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We'll Be Invading Iran Today
Cheney can't claim he's not of the executive branch today, because he'll be president while doctors are giving the president a colonoscopy. Here's hoping he just keeps the seat warm for the usual terrorism-fomenting doofus in charge.

Now, this isn't my idea, but I read it somewhere -- somebody complaining that we go through this huge vetting process during the election to pick the president, then he just plucks the VP out of his hat without anybody giving the VP much scrutiny. My idea: Perhaps we should get more of a selection for VP; i.e., instead of having candidates appoint the VP, each candidate would give us a few choices and let us vote. Bringing competition to the VP race might add a bit of much-needed oversight. (Of course, there is that caveat that it's the public electing the person -- and remember, even Paris Hilton votes!)

Posted by aalkon at July 21, 2007 10:20 AM

Comments

> the usual terrorism-fomenting

So terrorism is created by resistance to it, huh?

What a paradox. Golly.

Who says veeps aren't scrutinized? These are some of the most deeply and broadly vetted resumes in history.

Listen, I think thoughtful critics can productive brutalize Bush by several paths. But he didn't pull a fast one with Cheney: People had to vote for them both. Cheney had spent much of the previous three decades in polical service at the national level. People knew who he was.

Posted by: Crid at July 21, 2007 6:55 AM

The Founders has a pretty good solution for the VP spot. The loser/second place position of the POTUS election would become the Vice President.

Under the original terms of the US Constitution, the Electoral College would only vote on the President and never the VP. Two people would be nominated and voted on. First place winner would POTUS and second place would be the VPOTUS. If there wasn't a clear winner for President, then the House of Reps would pick the 5 candidates that had the largest amount of votes. Each state would get one vote and the one with the most votes would be President. The second place winner would be VP. It there was a tie for second place, then the Senate would vote on the VP spot.

The Founders never put into consideration the rise of political parties and the eventual corruption of the system that is associated with entrenched party structures.

Posted by: Joe at July 21, 2007 6:58 AM

We should've been in Afghanistan, not Iraq.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 21, 2007 7:02 AM

And here we are bloviating about the President again, because we just can't figure out what the job of our Congress is. Hint: it's in the Constitution. Hint: it's not pretending to be concerned. It involves action.

Posted by: Radwaste at July 21, 2007 7:05 AM

Absolutely, there should be a non-partisan restoration movement to hand back most of the 'Executive Privilege' powers back to Congress.

Posted by: Joe at July 21, 2007 7:24 AM

> We should've been in Afghanistan

We were! And are, and are probably never getting out.

I don't think disproportionate presidential power is going to fade soon. People enjoyed loving Clinton too much and hating Bush too much to release that model of how things work. They're more inclined to judge executive personalities with the eyes honed by TV-watching than to compose sensible report-card tallies of legislative competence.

Posted by: Crid at July 21, 2007 7:39 AM

They're more inclined to judge executive personalities with the eyes honed by TV-watching than to compose sensible report-card tallies of legislative competence.

Which most certainly does not bode well for future elections, now does it?

Posted by: Flynne at July 21, 2007 8:59 AM

mmm.... errr.... mmmm... ahhh...

Tough call, but... If there was one populace I'd want saddled with the responsibilities and opportunities of democracy, it would be the American electorate.

Rad's frequent complaints about this are spot on. The executive gets too much attention in modern politics. (I think this is mostly a function of newfangled media economics [print & TV].) But we shouldn't be too eager for structural changes... Babies & bathwater, etc.

Posted by: Crid at July 21, 2007 9:15 AM

It gave me much glee yesterday to know that Dubya was going through the torture of preparing his colon for inspection. Having just recently been subjected to it personally, I was going "Take THAT for your stupid war! THAT for supplying arms to israel! THAT for your lies about yellowcake!! THAT for Valerie Plame!!!!..." etc. Very satisfying.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at July 21, 2007 9:27 AM

Okay, I'll rephrase: Our full focus should have been on Afghanistan and going after the terrorists there.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 21, 2007 9:45 AM

Remember the old joke "Nixon had to have an asshole transplant, but the asshole rejected him."

Posted by: eric at July 21, 2007 11:08 AM

Amy - you'll recall that the terrorists beat feet into Pakistan after we took out the taliban.

Are you suggesting, therefore, that we should have invaded Pakistan instead? You know, the only Islamic nation with nukes? That Pakistan?

Going after Iraq was brilliant. We weren't nearly violent enough, but it was brilliant. By completely destabilizing the middle east, we've made enough countries worried that they might be next. If we'd been a little more forceful with Iraq (see: Sadr, Fallujah, Ramadi) and had we violently turned back the Iranian invasion, we would probably not be looking at a nuclear tipped Iran in our future, and the Saudis would have already invited us back in to finish off the terrorists that they've incubated for 30 years.

Posted by: brian at July 21, 2007 11:59 AM

Brian,

I'm curious about your logic. Once the Middle East further de-stabilizes such as in northern Iraq (2 more car explosions in Kurdistan this week) Where will the Kurdish refugees go once the violence further escalates? Turkey? What will the Turkish military do to refugees flood into already heavily populated Kurdish areas in Turkey? How about they flood into heavily Kurdish areas of Syria? Two nations that have a long history of persecuting the Kurds. Let us not forget the Turkish government’s refusal of a PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) cease fire on September 28, 2006. The Turkish military has been making threats about PKK terrorist training camps in Northern Iraq. (Irish Times: “An army playing politics or flexing its muscle?" 6/14/07) Further bombings and a refugee crisis could be the reason for the Turkish Army to invade Northern Iraq.

Ever thought of that prospect? Getting your facts from certain dubious sites and sources doesn't make you an expert.

Posted by: Joe at July 21, 2007 1:05 PM

The joke going around in my country today goes like this:


Why's George Bush having a colonoscopy today?

They're looking for Tony Blair.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at July 21, 2007 3:33 PM

Going after Iraq was brilliant. We weren't nearly violent enough, but it was brilliant.

No, it wasn't. Where we should have been "violent" was in those countries that supported and harbored the people behind the attack on the Pentagon, the Twin Towers, and (potentially) the U.S. Capitol on September 11, 2001. You know (because you reference two of them), Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Last time I read the 9/11 Commission's report there was no credible evidence connecting Iraq to the same.

Posted by: Rebecca at July 21, 2007 5:41 PM

The joke going around in my country today goes like this:

Why's George Bush having a colonoscopy today?

They're looking for Tony Blair.

My own joke would be a speculative finding. "It doesn't seem possible, but the man is 100% asshole!"

Posted by: Patrick at July 21, 2007 7:42 PM

Steps should have been taken -- militarily or diplomatically, whatever it took -- to get bin Laden when he WAS in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 21, 2007 7:47 PM

Amy - What diplomatic steps could have been taking with Afghanistan? And we tried the military route, but once he went to ground, nothing short of a nuclear barrage was gonna get him. Luckily, his kidney disease seems to have gotten him for us. And do you honestly think for one femtosecond that "getting" bin Laden would change one fucking thing in the Islamist movement? Seriously.

Joe - The Turks are going to go after the Kurds at some point. They still haven't owned up to the Armenian genocide, and prosecute anyone bold enough to bring the topic up in Turkey. If we "stabilize" Iraq into a single cohesive country, we might prevent the Kurds from creating "greater Kurdistan" for a while. Otherwise, all bets are off, and that little declaration gets them into a pissing match with both Iran AND Turkey.

Most of the problems to come in the middle east were/are inevitable. The Kurds will probably be wiped out in a generation without some strong presence from the US. The internecine warfare between Sunni and Shia is likewise inevitable.

I'm not interested in the bit players, Joe. I've also never claimed to be an expert. But allowing the middle east to remain "stable" with leaders like Hussein was inherently dangerous. You really ought to dial back on the snark. You aren't necessarily the smartest boy in the room just because you've spent time in the middle east. Joe Wilson spent lots of time in Niger, and didn't know shit.

Rebecca - Thought Experiment for you. Consider the immediate (T+72h) aftermath of an invasion into Saudi Arabia. Keep in mind the rumors that their entire oil infrastructure is booby-trapped. What is the likely outcome for the US if that amount of petro capacity went offline in a blink.

Thought Experiment 2 - Consider Pakistan, where the only thing keeping the Islamists from ketting their hands on the bomb and using it against India is Pervez Musharraf. Do you reckon we should have invaded Pakistan with that risk on the table?

When oil was discovered in the middle east, the Britons would have been better off just stealing it and killing anyone who wanted otherwise. Giving money and technology to people rooted in a 7th century religious ideology with centuries-old tribal scores to settle was, perhaps, the worst decision of the entire 20th century.

Posted by: brian at July 21, 2007 8:34 PM

brian you're being pretentious, do you actually expect many people to know what a femtosecond is?

Posted by: lujlp at July 21, 2007 8:52 PM

Femtosecond! Yay! This is the Web: we can look it up. If you want to know how atom bombs and reactors operate, you'll find out.

I bet more people know, or find out what a femtosecond is than "get it" that Congress has duties they're shirking. Look at people right here continuing to blame George Bush for everything.

Posted by: Radwaste at July 21, 2007 9:30 PM

Brian,

You are just another garden variety American with an opinion that lacks experience. But it does qualify you to become POTUS. Also, you could provide so many sentences that lack any real insight. I couldn’t even attempt to make a comparison similar to De Quincey’s on the differences in writing style. The whole power versus knowledge, because your comments lacks both qualities.

Comparing me to Joe Wilson is a pathetic attempt to counter my argument. From a person who utilizes war nerd expressions and mixes sci-fi jargon in his past comments in dealing with Islamist terrorism. What’s next a confession in your inability to attract the opposite sex? Oops, you’ve done that too in past comments. Why can't they look beyond the Babylon 5 references and appreciate the real you?

I never claimed to be the smartest one in the room. My posts demonstrate it everyday in matters related to the Middle East. Ever been in a select group of specialists or experts in a specific field? Barring residents of the Middle East… what are the chances of me being the smartest man in the room on a discussion related to a region that I lived in for almost a decade?

Posted by: Joe at July 21, 2007 10:16 PM

I used to want to impress people with my knowledge of big words and technical terminology -- when I was 22.

These days, I'm more secure, and more interested in communicating, which means I don't use terms like "sexually dimorphic" with the average person. I just talk about differences in males and females, and maybe give a few examples, like how men tend to have much more testosterone than women.

And Joe -- who's spent years traveling in, working in, and studying the Middle East, and, I believe, speaks and/or understands Arabic, and has tremendous insights into the Koran, the people, the culture, and the history -- brings a level of information to the table that the rest of us can really only counter with speculation.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 22, 2007 2:36 AM

Amy - nice parry. But, instead of actually addressing my point, you instead decide that my use of a big word disqualifies me from being treated as anything but a pretentious child. So, I'll ask again. What changes if we capture, kill, or verify the death of Osama bin Laden? I'm not trying to impress anyone. I'm frustrated with people who spout bullshit about the importance of bin Laden without having given it even the appearance of a thought.

Joe - You're starting to scare me. Either you went back and read every comment I've ever posted here, or you're taking notes. Either way, it's a bit creepy. And drop the "war nerd" shit. The whole point of the Wilson comparison was to point out that spending time in a region is not necessarily going to make you an expert in the doings of the government. If that were the case, we'd have a hundred million experts on US foreign policy. The current Congress kinda disproves that theory. I'd say you have access to as much knowledge as I do on the middle east. The only things you have that I do not are the ability to do your own translations of Saudi TV, and an arrogant condescension to go with it.

Posted by: brian at July 22, 2007 5:10 AM

It's not just the capture of bin Laden; we should have put our all into going after the perps of 9/11 -- those who are a danger to us -- instead of fucking around and fomenting terror...which the recent report very clearly states we have, by invading a sovereign nation with a bad-guy leader who wasn't involved in 9/11.

Furthermore, it's not hard to remember the comments of a guy who makes wild statements, which you do, and while, no, mere presence in a region doesn't make a person informed, there's ample evidence Joe knows what he's talking about. In fact, this reminds me of people accusing me of not knowing anything because I'm not a Ph.D. (the "who are you?" attack). I know my stuff and I research to death, and do a lot of serious thinking about the information that goes in my column. Read my column and that should be evident. The same goes for Joe's comments here, and typically, he supports them with the reasons why he thinks the way he does, or where he got the information. It's not mere speculation.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 22, 2007 7:03 AM

And yet, you simply assume that I have not done any research into what I'm talking about? Have I said anything which was "mere speculation" that I didn't label as such?

As to your point about going after the perps? Well, that would be a case of deciding who the perps were. The perps here are not a small offshoot of Islam, they are its base. Which means going after the middle east.

I keep hearing about the "illegal" invasion of Iraq from people who want us to get bin Laden. When I ask them if invading Pakistan (another sovereign nation that wasn't involved in 9/11) would be illegal, they have no answer.

If it's simply enough that a country has a known and wanted terrorist in their nation, whether in a region controlled by the central government or not, then why didn't we invade Libya after Lockerbie? Hell, Saddam was sheltering a wanted terrorist (remember Abu Nidal?). So any argument you make for going into Pakistan applies equally well to both Iraq and Iran.

Posted by: brian at July 22, 2007 7:43 AM

Brian,

Pakistan was on the list of nations to invade after 9-11. Musharraf made many statements that Colin Powell and Richard Armitage made a few threating phone calls to the President of Pakistan to alter his views on cooperating in the capture of Bin Laden and the toppling of the Taliban.

1. Reuters: U.S. threatened to bomb Pakistan after 9/11: Musharraf (9-21-06)

2. USA Today Article: http://tinyurl.com/2t4p5p

The BBC also reported the story too.

Posted by: Joe at July 22, 2007 8:32 AM

Joe - I'm aware of the fact that after the invasion of Afghanistan we told Musharraf "Cooperate, or you're next". And after the invasion of Iraq, Qadaffi gave up his chemical weapons, and told Berlusconi that it was because he didn't want to be on our short list of "places to invade today". I never said or believed that we needed to actually bomb or invade every place on Earth to get what we want to do done. We just needed to stop playing the appeasement game. Less carrot, more stick, so to speak.

I'm talking about now. Should we pull out of Iraq, and invade Pakistan? Would we actually accomplish anything by capturing, killing or verifying the death of Bin Laden, or would we just be wasting time and resources? Pakistan is in the middle of dealing with the Islamists in the wake of the Red Mosque battle. We're assisting.

What troubles me most is that a good swath of a major political party in the US has publicly admitted that they know a US pullout from Iraq will lead to a genocide, and they don't care. Although that's consistent with their lack of concern over Rwanda and Darfur, it flies in the face of their position on Kosovo.

And would someone kindly explain to me what a "constructive role" is as it regards Syria and Iran? Does anyone truly believe that if we pull our troops out of Iraq that Syria and Iran will stop invading?

Or am I the only one in the room that's not terribly optimistic about Iran playing a positive role in the future of Iraqi democracy?

Posted by: brian at July 22, 2007 8:44 AM

Thanks, Amy.

You may call it creepy, but its actually called an exact memory, Brian. It helps when one has to recite long tedious passages of Qur'an to a cleric in an attempt to impress my host who may cause trouble for my co-workers in a remote region of the Middle East.

Its a trademark personality quirk taught or drilled into me by Jesuits. I recommend watching Tim Russert and Chris Matthews when they question a troublesome politician. Notice how relentless and exacting they are with their comments? They were both taught by Jesuits.

They teach a method of reaching 'desegano' in the application of critical inquiry skills. A sense of detachment along with a form of disenchantment from your personal views from objective reality. To curb one's imagination by no longer entertaining any illusions about things, people or situations. Your comments are filled to the brim with such nonsense. I recommend taking the advice of the late Spanish literary critic Gonzalo Sobejano:

"Es fácil de matar el pájaro que vuela en una línea recta, pero no el que cambia su trayectoria."

(It is easy to kill the bird that flies in a straight line, but not the one that changes its path.)

It doesn't mean adapt to my views, but seriously re-examine them from time to time. Mine are never set in stone.

Posted by: Joe at July 22, 2007 8:56 AM

I'm no fan of religion, of course, but there's a lot to be said for certain elements of a Jesuit education. Both my boyfriend and Elmore Leonard have one, and I can see evidence of its rigors in the thinking of both.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 22, 2007 10:55 AM

Speaking as someone was earlier about units of measure, did you know that polyps are measured in cars? I didn't either until visiting South of the Mason/Dixon. The traffic reporter talked about 3 car polyps, all the way to 10 or more. (it helps if you use the accent). Anyhow I wounder if the doctors found his head while they were up there?

Posted by: Jim at July 22, 2007 12:34 PM

Thanks for offer, Brian, but forgive me if I don't feel like participating in your capital T, capital E "Thought Experiment" because: a) I'm not six years old, and b) last time I checked, my hobbies didn't include being patronized. But hey, try one of your Thought Experiments the next time you're out on the town one night. For instance:

Thought Experiment 3: Consider the immediate aftermath of talking to a woman on a first date. Keep in mind the rumors that she might put out if spoken to like an intelligent human being. What is the likely outcome for Brian if that comes true, and he gets asked back to her apartment?

And no one's suggesting that killing bin Laden will solve all of our foreign policy problems. It's not "bullshit" to suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, the Project for a New American Century alumni in the Bush Administration had it all wrong when they chose to use Iraq as the central stabilizer of the Middle East. If any of those people had on-the-ground experience in the region (like Joe here), rather than listening to a swindler like Ahmad Chalabi or giving it a cursory study from the comfort of their desks at the think tank, maybe they would have seen that breaking Iraq would have only strengthened Iran and vice versa. And let's emphasize again that there is no evidence linking either nation to the events of September 11, 2001.

a good swath of a major political party in the US has publicly admitted that they know a US pullout from Iraq will lead to a genocide

I don't see how anyone on either side of the political aisle can predict genocide with all certainty. Joe, Amy, you might vehemently disagree with me, but the people in the Administration (and those without a spine in Congress) who keep floating the notion of a genocide in Iraq as the result of an American pullout are the same ones who declared Mission Accomplished four years ago. Since the majority of their predictions in the aftermath of the American intervention in Iraq have yet to come true, I'm going to keep an open mind on the certainty of genocide.

Posted by: Rebecca at July 22, 2007 2:38 PM

Rebecca - Is involvement in 9/11 a prerequisite for any moves we wish to make against the larger problem of Islamist terrorism? Is that what makes it OK for us to do nothing to stop the Saudi-backed militias from slaughtering people in Darfur?

Iran and Iraq have been vying for regional control (see, I avoided the big word so as not to annoy any of the adults at the table by "showing off") for the past 30 years. The only theory I've heard about why we left Saddam in power in 1991 in the first place was so that he could still act as a balance to Iranian desires.

I'll grant you that the administration has screwed plenty of things up. That doesn't change the fundamental need for us to clean up the cold-war messes. It's not like Russia's in a position to do it. I hadn't even thought of the possibility of Iran acting up, but I'm also not paid to think of these things, I'm just a lowly engineer.

As far as genocide? It should be pretty obvious even to the casual observer that the instant we walk away the Sunni take it in the ass. And with the present situation in Turkey, if they end up with a fully Islamist dominated government, I don't give the Kurds a whole lot of chance for survival.

Joe - a bird that changes its path can be taken out with a shotgun quite nicely. I realize that you consider me to be intellectually deficient. There's nothing I can do to change that, as you've cast that opinion in concrete. What you could do, is instead of dismissing my comments as "nonsense" is point out what, exactly, is wrong with them. Which, I don't recall you ever doing. Unless, of course, I'm not substantively wrong, but just lacking enough in nuance to rub you the wrong way.

I'm not interested in nuance. I see things in black and white for the most part. From my admittedly limited experience with the world, that approach seems to yield far better understanding than shades of gray.

Posted by: brian at July 22, 2007 6:13 PM

No, Brian. Just undisciplined. If you are going to use pop culture references on reforming the Middle East and thereby discrediting my personal knowledge and experiences of the area in your comments. Would anyone(you included) be surprised if my tone is condescendingly arrogant towards your VIEWS and not you personally?

I can honestly say that my views on the Middle East do not share any similarities expressed by the POTUS candidates of both parties. See, the White House is not capable of reforming an entire region that has been a source of problems since the time of Alexander the Great. It is too abstract and prone to failure like the last 6 years of applying outdated bureaucratic ‘one size fits all’ Cold War strategies in the Middle East. The US plays a vital role, but not the single force for change in that specific region. Applying visible military forces is a very oversimplified method and it looks good on the evening news, but impractical in a historically maladjusted region that the Middle East represents.

Posted by: Joe at July 22, 2007 7:02 PM

OK, Joe, now you're REALLY scaring me. We're almost agreeing.

I view what we're doing in Iraq as the "we've got to do SOMETHING, dammit!" method.

I'm not going to say I know what to do to solve the problem. But the 7th century form of Islam that is growing in influence in the middle east is colliding head-first with 21st century post-enlightenment civilization.

Which is why I came to the conclusions I did, that there were three realistic solutions. Note, I use the term "realistic" because anything we do cannot be tailored to the individuals involved.

All we really have in our arsenal are carrots and sticks. We're pretty simplistic in that regard. And when we are dealing with regimes (Iran) that view all agreements as merely temporary, well the whole carrot thing doesn't work out so well.

The Islamists have made it perfectly clear that merely being left alone is not sufficient to make them happy. And there are precious few in that part of the world willing to speak up - and most of the ones that are still living are here in the US or somewhere in Europe. I suspect that Ayaan Hirsi Ali could speak on the subject with far more conviction than I could ever hope to muster.

You've heard the proverb - when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail? Well, the middle east looks like a whole hell of a lot of nails. Diplomacy didn't work for Jefferson in 1796, so we went to war. It didn't for the UN in 1991, so we went to war. And it didn't work for Bush in 2001. So we went to war. A pattern begins to emerge.

Now, with all your accumulated knowledge, do you have any idea what can be done to stop the Islamists? Seriously. I'd bet real money that every potential outcome that has the Islamists staing in their countries and ignoring us has as a base requirement of "no more Jews". I don't find that to be an acceptable exchange.

And all of the research and analysis I did led me to conclude that we could foment revolution in the hopes of sparking an enlightenment in the Islamic world, we could wall the middle east off until they settle all their internal differences, or we could blow them all off the face of the Earth.

And with each passing day of politicians pronouncing every effort we make to be a failure, and given the logistical impossibility of isolation, a genocide is virtually guaranteed in my lifetime.

And I'm not so sure it's environmentally sound to wipe a third of the planet's population out.

So we better come up with some way to make the followers of Mohammed get rid of their more fanatical brethren and play nice.

And war is just diplomacy by other means.

Posted by: brian at July 22, 2007 7:20 PM

Unless I misinterpret your opinion, and you don't think we ought to have done anything regarding the middle east.

Which I don't think is your position, but there's always that possibility.

Posted by: brian at July 22, 2007 7:28 PM

Of course I don't think its okay to ignore the genocide in Darfur, Brian. I can't imagine an human being--other than Omar al-Bashir and his militia lackeys, of course--who does. I don't have any ideas on how to end it, given that the Sudanese government willfully ignores the United Nations, the United States, and the rest of the free world.

But why stop there? There are plenty of other bad men in bad nations to tackle. Right after Sudan, should the U.S. become involved in Myanmar, Zimbabwe, North Korea and Cuba? I can't imagine a whole lot of Americans, even pro-Iraq war supporters, chomping at that bit. If we're only going to limit U.S. intervention to repressive Islamic regimes that fund terrorists, how can we as human beings ignore the plight of people in, say, North Korea? Free, democratic societies in the 21st Century must fight back against religious totalitarianism. However, they ignore other kinds of repressive regimes at their peril.

We're not mopping up the detritus of the Cold War in the Middle East. If you wanted to stay in the 20th Century, you could point your finger at the British, redrawing borders right after World War I, haphazardly slapping ethnic and religious enemies together in the same country. The Ottoman Empire had a handle on the region, but we'll never see something similar to that again; that's a little too close to al Qaida's modern notion of a Caliphate. (As for the Ottomans, the Turks are too busy trying to prove themselves worthy of the European Union. That is, when they're not persecuting citizens who mention the Armenian genocide.)

Posted by: Rebecca at July 22, 2007 8:09 PM

I've said many times, we both agree on cleaning up the Middle East. Our differences can be found in the application of the procedures.

There are nations within the Middle East that need cultivating. Others need isolation, but with a back door open. The other nations are going through some nasty growing pains and we need to temporary halt the 'human rights' terminology, but privately encourage the non religious reform movements. (women's rights groups are the key) I'm a member of 8 Middle Eastern and Sub Saharan women's rights groups. Two Iranian Students groups and a few underground secular organizations that have a strong internet presence. Former Muslims in the West who support closet atheists, agnostics and 'observant' Muslims in the Middle East. Also, a Kurdish Rights group based in the USA and UK. The key is beyond the military and the intelligence route is through women's rights, economic reform and secularity. There are people in the Middle East that are happy the US is leading public reform, but they would like a change in the leadership.

If you want to see the Western face of Muslim recruitment… you could check out the dark side of the internet with the YT Muslims who aggressively search for converts. Most of them are from the UK and speak English. Some of my YT Atheist friends have engaged them in debates, but failed to reach a middle ground, because the Muslim only care about defending the purity of their faith and warm bodies. I’ve told my atheist friends that they are the ‘friendly’ face of Islam. They promote convert videos and conduct a behind the scenes flagging campaign to anyone who publicly criticizes Islam. It is an eye opening experience.

Posted by: Joe at July 22, 2007 8:18 PM

Amy,

Like the old saying if you want your children to become atheists... send them to Catholic School. If you want them to be self disciplined atheists... send them to Catholic Military School.

Posted by: Joe at July 22, 2007 8:31 PM

> The key is beyond the military
> and he intelligence route is
> through women's rights,
> economic reform and secularity.

Perfectly true, but that sort of looks at an immovable rock in the road from three angles. The shiniest side is women's rights. If feminist international media (and feminist women in the west generally) could seriously appreciate and express how good they have it, things would go better. But to the extent modern young women don't eschew feminism as sexless old hat, they use it to explore bitterness and pie-sky socialism.

> Our full focus should
> have been on Afghanistan
> and going after the
> terrorists there.

You persist in the baseless belief that there's something we could do, some clever administrative trick or financial investment, that would make Afghanistan into Taiwan.

Listen, the reason BinLaden-types work their wretchedness in Afghanistan isn't because of some sophisticated political affinity -- It's because the place is a lawless land of primitive warlords. If you have money (as O$ama did), they can be bought. Their illiteracy makes it an uncomplicated base of operations. (This explains much of our 'victory' in 2001... We cut a few checks.) Kabul is literally a shithole; three million people in a tight valley with no sewers.

Given their traditions and lack of natural resources, the place is essentially unimprovable. We're still there to keep the monsters from having a place to hide, but Amy, if you have a great idea for making things work, it's time to share.

Don't just say "More concentration!" or "More focus!" or "More attention!" What do you want us to do?

> Steps should have been
> taken -- militarily or
> diplomatically, whatever
> it took -- to get bin Laden
> when he WAS in Afghanistan.

I still say we did... OBL is dead dead dead. Under a Daisy Cutter in November 2003. Last week's video turned out to be at least five years old.

[Hi, LYT!]

In any case, it's time to stop regarding OBL as an breathing figure in this thing. If he has any personal capacity for leadership, he's been unable to work it on anyone but a tight and probably naive circle of associates for the decade in which he'd hoped to rule. He's another Guevara; a murderous little fuck whose beard will strike undergrads as evidence of authenticity. A strong case can be made that Islamic Rage Boy has done more for Islamic fascism in recent years: http://urltea.com/11k9

And as another blogger noted, the guy wears Versace, fer Christ's sake....

http://urltea.com/11kf

One last point about Afghanistan... When people say we should have done more, or that we should have had better intelligence, what do the imagine is going on over there? Do they think that Khandahar has a Department of Motor Vehicles like Santa Monica, which cycles citizens for fresh photography and identification every few years, so that we can steal their files? Do they wanta world where the CIA has that kind of information about everyone on the globe? Would that be better?

People who share fantasies like this should be compelled to flesh them out for us.

Posted by: Crid at July 23, 2007 5:02 AM

Whoops.... November 2001. He's gone... He's a dead parrot... The Choir Invisible, etc

Posted by: Crid at July 23, 2007 5:05 AM

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