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November 01, 2003

ME AND WES....Let's put a few threads together that I've been dancing around for a couple of days. Let's talk about the war on terror and Wesley Clark.

Since I'm not a presidential candidate I don't have a 20-point program for how to fight and win the war on terror. But at a broad level there is one thing that ought to be plainly obvious to anyone who thinks seriously about these things: we can only win as part of a large, committed, global alliance. It's not that I think the rest of the world has some claim to moral superiority or anything, it's just that if we take a unilateral approach we're going to lose, and I don't want to lose.

This has been true for all the big wars of the 20th century, but a combination of dim historical understanding and a desire to canonize Ronald Reagan seems to have left much of the populace under the impression that we won World War II and the Cold War almost singlehandedly. But we didn't. We won them with lots of allies, and without those allies we would have lost. And on the lone occasion when we did try to win a big war alone, in Vietnam, we did lose.

Wesley Clark seems to understand this, as this excerpt from his forthcoming book makes clear. We need alliances, we need to rely more on "persuasion and shared vision," and we need to use military power as a last resort, not as a routine tool. Here is Phil Carter's take on Clark's views:

I like Wes Clark's view of the world, and his view of where America should fit into the world. I think that we ought to enlist other nations and international organizations in the fight against Al Qaeda and other terror networks, because the only way to defeat a terror network is to build a stronger network of our own. However, I also recognize that saying these things and doing them are two different things. It will be exceedingly hard for President Clark to implement his vision -- harder even that it would be if he were General Clark again. A lot of fence mending must be done before we can start down this multilateralist road. If Wes Clark wants to make this vision seem realistic, I think he has to articulate the "how" instead of just the "what" for his view of the world and America's place in it.

I've mentioned before that I'm not that interested in detailed plans from presidential candidates, so I'm not as concerned about the "how" as Phil is. What I am interested in is their instincts and judgment, and my take on Clark is that he truly understands the importance — and the weaknesses — of multilateral alliances in the war on terror, and truly understands that we're not going to win primarily through the use of traditional military power. At the same time, I also suspect that for the occasions when we do need to use hard power, he has the best chance of reforming the military to fight this new war.

I haven't yet made up my mind to support Clark because — let's be honest here — his campaign is going through some growing pains and I want to see how well he comes out the other end. If he gets his act together, though, I'll probably support him. George Bush's congenital insistence on getting his own way on all things at all times — exactly the wrong personality for a task that requires extensive and sensitive coalition-building — has set us on a course inherently doomed to failure, and right now Clark seems like the best combination of a candidate with sound domestic instincts as well as the ability to clean up Bush's mess and put us back on a winning path abroad.

And since I want to win this war, that means he'll get my vote. All he has to do now is show that he knows how to run a campaign....

Posted by Kevin Drum at November 1, 2003 11:51 AM | TrackBack


Comments

here here...

Posted by: ccobb at November 1, 2003 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Well said, Kevin.

---JRC

Posted by: JRC at November 1, 2003 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

I cannot understand how a war on terror can be "won." Terror is nothing more than a technique of fighting. When a superpower uses terror it is called shock and awe. When the less powerful do it is called "suicide bombing." Like all wars and techniques of war winning is accomplished only by avoiding the causes and avoiding the need for war. To win this "war" we have to begin to understand and even respect "why they fight", not just "why we fight." That is going to take far more sophisticated thinking that "they terrorize because that is what terrorists do" (GWB)or "we have to simply find them and root them out." (Chaney). Clark has demonstrated the ability to think and understand complexity and his adversary. Clark has demonstrated the ability to think outside a narrow militaristic box. Dean is a possiblity, too. But none of the others have shown this ability, yet.

Posted by: chad at November 1, 2003 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

What would winning the war on terrorism look like?

Likewise, what would happen if we lost?

I'm not being facetious. I honestly don't understand how anyone will know when we've defeated them, or when we're supposed to surrender (an option no one outside of a first year al Qaeda recruit takes seriously, probably).

In truth, isn't terrorism more like organized crime, which would make the "war on terrorism" merely a metaphor for a vigorous international initiative to mitigate their actions, but never totally defeat them?

After all, we still got a mafia, and the world is rife with other examples of organized crime.

So again:

If this is war, how do we know it's peace?

Posted by: tristero at November 1, 2003 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

This has been true for all the big wars of the 20th century, but a combination of dim historical understanding and a desire to canonize Ronald Reagan seems to have left much of the populace under the impression that we won World War II and the Cold War almost singlehandedly. But we didn't. We won them with lots of allies, and without those allies we would have lost. And on the lone occasion when we did try to win a big war alone, in Vietnam, we did lose.

Let's get our history, or at least the counterfactuals right. WWI is irrelevant since it wasn't the USA's war until late. WWII we would not have "lost" in the sense that the Axis lost it. No way Hitler could have conquered us. Isolated us perhaps. We certainly had important Allies in WWII (UK, USSR, Free-Poles, Free French etc.), Korea (Brits, ANZAC etc.), Vietnam (ROK, ANZAC) and the Cold War (JPII, UK, Japan, W. Germany etc.). Yet one of those wars we lost, and the other was a draw.

Today we DO have allies, the UK, Australia, Poland and others.

In France we are dealing with Chirac, not DeGaulle, in Germany, Schroeder, not Kohl, in China, (I don't recall the name, sorry), not Chiang, in Russia, Putin, not Stalin.

What's different? IN WWII and the Cold War, these other nations were on the front lines, they were the one's at risk. The US was more isolated from the danger and thus remained aloof, in the case of WWII until directly attacked.

Today, the USA is on the front line, these other nations are (thus far) in less danger, or so they think. And today instead of dealing with giants abroad, we have the 21st century equivalents of Stanley Baldwin.

As the primary target for Islamic terrorists, we MUST be prepared to go it alone. Concessions, leading to inaction, to draw the support of Germany and France and Russia would be more harmful than helpful. Any of these nations that want to act as if they agree that this is an already begun war (rather than a crime or diplomatic problem) on terrorism, I'd be thrilled to have as an ally.

If Clark can show me what he'd be willing to concede to Fance, Germany and Russia to get them to make a declaration, and what he wouldn't concede, I'll happily consider voting for him.

I don't need details either, but I do need some broad guidelines from him. The "How" does matter.

Posted by: spc67 at November 1, 2003 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

tristero says:

If this is war, how do we know it's peace?

Or, to paraphrase Rumsfield, what are the metrics of success? Of course, he was asking the BushCo. guys who are supposed to know and don't.

That being the case, I'm pretty open to trading the whole lot of them in for a retired general who at least thinks he ought to 'work the issue' and find out.

And not just by having 'objective' subordinates explain to him what the issue is and how they've got it under control. And yes, I'm paraphrasing Rumsfield again.

Posted by: ccobb at November 1, 2003 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

spc67:

The mess that is Iraq will have a chance - a slight chance - of resolving in a fashion amenable to Iraqi, US, and broader interests provided these two specific steps are taken:

1. Bush must be replaced.
2. The UN must be in charge of a wide-scale international effort whose financial burden will for, to a great extent, on the US and the UK.

Both are necessary. Neither is sufficient.

So the first opportunity for real change will occur in January, 2005. For Clark, or anyone else, to be more specific right now would require the ability to predict the future.

Aside from the incontestable fact -not a prediction- that Bush will continue to screw things up as long as he and his regime is in power, the future is pretty much unknowable.

But it is probably safe to say that because of Bush's screwups, more soldiers and more Iraqis will die and animosity towards the US will continue to rise even higher than it already is (and it's the highest anyone can remember).

Posted by: tristero at November 1, 2003 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

spc67 says:

Today, the USA is on the front line, these other nations are (thus far) in less danger, or so they think.

Not exactly.

I was living in France in the 80s when Islamic fundamentalists set off a series of bombs throughout Paris. The french reacted very strongly and have ever since. The difference is not as you say that France and 'Old Europe' don't consider themselves on the front lines. It's that they don't see this as a state-on-state war, but rather a fight against a sort of crazed and dangerous religious mafia.

Clark is on record as wanting to take the fight to the terrorist organizations themselves, most of which aren't states. When he does mention states, he talks more about Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan than Iran and Syria (though he includes them as well). His point is that the former group--our own allies--are where the majority of terrorists are indoctrinated, and that we have to use a variety of carrot and stick methods to make them stop the part of the terror cycle they control.

You might want to do a little digging on this; I think you'll find that France has been quite effective against terrorists, Germany much less so. I also think you'll find that those two countries in particular are probably looking for an excuse to get back onto the side of the angels in siding with us against terrorists. I bet that a change in the administration would give them just the kind of opening they are hoping for.

Posted by: ccobb at November 1, 2003 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

spc67 wrote: "As the primary target for Islamic terrorists"

You do realize that this isn't even close to being correct, don't you?

Posted by: PaulB at November 1, 2003 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

chad: "Clark has demonstrated the ability to think outside a narrow militaristic box. Dean is a possiblity, too. But none of the others have shown this ability, yet."
Clark's credentials here are outstanding. Dean's I know nothing about, I haven't seen much posted on that but I'd be happy to. Gary Hart has endorsed Kerry, and that GWB national security guy left the WH to join Kerry's campaign. I trust their national security judgements more than yours, chad, which seems like simple logic. As for the six others, I don't know. I imagine that their fans can claim that their guys/gals are cool without evidence, as you have for Dean here.

Posted by: John Isbell at November 1, 2003 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Vietnam (ROK, ANZAC)

Korea made a significant contribution, which is understandable, being an autocratic staunchly anti-communist client dependent on our support.

The ANZAC contibution was less than overwhelming, they took 1% of the casualties as our forces did (and NZ only had a battalion in country as it was).

Today we DO have allies, the UK, Australia, Poland and others.

others... like Micronesia and Uzbekistan. Coalition of the billing.

Today, the USA is on the front line, these other nations are (thus far) in less danger, or so they think

Accurately. Japan has zero danger from muslim terrorists, unless they more forcefully support the US's neocon agenda.

No how about YOU thinking, as to why America is on the frontline? Do the islamic radicals want to convert North America?

Or is it something else -- like they're on the defensive now, literally fighting for their homes and traditions?

Posted by: Troy at November 1, 2003 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Silly me, I forgot Joe Wilson endorsing Kerry and going online at his campaign.

Posted by: John Isbell at November 1, 2003 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

And one more point, spc67: the primary difference between now and then is that we don't have a Roosevelt in the White House.

Posted by: PaulB at November 1, 2003 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Dean for Pres, Clark for VP / Sec State / Sec Defense.

Problems here at home are more important, and the chief executive's job is to appoint, delegate, decide and present, not forment plans himself.

Posted by: Troy at November 1, 2003 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

spc67: if we go it alone, we'll lose. Don't make the mistake of thinking that because we have the most powerful military in the world we can do anything we want. We can't.

It's just wishful thinking to suppose that we don't need allies. So like it or not, that's what we have to do.

Tristero: I agree that this isn't a war we're going to "win" in the traditional way. We'll win pretty much the same way as in the Cold War: by convincing the other side to adopt our views. This is primarily a result of "persuasion and shared vision," and we win by slowly convincing our opponents to modernize and accept values of tolerance and democracy. It can be done.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at November 1, 2003 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

sarcasm: Kevin, in sounds like you need a punch in the nose...

Posted by: Troy at November 1, 2003 01:03 PM | PERMALINK

troy says:

the chief executive's job is to appoint, delegate, decide and present, not forment plans himself

Well, that's the approach we've had for the past few years. I'll take Clinton's micromanagement, get-into-the-weeds, policy-wonk approach any day.

So I vote Clark for pres, Dean for Sec Health and Human Services to get us a real health care system. If Dean is nom, then I agree, Clark for SecDef.

Both are doers and making them the VP would be a waste of their talents. Because they both like to, um, think. And then do stuff about those thoughts. Crazy I know, but back in the day our presidents used to do that.

Ah, 1999. Seems so long ago. Brings tears to my eyes.

Posted by: ccobb at November 1, 2003 01:07 PM | PERMALINK

If you haven't done so already by all means check out this link to the New American Strategies For Security and Peace. Wes Clark's speech begins about 20 minutes into the first section. Very, VERY impressive. Having a man like this as President would allow this entire country to breathe a collective sigh of relief. But don't take my word for it, please. See for yourself.

http://www.newamericanstrategies.org/downloads/

Posted by: ginchinchili at November 1, 2003 01:09 PM | PERMALINK

Here are two links to good content related to Wesley Clark's world view. The first is a streaming video of the new Liberal Think Tank Strategy Conference (The Center for American Progress) where Wesley Clark gave the keynote address, and where he was introduced by Theodore Sorenson. I viewed it with Windows Media Player:

http://www.newamericanstrategies.org/downloads/

This one is a wonderful refutation of the slander being used against Clark, long, well documented and thoughtful. It looks at what was going on behind the scene when he was NATO Supreme Commander among other things, and gives good perspective on his views:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/16795

Last, I am copying a post here that I made onto another discussion board detailing my personal reasons for backing Wesley Clark for President. It was not specifically written to respond to any comments made here, but I think in large part it is relevent:

Here is why I am backing Wesley Clark for President. First because America
can not afford a less than brilliant leader, it is a very complex and
dangerous world right now and the stakes could not be higher. We need the
absolute best talent this country can offer for President. Wes Clark has
mastered every endeavor he has tackled. Time and time again, Clark rises to
the occasion. Read about his personal history if you have any doubts on
this. We can pretend we are voting for policy positions and/or a platform,
but the only thing we will truly decide on is the person we will place in
office. For me it is more important to pick the best person for the job,
than the most finely reasoned or original policy initiative. Sometimes the
most critical position is the one that will need to be taken on an issue that
hasn’t yet fully surfaced. 9/11 and the proper response to dealing with it
was not a campaign issue in the 2000 election. Neither was job loss. Pick
the best leader and fight for the best program, that’s honestly how I see
it. Here is why I feel Wes Clark is the best leader now for America.

We need someone who understands that it is always the soldiers who win a war,
not a privileged elite. The welfare of our nation is dependent on the
welfare of our average citizens. Clark truly understands that. The military
functions with that understanding more so than any other major institution in
America. Be all that you can be is an Army slogan, but it is not just a
cliché. Leave no one behind is actually practiced on the fields of battle at
high risk and at great cost. Compare that to typical corporate values. And
it's personal for Clark, not just a sound bite. He was awarded medals for
his courage in Viet Nam, and he risked his life again, under combat
conditions, in Yugoslavia trying to save the lives of fellow Americans who
died in a crash on a mountain road. We need a President who asks what he can
do for his country, not what his country can do for him. With his obvious
abilities and capacity for accomplishment, Clark could have devoted his life
to self enrichment; instead he devoted it to defending his nation.

The institution Wesley Clark served in, the U.S. Army, prides itself on
discipline, following through and following orders. These are the values and
priorities that conservatively oriented people understand and respect. Yet
Clark is the rare exception, the one who takes what is best from inside a box
and then transcends the box. I have never heard anyone more passionate in the
defense of the First Amendment than Wesley Clark. He doesn't semi
dismissively call dissent our right as Americans, he calls it our obligation,
essential to maintaining the democratic life of our nation. And because of
his service to the nation in the military, many people are open to listening
to him say it who would never listen otherwise. Other candidates, like
Kerry, might be able to partially neutralize the "patriotism" advantage that
Republicans tend to have when they routinely monopolize the flag, but Clark
goes much further. He redefines patriotism in a fundamental way so that
suddenly it's those who stifle and distort open and honest debate who are
putting our country at risk, not those who seek honest debate on important
questions.

Electing Clark is about much more than defeating George Bush, (not that more
is needed). It is about restoring the basic contract between citizens and
their government to the ideals we were taught in school. Government exists to
serve the people, not enrich the powerful. Citizens have the right to the
information they need to inform their decisions, not government having the
power to suppress information that makes their governing more difficult. It
is precisely Clark's outsider status to the political process, I feel, that
has preserved his idealism regarding it. We know he can negotiate complex
issues, we saw that in the Balkans, but Clark has never comprised his core
civic values. As a result I think he would govern as one of the least
corruptible Presidents in American history. Wesley Clark has served his
country honorably and kept his personal commitments. He truly believes in the
concept of personal accountability. I saw him speak on this, it isn't a sound
bite, that's who he is.

Then, after the above, you can move onto the fact that Wesley Clark is
already a known player on the international stage, who respects international
institutions and the importance of having allies. Very little if any on the
job training will be needed. After 3 years in office Bush is nowhere near as
adept at mastering the essential international skills that Clark has already
mastered. Domestically I think it is ultimately an advantage to the American
people that Clark entered this race without a truck load of finely detailed
domestic policy initiatives. I have learned enough about him to feel
confident in his overall social priorities. Clark is freest to seek the best
ideas available to confront the problems facing the nation, and use the ones
that fit best. He isn't locked into unwieldy positions by virtue of prior
stands and unholy political alliances made. Having said that I feel fine
about almost all of the positions Clark has taken. He is a progressive
Democrat who fought for affirmative action. He strongly believes the tax
burden should fall lightest on those least able to bear it. He is firmly pro
choice. He calls the U.S. Constitution and the environment the two most
important legacies we can leave behind for the generations that will succeed
us. You can find out more about his policy positions at his official
campaign web site, clark04.com so I won’t use more space here.

You will notice that I will now only barely touch on the supposed pragmatic
reason why Wes Clark should be nominated, his electability. Wes Clark can
neutralize Bush’s super patriotic fog machine, he can appeal to independents
and Republicans of integrity, and he can be competitive in Southern states,
forcing Bush to allocate campaign resources, depriving his of a free ride.
Bush will be put on the defensive by Clark, forced to fight for votes from
even white male southerners and Veterans. That’s all I will say about voting
for Clark for pragmatic reasons, because I don’t believe Clark is the
pragmatic choice, I think he’s the right choice.

I know some progressives within the Democratic Party are simply uncomfortable
about voting for a General for President. To which I simply say, get over
it. It likely would have been among my proudest moments as an American had
our Armed Forces intervened in Rwanda to stop the genocide that resulted in
the death of millions. General Clark strongly advocated for U.S. military
involvement in Rwanda at the time but failed to win the support of the
Pentagon for what was an inherently humanitarian mission. Kosovo was a just
war, and Clark advocated that it be fought in a manner that would lessen the
danger to civilians even if it put U.S. forces at somewhat greater risk.
Again he was over ruled on that matter. In a world where we must have a
military, I would welcome Clark as its Commander in Chief.

In short I trust Wes Clark to always realize that real war is hell, to be
avoided whenever rationally possible, and that his working definition of the
special interest group he is beholden to is simply the American public. I
trust in his ability to understand complex situations, and his willingness to
work hard to get things right. I trust in his sense of what America is, and
what it should be. I think Wesley Clark has the right character, and the
right experience, to lead our country now. Others have said this about him
and I think it is absolutely true: Wes Clark, All Patriot, No Act.

Posted by: Tom Rinaldo at November 1, 2003 01:11 PM | PERMALINK

spc67:

You raise some good points, however, I think a lot of what you say is over-stated, hence your analysis is off.

As the primary target for Islamic terrorists, we MUST be prepared to go it alone.

A great deal is at stake, so absolutely, if necessary.

Concessions, leading to inaction, to draw the support of Germany and France and Russia would be more harmful than helpful.

I think this is partly true, but your formulation is a caricature. The "concessions" we petulantly took off the table in the leadup to war in Iraq—greater UN involvement, more time for inspections, first crack for US companies at rebuilding, more time for diplomacy and inspections to work—were in no way central to a successful strategy, and conceding them would not have resulted in "inaction." The formulation the President used, which you seem to echo here, "Either go to war or do nothing" was a dangerous fallacy.

Today we DO have allies, the UK, Australia, Poland and others.

Sounds good, but it does not reflect reality. The only partner who is helping defray any of the cost in a meaningful way is Great Britain. I'm not diminishing the efforts of individuals in Iraq, but the presence of others isn't helping and in many cases is a drawback, requiring more care and feeding than they provide.

Any of these nations that want to act as if they agree that this is an already begun war (rather than a crime or diplomatic problem) on terrorism, I'd be thrilled to have as an ally.

What would this look like? More Iraq interventions? You seem to be overlooking the work European partners are doing in rolling up al Qaeda cells. Or does that look too much like crime fighting and not high octane enough to qualify as a "war?" Isn't the ultimate goal to defeat al Qaeda, regardless of method?

Look, there is no question there are some on the left who get queasy over any contemplation of military force. I share your view of them; their way will not make us safer. But at the same time, simply lashing out will not make us safer either. Occupying Iraq has done nothing to harm al Qaeda, nothing to prevent individuals from joining terrorist organizations (quite the contrary), and nothing to dissuade our nominal allies in the Middle East from supporting terrorist organizations. If Pres. Bush and the neocons want to act as if these three factors are the central focus of the war on terror instead of the land of chocolate fantasies they currently harbor, then we would have a lot more confidence in their ability to actually thwart the terrorist threat.

Posted by: KevStar at November 1, 2003 01:14 PM | PERMALINK

SPC67: "others"! Oh yeah, Fiji and Paraguay, I forgot.

Do you have to argue every point whatsoever? Just to hear the noise?

Of our allies, we just lost Australia, and Britain is getting iffy, and we have to pay cash for Poland.

That's not what "having allies" means.

Posted by: Zizka at November 1, 2003 01:14 PM | PERMALINK

We won [WW2 and the Cold War] with lots of allies, and without those allies we would have lost. And on the lone occasion when we did try to win a big war alone, in Vietnam, we did lose.

I don't think this statement reflects very good historical understanding. It's impossible to prove counterfactuals, of course (and I don't wish to malign the Russian or British contributions), but in the case of World War 2, you can build a good case that we would indeed have won alone. With the preponderance of the world's productive capacity and two oceans behind which to equip and arm, it's difficult to imagine an ultimately victorious Axis against a determined America. That being said, it may well have taken ten years or so....

As for Vietnam, I guess if you ignore the Australians, Thais, South Koreans, New Zealanders, and, oh yeah, the ARVN, then sure, we did go that one alone. Right-o.

Posted by: Tacitus at November 1, 2003 01:15 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with Americans is we don't even take our own ideals of democracy seriously. We prop up regimes all -across the middle east that have governments that are anathema to liberty and democracy. We prop up for convenience: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan the very centers of Islamic extremists who have attacked us. No wonder they hate us so. They hear our smarmy praise of ourselves and our liberties, but the only American imports they see in their freedom-starved countries are materialism they can't afford and promiscuity they can't abide. The strongman governments of Pakistan and Egypt and the theocrats of Saudi Arabia have mercifully spared their citizens the American import of Jeffersonian, Madisonian, and Hamiltonian ideals. And we Americans just shrug since the margins are much better on the former.

Posted by: fastback at November 1, 2003 01:18 PM | PERMALINK

There are a lot of reasons to support Wes Clark, but the first and most important one is that he has the best chance of defeating Bush. I know the kind of people who voted for Nader won't understand this, because they believe there is some higher principle in voting "true to your heart," but let's face it--if a man is facing me with a loaded gun, I want the bodyguard who has the most accurate shot, not the one who agrees with me the most. Bush is the man with the loaded gun and his policies are bullets, aimed at the heart of America--its Constitution.

Clark and Dean have a lot of similarities on policy issues, but Clark has proven experience on working with other nations on foreign policy issues and negotiating peaceful solutions (Dayton peace accords). Clark doesn't need on-the-job-training on how to work with the Pentagon, NATO, or the UN on developing a strategic exit plan for Iraq or the Middle East. To those who are more concerned with terrorism within our borders, you need to understand that the terrorism starts in the Middle East and exports itself here.

However, there are steps we can take to make ourselves safer. Someone who has experience in thinking like the enemy, trying to anticipate their moves, and allocating resources for the best coverage is the man I want in charge of protecting my country. That is Clark.

Dean will not get elected because he has no foreign policy experience and most Americans do not want someone who comes across, rightly or wrongly, as a pacifist. He also will not win because of his vote on gay unions in Vermont (this will kill him in the Bible belt and among many religious voters) and because of his plan to repeal ALL the Bush tax cuts, including those on the middle class. The republicans will bury him among moderates and conservatives with those positions.

Dean is definitely appealing to new voters--but most of them are in states that Gore already won. The democratic candidate has to be someone who can appeal to voters in red states, and Dean is not that man--as evidenced today by his statement that he wants the votes of "the guys with confederate flags on their cars"--a gross stereotype of southerners.

Clark polls well in the south and better than Dean among the elderly (his early medicare and social security positions are going to hurt him there), among youth, among African Americans, and among white males.

Clark can win, Dean can't, so even if you like Dean's policies better, he's never going to be able to implement them. And voting on personality is just stupid in my opinion. We have Bush because people falsely perceived him as an affable, everyday guy. Sadly, a lot of people still perceive him as such.

In my opinion, personality is a worthless barometer of fitness for office.

Posted by: Cat M. at November 1, 2003 01:18 PM | PERMALINK

But to get back to your larger point, I hope Clark does get the Democratic nomination. That way, if Bush loses, we'll have an incoming president who doesn't immediately give me the cold sweats.

Posted by: Tacitus at November 1, 2003 01:18 PM | PERMALINK

Amen. Well said.

Clark is the hoss, and should stem the defecation defection of the neoliberals.

I wouldn't have done a lot of the things Clark is doing, but I believe he's smart and tough enough to right the ship.

Yet all this campaign stuff is so inside baseball. Nobody beyond Washington insiders and political junkies gives a crap about all that.

And if he doesn't win the nomination, he should be National Security Advisor, not SecDef or VP.

If Dean is the Democratic nominee, he should have Clark stump for him, but I think he should pick Bill Richardson for Veep.

Posted by: praktike at November 1, 2003 01:20 PM | PERMALINK

tac-

America let Germany and Russia beat the shit out of one another in Eastern Europe. Without Russia, it would have been pretty rough going.

If we had been forced to go it alone against Germany in 1937--say, they had somehow invaded us--they would have put the big hurt on us, because we were isolated and unprepared. We had a buffer perioed to get our shit together (Lend-Lease, etc.), which we did in admirable fashion.

It all depends on the timing.

Posted by: praktike at November 1, 2003 01:25 PM | PERMALINK

Are you seriously maintaining that we purposefully held back till the Red Army "tore the guts out" of the Wehrmacht? Where are you posting from? Volgograd?

Posted by: Tacitus at November 1, 2003 01:29 PM | PERMALINK

praktike says:

And if he doesn't win the nomination, he should be National Security Advisor, not SecDef or VP.

Nah. SecDef. I want someone to go in there who knows how to shake out a few hundred billion to, say, pay for health care without painting a big target on the Dem president that lets Republicans scream "soft on defense."

Clark could easily back up a President Dean and tell the right to go take a hike because he would never risk the defense of the American people. And of course have it convince said American people.

That said, Clark in 04. Go team.

Posted by: ccobb at November 1, 2003 01:33 PM | PERMALINK

Tac-

I said they beat the shit out of one another. Mostly a stalemate. Remember Stalingrad?

Plenty of historians believe FDR was content to let Stalin bleed for a while, because he saw Unca Joe as the greater long term threat. That's partly why we didn't open the Western front until 1944.

In short, yes.

Posted by: praktike at November 1, 2003 01:34 PM | PERMALINK

ccobb.

I say get perry back in there to do that. He was hugely popular.

Clark can still provide strategic direction on military transformation, but he won't have to deal w/ the political backstabbing if he's in the White House.

Plus, I'd like Clark to set strategic policy, and I think that's the proper role of the NSA.

Posted by: praktike at November 1, 2003 01:37 PM | PERMALINK

re: the battle of tacitus and praktike

wait, wait...let me get the popcorn...

Unannotated historical arguments, the blogsphere's own fight club.

Posted by: ccobb at November 1, 2003 01:39 PM | PERMALINK

Two Points --

Phil Carter wrote: "A lot of fence mending must be done before we can start down this multilateralist road."

I think the fence mending will be easier than is imagined. Since George Bush and the NeoCons highjacked American Foreign Policy under false pretenses, it will be fairly easy to repudiate their unilateralism, as part of the general delegitimization of the Bush Administration.

Second: the so-called "War on Terror" is not a war at all; any more than the "War on Drugs" or the "War on Poverty" were real wars. A more accurate example is the "War on Organized Crime" -- because the Al Qaeda Islamists are gangsters, motivated by religious extremism, rather than greed.

The sooner we stop calling the fight with Al Qaeda a "War on Terror" and start calling it what it is, a global police action against a criminal conspiracy, the better. A "War on Terror" is unwinnable, because a war on an abstract concept can NEVER be won. That's why the Bush Administration so flagrantly abuses the term -- perpetual war for perpetual fear, and perpetual power for those in control.

It is NOT a War on Terror -- and it's time to admit it. Any Suggestions for a more accurate name?

Posted by: Charles K at November 1, 2003 01:40 PM | PERMALINK

praktike says:

he won't have to deal w/ the political backstabbing if he's in the White House

Uh, I don't want to come off as a smartass, but you don't really mean that do you?

And -yawn- yeah, sure Perry. Who's that again?

At least I make myself laugh...

Posted by: ccobb at November 1, 2003 01:42 PM | PERMALINK

Tacitus, you're being silly here, right? The objective in winning WW2 was defeating the Axis powers and it's impossible that the US could have achieved that goal without the USSR. The question if the Axis powers could have conquered the US is irrelevant, you wouldn't want to say that the US won the Vietnam war, because didn't manage to conquer the US, do you?

Posted by: novakant at November 1, 2003 01:47 PM | PERMALINK

that should read:

because Vietnam didn't manage to conquer the US, do you?

Posted by: novakant at November 1, 2003 01:48 PM | PERMALINK

Why Wesley Clark?

Integrity.

Accountability.

Democracy.

And finally...

For the future of my grandchildren.

Posted by: PK at November 1, 2003 01:48 PM | PERMALINK

ccobb.

regarding clark, i was talking about the BS of the Defense Dept. bureaucracy. Rumsfeld has certainly seen his fair share of this. I certainly don't think the WH is better, but I think it's best if Clark tries to stay out of the internal Pentagon power games as much as possible.

Bill Perry was SecDef under Clinton, before Cohen. Hugely popular.

I'll go away now, since I seem to be boring you.

Posted by: praktike at November 1, 2003 01:54 PM | PERMALINK

Plenty of historians believe FDR was content to let Stalin bleed for a while, because he saw Unca Joe as the greater long term threat.

No one reputable or mainstream, that's for sure. That's a totally ludicrous reading of FDR's attitude toward the Soviets.

....it's impossible that the US could have achieved that goal without the USSR.

While the Red Army did indeed engage the bulk of the Wehrmacht -- and win, thanks in no small part to US logistical support -- I disagree, for reasons already stated. But then, neither of us can truly prove our points.

Anyway, bottom line is that Kevin's original statement was historically facile.

Posted by: Tacitus at November 1, 2003 01:54 PM | PERMALINK

praktike says;

I'll go away now, since I seem to be boring you

Just having a little fun, but it's not meant to be at your expense. If it's any consolation, I've seen a lot worse. Directed at me on occasion.

In fact, if I had a nickel...

Posted by: ccobb at November 1, 2003 02:01 PM | PERMALINK

Where is Carol? One would expect her to be all over this thread spearding the ole "Clark is the shadow canidate for Hillary" line.

She must have taken her meds this morning.

Posted by: Drew at November 1, 2003 02:01 PM | PERMALINK

Y'know, another reason to elect Clark-and this is not sarcasm-I think a guy that has seen people killed in front of him, and has killed people himself (I'm not positive, but I imagine during Vietnam, he was no stranger to carnage), has a very different view of mortality, morality, and ethics. I believe Wes Clark understands how awful things can get, much more than ANY candidate running, on either side.

Plus, he's in fantastically good shape, and could take out anyone who got past the Secret Service.

Posted by: brent at November 1, 2003 02:09 PM | PERMALINK

LOL...If Wes Clark is a shadow that's one he** of a shadow. And unlike General Boykin's *shadow on a picture* (has that man been psychoanalized recently?) one that this country needs desperately.

I'm so sick of Rove's favorite boogy wo/man being attached to anything and everything that he fears...and he fears Wes Clark...probably the only *wise* thought he's ever had.

Posted by: PK at November 1, 2003 02:13 PM | PERMALINK

So, it's not just a question of *what* he plans to do or *how* he plans to do it but *why* we think he can do it?

He held 19 countries together while he was SACEUR. 19 squabbling, petulant, tantrum-throwing nations together and got the job done.

Now he says he's going to give political authority to the U.N. Who here thinks that the U.N. will refuse?

As for our allies, I personally believe they will fall in line once Bush is out and the new guy is smart and uncrazy with a proven record of success and a longheld belief in multilateralism. I have no proof of this, of course, but it just seems logical to me.

I think Clark will have a much tougher time with the Republicans in Congress.

OTOH, as partisan as I am, I do recognize how poisonous it this climate has become--for all of us. We've *got* to get someone in there with a chance of unifying us and I believe Clark is that guy.

Posted by: Laura at November 1, 2003 02:19 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses!

2. The UN must be in charge of a wide-scale international effort whose financial burden will for, to a great extent, on the US and the UK.

Because the UN has done such a great job elsewhere? And because the terrorists have shown such respect for the UN thus far? And because US/UK funding, and others implementing will change...what? Nonsense.

The difference is not as you say that France and 'Old Europe' don't consider themselves on the front lines. It's that they don't see this as a state-on-state war, but rather a fight against a sort of crazed and dangerous religious mafia.

Good points, I'll do the digging. Thanks.

No how about YOU thinking, as to why America is on the frontline? Do the islamic radicals want to convert North America?

According to OBL's letter, that's exactly the requirement.

And one more point, spc67: the primary difference between now and then is that we don't have a Roosevelt in the White House.

No it isn't the primary one, but it certainly is one and I actually had considered putting that in my original post. Point taken.

It's just wishful thinking to suppose that we don't need allies. So like it or not, that's what we have to do.

Until you can answer at what price, I don't know how to do the analysis. You can't mean we shoulkd do anything for the sake of alliances, can you?

The only partner who is helping defray any of the cost in a meaningful way is Great Britain. I'm not diminishing the efforts of individuals in Iraq, but the presence of others isn't helping and in many cases is a drawback, requiring more care and feeding than they provide.

I think that's correct, I just get sick of the we're acting alone/unilaterally lie.

What would this [a begun war on terror]look like? More Iraq interventions? You seem to be overlooking the work European partners are doing in rolling up al Qaeda cells.

Good point. KevStar you've got me thinking.

Or does that look too much like crime fighting and not high octane enough to qualify as a "war?"

Yes. Those methods can lead to a more extended "conflict" than I'd like to see. I'm a VD Hanson believer on the Western Way of War.


Isn't the ultimate goal to defeat al Qaeda, regardless of method?

Yes, so if military, rather than police action is what is required, allies have got to be willing to move. Certainly rolling up Al-Qaeda cells is nacessary and helpful.

Do you have to argue every point whatsoever?
Just to hear the noise?

No Zizska, I do it just to hear YOUR noise.

we have to pay cash for Poland.
That's not what "having allies" means.

Uh huh. Lend-Lease or Cash and Carry or the Marshall Plan ring any bells?

That way, if Bush loses, we'll have an incoming president who doesn't immediately give me the cold sweats.

Amen.

Posted by: spc67 at November 1, 2003 02:26 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's original point:

We won [WW2] with lots of allies, and without those allies we would have lost

is not facile, at least not the liberating France part. If Russia had remained a "neutral", the US/UK would not have been able to put two dry feet on the continent. Given Alamogordo though, going atomic would have tipped the balance towards the end, but this seems to underscore the liberal point that allies are a good alternative to genocide.

Japan is another story. Japan, with its long Pacific coastline, had no chances of defending its homeland against US industrial might.

As for Vietnam, I guess if you ignore the Australians

1% of the casualties

Thais, South Koreans

Autocratic anti-communist American clients.

New Zealanders

Some artillery, one battalion of infantry

the ARVN, then sure, we did go that one alone.

what a bizarre counter-factual to Kevin's original point.

Right-o.

right-o yourself. My thoughts about the necessity of blue-hats in Iraq, written in your comment section immediately prior to the war, are being borne out by events.

Posted by: Troy at November 1, 2003 02:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm skipping to the bottom and I'll come back and read everything later. I just wanted to post that I'm midway through Clark's WAging Modern War and all I can say is that anyone who could deal with the ambiguous, amorphous, shifting sands of NATO would be perfectly fitted for President. One of the knocks on Clark that I heard was "well, he's an army guy and they are used to just ordering people to do things, they don't know how to work in the real world." Well, he is an army guy, but read the book. Once you are up at the level of CINC for a whole theatre, or SACEUR, you are in a whole different ballgame that involves tons of negotiation and shrewd politicking. I'm still for Dean but I would really, really, like Clark to pull up his socks and run a fantastic campaign. I'd be thrilled to vote for him.

Posted by: aimai at November 1, 2003 02:38 PM | PERMALINK

The army has a very big problem. If you pick up David Lipsky's book, ABSOLUTELY AMERICAN, about West Point; where this reporter followed the class of '01 thru it's 4 years ... what comes off is a PC story that has really destroyed the fabric of our officer's corp.

Lipsky is brilliant in how he presents this stuff. He lets the readers decide.

But just as Col. West is getting fried by incompetent JAGs in Iraq; this occurred at West Point, on a very honorable soldier who protected his men; Lt. Col. Hank Keirsey.

PC has been deadly. When you look beyond the democratic party, and the dissolution of votes that were once that party's mainstay you get to conclude that the republicans could not have gained so much popularity UNLESS there's a deep disgust with the PC system. Clark may represent this at its height.

How? He's got one of those polished resumes that don't read well at the end of the day.

Earthquakes, by definition shake the ground from the bottom up. And, since the democrats live in fantasy land, and seem unaware of how social programs and the buracracy that supplies them, have fallen into ill repute ... there's not going to be much of a change, here. Even with Kevin Drum getting excited about Wesley Clark.

It's almost as if the insiders get excited! But the 'outsiders' remain appalled.

I will be very surprised if Wesley Clark can mount a campaign that beats Dukakis' ... And, he may yet be another Gene McCarthy (who is a wonderful and funny man; but wasn't suited for the presidency). McCarthy, would have been a great night-show host. Low key. And, really funny. On the order of Mo Udall.

It's not that I don't have my favorite democrats. It's just that I know from looking at a recipe before it goes into the oven, if you're gonna get a good loaf of bread out of this, once the oven temperature is supposed to work its magic.

My guess is that the democrats lost their yeast.

Be funny, if down the line, the democrats can put on uniforms and nobody salutes?

Meanwhile, Wesley Clark is the machinery from Arkansas that is DESIGNED to knock DEAN out of the running, the old fashioned way.

So, unbeknownst to the democratic machinery (heavy into manufacturing buggy whips), if the market place hasn't moved on?

Anyway, whichever democrat runs in 2004, he needs to keep momentum until 2008. That was once Clinton's game. And, then Ross Perot handed him a victory in triangulation.

It would be nice if we got away from the ugly nature of NOT supporting the president. Reagan's stature rose as the democrats fought like crazy against this man. CBS even wants to air a make believe mini-series based on 'well, he could'a said it,' ... but what happens if it opens the door to fictions against other leaders?

We're a long way from the way this country used to work. This country used to work that once elected, the PEOPLE came around and supported THEIR PRESIDENT. It's been a while since the democrats have tried using this tactic.

It may be a key missing ingredient, as I said, if the democrats fail to win. And, then notice that they're base has eroded enough that it only represents PC and Affirmative Action.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 1, 2003 02:43 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody hear a buzz in the background? Anyway:

I'm still for Dean but I would really, really, like Clark to pull up his socks and run a fantastic campaign. I'd be thrilled to vote for him

My thoughts too. I think Dean in the primary, but Clark would make just as good a democratic president (looking at the entire situation, including the GOP house & senate).

Posted by: Troy at November 1, 2003 02:53 PM | PERMALINK

Do you really believ e that most people wantto canonize Ronald Regean? Is that really the world I'm living in?

Posted by: Ron at November 1, 2003 02:59 PM | PERMALINK

Is that really the world I'm living in?

Most of the GOP does. He's the touchstone of what they want the US to be: strong, self-confident, morally clear, stern, and wrong-headed.

Posted by: Troy at November 1, 2003 03:22 PM | PERMALINK

praktike: "I say get perry back in there to do that. He was hugely popular."
Thanks, I'd forgotten him. He's also endorsed Kerry.
brent: "Y'know, another reason to elect Clark-and this is not sarcasm-I think a guy that has seen people killed in front of him, and has killed people himself (I'm not positive, but I imagine during Vietnam, he was no stranger to carnage), has a very different view of mortality, morality, and ethics. I believe Wes Clark understands how awful things can get, much more than ANY candidate running, on either side."
brent, I AM positive, and I know that during his two tours in Vietnam, Kerry killed more than one person, as he picked up his three Purple Hearts, Silver Star and Bronze Star. Please please: learn data, THEN post. It's so simple!

Posted by: John Isbell at November 1, 2003 03:38 PM | PERMALINK

I would love to enlist the help of allies. But the 'how' is really important, becasue as far as I can tell, our allies don't seem to want to do much of anything. I point especially to the Jan. 2002 proposal of France, Germany and Russia that we end all sanctions and abandon inspections in Iraq even though at the time inspectors had not been in Iraq for 4 years.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at November 1, 2003 04:06 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian Holsclaw says:

I would love to enlist the help of allies. But the 'how' is really important

[snip]

France, Germany and Russia that we end all sanctions and abandon inspections in Iraq even though at the time inspectors had not been in Iraq for 4 years

And they can do that now because we have the lost the ability and credibility of pressuring and/or persuading them to take a different tack. I could run through the litany of BushCo misteps that got us to this point, but I assume you already know them.

The first 'how to' step will be to elect a new president, and that's on us. The 2nd step is to turn political control of Iraq over to the UN, while retaining military control. The 3rd step is to strengthen our committment to our historical political and military structures like NATO.

That just barely gets us out of the hole this administration has dug for us. Then we get Israel and the Palestinians back to the table. We involve NATO in the security discussion there. We also involve them in our forgotten obligations to Afghanistan. And we work really hard, harder than we otherwise would have had to because of this disastrous Bush-league presidency.

I'll let the presidential candidates take it from there. We armchair rulers of the universe have to take potty breaks sometimes.

Posted by: ccobb at November 1, 2003 04:30 PM | PERMALINK

The road to "winning" or at least easing tensions in the world is really not so difficult. It begins with dialog and by not treating those we disagree with as aliens from space but with trying to understand where they are coming from. Compromise and negotiation, not ramming a particular point-of-view down unwilling throats would be, in the long run, more effective. Tolerance for differing views in the world. If someone believes there is a legitimate need to change another's POV discussion is a much less costly alternative. Note that this doesn't mean compromising with tyrants but to stop making entire populaces pay for the transgressions of a few.

I think if people are really interested in peace they will find that the great majority of citizens in totalitarian regimes are just like them, concerned mainly with making a living, feeding their families and living their lives.

The real pricks (who unfortunately often seem to have a knack for getting into power, which is not to say that all in power are pricks) are actually few in comparison.

Posted by: a at November 1, 2003 04:38 PM | PERMALINK

I thought we won the Cold War because the USSR tried to match our level of defense spending and imploded as a result (and we consequently took on a massive level of debt). You can't outspend terrorists who only need boxcutters, or a pipe bomb, or a sniper rifle, or fertilizer, etc. to be effective.

I reject the premise of a "war on terrorism." Calling it a "war on terror" has always been a right-wing attempt to frame the issue of terrorism in terms of discipline, intimidation, punishment and control.

But stopping terrorism is really about soft power. As Israel and the Palestinians demonstrate, using your military to try to intimidate terrorists only makes thing worse. It just makes people more frightened and angrier. It becomes an escalating pissing contest over who can intimidate whom. I think we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that there is not going to be a quick solution to terrorism, and that force will only exacerbate the problem. Soft power takes time.

Like you said, Kevin, it's superior ideas that will eventually triumph. So why the hell don't we lead by example, take the high road, and show the terrorists by our own nonviolent actions that solving problems through violence is unacceptable?

Posted by: DanM at November 1, 2003 05:14 PM | PERMALINK

So why the hell don't we lead by example, take the high road, and show the terrorists by our own nonviolent actions that solving problems through violence is unacceptable?

Maybe this?

Posted by: Troy at November 1, 2003 05:21 PM | PERMALINK

From Tom Davis
CNN
Friday, October 31, 2003 Posted: 7:25 PM EDT (2325 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Saying "This is an easy case," a federal judge ruled Friday against Fox News in its lawsuit asserting that a book by liberal satirist Al Franken violates its trademarked slogan, "fair and balanced."

Fox was seeking an injunction to halt distribution of "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, after listening to about half an hour of oral arguments, said the lawsuit was "wholly without merit, both factually and legally."

But in a surprise ruling, Chin also said that Warblogging.com's George Paine has stepped over the line in calling his most recent post "Lies and the Lying Liars". Warblogging.com is an anti-war web log, or "blog", as nerds like Paine refer to them.

"First of all," said Paine, "we're not nerds, we're geeks. There's a difference. And 'B', the phrase 'Lies and the Lying Liars' is a real weak trademark, according to my attorney, Fielding Mellish. You can hear it chanted on almost any grade school playground, both with and without the 'pants on fire' qualifier. It's a fair and balanced use of the phrase."

"Besides," he added, "TV Network news has become a parody of real journalism. So this is a parody of a parody. I mean, the phrase is a parody, not the blog," he quickly added. "The blog's real."

"TV network news is more than a parody of 'real' news," Paine continued. "It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. That's why there's the Web. That's why there's blogs."

In another surprise move, Fox is considering filing a lawsuit against Paine. When asked why, former Nixon-Reagan-Bush strategist and current douchebag Roger Ailes said, "Out of principle. Franken has appeared as a guest on Fox News Channel at least 10 times in the past five years. "

This despite the fact that court papers filed by Fox called Franken's commentary 'not good enough to be endorsed by Fox News.' When asked to explain the discrepancy, Ailes was quoted as saying "So fucking what? Get that microphone outta my face before I--"

Woody Allen could not be reached for comment.

You know I am going to tell you something. It is okey that Faux News yanks Michael Moore or Hillary Clinton, it is okey that Fhawks News destroys the career of actors, it is okey that Faux News launches a phreaking french boycott to make Americans feel better about this war in Iraq, BUT it is never okey when they feel being "attacked" by other people (Americans or French...etc). I would also like to tell them it is not okey they ask to cut some parts of the movie 'the reagan years", it is called censorship.
It is not respecting the freedom of expression which comes before the freedom of speech. There is a cause to effect link between freedom of expression and freedom of senses, more important than freedom of speech.
And after all, if the son of Ronald Reagan was a dancer and had to get married because of the "american culture from the boonies" it is not our problem since the US is supposed to be a "free" country when it comes to freedom of speech, there is no such free-speech protected (as long as we don't life-threaten somebody) it is okey to express ourselves. Like we don't care if there is a lesbian daughter in the Bush administration and whose father homophobia is, like we did not care about sex-story with Bill Clinton, it is private matters, and not public matters. Of course the Bush administration, as determinated as they were to scandalize the democrats, now they are indeed being undermined to their turns by their own vicious strategy. Anyway with the reagan movie, life is not only about good things, they are ups and downs in life, so be it, accept the reality, and when there are more ups than down (ie Reagan movie), then there is a positive image. It is first all about opinion and I really doubt, people will judge a movie compared to the real life or Reagan, unless there is a person who is incriminated in the Bush administration?

Now I wonder: are these people in a really free country? What about intellectual expression? Can't we express ourselves now? Can't the Americans feel hurt and say as good Americans as they are, they don't like Bush policy? Or should Bush now represent the Americans at 100% instead of 49%? Total control or total-itarism?
Al Franken is fine, and so is everybody else. We are "fair and balanced" and so I am! "lies and the lying liars" is a trademark title. Nobody can't do anything about it, even if Al Franken would be in the wrong. To the best of my knowledege there has not been a defamation case. Also please notice when somebody, whoever this person is, goes further than the average of the general public opinion there will always be a counter-weigh, this is why it is called "fair and balanced" in here regarding to the main public opinion. No governmental organisation can disapprove it even with a poll. I don't think Jebb Bush who is a stockholder of Faux-News is fair and balanced since Fox-News is the amplifier of the Bush administration, yes I said Bush administration and not Bush admiration. I will go further: my impression is the Bush administration did lie since the beginning to their citizens. We did not see WMDs at all, we did not see terrorist links, but I did see not enough troops to control the borders in Iraq, exposing in danger the american troops, and there is a big difference between a lie and a white lie.
I don't think I would cover up my ass by accusing anybody else even if I was in power, I would first be full of integrity and not of anything else.


Posted by: Frenchy at November 1, 2003 05:31 PM | PERMALINK

You know Frenchy, half of that I sort of didn't understand, but the half I did I think I agree with. Sort of.

Which leads me back to why I'm rooting for Clark...

Posted by: ccobb at November 1, 2003 05:34 PM | PERMALINK

The first half was a comment from an american dude, the second half was my reply to him regarding freedom of speech and censorship.
I wonder sometimes if the Bush administration is a democracy (gvt elected by the people hmmm).

Posted by: Frenchy at November 1, 2003 05:53 PM | PERMALINK

Some more thoughts on Clark:

I lived on a navy base in Japan as a child. A U.S. military base is like a microcosm of America. Schools, hospitals, stores, churches, places of amusement, etc. Lots of people working at different jobs at different levels. Married people and single people. Very young and not-so-young. Police. Bad people and good people. And the base commander is responsible for all of them.

Wesley Clark has been a base commander which means he's been responsible for the well-being and productivity of hundreds--thousands--of people. Day by day. And safe to say, he's dealt with the issues of crime, healthcare, education, etc. Kind of like a governor.

It's also clear that he is superb at getting the most out of his people. Taking disorganized and demoralized troops and turning them into well-trained and efficient troops with high morale. He's seen the worst and the best of people. He's watched (at least) some of his men die and saved or tried to save (at least) some of them.

Those are some excellent qualifications.

At the last debate, Dean said (paraphrasing) he planned to get excellent advisors to help him with foreign policy. Ouch. I think that was a huge error on his part, throwing his inexperience into sharp and glaring relief.

So maybe Clark doesn't know the ins and outs of medicare like Dean does. Or he hasn't formulated and hard and fast opinions on child safety locks. Perhaps he'll need help getting his economic package off the ground. There are lots and lots of people who can help him with this stuff.

But we are now in a war. Losing soldiers every day. The way that this adminstration went into this war leads one to believe they are either the most manipulative, lying evil bastards that ever existed or the most foolish. They have no strategy; they have no plan. They got nothing, nada, zip. Except maybe they'll invade Syria next or possibly Iran. And the war on terror? How is that going?

You can't rely on advisors for this, folks. At least you shouldn't have to--it's just too dangerous. We need someone in there who knows what he is doing. Surprise! We got somebody! And he's NOT a trigger-happy wing-nut, but a smart, progressive, and reasoning man.

How is this not a good thing?

Posted by: Laura at November 1, 2003 07:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a Dean supporter for sentimental reasons -- he was there, articulating the "anti-war", anti-Bush position, for me when I needed it most.

Dean is more of a known quantity for me in terms of (D) court appointments, which for me is a bigger issue than foreign affairs experience.

Really, a little more do-nothing isolationism as policy wouldn't be that bad a thing these days.

Lord knows this country domestically is heading 'wrong way down a one-way track' as the lyric goes.

That being said, I'd like to see a Dean/McCain ticket, so what the hell do I know.

Posted by: Troy at November 1, 2003 07:46 PM | PERMALINK

If Bush and Cheney had any integrity, they would resign. They have no credibility to any international leaders and their arrogant actions have so alienated European leaders that a European politician would be risking his or her career to endorse sending troops to Iraq under the command of Bush/Cheney.

Clark, who had a pretty strong relationship with most European leaders, and is seen as someone with a good grasp of geopolitics, would have a far easier time persuading European leaders to send some troops via NATO or the UN.

Too bad we don't have any integrity in the White House. Too bad the Congress won't act like a Board of Directors with a CEO who has similarly lost credibility and who lacked integrity in dealings with third parties (impeachment is the word here).

And too bad the punditry on radio and television is more interested in spinning Republican National Committee talking points than anything else.

Posted by: mitchell freedman at November 1, 2003 09:01 PM | PERMALINK

Tacitus, I concede. I just re-read my John Gaddis. I consider him the authority on the COld War, so I won't quibble with him.

From We Now Know:
For without the Soviet Union’s immense expenditure of manpower against the Germans, it is difficult to see how the Americans and British could ever have launched a successful second front. But without the United States’ material assistance in the form of Lend Lease, together with its role in holding the Japanese at bay in the Pacific, the Red Army might never have repelled the Nazi invasion in the first place.

FDR proposed an invasion of France in 1942, but Churchill pushed for Italy instead. Indeed, the idea that we were holding back was Stalin's view, although Churchill may have had some misgivings about helping Uncle Joe. Your Vologograd snark was fair, it seems.

I have to disagree with you about something in order to save face, so here goes:

"neither of us can truly prove our points."

Well, you could have. But I did it for you. A phyrric victory. (And to ccobb, there's some attribution for you.)

But I wouldn't agree with your characterization that Kevin's comment was "facile". This is complicated stuff.

Posted by: praktike at November 1, 2003 09:42 PM | PERMALINK

Ron, regarding canonization of Reagan: See this article. Somewhere on one of Norquist's organizations' sites there's a mission statement about getting monuments or something named after Reagan in every county in the country, as the article says; I've seen it (and posted about it at my place, but I can't immediately find it).

Posted by: Linkmeister at November 1, 2003 09:53 PM | PERMALINK

Aha! I found the name of the site with the Reagan naming goal: The Reagan Legacy Project.

Posted by: Linkmeister at November 1, 2003 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Tacitus, I concede.

Jeepers...well done Praktike. Far to few of us grant the other side a winning argument ever.

Posted by: spc67 at November 1, 2003 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

after laying this egg:

Plenty of historians believe FDR was content to let Stalin bleed for a while, because he saw Unca Joe as the greater long term threat. That's partly why we didn't open the Western front until 1944.

it's tough to recover the high-ground, as it's totally, totally, wrong.

Lend-Lease didn't really kick in until Russia had fought the Hitlerites to a standstill in '43[1], but the quantity was copious and some of the items were of high importance strategically. Recommended reading: _Dirty Secrets of WW2_, by Dunnigan.

[1] http://www.1jma.dk/articles/1jmaarticlelendlease.htm

Posted by: Troy at November 2, 2003 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

troy, see my concession speech above.

Posted by: praktike at November 2, 2003 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

pyrrhic, i mean.

Posted by: praktike at November 2, 2003 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

Ccobb, I don't understand your response. France, Germany and Russia made that move in JAN. 2002 . That would be before the huge UN fight in late 2002, and the invasion in March of 2003.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at November 2, 2003 01:13 AM | PERMALINK

yeah, I saw it. I was trying to add a shade of support to your argument "It all depends on the timing".

I've studied WW2 just about as much as a non-scholar guy can, and Kevin's assertion that allies were necessary for our victory in WW2 doesn't clang to me as an untruth.

(plus I've played a lot of A&A and know if Karelia falls the game is over)


Posted by: Troy at November 2, 2003 01:32 AM | PERMALINK

*****CLARK AND TERRORISM - AS ON 9.15.2001****

http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4257771-103677,00.html
Leah Faerstein wrote:
> Decisive force
>
> We must target and destroy the terrorist network. There is no room for
> half measures
> Special report: terrorism in the US
>
> Wesley Clark
> Saturday September 15, 2001
> The Guardian
>
READ IT. IT'S WHY I SUPPORT HIM (TO BEGIN WITH)

Posted by: Leah Faerstein at November 2, 2003 01:36 AM | PERMALINK

troy, i think I get it now. still slightly confused by your post, though.

Posted by: praktike at November 2, 2003 03:16 AM | PERMALINK

A great thread. Educational and enlightening with just a little wacko here and there for flavor. I appreciate Clark more having read it and followed some of the links.

I hope I'm not too late to the thread to hear opinions on two things:

1. Why, when Clark clearly does have experience with complex operations and organization, has he been (seemingly) unable to command his campaign troops? My working theory is that those who drafted him (the establishment folks, not his grassroots supporters) presented the idea that the process would be much easier than it has been -- that his resume would push him to the fore and the rest would be acclamation. Now that it's clear that's not going to happen, where is his leadership within his own campaign? I'm truly confused about this and it does bother me.

2. First an FYI for Kevin: Dean has said repeatedly that the first thing he'd do as President is go to Europe to talk to our allies -- that what Bushco doesn't seem to get is that cooperative international relations is just as significant to our defense as our armed forces and defense budget.

Now the second question: I am not a history expert, just the "average American" remembering things vaguely and probably superficially, so I hope someone can help me out: my memory about the Iran hostages is that things got so "bad" (no idea what that meant) with Carter that, at the end of his term, the Iranians were ready to let the hostages go but deliberately waited until just after Reagan's inauguration.

I think, at the time, that I thought that the Reagan team -- after his election -- had gotten involved in their own negotiations with the Iranians, and had arranged that "neener, neener" to Carter -- but I'm a Dem, so I was probably just pissed.

Can anyone clarify? I ask, obviously, because I'm interested in the notion that some nations, like France or Germany, might be in a ABB mood.

Posted by: Opus at November 2, 2003 04:54 AM | PERMALINK

That way, if Bush loses, we'll have an incoming president who doesn't immediately give me the cold sweats.

Surely there can be no higher praise.

Posted by: Julia Grey at November 2, 2003 07:48 AM | PERMALINK

Re: enthusiasm for Clark

Only a brilliant man qualifies for president? With high level military experience? Why am I reminded so much of Jimmy Carter, the engineer and nuclear submarine commander?

I think that really sums up the basic differences between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to foreign policy. Democrats pine for a person like Jimmy Carter, and Republicans wait for the second coming of a Ronald Reagan.

Jimmy Carter got the camp david accord, Ronald Reagan harried the evil empire into collapsing. Carter negotiated, Reagan fought.
And partisans have exactly the opposite viewpoint of which type of president is best.

I think when it comes to foreign policy the nation has swung decisively away from the Democratic Party ideal. Go ahead and nominate a Jimmy Carter type if you must, but don't expect him to win.

Posted by: Brad at November 3, 2003 03:01 AM | PERMALINK

This post is off topic, focusing on your use of the phrase "war on terror."

I think a danger exists is perpetuating this phrase, as it feeds into the right's use of it as a stick to push through their agenda.

Terror, as in terrorism, is a technique to effectuate a goal. It's a technique that has been around a long time before, and will likely exist for some time to come. It's not a finite quantity that can be ultimately stamped out.

Instead, like corruption, it is something that can begin anywhere, at anytime. Thus, the so-called war is more akin to vigilence--something we seek to guard against and root out before it's too late.

The right would have us believe that it's something tangible that, given more money and increased support of certain public officials, can be eliminated in the near future and victory can be then declared. This permits the so-called war to wage indefinitely, and against any nation or group. It also works to deflect attention to other, less savory aspects of its proponents by propping them up with a call to arms.

Perhaps just an issue of somantics, but I think it's something that feeds the demagoguery of the right.

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