further attacks."
(bolding mine)

Terrorism as a tactic can't be stopped. The same way that jail as a threat hasn't stopped burglars. Doing nothing? Who is doing nothing? Did the Democrats do nothing when they controlled the Executive? Hardly. Read Richard Clark's book for compelling insights into the efforts our US Government was taking to protect us. Were the Republicans doing nothing when they took office? I sincerely hope not. But "doing nothing" didn't stoke 9/11. We've been doing something ever since, and the worldwide terrorist attacks are at an all time high. The State Department, which used to report these figures, stopped doing so. Why? Because the evidence of their attempts to make us safer and kill the terrorists clearly hasn't worked. Worldwide terrorism is at an all time high. Doing nothing has proved nothing. Doing something, but the wrong thing, has proved disastrous.

Rgds,
Ken

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 2:25:00 PM  
Blogger JR said...

I find it disheartening that everybody talks either reverently or disdainfully about "understanding the enemy" when they should simply be talking about it strategically. Understanding the enemy is the first step toward winning. Winning (and we maybe should be arguing about what "winning" means)is what both diplomacy and war are all about. I also find it disheartening that with all the rhetoric about Neville Chamberlain, and the inuendos that anyone opposed to the war is just like him, no one seems to have any historical perspective. Does no one see the analogies between the Palestinian problem (and the problems of the Arab world generally) and 1920s-30s Europe? Think defeated, disdained, ignored and poverty stricken in the midst of abundant natural resources and traditions and you can have the beginnings of Nazi Germanny or today's Arab world in equal measure. Appeasement is never the answer but understanding leads to more subtle methods of victory than the blunderbuss of Air and Tank campaigns. Shock and awe is not a strategy, its a tactic and it only works at the beginning of a campaign and only if it is very quick. Again drawing from history, Shock and awe worked in France in 1940 to about the same degree it did in Iraq and for just about as long. People who ignore history, as both our leadership and the loyal opposition seem to, are, as they say, doomed to repeat it. Lest we forget the outcome of WWII in Europe or Asia was not inevitable. Britain and Europe could have been defeated, were it not for the Japanese, the US might never have gotten in. Failing to understand yourselves, your enemy and your ultimate goals, as well as the historical mistakes others have made, can lead down a very dark road.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 2:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

Bullshit. Lefties are simply for a more sensible defense against terrorists, and not for the wholesale "preemptive" wars this administration has bestowed on us.

And to my knowledge, they continually promote "understand one's enemy better" as the means (or alternative) to preemtpive war. Sorry, but I never hear another alternative.

Did the Democrats do nothing when they controlled the Executive? Hardly. Read Richard Clark's book for compelling insights into the efforts our US Government was taking to protect us. Were the Republicans doing nothing when they took office? I sincerely hope not. But "doing nothing" didn't stoke 9/11.

Speaking of bullshit …another reading list … can’t do it. Why not skip the reading and name a few things Richard Clark (our savior post tragedy) did … I know he grandstanded pretty well. I know the police procedures many would prefer to the military ones in fighting terrorism failed miserably pre 9-11. I know Reagan ran from the Beirut bombings … Clinton did nothing after the first World Trade Center attack (and whatever you might claim he did do, it sure didn’t prevent the 2nd attack). I know he did nothing about the Cole either. I’m sorry if you were offended, though.

Shock and awe worked in France in 1940 to about the same degree it did in Iraq and for just about as long. People who ignore history, as both our leadership and the loyal opposition seem to, are, as they say, doomed to repeat it. Lest we forget the outcome of WWII in Europe or Asia was not inevitable.

The shock and awe used to force Japan to surrender sure worked … as did the excess force used against Germany when that war was clearly won. Churchill was labeled a warmonger by those in Britain who didn’t want to deal with another war. He was beating the drum to deaf ears … I won’t equate cynicism against the war here … but I suspect those against it here would probably have been a good percentage of the 85% of Americans against the war until Hitler declared war on America. Perhaps what saved us from a much longer war in Europe was Hitler himself.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 4:04:00 PM  
Blogger John D. said...

Just to set the record straight, "shock and awe" worked in France--twice. The Germans used it to topple the French government and occupy the country. The French were never able to throw off the occupation themselves. The occupation finally ended when the Americans and the Brits used shock and awe to defeat the Germans.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 6:21:00 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

David M, you said: "I appreciate a nice rhetorical turn of phrase... any time you can subtly compare your political opponents to Neville Chamberlain, it's a cunning tactic."

I agree. That's why I said if I weren't so disgusted, I'd be proud.

Charlie, Iraq's role in the GWOT is probably the biggest fault line between the administration and its critics. I don't think people who believe Iraq was a mistake (either conception or execution or both) aren't serious about fighting terrorism (after all, I'm one of them). But this is a point the administration in its rhetoric seems unwilling to concede.

Ken, good to have you here! But please do take another look at the Welcome comments on the HOTM homepage. I know it's not intended, but your questions felt like interrogations... remember, we're all on the same side here, just trying to persuade the other side and get to the HOTM.

Regarding the discussion of appeasement and shock & awe... my sense is that these terms are so general that different people are imbuing them with different meanings. No wonder we can't agree.

BTW, anyone here listen to the new Bob Dylan CD, Modern Times? It's fantastic.

:-)
Barry

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 7:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

BTW, anyone here listen to the new Bob Dylan CD, Modern Times? It's fantastic.

Okay, but if you wanna dance, check out The Average White Band's new one (live from B.B. Kings in New York) ... best funk band in the land ... forgetaboutit (the good forgetaboutit).

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 8:25:00 PM  
Blogger PBI said...

All,

I was going to write one of my typically long-winded posts on this topic, but Keith Olbermann has spared me (and you) the effort. Olbermann had a closing commentary piece on Secretary Rumsfeld's remarks, and I think he absolutely nails it. It is extremely eloquent, clearly empassioned, and I recommend it highly.

You can check the video out here. (And remember, the topic is not the war on terror, but the language Mr. Rumsfeld and this government uses to pursue its policies and lead the citizenry!)

Take care,
Paul
Sensen No Sen

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 8:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

I watch Keith every night. He's a very funny guy ... but his spin on WWII is Rove-like ... and one could spin Murrow's last lines: "Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular." Well, that can be spun for Bush and "his cronies" ... I'll give Keith this much, he's always entertaining ... especially when he goes after that buffoon O'Reilly. But he does play fast and loose with the facts.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 9:23:00 PM  
Blogger spy scribbler said...

BTW, anyone here listen to the new Bob Dylan CD, Modern Times? It's fantastic.

Oh yeah. It's always a hard choice for me: his musicianship and the character and nuance of his voice now, or his very early Elvis-like golden voice. I can hear traces of those golden tones again in Modern Times, though.

I don't know which I love best about his work: his style and voice, his musicianship, or his poetry.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 9:46:00 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

From the CNN.com article: "He said, for example, that more media attention was given to U.S. soldiers' abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib than to the fact that Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith received the Medal of Honor."

To imply that Abu Ghraib didn't deserve the volume of press coverage this appalling event received demonstrates just how out of touch with American sensibility Donald Rumsfeld is. In Abu Ghraib and in our slowness to apologize after the event became public, certain American citizens behaved exactly like the "vicious extremists," whose danger, according to Rumsfeld, certain other American citizens apparently don't comprehend.

Rumsfeld should STILL be apologizing for Abu Ghraib. How dare he hold up Abu Ghraib's coverage as a sorry example of the poor taste of the media and then, in the same breath, imply his critics don't understand the dangers of our enemy.

Thursday, August 31, 2006 7:07:00 AM  
Blogger Barry said...

Charlie, AWB... uh-oh, another new album I've got to check out...

Paul, thanks for the Olberman link. It was excellent.

Elizabeth, I think saying "In Abu Ghraib... certain American citizens behaved exactly like the 'vicious extremists,'" is going way too far. Would you rather have been any prisoner at AG, or, for example, Daniel Pearl?

I think apologists who've suggested that what happened at AG was no worse than fraternity hazing are going way too far in the other direction. But still, no one was beheaded there. What happened was a disgrace, but again, IMO, the chief significance of the story, and the reason for the widespread coverage it received, was its stunning effectiveness in creating new terrorists right at heart of the supposed war against terrorism.

Thursday, August 31, 2006 7:30:00 AM  
Blogger Barry said...

Spy Scribbler, thanks for the kind words about the sex scenes in the Rain books on your blog -- I think I'm blushing! Regarding your request for a bondage scene, well, as you know I research everything carefully, so I will have to take this up with my wife... ;-)

Good luck with your writing, and thanks again.

-- Barry

Thursday, August 31, 2006 8:59:00 AM  
Blogger PBI said...

Charlie Stella said...
I watch Keith every night. He's a very funny guy ... but his spin on WWII is Rove-like ... and one could spin Murrow's last lines: "Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular." Well, that can be spun for Bush and "his cronies" ... I'll give Keith this much, he's always entertaining ... especially when he goes after that buffoon O'Reilly. But he does play fast and loose with the facts.


I will grant you that I would have been more impressed had Olbermann’s piece come out earlier in the war effort, but that’s about as far as I’ll go. The Bush Administration is no way the “wounded party” in my mind; they have brought this upon themselves through the systematic and repeated demonization of opposition, and continue to do so. In any case, Olbermann’s quote of Murrow was a closing point about remaining committed, and not the central point. His main arguments about “omniscience” and failure were made earlier and more strongly throughout the course of his commentary.

With regard to Olbermann spinning stuff on WWII, I’m not sure I follow. Is this in reference to Olbermann calling O’Reilly out on his Malmedy error? If so, I agree it’s somewhat Rove-like, but at a certain point, one has to stop taking that kind of crap from people like Rove and O’Reilly and shove it back down their throats. No sympathy from me on that one, but I will be the first to raise my voice if Olbermann throws the first spin at somebody who hasn’t done it to him.

I’m not aware of Olbermann playing fast and loose with the facts; can you be specific?

Regards,
Paul
Sensen No Sen

Thursday, August 31, 2006 9:17:00 AM  
Blogger PBI said...

barry said...
Paul, thanks for the Olberman link. It was excellent.


Glad you enjoyed it. As a fellow Big Red alum, Keith’s gotta have something going for him! Oh wait, Ann Coulter also went to Cornell; maybe that earlier statement isn’t altogether true… ; )

Paul
Sensen No Sen

Thursday, August 31, 2006 9:19:00 AM  
Blogger PBI said...

barry said...
Elizabeth, I think saying "In Abu Ghraib... certain American citizens behaved exactly like the 'vicious extremists,'" is going way too far. Would you rather have been any prisoner at AG, or, for example, Daniel Pearl?


Barry,

I have to disagree with you in the strongest terms.

First, Elizabeth clearly mentions “certain citizens,” and is not offering a blanket statement. Second, Daniel Pearl was horribly murdered, but that in no way mitigates the killing of prisoners in American custody, which occurred at Abu Ghraib. (Remember the famous body packed in ice pictures? If not, go here.) And what about what was euphemistically called the “sexual assault” of female prisoners? That wasn’t just the inappropriate touching that often occurs between college freshmen, it was rape. The Pearl/Abu Ghraib comparison is not the only set of alternatives. Someone else could just as easily ask, “Would you rather have been Jill Carroll or any prisoner at Abu Ghraib?” and I think that clearly comes out against the U.S.

The United States raped, tortured and killed at Abu Ghraib. If the contention is that it’s OK because we used heavy flashlights to beat prisoners to death rather than beheading them, I don’t I buy it. If it’s that the odds of prisoner death are higher among those kidnapped by Islamists, that may be, but I haven’t seen data to support the contention, deaths-in-U.S.-custody are not limited to Abu Ghraib, and again, Elizabeth’s statement was restricted to Americans operating at Abu Ghraib.

Best,
Paul
Sensen No Sen

PS.
I would love to take further part in this conversation, but will probably be unable to do so. I’m finishing up a bunch of things before heading to Kansas City for several days of karate training and instructors’ classes. Not exactly a restful Labor Day, but I am all fired up for it! Hope everybody has a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, August 31, 2006 9:25:00 AM  
Anonymous John McAuley said...

Right now I don't have much to contribute to the political discussion, but being as A.W.B. was brought up-- Flint, Mi. 70's something. AWB played the local auditorium and tore that mutha' down. I was on my second bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 when they came out for the encore, which featured a special guest. Bette Midler. I'd never heard of her. Being in my late teens I noticed her boobs before I noticed her voice. But damn, that girl could sing and AWB could jam. Glad to hear they still got the funk. [ And the Divine Miss M. is holding up pretty good her own damnself.]
John McAuley

Thursday, August 31, 2006 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a legitimate news source on prisoners being raped and killed at Abu Ghraib? I found one article in The Guardian, but couldn't find anything else.

Thursday, August 31, 2006 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger PBI said...

Anonymous,

Your question is timely - I had forgotten to include supporting sources in my flurry of previous posts - and swung back by to drop some links into the mix.

I'm not sure if you don't believe AntiWar.com to be credible - and I suppose it's reasonable to be cautious - but aside from the sites stated position, the photos on the page to which I linked in my prior post (here) about Abu Ghraib were all taken by the Abu Ghraib jailers, and have been available elsewhere. (The "dead body in ice" is about 9-10 photos from the top, under the subhead "May 19th.") For further documentation, ABC News reported on the same beating death - but did not publish the actual photos - here.

The report by Major General Taguba on Abu Ghraib (The "Taguba Report") is available in its entirety here. Notes on an MP "having sex with" a female prisoner is on page 17, as is mention of taking photographs of dead detainees. I suppose it's possible that sex with one's jailer is consensual and that the deceased prisoners all died of natural causes or prior illness, but I think the odds are strongly against it.

Finally, I know that the Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney response is that it was "just a few bad apples," but that is increasingly undermined by documentation indicating that torture techniques developed at Guantanamo were then transplanted to Iraq. (See here, for instance.)

OK, now I've really gotta run!

Take care,
Paul
Sensen No Sen

Thursday, August 31, 2006 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

I’m not aware of Olbermann playing fast and loose with the facts; can you be specific?

For one thing, Churchill had gone from the political left to right (and I’ve probably followed his advice: those who were under 30 and weren’t liberal had no heart; those over 30 who weren’t conservative had no brains—his quote, not mine), so when Churchill was arguing for GB to wake up to Hitler, it was from the right (not the left). Churchill was arguing for war (as is the administration).

While it was true Chamberlain held all the cards (information), he was suppressing it to stay out of war (not championing the cause). KO’s spin was reverse spin (good on a pool table and it might excite those against the war, but it’s still spin). It was clever of KO to spin it his way (and it does work if all one looks at is the information and hubris), but it totally neglects what the debate was about, not to mention the aside that had KO been a Brit in the 1930’s, chances are he’d have been behind Chamberlain and nowhere near Churchill (who, as a matter of fact, was also accused of thinking himself brilliant). KO wants it to work both ways.

I’ll grant you this, when the administration (this or any other) wants to make a point (or counterpoint), they do the same thing … spin reality on its head.

Thursday, August 31, 2006 1:22:00 PM  
Blogger David Terrenoire said...

I've been busy moving and writing gratuitous breast shots for a low-budget film, so I haven't been able to contribute anything of substance.

But when has that ever stopped me?

I read all the comments and the only thing I feel moved to respond to is Charlie's statement that Richard Clarke and the Clinton administration didn't do anything after the first WTC attack, the Cole (and he didn't mention them, but I'll add the embassy bombings to the mix).

Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, this just isn't true. The people responsible for the first WTC bombing were caught, prosecuted and are in jail. That's something the Bush administration hasn't managed to do with the guy behind the second WTC attack.

After the embassy bombings and the Cole attack, Clinton blew up what they thought was a weapons factory and was thoroughly derided by the Republicans for blowing up an aspirin factory.

Clinton also tossed a few cruise missiles at bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan and again, the Republicans called it Wag the Dog and laughed about how much good "bouncing the rubble" would do. I remember. If those missiles had killed bin Laden, it would have done plenty, and he still would have gotten a raft of shit from the right.

The Clinton administration foiled a plot to blow up LAX and I'm sure there are other examples, but these are just off the top of my head.

My point is, they did something. Maybe they didn't do enough but they did something. And when they did, the right wing of the GOP did everything they could do discredit the effort and the administration. So all the bloviators who are now so eager to take on the terrorists and Islamic fascists are a bit late to the party in my opinion. That makes their commitment seem more than a little opportunistic. It keeps them in power if the American people are scared rabbits.

I remember when a few Soviet citizens were taken hostage by some muslim faction in Beirut. (I think that's where it was, I could be wrong.) Anyway, the KGB's response was to find out who the kidnappers were and then they killed the kidnappers' mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, children, cousins, teachers, old babysitters, ex-girlfriends, and people they'd talked to more than once.

The citizens were released and there were no more kidnappings, of Soviet citizens. Not a one.

I'm not suggesting this is the answer, but I am suggesting that there's something in between issuing a subpoena and launching a balls out military assault.

That these are the only two options Rumsfeld seems to acknowledge tells me a lot about his, and this administration's, lack of imagination.

So Charlie, Clinton did a lot, and in my opinion did it smarter than these late-hour converts to the fight. He may not have done enough to make you happy, but he did something other than send other people's children to war.

And I think he deserves some props for that, especially in light of how wrong and unsupportive the GOP was at the time.

Thursday, August 31, 2006 2:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

And I think he deserves some props for that, especially in light of how wrong and unsupportive the GOP was at the time.

No need to go into Republican and Democratic support (or lack of) for each other; politics as usual. I don’t pay much attention to the chorus of crap from either side.

So Charlie, Clinton did a lot, and in my opinion did it smarter than these late-hour converts to the fight. He may not have done enough to make you happy, but he did something other than send other people's children to war.

Dave, the above depends on what you consider “a lot” … one of those arrested in the first bombing was released and turned up in Iraq. The phrase “other than send other people’s children to war” is very dramatic, but Bin Laden is on record saying he felt the U.S. didn’t have the will to go to war (a mistake in judgment once Bush was elected, but he was certainly encouraged by Clinton’s lack of resolve). Neither did Clinton pull the trigger when he had the chance (at Bin Laden). For all the anger aimed at Bush for not getting Bin Laden (and he may never get him), we know Clinton didn’t get him in his 8 years of opportunity.

Charlie, Charlie, Charlie

Definitely the next mobster I write about … “Charlie three times”

The people responsible for the first WTC bombing were caught, prosecuted and are in jail.

The blind mullah and a few of his cronies … 6 dead, 1,040 injured AND Yousef escaped to Pakistan several hours later. He was brought back to face justice (jail time/not justice in my book) later and proclaimed terrorists would bring the towers down in the future.

Dave, Dave, Dave … you’re right, it’s very subjective. For me, putting the few clowns involved in the plot in jail just wasn’t enough … not after ties to Al Qaeda were established (where were Clarke & Clinton for all the follow-up?). You’re right also that I left out the embassy bombings and Mogadishu … no jail time for any of those … I think the GOP called it “pounding sand” (what Clinton did) but I won’t join that chorus of partisan shouting ... for me it’s about results. I believe Bin Laden was encouraged by both Reagan & Clinton.

Thursday, August 31, 2006 3:26:00 PM  
Blogger law dawg fed said...

David-

Those responsible for the first WTC bombing are the same as the attack on 9/11. The people tried and convicted for the first attack were the operators. More of the masterminds, if you'll allow the term, have been eliminated in the 9/11 attack. Not prosecuted, but eliminated.

OBL is on record many times as saying that the US doesn't have the will for war. Where did he get that idea if we have done so much? And I mean that from both sides of the political fence.

F it, I'm starting my own damn party. My title shall be - Philosopher King.

Barry, you can be one of my Warlords. You up for it? We have a lot of fringe benefits and one hell of a dental plan.

Thursday, August 31, 2006 6:44:00 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Paul, thanks as always for the excellent links. Assuming all those photos are real, they are rough viewing (I saw only a small percentage of them in the mainstream media, though that could of course be because the MSM found them too graphic to run).

We could argue about decapitations vs beatings, or beatings vs the infliction of mass casualties (the "vicious extremists" presumably aren't confined only to those who kidnap and release, or kidnap and behead, but include also those who perpetrated 9/11 and who otherwise do their best to inflict mass casualties on civilians). And I guess you could say that some of ours behaved like some of theirs -- that is, there is a small overlap in two large data sets -- in which case Elizabeth's point would be technically correct. In the end, though, I sense on this one we're going to have to agree to disagree.

I recognize I have a bias here; emotionally, it pains me to see that Americans could do what the AG people did, and it comforts me to minimize it (although I try to be objective). Perhaps I'm wrong, but I see a similar mirror image tendency at work in comments that seem eager to equate AG with decapitations, 9/11, etc. Elizabeth, if I misunderstood you or assumed some bias in your comments that doesn't exist, I apologize.

This whole thing reminds me of a time in junior high school when I got a D on a test. My mother was pissed at me for "failing" the test. I was reduced to arguing that I didn't actually fail; in fact, I received a D. Maybe the larger point is that, once you're in a position where your best argument is that you got a D, not an F, you've already lost.

Enjoy that karate class, my friend.

David, you mentioned gratuitous breast shots. That seems an oxymoron to me...

(Did I say that out loud? Sorry, that was my inner 14-year-old, who I must periodically propitiate...)

Charlie -- "Charlie Three Times." Fantastic!

LD, I'm in for a warlord position. Unless there's a Benevolent Dictator post still available. Failing that, I would settle for Magnate or Tycoon. Let me know.

:-)
Barry

Thursday, August 31, 2006 8:22:00 PM  
Blogger r2 said...

The new Dylan album is pretty epic. But I thought you were a big jazz fan. Or, am I getting you mixed up with Rain?

Thursday, August 31, 2006 9:29:00 PM  
Blogger David Terrenoire said...

Wow, great responses from both Charlie and Law Dawg, but that's usually the case. It seems we differ only in degree (except I still don't have any confidence that this administration could orchestrate a one car funeral. You mileage may vary.)

And sign me up for that new party. We have a magnet on our refrigerator that's been there for years that says, "Remind me again why I should vote for either of these assholes."

You want new music, Barry? I listen to WWOZ out of NO with a pencil and pad by the computer so I can write down what I like. Here's what I have so far:

The Radiators - Dreaming Out Loud
Sonny Landreth - Leveetown
Derek Trucks Band - Songlines
NO Social Club - Sing Me Back Home

That last one has a kick ass funkified version of Fortunate Son. Quite timely, in my opinion.

Now, back to gratuitous breast shots. Yes, a lovely oxymoron.

Friday, September 01, 2006 5:45:00 AM  
Blogger Barry said...

R2 Rain and I both love jazz, but not the exclusion of other great music. Speaking of which, David, thanks for the additional recommendations.

Fred Kaplan of Slate has some excellent thoughts on Rumfeld's speech and on Bush's. The one on Bush, IMO, is particularly trenchant.

Friday, September 01, 2006 8:36:00 AM  
Anonymous brooklynsax said...

David Terrenoire-

I share some of your frustration with Bush’s counter terrorism policies, but Clinton’s record on responding to terrorist attacks was pretty pitiful. Sure, he did “something”, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

The Clinton administration made the FBI the lead agency in fighting terrorism – a decision virtually nobody defends - putting terrorism in the realm of domestic law enforcement. Madeline Albright said as much in 1998, according to The New Republic, when she proclaimed. “We are not a nation that retaliates just in order to get vengeance, nor do we forget our own legal system while searching for those who harmed us."

You said, “The people responsible for the first WTC bombing were caught, prosecuted and are in jail. That's something the Bush administration hasn't managed to do with the guy behind the second WTC attack.”

It’s true that six individuals were caught for the first WTC bombing, but the administration did not go beyond that, despite suspicions that Al Qaida was involved. The people behind the actual planning were never pursued.

After the Khobar tower bombings in 1996, the administration dragged its feet and refused to pressure Saudi Arabia to cooperate. According to the New Yorker, FBI director Louis Freeh became so frustrated that he actually asked former president George H.W. Bush to intercede with the Saudis, who responded by providing evidence that pointed to Iran. It didn’t help.

Again, according to the New Yorker, “…by the end of the Clinton era, Freeh had become so mistrustful of Clinton that, although he believed he had developed enough evidence to seek indictments against the masterminds behind the attack, not just the front-line suspects, he decided to wait for a new administration.” To this day, there are no suspects in American custody.

“After the embassy bombings and the Cole attack, Clinton blew up what they thought was a weapons factory and was thoroughly derided by the Republicans for blowing up an aspirin factory.”

Actually, after the embassies, he was derided for blowing up a pharmaceutical factory, which the administration claimed was making chemical weapons. The missile strikes on a training camp in Afghanistan were, unfortunately, ineffectual, and special forces teams were not deployed afterwards to pursue Bin Laden.

Daniel Benjamin of the National Security Council, wrote that, “there was no support for decisive measures in Afghanistan — including, possibly, the use of U.S. ground forces — to hunt down the terrorists; and thus no national leader of either party publicly suggested such action." Again, see above link.

With the Cole, no suspects were ever apprehended, and there was no retaliatory action. As a matter of fact, Clinton remained determined to focus on his “peace process”, inviting Arafat to the White house more than any foreign official, while suicide bombers were blowing up Israeli busses, the Palestinian media was calling for the destruction of Israel, and Arafat was promising victory over the “Zionist entity” in Arabic.

As far as Republicans deriding Clinton, The Wall Street Journal, which has a conservative editorial board, supported the strikes in Afghanistan, but you are right – the Republicans slammed Clinton on everything he did. That’s the way politics work in this country, unfortunately.

But it still doesn’t change Clinton’s record on terrorism. I voted for Clinton, and look back on his tenure as a successful one. But I can’t say he did “a lot” to fight terrorism. The evidence just isn’t there.

Friday, September 01, 2006 8:40:00 AM  
Blogger JD Rhoades said...

Dave, Dave, Dave … you’re right, it’s very subjective. For me, putting the few clowns involved in the plot in jail just wasn’t enough … not after ties to Al Qaeda were established (where were Clarke & Clinton for all the follow-up?).

Charlie, check out Steve Coll's "Ghost Wars" for the answer to that last question. The answer is: thy were there. One thing they did was dedicate an entire "bin Laden Unit" of the CIA (the Unit has since been shut down under the current administration--guess GWB meant it when he said he wasn't concerned with finding OBL). There were several chances to kill OBL but they were called off because of the chance of collateral damage (including one incident where OBL was hanging out with nobles from Dubai...remember Dubai? )
Now maybe an argument can be made that Clinton should have just said "hang the consequences, kill the sumbtch", but I don't think it can justifiably be made by the same people who dogged Clinton's every step and derided every public attempt he made to fight terror as "Wag the Dog."

Friday, September 01, 2006 8:43:00 AM  
Anonymous brooklynsax said...

jh rhoades -

Bush is not on record saying he wasn't concerned about finding Bin Laden. Maureen Dowd said he said that, and after it was shown that she had misquoted him, she requoted him correctly in a subsequent article.

Friday, September 01, 2006 8:52:00 AM  
Blogger JD Rhoades said...

Brooklyn: that is simply not true.

From the White House archives:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/03/20020313-8.html


So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you.

A few paragraphs down:

Q But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

Friday, September 01, 2006 10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

Now maybe an argument can be made that Clinton should have just said "hang the consequences, kill the sumbtch", but I don't think it can justifiably be made by the same people who dogged Clinton's every step and derided every public attempt he made to fight terror as "Wag the Dog."

It's where we differ, JD. I can't care about collateral damage when the goal is to win (that ugly word again--win). Clinton himself has said he wished he had pulled the trigger.

I guess I'd skip the redneck speak and say: There's the guy we need to get. Go for it."

AS far as the CIA's unit to get Bin Laden, it didn't work (so accusing GB of letting him off the hook (remember he still has two years and he's proved much more effective at getting people/targets than Clinton ever did)). I'm not looking for comparisons here (to me there are none). It's all about getting the bad guy and Clinton didn't do it. Bush has two years (and several of the bad guys he went after are gone). Not the big bad guy, but he's done a lot more than Clinton.

Friday, September 01, 2006 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Joshua James said...

Wow, what a conversation.

Hmm, rather get in between the who has done better against bin Laden, Clinton or Bush (which seems an odd argument, seeing that Clinton has been gone six years and the majority of the damage done to our county, both in terms of lives and credibility, has been under Bush's watch, but whatever) I would like to share something I got today from a friend about current US deserters - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2099-2318643_1,00.html

These are guys that went over and served, then left because they were disgusted with what was happening. It's pretty fascinating and a side of the Iraq story I have heard much of yet.

Friday, September 01, 2006 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Joshua James said...

I meant to say, in the post above, that the link was a side of the story I haven't heard much of.

And though I said I planned to say out of the Clinton / Bush comparision, I would like to offer this up.

While Clinton may have gotten fewer bad guys at the same time he was dealing with an uncooporative congress and a ridiculous impeachment, I don't know really know how anyone can honestly say that Bush has been at all competent as a President, in terms of what our military has done and is doing, how the intelligence has been developed, and what's happening in Iraq (which, in his own words, had nothing to do with the attack on our country on Sept nine one one and how we've let Afganistan go. To say nothing of Katrina, breaking the fourth amendment, any of that.

Simply put, the guy is an imcompentent President and manager all around - just citing that he's killed more bad guys doesn't make him a better President. It's how those objectives were achieved that matters, in the end.

For example, if we bombed the shit out of Chicago, I'm sure we'd kill some organized crime guys, some bad people would go down. But so would a lot of innocent people. Could we call that a victory?

Hate Clinton all you want, I'm not a fan. But come on, do you really think Bush has been an effective military leader?

Friday, September 01, 2006 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous brooklynsax said...

jd rhoades:

Thanks for that link. I stand corrected.

Friday, September 01, 2006 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous brooklynsax said...

Barry -

Good to hear you're a jazz fan. I'm a saxophonist. I studied jazz in college.

Friday, September 01, 2006 11:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

For example, if we bombed the shit out of Chicago, I'm sure we'd kill some organized crime guys,

Hey, leave organized crime alone ... madonna mia, it's the government deals you should be attacking there (letting serial killers go for the sake of a deal instead of pursuing convictions for the murders themselves) ... don't get me started.

I'm not comparing Clinton-Bush (although my voting for Bush had everything to do with being supportive of the war and so there is no comparison for me--I prefer Bush). We don't agree, but you seem to neglect other targets Bush went after and capture/killed, including Hussein, his murderous brats, Zarquawi, removing the Taliban from power (and, no, it hasn't returned to power) ... you may not agree with the methodology (as many do not), but comparing clinton's accomplishments with regard to terrorism is a weak argument (to hawks like myself). There just weren't many (if any) at all and the book on Bin Laden/Bush doesn't close for another two years.

Friday, September 01, 2006 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Joshua James said...

Hussein wasn't a terrorist, he was a dictator who killed his own people and there are many of those. You've heard of North Korea, country with a dictator and a bomb?

And yes, the Taliban is back in Afganistan.

Bush hasn't fought terrorism well because he invested our forces in an illegal war against Iraq (which was not involved with Al qada or the attacks on our country) rather than send them after bin laden, who was involved in the attacks on our country.

The common metaphor for it is, when Pearl Harbor happened, our country invaded and attacked Mexico.

Look, he's not honest and that's enough of a reason to impeach him.

He lied to us about the reason for going to war, he lied to us about breaking the fourth amendment for domestic wiretaps, he lied that he never said bin laden didn't matter during the debate, he is basically a liar who invaded a county and killed many, many innocent cilivians, women and children included, and did so illegally, without UN mandate. He killed some bad guys, sure, but like I said, the cost of doing so hurt us a lot more than helped us. Just like dropping a bomb on chicago.

He's imcompetent.

He sent troops there without enough equipment or intelligence and he didn't send enough troops. He also told them we'd be greeted as liberators. That hasn't actually happened, now has it?

We didn't invade Iraq because Hussein was a nasty bastard, we invaded because we were told that we were under the threat of imminent attack with wmd. You know that, right? And Bush also tied Iraq to the sept attacks on our country in his letter to congress, march of 2003. So when he says now that he never tied Iraq to the attacks, he's lying.

He's a bad liar, in addition to a bad administrator and bad president. He swore to uphold and defend the constitution and he's definitely not doing that.

Bush has increased hatred of this country by killing over fifty thousand civilians in the war, by torturing innocent and guilty prisoners (and having the pictures of the torture broadcast in newspapers all over the world) and hurt the credibility of our country all over the world because we invaded a country that hadn't attacked us, hadn't attacked our allies, and the reason we invaded them turned out to be a baldfaced lie.

I'm sorry, I don't know you, but the proposition that Bush has done more to stop terrorist is plain ridiculous. He's given them new recruits a reason to join, he's given them proof that we're worthy to attack because we've bombed and killed thousands of innocent muslim civilians and mostly, he's disgraced his office by lying about it.

And if you state we're safer today than we were before the attacks, I only have one word in response and that word is Katrina.

Friday, September 01, 2006 1:02:00 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Joshua, more evidence sir, less bombast! Take a look at the way Paul uses cites to back up his arguments, rather than presenting conclusions as the arguments themselves. Remember, the point is to persuade, not to chastise (which is unlikely to persuade and will probably produce the opposite effect). What kind of tone would persuade you? Use that one.

Many thanks,
Barry

Friday, September 01, 2006 1:16:00 PM  
Blogger Joshua James said...

Sorry Barry, I didn't feel I was bombastic but I apologize for coming across that way.

As evidence for my position, this time line via mother jones of the lies told by this administration http://www.motherjones.com/bush_war_timeline/index.html regarding the Iraq war and terrorists.

We (the country) tried to impeach the last president over a lie. The least we can do is hold this one to the same standard, don't you think?

Friday, September 01, 2006 1:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

You've heard of North Korea, country with a dictator and a bomb?


I haven't read further ... i'm literally on my way to the gym and will read the rest when I come back. But since you bring up NK, remember that Clinton signed a treaty with them they DID NOT HONOR. It's great that he got that treaty, but as it turns out, it's as useless as his CIA unito to capture Bin Laden.

See you later (or domani).

Friday, September 01, 2006 2:01:00 PM  
Blogger John D. said...

Hussein wasn't a terrorist, he was a dictator who killed his own people and there are many of those. You've heard of North Korea, country with a dictator and a bomb?

This one has been repeated ad nauseum. While there has been no proof presented that Saddam had any connection with the 9/11 attacks, it's ridiculous to suggest that he had no connection to terrorism. For instance:

As far back as the 1980s, Abu Ibrahim's 15 May organization was operating out of Iraq. The details of 15 May's ralationship with the Iraqi government were revealed by defector Adnan Awad.

Sabri al-Banna, otherwise known as Abu Nidal, relocated to Iraq after he was booted from Libya in the late 1990s.

Abu Abbas, the mastermind of the Achille Lauro hijacking, was released by Italian authorities because he was holding an Iraqi diplomatic passport. Abbas fled to Iraq, where he continued to run his organization with Iraqi Support. Abbas was captured in Iraq in 2003 following the US invasion. He died while in US custody in 2004.

Saddam was paying off the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

As for an Iraq-al Qaeda connection, check out this 1999 quote, from Richard Clark:

...he said that intelligence exists linking bin Laden to El Shifa's current and past operators, the Iraqi nerve gas experts and the National Islamic Front in Sudan.

Is there an Iraqi connection to 9/11? As far as I know, there's no evidence of one. Is there an Iraqi connection to al Qaeda? Maybe. An Iraqi connection to international terrorism? I have no doubt in my mind.

Friday, September 01, 2006 3:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

Something tells me, Joshua, you're not a Bush fan. I'm not going to engage in all the mistatements of fact you've compiled above (ignoring "one reason" why North Korea has the bomb was just one I pointed out--Clinton's failed treaty) ... and I'm not blaming North Korea's bomb "exclusively" on Clinton. North Korea shares some of the blame.

The sarcasm I'll assume you'll get over. We've all done it here and more than once. We try our best to ignore it when we see it later on.

Let's agree to disagree. I don't hold Bush up as some model of efficiency. I think all wars are comprised of mistakes and that had the modern media had a crack at WWII, we'd likely be speaking German today (operation Market Garden cost the allies 10,000 troops—can you imagine that number today lost in a few days time?). I don't blame the media, though (so I'm not going there). If you're against the Iraq war, that's fine. I'm not going to convince you it was a good idea. On the other hand, you're not going to convince me that it's an illegal war anymore than you'll convince me that collateral damage has to be avoided at all costs. I also won't blame natural disasters on any president. The response to Katrina was terrible from the point of disaster (New Orleans itself) to the federal government. Spike Lee's documentary was pretty fair, I thought (except for the highlighted anti-Bush sound bytes--I didn't see nearly as many for Ray Nagin or Gov. Blanco), but it was a tragedy and a shame and something this country never had to deal with before. Should we have levees like those in the Netherlands? Of course. Will we? I doubt it, but those levees weren't put there by Bush II, Clinton, Bush I, Reagan, Carter ... it was a tragedy. I'm not blowing off blame aimed at Bush. You feel he's incompetent. I think the incompetence factor has been overblown and at least overridden by his war effort. I support the war and probably a lot more military action than would make you comfortable (if you think we’ve gone too far up to now).

Peace, brother.

Friday, September 01, 2006 3:30:00 PM  
Blogger Joshua James said...

As far as Bush, I'm not a dishonesty fan, Charlie, nor a shredding of the constitution fan - so in some respects, I fit the conservative profile - but okay, we can disagree and though I think this administration is ethically challenged, you for sure have the right to believe and support whomever you wish - so . . . Peace right back at you, brother.

My point is that the reasons for the war were and still are false and unjustified. In the words of the late Pat Tillman, Iraq is a "fucking illegal war", so that's what I believe.

John D, didn't the US also fund and train Osama bin Laden at some point, when he was in Afganistan fighting Soviets, just like we did with Saddam Hussein in the 80's?

Iraq didn't attack us on sept one one. Many countries have had contact with al qaeda, (saudi, right?) but contact doesn't mean collusion, and I think if there were hard evidence of collusion between Osama and Hussein, sustained collusion, then this administration would be trumpeting it on every channel and in every newspaper, right?

Question - Barry, is it terrorism if it's a soverign country doing the actions? In other words, if a country engages in covert acts of violence against another, that's not really terrorism as it is defined, but rather an act of war, right? My understanding is that if a small political group attacks a country, it's terrorism, but if it's a country or that country's policy attacking another country, it's not terrorism but war - am I wrong on that?

If not, that would mean that I was correct in my original statement, which was Hussein was not a terrorist, just a dictator who terrorized his own people. No different than many dictators out there, except Iraq had more oil than any of those.

Was Hussein involved in nefarious schemes abroad, I'm sure he was. I'm also sure most countries were, including ours. But that doesn't make our invasion of Iraq justified, nor the torture of prisoners (in violation of the Geneva convention) nor any number of things that have happened as a result of going into Iraq.

Really, I think if a person was against "Islamic Facism" as per Bush's statements, than we should have never attacked Iraq, because if I recall correctly, it was the only secular Muslim country in the Mideast, wasn't it?

Friday, September 01, 2006 7:06:00 PM  
Blogger Joshua James said...

Rummy has responded to criticism, says the media took his speech, including the actual words, out of context. Here's the link http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060901/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/rumsfeld_democrats and addressed dems specifically.

Friday, September 01, 2006 7:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

Thanks, John D (for the above facts about Hussein) ... my fingers were worn out. Hussein had to go ... I'd vote for Bush again for getting it done.

Friday, September 01, 2006 7:48:00 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Joshua -- no worries about the tone; I think HOTM is a little different than most internet forums, and takes some getting used to. The main thing to remember is, disagreements here aren't personal. We're all people of good will. We're not here to fight, and argument is just a means to get closer to the truth, or at least to a better understanding of what divides us. At least that's the way I see it.

As for what's war, what's terrorism... big question, and good fodder, perhaps, for its own post.

John D, thanks for the links. To me, questions about whether Hussein (or anyone else) is a terrorist, a dictator, or any other label we can come up with are misplaced. I think the real question is, what would have been the cost to the US for Hussein to have remained in power? What will be the cost of removing him? What were and will be the benefits of each?

My take is that regardless of what labels we might attach to Hussein, his presence was costing us less than his removal. But we could debate this one to death and probably still wouldn't reach any kind of consensus. I'm not sure where the division lies -- ideology? Different weights we all assign to the various costs and benefits? A moral bent to foreign policy vs realpolitick? Other factors? Something is causing us to analyze the same data and reach different conclusions, and that something is the HOTM. I don't know what it is, but I'm glad we're groping for it.

Friday, September 01, 2006 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Elizabeth, I think saying "In Abu Ghraib... certain American citizens behaved exactly like the 'vicious extremists,'" is going way too far. Would you rather have been any prisoner at AG, or, for example, Daniel Pearl?

I'm sorry Barry, I didn't mean to imply I would prefer to be either and you're right that Daniel Pearl's captors behaved far worse than our people. I found the whole speech upsetting, and maybe I wasn't clear myself. I'm not sure what comparing the two actions accomplishes, though. Both groups behaved far below any level of human decency. And Rumsfeld crossed a line, at least in my book, when he tried to downplay Abu Ghraib. Just because other people's behavior was worse, doesn't justify the actions of the soldiers at Abu Ghraib or make it any less terrible.

Friday, September 01, 2006 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Joshua James said...

Charlie,

Question. Why so hot to get Saddam gone? What he's done to his people is no more or no less worse than what happened to the people of Tibet (whose leaders have been petitioning our country for help for quite some time) and what's happened to the people in Rwanda and the Sudan is far worse. We haven't done much about those places, instead we went to Iraq.

And one can argue that the deaths of civilians via US "collateral damage" are going equal the number of deaths caused by Saddam himself.

One can also argue that Iraq, being a secular nation, served as a balance against Iran in a tenuous Mideast and now that's gone, things have gotten worse there, not better. If we wanted to really rewrite history there, we should have gone into Iran first.

Why this one guy? Isn't it simply because the President named him and so you decided to believe him? What if he's wrong? You admit, do you not, that he has been wrong about some things before?

But okay, even if he's right and Saddam needed to go now, did we do it the right way?

Again, it's about cost effectiveness. We're dropping, what, a billion bucks a month there and for what? To get rid of someone unpleasant who was no direct threat to our country.

And we killed a lot of innocent people unnecessarily, not simple collateral damage, but real unnecessary deaths. If you don't take my word for it, take the words of some of the soldiers themselves http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2099-2318643_1,00.html

That's not cost effective. There were other things and places we could have used the money for. And we've thrown away a lot of soldiers lives on a threat that did not exist, and that means something to me. I wouldn't trade a soldiers life (or your life) for Saddam if he was no threat to our country and, quite simply, he wasn't a direct and imminent threat.

Saturday, September 02, 2006 7:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Charlie Stella said...

Question. Why so hot to get Saddam gone?

For me (why Saddam) it all has to do with drawing a line in the sand (I don’t buy into the rhetoric of the war, although I do believe he had WMD). Iraq was a national state sponsoring terrorism (his payoffs to suicide bombers in Palestine was more than enough for me post 9-11).

And one can argue that the deaths of civilians via US "collateral damage" are going equal the number of deaths caused by Saddam himself.

Collateral damage isn’t a big concern of mine during war (sorry if that reads cold and nasty but it is how I feel; minimize it when you can, maximize it if that’s what is required to win (i.e., Japan).

One can also argue that Iraq, being a secular nation, served as a balance against Iran in a tenuous Mideast and now that's gone, things have gotten worse there, not better. If we wanted to really rewrite history there, we should have gone into Iran first.

Iran was waving a red flag (like a bullfighter) … invaded two neighbors (albeit one with our blessing) and continually disregarded U.N. sanctions AND those station sponsored publicly issued suicide rewards.

Why this one guy? Isn't it simply because the President named him and so you decided to believe him? What if he's wrong? You admit, do you not, that he has been wrong about some things before?

Buddy, I didn’t decide to believe anybody. I suspect you’ve been wrong more than GW.

But okay, even if he’s right and Saddam needed to go now, did we do it the right way?

The timing was perfect (see publicly sponsored suicide bombers).

Again, it's about cost effectiveness. We're dropping, what, a billion bucks a month there and for what? To get rid of someone unpleasant who was no direct threat to our country.

that’s your cost analysis. I see it much different (as putting off attacks here--which there have been none since but there sure was one before).

And we killed a lot of innocent people unnecessarily, not simple collateral damage, but real unnecessary deaths. If you don't take my word for it, take the words of some of the soldiers themselves

I believe many people were killed unnecessarily … that’s a tough price to pay and sometimes there’s nothing else one can do. For the record, we lost 500,000 men in WWII.

That's not cost effective. There were other things and places we could have used the money for. And we've thrown away a lot of soldiers lives on a threat that did not exist, and that means something to me. I wouldn't trade a soldiers life (or your life) for Saddam if he was no threat to our country and, quite simply, he wasn't a direct and imminent threat.

Obviously those soldiers believed the threat was real (they volunteered and had the right to take jail instead). There are more U.S. soldiers still there who believe in the mission than don’t. Like I said, I can’t convince you of what you don’t believe in; nor can you convince me. The threat may not have been imminent, but the risk was … I’m afraid we won’t know the actual cost until suicide bombers hit our subways (which I expect they will sooner or later) but they didn’t need the war in Iraq to try that (9-11 happened before the war).

Saturday, September 02, 2006 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Joshua James said...

Obviously, Iraq didn't have WMD's, and I'd say that al qaeda and company were funding suicide bombers, as was saudi and a host of other places, more than Iraq.

If you're worried about subway bombers here, they going into Iraq, then we've wasted money in Iraq we could have spent protecting ourselves here.

I can be convinced actually, Charlie, I simply need evidence and reason. I'm not a democrat, if you're wondering, if that matters. I'm fully open to hearing a really solid, good reason for our country and soldiers doing something really terrible. We were told we were under imminent threat of attack with WMD's. Had those weapons and evidence of an imminent threat had been found, I wouldn't be arguing with you. However, there was no credible threat (which I suspected before) and the invasion of the country showed there never was one.

You're saying you won't be convinced invading a county that didn't attack us or our allies was right no matter what I or anyone else can say, no matter what the evidence shows. I cannot reasonably respond to that because your position, as you state, isn't open to it. So you are right, we shouldn't converse on the subject anymore.

Saturday, September 02, 2006 12:10:00 PM  

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