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Giuliani For...Mayor
Many the right are practically wetting themselves over the idea of Giuliani as a foreign policy expert. Jonathan Chait, writing in the LA Times, gets why the "tough-guy swagger" appeals, but reminds that the guy isn't quite the expert his swooning Republican fans see him to be:

I do know that a tough policy against the homeless is not a good proxy for the conduct of foreign policy.

If having a macho swagger and talking tough about bad guys were enough to make a good commander in chief, we wouldn't have the worst foreign policy disaster in U.S. history on our hands right now in Iraq. And, need I remind anybody, one of the reasons Giuliani hasn't been able to fulfill his Bin Laden execution fantasy is that Bush allowed the Al Qaeda leader to escape at Tora Bora by using Afghan proxies instead of U.S. ground troops.

As I noted in this space last week, conservative foreign policy consists increasingly of abstract notions divorced from reality. In preparing for last week's House debate over the Iraq troop surge, the Republican leadership instructed its members in a memo: "The debate should not be about the surge or its details. This debate should not even be about the Iraq war to date, mistakes that have been made or whether we can, or cannot, win militarily. If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose."

So they're strong on foreign policy, except insofar as it involves actual policy. They tend to be much better, however, at comparing themselves to figures such as Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln. They make such comparisons incessantly. Last week, Giuliani said that Lincoln had "that ability that a leader has — a leader like George Bush, a leader like Ronald Reagan — to look into the future."

A few days later, the New York Times revealed that the 2002 postwar plan for Iraq envisioned a broadly representative Iraqi government, an intact Iraqi army and just a handful of U.S. troops remaining. I would say this is not a good job of looking into the future.

Well, if not Giuliani for president, how about...Bill Richardson?

Huh?

Well, read what Yglesias has to say about him:

We'll leave aside, momentarily, the fact that Richardson is clearly more qualified for the White House than anyone else in the race, since everyone knows that doesn't matter. Just consider the bare fact that he's the popular, second-term governor of a swing state -- you know, the sort of person who back in the day used to win presidential elections. And it's not as if Richardson isn't getting attention because the field is crowded with popular second-term governors of swing states. No. We're too excited about the first-term senator from Illinois whose only competitive election in the past was against Bobby Rush -- and who lost. Or that vice presidential nominee from a losing ticket.

The aforementioned Wikipedia article also notes that, as governor, Richardson "has been lauded by traditionally right-leaning publications and organizations such as Forbes Magazine and the Cato Institute for reforming New Mexico's economy," traditionally the sort of thing that would create some buzz given that we are, after all, talking about a fairly progressive Democrat.

Here's something else you might expect to garner some buzz: If that same Democrat also found some spare time in January to broker a cease-fire between the government of Sudan and some major rebel factions in Darfur. That kind of person might be someone who understands that these sort of humanitarian tragedies can't just be ended purely through righteous indignation.

But now we're getting back to the small matter of qualifications. Traditionally, Americans have turned to governors to serve as president, thinking that experience in executive office and with complicated managerial tasks outweighs the experience with federal policy issues that members of Congress can count in their favor. Happily, Richardson spent over a decade in the House of Representatives before becoming governor. In between, he was America's ambassador the United Nations, wracking up a level of national security experience that none of the other contenders can match. And did I mention he was also Secretary of Energy? Too bad nobody thinks energy independence and global climate change are important policy areas in which it would be good for the chief executive to have some knowledge. Oh, well.

Eventually, I found Richardson's speech. I didn't agree with all of it -- in particular the parts about Russia and intellectual property. But in a world where an arrogant gasbag like Joe Biden gets a reputation as knowledgeable about foreign policy, Richardson looks like George Kennan.

Richardson's speech is here. And here's a previous entry on do-it-yourself diplomacy by Bill Richardson. One big problem for him -- he doesn't have that cowboy swagger of Bush and Giuliani. Many Americans seem to vote for president based on who they'd most like to have a beer with. Richardson, in photographs, looks, well, stubby, sweaty, and unpresidential. Then again, he should pick up a good bit of the Latino vote, as he's half Mexican, and speaks Spanish.

As for V.P.? Well, let's find out a little more about Rocky, shall we?

Posted by aalkon at February 21, 2007 1:53 PM

Comments

I read the Chait piece over Salmon Benedict on Sunday. Hating it so much made the hollandaise even tangier. Writing about "swagger" with a 1977-vintage Alan Alda tone of voice may not sell all that well. Dems and others are always trying to pretend the problem was Bin Laden and not Binladenism. It would be fun to catch Osama, but not especially. Life hasn't changed much for the better in the six weeks since Saddam died.

Mainly, Chait's point seemed to be to tar the Hizzoner with responsibility for failure in Iraq, which will be difficult. Democrats can't let go of their hate, it's all they have: They can't understand that Bush is not running for re-election in 2008. They want to repeal the 22nd, just for the pleasure of kicking his ass.

Here's a better piece on Rudy:

http://www.reason.com/news/show/33171.html

I want Condi to be the next president. It would be a tremendous message for the world about who we are for a black woman to sit in the Big Chair. She may not have any distinctive qualifications, but after you've had to vote for Dubya twice, you feel like you can for whoever you want for whatever reason you want. Besides, how is she less qualified than any other candidate? She's run huge public institutions and she's worked at the top levels of business. And she'd prove to the world that aging singles rock hard. And she's musical.

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 8:34 AM

One friend, an ex-New Yorker, has already told me she's voting for Giuliani. It inspired me to go back and get the link to the piece, which I read on Saturday at the no-cell-phones-allowed cafe.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 21, 2007 8:47 AM

And I don't want a woman president, or a black president, simply the most qualified person for the job.

She's musical?

Crid, are you about to break out in show tunes? Let us know, we'll send over a thermometer and a couple ice packs.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 21, 2007 8:48 AM

Of course, Condi was a terrible national security advisor (Fred Kaplan makes a good case here). And is tainted by association with the inept Bush administration. Therefore a non-starter, in my book. She also has said she won't run, but that's meaningless.

I agree that serious-minded people should pay attention to Richardson, certainly over charismatic lightweights like Obama - the man can give an amazing prepared speech, but doesn't seem to have it when speaking extemporaneously, which to me indicates he doesn't really understand the details all that well (contrast with, e.g., Bill Clinton or Newt Gingrich, who can do this all day and be entertaining at the same time) - or divisive but serious figures such as Hillary. I think that Giuliani could be trusted not to screw things up too badly, as could McCain. But I really don't want the next president to have to listen to fools like Grover Norquist, Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. A centrist Democrat with foreign policy cred, like Richardson, makes sense to me.

Posted by: justin case at February 21, 2007 8:55 AM

> simply the most qualified
> person for the job.

Right. I also want a pony. And a treehouse. And Reece's Peanut Butter Cups for dinner on school nights.

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 8:58 AM

Crid, did Julie Andrews come to you in a dream last night?

Speaking of image-based voting, I think too many people are drooling over Rice because she's black and a woman.

Just what we needed these past few years: a cold-war expert.

No wonder the administration seemed a bit clueless as to the fact that there aren't just a bunch of Arabs running around over there, but Sunnis and Shiites, among others. And the Sunnis and Shiites aren't too fond of each other.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 21, 2007 9:07 AM

The Kaplan piece is weak in a half-dozen ways... First of all...

> To call this distinction "academic"
> would be an insult to academia.

We should never pass up an opportunity.

At work and don't have the time, but I think it's ridiculous to imagine that the NSA, in her first year of service, should have pulled better patterns of info out of squabbling spook agencues. Fuck the spooks.

More later

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 9:13 AM

There may be a slight problem with Condi, Crid.

She is too much of the eager 'staffer' personality to be POTUS. The only time, Rice has ever taken a strong position was during the 9/11 Commission hearings when she was being question on her lack of briefings during the summer of 2001. Because she was being personally attacked by a 9/11 Commish member. Another problem, she is too academic to become POTUS. Who was the last professor to become President? Woodrow Wilson.

I do agree that Democrats need to dump the Hate Bush message as soon as possible. If they want to win in 2008... the Dems are going to need to embrace a new positive mythology of America in the 21st Century. Similar to JFK's New Frontier and Reagan's Shining City on a Hill messages. Not the Great Society or Nixon's New American Revolution of expanded government entitlement projects. The real test will be on national security, foreign policy and distancing themselves from the professional anti-war movement within the Party. Of course that will not happen until after the primaries.

Posted by: Joe at February 21, 2007 9:16 AM

> Just what we needed these past
> few years: a cold-war expert.

Are these problems not rooted in those years? I can't find a metaphor for the weirdness of this complaint. Who else you got?

The best person for job is Mr. Gates, but he's busy with bigger projects. We have to work with those who are available.

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 9:17 AM

Gates, as in Bill? A Giuliani-like choice, minus the swagger.

And I agree with Joe about Rice: She's the good student who gets an A for doing the homework, but is a follower of directions, not a leader or a big thinker.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 21, 2007 9:32 AM

"...the inept Bush administration."

Try asking Saddam how inept it is. Oh, that's right, you can't.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at February 21, 2007 9:34 AM

I'm leaning towards Giuliani too. Mitt Romney has the whole LDS baggage to become POTUS. I could change my mind if he promises to end Morman Missionaries knocking on my door on Saturday mornings.

Posted by: Joe at February 21, 2007 9:37 AM

Let's try asking some Iraqis who are still alive, eh?

http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

Posted by: deja pseu at February 21, 2007 9:37 AM

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 21, 2007 9:43 AM

Quick perusal of link: What's the point? People got raped in Iraq before invasion, too... Often by Uday, and often in their bridal veils.

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 9:56 AM

OIC... Sorry, work is interfereing with blog enjoyment.

To answer the last point, yes, American's soldiers lives are more important than those of other kinds of people.

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 9:58 AM

Try asking Saddam how inept it is. Oh, that's right, you can't.

You saw the hanging video, right? The dark, low rez film, with people chanting the name of a radical cleric who hates us (Al Sadr) in the background, the one that looks just like the snuff films sent out by terrorist organizations who behead Americans? This is eptness (or eptitude...)?

Posted by: justin case at February 21, 2007 10:00 AM

Between Obama, Hillary, Edwards, McCain, and Rudy, '08 is shaping up to be a pretty vacuous contest among pretty personalities (or as pretty as politicians get).

I'll give this to the contending Dems, at least they stand for something. Each one can't issue a universal health care proclamation fast enough. Which means, of course, they've already lost my vote.

Which leaves me with McCain and Rudy. Sigh. A one-trick pony (no really, campaign finance reform and aging boxers really are the most important issues facing America) and a man whose last office required all the managerial skill of a daytime drama.

Will a Republican out there please stand for something? Anything?

Posted by: snakeman99 at February 21, 2007 10:06 AM

The link appears to be from someone who took classes in how to blame Americans for everything.

Forty Iraqis a day are dying because of America? Wow, we have such power. Who should we do this to next? How about China, they might have too many people. We could go in there and get them to start killing each other, and reduce the surplus population. We have that power, evidently.

Posted by: doombuggy at February 21, 2007 10:10 AM

The article is a rigged parlay. Too much there to fisk. Probably why I don't waste my life reading the Times on either coast... pseudo-intellectual claptrap.

I'm not for Condi for any of the "reasons" listed above. Everything needed in the foreign policy, and national security policy fields was encompassed by the Cold War, so it's actually the perfect base for her part in the Bush administration. For POTUS, you need an understanding of retail politics, thus the Sam Rayburn line vis the Kennedy cabal, "I wish one of them had once run for county sheriff." She's smart enough to know this

G is the choice of party hacks, because he'll do well in a general if he can hold the base. If your only aim is to hold power, then he da man. Some of us desire more.

Richardson an able administrator? Loved the job he did at the AEC. Is there anything the Chinese don't know about our atomic weapons now? He's a democrat hack.

Posted by: Casca at February 21, 2007 10:33 AM

I truly sympathize with the blogger's anger.

The harsh reality is this: Most Americans, especially voters, do not care about Sunnis killing Shias. Vice versa. They do care about US soldiers dying in the middle of a sectarian war.

I knew the blood feuds would happen. Why? Would Sunni and Shias bury the hatchet and look to a future Iraq without Hussein. Highly unlikely.

What were the qualifications for any Iraqi to work for Saddam Hussein? You had to do 2 things:

1. Murder someone from your own tribe.
2. Murder someone from an opposing tribe.

That was the prerequisite before being hired. So the future employee would look to the very scary Hussein and his Ba'th tribe for protection from the 2 blood feuds. Now this has been in practice nationwide since 1979, officially. Some say it was in practice since 1968, when Hussein was the secret police chief/vice president under his cousin Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr's presidency. How many ordered executions would follow after the person was hired?

A lot of blood feuds are going to be repaid at a tremendous price before peace is achieved.

Any future POTUS is going to have to figure out:
1. Reduce the number of deaths of US soldiers without leaving the area.
2. Try to encourage a peaceful end of the insurgency between the main sectarian groups.

The first option is the only goal any POTUS needs to achieve at all costs. The second is just a symbolic gesture.

Posted by: Joe at February 21, 2007 10:42 AM

> thus the Sam Rayburn line vis
> the Kennedy cabal,

Point well taken, but Matthews and others noted that what followed was the pinnacle of retail politics, the Johnson administration. (Texans!) And look what happened. We'll always be tempted by people who haven't made a living in politics.

> lood feuds are going to be repaid
> at a tremendous price

True... Was there anyway to avoid this? As of say, 1991, 1998, or 2003?

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 10:53 AM

Yes and no, Crid.

No, if the standard skin surface Middle East foreign policy decisions on Iraq post 1991 (Iraq Liberation Act of 1998) were implemented. A less violent alternative would have been immediately replacing Hussein with a less violent genocidal strongman.

Most Americans have to understand that most leaders in the Middle East have blood on their hands. Some have bloody hands, knee deep or like Hussein chin deep in blood.

Posted by: Joe at February 21, 2007 11:01 AM

I meant replacing Hussein with a less genocidal strongman would have been a better decision.

Posted by: Joe at February 21, 2007 11:03 AM

-I truly sympathize with the blogger's anger...Most Americans, especially voters, do not care about Sunnis killing Shias-

That's why it is up to the Iraqis to care about themselves.

If we are going to start handing out blame, it seems some portion needs to go to the Iraqis who built this house of cards cut from origami paper.

It seems in this information age, the word could get out in post invasion Iraq that they now have a chance to build a society, while the US supplied a bunch of money and help.

It looks like the Iraqi opinion forming class bought AK47s and power drills instead.

There is only so much we can do.

Posted by: doombuggy at February 21, 2007 11:18 AM

I meant replacing Hussein with a less genocidal strongman would have been a better decision.

YES!

Given the bloody history of of sectarian strife in Iraq, I don't think that anything else would have been able to prevent things from ending up in a nasty civil war.

Posted by: justin case at February 21, 2007 12:15 PM

Casca,
I'm curious - is there any politician whom you favor for POTUS?

Posted by: justin case at February 21, 2007 12:19 PM

> YES!

Sheesh...

> Given the bloody history of of
> sectarian strife in Iraq...

...written mostly by exploitive colonialists....

I can't believe how eager people are to get back to those golden days of yore when the little dark ones knew their place and didn't trouble their dusky little skulls with cumbersome elections.

Yeah, that's what America should give to the world! "Less-genocidal strongmen." Perfect.

Super.

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 12:27 PM

a less genocidal strongman

Sorry, but I have to laugh at that one. Would that be 33% less genocidal, or do you think we could manage a guy who's 46% or even 62% less genocidal?

That said, anybody who knew a rat's ass about the Middle East probably could've predicted where going into Iraq, as we did, would've left us.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 21, 2007 1:27 PM

I can't believe how eager people are to get back to those golden days of yore when the little dark ones knew their place and didn't trouble their dusky little skulls with cumbersome elections.

Instead of today, when these folks primarily appear to trouble their skulls with clever ways to murder each other and also U.S. soldiers.

Look, if Iraq were a nation-state, instead of a fractious mess of people who hate each other basically stuck together out of colonial convenience, I might feel otherwise. For example, democracy might actually be workable in Iran, which is more or less a historical nation-state. But I don't see it working in Iraq, at least until post-Saddam score-settling time is over, and that ain't going to be the case for a long time.

Crid, the ideas you support here are admirable. I wish I could have greater faith in our endeavors in Iraq. But there's no data that I've encountered which suggests that these ideas are working.

Posted by: justin case at February 21, 2007 1:31 PM

Sorry, but I have to laugh at that one. Would that be 33% less genocidal, or do you think we could manage a guy who's 46% or even 62% less genocidal?

Quite funny indeed. Here's one for Crid:

How about a strongman like Mubarak? He's probably like 98% less genocidal. Locks people up at a good clip, though. Someone like that would work.

Posted by: justin case at February 21, 2007 1:36 PM

Work for who?

> no data that I've encountered
> which suggests that these ideas
> are working.

I love that wonderfully distancing language. Amy does that when she talks about waist-to-hip rations. "Sorry, but these numbers we're getting back from the field are not within the parameters you'd predicted...."

Morality is not an "idea"

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 1:40 PM

Crid or Anyone,

Would you like various nations under certain international organizations to impose democratic elections in various Middle Eastern nations through diplomatic channels or through force?

What would the outcome of these elections? Are you surprised that the Shia backed candidates won a majority in Iraq? Nouri al-Maliki is a puppet for Muqtada al-Sadr?

The dominant party in Iraq is al-Maliki's Islamic Da'wa Party. The political ideology of al-Da'wa is heavily influenced by work done by Baqr al-Sadr (executed by Hussein in 1980***) who laid out four mandatory principles of governance in his 1975 work "Islamic Political System". These were:

1. Absolute sovereignty belongs to God.
2. Islamic injunctions are the basis of legislation. The legislative authority may enact any law not repugnant to Islam.
3. The people, as vice-regents of Allah, are entrusted with legislative and executive powers.
4. The jurist holding religious authority represents Islam. By confirming legislative and executive actions, he gives them legality."

Or have a less brutal tyrant in "nations" that have never existed before 1919? Who will slowly impose reforms for education, infrastructure, women’s' rights and other forms of secularism?

-Mustafa Kemal Atatürk of Turkey
-Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia


So who would you negotiate or deal with? The Middle Eastern version of secularism or the Islamic fundamentalists? Who has a better chance of sending out REAL terrorists to the West??? Ba'thists (any M.E. secularists) or Jihadists?

In all my travels in the Middle East, there isn't a third alternative for democratic reforms based on the US or western model. I've met a few academics, but they would whisper their beliefs in very low voice with no one near us.

How would you create a less dangerous transition in area that has gone from:

1. Tribal societies to Caliphate Kingdoms
2. Partitioned territory of the Ottoman Empire.
3. To be partitioned again under the British and French after 1919
4. Then the various independence movements under the various Ba'th parties after 1946.

The two things that have been consistent during all these past centuries. Tribal societies/cultural traditions and Islam. Especially, in an age of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons are readily available. Unlike Europe's transition 500 years ago... they had cannons and black powdered rifles.

This is the reality of Iraq and the Middle East. Anyone can show me a different alternative. Democratic reform parties of the Middle East. Their first 5 year strategy on winning majorities in their particular nations. Containing Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. Delivering the basic needs for its average citizens.


***During Hussein's execution Shia guards were chanting: "Long live Mohammed Baqir Sadr!"

Posted by: Joe at February 21, 2007 1:41 PM

Ratios, not rations.

OTOH, naught-seven's been a quiet year, they might as well be rationing...

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 1:42 PM

> This is the reality...

Reality=realpolitik=cynicism, and I say to Hell with it. I don't know how to solve this, but it was good to be on the side that tried, however half-heartedly and dim-headedly, to bring them into a century at least adjacent to our own. I can't imagine taking pride in another approach. So show us how it's done, you realist you: Let's all hold hands in a circle and say it at once: "We're cutting them loose."


Finish your thought: Especially WHAT "in an age of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons"?

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 1:56 PM

Do you want the chaos inspired by the current White House's policies in the Middle East with nuclear, biological, chemical weapons available? What would have the Huguenots done to Paris if they had suitcase nuke during the French Wars of Religion? What is occurring in the Middle East is similar to Europe 500 years ago. The difference is in the technology behind the weapons.

Posted by: Joe at February 21, 2007 2:18 PM

Reality=realpolitik=cynicism, and I say to Hell with it. I don't know how to solve this, but it was good to be on the side that tried

As I said, there's an admirable quality about all of this - I'm not a "no-blood-for-oil"-er. There's an idealistic case for what was done in Iraq. Unfortunately, that idealistic case utterly neglected to consider the historical and political situation we were getting into. Things are pretty much screwed as a result of that failure to attend to reality. In your formulation, it was because we weren't cynical enough.

Posted by: justin case at February 21, 2007 2:19 PM


> the chaos inspired by
> the current White
> House's policies

This from Mr. Perspective, Brother I've-been-there-and-done-the-reading, Doctor Realism? Do you think that NBC weapons weren't going to be there for them anyway? Do you think that there will be fewer murderous reasources available from our "Middle East policies" once our troops are out of Iraq? At this hour, if only by the ebb of history, there aren't so many there...

...Not that it matters. 9/11 demonstrated that a murderous heart, armed only with a 70-cent box cutter, was what was necessary to grievously wound a culture on the other side of the globe. Bush tried to get in and fix things while evil hearts with sidearms and IED's were all we'd have to face. In no scenario yet described were there ever, ever going to be fewer WMD's in the Middle East's future.

I'm still stunned, stunned, that you think that Iraq's present condition is a product of Dubya's impulses.

> Things are pretty much screwed
> as a result of that failure
> to attend to reality

Whereas what you'd proposed all along was that we should... What? In what year did you propose a more humane, inclusive, educational infusion with these troubled cultures? Are you thirty? Then it could have been as early as Gulf War 1.

None of you has earned the graybearded, musty-scented Father Time tone in which you wrap your rhetoric. If Ty & Renee want to pull some attitude about it, they've certainly earned the hearing, and we'll listen carefully; But then, we'll ask them the same thing you're being asked: How can "less genocidal strongmen" represent the blessing America can offer the world?

> there's an admirable quality

Golda said: "Don't be so humble. You're not that great."

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 3:16 PM

Because we're onna blog, dammit! Fucked metaphors and goofy spellings are the coin of the relm!

In person, it's even werse.

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 3:41 PM

The flavor of this blog, amongst those who throw around opinions of the conduct of this war grates the sensibilities. Second-guessing is the luxury of amateurs. As wars go, it has been well executed, and there was no other choice but to unleash the dogs of war. The pity is that the American people elected William Jefferson Blythe. I prefer his real name. The product of which was eight years of foreign/national security policy inaction, which put us in this spot of waging a savage war of peace. If you think you know what is going on in Iraq, or what is thought inside the White House, I promise, you don't.

Posted by: Casca at February 21, 2007 3:44 PM

Whereas what you'd proposed all along was that we should... What? In what year did you propose a more humane, inclusive, educational infusion with these troubled cultures? Are you thirty? Then it could have been as early as Gulf War 1.

I feel like we've discussed this before.

In general, I pretty much could have left Iraq to do whatever it was doing (I know, pre-9/11 thinking and all that - which as an aside, is what makes these debates generally unproductive... different premises... I think Iraq could have been ignored, and you do not). Secular tyrants like Saddam (and Muammar al-Gaddafi) can be managed through judicious force, sanctions, etc. - certainly much more so than dozens of fanatical militias. I know, utterly cynical, but it seemed to work better than what we've done now.

But then, we'll ask them the same thing you're being asked: How can "less genocidal strongmen" represent the blessing America can offer the world?

Can I ask you the same about years of bloody civil war? That's what we've done this time.

The most likely thing now is that Iraq will remain a bloodbath until a Shiite strongman gets enough power to control the militias. Most Sunnis will leave the country or be killed. Kurdistan will be in some sort of weird limbo, under our protection (not quite its own country, kinda like it was during the final years of the Saddam regime). The rest of Iraq will be Iran's new client state.

America's blessing to the world, indeed.

I hope I'm wrong, I really do.

Posted by: justin case at February 21, 2007 4:48 PM

Saddam was getting less secular. And we can always start ignoring it now, right? Dubya didn't put these murderous impulses into the population. The nukes were coming anyway.

> America's blessing to the world, indeed.

So again, you were very hopeful about their future. Oil-for-food was having a POSITIVE effect, you say....

> I hope I'm wrong, I really do.

Have faith.

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2007 4:54 PM

So again, you were very hopeful about their future. Oil-for-food was having a POSITIVE effect, you say....

Now come on. Does ANYONE think this?

Have faith.

It ain't easy.

The product of which was eight years of foreign/national security policy inaction

Damn right, Casca. Bill and Newt did a pretty decent job running things domestically, but Clinton was always kinda clueless about how to use American power.

Posted by: justin case at February 21, 2007 5:16 PM

Right now, the violence is over who is going to take over the non Kurdish regions of southern Iraq and Baghdad. The US soldiers are in the way of the sectarian violence. Who benefits by a Shia backed non Kurdish Iraq? Who will they target next when the Sunnis give up?

The violence will spread to other regions. The semi-independent Kurdistan will be next, because they are seen as a puppet of the US. So do not be surprised when Kurdish militias perform a pre-emptive strike in the south. What will Iran do next? They are more threatened of a united Kurdistan. It also hampers the greater Iran policy of Ahmadinejad. The boys of Tehran want a Shia controlled Iraq, because they want to control the oil distribution between the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. Iran will act more boldly militarily because of their imminent economic collapse within the next 50 years. In the area of:

1. Iran has one of the lowest birthrates of any Muslim nation.
2. The lack of pension plans for their elderly.
3. Right now the elderly population of Iran is about 7%. In less than 50 years it will jump to 30%.

Lower birthrates, lack of pension plans and an increasing elderly population doesn't sound like a bright future for Iran. So don't be surprise by any 'neo-con' like adventures from Ahmadinejad or any other successor from his Abadgaran party. I haven’t even discussed the legislation that the Abadgaran party has been proposing on depopulating various villages. Relocating the populations to various cities. Forced child reproduction practices that would increase Iran’s population.

Yes, Hussein was getting less secular after 1998. It was an appeasement measure along with a portion of the money from the Oil For Food program to bribe the various Shia leaders in the south.

Posted by: Joe at February 21, 2007 5:24 PM

Hey, wait a sec. Has everyone forgotten that Condi is a LIAR? Oh, sorry, guess that passes for a qualification these days.

Posted by: Marie at February 21, 2007 11:54 PM

I thought the conservatives had taken leave of their collective senses when they were dancing over the possibility of Guiliani getting the party nomination. He's pro-choice, pro-gay rights and pro-gun control. Good luck getting your religious right base to rally around him.

Posted by: Patrick at February 22, 2007 12:19 AM

Best recent Condi...shall we say...spin...was from Wednesday: the notion that the British pulling out a whole bunch of troops is a sign that we're succeeding in Iraq.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 1:08 AM

> Has everyone forgotten that
> Condi is a LIAR?

The capitalization is a nice touch. It's like saying she has COOTIES! A kindergarden part of the spirit snaps to attention, combs down its cowlick and goes into shun mode... Must not hang with Condi... Condi is a LIAR... Must not be friends with Condi... Must not push merry-go-round with Condi...

It seemed silly when they did that to Clinton ten years ago, it's silly now.

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 7:22 AM

Amy, when you say things like that, you just come off as supercilious and ignorant at the same time. Troop levels are ALWAYS in flux. At one time the Brits had 40k troops there. Now they're at 7400, and planning on drawing down to 5500, while maintaining their responsibilities in country. How is this a failure? Why are you so invested in anything that makes this administration look bad? Your attitude vis our efforts in Iraq is contemptable.

Posted by: Casca at February 22, 2007 7:22 AM

Do you really think pulling out that many of their troops...leaving us to take care of Iraq, is really a sign of success? I'd say it's a sign of Tony Blair not wanting to totally fuck his party.

I compliment this administration when they do things right -- health care deductions for people like me. They are anti-science, and made a huge blunder by going into Iraq, and by going in half-ass as they did, and continuing to have the troops that are there short on armor. I totally supported them going into Afghanistan and going after Bin Laden, and not dividing our troops to go after Saddam Hussein. Why is that a "contemptible" viewpoint? Why isn't yours the viewpoint that's contemptible - supporting the administration no matter what.

I'm not a Democrat, nor am I a Republican. I'm a common-sense moderate, fiscal conservative/social libertarian who voted for Schwarzenegger twice.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 7:54 AM

But, don't take my word for it. There's this, by Kim Murphy, in the LA Times:

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-fg-brits22feb22,1,4360133.story?coll=la-headlines-frontpage

Britain's decision to pull 1,600 troops out of Iraq by spring, touted by U.S. and British leaders as a turning point in Iraqi sovereignty, was widely seen Wednesday as a telling admission that the British military could no longer sustain simultaneous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The British military is approaching "operational failure," former defense staff chief Charles Guthrie warned this week.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 10:24 AM

"widely seen"?

"former defense staff chief"?

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 11:14 AM

"Do you really think pulling out that many of their troops...leaving us to take care of Iraq, is really a sign of success? I'd say it's a sign of Tony Blair not wanting to totally fuck his party."

Their participation, although welcome, has been pro forma from the beginning. We're the only force that matters. If the casualty rate of Tommys was significant, you might be able to carry off the political argument, but that is not the case. The Brits have been charged with the pacification of a homogeneous chunk of Iraq in the South, and this drawdown looks like the natural course of success in handing over responsibilities to Iraqis. If Blair was making a political play, he'd be leaving lock, stock, and barrel.

"I compliment this administration when they do things right -- health care deductions for people like me."

Grudgingly.

"They are anti-science"

Because they don't accept the kant and self-interest of the left when they try to blame humanity for the weather?

"...and made a huge blunder by going into Iraq,"

Obviously it would be much better to return to the pre-9/11 days, and stick one's head in the sand, or an acceptable orifice. We're building a bullwork against the whackos of Islam in their backyard. It will take us years to accomplish this, but it must be done. It's called dealing with the problem, instead of denying/ignoring it. To understand this though, one must understand that borders drawn on the map this war are meaningless.

"...and by going in half-ass as they did,"

How you would have screamed and gnashed your teeth had we shot looters, although that was probably the right thing to do. If you think our efforts were half-assed, you don't know what the word means. One may always quibble with the efforts and style of the man in the arena, but it is a sign of low character.

"...and continuing to have the troops that are there short on armor."

This is just an absolute lie. Nobody is going in-country without appropriate body armor. If you're talking about "underarmored" HMMV's, you'd do well to understand that they are not armored cars, and were never intended to be, and never will be.

"I totally supported them going into Afghanistan and going after Bin Laden, and not dividing our troops to go after Saddam Hussein."

Good gawd woman, we are involved in a war that reaches nearly every continent in this world. In some places conventional forces are involved. In others strong men willing to do violence to those who mean us harm are keeping you safe while you sleep. To not grasp this fact is to be ignorant, and to pick up the chant of the left is disloyal to those who carry the burden of war for you. In the words of Col Jessup, "I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post."

"Why is that a "contemptible" viewpoint?"

It diminishes the sacrifice of every Marine and soldier kicking the door of evil in Iraq

"Why isn't yours the viewpoint that's contemptible - supporting the administration no matter what."

I don't support the administration "no matter what". I support their willingness to grasp the nettle, and do the hard work of freedom in the GWoT.

"I'm not a Democrat, nor am I a Republican. I'm a common-sense moderate, fiscal conservative/social libertarian who voted for Schwarzenegger twice."

You're a member of the mushy mass in the middle, who don't understand that there are only two levers of power in our political system, and while one's views may be eclectic, one's choices are not. To diminish any effort in the GWoT is to empower our enemies, and our indiginous enemy the American left, which is the body of the Democratic Party today, as it has been since they tried to maintain slavery at the cost of destroying the Republic. To attack GWB in the GWoT is no different than those who attacked Lincoln during the Civil War. Yes, he was an incompetent boob too.

Posted by: Casca at February 22, 2007 11:20 AM

> To attack GWB in the
> GWoT is no different

He's done a good job? We can't criticize the president? Listen, I think he's made a few fundamentally good moves... And 10,000 glaringly bad ones. OK to say so?

Jessup was a movie character.

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 1:16 PM

He's done a good job? We can't criticize the president? Listen, I think he's made a few fundamentally good moves... And 10,000 glaringly bad ones. OK to say so?

I agree, Crid.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 1:21 PM

Taking one small piece of an argument, actually manufacturing it, and dismissing it is a nice rhetorical trick, but it doesn't have anything to do with what I've had to say.

Congratulations on recognizing Jessup as a fictional character. The point you miss is that he reflects the opinion of 90% of the military culture in their common view of the peanut gallery that makes up the rest of America.

Posted by: Casca at February 22, 2007 2:46 PM

The point you miss is that he reflects the opinion of 90% of the military culture in their common view of the peanut gallery that makes up the rest of America.

If this is the case, it must be weird defending people for whom you have such contempt.

Posted by: justin case at February 22, 2007 4:38 PM

> he reflects the opinion of

"He" is fictional. That means he's not real. Somebody made him up. It's a movie character, which is kind of like a TV show. These are imaginary constructions designed to amuse or distract you, so that you'll buy a ticket or sit and watch a commercial. The people who produce these presentations try to stimulate your feelings so that you'll tune in next week or buy the DVD. You shouldn't take it personally... Until you've opened your wallet. Alway remember, and this is a lessen we should teach to kindergartners: They get to keep the money.

> 90% of the military culture

The military's merely the pointy part of the spear. What you call the peanut gallery is the shaft, the much greater mass that sinks the wound. Military types are public servants in the worst way. They do precisely what they're told, or they get shitcanned. They're not elected, and barely selected. It's not like we're going to trust their judgment on what should be accomplished, or how it should be accomplished. The military takes orders.

(Better film critics than me have noted that the beauty of that scene is how deftly actor Jack [the indulgent, decadent baby boom heathen] outperforms actor Tom [the supersober, disciplined Gen-X careerist].)

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 5:32 PM

It must be hell to think that many Democratic candidates are veterans : and at the same time practice the delusion they are incompetent on defense. What is so great about chasing mirages in the desert while pissing off the Russkies ? I spent decades listening to fear of the great Communist Conspiracy - what a load of bunkum that was - and don't understand how people are taking this latest marketing campaign seriously.
And when a bunch of crazy Saudis suicide by taking planeloads of Americans with them - that has damnall to do with I fucking raq.

Posted by: opit at February 22, 2007 9:46 PM

Ignorant, condescending, blithering that still fails to refute or question what I've said.

Posted by: Casca at February 23, 2007 9:32 AM

> Ignorant, condescending, blithering

yeah, so... What's you're point?

> fails to refute or question

Fightin' words!

Why speculate how movie characters would respond?

Why not answer Justin's point? The military has answered this challenge pretty much as we'd want them to, but they're not consulted about foreign policy. And given the tens of thousands of Tys and Renees out there (another pair pictured above the fold of the LAT this morning), this effort can, and probably should, "diminish" itself if it doesn't bring results.

We just don't live in the kind of country, or under the kind of constitution, that allows you or anyone else to say that an agent acting on our behalf is beyond reproach. We're Americans, and we don't do precious.

I agree with you about the Brits, the general approach to invasion, and the armor. And about the essential worthiness of a new and aggressive approach to the region. But we can be as "grudging" about this as we see fit. Many of the best people you'll ever meet are "mushy."

Posted by: Crid at February 23, 2007 10:37 AM

The answer to Justin's question is easy, and self-evident to those who've raised their right hand and taken the oath. You swear to serve and defend the Constitution, not all of the blithering idiots it protects. The downside of an all-volunteer military is that the society at large has little to no connection to the realities of military service, and even less to those who serve in the combat arms. Fuck, you don't even know what that distinction is.

Military planning isn't done in the White House. It's done by the Unified Commanders, and blessed by the SecDef acting in the stead of the CinC. These are distinctions lost on the ignorati. The truth of this small war will only be known when the insiders write their books ten years after. Thus is it ever.

Fictional characters serve as composite representations of reality. To the extent they are popular, they represent truth, and people self-identify. People don't watch that movie to see the twisted midget perform. They watch it to see Nicholson's Jessup.

I'd like to hear Amy say something more intelligent than, "What Crid said". Although, if you take any enlightenment from my comments, I'm content.

Finally, do yourself a favor, and quit reading The Times on either coast. Their agenda is self-serving, and on the wrong side of history.

Posted by: Casca at February 24, 2007 8:14 AM

> Fuck, you don't even know
> what that distinction is

What distinction? Be CLEAR, son.

> To the extent they are popular,
> they represent truth,

Naw. Batman and Forrest Gump were really big films, but those guys don't exist. The whole point is that movies can give you satisfying feelings that aren't appropriate in real life.

> quit reading The Times

Twice a month, if only to appreciate how weird it's going to get when Geffen takes over.

Posted by: Crid at February 24, 2007 8:41 AM

Besides:

> the peanut gallery that makes up
> the rest of America.

That's a little cartsy-horsey, doncha think? Who's working for who?

Posted by: Crid at February 24, 2007 8:44 AM

If you're confused, you should attempt to read more carefully. The distinction is between those who serve, those who scarifice, and those who do both.

Tedious arguments of incidious intent, your attempt at reductio ad absurdum is invalid. There is a distinction between fiction, and fantasy.

Posted by: Casca at February 24, 2007 9:09 AM

> arguments of incidious intent,
> your attempt at reductio

Don't write like a girl!

> To diminish any effort in the
> GWoT is to empower our enemies,

If our superiority is so brittle that we can't critique ourselves without losing, then we deserve to lose. Your "gallery" is not the noise of America's freedom; it's the signal.

> those who attacked Lincoln

This is a tough room for selling comparisons of Honest Abe and Chimpy McFlightsuit, but I appreciate the effort.

Posted by: Crid at February 24, 2007 10:02 AM

You're all over the map. You shouldn't comment after the fifth cocktail.

Posted by: Casca at February 24, 2007 10:06 PM

Are you people all narcissistic morons? The article was about Bill Richardson and a campaign for a moral, intellectual president and the role the weak minded columnist's idea of "swagger" factored into that. Try not to reinforce America's stereotype of the obnoxious New Yorker ok? People Google this, dumbass.

Posted by: Bobby at February 28, 2007 5:10 PM

But, swagger and image is enormously important to a lot of Americans. I probably am narcissistic, but what does pointing out a problem in the superficiality of the American voter have to do with that?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 28, 2007 5:21 PM

Posted by: Bobby at March 6, 2007 4:59 PM

Thanks boys
870b75bfdb28242e5b133f1f8bc3c7bc

Posted by: Hello people at February 1, 2008 6:03 AM

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