The Cindy Sheehan Mystique

Digby today examines how and why Cindy Sheehan has overnight become a household name, and in so doing managed to shake Republicans into paroxsysms of rage and blue-faced, cataleptic paralysis.

Digby’s gift is seeing right to the heart of issues and cutting through the bullshit. There is a simple reason why Sheehan has been such a galvanizing pheomenon, and especially why the Republicans are so frightened of her.

Atrios posted a question from a reader around that time about the same subject in which he or she asked:

…Can’t someone come up with a pithy sound bite that captures this and makes it accessible to a non-political, non-foreign policy public? I love your indignation and your explanations, but I have a hard time seeing this go anywhere without a talking point that even a Democratic senator can remember.

That’s what Cindy Sheehan has finally been able to do. And it’s why she’s driving the Republicans crazy.

I said I want the president to explain what was the noble cause that my son died in, because that’s what he said the other day when those 14 marines were killed. He said their families can rest assured that their sons and daughters died for a noble cause. And I said, “What is that noble cause?”

It is not an academic exercise for her. She lost her son — and she’d like to know why. Nobody can explain to her — or to any of us — why we invaded Iraq and why people are dying. They said it was to protect us — but it wasn’t a threat. Then they said it was to liberate the Iraqi people, but Saddam and his government are a memory and yet the Iraqi people are still fighting us and each other. Our invasion of iraq has inspired more terrorism, not less. Oil prices are higher than they’ve ever been. The country is swimming in debt. People are being killed and maimed with the regularity of the tides.

And everybody knows this. Deep inside they know that something has gone terribly wrong. We were either lied to or our leaders are verging on the insanely incompetent. That’s why when Cindy Sheehan says that she wants to ask the president why her son died — in those simple terms — it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It’s not just rhetorical.

She literally doesn’t know why her son had to die in Iraq. And neither do we.

So there it is. All the ranting of our echo chamber was having little effect on a nation generally disinterested in the details of the war and the arcane tracking of the lies we’ve been told. They tended, so far, to be malleable, accepting at first that it was all about weapons and Al Qaeda (ha), then as the goalposts moved they bought into the freedom crap and that we’re “safer without Saddam Hussein,” though no one can say how or why this is so. But with so much recent evidence that we’ve been shafted, people were becoming more open to criticism of their president. And then Cindy Sheehan appeared, at precisely the right moment.

Sheehan solved the problem of getting through to Americans. You can argue all day in masturbatory posts and comments about the details and the history and the lies. But all of that dissolves in an instant before the image of something we all can relate to, a mother who has lost her son and simply wants to know what he died for, and why our president sees it as a noble cause.

They only grease up the slime machine like this when they’re scared, as they were when Wilson exposed their yellowcake fantasies. Yesterday, Drudge’s screeching headline was that “Sheehan’s family begging her to stop it!” But when you click the link, you see it’s some obscure aunt who emailed the Sludgemeister to say she wants Cindy to stop and so does Cindy’s godmother. This dominated his page all day but was quietly removed. It appears the entire thing was a fraud and her family is strongly supportive. So we know they are in a corner and have to kick their way out with the help of dirty tricks.

Meanwhile, for those of you convinced that Sheehan is the Antichrist or a puppet of Michael Moore or an unbalanced hateful kook, take a minute and listen to her for yourselves. (Big file.) Listen to how she brushes aside Bush’s pusillanimous, platitudinous crap (“We must stay the course…”) You’ll see how she just might mark a turning point in the history of this sleazy war. She just might get enough Americans thinking. And critical thinking is the death knell for the Bush administration, founded on and grounded in “faith” and pseudo-religious nonsense like “Intelligent Design.” They can’t stand up to close scrutiny, but Ms. Sheehan may force them to.

Let’s hope nothing happens to her. The stakes are very high.

Update: A massive new article on Sheehan just came out, and it’s great. It describes her evolution and who she was before Malkin and O’Reilly made her famous. She’s hardly the Antichrist they’d lead you to believe.

The Discussion: 94 Comments

It would actually be nice if Dubbya actually gave the real reason he went to war. I’m not convinced it was purely oil – why not just be nice to Saddam like we all were in the 1980s? No fuss, no muss.

August 12, 2005 @ 4:49 pm | Comment

Oil was certainly part of it. And you know something, I think part of their intentions were “noble,” at least insofar as they realy believed they were going to set up a “beacon of democracy” in the Middle East, a truly lovely idea. But good intentions mean shit when you’re talking about the lives and limbs of thousands of US young people.

There was definitely a familial grudge involved. Kevin Johnson docmuents in American Dynasty the fates of those who are marked for vengeance by the Bush family, most notably Ann Richards, Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein. Oh, and let’s add Joseph Wilson, Paul O’Neill, Richard Clark and many others to the list. Bush was talking from day one about making Saddam pay for trying to assassinate Pops and causing them lots of grief.

Terror had nothing to do with it (there was no terrorism in Iraq to speak of, even with Zarkawai lurking in the Kurdish region) and weapons had little or nothing to do with it. Oil, a sincere belief he could pull off “the democracy thing,” vengeance and a yearning to be a real live War President were the key motivators.

August 12, 2005 @ 4:57 pm | Comment

“But when you click the link, you see it’s some obscure aunt who emailed the Sludgemeister to say she wants Cindy to stop and so does Cindy’s godmother. ”
Actually, when I clicked it was some obscure aunt and “Casey Sheehan’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.” Sounds like quite a coalition to me.

August 12, 2005 @ 5:41 pm | Comment

You guys are becoming unhinged and disconnected from both reality and recent history.

Two things on your recent post:

“Oil was certainly part of it.”

What part? What do you mean? What was the goal, who held this objective, and how did war accomplish this objective? Clarify, please.

“And you know something, I think part of their intentions were “noble,” at least insofar as they realy believed they were going to set up a “beacon of democracy” in the Middle East, a truly lovely idea. But good intentions mean shit when you’re talking about the lives and limbs of thousands of US young people.”

So are you arguing that the creation of democracy in the Middle East is not a worthy goal, or are you arguing it isn’t worth a single American life (an isolationist position, essentially)? I could see both points in your analysis, but I’m not sure what you mean. Or are you arguing that it’s nice to talk about democracy in the Middle East, but it would be better if we didn’t do anything about it at all?

“Terror had nothing to do with it (there was no terrorism in Iraq to speak of, even with Zarkawai lurking in the Kurdish region) and weapons had little or nothing to do with it. Oil, a sincere belief he could pull off “the democracy thing,” vengeance and a yearning to be a real live War President were the key motivators. ”

If believing myths keeps you comfortable, I’d choose some better ones.

Iraq was a policy problem before the Bush Administration. See Kenneth Pollack’s detailed dissection of all aspects of this problem in The Threatening Storm for a much better analysis. In 2001, US policy toward Iraq consisted of UN sanctions and no-fly zones, which were enforced only by the US and the UK. When Bush took office, sanctions were eroding, because of oil and materials smuggling through Syria and Jordan, as well as concerted international efforts by France and Russia in the UN to lift the sanctions and continue dealing with Iraq. The first policy announced by the administration was a “smart sanctions” measure designed to restrict the sanctions to dual-use components. This basically received no support in the region. Therefore, the policy pre-September 11 was becoming unsustainable.

In this environment, there were essentially five options: shore up support for more sanctions (international support was not forthcoming), pursue covert action to topple Saddam (tried several times until around 1996, when it was decided that the money was being wasted), pursue limited airstrikes to force Saddam to allow inspectors back in (kicked out in 1998, if you recall), a full-scale invasion of Iraq, or the deterrence option (lift the no-fly zones, and let Iraq develop whatever weapons it would have, based on the belief that the US could deter Saddam from being aggressive). Those were the options in 1998, 2001, and March 2003. No matter what motivations are attributed to Bush, nothing will change two facts: 1) The Iraq policy that had been implemented from 1992-2001 was unsustainable, as sanctions were being eroded, and 2) one of these five options was going to replace that policy.

If you want a good explanation for the war, it probably lies in a change in the collective American public’s risk calculus of threat perceptions following September 11th. People began to imagine the possibility that terrorists, armed with nuclear or biological weapons, could be deployed against the United States itself. Therefore, Saddam’s perceived capabilities to develop weapons of mass destruction became more of a potential threat in the post-September 11th world than the pre-9/11 world. Read the Blix report (UN report) on January 27, 2003, and you can see the international uncertainty surrounding Iraqi programs at the time. However, this was never the only reason for war. There were humanitarian reasons, including the thousands killed every year by both Saddam’s security services and the misallocation of food that the regime blamed on international sanctions. There was a recognition that autocracies in the region tended to produce the terrorists that struck us on September 11, which led to a desire to promote a model of democratic governance in the Middle East. Administration officials, from Bush to Rice to Cheney to Wolfowitz on down, all discussed these objectives. However, the American public was largely on board with the conflict post-September 11th. However, the attempt was made to build a larger coalition based on a legal case for war based on Saddam’s violations of his post-Gulf War agreements to dismantle nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs. On this, the UNSC agreed that Saddam was in violation in UNSCR 1441. They only differed on the policy that should follow, with France and Russia arguing that “serious consequences” meant effectively nothing. The US and Britain disagreed. However, you can see several documents reciting reasons for war that received bipartisan support. The Iraq Liberation Act of 1988, for example, starts with the following:

“(1) On September 22, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, starting an 8 year war in which Iraq employed chemical weapons against Iranian troops and ballistic missiles against Iranian cities.

(2) In February 1988, Iraq forcibly relocated Kurdish civilians from their home villages in the Anfal campaign, killing an estimated 50,000 to 180,000 Kurds.

(3) On March 16, 1988, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurdish civilian opponents in the town of Halabja, killing an estimated 5,000 Kurds and causing numerous birth defects that affect the town today.

(4) On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded and began a 7 month occupation of Kuwait, killing and committing numerous abuses against Kuwaiti civilians, and setting Kuwait’s oil wells ablaze upon retreat.

(5) Hostilities in Operation Desert Storm ended on February 28, 1991, and Iraq subsequently accepted the ceasefire conditions specified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 (April 3, 1991) requiring Iraq, among other things, to disclose fully and permit the dismantlement of its weapons of mass destruction programs and submit to long-term monitoring and verification of such dismantlement.

(6) In April 1993, Iraq orchestrated a failed plot to assassinate former President George Bush during his April 14-16, 1993, visit to Kuwait.

(7) In October 1994, Iraq moved 80,000 troops to areas near the border with Kuwait, posing an imminent threat of a renewed invasion of or attack against Kuwait.

(8) On August 31, 1996, Iraq suppressed many of its opponents by helping one Kurdish faction capture Irbil, the seat of the Kurdish regional government.

(9) Since March 1996, Iraq has systematically sought to deny weapons inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) access to key facilities and documents, has on several occasions endangered the safe operation of UNSCOM helicopters transporting UNSCOM personnel in Iraq, and has persisted in a pattern of deception and concealment regarding the history of its weapons of mass destruction programs.

(10) On August 5, 1998, Iraq ceased all cooperation with UNSCOM, and subsequently threatened to end long-term monitoring activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and UNSCOM.

(11) On August 14, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-235, which declared that `the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations’ and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations.’.”

Sadly enough, it isn’t possible to advance the promotion of democracy in the Middle East and humanitarian concerns in the UN as justifications for regime change; therefore, the legalistic WMD rationale was the one chosen to gain international support. Does this mean the international community is not concerned about the promotion of democracy and the fate of the people of Iraq? Of course not; it simply means that normative objectives and legal policy tools do not always match up, particularly in an institution where some of its members (I’m thinking the DPRK, Zimbabwe, Syria, Iran) do not share those normative objectives.

I also find it ironic that those who fault the Bush administration for failing to imagine the possibility of the 9/11 attacks in eight months of work are so willing to fault him at the same time for failing to discount the possibility that Saddam may have been willing to work with terrorists or harbor them at some point. There was a history of contacts between Saddam and Al Qaeda as far back as their residence in Sudan. There was no command and control of Al Qaeda assets by Saddam, but there were connections; see Thomas Jocelyn’s work on this. As I argued before, risk calculus changed, for most Americans and their leadership.

Leave the conspiracy theories out of this discussion. Invading Iraq was the “least bad” option among several policy choices in a situation where a choice had to be made.

August 12, 2005 @ 6:16 pm | Comment

Just one thing- it was the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, not 1988. My bad.

August 12, 2005 @ 6:16 pm | Comment

It never cease to amaze me that people think it is their birth right to enforce their political system upon others.

Also Bush said it himself there was no connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. What happens if Russia has connection with Al Qaeda, will you start another world war and attack Russia too?

Pick a oil rich weak country like Iraq which has been bombed weekly if not daily for years since the first gulf war and talk with a straight face that it wasn’t for oil but for people of Iraq while iraqis are the ones dying and suffering on the ground really shows how hyprocrit this moral high ground is.

August 12, 2005 @ 6:35 pm | Comment

Rather than make myself crazy with a point by point refutation of Logan’s post above, I will just say that by any real criteria there are plenty of other states that constituted a greater threat to global security than did Iraq.

And that to take our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and deploy resources that were badly needed in the struggle there to fight the neocon’s wet dream in Iraq was more than irresponsible, it was criminal.

And that the continuing slaughter in Iraq that Bush has unleashed will have devastating consequences for years to come.

August 12, 2005 @ 7:17 pm | Comment

Keir, it was an email from an aunt (still not documented) and signed “Casey Sheehan’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins. ” That is hardly proof, especially when it’s on Drudge(!) that all these sisters and her cousins and her aunts — her sisters and her cousins whom she reckons by the dozens — are all actually expressing this. We’re dealing with Matt Drudge here, the man who came out and told as a matter of fact that kerry’s was ending his race because of an affair with an intern, and later that Dick Gephardt was going to be the Dem VP pick, not Edwards.

Lisa, I’m basically ignoring Logan. He calls us “unhinged,” the favorite word of Michelle herself (guess what the title of her latest book is? You got it — Unhinged!) I’m afraid that says a lot. The oil companies salivated over Iraq and have never enjoyed such a bonanza. They just got their “energy bill” passed (mainly thanks to emotions over the energy crisis caused by our dirty little invasion) which was nothing more than obscene tax breaks for the richest companies in America, the ones who need it least.

Iraq wasn’t a pressing issue. To say attacking Iraq, disrupting the so-called war on terror and sentencing thousands of our soldiers to their doom — to say that was the best and only choice we had, in the face of no threat from Iraq….Well, where to begin? But this time I won’t begin. I’ve given bountiful space to Logan to discuss this, and by evading the hard questions and cherrypicking quotes and relying on vacuous phrases, (I support the war!”) he has shown us where he stands. Luckily, this viewpoint is fast becoming antique as the bodies continue to be shipped in and America wises up.

August 12, 2005 @ 7:45 pm | Comment


The oil line is so old that I just fail to hear anything else of someone’s arguement against the Iraq war as soon as they mention it. Yawn….

Lisa, I agree with you. There were and are plenty of other States that should have been dealt with before we ever considered Iraq.

Mexico is in our own backyard and if the thousands of illegal aliens crossing our border aren’t bad enough, the Mexican soldiers that cross over into American territory, kidnap US citizens living on the border for randsom and firing on US border patrol agents are comitting acts of war.

Then of course there’s North Korea. They ARE actively developing nuclear weapons and their mentallly unstable leader just might be stupid enough to use the damn things.

August 12, 2005 @ 7:53 pm | Comment

I didn’t bring up the oil issue, and I don’t see it as the biggest reason for the war. But there’s no doubt it was a factor. Sorry if it bores you.

Still itching over our Mexican border, I see. You may want to amuse yourself reading this new report on the founders of the Minutemen. As we can see, it’s all about illegal immigration, and has nothing to do with racism, no, nothing at all.

While Gilchrist is newly prominent on the anti-immigration front — he recently joined the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, a hate group whose leader routinely describes Mexicans as “savages” — Simcox has been active since 2002, when he founded Civil Homeland Defense, a Tombstone-based vigilante militia that he brags has captured more than 5,000 Mexicans and Central Americans who entered the country without visas.

” Simcox told the Intelligence Report in a 2003 interview. “We need the National Guard to clean up our cities and round them up.”

But that was the old Chris Simcox talking, not the new, spiffed-up, buttoned-down, ready-for-primetime Chris Simcox.

The old Simcox described Citizens Homeland Defense as “a committee of vigilantes,” and “a border patrol militia.” The new Simcox — the one interviewed for dozens of national TV news programs and major newspaper articles about the Minuteman Project — characterized his new and larger outfit of citizen border patrollers as “more of a neighborhood watch program.”

The old Simcox said of Mexicans and Central American immigrants, “They have no problem slitting your throat and taking your money or selling drugs to your kids or raping your daughter and they are evil people.” The new Simcox said he sympathizes with their plight, and sees them as victims of their own government’s failed policies.

No, no racism that I can see, just a patriotic desire to ensure border safety.

I really wish you would visit this site every day and read it hard. If you really want to know what Malkin and the Minutemen are about, he’s the nation’s leading authority.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:05 pm | Comment

Richard: Agree with you that “That is hardly proof, especially when it’s on Drudge(!) that all these sisters and her cousins and her aunts — her sisters and her cousins whom she reckons by the dozens — are all actually expressing this.” But my point was that you were being slightly disingenuous when you stated that by actually clicking on the link one would find out that it was no more than “some obscure aunt who …wants Cindy to stop and so does Cindy’s godmother.” In fact it seems like there are many more members of her family than you let on. I agree it’s not proof, but she did specifically mention her grandparents and, unless she received their support from a ouija board, has set herself out for a fall if any of them refute her.
I can’t remember any time I’ve disagreed with you about anything, and I am totally against the Bush regime. But brushing an attack against those actively opposed to the war away with an offhand observation could discredit the movement if it doesn’t withstand scrutiny. I should think that’s how Bush got in a second time…

August 12, 2005 @ 8:07 pm | Comment

”The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the expense of her son’s good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect.”


Casey Sheehan’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.”

Victim’s brother against mom’s actions

Elmer Krause was born and raised in Vallejo before moving out of state. Jim Krause, soft-spoken, said he was praying for Sheehan to drop her anger and worried that she will become a poster person for the far left.

“I know she’s a grieving mom and she has a lot of issues with anger,” Krause said. “I’m in the same company as her, as far as grief. I deal with it my way, but anger is not coming out.”

….Overall, Krause said his visit with the president was positive.

“When the president met with us he was very genuine, very real, very sincere,” Krause said.

“As the president walked into the room that day,” Krause said, Bush saw his sister crying and came over and gave her a hug. “I proceeded to tell him about Elmer and what happened.”

Krause described to the president how his brother’s body was found in a shallow grave with four other men and how his remains had to be identified using DNA.

“His eyes watered up and started to tear when I told him that and he said, ‘I’m so sorry,’ and that Elmer was in a better place,” Krause said.

Krause said he and his family spent about 10 to 15 minutes with the president.

“I asked him, ‘Why us? Why did you take the time out of your schedule to meet with us?’ He said he wanted to meet with all the families at that time,” Krause said.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:08 pm | Comment

Okay Keir – sorry if there was a misunderstanding, and I appreciate your comment. I meant people would see there was ONE email, and an email tends to be written by one person, and had a lot of names tacked onto it, whether those people even exist or not. No journalists in his right mind would ever make this headline news! But I take your point, and I didn’t mean to imply anything about the size of her family and where they stand — there are different stories all over the Net about this today, and I wouldn’t make a headline about any of them until I knew a little better.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:11 pm | Comment

So a brother disagrees with his mother – and he wasn’t even on the Drudge memo. Thanks for sharing, Gordon. The president sounds like a swell fellow. So why can’t he meet more than a year later and nip this in the bud? Back then, a lot of people still had faith, still believed in the war before it was proven to be an exercise of ego more than necessity and now that we see the world is far less safe than before despite lofty promises to the contrary.

So why can’t the president stop the brush clearing for 10 minutes and explain why this man died for a noble cause? Could it be because there is no honest answer?

August 12, 2005 @ 8:16 pm | Comment


My comments on illegal immigration had nothing to do with Malkin or the Minutemen project. Those were my comments based on my own experiences and my own knowledge of the situation that has nothing to do with Malkin or Minutemen.

When my uncle was stationed in San Diego, he lived in Imperial Beach and we used to venture a little farther down and sit on the hills to watch as the illegals came running in like children trying to make back to base in a game of hide and seek.

The border patrol agents would come, survey the situation, run down to the next post and make it back just in time to round ’em up and ship ’em back.

As for the article you quoted and the emphasis you put on the last paragrah….I agree, I don’t see any racism either. It may be a blanket statement since not all of the illegal aliens behave that way, but for a large portion of them it is true.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:16 pm | Comment

Thanks Gordon. Now we all know.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:17 pm | Comment

Richard, you can ignore me if you want to. But if you read what I wrote above, it was a detailed post in which I did not express any “support” for the conflict, but explained that it was a policy choice among many policy choices, with multiple justifications. That was a deliberate decision on my part, designed to rebut your arguments that the war was about oil, revenge for Bush-41, and acting tough. I was simply trying to argue that it was a policy choice with multiple justifications, and there was no one “cause” of the war.

Sorry for using the word “unhinged.” I’m sure that Michelle Malkin also uses the words “policy choice” and “risk calculus.” I don’t understand how that makes us similar, even though those are central words to some of the key arguments in my post. I don’t consider myself part of nor do I read any of the Coulter-Hannity-Malkin right, so your post was the first I had heard of the title of her book. If you want to find someone close to my beliefs, it’s probably someone like Paul Berman.

“The oil companies salivated over Iraq and have never enjoyed such a bonanza.”

How exactly did this work? Again, in the last post I asked for a clarification about how oil interests influenced and benefited from the Iraq war. There are also oil companies, namely French and Russian firms, who fought diligently to oppose the war. I’d be interested in a model of the policy-making process. Keep in mind that the United States was imposing sanctions on Iraq’s oil, and the easiest way to bring Iraq online into the global market would have been to lift the sanctions and buy it from Saddam. Your independent variable is considerably underdetermining.

“Iraq wasn’t a pressing issue. To say attacking Iraq, disrupting the so-called war on terror and sentencing thousands of our soldiers to their doom — to say that was the best and only choice we had, in the face of no threat from Iraq….Well, where to begin?”

The place where you begin is to provide an alternative policy circa early 2003 that reassures the world that Saddam has dismantled his WMDs (see Blix UN report 1/27/2003 as a baseline of what was known), prevents him from developing new ones (through sanctions), keeps the Kurds safe from Saddam’s incursions, prevents Saddam’s aggression externally (funding suicide bombers, among other things), provides humanitarian relief to Iraqi civilians, and does all of this without international support, since there was no support for sanctions or the continuation of the no-fly zones. As I said before, we needed a policy, and just because all of our options are bad doesn’t mean there’s a good one out there.

“But this time I won’t begin. I’ve given bountiful space to Logan to discuss this, and by evading the hard questions and cherrypicking quotes and relying on vacuous phrases, (I support the war!”)”

The point of my last post was that these were very hard questions, and they had hard and difficult answers. Rather than confront those answers, many responses look for simple ones: oil, revenge, machismo. My point is that the answers are not simple. This is why the post was long. Also, don’t misquote me, if I haven’t said something. I never use exclamation points, as a matter of policy. I have said that I support the war, but you make me sound like a cheerleader, which I assume you think I am anyway. A minor quibble, but something I take seriously.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:20 pm | Comment

Also, I would be interested, Richard, in which phrases in the previous post are vacuous, and where I have cherry-picked quotes.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:24 pm | Comment

Thanks Gordon. Now we all know.

We all know what?

August 12, 2005 @ 8:25 pm | Comment

Getting paranoid, Gordon?

August 12, 2005 @ 8:28 pm | Comment

Where you stand on the border issue, what motivates your emotions over it and what you perceive to be or not be racism. I am not saying I agree or disagree, just that I now understand it better.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:29 pm | Comment

Logan, puh-leze. We went through this all before in an earlier thread.

1. Bush got us into this war.

2. Clinton did not get us into this war.

3. You may fantasize if you like that Clinton would have fought the war as Bush did. I think it’s untrue but can’t oprove it. What I can prove is that Clinton listened to his generals and won (in the war he oversaw). Bush ignored some of his generals and lost.

4. Clinton was one of our greatest, most successful presidents and is universally beloved

5. Bush is the most hated president since Nixon and is loathed almost as much in America as he is overseas.

6. We needed a policy, granted. But Blix told us they had no weapons and there was no justification for invasion on those grounds. He was condemend as a “Frenchman” by the right. We went in anyway. And the rest is history.

If we had listened to Shinseki, many of our kids might be alive today. We were warned. We were told. Just as with the Clarke memo, this government decided they knew better. And now we just have to live with it and hope for the best.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:37 pm | Comment

Amazing. This guy Gordon just labelled himself a Mexican hater and racist. And yesterday he was calling you a racist Richard for using Michelle Malkin’s maiden name? I don’t get it. The guy is nuts.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:43 pm | Comment

He’s not nuts. Just “passionate.”

August 12, 2005 @ 8:44 pm | Comment

Logan: I appreciate your comments- I’m off to work so don’t have time to remark on each one. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that oil was the overriding concern. That was mentioned way at the beginning when the administration reponded to questions about how they would pay for the occupation- revenue from oil. If it wasn’t for that revenue, it would not have been worth the cost to the American domestic economy.
I have always said that oil alone was not the deciding factor- they had Saddam by the balls and could have named their price. Why such a risk to get something they already had? Iraq with its no-fly zones and sanctions was already a client state which had no options left to it. But with all the states in Africa and elsewhere (esp. bordering Israel) the fact they went after Iraq and left Afghanistan by the wayside so early strongly hints at the oil rationale. And the fact that Iraq is strategically situated between the main oil producing nations, you can’t further discount it. Again one can mention other factors, but then I could as easily mention my own- is it any coincidence that the US AND UK (and such cost to Blair) got involved given both countries’ historic claims to Iraq’s oil?
I can’tcomment now on your point about Blix; what I remember at the time and which he himself constantly reiterated was that the war was illegal and Iraq was no threat, a claim backed up by the organisations charged with making such assessments. Before the war he said there had been a “substantial measure of disarmament”.
After he charged that “They (US AND UK) used exclamation marks instead of question marks.”
Of course, you could find quotes to support any contention, and he did not say oil influence the decision to strike, suggesting instead that “An important element surely was the need to show striking power after the terror attack of September 11, 2001.” However, lashing out madly against a helpless people because you’re hurting and can’t deal with it in a rational way apart from showing the world how hurt you are is hardly a justification for committing such atrocities to be proud of.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:47 pm | Comment

Keir, I want to sincerely thank you for displaying far more patience than myself. After going through these things ad infinitum days ago, I can’t be this patient all the time. Thanks again.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:49 pm | Comment


I just tried to post a message to this thread, but I was told that it contained questionable content.

I’ve emailed it to you.

I can’t imagine what would be questionable.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

I’ll post it as soon as it gets here. If it has a word like Ca$ino, or po-ker or a drug name, it may getr stopped.

August 12, 2005 @ 8:56 pm | Comment

Amazing. This guy Gordon just labelled himself a Mexican hater and racist. And yesterday he was calling you a racist Richard for using Michelle Malkin’s maiden name? I don’t get it. The guy is nuts.

Um, flamingo, please point out just exactly how I am a “mexican hater and a racist”.

You liberals seem to equate anti-illegal immigration with being racist.


August 12, 2005 @ 8:59 pm | Comment

Thanks for clarifying, Richard.

Just for the record, I’m not only against Hispanic illegal immigration, I’m against ALL illegal immigration. Most immigrants that have come to America by jumping through all of the government hoops usually feel the same way.

I have no sympathy for illegal aliens whatsoever. I’m even more resentful of the bastards that try to sue our government for not putting water out in the desert for them.

Illegal Immigration Costs Floridians $4.3 Billion Annually

August 12, 2005 @ 8:59 pm | Comment

I know the costs of illegal immigration, and I also know this administration loves it; it helps businesses save money, so expect no serious change. This government is strictly the concierge for big business.

You may not be aware, but your endorsementrs of quotes such as the one I bolded above could give people an impression of being anti-Mexican. Just something to think about.

Your last comment didn’t go through for an incredibly acane reason. I corrected the problem, thanks for telling me.

August 12, 2005 @ 9:02 pm | Comment


The first time I looked over the text richard quoted above, I only glanced at the first part and read the second that he had placed in bold type.

I don’t have problems with citizens taking responsible actions to secure the borders where our government is failing, but the extremist hate groups such as the one Richard cited above need to be reigned in and delt with.

They only thing they are stealing legitimacy from groups that are actually concerned about illegal immigration and not racism.

August 12, 2005 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

Sorry, should read: They are only stealing legitimacy from groups that are not racist but are genuinely concerned about the problems of illegal immigration.

August 12, 2005 @ 9:11 pm | Comment

Do visit that blog I recommend, Orcinus. I’d love to get your take on it.

August 12, 2005 @ 9:13 pm | Comment

Thanks Richard, I’ll definitely take a look at this afternoon when I get back.

August 12, 2005 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

You guys, Richard and Kier, are not addressing Logan’s point at all, which is that tough policy decisions were made, in an imperfect world, with imperfect information.

One of the least endearing things about the anti-warriors is the refusal to realize that their opponents are sincere, and have utilized genuine principle to work through difficult questions. Resorting to ad-hominems as a first resort is one of the many things that have cost the left so much credibility in the last decades. I’ve been banging on about that point for at least a year here, with little result, so I won’t belabor it again now.

The partisan blinders now have led you to support a woman who, apart from her grief issues, is lobbying for the exact same disaster you rejected when Mark Jones suggested it: Let the insurgents win; abandon Iraq to the Baathists and theo-nazis. I don’t pay much attention to Ms. Sheehan or Ms. Malkin, but it does concern me when principled liberals suddenly reverse position on the Iraqis over the issue of the latest protest.

And before you reply “The issue is why won’t he talk to her?”. No, the issue is to get a bigger forum for her message: Bring the troops home unconditionally, now.

August 12, 2005 @ 11:47 pm | Comment

Looking at Logan’s comment some places above.
Hey Logan, when are you going to the Army Recruitment office to take Casey Sheehan’s place? We’ve lost a good man in the war which you support, so, why haven’t you taken his place yet?

August 12, 2005 @ 11:49 pm | Comment

Hey, Ivan, why aren’t you shipping out to Iraq to serve as a Human Shield? Then you can have credibility as an opponent.

Do you even begin to see how ridiculous that sounds? And how, once again, personalized insults substituted for reasoned argument do not add to your credibility.

August 13, 2005 @ 12:03 am | Comment

Sam_S: Hitler was sincere; I don’t understand why you would think I don’t consider Republican imperialists as sincere either.
Nor do I particularly support this woman. I only know about her from this site to be honest as I only read UK news and the NYTimes opinion pages here in beijing. In fact, I don’t think the president, even with all the obscene holiday time he enjoys, should be expected to meet every person with a megaphone and a grudge.
Finally, may I also state that I do not agree with bringing troops home either. I like most Brits felt betrayed that Blair ignored the say of the people and used every dirty means to get us into Iraq. However, we helped create the mess and it would be immoral to duck our responsibility.
I don’t understand why you mention my name in these regards; I was merely pointing out how the primary goal of the US was to a large extent oil-driven. I take exception to Richard’s contention that Clinton is “universally beloved” (tell that to the Northern Irish who saw him meet with Sinn Fein-IRA just before the Oklahoma bombing after which he then said he wouldn’t talk to terrorists, or the Sudanese and Iraqis or he did in fact bomb which Richard seems to have forgotten).
If anything, I gave Logan the benefit of the doubt and offered some support; at no point was I arguing ad hominem.
Because of the weighty issues discussed here (most of which are US-centred which I’m not in a position to comment on) when I respond to someone’s comments I do so with specific points in mind. To ascribe a general argument to apply labels to me is rather unfair.
Sorry. I go back to work next week.

August 13, 2005 @ 12:19 am | Comment

1. I’ve been under gunfire. I will not tell you where or why.
2. I did not do anything to start this war. Those who started it and those like Logan who “support” it, are responsible for all the deaths it has caused.
3. Your lack of moral clarity (and Logan’s) on this, demonstrates just how far America has declined. There was a time when guys like Logan (and you, assuming you’re an American who supports the war but will not fight in it) – were given white feathers for cowardice.

August 13, 2005 @ 12:21 am | Comment

Sam and Logan,
Let me simplify it for you. This is about “personal responsibility”, as the Republicans love to say:
I opposed the war before it started. Actually I did so at some personal cost. Therefore I am not responsible for the consequences of the war which I tried to prevent.
Therefore I do not have any responsibility to go to Iraq. I didn’t start it – I didn’t send anyone there – but Logan did.
Logan “supported” the war’ therefore he is personally responsible for the war and its consequences. And especially responsible for the deaths and wounds of American soldiers. It is the height of hypocricy and cowardice to start a war (or to support the start of a war) without being willing to fight in it yourself.
“Personal responsibility”, isn’t that what the Bush administration is about?

August 13, 2005 @ 12:35 am | Comment

PS, sorry, forgot to put my name on the above post.

August 13, 2005 @ 12:36 am | Comment

Sam, I’m not lobbying for anything in Iraq except some serious sign that we have a strategy. Right now I see only Vietnam. I believe there is a way out without the insurgents winning — an iunsurgent victory is not acceptable, as I’ve said here for months. Unfortunately, the only viable alternative s a Shiite theocracy, because that is what the majority in Iraq want. Any kind of coaltition will break down after we leave, let’s not fool ourselves.,

This is the one question I’ve repeated the most often and never get a response to from the warbloggers. So one more time:

Do you think it is a reasonable sacrifice to give up the life of your child or most loved one so the people of Iraq can live under an Iranian-style theocracy that is violently anti-Jewish, anti-Israel, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-civil rights and anti-America? Because that’s what we will be left with ultimately, if things go in accordance with even the best possible scenario.

The agony is, I believe most of us would say no, yet we’re stuck there. There is now no way out, it is such a catastrophe. As much as I’d love this war to end, I know we’ll be there longer. But while we are there, I’d like to see some acknowledgement of what’s really happening and not mindless sloganeering. I’d like to see a president with enough brains and enough balls to look a woman who lost her son in the war in the eye and tell her exactly what he died for, withouit platitudes or bullshit. It is the least we deserve.

Again, I have never advised picking up overnight. The sooner the better, but with safeguards i place to stop the insurgency from taking over. And no, I don’t have a perfect solution. That should have been figured out in advance. But I do know that the non-stop flow of lies, that the insurgency is “in its last throes” or victory is “around the corner” and this crap about freedom and liberty for people who reject our concept of those things — these falsehoods have got to stop and we need a leader who can level with us and get us out of our misery. Because the country is in misery over what was going to be a piece of cake. Just about everyone’s worse off except the contractors.

Let me close with some wisdom from another of my favorite bloggers:

Reality is that the situation in Iraq is horrible, the outlook for any lasting peace is grim, and that this has nothing to do with a nebulous, malignant, all-powerful “Left”, and everything to do with the people in power who make bad and stupid policies. You can pull your head out of your ass, stop dreaming up stupid conspiracy theories about how everyone around the world you don’t like is working together to destroy Freedom, and tell them that they need to do a better job. And if they won’t do a better job, the solution is not to get upset at people who aren’t waving their pom-poms or denouncing Saddam single-mindedly enough for you, it is to fire the fuck-ups so we can maybe have some chance at salvaging something from this fiasco.

…And, before you ask: no, I have no clue about how we can improve things in Iraq. I don’t have a single idea for how we can un-shit the bed, and I don’t hold out much hope that this whole bed-shitting episode is ever going to be brought to a lemony-fresh conclusion. I do, however, know who shit the bed, and have some sense of how frequently he shits there. Let’s stop shitting for a start.

August 13, 2005 @ 12:42 am | Comment

This is the one question I’ve repeated the most often and never get a response to from the warbloggers. So one more time:

Do you think it is a reasonable sacrifice to give up the life of your child or most loved one so the people of Iraq can live under an Iranian-style theocracy that is violently anti-Jewish, anti-Israel, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-civil rights and anti-America? Because that’s what we will be left with ultimately, if things go in accordance with even the best possible scenario.

Maybe you don’t get a serious answer because it’s not a serious question, and I think you know it. If I said: “Oh, so you support cutting out the tongues of dissenters, mass graves, and children’s prisons, then?” Would you think that’s a question worthy of a serious answer?

There are reasonable and serious arguments to make concerning the war, chief among which is the terrible cost versus the benefits, or getting rid of the poor planners, which your excerpt noted. None of them require the demonizing, or the obsessing on some grade-B immigrant writer. Logan posed some intelligent points, which no one’s deigned to answer in an adult way. I’ve gone on and on ad nauseum about why this approach costs the “anti’s” so much credibility, and essentially throws the game over to the neocons.

I sentence you to read nothing but Marc Cooper for a week. He’s on your side, but without the name-calling. If there were 100 bloggers like him, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Bush would probably be dim memories by now.

August 13, 2005 @ 1:45 am | Comment

Well, we see it very differently. I sincerely believe(know) the scenario of the Shiite theocracy is all but inevitable. Iran is building more and more clout in Baghdad, and the man who got us into this war more than any other Iraqi, Chalabi, is in bed with them. They now own the mayor of Baghdad. And Al Sistani quietly supports the theocratic system. They have all insisted Islam must be the basis behind their government, and we know, unfortunately, what that has meant for countries in the region: an anti-Israel policy, few rights for women and all the other items I listed in my earlier post. So don’t think this is an abstract scenario. It will be what we died for there, to bring them the government of their choice, and that choice is not American-style pluralism.

We’ll see how much this has cost the anti’s, who now can claim 60-some percent of Americans sympathetic to their arguments.

August 13, 2005 @ 1:55 am | Comment

Worse than that, the leading Shi’ite party is now insisting on a federalized Shi’ite state in the south of Iraq. The Sunnis were more or less willing to accept the defacto Kurdish state in the north – it is after all a reality on the ground – but they won’t accept a Shi’ite state. Between the Kurds and the Shi’ites, the Sunnis will be left with none of Iraq’s oil resources. And the Shi’ites will be making alliances with Iran. This is the precursor to an out and out civil war.

I’m rooting for the Kurds, because they’ve proved they can establish a fairly democratic state where women are allowed a role in public life.

What we are going to get in the rest of Iraq is chaos, a failed bandit state in the old Sunni belt, and a religious theocracy that allies itself with Iran in the south.

Now, tell me again how this outcome advances our national interests, brings democracy to Iraq, increases regional security…

August 13, 2005 @ 2:07 am | Comment

Ivan; I don’t know how many comments you are attributing to me, but my one comment to you concerned your silly taunt to Logan.

1. I’ve been under gunfire. I will not tell you where or why.

So have I. So what? It has absolutely nothing to do with the debate.

2. I did not do anything to start this war. Those who started it and those like Logan who “support” it, are responsible for all the deaths it has caused.

Really? Do we get to take credit for all the deaths it has prevented, too?

3. Your lack of moral clarity (and Logan’s) on this, demonstrates just how far America has declined. There was a time when guys like Logan (and you, assuming you’re an American who supports the war but will not fight in it) – were given white feathers for cowardice.

A gratuitous insult, again, and totally unnecessary. It is (I hope) beneath you. The whole idea that one needs to stand in the gunfire to have an opinion on the war is silly. Plenty of grandmothers and grandfathers (like me) are in favor of ousting Saddam and making a big effort to kick-start some kind of consensual government in the Mideast, at the same time regretting the terrible cost and believing that in the long run, the benefit to the world will be worth it.

To continue to pretend that those who don’t agree with you are unprincipled, haven’t put some serious thought into it, or are just plain evil, is a handy way to avoid serious discussion, but it gets you nowhere. I guess I’ve said that a hundred times now, in different ways, and only Richard (and only sometimes) seems to have heard it. I give up for today.

August 13, 2005 @ 2:08 am | Comment

Sorry, but I took time out to respond to Logan, going as far as to find quotes and provide logical points to counter some of his assertions. You ignore this (probably having passed over it due to its length) and argue, ad hominem (hah!) that I and others did not provide an “adult” response. By contrast all you offer is that we have to bomb the hell out of a country after 12 years of sanctions and no fly-zones because of its poor human rights record while having friendly relations with Uzbekhistan and while slamming allies such as Germany and France and replacing them with Pakistan and China in this disreputable war. Everyone outside your country said it was destabilise the region and increase the likliehood of terrorism and, guess what?- we were all right. Hard to gloat because it’s mostly the rest of the world that have to deal with this mess…
I leave it to those with more patience and time to spare to respond anymore. I teach history- the arguments I read echo those justifying the continuing involvenment in the quagmire that was Vietnam. What galls me is that we have history as our ally, we have the present proving beyond doubt that Bush et al were wrong, and still we give so much space to such blinkered advocates of the war. Looks like I’ll have to wait 10-15 years for the mea culpas to start.

August 13, 2005 @ 2:08 am | Comment

Okay, I’ll bite. What deaths has the Iraq war prevented, exactly? Not that we can really know such things, but given the estimates of Iraqi civilian casualties, if we are just weighing the number of deaths pre and post American invasion, I doubt very much that the balance is in our favor.

August 13, 2005 @ 2:10 am | Comment

Last point to Richard: It’s remarkable that 60% of Americans now see the war as a mistake (all the more reason for its proponents to continue to vociferously justify it). These are the people who initiated the war and have their own people in the front which, so to acknowledge it was a mistake is striking. The rest of the world who can look dispassionately knew from the beginning it was setting a fuse.

August 13, 2005 @ 2:13 am | Comment

Okay, I’ll bite. What deaths has the Iraq war prevented, exactly?

When was the last homicide bombing in Israel?

Here’s the fact jack! Bush mislead us as to the reasons of the Iraq war, but then again, I never believed it in the first place.

American Presidents have had a history of taking us into war for one reason only to serve another. Hell, the Civil War started out to preserve the Union and ended up as one freeing the slaves.

I supported the war in Iraq for a bigger picture. Whether or not you want to admit it, Saddam Hussein was creating instability in the region. The US is for some reason seen as the only one who can negotiate peace in the middle east and with SH paying rewards to the families of homicide bombers that have killed innocent Israeli citizens..things were not going to get any better.

Saddam is gone and homicide bombings have stopped. The lead “Palestinian” terrorist, Arafat, is dead and things are shaping up.

The worlds strongest military is now in the backyard of every terrorist contributing nation and while many of you would like to think our soldiers aren’t making any progress in Iraq, signs show otherwise.

This war was improperly planned, I won’t deny that and there were other battles that should have been fought first, but we are there and we are making progress.

As for the deaths being prevented…have there been any successful terrorist attacks on the US since 9/11?


August 13, 2005 @ 9:55 am | Comment

Pointing out the obvious, regarding how the war made us safer: Suicide bombers attacked London just over a month ago and brought the city to a halt.

August 13, 2005 @ 10:17 am | Comment


That really sucks and I have a feeling it will change the way Brits look at things. IN the meantime, how many attacks have been successfully carried out against American since 9/11?


Keep up the good work GWB!

August 13, 2005 @ 10:29 am | Comment


No suicide bombers went to Israel and killed themselves because they knew Saddam would pay money to their family. None. It is a non-factor and we did not go to war to stop suicide bombings in Israel. If you strap bombs on yourself and kill yourself and others, you are ideologically obsessed, and a gift basket from Saddam means zero.

Whether or not you want to admit it, Saddam Hussein was creating instability in the region.

To me, this is a perfect example of a hollow slogan. Saddam was in decline, his influence was miniscule and he had no weapons. How could he cause significant instability? Especially in an area that was unstable already? And did we make the region more or less unstable? I believe in the short and long terms we have made things infinitely less stable.

American Presidents have had a history of taking us into war for one reason only to serve another. Hell, the Civil War started out to preserve the Union and ended up as one freeing the slaves.

That was a nice side benefit. It was not the reason for the Civil War and not many would have given up their lives to fight in it if it had been.

Yes, Arafat is dead (no thanks to our fiasco in Iraq), and it appears things might be stabilizing. Then, I saw this article today.

For the first time in a decade, the founders and top political leaders of Hamas gathered on the same stage Saturday, vowing to go on fighting Israel and claiming victory for the Israelis’ impending withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

In a direct challenge to the Palestinian Authority, the militant leaders rejected the idea of a sole decision-making body for the area and claimed the group’s right to possess its own weapons.

It’s way too early to say things are stabilizing there. Your friend Charles Johnson assails Abbas daily as a monster not much better than Arafat. (Though if he says it, it’s almost certainly false.) My point is simply that we can’t congratulate our failed invasion of Iraq for bringing stability to Israel and the Palestinians. The one and only factor was the death of Arafat, and whether it changes anything substantially remains to be seen.

The worlds strongest military is now in the backyard of every terrorist contributing nation and while many of you would like to think our soldiers aren’t making any progress in Iraq, signs show otherwise.

The world’s strongest military can’t even secure the six-mile strip from the Baghdad airport into the city. The death toll of our soldiers is rising, not declining, years after our failed invasion. I am sure there are a handful of good things that have come as a result of the war — nice schools, the end of the Saddam terror, some happy Shiites. But weighed against the horrific price payed in Iraqi and American blood, let alone the depletion of our Treasury, and considering there were no weapons and no threat and the world is far less safe than before, I’d have to conclude it wasn’t worth it. Far from it. And if they become an Iranian style theocracy, then we will have actually have made things worse and more dangerous.

August 13, 2005 @ 12:18 pm | Comment

Gordon, I really don’t think that Al Qaeda has as a priority attacking inside the United States. Borders and the nature of the Muslim community here (as opposed to Europe) makes it difficult. 9/11 accomplished everything Al Qaeda wanted to accomplish. Even if you don’t buy that argument, I still question that invading Iraq has prevented a single terrorist attack on US soil.

I think that any benefit we’ve derived has come entirely from disrupting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, an intervention which I think was entirely warranted. As a matter of fact, I think one of the best benchmarks for determining whether armed intervention is appropriate is if we are dealing with a failed state. Failed states breed chaos.

I can’t see what has been gained by the Iraq war. Americans are dying there every day. Not on American soil, true, but on soil we’ve chosen to occupy. Iraq is two steps away from civil war, if it isn’t there already. the Kurds might do okay but what happens if Iraq’s Shi’ites decide that their interests are better served by an alliance with Iran than by a country called Iraq? What happens if the Sunnis feel so excluded by the process that their region – which could very easily end up bereft of oil money and natural resources and therefore utterly impoverished – that they refuse to accept the authority of an Iraqi government? What happens as Islamists gain more and more control over Iraqi society?

What’s happening in Iraq is creating the kinds of conditions that allowed Al Qaeda to flourish in Afghanistan. How does this constitute an American success?

As for attacks in Israel, that has a great deal more to do with negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority than it does any connection to the US invasion of Iraq. I certainly hope for the best in that situation. The Palestinian problem is an open wound that fuels every other infection in the Middle East. I’d say that the US could have done more to prevent violence in the Middle East by supporting that peace process than by invading Iraq.

August 13, 2005 @ 12:22 pm | Comment

The US Army is not in “the backyard of every terrorist producing nation.” The vastness of the Middle East is not comparable to the magnitude of a “back yard.” It’s a long way from Baghdad to the wild hills of Yemen, and God only knows where the terrorists are hiding in Yemen. Or in Pakistan. Or Afghanistan where we only control a region the size of a few football fields.

August 13, 2005 @ 12:59 pm | Comment

But Ivan, it really sonds good and it is soothing. It doesn’t mean anything, but it is like a narcotic for people longing for a justification for all the carnage. I honestly understand why people cling to such slogans. If we didn’t have these reassuring memes, we’d have to face the full horror of what we have done and the lives we have lost, and that is intolerable.

This is why Cindy Sheehan is such a dire threat. Her very human face and the plight to which we can all relate belie these sanctimonious phrases and underscore the human side to this war and all the unnecessary anguish it is causing. Key word: unnecessary. All wars cause deep anguish. It’s the fact that is war didn’t need to be fought that makes it so galling.

August 13, 2005 @ 1:10 pm | Comment

“4. Clinton was one of our greatest, most successful presidents and is universally beloved”

That is tongue-in-cheek, right? Because it certainly can’t be serious.

I’m not anti-Clinton, I’m simply grounded in reality

August 13, 2005 @ 1:29 pm | Comment

It depends on how you define success and popularity. In terms of peace and prosperity and approval ratings, he was right up there. How do you define success and popularity?

August 13, 2005 @ 1:35 pm | Comment

Update: Maureen Dowd kicks some serious ass in her column today on women losing their rights under our New Iraq. Oh well.

August 13, 2005 @ 1:54 pm | Comment

You must read this article about the difficulty military recruiters face –

But I’ll go ahead and give you the money quote:

Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the Marine Reserve to talk to his parents.

It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect’s mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.

“I want you to know we support you,” she gushed.

Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

“Military service isn’t for our son. It isn’t for our kind of people,” she told him.

August 13, 2005 @ 3:44 pm | Comment

Priceless, Lisa. So much for supporting the war.

August 13, 2005 @ 6:17 pm | Comment

“Military service isn’t for our kind of people.” That’s more signficicant that you might realize at first: It’s how the English used to speak about their enlisted soldiers (as disntiguished from the Officers) back during the 1700s and 1800s, even during the Napoleonic Wars:
Most enlisted men in the British Army were considered scum. (And many were “undesirables”, bankrupts or petty criminals) Rather like America today, to enlist in the Army (usually by being duped into into it when the recruiting officers got you drunk) was a last resort for the truly desperate (or the truly stupid, or the drunk and deceived.)
They were unwelcome in many hotels, pubs, shops, and certainly unwelcome among “decent” people.
Ah, but the OFFICERS, well, they got respect. Because they were a “different sort” (it was called “the touch of silk”. But the enlisted men called themselves “the damned.”
So I see. Now America is devolving into a feudal society.

August 13, 2005 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

“Tommy Atkins” is the British equivalent of America’s “GI Joe”, and enlisted man. Here are a few lines from Kipling’s poem, “Tommy Atkins”:

I went into a public ‘ouse to get
a pint o beer,
The publican ‘e up and sez,
“We serve no red-coats here.”
… O it’s Tommy this and Tommy that
An “Tommy, go away”,
But it’s “Thank you Mister Atkins”
When the band begins to play.
…You talk o’ better food for us,
An schools and fires and all,
We’ll wait for extra rations
If you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face!
The Widow’s uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, and Tommy that,
and “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of his country”
when the guns begin to shoot.
And it’s Tommy this, and Tommy that,
an everything you please,
An Tommy ain’t a bloomin fool:
You bet that Tommy sees!

August 13, 2005 @ 10:30 pm | Comment

My last thoughts on this subject thread. The other threads are becoming so unbalanced (John Kerry won the 2004 election, among other claims) as to become poster children for absurd argumentation. As to Richard’s points, it seems he is so overwhelmingly convinced that the Iraq war is/was a mistake that he believes that I’m trying to deflect blame for the attack onto Clinton. This is truly an interesting simplifying assumption that Richard makes, but my entire point is that a detailed examination of the Iraq policies of Bush and Clinton, and even more so at the Congressional level, reveals more continuity than change.

“2. Clinton did not get us into this war.”

Not my argument, but interesting in what it reveals about your capacity to rethink your objection to the war. What would you need to be convinced of to believe that the war was a necessary decision (not a “good” decision, but a necessary one)?

“3. You may fantasize if you like that Clinton would have fought the war as Bush did. I think it’s untrue but can’t oprove it. What I can prove is that Clinton listened to his generals and won (in the war he oversaw). Bush ignored some of his generals and lost.”

Um…I’m not interested at all in how Clinton would have fought the war. I am confident that no more international support would be forthcoming for the war under Clinton than under Bush. After all, Clinton couldn’t obtain a UN mandate for the NATO-led operations against Milosevic in Kosovo, and this was in response to demonstrated aggression. Why would Iraq be any different, given the extent of the vested interests involved from France and Russia? In addition, do those who denounce the war as “illegal” make the same charge against the Kosovo operation, since it lacked a UNSC mandate? Chinese readers would certainly do so, but how about American observers?

“4. Clinton was one of our greatest, most successful presidents and is universally beloved”

Again, I assumed this was a joke, like the previous poster above, but words like “universally” and “beloved” don’t belong in serious policy discussions. In addition, there is a considerable difference between the tough choices that leadership requires and the quest for popularity. In addition, more information about the Able Danger allegations might just meet your previous qualifications about changing your mind about the Clinton Administration’s attitude toward terrorism. As of now, of course, we can’t confirm much.

“5. Bush is the most hated president since Nixon and is loathed almost as much in America as he is overseas.”

Read this article by Fouad Ajami, professor at Johns Hopkins SAIS, about his recent travels to the Middle East.
Frankly, I think you would be surprised about the extent of European wrestling with the reality of American unipolarity during the Clinton administration. See Robert Kagan’s short essay, Of Paradise and Power. Again, being hated isn’t fun, but I’m not sure what its practical impact is on policy implementation. Just as only Nixon could go to China, this provides Bush with more foreign policy flexibility as well.

6. We needed a policy, granted. But Blix told us they had no weapons and there was no justification for invasion on those grounds. He was condemend as a “Frenchman” by the right. We went in anyway. And the rest is history.

Um…these are quotes from the Blix report issued 1/27/2003. I have cited this several times, and it undoubtedly does not support the idea that there was “no justification for an invasion on those grounds.”

“Unlike South Africa, which decided on its own to eliminate its nuclear weapons and welcomed the inspection as a means of creating confidence in its disarmament, Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace.

“It is not enough to open doors. Inspection is not a game of catch as catch can. Rather, it is a process of verification for the purpose of building confidence.”

“Regrettably, the 12,000-page declaration, most of which is a reprint of earlier documents, does not seem to contain any new evidence that will eliminate the questions or reduce their number.”

“The [Iraqi weapons report] document indicates that 13,000 chemical bombs were dropped by the Iraqi air force between 1983 and 1998, while Iraq has declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during this period. Thus, there is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs. The amount of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of about 1,000 tons. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for.”

“There are strong indications that Iraq produced more anthrax than it declared and that at least some of this was retained over the declared destruction date. It might still exist.

“Either it should be found and be destroyed under UNMOVIC [U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission] supervision or else convincing evidence should be produced to show that it was indeed destroyed in 1991.

“As I reported to the council on the 19th of December last year, Iraq did not declare a significant quantity, some 650 kilos, of bacterial growth media, which was acknowledged as reported in Iraq’s submission to the Amorim panel in February 1999.

“In the letter of 24th of January this year to the president of the Security Council, Iraq’s foreign minister stated that, I quote, ‘All imported quantities of growth media were declared.’ This is not evident. I note that the quantity of media involved would suffice to produce, for example, about 5,000 liters of concentrated anthrax.”

“The recent inspection find in the private home of a scientist of a box of some 3,000 pages of documents, much of it relating to the lacing enrichment of uranium, support a concern that has long existed that documents might be distributed to the homes of private individuals. This interpretation is refuted by the Iraqi side, which claims that research staff sometimes may bring papers from their workplaces.

“On our side, we cannot help but think that the case might not be isolated and that such placements of documents is deliberate to make discovery difficult and to seek to shield documents by placing them in private homes.”

I’m interested if you’re willing to live with facts on the ground such as these…Blix has his own opinion on the war, but that does not change the facts presented above. So, again, what was the policy alternative?

August 14, 2005 @ 12:22 pm | Comment

Right. Meanwhile, our “War President” has much better things to do than meeting with grieving mothers…like, ride his bike and take naps!

In addition to the two-hour bike ride, Bush’s Saturday schedule included an evening Little League Baseball playoff game, a lunch meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a nap, some fishing and some reading. “I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy,” he said when asked about bike riding while a grieving mom wanted to speak with him. “And part of my being is to be outside exercising.”

Go ahead, Logan. Go ahead and write page after page after page trying to justify what this President has done. I guess that’s what you need to do to feel better about it.

August 14, 2005 @ 3:43 pm | Comment

Lisa, is the issue the length of my posts, the evidence they present, or the conclusions drawn from this evidence? I haven’t heard much in response to pretty much any of the evidence I’ve presented; it seems people would rather not confront the fact that this issue is exceedingly complex. I’ll try to restrict my policy analysis to emotionally-inspired three-line soundbites from now on, and I’ll try to change the subject every time I can’t respond to an argument. That seems to be the way things are done in Iraq discussions.

August 14, 2005 @ 4:22 pm | Comment

Logan, you haven’t presented a single convincing argument that “we” needed to invade Iraq when we did, nor have you provided one explanation for why the post-invasion was handled so incompetently. How many other hostile countries have greater capacity and are further along in their efforts to develop WMDs? It’s a pretty long list. You want me to give you that as a rationale for an invasion? Okay, for the sake of argument, I will, just this once. Then tell me why the Bush Administration ignored EVERYONE who warned them about the ground forces they would need to maintain order in post-invasion Iraq, and what was likely to happen if they didn’t put those boots on the ground?

If you’re going to go to war, it should be the last resort, not somewhere near the top of the list. And if you’re going to do it, you might want to listen to the people whose business it is to do these things and do it right.

Sorry, I am angry. I am furious at the loss of life, the waste, and the damage this has done to American interests.

August 14, 2005 @ 4:30 pm | Comment

Logan loves the sound of his own voice. Listening to him, you would think Blix believed the war against Iraq was necessary and justified. Kind of misleading:

“I think it’s clear that in March, when the invasion took place, the evidence that had been brought forward was rapidly falling apart,” Hans Blix, who oversaw the agency’s investigation into whether Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, said on CNN’s “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.”

Blix described the evidence Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003 as “shaky,” and said he related his opinion to U.S. officials, including national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

“I think they chose to ignore us,” Blix said.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, spoke to CNN from IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

ElBaradei said he had been “pretty convinced” that Iraq had not resumed its nuclear weapons program, which the IAEA dismantled in 1997.

Or what about this.

With unusual candour, the former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix today denounced the US-led war on Iraq as a violation of international law, and questioned Washington’s motives for the invasion.

“I cannot see that the action, in the way it was justified, was compatible with the UN Charter,” Blix said, adding that it had undermined the Security Council’s authority.

The former Swedish foreign minister spoke on a popular Swedish Radio program that features leading personalities who chat and choose music.

Blix questioned whether Saddam Hussein posed an immediate threat to his neighbours and to the United States. He said the administration of US President George W Bush must have had other reasons to invade besides “the officially pronounced purpose to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction.”

“An important element surely was the need to show striking power after the terror attack on the United States on September 11, 2001,” Blix said in the 90-minute show.

Neither the Security Council nor the American public would have seen “Saddam’s terror” as grounds for military action, he said, before playing “Send the Marines,” by Tom Lehrer, a sarcastic song from the 1960s about US military intervention.

The United States and its allies tried for weeks to gain support in the Security Council for military action against Iraq, but later decided to invade without any UN mandate because of vehement opposition led by France and Germany.

Blix said the invasion could have positive effects on the Mideast peace process and in keeping the region free from weapons of mass destruction, but noted that those were not the main reasons presented for the action.

He said he was disappointed the United States didn’t show more faith in the UN weapons inspectors, who failed to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

“Personally, I found it peculiar that those who wanted to take military action could – with 100 per cent certainty – know that the weapons existed, and at the same time turn out to have zero percent knowledge of where they were,” he said.

Blix said that the Security Council might have approved military intervention if Iraq had continued to resist weapons inspections.

UN inspectors were only allowed to search for prohibited weapons for 3 1/2 months. They pulled out on March 18, two days before the United States and Britain launched the invasion.

Blix said it was increasingly improbable that US and British forces would find prohibited weapons in Iraq, noting that they now have searched longer than the weapons inspectors.

Yeah, tell us Blix felt this was a justified invasion. Lots of countries have supplies of anthrax and chemical weapons, but we don’t invade them. Ignore all the evidence why don’t you of Bush’s having planned for an attack on Iraq as soon as he took office.

We won’t get anywhere with Logan. He is sincere. He really believes the slogans. He knows the talking points and the torturously twisted justifications, how we are safer now, how Clinton was just as concerend about the weapons as Bush, quack, quack, quack. Could well be, but he didn”t invade Iraq, Bush did, making us many promises along the way of how a light force could do the job quickly and at a low cost, with expenses covered by Iraqi oil, and with our men being greeted with flowers and chocolates. Well, some did greet us as liberators, but we soon showed we had no way to control the violence and appreciation fast turned to resentment. We failed, due to poor planning and ignoring the likes of General Shinseki. And Abu Ghraib and other atrocities did little to help.

Anyway, we can rehash this forever. Just ask yourself the fundamental questions: Did Bush misrepresent this war to the American people? Did he change the goalposts from weapons to “freedom”? Is he sincere when he says “freedom is on the march” in Iraq as the death toll mounts and Iraq moves closer every day to Iran? And I won’t even bother asking Logan what he thinks about the article above on the cozy Iran-Iraq partnership. (I’ve asked him repeatedly and he ignores me, but we know why.) No, we were sold a bill of goods. We aren’t safer, we are less safe. And as Lisa said, the president can’t meet with a grieving mother a few minutes from his ranch because he has to nap and take bike rides.

One day Logan will look back on this thread and cringe with shame that he fell for the Karen Hughes-Karl Rove myth that we are “safer without Saddam Hussein.” Safer from WHAT?? So many lives lost, so much of our prestige and happiness and good will decimated. All for that bright shining lie, which no one can explain without the use of platitudes, generalities and vacuous slogans.

But enough butting our heades against the wall trying to help Logan see the light. He will eventually. Until then, let’s wish him a speedy recovery and hope there are no long-term consequences for his believing our Republican snakeoil salesmen.

August 14, 2005 @ 5:16 pm | Comment

“Logan, you haven’t presented a single convincing argument that “we” needed to invade Iraq when we did, nor have you provided one explanation for why the post-invasion was handled so incompetently.”

Well, the timing issue hasn’t come up yet in this discussion, but the bottom line is that you can only maintain readiness of forces in desert climates for so long, and the military establishment was not interested in a summer operation. Many believe that the invasion would have occurred in January if the UN process was not allowed to run its course. Why in 2003 and not 2005 or 2007? Well, I tried to lay out the rationale above for why we perceived that Iraq was a threat at the time. Congress had provided authorization in 2002. The threat of troops on Saddam’s borders was essential to force the inspectors back in at the time, but it’s essential to realize that those troops were in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and without the support of these governments the operation would have been practically impossible. Both were interested in toppling Saddam, but not at the expense of their own survival due to popular movements. Therefore, these governments would not have tolerated a withdrawal of forces, only to “try it again” in the next two or three years. Therefore, we had to credibly demonstrate to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait that we were interested in regime change before we could station troops there that were capable of carrying out the operation. After that, the timing could be explained as a “now or never” type of choice. And, if the answer was “never,” what policy would replace our current one?

I have not addressed the nature of the coalition provisional government in my arguments previous to this, and I’m not going to get into it now.

“How many other hostile countries have greater capacity and are further along in their efforts to develop WMDs? It’s a pretty long list.”

Actually, it’s a pretty short list: North Korea and Iran (and the Iranians were and are not further along). In each case, our policy options are even worse than those in Iraq. The issue, as I said before, is that the invasion was the “least bad” option available. In addition, just because we can’t reduce all threats does not mean that we should not take action against threats that we can do something about. And I’m not sure what the logical corollary of this argument is: invading North Korea or Iran? Arguing that either of these countries poses a greater threat does not yield policy options. Assuming that they are threats, how should they be managed? Each country presents a different set of policy options.

You want me to give you that as a rationale for an invasion? Okay, for the sake of argument, I will, just this once.

I don’t understand this sentence.

“Then tell me why the Bush Administration ignored EVERYONE who warned them about the ground forces they would need to maintain order in post-invasion Iraq, and what was likely to happen if they didn’t put those boots on the ground?”

Again, I haven’t addressed this before, so I’m not going to get into this now. My original post was based on responding to Richard’s absurd interpretation of the Bush administration’s motivations for war.

“If you’re going to go to war, it should be the last resort, not somewhere near the top of the list.”

On Iraq policy, after 12 years of intransigence and violations of UN resolutions, and in comparison with the other policy options available, it was the last resort.

‘And if you’re going to do it, you might want to listen to the people whose business it is to do these things and do it right.”

I thought your objection was to the conduct of the post-war occupation, not the war. Are you faulting the Franks war plan? Because most people think it was fairly successful, including people “whose business it is to do these things and do it right.” We don’t exactly have a history of managing provisional governments such as this one.

August 14, 2005 @ 5:21 pm | Comment

Hey, the Army just raised its upper enlistment age to, what, 42?

Go 101st Fighting Keyboardists!

August 14, 2005 @ 5:25 pm | Comment

I know Blix opposed the war. I argued that the 1/27/2003 report contained facts presenting significant uncertainty regarding Iraqi weapons programs. I then provided those quotes. That was all.

I also responded to your Iran-Iraq article post from Juan Cole, above.

I generally like discussions more focused, but regarding the “freedom on the march” discussion, you should seriously read that Ajami article, and consider what’s happened in Lebanon, Egypt, and Kuwait in the past few months. Did the Iraq war produce these events? No, but the Iraqi election expanded people’s beliefs about what was possible regarding change in the Middle East.

Indeed, I may regret my words ten to twenty years later. Are you willing to say the same? But I’m no shill for anyone, and I do honestly believe what I’m writing. If events force me to reconsider my beliefs, so be it. And again, I don’t think I’m using “platitudes, generalities, and vacuous slogans.” Which ones, exactly?

August 14, 2005 @ 5:31 pm | Comment

Oh, I’m gonna hate myself for trying, but…

1. I object to the invasion. There is more evidence showing that the case for WMDs was exaggerated (if not just out and out made up) than that an actual threat existed. See the Downing Street Memo. Also Iraq was already a severly weakened state, moribund from years of war and sanctions. The no-fly zone in the north provided cover for the Kurds to create their defacto democracy there. We should have let the place collapse from its own weakness and been ready to pick up the pieces then, if necessary.

2. The invasion itself was executed competently.

3. The immediate aftermath was not planned for nor executed competently. All the rationale for war cannot make up for the appalling incompetence of the occupation. And this was something that needed to be included under (2). We are talking immediate chaos and looting that severely undermined any goodwill created by the invasion. We are talking about American soldiers sent into combat with inadequate armor, National Guards and reserves in particular, who are fulfilling a mission their organizations were not designed to fulfill, and as a consequence, these organizations are broken. How can you just “not address the occupation” when you are supporting the war?

4. Don’t forget Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia…have I left any out?

August 14, 2005 @ 5:35 pm | Comment

as a p.s., the looting in the immediate aftermath of the occupation has been one of the biggest obstacles to getting Iraq’s infrastructure up and running. And you think days on end without electricity and clean water are breeding goodwill towards the American occupation?

August 14, 2005 @ 5:37 pm | Comment


I’ll wind my way out of this discussion, but a couple of things before I go.

First, no one seriously believed that Iraq was going to collapse anytime soon, so stasis was not a realistic policy option. If you can find someone betting on the impending collapse of Saddam’s Iraq in 2000-2003, I’d be interested to read it.

Others have done a better job rebutting the implications of the Downing Street Memo than I can.

“All the rationale for war cannot make up for the appalling incompetence of the occupation. ”

Why? Just because you dislike both of these does not link them in any logical sense. If there was a rationale for war, there was a rationale for war. If there was a problem with the occupation, there was a problem with the occupation. Is it your argument that a supporter of the rationale for war cannot have reservations about the occupation? I certainly do.

Syria’s development of chemical weapons is troubling, but the programs basically stop there. You mentioned hostile governments, so I wouldn’t include Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which have anti-American societal elements, but broadly pro-American governments.

August 14, 2005 @ 5:53 pm | Comment

and while I’m at it, you wanna talk real clear and present danger type threats? How about unsecured nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union? We could have spent a fraction of what we’ve spent on the Iraq debacle and purchased far more security for ourselves by helping Russia lock that stuff down.

And let’s not forget the time the Bush Adminstration outed a confidential informant in Al Qaeda’s organization in Pakistan, who was involved with the Khan nuke ring – just to score political points. Hey, we know Islamic extremists are in control of nuclear materials already – one of them developed the Pakistani bomb.

Okay. Signing off now.

August 14, 2005 @ 5:55 pm | Comment

Logan, there was no rationalization for war – and we know that you know it. Enough.

August 14, 2005 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

I saw your comment on Iran and commented on it myself. I am not wading through all the comments again to point out your generalities (“I support the war,” whatever it means). I respect your right to hold your viewpoint no matter how wrong it is and hope you come around soon. I have got to get to work now or I will be in serious trouble.

August 14, 2005 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

You can’t separate the ends from the means. Incompetent execution brings about wrong results. I was against the invasion from the beginning. That said, I would have hoped they could have done it right, because at least the costs would not have been so wretchedly high. How can you expect me to take you seriously when you say you support the war but not the way the occupation was managed? Are we safer now? If there were any WMDs, they are firmly in the hands of the insurgency, just like all those high-explosives they looted from Iraqi armories.

As for mediamatters, this would not be the site I’d go to for serious information. They are shills. Why not “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” while you’re at it? Please.

Pakistan has pro-US elements, it’s true. But as I mentioned above, the head of their nuclear weapons program is strongly anti-American, and he sold his nuclear secrets around the world to those hostile to American interests. As for Saudi Arabia, who were those 9/11 hijackers again? Um…not Iraqis. Don’t underestimate the strength of the fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia to end up controlling the government there.

August 14, 2005 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

“Logan, there was no rationalization for war – and we know that you know it. Enough.”

Am I supposed to respond to this? What if I said, “You may be right, but for the sake of argument, let’s say you’re not, and drop it.” Are you aware of how ridiculous that sounds?

I think you might be surprised how many of your readers agree with me on this issue, Richard.

August 14, 2005 @ 7:11 pm | Comment

Logan, I have just gone through so many sites of Republcans – congressmen, William F. Buckley and the Cato Institute — and all of them agree, there was no justification or rationalization for the war. Check out Texas Rep. Ron Clark, for instance. Repeat, no rationalization for this war. Only dreamed-up rationalizations, like Saddam was involved in 911 and they had weapons posing an immediate and dire threat. Those are falsehoods, I know it and you know it.

You can tell me how ridiculous my readers think I am being. If so, why are they here? How many read your site every day? (An honest question, I don’t know.)

Can we stop going round and round in circles? I know where you stand, and as I said, I believe you’re going to be very, very depressed and disillusiuoned when this catastrophe finally ends.

August 14, 2005 @ 7:43 pm | Comment

“You can’t separate the ends from the means.”

That’s an interesting admission, because Democrats throughout the campaign tried to argue that they opposed the regime of Saddam Hussein, and favored his removal, but were opposed to the means used to remove him from power. In other words, the ends should be separated from the means, for the purposes of policy discussion. Does your argument mean that we should regard this claim skeptically?

My entire entree into this discussion was the justification for the war. That’s my focus. I think it was a mistake to disband the Iraqi army and to allow the looting that occurred. I’m sure there have been plenty of mistakes in the occupation, but I don’t see how that impacts my analysis of the justification for the war (a necessary option, and the “least bad” policy option available at the time). If this is the decision that has to be made, then the critical question behind the occupation is how to make it function better, not to argue that its poor function invalidates the decision to topple Saddam. Analytically, these are separate decisions. But that’s just my two cents.

Musharraf is strongly pro-American, and has been since he was basically forced to choose in the first week after Sept. 11. I am also worried about the anti-Americanism and growth of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, but the government is strongly pro-American. And if they’re developing WMD’s, that’s the first I’ve heard of it.

August 14, 2005 @ 7:47 pm | Comment

If we didn’t have the means to win the war and secure the peace (e.g., stopping the looting and civil unrest one should expect with an occupation) as you admit we did not, we should never have initiated it. All rationalizations crumble to pieces in the wake of the ensuing calamity and holocaust.

August 14, 2005 @ 8:01 pm | Comment

Logan and his kind have walked between the raindrops all their lives.
They have a sense of entitlement. The only way to teach them is to conscript them.
That’s why I’m in favor of the draft.
It’s the only way to keep the WHOLE country conscious of the consequences of war, and of personal responsibility for war.

August 14, 2005 @ 11:51 pm | Comment

Richard. My vote’s for Logan. He certainly articulated his arguments. Enough said. As for Ivan, your commets on the British Army may be valid for that period, but it certainly does not mirror the reality of today’s U.S. armed forces (nor the British of the 1980s). These are not the dregs of society. Two enlisted soldiers that work with me are both college graduates, one from the ivy league, and both are departing to attend graduate school. But yes, recruitment and retention are getting very difficult, for reasons that have much to do with this undeclared war. That trip down the slippery slope started with Truman, and it needs to be remedied in Congress. In the meanwhile, the reality is that we are in a war, and the “we” is the United States as a nation. We will win far more by staying the course than we will by cutting our losses and running, essentially the CLinton response to Somalia. But once we are out, we should not forget who got us into the mess, nor the fact that we need to re-subordinate the war fighting powers of the President to a Declaration by Congress.

August 15, 2005 @ 12:51 am | Comment

Here, in her own words, is why the President of the United States has no business or reason to meet with this Sheehan harpy:

I’m gonna tell them, “You get that evil maniac [the president] out here, cuz a Gold Star Mother, somebody who’s blood is on his hands [it’s her son who shed blood not her — Ed], has some questions for him.”

That sounds like an opening for rational give and take. Start by hurling vitriolic insluts at the President of the US and proceed to imply he is a murderer.

And I’m gonna say, “OK, listen here, George. #1, you quit, and I demand, every time you get out there and say you’re going to continue the killing in Iraq to honor the fallen heroes by continuing the mission; you say, except Casey Sheehan.’ “

Then, let’s proceed to disrespect the man and his office by refusing to offer him the basic courtesy that every citizen and world leader accords him by refusing to use the correct honorific and istead calling him “George”. Then let’s make absurd unilateral demands upon him.

“And you say except for all the members of Goldstar Families for Peace’ cuz we think not one drop of blood should be spilled in our families’ names. You quit doing that. You don’t have my permission.”

Then let’s make more unilateral demands, based on the arrogant assumption that the President or anyone else needs Ms. Sheehan’s permission before they may express their views.

And I’m gonna say, “And you tell me, what the noble cause is that my son died for.”

More demands.

And if he even starts to say freedom and democracy’ I’m gonna say, bullshit.

Quite a dialogue she’s offering there, huh. If he even starts to give an answer other than the one SHE wants, shee will cut him off with a vulgarity.

You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich.

And she will then call him a liar and demand that he gives her answers which the President not only doesn’t except, but which are demonstrably nonsense.

You tell me my son died to spread the cancer of Pax Americana, imperialism in the Middle East.

America is a cancer? I predict that the President doesn’t share this opinion will decline to agree. I further predict that, were he to agree, the American people would be bellowing to string him up from a lamppost.

You tell me that, you don’t tell me my son died for freedom and democracy.

Again, it doesn’t sound like its going to be a very productive dialogue, does it, since Sheehan demands to told only what she wants to hear.

Cuz, The Iraqi people aren’t freer, they’re much worse off than before you meddled in their country.

So, the world was better off with Saddam in power filling mass graves and with Uday making his nightly rape cruises and Qusay overseeing horrors that make Abu Gharab look like boy scout camp?

You get America out of Iraq, you get Israel out of Palestine

I have a better idea. Some get this shrill, vulgar, rude, dimwitted, arrogant harpy off of the national stage. . . .

And if you think I won’t say bullshit to the President, I say move on, cuz I’ll say what’s on my mind.

. . . . and back to the trailer park from which she apparently emerged.

No rational person would voluntarily subject himself to such a harangue and no responsible President would allow the office to be so demeaned.

August 15, 2005 @ 1:04 am | Comment

Oops. should have previewed those tags before posting

August 15, 2005 @ 1:05 am | Comment

Conrad, I responded to this in the Lest We forget post above.

Lirelou, I am not for cutting and running and never have been. I’m for telling the people the truth and to stop spoon-feeding us platitudes of freedom and democracy and a victory that will compare to our victory in WWII with an end to hostilities. None of those things are possible. We should announce an exit policy, the same way Bush and Delay and Karen Hughes demanded that Clinton do in Kosovo.

I get annoyed when I hear we need to stay the course when, after 2 1/2 years we haven’t even been able to secure the 6-mile stretch from the Baghdad airport into the city. I don’t pretend to have a perfect solution. There are no good options now, none at all, as staying the course would mean decades of commitment and American lives lost and that’s not acceptable. We need to redefine the course and drop all the nation building shit and give them the resource and training to stop the insurgents. But remember, many of the insurgents are plain old Iraqi citizens who aren’t fighting against the new government, but against our occupation (and I don’t mean the Zarqawi types, but the Moqtada al Sadr types and the many splinter groups of militant Shiites). They won’t stop until we are out. We recruited lots of them with Abu Ghraib and other atrocities. Bottom line: staying the course as though our original objectives are still viable is insane. We have to asknowledge reality, give them the best support we can and get our soldiers out of harms way because they are dying for a lie of bringing freedom to a people who don’t particularly want it, at least not as defined by us. Again, in the end a theocracy is a sure thing,with the crushing of womens’ rights and other nasty symptoms. We can’t keep funneling in boys to stay the course for this dubious goal.

August 15, 2005 @ 9:05 am | Comment

Some choice chickenhawk quotes on Kosovo/Clinton:

“You can support the troops but not the president.”
–Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

“Well, I just think it’s a bad idea. What’s going to happen is they’re
going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years.”
–Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

“Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may
come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their
–Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99

“[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might
on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit
strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost.
And he has not informed our nation’s armed forces about how long they
will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign
–Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

“American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the
administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign
–Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

“If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they
have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy.”
–Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W Bush

“I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning . . I
didn’t think we had done enough in the diplomatic area.”
–Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

“I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it
is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just
learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very
vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these
questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of
engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of
victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear
funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended
military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at
stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started
this thing, and there still is no plan today”
–Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the President to
explain to us what the exit strategy is.”
–Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

August 15, 2005 @ 9:11 am | Comment

Good points, Richard. For myself, staying the course means doing what we have to do to get a viable Iraqi government up and running, and get out. Or, in the alternative, dividing up the country into two viable states, and one impoverished barely viable one, and bowing out. For the record, we should have used a lot more force going in, but have been hoist upon the petard of our own propaganda. Carpet-bombing every town in the Shia triangle would have been a good way the define the options as submission or death. So much for war with a soft touch.
As for Cindy Sheehan, I think its unfair to label her a “harpy”. The poor woman has suffered the greatest loss a mother can. Even the most stable of parents often fall off the deep end after such a loss, whatever their previous political convictions. One can certainly criticize her statements without resorting to defaming her personally, regardless of what her pre-war convictions may have been. I’ve seen parents take up similar “crusades” in the wake of previous contingency operations and wars. The Vietnam era “M-16 safety” and POW-MIA issues come to mind.

August 15, 2005 @ 8:16 pm | Comment

I don’t believe it was war with a soft touch. The invasion and the military victory were easy — we needed no additional firepower. What we did need were infinitely more boots on the ground to secure the fort once we conquered it. If, of course, it was indeed war with a soft touch, one more reason criticize the incompetent Rumsfield, intoxicated by his victory-by-light-infasntry vision.

I’m truly curious: Do you really think carpet bombing would have endeared them to us in what we called ther battle for hearts and minds? All the misery started AFTER the initial easy victory, after we were indeed greeted by some as liberators, then promptly despised as we failed to provide electricity and drinking water, and failed to stop the breakdown in order.

We were there as liberators, remember? Do you carpet bomb those you are liberating?

August 15, 2005 @ 8:31 pm | Comment

Though I don’t think we should have gone in the first place, the incompetence of the occupation can be laid at the feet of Rumsfeld and his obsession with doing things on the cheap – high tech weapons that enrich defense contractors, good! Boots on the ground, baaad…it’s all part and parcel with the corporate outsourcing mentality. Except in the case of Iraq, rather than using outsourcing to get a cheaper labor pool, they are using it to enrich businesses. You know how much money those private security contractors are making compared to the average American soldier? It ain’t pretty…

August 16, 2005 @ 1:07 am | Comment

The “liberation” ideology was precisely the petard I was referring to. It colored our mindset. I use “carpet-bombing” as a euphamism for an extremely violent campaign directed against the former regime and all those areas, tribes, and clans who supported him. To toally crush not only his personal power base, but the baathist power bases. To have given everyone in Iraq one of two choices. Submission or death/exile. And if we weren’t prepared to wage the war on those terms, then we should never have gone in in the first place. That’s was political resolutions of conflict are for: To avoid the horrors of war. The present Administration isn’t the first government to ever have made that mistake. Look at the Boer War, most of which was fought after the Boer armies in the field had surrendered. Goodbye Dolly Gray!

August 16, 2005 @ 1:38 am | Comment

I see a great contrast between her first comments about her meeting with Bush in her interview on June 24, 2004, that was just several months after her son was killed, and the latest comments she is making about that same meeting with Bush. Cindy Sheehan first said after her meeting with Bush, that she ” now knows that Bush is sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqi’s.” Then she went on to say and I quote, ” I know he’s sorry and feels pain for our loss.” She used two descriptions to describe her impressions of Bush after,Bush’s meeting with her, “Sincere” and ” He’s sorry and feels pain for our loss.” Now its quite the opposite description of Bush, if you were to listen to her new interpretation of that same meeting with Bush, you would think it was two seperate meetings. Cindy Sheehan now says about that meeting with Bush that ” Every time we tried to talk about Casey and how much we missed him, he would change the subject,and he acted like it was a party.” That statement indicates just the opposite of what she originally said about Bush, in that she even used the word “sincere” in describing Bush’s demeanor. So I’m to take it that she felt that “acting like it was a party” was sincere, and sincere was as she described Bush in her first interview? The question that now remains concerning her two completely different versions of that meeting with Bush, is, which one is the true story and which one is the lie? In her first interview with David Henson she stated that Bush felt “sorry” about the loss of her son,then Cindy Sheehan turns around and says just the opposite in her interview with Blitzer and I quote ” Yes, he came in very jovial, and like we should be happy that he, our son, died.” Excuse me but “sorry” and “happy” are not synonyms Mrs.Sheehan. Cindy Sheehan’s versions of that meeting with President Bush just don’t match, they are not remotely similar.

August 21, 2005 @ 2:29 am | Comment

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