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Global Warfare - Part 1

It's a human conceit to talk about things beyond our scope. Sometimes it is necessary; parents need to give clear instruction to their children, even where they themselves might be unsure. At other times, however, it's the desire to be in control, matched with the arrogance that we do not need to trust experts and the experienced. This is why so many idiots make a home repair problem worse, why so many people bungle financial decisions, and explains 90% of Congress' votes in its history. This is not so bad when the stakes are commonplace and the mistake can be repaired, but in warfare the cost can be very high. Especially since decisions about war tend to have a high emotional content and petty politics cannot help but enter into things. Lincoln's 1864 re-election campaign was littered with absurd second-guessing of the Civil War, and made the whole matter far more bitter and complicated than it ought to have been. If so serious a threat as the Civil War could fall prey to Macchiavellian ploys, it must be understood that all wars will be targeted by blackguards for their personal gain. And especially so, when the conduct and scope of the present war is misunderstood.

For better or worse, President George W. Bush has engaged the United States in a war to address the strategic threat from Islamist Middle-East-based terrorism. The consensus from all the studies and publicly available intelligence of the past thirty years, is that Islamist Terrorism is essentially a loose network of groups with a common general goal or driving the United States out of the Middle East, after which a union of Islamic Republics will be established. Some of these groups are backed by governmental organizations, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Others are nominally independent, such as Al Qaeda. The essential point to understand here, is that these groups cooperate to varying degrees for the common purpose of asymmetrical warfare, especially designed to pursue propaganda and financial goals, to weaken alliances between the West and where possible break them, and to destabilize any and all Western-style governments in the Middle East. Therefore, the United States must address the threat by creating effective counters to these goals.
The Middle East has not enjoyed a stable environment since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. There is little disagreement to the statement that a number of European nations have treated rulers and nations of the Middle East like game tokens, and to a lesser degree the United States prior to 1968. As a result, the region has not enjoyed either political stability nor an atmosphere of trust with the West, except for the happy exceptions of Israel and Turkey, and to some degree Jordan after 1973. It may be said with some fairness, that the West was distracted from establishing a proper relationship with the Middle East, by interference from the Soviet Union; many Cold War-era terrorist groups received aid, training, and support from Moscow, especially in Soviet Client states such as Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Some of these groups turned their skills in destabilizing governments against the Soviets, as evidenced by the war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. For all the hype that America is somehow to blame for the rise of Jihad, the actual skills and immediate motive for the movement began in the effort to drive the Soviets from Afghanistan.

Using terrorists to gain a political win, however, is historically a very poor strategy. A good example can be seen in Algeria, which employed terrorism to drive out the French. While successful in that objective, the terrorists then began to operate against the native Algerian government, and the result - even a generation later - is a weak central government rampant with corruption, with various factions running the country in a patchwork and fragile network of feudalistic feuds and personality cults. The same condition exists in other Middle East and North African nations, like the Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. Terrorist groups keep no allegiance to a government or nation, but only to their own advantage.

-- continued --

Some people compare the Global War on Terror to World War 2. This is not a very good fit, although Islamofascism does bear similarities to that Fascism embraced in Hitler's Germany and Tojo's Japan. Other people compare the war in Iraq to Vietnam, though that also fails to stand under close inspection. I would repeat an earlier contention of mine, that the present effort strives against international terrorist groups in ways similar to the fight against open-sea Piracy. Far too many Americans do not realize that the first major use of the Marine Corps, was to put down Libyan pirates, very like modern terrorists in that they found it amusing to attack innocents in order to get what they wanted from governments. It also occurs to me that the decision to grant Navy Captains the power to try pirates aboard their vessels and carry out sentences was one reason the British Navy was feared and respected worldwide at one time, though sadly recent events have shown just how far the Union Jack has fallen.

All that sets the stage for our present position. The United States, for a number of reasons, has a habit of getting into global conflicts. Our first war was multi-continental, and helped to set off the French Revolution, and several significant reforms in England. The U.S. also went across an ocean to take on a two-bit tyrant in Tripoli who thought he could extort the United States with threats and violence. In the past century, the United States has repeatedly been called upon to establish and enforce treaties and agreements for the protection of allies and their territory, and more than once has gone to war at great cost to help an ungrateful ally. Anyone familiar with American history would have expected the United States to eventually address the threat from Islamist Terrorism. Indeed, Osama bin Laden counted on that, believing that the United States would be ejected from the Middle East and collapse, just as the Soviet Union did. The crucial differences between the USA and USSR were lost on bin Laden, but then again we are talking about a psychotic nutcase under the influence of malignant narcissism, who could not even manage to properly understand the Quran. For here, it is important to understand that the conflict was inevitable; the only choices were the time, terms, and conditions. This was understood by military experts and many members of Congress as early as 1980. To pretend that the threat does not exist is both dishonest and harms the nation's interest.

Here then, are the positions as I see them, with a certain amount of speculation necessary for each side, and the qualification that any large group will have a number of rogue agents:

I believe that the Democrats see Global terrorism as a local threat, to be addressed as a crime by the governments directly attacked. This is the standard "9/10" condition which has been discussed in many places. I also believe, however, that the Democrats want to see more and better participation by our allies in the effort, specifically to the point that each nation should be largely responsible for its own defense and protection, with allies acting only in international airspace and waters and only to the degree that a broader threat exists. That is to say, it seems that a large number of Democrats have come to believe that the United States will not be attacked if it leaves the terrorists alone. History, quite harshly at times, proves otherwise, but for here it is enough to understand the Democrats' posture. They believe that Terrorism is not a Defense threat, and that we would do better to spend less money fighting Terrorism, and to pull back from foreign conflicts. The Republicans, while some have shown they lack the fortitude to stand in the face of cheap political tricks and a hostile media, generally seem to comprehend the strategic nature of the threat and advocate the continuing U.S. presence in force at critical locations.

The Republicans are generally determined to remove the threat, even if it is necessary for the United States to act alone in that mission. The primacy of American power is also a major consideration and ideal in Republican thought, as opposed to the Democrats' belief in a devaluation of American power in order to create what might be called 'a community of equals'. The Republican mistakes begin with failing to explain the mission, to stay focused on the plan, and to maintain party discipline in votes and public statements, and in prioritizing the fight. Both parties make the mistake of addressing short-term costs and objectives ahead of long-term goals and needs.

What are those long-term goals and needs? I would consider this as a Best-Case/Worst-Case/Middle-Case scenario set. At one time in 2003, the "Best Case" was impressive; the Hussein regime had fallen, Al Qaeda was in disarray and many cells had been negated, killed, or captured. Surrounding nations scrambled to make peace with the United States, including Syria and Iran, who hastily promised their support for a peaceful Middle East with self-determination rights for everyone. That lasted about as long, however, as the Democrats' support for the war, which is to say until they found a way to undermine the United States and return to their normal practices. This is not to compare the Democrats to terrorist regimes, but to explain that just as Teheran was never serious about letting Iraq's citizens run their own nation, the Democrats were determined to never allow the Republicans the chance to claim a clear victory in Iraq. The Republicans allowed Iraq to become a political football, first by not keeping the focus on the long-term effort and second by becoming distracted from always supporting the party on the most vital points. As a result, the Best-Case scenario is one where Iraq is weaker than desired but self-sustaining, and the United States maintains the promise of financial and military help if and when it is needed. Such a condition will in large part depend on electing a Republican President in 2008, and one committed to the long mission.

The Worst-Case scenario may at first appear to be relatively mild; despite claims of failure, the campaign in Iraq has been significant in eliminating Al Qaeda's infrastructure and many of its key leadership. The present Al Qaeda is dangerous, but not in the same way it was seven years ago, or at all to the same degree. If the United States deserts Iraq, the government there is likely to fall, but would be replaced with something not unlike what goes on in Syria or Lebanon; a pretense of democracy with several 'strong men' who rule on a promise of order, at the sacrifice of justice and civil rights. Terrorist operations would be scaled back for a time, largely to take advantage of propaganda opportunities, but also to plan for strategic objectives. The largest casualty in this scenario would be control of the initiative. Where for the past four years the terrorists have been largely reacting to American initiatives and the U.S. has made significant gains in the region, the sudden collapse of the effort through the withdrawal of troops would allow the terrorists the opportunity to consider their options and go on the offensive. As in the early 1990s, those goals would - early on - be designed to bring down vulnerable allies to the United States, and to harass the United States by striking targets of opportunity. Intelligence operations, already difficult for American agencies because of blunders from 1979 to 2000, would become effectively impossible in hostile nations, allowing sophisticated training and planning to resume. Several major strikes against the United States could therefore be expected no sooner than 2010, but no later than 2013. From statements made in the past, the objective would clearly be to stagger the American psyche with large casualty counts and multiple strikes. Given the sentiment among Democrats to scale down vigilance and reduce spending on Homeland Security, a wide range of possible targets and threats must be considered.

The Middle-Case scenario is difficult to set in scale, but can be guessed from actions by the leadership in both parties, the logistical limits of Al Qaeda and similar groups, and the national mood. Unfortunately, the American public has little stomach for long fights, when one of the two major political parties refuses to support it. This does not mean, however, that the American public will stand for anything. The Democrats have learned that the public demands better than token support for the military, that they are willing - even eager - to accept certain sacrifices if their families are safer for it, and that continuing to control Congress and to gain the White House will depend on confirming a resolve to address the threat from Terrorism. The statements made not so long ago that we should accept a certain loss to Terrorism will not be tolerated by decent people, enough that a threshold level for response will continue to exist. In addition, there is a real possibility that the Islamist terrorists are beginning to understand that direct attacks on Americans will provoke a strong response, one quite strong enough to make the attack a strategic failure. The Democrats have shown through words and actions, that they value American blood, but not Muslim blood. As a result, it should not surprise anyone if the main thrust of terrorist activity following the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq, became the wholesale slaughter of pro-American Muslims, and the coordinated destabilization of non-Islamist governments. To the vulgar examination, American lives would be saved - for now - but at the cost of the future of the Middle East. It comes down, in the end, to the Calculus of whether risking several thousand American lives are worth saving a hundred fifty million Muslim lives.


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Comments (20)

Very thoughtful and well do... (Below threshold)
jFO:

Very thoughtful and well done article .

I only have one major disagreement. I don't believe democrats see the GWT as a criminal matter nor do we believe that if we leave the terrorists alone we won't be attacked.

I think there is no doubt democrats see it as a "war." What has happened is that the dissent over the conduct of the war in Iraq is seen as dissent over the conduct of the GWT in general. For example, democrats strongly supported the war in Afghanistan, and continue to do so, because that is seen as the place where the terrorists were and still are. Iraq has devolved into a civil war taking away resources that could be used elsewhere.

In reality I think the GWT has both military and criminal components - that is the resources of both the military and police systems are necessary to win.

DJ:Pretty good pos... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

DJ:

Pretty good post, certainly much better than some of the more recent ones.

I will agree with jFO above that Democrats do view this fight against terrorism as a war, just that Iraq has been a strategic mistake in that conflict. And Democrats also do not believe that we will not be attacked simply if we leave. They realize it will take vigilance and attentiveness when it comes to police work, port inspections, immigration policy, etc. However, I think the major difference is that Democrats are aware that terrorism can never be eradicated. It is the only form of retaliation for lesser forces against a powerful, well-organized military. Republicans on the other hand believe it can be quelled by military domination, but that it just wishful thinking. If there is a way to reduce the threat of terrorism, it is likely good will, financial assistance, and economic development, but even this will not please the lunatics like bin Laden

One point you still try and make though DJ is that Democrats supported the war from the start. That is simply not true and you know it. First, there was huge public outcry against the war in the form of worldwide protests which received less attention than they deserved. Second, the votes in Congress by Dems were something like 80-120 and 28-22 in favor of the war, so let's just call it ~50% who did not approve of this war from the start. Third, there may have been tepid support going in because of the fact that we were about to undertake our largest military obligation since Vietnam, but that was overwhelmed by the sheer incompetence and ineptitude of the administration managing the war.

One thing (of several things) I do agree with in this post is how you did not isolate the problem to being Iran and Syria. To often from the right nowadays, you just hear rhetoric about "Iran and Syria sponsoring terrorists" in Iraq and elsewhere. I will say they are a problem, but al Qaeda is an extra-national organization whose roots are in the Arabian Peninsula and Eqypt, and has a strong footing in Pakistan. Dealing with them is an entirely separate issue from dealing with al Qaeda and advocating for war with Iran will do nothing about the threat al Qaeda poses.

Sean said:"likely go... (Below threshold)
tyree:

Sean said:
"likely good will, financial assistance, and economic development"
The most virulent Muslim radicals of our day are the educated, middle class Muslims. The Muslim radical, I believe his name was Said, who has served as an inspiration to so much of their movement was radicalized during a two year visit to Greeley, Colorado in the early 1950's. As one of his modern followers said, "We are not killing you to get something from you, we are killing you to destroy you". As far as "good will" goes, we helped the Muslims in Afghanistan against the Russians, in Bosnia and in the Arab-Israeli peace talks. In return they bombed our embassies, the USS Cole and the World Trade Center, two times. Please don't be so quick to dismiss others for "wishful thinking".

"Democrats do view this fight against terrorism as a war"
That may be so, but they sure are not pushing the idea of victory very well. They seem to be working real hard to repeat their success in ending the Vietnam War. My hometown is now "Little Saigon"; elections have consequences, and so does defeat.

"sheer incompetence and ineptitude of the administration managing the war"
That is the Democratic Party line. However, all Democrat run wars have exhibited the same sort of "incompetence", resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. One of the main differences in this war is the extraordinary willingness of the Democrats to provide propaganda victories for our enemy in a propaganda war. Human sheilds, anyone? and where are they now that the children in Iraq really need them? Nancy Pelosi is a big hero in Syria and has bolstered the image of their government among the terrorist organizations. This may help the Democratic Party, but I fail to see how this helps the United States. Our enemies have succeeded in dividing us, thank you Michael Moore, now all they have to do is take it to the next step.

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veter... (Below threshold)
Ken Larson:

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

Politicians make no difference.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/spyagency200703

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

For more details see:

http://rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com/2006/11/inside-pentagon-procurement-from.html

I think it's fair to say th... (Below threshold)
a4g:

I think it's fair to say that the Democrats do see this as a war, but not as an existential threat. Part of the divide between left and right is that the left attracts the arrogant and narcissistic, those who believe that they have ascended to a new place in history where no other thinker has gone before. That's why institutions and traditions mean nothing to them. Age and experience gives conservatives a more humble view of themselves; as fallen, imperfect heirs to a thousand generations of wisdom, from men just as magnificent and as imperfect as we are now.

So to the left, there is simply no way that a benighted, liberal, progressive people---- that finally acknowledge the equal rights of homosexuals and celebrate the sanctity of abortion---- could see their empire torn down by the millstone of time and a few cave-dwellers from Afghanistan. This is a war we are not physically capable of losing. Stakes? There are no stakes. We set all the terms, and can arbitrarily decide to scoop up our marbles and go home if we want, with no consequences beyond the loss of a few (million?) people whose existence really isn't that important since they don't support universal health care anyway.

So the left's war is a direct one, like the attack of a WWI general convinced that superior espirit d'corps will carry the advance. They want to throw our weight into the obvious fight, go after the obvious enemies. They feel no need for subtlety because they arrogantly believe they are gods.

The brilliance (and necessity) of Bush's indirect approach escapes them. They cannot conceive why he keeps repositioning his knights and bishops, when the queen seems to have so much more power. They fixate on Bin Laden and ignore the stinking cesspool that gave birth to him. They despise Iraq because Iraq is "hard" (though by what historical standard Iraq can be said to be "hard" I do not know), but do not see that Bush has struck the enemy at his most vulnerable.

This war has seen very few truly dark days, and even its first and darkest pales in comparison to what has come before, or what may yet come again. Despite the left ignoring the history they think they've gone beyond, history is less a breeze, and more a hurricane.

I think your most optimistic scenario is a bit restrained, DJ. And your most pessimistic, unfortunately overly rosy.

Tyree:As one of... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

Tyree:

As one of his modern followers said, "We are not killing you to get something from you, we are killing you to destroy you".

You didn't include my entire quote: "If there is a way to reduce the threat of terrorism, it is likely good will, financial assistance, and economic development, but even this will not please the lunatics like bin Laden". Yes there are some maniacs you simply want to destroy us. Unfortunately, they will always exist. My point is if we want to reduce the expansion of terrorism and sway the moderate Muslims from choosing that route by demonstrating that America is a force for good in the world, then good will, humanitarian aid, and economic development are important. An unending military occupation is probably not as helpful.

As far as "good will" goes, we helped the Muslims in Afghanistan against the Russians, in Bosnia and in the Arab-Israeli peace talks. In return they bombed our embassies, the USS Cole and the World Trade Center, two times. Please don't be so quick to dismiss others for "wishful thinking".

I realize this, and we should continue to provide assistance where possible and punishment where deserved. Al Qaeda doesn't recognize any of our generousity because they are insane. We should continue to fight them but I don't believe Iraq is the best way to do it.

That may be so, but they sure are not pushing the idea of victory very well. They seem to be working real hard to repeat their success in ending the Vietnam War. My hometown is now "Little Saigon"; elections have consequences, and so does defeat.

If you want to compare this to Vietnam, fine but I'd rather not. But if we are then address this point: We may have lost the Vietnam War, but we won the Cold War. The war on terrorism does not end in Iraq just like the war on communism did not end in Vietnam. Also, even once we won the Cold War, was communism completely eradicated? No, just as the fact that once we win the war on terrorism, it will not be completely eradicated since it is not a person or a nation, but a tactic or belief.

However, all Democrat run wars have exhibited the same sort of "incompetence", resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.

You're right, other leaders of other wars were incompetent as well. That does not change anything about this administration.

Your last paragraph just seems like a rant that isn't worth addressing.

Some see the WoT as <a href... (Below threshold)
Eric Forhan:

Some see the WoT as Fourth Generation Warfare. As I understand it, 4GW includes some of the other generations, but also some new: A "culture" at war rather than a country, guerrilla warfare by un-uniformed combatants and even something that seems so docile as immigration.

If you want to compare this... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

If you want to compare this to Vietnam, fine but I'd rather not. But if we are then address this point: We may have lost the Vietnam War, but we won the Cold War. The war on terrorism does not end in Iraq just like the war on communism did not end in Vietnam. Also, even once we won the Cold War, was communism completely eradicated? No, just as the fact that once we win the war on terrorism, it will not be completely eradicated since it is not a person or a nation, but a tactic or belief.
-------------------------------------------------
Looking back at history, every time liberal policies succeed, bad things happen to America and the world:
- VN: Cambodia atrocities, communist on the march throughout the world. Carter was hiding in the oval office, the economy was in the tank.
- Iran: thanks Carter and the dems for the mullahorcrcy

On the other hand, when we could overcome liberal policies:
- South Korea: could have become N. Korea if we cut and run like liberals advocate today.
- Reagan fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Liberals would have let the Soviet Union take central Asia as well.
- Reagan build STAR missle defense and accelerated the arms race to put the Soviet Union out of business.

Now liberals trying to claim success? If Iraq becomes a functional democracy, I wonder how liberals can at themselves in the mirror. That 's why they are doing their best to make sure that Iraq fails.

BTW, The Vietnam wa... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

BTW,
The Vietnam was part of the global warfare against America and the free West by the Soviet Union (and China). Their goal was global conquest. The cold war was a global war with hot regional wars. In the global war, information or propaganda war is crucial, esp in democracies. The enemies of America has depended upon the liberal media in the West to aid them in this global war. The terrorists are doing the same right now. That 's their only change to win this war.

Sean:Rant is in the ... (Below threshold)
tyree:

Sean:
Rant is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. Do you think making Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911 the voice of the Democratic party was a good idea? Do you think that kind of propaganda was worthy of a seat next to Jimmy Carter at the Democratic National Convention? Our nations leaders, Republican and Democrat voted to go to war and the Democrats want out of that deal. If the Democrats were putting forward a plan for victory that we could debate then the jihadis would know we are not beaten.
You have made some great points; however, the jihadis see the Democrats success as a victory for "their" side. That is not something we should be working hard to give them. As you are probably aware, a pullout from Iraq, will not lead to peace, just a change in the enemies theater of operations. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel or Los Angeles, their scimitar will fall somewhere.
I should have remembered the full quote as you mentioned. That does not change the fact that jihad does not primarily come from poverty, it comes from their hatred of western liberal values.

"We may have lost the Vietnam War, but we won the Cold War."
That is right, and the loss of Vietnam did not make our victory easier, it made it harder and over three million people paid for that loss with their lives. Every enemy since then has tied to beat us by using the same divide and conquer strategy.

"You're right, other leaders of other wars were incompetent as well. That does not change anything about this administration."
Wars are very difficult to fight, and we have had some small failures in Iraq, most of them propaganda victories for the other side. I cannot accept the charge of incompetence seriously from a group that has not supported the idea of victory. The attacks on the President and his cabinet are not unprecedented, but the Democrats attacks are harsh in their extreme given all we have accomplished in so little time. We have had big victories so far in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon (when the Syrians pulled out) and in Libya when they gave up their nuclear weapons program.
Read DJ Drummond's post again, and tell me how the Democrats current direction is going to lead to a long term advantage to our county.

Just saw it on Powerline. W... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Just saw it on Powerline. Wonder what Reid/Pelosi are going to say. Edwards didn't believe that there is a global war on terror?

Two more senior al Qaeda leaders have been killed in Iraq. Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq, was killed in an engagement with American and Iraqi troops, according to Iraq's deputy interior minister.

Meanwhile, DNA tests apparently have confirmed the death of Muharib Abdul Latif al-Jubouri, the "senior minister of information" for al Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Jabouri has reportedly been responsible for a number of kidnappings and murders. It was not clear whether these two men were killed in the same engagement, or on different occasions, but both were reported to have been killed north of Baghdad.

DJ: This is a very thought... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

DJ: This is a very thought-provoking commentary. Good job.

However, I don't agree with you about the nature of the threat and have posted a link to your article and my response over on Blue.

Here's the link: http://wizbangblue.com/2007/05/03/a-global-war.php

I hope you, and others will come over and discuss it.

The Worst-Case scenario ... (Below threshold)

The Worst-Case scenario may at first appear to be relatively mild; despite claims of failure, the campaign in Iraq has been significant in eliminating Al Qaeda's infrastructure and many of its key leadership.

On the contrary, Iraq has now become a major Al Qaeda base of operations.

The Republicans are generally determined to remove the threat, even if it is necessary for the United States to act alone in that mission.

Maybe so, but if they don't know how to do that then they are no better than do-nothing Democrats. I cite Iraq as a perfect example. On 9/11 we were attacked by fundamentalist Sunni Islamic extremists. In response, Bush attacks Iraq which was a secular, modernist, mostly Shiite country. No matter how you try to spin it that just doesn't make any sense.

If the Republicans wanted to take the fight to the heart of the enemy (after Afghanistan) they would have taken on Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Especially Pakistan. Just ask the Brits about the Pakistanis.

On 9/11 we were at... (Below threshold)
Eric Forhan:
On 9/11 we were attacked by fundamentalist Sunni Islamic extremists. In response, Bush attacks Iraq which was a secular, modernist, mostly Shiite country. No matter how you try to spin it that just doesn't make any sense.

Hogwash. The spin is in that paragraph.

Afghanistan was attacked "in response" to 9/11.

sean nyc/aaMy ... (Below threshold)
marc:

sean nyc/aa

My point is if we want to reduce the expansion of terrorism and sway the moderate Muslims from choosing that route by demonstrating that America is a force for good in the world, then good will, humanitarian aid, and economic development are important.

Your point is pointless, been there.... done that!

The billions spent supporting the Palestinians, billions spent in Ache Provence after the tsunami (private and Gov. funds), billions spent in Bam (private and Gov. funds), Iran after the earthquake, billions spent during and after "Maggie's War" in Serbia (when will the Dems pull the funding for that quagmire?), billions spent on foriegn aid to Egypt ...etc... etc!

Remind me again what your point was.

On the contrary, Iraq has n... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

On the contrary, Iraq has now become a major Al Qaeda base of operations.
-------------------------------------------------
Why it becomes a major base? Because the terrorists consider IRAQ a MAJOR STRATEGIC FRONT. Otherwise, they wouldn't come there, would they?

If the Republicans wanted to take the fight to the heart of the enemy (after Afghanistan) they would have taken on Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Especially Pakistan. Just ask the Brits about the Pakistanis.
-------------------------------------------------
On what basis would you attack Saudi Arabia and Pakistan? Saddam violated all the UN resolutions in the book for years. Oh, liberals now advocate ignoring "international laws" now. If you say that the UN (and international courts) are useless and corrupt, and we should ignore them (better kick that corrupt UN out of the US), I would agree with you. Finally, do we have an agreement about the useless UN (and their resolutions)?

Larkin-Here's your... (Below threshold)
Rory:

Larkin-

Here's your quote-

If the Republicans wanted to take the fight to the heart of the enemy (after Afghanistan) they would have taken on Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Especially Pakistan.

What are you selling here? That Democrats would have supported that?

Let's see Democrats don't support the war in Iraq-

Even though Saddam murdered hundreds of thousands.

Even though he chemically gassed a minority group.

Even though he killed upwards of 300,000 children.

Even though he had previously invaded another country.

Even though we had a long protacted unresolved sufficiently prior war with him.

Even though he would not co-operate with world bodies or the Liberal darling-the UN.

Even though he shot at US aircraft during the containment effort.

Even though he got around UN , US and Euro sanctions with the Oil for Food scam.

In comparison what have Saudi Arabia and Pakistan done?

Yet according to you Republicans should have invaded Saudi Arabia and Pakistan....and Democrats would have had an easier time with that...

Trust me on this one. If w... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

Trust me on this one. If we had not deposed Saddam and had limited our involvement with Afghanistan, the lefties would be railing against our being there. They appear to be against any defense of the United States for any reason. They opposed the first Gulf war. In fact they have opposed any and all defense of the United States. Why? Is their agenda that they hope to gain dominance from a weakened America? In school they teach history to show America wrong on every turn. I think we need a new civil war in the United States to rid ourselves of this scum. It is not that they express their opinions, they denigrate the opinions of others, lie, shout down opposing points of view. These are the tactics of the communists. They did come here after the loss in Viet Nam. They just have not assended to power. If we lose in Iraq, or leave prmaturely, the jehadis will follow us home. Our borders are porous. Imagine what it would be like if we experienced what the Iraqis deal with every day. If we do not stop them there, we will have to deal with it here. I am not saying we need to burn mosques now, but we should demand allegiance from all those who live here. I mean all.

Wasn't Kennedy, et al, decl... (Below threshold)
Eric Forhan:

Wasn't Kennedy, et al, declaring Afghanistan a "quagmire" pre-Iraq invasion?

For better or worse, Pre... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

For better or worse, President George W. Bush has engaged the United States in a war to address the strategic threat from Islamist Middle-East-based terrorism.

If Bush's main goal was to address the threat from Islamic terrorists, as you assert, then why did we invade a nation of 26 million people who did not necessarily agree with, or support terrorism? Do you really believe that a massive land invasion was necessary? Do believe that disrupting the Iraqi infrastructure, disbanding thousands of soldiers, and putting thousands of people out of work--thousands of innocent people--really did anything to address terrorism? It seems to me that it just pissed a lot of people off, and made them feel a certain enmity toward the United States. I personally think that it has severely damaged our cause.

What you have to consider is the possibility that many Iraqis did not support terrorism, yet still had to pay a large price due to the way that we have gone about this whole ordeal. By large price I mean death, of course.

I know that conservatives love to hate Chomsky, but I am going to rephrase one of his analogies--just for fun. Why is it that the United States felt there was no need to invade and bomb the home state of Timothy McVeigh after the OKC bombing? Because, of course, such an action would cause severe harm to thousands of people who HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TERRORIST ACTS, and therefore exacerbate the entire situation. Instead, of course, we dealt with McVeigh and those aligned with him specifically, and did not level entire neighborhoods based upon geographic proximity or assumed affiliations.

If Bush was really trying to address terrorism in the Middle East, then he would not have gone about things the way he has. If he was, then our actions would more closely resemble the ways that we prosecuted McVeigh. This is the reason why I don't buy your assertion that Bush, and the United States in general, invaded Iraq in order to address terrorism.

We invaded Iraq because the region holds immense geopolitical importance. The invasion was a strategic decision aimed at gaining more control and power in a region that is highly valued on the world stage.

The primacy of American power is also a major consideration and ideal in Republican thought, as opposed to the Democrats' belief in a devaluation of American power in order to create what might be called 'a community of equals'.

Here is where we disagree most, in my opinion, since I do not harbor a belief in the "primacy of American power." This is one of my fundamental disagreements with Republican thought as you frame it. This kind of thinking strikes me as particularly egocentric, fanatical, and dangerous. It is also the kind of PNAC thinking that allowed for the current war in which we are embattled, where one of the main goals was this assertion of American "might and right." It reeks of the thinking and language of an imperial and colonial past--notions which are supposedly long defunct in these days of "freedom" and "democracy." Apparently not.





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