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Slouching toward Bethlehem: The new American Empire

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The thing that is really disturbing is that you and ASF come from the mindset that 9/11 is our fault.

Funny. Why is it that there seem to be so many people here who're able to come to conclusions like that about me, without me even once making such a statement?

I recommend that, before you announce that "that type of attitude is exactly what led to 9/11.", that you first bother to actually find out what my "attitude" is.

I haven't said there shouldn't be a response. I've said that the first response shouldn't have been military, because that's not where the enemy is attacking us.

One of the difficulties with fighting terrorists (or guerillas) is that (unless you have a great deal of intel about them), you can't tell who they are, and therefore they have what's called initiative. (This means, they get to pick the time and place for the battle.) (It's sort of like the observation that, when you get mugged, there won't be a cop there: It's not because cops know how to avoid crimes, it's because the mugger looked to see if there were cops around, before he decided to rob you.)

And, that means that you're sort of stuck responding in the arenas where they are. And, where they've chosen to attack is in the political arena. It's also the only arena where they can win. They don't have the ability to cripple our economy, there aren't enough of them. All they can do is scare the people into hurting our economy. The bottom didn't fall out of the airline industry because of the loss of four aircraft, it happened because of a loss of customers. (Although, I also recall thinking that the airlines reaction to 9/11: cutting back flights and raising prices, didn't help them, either.)

(As a side note: The Challenger explosion didn't cripple our space program, either. Congress' decision to completely shut down our entire capability for over two years while they talked about it (without ever mentioning that the explosion occurred because of the failure of a joint that wouldn't have been there in the first place if it weren't for pork-barrel politics) did. Fortunately, we're not going to make that mistake again, right?)

Yes, the attacks of 9/11 had an economic cost. But the value of the items destroyed was trivial compared to the effects of peoples emotional reaction to what they percieved as a dire threat.

When Bush was traveling around the world, trying to bribe countries into supporting his war in the UN, Carville, (that irritating cajun political guy on Crossfire), asked a question that stuck in my mind: "How do you lose a PR war to Saddam Hussein?"

(The answer that came to my mind was that, the reason the countries of the UN weren't behind us was, there are a lot more countries scared of us than there are of Iraq. And telling these countries that "you'd better say you support us, or you might be next", doesn't make them less scared.)

But, the best answer I've come up with for that question is that: He's already lost a PR war to Osamma Bin Laden. (Because he chose not to fight it.) I don't think W Bush got where he is today by not knowing how to win a political fight. But, he seems determined to deny that he's in one.

I'm not saying we should turn the other cheek, forgive them, and send flowers. I'm saying we should fight where the war is.


And, as I've said before: I don't know if there was enough of a link to prove that Iraq was supporting terrorism. Frankly, my feelings are rather mixed.

  • It certainly wouldn't surprise me if Iraq was supporting terrorists.
  • I would be amazed if we could prove it. It's too easy for somebody like Saddam to set things up in a way that he can later claim that, say, Ollie North did it, it wasn't an official act of the government.
  • I absolutely believe that Saddam wanted to get WMDs. Eventually.
  • But, Scott Ridder (I think: Former weapons inspector now talk-show guest) at least has some evidence that suggests that Saddam has, for the last few years, been trying to cover up his WMD program by destroying the evidence (including the weapons). And, since, he's also destroying the records that the weapons ever existed (and the records that they were destroyed), he now can't prove, to Bush's satisfaction, that they've been destroyed.
  • I don't think the President is obligated to prove his link to the American People. (I do think he's obligated to tell them about it as soon as he can.)
  • If he had what he thought was good enough evidence, (I've stated: My standard of "good enough" is: would it stand up to a jury, if the jury could see it. Yes, it's a tough standard of proof to meet. But, I think a War should require a high standard of proof.), but he can't go public with it, then go ahead and start the war, sir. He's the guy who gets paid to make that call. (He's not the guy I would've picked, but some decisions are too important to be decided by a committee.) (And, if he never gets to go public with his evidence, and he has to go to his grave with the people thinking he screwed up, then that's the price he has to pay.)
  • However, based on the behaviour I've seen of this administration, I'm also not willing to blindly assume that the reasons were there, and I just haven't seen them. The more things leak out (and, yes, I know how easy it is to come to wrong conclusions when your "evidence" is Washington leaks) the more it looks like the decision was made that we needed another war about now, Iraq is the patsy who'll look best in a frame, so let's see what we've got, that will support the objective.
  • Unfortunately, it's tough to claim "self defense" when you spent two years announcing your intentions to have a war. It's kind of like the women who claim their husbands were beating them, so I killed him in self defense, while he was asleap. It's one thing for Israel to claim that Egypt was going to invade next week. It's another thing for Bush to claim that Saddam would've gotten WMDs someday. (Especially when you're also claiming that he's already got them, and hasn't used them.)

No, I haven't judged these decisions. (Or, at least, the opinions I've got are open for more evidence.) All I'm saying is, if I were betting right now, on the question "Did Bush have a good enough reason for this war?", I'd be betting against. (Since he won't give us enough facts to decide, all I can go on is hunch and circumstantial evidence.)

But, if he wants to change my mind, he's still got over a year to do it.

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and your expertise in counter-terrorism is what?

and your knowledge of military planning is what?

that there is a political dimension is rather obvious. that "PR" as you so facilely think of it - it's actually information warfare - plays into the equation is also obvious. that people are frightened and this has indirect economic consequences (in addition to the direct ones) is also part of the equation. why do you think critical infrastructure is so titled? do you think various terrorist organizations know of these CIP vulnerabilities? do you think thay have the technology to exploit some of them? do you think there were plans to do so? or do you believe it is idle tomfoolery to even contemplate protecting these assets?

go back and review what asymetric warfare is all about.

clearly...even your argument implicitly assumes that the objective is economic whether direct or indirect. otherwise, the target selection would be different: and this is what your analysis misses. why not a sporting event with 60,000 massed in one place? why not a nuclear plant? why not a reservoir? why not Tom Daschle's home?

Interesting thing about information warfare and PR is that it sounds great in the abstract, but when you try to empirically measure it, when you try to establish links between hypothesis and data....it is nearly impossible to support.......it is impossible to find data that links events (say kinetic attacks) and thought processes/emotional states supposedly engendered by these attacks and subsequent actions.

again...as I have asked in 10 million threads.....(the Gargoyle from Louisiana not withstanding)...where is the behind the scenes evidence of the real world price we have paid? do you have first hand evidence on costs/impacts of, say, trans-national law enforcement cooperation? has there been an impact on infrastructure cooperation in key areas such as counter-terrorism information sharing? what is your professional opinion on the intel business? have you ever done intelligence analysis?are you qualified to assess the analysis being performed now and in the recent past? are you familiar with the intelligence that was generated prior to and during the last two wars? what is your familiarity with what the various terrorist organizationss are actually doing? their interactions with various nation state actors? btw...how do you know that we aren't receiving cooperation from apparently hostile Arab states behind the scenes?

in as much as you and others carp about a lack of WMD evidence or direct threat evidence...I see no evidence on your part to support your many assertions. for that matter, many of the assertions advanced against the war in Iraq turned out to be wildly speculative as well - without corresponding acknowledgement. could there have been a disinformation campaign here as well? nahhhhhh.......feel good people don't do things like that.

in case you haven't noticed, the terrorists are actually killing people in rather large numbers, and rather indiscriminantly. while winning the PR "war" is certainly important, it doesn't alleviate the requirement to root these people out and kill them....kill their financial support structures....eliminate their supply chains......threaten their safe harbors........eliminate their safe transit routes...........eliminate their weapons sources.......destroy their training bases......practice disinformation campaigns as well as they do...

this is a war. and it is a war being fought in multiple dimensions. you're confusing the televised version and the daily idiocy splattered across our editorial pages with the actual shape that this war is taking.

the self defense/immediate threat argument is growing rather tiresome. it ignores the larger panorama of linkages in that part of the world. it ignores the dead bodies of Americans strewn across the globe for the last 40 years (btw, rationalizing this explains the high value some place on identifiing American economic and political actions as the prime cause for these deaths).

The Gargoyle, btw, is a professional provocateur. Aside from the small matter of what losing the PR battle would actually entail....it seems to be that were this the case it would a more telling comment on the folks who adopted this position than on America. but you are free to chose your poison!!!!

on another tangent....why the airline industry? it was already in bad financial shape PRIOR to 9/11. it was also weak from a security pov. it was rather easy for them to follow a traditional terrorist method of turning infrastructure into a weapon. and that is what they did. it certainly was an act of war intended to kill large numbers of people.

ever read some of the excerpts drawn from the recovered training manuals reported in the press? those described methods for killing people. that is what you do when in a war. That there is a political dimension (argue along Clauswitzian lines or Sun Tsu) that the weaker party must influence the political will to fight (especially in a democracy) is to belabor the obvious. but that doesn't change the fact that we are in a war. it is an argument for considering/addressing the political/PR dimension as one among many. no one has made the case why it should be the primary dimension - it's just been blindly asserted without any empirical evidence.

caught an interesting excerpt from Kissinger the other night. he did some questionable things during his time in power, no doubt about it. but one thing stuck in my mind (ala the Gargoyle) from the interview: people don't understand that the personal moral dimension doesn't always translate to the interactions between nation states. that, in the foreign policy arena, decision-makers must sometimes chose among competing evils.

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Originally posted by NavyDave

Dude enough of the code words.

Neo conservative means Jew and Buchannan has always been seen as an anti semite especially when he questioned the validity of Ethiopian jews being abused.

I don't know anything about the Ethiopian issue. As for Buchanan being an "anti-Semite", this is the usual sleazy smear that gets trotted out any time an American questions Israeli actions.

(Maybe Buchanan is anti-Semitic -- who knows -- but what I do know is that anyone who questions Israel is immediately branded an anti-Semite. This is handy any time you want to spot a sleazy polemicist representing an ethically and logically bankrupt position. When the "anti-Semite" slur enters the room, it's like the smell of stupid people sweating.)

As for neo-conservative being a code word for "Jew", you're dead wrong. While neo-conservatives are often Jewish (for who knows what reason), the neo-conservatives themselves coined the term "neo-conservative" and proudly describe themselves in this way. I happen to think the term is a ridiculous perversion of what "conservative" used to mean, but that's the term they chose, so I use it.

Somehow, this offends you.

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ahhhh......ASF.....were what you assert to be true....it's simply a tried and true practice the Left has employed/perfected for decades to address the "rantings of right-wing, conspiratorial ideolgues bent on underming the contitution while promulgating rascist, hegemonist, anti-feminist, homophobic, anti-environmental, pro-corporate warmonger, rich robber barron atavism"

get the drift? and certainly not anything you ever practiced.....is it time for another seminal grunge tune????

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fan...awesome awesome reply to Larry's post. By the way, not to be mean-spirited Larry, but those that respond to these tailgate battles are fairly sophisticated and knowledgeable. In other words, no need to explain who ragin-cajun does-anybody-else-see-the-banjo-kid-from-deliverance Carville is. The only salient question is, why does Mary Matalin sleep with him? And its Scott Ritter, traitorous lying media whore Saddam apologist, not Ridder.

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ASF, sometimes when a person is accused of being anti-Semetic, it's because he is. Your blase dismissal of the use of the term as a political strategy employs that very same strategy itself.

Anytime someone you politically agree with is accused of anti-Semitism, disarm the accuser by labelling him a Zionist neo-conservative conspirast. Sorta gives any half-brained anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli conspiracy hack licsense to stir up whatever pot he chooses.

Well, I've been Jewish for a long time, and I can tell the difference between anti-Israeli and anti-Semetic sentiments. You walk a fine line here, and not everything you've come up with is merely anti-Zionist. Same goes for Pat.

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Originally posted by Henry

I've been Jewish for a long time, and I can tell the difference between anti-Israeli and anti-Semetic sentiments. You walk a fine line here, and not everything you've come up with is merely anti-Zionist. Same goes for Pat.

I haven't followed Buchanan very closely for very long. It was only recently that I stopped buying the usual media line on him (that he was some kind of dangerous fascist). I've read some fairly compelling articles by Buchanan now -- maybe six or eight in all. Nothing in those articles, even when dealing with Israel, struck me as anti-Semitic.

I do recall, however, one "Buchananism" from his TV appearances in the 1990s -- his predilection for drawing out the the words "RUTH BA-DER GINS-BERG." I took this to be code for anti-Semitism, and I didn't like it at all. I especially didn't like the rhetorical technique, which seemed to trying to cultivate among his audience a disdain for the Jewish name.

I vaguely recall that Buchanan would offer up that rhetoric as part of a general attack on Clinton liberalism, and I suppose Buchanan probably thought Ginsberg's Jewishness conveyed a sense of strong liberalism -- since Jews have generally been liberal in this country. If it was liberalism he was attacking, though, there are more direct ways to make that attack.

This is a long way of saying that I'm aware of what you're referring to with Buchanan -- and that aspect of Buchanan has repelled me in the past. Whether he's actually anti-Semitic, I have no idea, but that rhetoric appeared to appeal to anti-Semitism -- and I didn't like it for that reason.

I believe I'm different in that regard. I'm very clear that my issues are with Zionism and its excesses, and the way that those excesses are excused or made to be invisible in the U.S.

At the same time, I have tremendous admiration for many Jewish people -- more admiration for American Jews as a demographic group than proabably any other, including American WASPs.

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thanks Tar......

I actually ran across carville at Pentagon City Mall one afternoon. I was inclined to make an uncivil comment/gesture, but he was with his daughter and I also thought that this would be carrying things too far: even irritating baffoons are entitled to privacy! now, as for allowing them to reproduce: that is another matter altogether (and the only argument I can think of iso genetic engineering!)

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