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November 23, 2003

FIGHTING TERRORISM....PART 1....I got into a minor skirmish with my friend Armed Liberal a few weeks ago that ended up producing this post over at Winds of Change in which he listed six ideas about the war on terrorism that he thought Democrats ought to support. They mostly looked fine to me, which caused me to wonder if we really disagreed with each other at all.

A bunch of emails later, we agreed to find out by expanding on each of the six items in a cross-blog discussion. Will it be really boring, as AL explains each of his points and I just nod my head and say "Sounds good to me"? Or will we find something really meaty to argue about? It's time to find out.

Here's point #1:

We're not going anywhere in Afghanistan or Iraq until we're done. Afghanistan will not turn into Vermont any time soon, but we will make sure that the power of the warlords is checked, and that it doesn't collapse again. Iraq could be the leader of the Middle east, and we intend to help build it into that.

And here is AL's expanded version. If you're interested in following this, go ahead and read it and then come back.

(Dum de dum....)

Now, if I understand his post correctly, his main argument isn't so much that Iraq and Afghanistan are important per se, but rather that they're important symbols of our willingness to continue the broader war against terrorism for as long as it takes:

The way to win is simply to sit on them and make it clear that you will sit on them until they have really and truly given up — until their will is broken to yours.

....By taking this position, by making it clear that we will stay as long at it takes, spend the treasure and blood required to break the wave of Islamist rage, in my view we will reduce the amount of actual violence we will ultimately have to impose.

So: if we leave Iraq, we're admitting to the terrorists that hitting us hard will get rid of us. In the end, this just encourages more terrorism since we've shown them that it can be successful.

Regardless of how it sounds to liberal ears, this is a compelling argument. But let's take a look at a few counterarguments:

  • Iraq is tangential to the war on terror. In fact, putting an enormous American army in the center of the Arab world will do nothing except spur on the terrorists and earn the enmity of the general population. If we want to make sure the terrorists know we're serious, we should be fighting them, not a bunch of Ba'ath nationalists.

  • We can't win. Max Sawicky makes the canonical version of this argument here, and it's worth listening to. Regardless of anything else, if victory truly isn't possible then we should just get out.

  • This is the wrong fight. Fighting al-Qaeda style terrorists with a conventional army is suicidal. We need to get out of Iraq and put together a genuine counter-terrorism force.

Although — as we'll see — I agree with AL's conclusions about staying in Iraq and Afghanistan, there's enough truth in all of these arguments to make me disagree with his reasons. The problem is that while sticking around in order to send a message seems like a sound show of resolve, the sad fact is that it usually accomplishes little except convincing the other guy that he needs to show more resolve too — as the French in Algeria or the Israelis in the West Bank can attest.

This is not the way to win wars. As AL acknowledges, symbolic shows of resolve won't deter al-Qaeda — they are, after all, fanatics — and they also won't retain the support of the American public, which is generally smart enough to distinguish between symbolic actions and those that are genuinely critical to American security.

No, the way to win wars is to fight the right battles and avoid the wrong ones, and this sometimes means acknowledging an error and moving the fight elsewhere — a tactic that may be less satisfying than a display of Alamo-style grit, but also one that's a lot more likely to end in victory. So while I don't entirely share Max's pessimism about our ability to win in Iraq, I do agree that Iraq is tangential to the war on terrorism and is quite likely the wrong fight. Getting out might be taken as a symbol of weakness by some, but in reality it would make us stronger by allowing us to redeploy our resources where they really belong and where they can make a real difference.

Having said all that, however, I think it's right to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan anyway. This is partly because I think we owe it to them — we did invade their countries, after all — and partly because I think it's possible for us to make a positive difference there. As AL says, we won't turn them into Vermont, but perhaps we can nudge them toward something better than they were before, which is both good for them and good for us.

So: yes, stay in Iraq and Afghanistan. But: do it with our eyes open and with the right goals in mind. When it comes to fighting terrorists, military force is a pretty good option, but when it comes to promoting liberal culture in foreign lands it's not. That's a lesson we need to keep our eyes on.

Posted by Kevin Drum at November 23, 2003 10:10 PM | TrackBack


Comments

I'm confused as to what you're actually advocating here.

Do the same thing we're doing now, or do something different? Or are you only answering the question of whether to stay or go?

Posted by: praktike at November 23, 2003 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

The Clash of Civilisation?

Posted by: Frenchy at November 23, 2003 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

I will pick a fight with this sentence from #1:

Iraq could be the leader of the Middle east, and we intend to help build it into that

Ain't gonna happen fellas.

That's a giddy neocon fantasy that makes us all feel warm inside. And it lends itself real well to noble speeches that make even Bill Safire tear up.

Sorry...they hate us for the very same reasons we could push the war button so easily:

Different skin color, different language, different religion--> different TRIBE!

Here is a quote from Col. Joe Anderson from the city of Mosul (today's LA times):

"They (Iraqis) don't understand being nice," said Anderson, who oversees the military zone that includes Mosul and environs and doesn't hide his irritation after months dedicated to restoring the city . "We spent so long here working with kid gloves, but the average Iraqi guy will tell you, `The only thing people respect here is violence. ... They only understand being shot at, being killed. That's the culture.' ... Nice guys do finish last here."

It's over fellas...there ain't going to be even play-pretend democracy there.

Just like planes have to spiral sharply into Baghdad to avoid rockets...so Iraq spirals sharply out of control.

This war was the biggest brute-dumb error made by my country in my lifetime. And quite possible...the light at the end of the tunnel is a military dictatorship a la Tommie Franks.

Pack your bags fellas!


Posted by: -pea- at November 23, 2003 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Praktike: yes, I'm addressing only the question of whether to stay or go. And I'm saying we should stay, but with the specific goal of getting Iraq and Afghanistan back on their feet, not as a way of showing "resolve." That would simply tie down our forces forever in a futile attempt to prove something unprovable, and would not advance our overall goal of stopping terrorism.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at November 23, 2003 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

When it comes to fighting terrorists, military force is a pretty good option,...

I think this is only true in a very limited sense.

If you are talking about big armies, air forces and navies, it is true only when used against obvious state sponsors of terrorists (e.g.Afghanistan).

Under most other circumstances, "heavy-duty police" (i.e.Delta Force etc.) is a better response.

And the prime actions have to be diplomatic, economic, and law-enforcement, to cooperate with other countries in hunting them and to remove the political and economic conditions that help the terrorist to recruit people into their ranks.

This is what, basically, has reduced the European terrorist of the 1970's (ETA, IRA, RAF, Brigate Rosse etc.) to minimal levels.

Greetings
Karl Heinz

Posted by: khr at November 24, 2003 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

Kill 'em all. After all, they can't fight back, much.

We must protect our precious body fluids.

Posted by: Troy at November 24, 2003 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

And the prime actions have to be diplomatic, economic, and law-enforcement, to cooperate with other countries in hunting them and to remove the political and economic conditions that help the terrorist to recruit people into their ranks.

I agree with Karl - we should go with what's been proven to work.

I don't think that Bush & Co will, though, because they're too tied to the idea that what they're fighting can be fought with bombs and invasion.

Having said all that, however, I think it's right to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan anyway. This is partly because I think we owe it to them — we did invade their countries, after all — and partly because I think it's possible for us to make a positive difference there. As AL says, we won't turn them into Vermont, but perhaps we can nudge them toward something better than they were before, which is both good for them and good for us.

I agree with this. But with the supplement that, again, that I don't think Bush & Co are the right people to be running a "make a difference" campaign in Afghanistan or Iraq. (They haven't been to date, at least.)

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 24, 2003 01:04 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think much of Armed Libs 6 points. Mostly because the democrats have already signed on to the easy points, and the others are problematic for various reasons.

Numbers 1 (Stay the course) & 2 (reduce dependence on MidEast oil) are prime examples of the former. I believe that all of the democratic candidates support finishing Af and Ir. The only difference between them and Bush, is that they seem to have better ideas.
The same for #2. To quote Dean's website (not that I'm advocating Dean) "the United States must reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern oil ."
The continuation of that sentence covers #5: "and we must have a President who is willing to confront the Iranians, the Syrians, the Saudis, and others who send money to Hamas, and finance a worldwide network of fundamentalist schools which teach small children to hate Americans, Christians, and Jews."

It also immediately follows a strong hint at #3. However it is unrealistic to expect a candidate to explicitly call for Israel to dismantle. This should be the aim of negotiations once in the White House, but political suicide before then.

#4 is just wrong. We don't need more forces to invade places - the existing army is enough for that. What we don't have is an occupying force, and that gets into more touchy ground.

I don't understand #6.

Furthermore, at least in this post, he seems to think that the war in Iraq and the war on terrorists are the same thing.

Posted by: McDruid at November 24, 2003 02:10 AM | PERMALINK

If the "flypaper" theory holds any water, I think we may owe it to the Iraqis to get out, pronto.

Posted by: Damon at November 24, 2003 02:14 AM | PERMALINK

sTay in Iraq to impress the Middle East with our resolve? I'm old enough to remember the same thing being said about Vietnam.

Q. Why are you beating yourself over the head with that sledge hammer?

A. I'm not sure I remember why I started--it seemed like a good idea at the time. But since I'm doing it, I can't stop now--people would think I lacked resolve!

Posted by: rea at November 24, 2003 02:32 AM | PERMALINK

The big issue is whether we're going to continue to pursue the PNAC agenda of conquering several Muslim countries in and arond the ME. Since Armed Liberal wants to do that, he has framed the issues to favor his goal. If we agree that we aren't going to invade any more countries, then we can set up a tnasparent set of political and economic goals, implement them and leave. If we don't, we continue with the present state of uncertainty, install Chalabi, repress Iraqi resistance brutally and move on to Syria.

Turning to his "issues":

#1 isn't specified. If you're a neocon, "staying until we're done" means staying until Iraq is a launching pad for another invasion.

#2 is a rhetorical gimme. Armed Liberal wants that concede a point in order to avoid discussing the glaring fact that Republican energy policy promotes dependence on ME oil.

#3 also a gimme. Neither party is going to stand up to Sharon.

#4 is useful only for the PNAC program. One division is just a foot in the door. He's coy about "the kind of wars we are going to realistically face".

#5 is difficult because of #3. We can get Arab states to revise schoolbooks and keep hate speech out of the media they control. But we can't censor much of the media (Al-Jazeera, the internet), and the media have been net gains for us in places like Iran.

#6 is so vague it's meaningless. Protecting privacy is a major issue given the cheapness of storage and communications, aside from any relation to terrorism. Armed Liberal doesn't state a Democratic position, much less tell us what's wrong with it.

In short, it's a distraction from the real question, which is the feasibility, wisdom and morality of serial conquest in the ME. The Cold War strategy of containment guided our foreign policy for many decades. One of its strengths was that it was arrived at after open discussion and debate. The PNAC program would commit our resources to an agenda that has never been aired in the same way.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 24, 2003 03:51 AM | PERMALINK

"The way to win is simply to sit on them and make it clear that you will sit on them until they have really and truly given up — until their will is broken to yours."

There, in a nutshell, is the Likud view of the world. As a famous Frenchman once said, this is worse than immoral - it is stupid. It's a misreading of human nature, because it assumes that your opponents are dogs. Be firm, make it clear who's master, and eventually the curs will roll over and lick your hand. People aren't like that, not even primitive tribes without the law.

AL muddies the whole issue by treating this as a "war with Islamism", which pretty much gets to the heart of what's wrong with this line of thinking. You cannot have a Clausewitzian war with "Islamism" - quick, what's the capital of Islamia? - Can you give me the order of battle of the armed forces of Islamia? It's an absurd notion, a case of taking an analogy and treating it as reality.

We are faced with a shadowy guerrilla struggle, and a conflict of ideas. I'm not sure how to win either, but I COULD sketch out a good strategy for losing both - and we're following it to the letter.

Posted by: Dave L at November 24, 2003 03:56 AM | PERMALINK

Attacking America is the last item on the terrorist agenda after they've come into power throughout the Middle East. Their immediate goal is to destabilize govts in the Islamic world such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, Egypt, Turkey and so on. The paramount reason we never should have gone into Iraq in the first place is that Osama bin Ladin wants us sitting in the Arab heartland killing and oppressing Moslems to foment unrest and aid his propaganda. Insofar as we cannot quickly stabilize Iraq we should not plan on staying, despite the shame and major defeat we suffer by leaving the country in turmoil behind us.

It is certainly true we will send an unmistakable message of weakness by leaving before achieving a stable Iraq under representative self-government. In other words we concede that we do not have, absent help, a military structured to commit 150k+ troops to an open-ended occupation, which is nothing but the simple truth. Our Army is designed to fight and quickly kill other main-force armies, not engage in extended counter-insurgency conflicts!

By leaving Iraq we will invite new terror attacks on the US to attempt to goad us into making another major error. Currently the terrorists can concentrate on their immediate targets among our allies. Stabilizing and nurturing Afghanistan and achieving some sort of arrangement with Pakistan to neutralize the safe haven for terrorists in that country (without destabilizing the government, which would be doing our enemy's work) is where our armed forces can best contribute as the world is arranged now.

When we can leave Iraq, at least under George Bush, is after we have killed or captured Saddam Hussein, since there is no way Bush can leave behind the possibility of Saddam regaining power in even a rump Iraq. And there remains the slim possibility that this administration will suddenly become competent (or that Saddam will join the Southern Baptist Church and enroll at Wheaton College...) Of course if Saddam comes back in Iraq after a Democratic President withdraws that won't be pretty either, but wasn't this supposed to be a War on Terror?

A new administration will at least have more options in enlisting allies to supplement our forces in Iraq, if the situation has not become intolerably bad. My main offering is that we begin to take our enemy's strategic goals into account in this war, rather than pursuing unrelated goals in the name of reformative fantasies or third-party priorities.

Posted by: Cav at November 24, 2003 04:17 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "Will it be really boring, as AL explains each of his points and I just nod my head and say "Sounds good to me"? "

It might be less boring if you produced your own list or summary of ideas instead of just dissecting Armed Liberal's ideas. "Sounds good to me" doesn't really shed light on what your own thinking and priorities may be.

That's hard work, and you may have other things to do right now. But it would make for a more interesting discussion.

Posted by: E. Rey at November 24, 2003 04:42 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Assume the invasion never took place. Assume a vicious civil war broke out in Iraq. Hussein was overthrown, but blood ran in the streets as disparate political and religious factions fought for control. Under these circumstances, do you feel the U.S. would be duty bound to send our armed forces over there to "fix" the situation? Somehow I doubt it.

Yet the "we broke it, we need to fix it" crowd persists in this notion. Leave. Go. Let Iraq be Iraq. Get over the imperial guilt trip.

Posted by: bobbyp at November 24, 2003 06:02 AM | PERMALINK

This is why I was opposed to the war in the beginning - now we have to put all of our options in the frame of violence. Every choice we make is going to therefore be a false one.

And do we remember the history of war in Afghanistan? Nobody wins those wars. I know it's popular now to say that we were right to go in and do what we did, but we weren't. The three thousand dead in NY and DC are still dead and nothing has been done to curb the fanaticism that killed them. It's an old, boring point but I think that it's the way out of this whole terrorism mess. We have to try new things that sound strange and difficult - things the GOP leadership is completely opposed to: share the wealth, increase the standard of living worldwide, model peace and prosperity by actually creating it at home and where we have influence abroad (Liberia). Fatal hug'em.

We should stay in Iraq. Day One - increase troop strength. Day Two - nationalize the oil and other major industries. Day Three - restructure the CPA so that it actually makes sense to the Iraqi people. We'd be out in six months.

Posted by: Get HR2239 Passed Now at November 24, 2003 06:18 AM | PERMALINK

Or make the concessions necessary to implement a truly international transitional force?

We could at least drive an international mandate while somewhat relaxing our economic interests in the countries to show that stability really is our prime motive.

Posted by: Chris at November 24, 2003 06:19 AM | PERMALINK

Some points:

One oil, I would say that the administration's policy seems to be to increase the supply of oil from everywhere, and not necessarily reducing our dependence on the Middle East. Republican rhetoric to that effect is a smokescreen. That's why some of the $87 billion went toward exploration of new fields. It seems to me that we're hoping to reduce our dependence on Saudi Arabia, perhaps, but not on the Middle East per se. Saudia Arabia's ability to singlehandedly manipulate the world price of oil scares the shit out of us, and rightly so. My solution to this problem would be to hit it primarily from the demand side while working more with Venezuela and Russia. But our current policy is all about increasing our supply to reduce the impact of Saudi Arabia on the oil market.

In fairness to PNAC, I think they're agnostic on what methods we use with other states in the region. The policy with Syria seems to have been to threaten that they're next in the hopes that they'd change their behavior. To some extent, they have; however, our intention to spread Jeffersonian democracy across the Middle East gives them a countervailing incentive to undermine our efforts in Iraq. Since Bush has made clear that we aren't going to actually invade Syria, the first effect seems to be dominated by the second at this point.

As for the resolve question, my own point of view is that Afghanistan woudl have been sufficient to banish the Mogadishu syndrome (and more so if we had gone into Tora Bora and Waziristan with gusn blazing); Iraq has given us a perfect opportunity for us to prove that we don't have the stomach for terrorism.

But now that we are there, I think we need to get very serious about nation-building. That means more of most things, but less emphasis on physical infrastructure-building. Saddam could do that; what we (and international agencies) can do is build democratic institutions.

Posted by: praktike at November 24, 2003 06:30 AM | PERMALINK

>But now that we are there, I think we need to get very serious about
>nation-building. That means more of most things, but less emphasis on
>physical infrastructure-building. Saddam could do that

You're objectively pro-Saddam.

Posted by: Dan the Man at November 24, 2003 06:55 AM | PERMALINK

Dan, you're kidding, right?

Posted by: praktike at November 24, 2003 06:58 AM | PERMALINK

The PNAC folk do want to use Iraq as a staging ground -- and if both the war AND the reconstruction were super successful, there would be much less practical opposition to invading Iran, say, for not coming clean with their nuke program.

It would be morally OK if the US decided, fairly unilaterally, to institute regime change in any country that signed the UN Dec'l of Human Rights, but does not have a free press. But the US is not morally bound to do so, since it entails huge sacrifices. Like many here think the cost of US action in Iraq is too high. Less than $200 bil; less than 2600 US soldiers is not too high, for me. Why aren’t more folk willing to put price tags, life number costs here?

Here's the biggest problem I have with the anti-war folk: were the US to merely attempt to track down terrorists as criminals, and thus allow Iran & Iraq to develop nukes and/or other WMD, and for such weapons to be used against the US, I'm sure a lot of anti-war folk would be ballisticaly angry at the US for following Clinton's No. Korea strategy. And the US civilians would be in huge danger -- not to mention Israel, which would almost certainly have been the first target.

And yeah, had terrorists gotten nukes, and used them, I'm sure lots of anti-war folk would say they were wrong. But too late. What is your estimate of the no-Iraq war chances of this (terrorists use WMDs) in the next 6 years? Mine was 50% -- which justifies Iraq regime change, to me. It's now down to about 20%.

Intense treatment of terrorists as criminals, and worse, is needed, but not sufficient. Controlled & regulated legalized drug use is necessary, too -- or else the terrorists will, inevitably, be involved in the illegal drug trade, as well.

Reducing dependancy on ME oil? Increase gas taxes by a penny, every month (every week?) until there is peace & democracy in the ME -- eventually substitutes will cost less. Nobody likes this solution, either; but sometimes reality is a bear.

Posted by: Tom Grey at November 24, 2003 07:14 AM | PERMALINK

Looks to me like we are going to be in Vietnam (oops, Iraq) for a long time and do a lot of 'pacification'. The body count on both sides, US soldiers and Iraqi civilians, is rising. I think it would be instructive to read about the entry years in our idealogical war to win the 'hearts and minds' of the Vietnamese.

The Kucinich positions on Iraq promises a quick exit. I see almost all other candidates 'staying the course' in Vietnam (oops, Iraq -- there I go again).

Look at the Kucinich plank on Iraq. Compare it to the carefully worded responses of the other Democratic candidates. Even, Dr. Dean and Gen. Clark do not clearly define an 'exit strategy'. I think they may get 'sucked into a wider war'.


Somehow, falling through the Bush trap door into a hell hole, requires us to remain until 'the job is done'. Just what Bush wants. Meanwhile, operation IronHammer is pounding the crap out of whole urban areas to catch a few snipers. I'm sure that will win more 'hearts and minds'.

The marked phrases were used extensively during the Vietnam war. This seems to be the same debate by liberals that occured a generation ago. Good luck in keeping the blood off your hands.

Posted by: deeejaaay at November 24, 2003 07:20 AM | PERMALINK

The Bush II Administration is totally clueless. The United States is in a Holy War in the Middle East with inadequate forces on the ground. They can’t even safeguard the major airport at Bagdad. The only way to win the occupation is to send every trooper in the US to Iraq, end troop rotation and start the draft. Since the Bush II Administration will not do what is necessary to win, the US is defeated. The only question is when will the US withdraw and what will be the consequences here in the USA and in Iraq.

Posted by: Jim S at November 24, 2003 07:20 AM | PERMALINK

Tom, Iran is a much more likely candidate for proliferation, since they're basically a vertically integrated terrorist and WMD organization.

The problem with the Bush doctrine is that we don't actually mean what we say; we just aren't going to do things like invade Iran and North Korea. The reason we invaded Iraq was because it was the low-hanging fruit. Unfortunately, eating low-hanging fruit can still give you a stomachache.

Posted by: praktike at November 24, 2003 07:21 AM | PERMALINK

AL and the "resolve" crowd really need to read Reputation and International Politics by Jon Mercer, or at least get someone to give them the gist of it.

The gist of it: Countries and national governments do not own, or control in any meaningful sense, their reputation. A countries reputation is a product of the motives attributed to it by others, and others follow particular attributive patterns (found in psychological literature under "attribution theory") that have to do with whether said country is designated as a "friend" or "enemy."

The schema of the book goes like this:

If "enemy" behaves in a way designated as "good", it's because we forced them to.

If "enemy" behaves in a way designated as "bad", it's because, well, that's just who they are.

The rough opposite holds for those we designate as friends--if they behave badly, it must be from some kind of outside pressure, etc.

Think about how we understand the behavior, or lack thereof, of Islamic terrorists. It fits the above attributive scheme to a tee.

Now, the resolve crowd will say that we aren't interested in whether or not the enemy interprets our actions as "good" or "bad," we're instead interested in whether we are understood as "serious" or "not." Still, I think the essense of the theory holds; as long as the US is designated as an enemy, flexing muscles in places like Iraq will probably not change, in a fundamental way, the way terrorists think of the US. It will be given a contingent, local understanding, rather than effecting a change in the understanding of who we are and what we do in a general sense.

Bottom line: We're not winning this war on reputation. Whatever role a change in our reputation may play in this role, it won't be acheived through military campaigns. Those who think otherwise are under the mistaken impression that we own and control our reputation, and it just doesn't work that way.

Posted by: Jimbo Jones at November 24, 2003 07:27 AM | PERMALINK

Praktike, I think you're mostly right about us needing to be serious in nation building -- but what's even more important is building institutions accountable to the people, democratic accountability. Perhaps like Hong Kong, for example, which was ruled, lightly, by the UK. The need is to get local Iraqi judges, and cops, and mayors.

Especially mayors with money to fix local things that need fixing -- so early mayor elections, LONG before national elections, or even a national constitution. And even LOAN those mayors money, immediately, so it's not a hand out, and there's no need for gratitude, but the Iraqi mayors decide what gets fixed, by whom, and how much it costs.

The US military backs up the Iraqi cops, though also watches that the locals cops don't stage a coup, either. Only local Iraqis can substantially reduce terrorism -- provide good intel.

*** The army needs to teach more US soldiers more Persian (Farsi) *** An hour in the morning every morning for a month would give most soldiers at least a little ability to say hello; the top half of the class could continue (with a small bonus) for another month, and the new top half could continue. Within 3 or 4 months there would be thousands who can talk with locals, even if somewhat poorly.

Posted by: Tom Grey at November 24, 2003 07:33 AM | PERMALINK

I am tempted to join the chorus here casting aspersion on the notion that the invasion of Iraq is part of coherent campaign against terror. But I want to address the assumption that AL makes that Bush will remain in favor because he is seen as bold whereas the Demoratic contenders come off as Bush Lite or Pollyannas. If the Democrats do as AL suggests, they will increase the number who perceive them that way rather than convince folks they are 'serious' about threats to our society. The way to defeat Bush is to show that he is not being bold at all.
What made invading Iraq possible in terms of regional politics is because of the degree the country became isolated from the Arab League, exhausted by its war with Iran, and brought to zero with the Gulf War and sanctions. Nothing that was dear to the Bushies had to be given in exchange for the operation to go forward.
Those same set of circumstances, however, are what is throwing cold water on the hopes brewed within the PNAC that Iraq would serve as a springboard for American influence throughout the region. The US has unwittingly inherited the isolation of the Saddam regime. Being bold in a military fashion while risking nothing politically is not taking a struggle seriously.
The war in Afghanistan shows the same pattern. Deals were made with Pakistan so the operation could be all about smart bombs and Green Berets riding donkeys. No need to make too much of the deep connection between the ISI and the Taliban. No need to get involved with poppie production which is shovelling money to groups who kill Americans.
Bush is not really a cowboy, spread the word.

Posted by: Bag at November 24, 2003 07:36 AM | PERMALINK

Tom, I think you're actually reinforcing what I said about getting serious. The rule of law is the key, which is why I worry about things like Iron Hammer, an operation that does not seem to demonstrate the importance of rules.

Pardon my ignorance regarding Farsi, but is its use widespread in Iraq? I thought the major languages were Arabic, Kurdish, Assyrian, and Armenian. But regarding Iran, yes, more Farsi and regional knowledge would be helpful.

Posted by: praktike at November 24, 2003 07:48 AM | PERMALINK

It would be morally OK if the US decided, fairly unilaterally, to institute regime change in any country that signed the UN Dec'l of Human Rights, but does not have a free press.

As a practical matter, it's never going to be possible to define "free press". Thatcher sent a SWAT team into the offices of the Guardian. Does the UK have a free press? This kind of subjectivity means that any regime change is going to depend on a lot of side issues. the best we could hope for realistically is some sort of international tribunal, which removes it from your stipulation of "unilaterally". If there's a good case for regime change, one should expect that we could convince an international group. Or do we have a private high-speed line to God?

Like many here think the cost of US action in Iraq is too high. Less than $200 bil; less than 2600 US soldiers is not too high, for me. Why aren’t more folk willing to put price tags, life number costs here?

Price tag for what benefit? We're on our third or fourth set of reasons for the invasion. When the WMD and the Al Qaeda connection didn't pan out, and the emotional effect of mass graves begin to wane, Bush moved on to spreading democracy. It's kind of hard to do these calculations on bogus facts. Shouldn't the calculation also include the probability of creating a democracy? If so, Iraq has the least probability of any country in the region, for well known reasons.

Just because you can quantitate something doesn't mean it's reasonable, let alone legal.

Here's the biggest problem I have with the anti-war folk: were the US to merely attempt to track down terrorists as criminals, and thus allow Iran & Iraq to develop nukes and/or other WMD,

Non sequitur.

And the US civilians would be in huge danger -- not to mention Israel, which would almost certainly have been the first target.

Except that Israel is probably much more careful about incoming cargo and personal belongings. We haven't improved inspection to even minimal levels.

What is your estimate of the no-Iraq war chances of this (terrorists use WMDs) in the next 6 years? Mine was 50% -- which justifies Iraq regime change, to me. It's now down to about 20%.

Since Iraq had no WMD and wasn't working on them, regime change has zero effect. It has probably increased terrorist recruiting by some unknown amount. And it has encouraged NK and Iran to develop nukes so as not to be low hanging fruit. To the extent that it's destabilized Pakistan, it may have encouraged elements of their nuclear effort to hand off bombs to terrorists.

Intense treatment of terrorists as criminals, and worse, is needed, but not sufficient. Controlled & regulated legalized drug use is necessary, too...

And the Democrats should make this #1 plank in their platform, just to show they're serious. Sure.


Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 24, 2003 08:02 AM | PERMALINK

A L 's notion that the difference between Us and Them is that We believe in separation of church and state and They don't seems increasingly naive.
Democracy is our state religion and we preach it as hypocritically as any Islamist or Christian.

Posted by: fyreflye at November 24, 2003 08:04 AM | PERMALINK

Tom Grey wrote: What is your estimate of the no-Iraq war chances of this (terrorists use WMDs) in the next 6 years? Mine was 50% -- which justifies Iraq regime change, to me. It's now down to about 20%.

Sounds like a very scientific process. I'm sure this estimate was based on sound principles and empirical data. Right?

Posted by: JayD at November 24, 2003 08:45 AM | PERMALINK

fyreflye writes:

Democracy is our state religion and we preach it as hypocritically as any Islamist or Christian.

Yes indeed. White Boy speaks with forked tongue. The world knows (even if most Americans don't) that we undermine incipient democracies and support dictators when it pleases us.

That tends to attenuate one's moral authority.

The only moral authority we now have comes out of the barrel of a gun.


Posted by: -pea- at November 24, 2003 08:58 AM | PERMALINK

"What is your estimate of the no-Iraq war chances of this (terrorists use WMDs) in the next 6 years? Mine was 50% -- which justifies Iraq regime change, to me. It's now down to about 20%"

Without being unduly rude, let me ask--What part of "Iraq didn't have WMD" don't you understand? What part of "Iraq didn't support al Qaeda" don't you agree with?

Posted by: rea at November 24, 2003 09:00 AM | PERMALINK

A lovely discussion. Bush is leaving Iraq because the reasons for being there have been satisfied.

1. No WMD.

2. Being flypaper is no fun.

3. Democracy would not be any more desirably in Iraq then it would be in the US, by PNAC lights.

Just as in the Cold War, the struggle is ideological. The need is to isolate the Islamists from the masses. Iraq was probably not the way to do it.

Posted by: jon Stopa at November 24, 2003 09:03 AM | PERMALINK

"Even, Dr. Dean and Gen. Clark do not clearly define an 'exit strategy'. I think they may get 'sucked into a wider war'."

The problem is that we will be sucked into a wider war even if we never do another thing in the Middle East again.

"Or make the concessions necessary to implement a truly international transitional force?"

What concessions would be necessary and what international transitional forces would be available. This is a classic empty talking point. There aren't large forces available. And now that we are, God forbid, talking about leaving very early as demanded by the French, there still isn't any indication that forces will become available.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at November 24, 2003 09:48 AM | PERMALINK

Question for Sebastian or anyone else:

What are the chances we could convince other countries to fill in for us in our other peacekeeping locations? Say, asking S. Korea to step up its troop levels while we rotate a couple thousand troops over to Iraq? Ditto for Okinawa. Maybe we're already doing this?

Posted by: praktike at November 24, 2003 09:52 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

If I were the litigious type, you'd be in big trouble for sending me over to AL without a warning label:0 Something like, "Warning, space aliens post here", perhaps...

Posted by: dm at November 24, 2003 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Since the war in Iraq there has been more radical islamists than ever. I do remember that Pres Bush tried to rally all the Christians together at the beginning and it did look like a crusad to me.
In the muslim side, there had been tries to gather muslims under Ben Laden against the USA, like in 1998 (international islamic front against jews and crusaders) but it did not work: now the US is doing the job of Ben Laden with the war in Iraq, and I don't think we will ever see a lebanonzitaion of the middle-east.
It was completely unhealthy to distinguish evildoers with good, and it looks to me more and more like a war on culture:
Richard Perle for example had leaked the vision of the pentagon in an article from the Jerusalem Post where the arab world was unable to do the industrial revolution therefore condaned to long political crisis since there is a handicap in the muslim society therefore they are mad at the Occident and most particularly the USA: the USA is not that innocent too, neither are the radical islamists.
The scariest thing is the US jumped in a terrorism spiral with the "War on terror" and we don't know how to stop it. There is a remedy though: it's called secularism, and for that you need to change the word "war on terror", but it is going to be very hard to acknowledge it too.
There has been a think-tank about it (secularism and terrorism) but I don't have access to the documents yet. It is time to rethink of an exit strategy, it is unfortunately only getting worse in Iraq.


One point: the PNAC has been revealed by the Republicans, unfortunately the Democrats share a partial vision of this hidden agenda.


...etc

Posted by: Frenchy at November 24, 2003 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

"AL muddies the whole issue by treating this as a 'war with Islamism' . . . an absurd notion, a case of taking an analogy and treating it as reality."
Dave L

Reification? Indeed! But the neocons are epistemological idealists for whom reification is no sin.

Posted by: Ellen1910 at November 24, 2003 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Very interesting to compare this post and thread with that of Tacitus regarding mutilation of soldiers' corpses.

So, the US will stay in Iraq until "WE'RE" done. Interesting underlying assumption. How about staying only until the iraqis are done with us? Put another way, how do we know when we're done?

I'd be thrilled, and astonished, if we can bring representative democracy, and a stable government, to iraq. I'm just not sure that it's possible.

And before I'm accused of left-wing bigotry, let me clarify. Japan & Germany appear to be the models applied by the right-wing blogosphere (let's use RWB as shorthand) to the idea that democracy can, in fact, be imposed at the point of a gun. But the RWB never seems to want to talk about Yugoslavia, Lebanon, or post-colonial Africa, as potent counter-examples.

Is there enough idea of "nationhood" in iraq? are the shiites willing to become a minority? what kind of government will be acceptable to Kurds and Turkmen? will the Sunni insist on Islamic law forming the basis of the constitution? As the US moves to diminish its presence, can it prevent Iran from meddling?

beats the hell out of me. i'm not arguing that iraqis are incapable of enjoying a democracy, but i am arguing that it appears to me to be a strong possibilty that the internal tensions within iraq are so profound that democracy cannot flourish.

after all, the us constitution papered over internal tensions within this country that were so profound that bloody civil war was necessary to resolve the dispute. and union victory was by no means assured. just a few different decisions on various battlefields and the CSA could have forced the North to sue for peace. How different would be the democratic model that we are peddling around the world currently, if that had happened?

Let's all remember one simple point: Democracy is based on the consent of the governed. Kevin and the AL appear confident that we can obtain that consent in iraq if we remain long enough.

I'm not so sure. I think it's quite possible that our presence serves only as an irritant, increasing the internal divisions, and decreasing the likelihood that broad enough consent to a national government can be obtained. Down that path lies inevitable civil war.

Is it possible to redraw the political map of Iraq? Could Turkey be persuaded to cede some territory to a new Kurdistan in return for adequate security guarantees? Could the exercise of suggesting to the iraqis of redrawing the boundaries of iraq be used to diminish tensions, or would it only make matters worse?

I dunno. But given recent developments in Iraq -- especially the level of hatred necessary for a mob to whip up out of nowhere to defile american corpses -- I think a broader debate about american goals, and the means of achieving those goals, is necessary.

cheers.

Posted by: FDL at November 24, 2003 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see what your focus on corpse mutilating is supposed to say FDL. It unfortunately isn't any more uncommon than honor killings in the Middle East, so I'm not sure that any particularly shocking amount of fervor is needed.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at November 24, 2003 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that all of the democratic candidates support finishing Af and Ir. The only difference between them and Bush, is that they seem to have better ideas.

Which are what, precisely? The only one I seem to hear is "make the concessions necessary to increase international participation." This assumes that there are concessions that could be made to do this. In it's own way, this is as fanciful as anything the PNAC crowd and the warbloggers believe.

Are there any Democratic "better ideas" besides this one? I'd love to hear them.

Posted by: Jim Henley at November 24, 2003 12:56 PM | PERMALINK
This assumes that there are concessions that could be made to do this. In it's own way, this is as fanciful as anything the PNAC crowd and the warbloggers believe.

I don't think it is, particularly if its not done by this administration. At every turn, the international community has held out concrete steps they'd like to see for them to sign on and Bush has either rejected them or paid lip-service to them without substantive follow-through.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 24, 2003 01:01 PM | PERMALINK

I am not so sure FDL "focused" on the recent mutilations.

Rather seems to me it was just a decorative bow to his entire skeptical post about democratizing Iraq.

In paragraph 5 he raises a number of significant questions. The answers to which, nobody in or out of this administration, can comfortably answer.

And if you can't answer those questions...you are flying dumbly in the dark.

You can make all the happy and fuzzy speeches you want...bolstering our bosoms about our good motives...but such words won't alter the outcome.

Indeed the real question now becomes:

What is the wait period for American's to forget that we are now supposed to be doing democracy in Iraq?

My answer:

Less than a year after Bush is reelected.


Posted by: -pea- at November 24, 2003 01:19 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian, your focus on one percent of my post, while ignoring the other 99%, is as annoying here as on your own blog. But, to give you the benefit of the doubt, you genuinely appear not to understand the point i'm trying to make. I'll try to clarify.

The mutilation of american corpses by a spur-of-the-moment mob is a sign that the US will never be seen as liberators, but instead as occupiers, by a significant percentage of the population. The more we are hated, the less ability we have to transition the country to a government which represents the will of the people, because that same percentage will see the government as a creation of occupying forces (see, e.g., quisling, vichy). Absent the consent of the governed, the new government would lack legitimacy, wouldn't it?

honor killings are morally reprehensible. so is beating a gay man (wyoming) or dragging a black one (texas) to death. The point being that morally reprehensible acts, even those done with the approval of a depressingly high percentage of the local population, does not inherently prevent the operation of a democratic government.

More simply:

desecrating american corpses -- bad. may also mean that our presence will prevent rather than encourage representative democracy.

honor killings -- also bad. but does not necessarily mean that the US needs to reconsider its plan of occupation.

If, however, the US is involved in a War on Islamic Culture, then desecration of american troops --> cost of War, but honor killings --> proof that the War is not yet won.

Sebastian, you and some of the tinfoil hat brigade at Winds of Change may see the american occupation of iraq as part of a larger WOnIC, but I doubt you'll get a majority of the US population to agree. And democracy, after all, is [mostly] about the will of the majority, isn't it?

Posted by: FDL at November 24, 2003 03:06 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Kevin... Why do you pull this sort of joke on us? You can't be serious about agreeing with those six points, can you? Not to mention the "Islamonazi" comments. I mean seriously, I come to Calpundit to read some quality stuff usually posted here. Maybe you are a bit hawkish by my standards, but that place was the twilight zone. I never thought there would be such a thing as PNAC Liberals, but they do exist. They certainly do.

Posted by: M. Aurelius at November 24, 2003 07:13 PM | PERMALINK

Guys, this is really not that hard. In order to beat Al-Quada (we will never beat "terrorism," it's a tactic, not a group of people...), we have to make them look like morons, so they have a hard time recruiting.

How do we do that?

Undercut their rhetoric.

Read the Ted Rall column that caused such a kerfluffle a few weeks back. That is what "they" (the Baathists, the Islamisists, whoever) are saying. We have to make that appear so obviously wrong that it is laughable.

How do we do that?

1) Make sure that US companies aren't getting sweetheart deals. Hell, make sure Iraqi and Afghani companies are getting the deals!

2) Bring in international forces, but do it right. Don't let Turkish troops in to northern Iraq. Instead push for troops from Egypt and Indonesia.

3) Put the US on the line for pushing the Israeli/Palestinian peace process forwards. Every time some poor Israeli school kid gets killed, Israel will retaliate. And another 100,000 Arabs will get just a bit closer to being unreachable.

I could go on like this, but you get the point. Showing "grit" and "resolve" and being "bold" and so on aren't gonna do it. Being smart is.

Posted by: Dan at November 24, 2003 09:06 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it is, particularly if its not done by this administration. At every turn, the international community has held out concrete steps they'd like to see for them to sign on and Bush has either rejected them or paid lip-service to them without substantive follow-through.

In the early fall, India said it wouldn't send troops to Iraq without a UN resolution. (Other countries said the same thing.) Once there was a UN resolution, India said it had to wash its hair that night.

There's every indication that the international community has been holding out concrete steps it would like to see taken because it's politer than just telling the US to fvck off.

The "CBO Hammer" falls next march. We are already - at 180,000 non-Iraqi troops in theater - understaffed by some 100,000+ troops. Come next spring, when the US must draw down, that number increases.

The countries everyone hoped to get "big" troop commitments from were India, Pakistan, Bengladesh and Turkey. "Big" meant a division-sized (20,000) deployment apiece. The truth is, such a deployment would be more than twice what Bengladesh has ever managed. India and Pakistan, now shorn of the "we need a UN resolution" excuse, have basically said, "We need our troops to watch each other, actually." Turkey we know about.

Even Juan Cole has come to recognize that sizable commitments from the target countries are not in the cards.

Even if they were, they'd have been bad ideas. We know about Turkey. India is considered by many muslims to be anti-muslim. Not what's called for in this situation. Pakistan? We should fear that. Given the enmeshment between al Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistan's military and intelligence establishment, bringing them onto the scene of an anti-US guerrilla war would be borrowing trouble. (At premium rates given that we'd inevitably pay for the deployments.)

Bengladesh was the only country that made political sense, but they too made UN resolution noises until there was a resolution, then changed their tune. They already have something like 8,000 troops deployed in other peacekeeping operations. They're tapped out.

We are recriminating with South Korea over a grand total of 5,000 possible troops. We want 5k. They want to send 0.

None of this gets us remotely near the 100,000+ influx that would just allow the operation to keep treading water - that would provide no significant relief in the way of US troop rotations.

Near as I can tell it, the remaining component of the Democratic fantasy involves Europe - that if Bush spread around the contracts we could get significant deployments from . . . well, whom? France and Germany? Italy and Spain are already there in the hundreds and low thousands. Britain is maxed out. Their existing commitment is the top of what they can afford. Can you cite evidence (force levels, military budgets, logistical capability) to indicate that France and Germany can and will come up with c. 50,000 troops apiece for what will be, at best, a score or two billion dollars in graftexcuse me! Reconstruction contracts? Do we imagine that the German Army, or the Dutch or Norwegian, will have the Arabic-language skills and cultural literacy that our own troops lack? (The French probably do excel us on this score.

I'd say it beggars belief that the only thing holding back unprecedented overseas commitments by NATO countries is a lack of diplomatic skill by the Bushies. (And yes, the Bushies lack diplomatic skill.)

There are sound structural reasons for these countries to avoid enmeshing themselves in Iraq. The possible payoff is small. (Reconstruction swag. And most administration critics agree that the real problem is too many dollars going to foreign firms and not enough to Iraqi ones. "Doing what it takes to internationalize the occupation" perpetuates this problem.) The fiscal cost (foreign deployments) is high. The resistance is clearly anti-foreign, not just anti-US. The pattern of attacks indicates, actually, that it wants to drive as much of "the international community" out as possible, isolating the US in-country. Why would the French and German publics sit by while truck bombs and rockets kill their soldiers in a war the French and German publics opposed?

Sheer fantasy. There is no cavalry coming. Even the Richard Holbrooke of your dreams could not deliver it.

That aside, I also asked what other ideas the Democrats had beyond internationalizing the occupation. I'd still like a reply to that question from anyone who has one.

Posted by: Jim Henley at November 25, 2003 07:37 AM | PERMALINK

That aside, I also asked what other ideas the Democrats had beyond internationalizing the occupation. I'd still like a reply to that question from anyone who has one.

Well, this isn't a plan, but a prediction.

Since this war was sold on dishonest terms--as being both critically important and a cakewalk--the American public will become slowly disillusioned. The public will be unwilling to re-instate the draft or devote 5 percent of the GDP to this adventure. Lacking sufficient resources, we'll continue to get our asses handed to us by, well, asses pulling brightly colored carts. As in Vietnam, deficit wartime spending will ultimately lead to inflation.

The American public will go through the 3 emotional stages of modern colonial wars: generosity ("Democracy!"), confusion ("Why are they mutilating our soldiers?"), and backlash ("Let's mow down the ungrateful brown people!").

This has all been sadly predictable from the beginning. George W. Bush is a crony capitalist and middle-aged frat boy, Chalabi is a crook, and the Whitehouse foreign policy is up for grabs from week to week, depending on which group of advisors is winning. We're in favor of democracy only as long as the Iraqis don't vote to nationalize their oil, deny us airbases, or create a religious state. (Well, Saudi Arabi and Afghanistan suggest we might allow a well-behaved theocracy.)

If we fought World War II this way, we would have lost.

Now, Plan A: Keep on eye on the ball, and use containment on Iraq while persuing the real terrorists. (Risk: Saddam botoxes us.) Too late.

Plan B: Run a semi-competent occupational government. Too late.

Plan C: Hope al-Sistani can be trusted, and allow an elected assembly to write the new constitution. Insist that the constitution by ratified by all major Iraqi groups, not just the Shi'ites. Offer to stay as long as they want us, then go home when asked to do so. Blame any failed state after our departure on the Iraqis. Still possible.

Plan D: Continue to spend American blood and treasure on the occupation, while Iraq slowly turns into an ugly nightmare. Always an option.

Sorry, I'm in a cynical mood today.

Posted by: EK at November 25, 2003 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Mr Henley,
Your summary of the situation is excellent. The only Democratic voice I can think of who doesn't pretend we can simply pass the hot potato(e) away is Joe Biden, who calls for an immediate increase of troop strength. He is not, however, what you might call a fount of ideas of how to proceed in Iraq.
I think the drought is caused by the following:
The Bush Team sincerely believed they could pull this off with a minimum of intellectual labor. The problem with their "unilateral" approach is misrepresented as a matter of not respecting the wishes of other nations. That approach is actually the inevitable result a of faith in short cuts.
Now here come the Democratic contenders espousing the virtues of 'multilateralism.' In effect, they are saying Bush took the wrong shortcuts while they know where the really good ones are to be found.
They have different mascots than their Republican brethren but they pray to the same god of convenience.

Posted by: Bag at November 25, 2003 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Jim Henley,

That is a reasonable analysis of the situation. But there's an argment that simply getting rid of the dishonest baggage associated with the Republicans would help immensely. Any reasonable observer has to suspect that the PNAC policy is still in control, so any speedy resolution of the Iraq mess will activate plans for Syria and Iran. There's also the suspicion that they plan on installing Chalabi one way or another, and the bad odor of graft over the rebuilding contracts (although there's a good case that Halliburton and the others are the most experienced and competent). With these suspicions dispelled, we should get much more international suppport, even without specific policy proposals.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 25, 2003 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Cav, I am unsure of your career and/or experience, so forgive me from the outset if I don't take your points as the gospel. Some issues:

You say that "Attacking America is the last item on the terrorist agenda after they've come into power throughout the Middle East." How exactly are you privy to this information? Are you a CIA operative who has infiltrated the remote desert caves and sat in on such sweeping strategic discussions with UBL et al? They are afraid of our ideals of freedom and capitalism, and holding power over the Middle East would not dissuade the crazies. I fear you believe that these terrorists would lay down arms and quietly set up corner groceries when they gained this power. I find that quite naive.

Finally, you state that "A new administration will at least have more options in enlisting allies to supplement our forces in Iraq, if the situation has not become intolerably bad." I don't want to get into the whole issue of how ill-equiped militarily and financially some of our allies are to help in this matter. Just take an honest look at France's military and you'll see what I mean. But the last part of your quote is the telling one: "...if the situation has not become intolerably bad" speaks volumes of what you think about some of these supposed allies. If it's too hot for them, they'll bail from the kitchen. And on this one point, Cav, I agree with you.

Posted by: Ughman at November 25, 2003 01:10 PM | PERMALINK

Pardon my ignorance regarding Farsi, but is its use widespread in Iraq? I thought the major languages were Arabic, Kurdish, Assyrian, and Armenian. But regarding Iran, yes, more Farsi and regional knowledge would be helpful.
Oops, embarrassed (too many different blogs! ?)

1) Make sure that US companies aren't getting sweetheart deals. Hell, make sure Iraqi and Afghani companies are getting the deals!
GREAT idea; though I think loans to local elected mayors would be even better. Authority follows cash.

To Rea the intellectual coward (for NOT answering questions, but asking): Without being unduly rude, let me ask--What part of "Iraq didn't have WMD" don't you understand? What part of "Iraq didn't support al Qaeda" don't you agree with?

The UN 1441, and 16 prior resolutions, indicated Iraq failed to demonstrate it had no WMDs. If you're on parole, and you're required to open your house, your car, your beach house, your bank safe-deposit box, etc., to show you have no guns -- and you fail, well, you've failed. Blix said in Feb that Iraq was NOT providing total cooperation.

Hussein PAID money to families of suicide terrorists. He supported terrorists. His lunch dates with OBL, or lack, is NOT the point.

Be a big boy, now, will you: what is YOUR speculative estimate of terrorists getting WMDs w/o Iraq invasion?

Happy Thanksgiving. This year I'm praying ... for a world without dictators. In my lifetime.

Posted by: Tom Grey at November 27, 2003 07:07 AM | PERMALINK

People are exponentially funnier when they're in rant mode.

Posted by: Golden Brigham at December 10, 2003 06:08 PM | PERMALINK

Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.

Posted by: Youman Leah at December 20, 2003 08:43 PM | PERMALINK

If you're going through hell, keep going.Everybody is a star with the potentiality to shine in the infinite sky of eternity.

Posted by: Levine Carol at January 9, 2004 08:25 PM | PERMALINK

Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.

Posted by: Parmalee China at March 17, 2004 06:28 AM | PERMALINK

With love comes strange currencies.

Posted by: Huang Kenneth at April 28, 2004 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

You get what anyone gets. You get a lifetime.

Posted by: Sciortino Paul at June 30, 2004 04:47 AM | PERMALINK

link

Posted by: link- at August 6, 2004 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Always enjoy reading your blog. Thanks!

Posted by: disc makers at August 12, 2004 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Spot on, as usual. Thanks!

Posted by: storage area network (SAN) at August 19, 2004 04:41 PM | PERMALINK
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