Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The political game

Peter Wehner's article in the Opinion Journal, The Wrong Time to Lose Our Nerve, describes the reservations of George Will, William F. Buckley and Francis Fukuyama none of who believe the Arabs apt to democracy. William Buckley began his article in the National Review by examining the proposition that the troubles in Iraq were America's fault -- then asserting the reverse: no, it was Iraqi society that was intractable.

"I can tell you the main reason behind all our woes — it is America." The New York Times reporter is quoting the complaint of a clothing merchant in a Sunni stronghold in Iraq. "Everything that is going on between Sunni and Shiites, the troublemaker in the middle is America." ...

Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.

George Will took a different road to the same result. In his speech at the Manhattan Institute Will argued that the Iraqi peoples lacked only the essentials to make democracy work. Other than that they were perfectly suited to spread freedom in the Middle East.

Iraq lacks a Washington, a Madison, a Marshall—and it lacks the astonishingly rich social and cultural soil from which such people sprout. From America’s social soil in the eighteenth century grew all the members of the Constitutional Convention and of all the state legislatures that created all the conventions that ratified the Constitution.

So, Iraq in its quest for democracy lacks only—only!—what America then had: an existing democratic culture. It is a historical truism that the Declaration of Independence was less the creation of independence than the affirmation that Americans had already become independent. In the decades before 1776 they had become a distinct people, a demos, a nation—held together by the glue of shared memories, common strivings, and shared ideals. As John Adams said, the revolution had occurred in the minds and hearts of Americans before the incident at Concord Bridge

Francis Fukuyama is quoted by Opinion Journal as saying that one cannot "impose" democracy on "a country that doesn't want it". His alternative as set forth in another Opinion Journal op-ed is apparently to stand back, then deal with the last man standing in ways that will encourage them to do the right thing.

Private foundations and groups with some distance from the administration like the NED or private NGOs will have better luck disbursing money than U.S. agencies. There are many quiet ways we can and should support democratic groups in the region, by working, for example, with other countries that have recently undergone democratic transitions that may have greater credibility than Washington. ... We should not even think about wanting to roll back recent election results; rather, the emphasis should be on pressuring newly empowered groups to govern responsibly. Islamist parties in Egypt and Palestine have gained popularity in large measure not because of their foreign policy views, but because of their stress on domestic social welfare issues like education, health, and jobs, and their stand against corruption. Fine, let them deliver; and if they don't or turn out to be corrupt themselves, they will face vulnerabilities of their own not far down the road.

These arguments essentially say that while America can win the military struggle in Iraq it can never win the political struggle. The reasons may vary. Maybe "Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable"; maybe the country "lacks a Washington, a Madison, a Marshall"; or maybe it plain "doesn't want it" -- some form of democracy that is. But whatever the cause, so the argument goes, any success in the military field is negated by the "fact" that the political battle is unwinnable. Therefore the campaign as a whole must fail.

 

Of course the argument is valid only if the US in fact loses the political struggle. If the US wins the political struggle in some meaningful sense then the whole syllogism falls apart. Because the entire issue pivots on an empirical question it's important to examine just what US policymakers are trying to achieve in current negotiations to form an Iraqi unity government. David Ignatius describes the details in a Washington Post article. It is incorrect, Ignatius begins, to think that simply because the final deals have not yet been done that nothing in the way of negotiations has been achieved.

But it would be folly if American impatience torpedoed the slow but real progress Iraqi leaders are making toward a government that could step back from the brink of civil war. ... Khalilzad recounted the items that the Iraqi political factions have agreed on in private negotiations over the past month. On Sunday, the leaders signed off on the last of these planks of a government of national unity. The Iraqis have saved the hardest issue for last -- the names of the politicians who will hold the top jobs. That bitter fight will play out over the next several weeks. ... given where Iraq was six months ago -- when Sunni and Shiite leaders were barely talking -- their agreement on the framework for a unity government is important. These negotiations may not succeed, but they are not a fairy-tale fantasy, as some critics argue. "All the elements of the deal are there, up in the air, and they could come down and click into place," Kurdish leader Barham Salih told me by telephone from Iraq. "We have come to the real crunch."

What is the endpoint? Ever since Saddam's fall Iraq has inexorably moved toward a state consisting of practically independent autonomous regions held loosely together by an federal government with strictly delimited authority. The endpoint is described in the Iraqi Constitution, which according to one commentator was designed "to attribute as few powers as possible to the federal government, rendering it almost toothless in relation to the regional governments". The framers of the Iraqi constitution consciously modeled their charter after such European countries as Belgium and Spain: countries with strong autonomous regions because this is the result they wanted to achieve. The Iraqi Federal government retains power only over "foreign policy and diplomatic representation; foreign sovereign economic and trade policy; fiscal and customs policy, and commercial policy across regional and governorate boundaries in Iraq". And the autonomous regions have extensive power to raise their own security forces which are designed to become national armies in all but name.

So why not split directly into three independent countries? Why bother with forming a Unity Government and later a Federal government? The real force driving the formation of a Unity Government is not some desire to satisfy an American obsession with spreading democracy so much as the need to come to agreements over oil and security. All the ethnic groups in Iraq want to share in the oil revenues. The Sunni need a share in oil revenues of which they have none themselves; while the Kurds and Shi'a need to agree how to tranship and manage the oil resources in their areas. (The Council on Foreign Relations and the DLC describe the basic areas of dispute over how the oil resource will be managed and shared.) Without a negotiated settlement under a Unity Government, the Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds would have to fight for territory and oil resources. It is better to conclude a series of agreements to be administered by a Unity Government than escort every barrel of oil by force of arms to the market.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace argues that the key destabilizing element in Iraq is precisely the fact that the Sunnis have not yet formed their own autonomous region. It argues that "whether it [the political transformation] will lead to a catastrophic descent into greater violence or even ethnic cleansing, or to a managed transformation into a loose federation of regions enjoying extreme autonomy, depends on whether it becomes possible for Sunni Arabs to form their own region, as Kurds already have and Shias are bound to do once the constitution is in effect. The central thrust of U.S. policy in Iraq must now be to help Sunnis organize an autonomous region and to convince Shias and Kurds that it is in their interest to make this possible." It is ironic that the road to peace should consist of two parts: demonstrating the military impossibility of the Sunnis recovering their overlordship of Iraq while ensuring they can live in peace within new and secure borders. (Baghdad is a special problem because it has such a mixed population).

Therefore the political negotiations David Ignatius describes are really a series of deals among the different sectarian groups to allow an orderly evolution from a Sunni-dominated, Saddam-era state into the Federal state envisioned in the Iraqi Constitution. Of equal importance to the deals themselves are the arrangements to guarantee the deals are kept. For this reason the duration of United States presence and the control over the Iraqi security forces, especially the Army, has acquired crucial importance. Now having reviewed the context, let's return to David Ignatius' narrative:

Here's the framework for the unity government, as outlined by Khalilzad, who has attended nearly all of the meetings. First, the broad strokes: The Sunni leaders have accepted that the new government will operate under the Iraqi constitution and that it will be based on the results of last December's election, both of which reflect the reality that the Shiites are Iraq's largest religious group. The Shiites, in turn, have agreed that the new government will be guided by consensus among all the factions. And they have agreed to checks that will, in theory, prevent the key security ministries from being hijacked by Shiite militia groups.

To implement this consensual approach, the Iraqi factions agreed on two bodies that weren't mentioned in the constitution. They endorsed a 19-member consultative national security council, which represents all the political factions. And they agreed on a ministerial security council, which will have the Sunni deputy prime minister as its deputy chairman. Shiite leaders have tentatively agreed that the defense minister will be a Sunni. And for the key job of interior minister, the dominant Shiite faction, known as the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, appears ready to accept the replacement of one of its members by an independent Shiite, perhaps Qasim Dawood, a man acceptable to most Sunni leaders.

The key thing that jumps out of these paragraphs is that the Sunni leaders appear to have accepted, in principle at least, that they are no longer dominant; simply one of the parties in Iraq. This suggests they have signed on to the Iraqi constitutional roadmap in theory. But every party still has grave reservations over whether the others can be trusted. That is why the rest of the package consists of a series of checks and balances to ensure that no one group controls the security forces, and prevents their use without the consensus of all parties. (Like the UN Security Council). But quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will make sure the rules are followed? The United States, apparently.

But the X-factor in this delicate game is U.S. political support. Khalilzad could fail in his effort to midwife a unity government, and Iraq could spiral into full-blown civil war. But it would be crazy for an impatient America to talk itself into defeat and pull the plug prematurely. As Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, remarked this week: "America came to Iraq uninvited. You should not leave uninvited."

This is a recognition of the fact that only the United States can make the checks and balances stick, which alone will permit an orderly evolution of the Iraqi state to its desired Federal configuration. Each sectarian group is apparently prepared (the Sunnis appear to have accepted the principle) to begin a withdrawal into its autonomous region, leaving behind a Federal government to administer what amounts to a treaty between the regions, trusting that the US will prevent the devolution from becoming a rout. In summary, the short-term political task facing the US consists of brokering a series of deals between the sectarian groups which will allow a legal transition from the Saddam era to the state described in the Iraqi constitution; the longer-term task consists of guaranteeing that those deals are kept by parties who may be tempted to cheat.

In the end, George Will, Bill Buckley and Francis Fukuyama may well be right in saying that the peoples of Iraq have no desire to agree to anything but to hate one another. But they are not necessarily right. There is nothing in the situation that forbids the achievement of the vision described in the Iraqi constitution. There is nothing that guarantees it either. Success will depend, in my opinion at least, not upon grand political principles, but on the skill of the Americans and Iraqis who are striving for a political solution. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it impossible? No.

155 Comments:

Blogger fjelehjifel said...

Unless we lose the Shiite community entirely, and it doesn't look we have, then we have a fighting political chance of getting a national unity government installed. Of course, we'll see how the rhetoric shakes out during Friday prayers. We're in the game, until were not.

4/05/2006 04:48:00 AM  
Blogger Salt Lick said...

Being a drive-by commentor I have to keep things short, but isn't the bottom line of this (very good) post that the Bush administration needs to be out talking every day about the importance of "winning" in Iraq and the consequences of losing? I completely understand Buckley and Will's position; it's what conservatives are about; they are being true to their principles. But I'd really like to see them grilled on THEIR strategy to handle an Iraq that falls into complete chaos. Vouchers?

4/05/2006 04:59:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

Salt Lick, maybe we should send Fukuyama et al copies of The Crisis by Thomas Paine:

"These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it Now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorius the triumph."

The Crisis, December 1776

4/05/2006 05:10:00 AM  
Blogger Shep Barbash said...

"Every man who has seen the world knows that nothing is so useless as a general maxim." So wrote Macaulay almost 200 years ago, in his essay on Machiavelli. The bromides of Buckley, Fukuyama and Will prove he's still right.

4/05/2006 05:15:00 AM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

Apparently the intellectually superior elite are only capable of accepting 'perfection' from the Iraqi, not 'improvement'. As if any new government get's it right the first time.

Fortunately, reality is lower than the collective MSM's egos.

4/05/2006 05:32:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

Shep Barbash, here's another one: "A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world." John Le Carre.

By that logic, and speaking from personal experience, I'd say a desk in D.C. must be a particularly dangerous place given the sharply polarized views of the war that currently engulf it.

BTW, John Kerry proposed in today's NYT that we give the Iraqis an ultimatum:

"Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave.

If Iraq's leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year's end. Doing so will empower the new Iraqi leadership, put Iraqis in the position of running their own country and undermine support for the insurgency, which is fueled in large measure by the majority of Iraqis who want us to leave their country. Only troops essential to finishing the job of training Iraqi forces should remain."

4/05/2006 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

The series of events surrounding the departure of Jafaari is an encouraging sign that Shia leadership is willing to compromise. This bodes well for the ascendancy of democracy.

America as consigliore to Iraq; sounds like a good idea - since we believe ours is the best form of government on the planet and we point to results as proof.

The trouble we have in the US is - whom will we allow to be our consigliore? Now it is the party out of power - but the left is proving itself unreliable in its job as "truth teller to the most powerful". How can they be honest without exposing their own hypocrisy? How can they point out our shortcomings when they are in such deep denial about so many crucial issues?

4/05/2006 05:34:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

I think perhaps that the problem is not so much one of the Sunni recognizing that their power will be limiited than it is Saddam's Tikriti Tribe realizing that their power is over, forever - and that every that day they continue to draw breath is due to the kindness of the Iraqis they opressed so horribly, and the U.S. which demonstrated its ability to exterminate them with ease.

Actually, if we could get the Tikriti Tribe and its Batthist allies to withdraw to its own semi-autonomous region - which then could be bombed into oblivion - that would help great deal.

The Opinionjournal article was indeed excellent, but it left out the alternative implied by giving up the Bush Vision - going back to the Realpolitik approach of "our" dictators versus "their dictators. The problem with that is not just one of cruelty - given the position of the U.S. since 25 Dec 1991, they are all "ours."

4/05/2006 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger herb said...

There is a theme in the Anglosphere Primer that talks to the utility of cooperative organizations as a basic unit of a successful democracy. deToqueville spoke of similar institutions in the early republic. Iraq has none of these. I fear that this is the fatal flaw in their society.
Having said that, their culture is quite alien to me and there may be some functional equivalent to a Rotary Club that will provide the yeast to make it work.

4/05/2006 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

Two comments:

1) Helping the Iraqis to sort themselves out like this is a truly noble effort (as well as being in our own interest, a painfully confusing combination, I know, for our friends on the left).

2) Making this effort was the least violent means available after 9/11 to ascertain whether the Arab world really is reformable, or bent on its own destruction and war with the west. If it proves to be reformable then whoopee. If it turns out that it is not then the fact that we made this effort, that we tried, is what will bind us together as we move in response to their ceaseless attacks to destroy them. The survivors in that case will live on reservations.

4/05/2006 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Because "we couldn't contain" the ethnic animosities of IRAQ?!

That's interesting - that's basically what Saddam did: control the big babies by slaughtering them. Why can no one say ARABS! YOU ARE FUCKED UP, AND THAT IS YOUR PROBLEM! SNAP OUT OF IT!

4/05/2006 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Sorry to be so ineloquent but the only reason we're losing this game at the moment is because we're condescending to play it. The game itself is the problem. Change the game: this is the point of GWOT.

4/05/2006 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger Condor said...

The Iraqis lived for 35 years in what Sharansky calls "a fear society". People aged 15 when Saddam took over knew nothing else until the age of 50.
Their lives were dominated by terror and intimidation; and their political life consisted of underground rumors.
The average Iraqi looked (as did Russians) ten years older than they were.

You can't expect them to cast off that heritage instantly because American soldiers appeared in their streets. It was four years before we held elections in postwar Germany, and we were naive to expect Iraqis to produce political parties and political courage almost literally overnight.

But that doesn't mean that the Iraqi people, like people everywhere, don't want freedom; and the purple fingers count for far more in weighing up what they want than the Shia militias, the Sunni terrorists, or the opinions of desk-bound Washingtonians.

4/05/2006 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Very good, very important point by meme chose. The effort to help had to be made, had to be made in good faith, through time, and at cost. And that much is surely done, that much is surely already in the books, regardless of what the future may hold. If this war escalates, and we have to get really ugly, then we may need, for our own heart and will, to have made this history.

4/05/2006 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Dan,

Short, to the point, not ineloquent at all. Truth is you are correct.

The only proviso I would add is that these "leaders" in the ME are the power-brokers of old. They are just re-jockeying for position. The key is to get them to finish their chess game (by force if needs be) then they should get busy doing THEIR peoples business. If they return to their old ways, bring out the stick again. We must make sure they REALLY understand the stick.

4/05/2006 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Tremendous insight, thanks.

4/05/2006 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger Chester said...

W,

I thought this was a very interesting piece, as it speaks rather explicitly to the constitutional make-up of the new Iraqi gov't. One of your sentences struck me:

"Each sectarian group is apparently prepared (the Sunnis appear to have accepted the principle) to begin a withdrawal into its autonomous region, leaving behind a Federal government to administer what amounts to a treaty between the regions, trusting that the US will prevent the devolution from becoming a rout."

Do you mean a psychological withdrawal, as opposed to a physical (and geographical one)? It seems that a pyschological withdrawal is what is required here solely because of the diversity within Baghdad, if for no other reason. A physical withdrawal of one particular group from the capital city seems infeasible, yes?

4/05/2006 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

5 months is a very long time. Especially for Kerry, considering that it is a month longer than his much touted service in VN. Ready and reporting for surrender. Speaking to an old craggy Irishman, he said; "Bush is a national embarrassment". Bush scores low in eloquence but I am forever grateful that that charlatan Kerry was defeated less we all were.

4/05/2006 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

"The Political Game"

Good stuff!

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

4/05/2006 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

It is ironic that as the US has blunted it’s sword on Iraqi intransigence, that our will must be weary to the high costs of such endeavors, that oppressed people of the world would clamor for the same attention.

4/05/2006 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger Gene Felder said...

A point I never hear is that when the 2/3’s vote provision to elect the Prime Minister was inserted into the Iraqi Constitution, it was predictable that it would take a very longtime to form a Government.

In California, with our mature democracy, we require a 2/3’s vote to pass our budget. Even though the law requires that the budget be a approved by a certain date, many times the California legislature goes weeks and months past the legal deadline.

Getting 2/3’s vote is tough to do.

Gene Felder
www.FelderLaguna.Blogspot.com

4/05/2006 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger Gene Felder said...

A point I never hear is that when the 2/3’s vote provision to elect the Prime Minister was inserted into the Iraqi Constitution, it was predictable that it would take a very longtime to form a Government.

In California, with our mature democracy, we require a 2/3’s vote to pass our budget. Even though the law requires that the budget be a approved by a certain date, many times the California legislature goes weeks and months past the legal deadline.

Getting 2/3’s vote is tough to do.

Gene Felder
www.FelderLaguna.Blogspot.com

4/05/2006 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

It is encouraging that such provisional agreements and agreements in principle have been made. But no one seems to doubt that top positions will become tribal dispensations based on patronage of the Ottoman variety. I understand this what Mubarrak and his generals do with US Camp David aid: it goes to clients. I wonder if there's any hope of setting up a financial structure that significantly curtails this republic-destroying habit. Probably not, since any institutions will be run by people - or at least, by tribal functionaries. The result not only of cultural habit, but of having been ruled for centuries by outside powers. Now they'd like another one since we deprived them of their former overlord. Maybe we should start a program whereby we take a slice of the MPs - maybe people from each group who are equally suspicious of eachother, precisely calibrated - and have them come to the USA for some months at a time. These folks need more perspective on the idea of governance, maybe.

4/05/2006 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Buddy wrote:

"If this war escalates, and we have to get really ugly, then we may need, for our own heart and will, to have made this history."

This recent history we have made will not serve us well in the future. As you noted earlier Buddy "Oil, oil, oil" and it taints everything. We pretend that we are actors without vested interests, without a nasty addiction to cheap oil, and as such we can "reform Muslims" and bring our superior sense of morality dispassionately to a troubled area of the world. we cannot simply because we have so much vested interest.

This brings me back to yesterday's discussion (sorry I had to run - life does intrude on my cyberspace). Skipsailing was concerned about my appeal to the ICC as being indicative of anti-American bias and Buddy had pointed out how we were re-buffed by many counter-interests including criminal interests and it is all these conflicting interests that leads me to international institutions, much like our federal institutions, as being crucial toward just adjudication of these interests. This is where I am diametrically opposed to the Bush administration approach. The Bush administration approach assumes superiority to Americas vision and actions without the realization that our actions and vision are equally tainted by our craven interest. The Iraqis know this and they do not trust US to administer their affairs in their interest. So, in answer to Wretchards closing:

"Success will depend, in my opinion at least, not upon grand political principles, but on the skill of the Americans and Iraqis who are striving for a political solution. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it impossible? No."

...is, weellll maybe, but a decent outcome is highly unlikely and the cost, whatever the outcome, extremely high.

4/05/2006 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

The Bush administration approach assumes superiority to Americas vision and actions without the realization that our actions and vision are equally tainted by our craven interest. The Iraqis know this and they do not trust US to administer their affairs in their interest.

They trust less the Russians, the British, the Chinese, the French. As would I. And so should you.

4/05/2006 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Dan,

There used to be the School of the Americas in Benning but the drumbeat of the left shut it down. I believe that there were dozens of Catholic Nuns arrested for their protest of the training given to the Sandinistas, etc., but I believe that it has morphed into this. Not a bad suggestion, if there is time.

4/05/2006 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Ha--that echoes the ancient 'royal hostage' system of enforcing treaties. And Alexander intermarried his soldiers with local gals. The ancients were pretty savvy--since everything always looks dandy from the top, these hostage/guests would return home with good reports on the old enemy.

4/05/2006 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger kstagger said...

first it was the unbeatable insurgency...

now it's the coming civil war...

When the new government of Iraq is formed - we will see the media move the goalposts further away again.

Wake me up when it's over!

4/05/2006 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Muslim populations must be told in no uncertain terms of the existential importance of the Iraqi experiment. Yes, we have a vested interest in resulting change in Muslim culture and mentality. But this interest is a mutual interest. Should the Iraqi experiment fail, Islamic dictators will bring complete annihilation. Of this I am certain.

4/05/2006 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Bigger Diggler said...

There is nothing new under the sun. What is happening in Iraq politically - a stalemate - is entirely predictable and even highly desirable. It is not even remotely newsworthy. This from the Federalist Papers #10:

"The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States: a religious sect, may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it, must secure the national Councils against any danger from that source: a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union, than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State."

Why is Iraq even in the news?

4/05/2006 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Danmyer's link is a little depressing. The "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation"...has an annual funding of $7.5 mm. An Abrams or two.

Ash, I can't agree with your characterizations. "Cheap" oil is not the same as "available at tolerable prices" oil, and "craven" economic interests could never include the huge humanitarian component of our effort in the mideast.

As Mika points out, there'll always be somebody at the door, and our rivals have all the "craven" interests we do, without the attached honest effort at building better lives for the people.

And as far as the word "craven", whatever you do for a living could be called "craven", too, unless your career is as a monk holding a vow of poverty and doing good works for your soul. And even then you'd be doing it to satisfy your own conscience--which a dialectician could deem "selfish" and therefore "craven" behavior.

Please. This is the world, not Heaven.

4/05/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Buckley, Will, and Fuk-all-my-previous-positions are all wrong.

Buckley asserts, "Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans."

That is quite a statement. I applaud his rhetorical dexterity and his appeal to the passions (not even an invading army of 130,000 could put Humpty-Dumpty back together), but that is all it is: rhetoric. Iraqi animosities may be running high, but they are, in fact, contained. Ignatius's column, if it's about anything, is evidence of this containment.

Now, the American presence is only partly responsible for this restraining of the passions. The threat of civil war, mayhem, blood in the streets--you know, general Mad Max stuff--has also offered a powerful force for containment. Whatever the cause, it is quite clear that some modicum of self-control is governing the present situation in Iraq.

To say that animosities have been unleashed, and to leap from that to an assertion that Iraq has already failed, is doubly wrong.

George Will I have less patience with. His argument rests on a philosophical fallacy (the refutation of which, by David Hume, led directly to the ideals Will holds dear). This fallacy is, of course, Hume's "Is-Ought Problem". Will observes, correctly, that the initial conditions present in 18th century America were sufficient conditions for independence and democracy to develop. Seeing this, he then makes the leap that these conditions are necessary for democracy to develop: no Washington, no Madison, no dice. That's absurd.

Any given situation might be more or less friendly to democracy, but to jump from that truism to the assertion that Iraq simply can't become a democracy is intellectual vapid.

Mr. Fuk-history is a smart guy, and deft in the timing of his opinions, but his argument is even worse than the previous two. He presents a rule-of-thumb, that one cannot impose democracy on a society that doesn't want it, and then posits that Iraq is such a place. QED, right? Actually, no.

The idea that Iraqis don't want democracy is itself...how you say...questionable. Having 11 million people come out to vote, dancing in the streets amidst the most gruesome threats imaginable, sure seems to me an indication of desire. But, hey, let's say that was just preening for the cameras. Is it still true that you can't impose democracy on the unwilling?

No, it is not. Examples abound throughout history of all sorts of governments being imposed on the unwilling, and democracy is no different. Therefore, Mr. Fuk-Iraqi-Democracy is just plain wrong.

None of this is to say that a functioning Iraqi democracy is certain. It is, if anything a warning: beware "certainty" in all its guises, especially certainty about outcome.

4/05/2006 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger bohica said...

Good Lord. As I finished reading this post I couldn't help but picture the image of our own founding fathers arguing and hammering out the documents that gave rise to America. In the big picture the two situations (birth of the U.S. vs birth of democratic Iraq) are very far apart but on the level of the individuals committed to the rebirth of Iraqi self government, the personal parallels must be very much alike. The task must seem impossible at times BUT the prize, if it can be achieved, keeps the fires roaring in their hearts and minds.

4/05/2006 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

The Bush administration approach assumes superiority to Americas vision and actions...

Ash, can you name another vision that is superior to America's? Liberty, rule of law, human rights, etc?

Can you name any other Nation you would rather have guiding the world, either now or in history?

No, of course you can't. Only theory is better than America's reality.

But that's just it. The standard is not perfection. The standard is the alternative. I would ask what your alternative is to America's vision, but I already know the answer: the ICC, International Law, the People of the World.

Ironically, your "alternative" is no such thing. It is, instead, a derivative, only possible if America's vision works first. If you want to wait for that particular comet, go ahead. I'll send the Nikes. But just know that while you are looking up, you are missing all the wonderful things America is doing on the ground.

4/05/2006 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Aristides, right, if Washingtons and Madisons are necessary, how did a hundred other existing democracies fire up without such giants, using only ordinary leaders to plug away at a job worth doing?

4/05/2006 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Aristedes,

Humes Fork in action? But how can that be true...?

You are going to drive me to Thorazene again....

4/05/2006 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Aristides wrote:

"Ash, can you name another vision that is superior to America's? Liberty, rule of law, human rights, etc?

Can you name any other Nation you would rather have guiding the world, either now or in history?"

America has a long and checkered history, rarely have we acted on the international stage with "Liberty, rule of law, and human rights" as the guiding principle. We have little to no interest in extending US constitutional protections to foreign nationals in foreign lands. - i.e. Bush treatment of prisoners.

Many people of many nations have equal views of the righteous nature of their own countries motives (i.e. note Iranian purity of purpose) and simply making the claim does not prove it authenticity so you can understand how many around the world doubt the righteous posture of the current American administration.

4/05/2006 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Mr. Will should point us to the "essentials" that Imperial Japan possessed to "make democracy work." Surely the Japanese possessed a "democratic culture" prior to the U.S. occupation, else how to explain the transformation of post-war Japan?

Or maybe his argument is crap. Maybe the Japanese enjoy the freedoms and hold the responsibilities they do today as a direct result of American intervention. Maybe societies change for the better only when stimulated to do so. Maybe the American presence in Iraq is just such a stimulation.

How would that influence improve by our simply giving up and leaving?

4/05/2006 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Meanwhile why does anyone ever listen to anything Fukuyama says anymore. What was that quote about psychoanalysis? Everything novel in it is wrong and everything true in it is obvious? How do these Hegelians continue to influence anyone. They're as obsolete and wrong as beatniks. Even when Rumsfeld invokes "the great sweep of history," I cringe, although that can be justified on the need for brevity in public relations. But Fukuyama? C'mon, Johns Hopkins! Send him to the New School already!

4/05/2006 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Ash is right, objective success always creates envy and other subjective emotions. To avoid insulting so much of the world, we should become a less successful nation.

4/05/2006 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

The problem with the fast-waning band of Jewish neocons and their remaining collaborators is that - odd for their sort, they ignored past history. After Napoleon, and later when the Ottomans fell, Western-style elightened governments were imposed on many Muslim countries.

If you look at old pictures of Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia, Pakistan, Syria, even Afghanistan in the span of the 1920s - 1980 you see women dressed in normal western attire, with the Hajib, chador, and burqua appearing only in "backward" countryside settings or in the old women still in the tradition, like the Babushka-wear you saw old Russian ladies wear in the Soviet Union. The countries had Parliaments, western law. Country by country, all that went away rather than growing democratic institutions. All have lost ground since the 80s, going with Strongmen dictators, tribalism, and abandoning the democratic institutions they were left upon independence. Even the legal systems are transitioning away from set laws and judges to Sharia courts with Mullahs deciding justice. Only Turkey took a different path and even they are now placing their women "under cover", glorifying honor killings, and generally backsliding into being "Muslim" first, secular second.

The secular Jewish neocons who had enormous clout with the Bushies ignored all that history.

The other folly is thinking 11 million Iraqis voting means beans. Stalin got 99% of eligible Soviets to the polls. And the numbnuts that seduced Bush and others about the rising tide of Democracy was The Solution, rightwing Zionist Anatoly Sharansky, is now squealing that his theory is still perfectly valid, with the exception of the crazy Palestinians and the popular election of Hamas now in his face...

Sharansky is considered a naive, idealistic idiot inside Israel. And though Bush is a knee-jerk Israel supporter, they think he is an idiot too. Another Carter.

Every culture loves elections, if for no other reason than to convince the people that have some sway over or can show by their vote they LOVE the ruling elite. Plenty of Russians had a final speech against the Wall - "But I love Comrade Stalin, I voted for him in 4 elections since"....Ka-Pow! Cannibals in Hispanola would democratically elect their warrior leader and even vote on which nearby island to sail to seeking people to eat.

The elections of the "noble, freedom-loving, democracy-hungry" Iraqi people used the same polls and same purple ink the Baa'thist Party initiated 35 years ago. There is some value to destroying a strongman, a Party, then having the people vote to reformulate their society - and God knows the Muslim world needs reform - but the "noble Iraqi people" are looking like a nation of fence-sitting shitheads.

If it is America's burden to bring Democracy to the Muslim world in order to safeguard Israel, it looks like it will be an expensive process. 3/4 of a trillion dollars borrowed from China for just Iraq, with 18,000 casualties to "liberate" what looks to be outside the Kurds, a singularly ungrateful and murderous pack of Arabs.

Fukuyama is correct. You can't impose democracy - anymore than you can impose Mexican Sun God worship if the people and culture are antithetical. Indeed, that the presumption of universality of human aspiration to democratic law, constitutions, democratic institutions may be clearly false if the culture believes all that is in conflict with the One True Book and Prophet that commands obedience to a rigid code of conduct and perpetual war against infidels. We even see democracy backsliding in Russia because democracy caused chaos and Russia they think works better with an authoritarian regime.

China is the same way. It works if freedom is given at a lower level to conquer the world's economic markets, in order to better the Chinese people and their finances through destruction of America and other nation's manufacturing base - while strong guidance and central authority over national policy persist in the Politburo.

Look for Bush to be in major hot water with the American people over Iraq, the horribly botched Iraq postwar and Katrina episodes, his out of control deficits, failure to address securing the Borders, and corporate cronyism. The guy is on track to be a bigger disaster than Carter, and Carter had a Dmocratic Congress to shield him. Bush may be on an impeachment track, and not even his "best lawyer ever", Harriet Myers, will be of much help.

Bush instilled more confidence than Kerry or Gore, but that is like saying Jimmy Carter instilled more confidence that Jerry Ford before Carter began botching things left and right in the 2nd half of his term and his earlier 1976-77 decisions looked worse and worse as time passed.

4/05/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Ah Cedarford, where have you been? My eye-rolling specific muscles have become a bit lax...

4/05/2006 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

You forgot the Latin Lefties, C4. Democracy was a mistake, there, too. We shoulda stayed with the military dictators and not let those people start prospering and experimenting. And the Chinese model may well be better than ours. Bush is still in his 50s, let's just cancel any further elections until we get the world back down where it belongs.

4/05/2006 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Cedarford,

Are you saying that elections don't project the will of the people?

re: the Palestinians - now we know. The elections told us that.

4/05/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Or is it your supposition that all elections are questionable due to Stalins, Husseins, etc. election rigging?

Is any election valid?

4/05/2006 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Buddy wrote:

"Ash is right, objective success always creates envy and other subjective emotions. To avoid insulting so much of the world, we should become a less successful nation. "

No, our problem is not objective success creating envy but rather righteous certitude coupled with the hypocrisy of not allowing others what we deem to be necessary and proper for us.

4/05/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

yeh--at least there's a chance now that the Palis will in time elect a moderate--or that the current guys will moderate knowing that there's another election most certain to come. Beats the hell out of the ghastly Arafat parade of the dead.

The thing about democracy is, it's gotta be real--there MUST be "the next election" always.

And the sham elections--Saddam's or the Soviet model--can't be compared, they were not "real", they were "sham" and made to discredit the actual procedure.

What fool will drink that Koolaide, and drop the reality of the will of people, on the grounds that some Strongman knows how to sham it?

4/05/2006 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Buddy,

There's always Plan B.

To see:
Sea to Sea to Sea to Sea to Sea.

4/05/2006 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

That's ridiculous, Cedarford. If the Iraqis didn't want democracy, all they had to do was stay home. Nobody forced them out to vote. A no-show would have killed our democracy project faster than any other contingency.

4/05/2006 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Chester,

A psychological withdrawal for certain and a physical withdrawal is probable too. The best final scenario will resemble the European Union where people are nationsl of one region but able to live and work in other areas due to an Iraqi passport. The worst scenario is post-Tito Yugoslavia without Milosevic. What made the breakup of Yugoslavia an international evil was the existence of a Milosevic who had control of Tito's old army.

4/05/2006 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

"Righteous certitude" is wrong if it's wrong, and right if it's right. Sorry for the tautology but there's no other answer to the charge.

Hypocrisy is another matter. Diogenes wandered around in broad daylight with a lantern, trying to find your saint. he couldn't, because it's the nature of things that the ideal will always be beyond the normative.

The Hellenes knew this, and let Dionysus rule Apollo for one season out of every four. Apollonian perfection was to be always an end, but never to be attained, because beyond it there was no place to go. Sophisticated thinking--Sophistry--was the result of too much Apollo-rule, over the reality of the humane. They learned this, the co-founders (with the Israelites) of Western Civilization.

Your demands are like that star inside the crescent of the Islamic moon--not possible in the physical universe.

4/05/2006 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

America has a long and checkered history, rarely have we acted on the international stage with "Liberty, rule of law, and human rights" as the guiding principle.

Ash, you are still in the realm of critique. I asked you to name a better alternative, one that is descriptive, not prescriptive. You cannot, because America, for all her faults, is the best thing that has ever happened to mankind.

Your complaints just add up to "America is not perfect." Childish, no?

4/05/2006 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Of course, me using words like "best" will aggravate your finely-tuned sensibilities, causing you to make another emotive critique instead of a substantive one.

Whatever.

4/05/2006 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Ha. C4, still cowering like they tell you to, eh? Good, it's about time we had more representatives than Ash here, in the spirit of republican inclusion. Please, tell us more about those ignorant zionists who run the earth. I love these stories.

4/05/2006 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Christianity, too, observes this problem. It posits that we are all sinners, but sin is not what is expected of us. We'll always be in the gray area, Ash. The only thing we can do is struggle toward the light. If your nation was ten or a thousand times better than it is, it would still be sinful, and there would still be the call, the need, the duty, to improve.

4/05/2006 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Meme chose said...

"Making this effort was the least violent means available after 9/11 to ascertain whether the Arab world really is reformable, or bent on its own destruction and war with the west. If it proves to be reformable then whoopee. If it turns out that it is not then the fact that we made this effort, that we tried, is what will bind us together as we move in response to their ceaseless attacks to destroy them."

The bottom line with this process is we don't want Islamic fascists knocking off our cities one-by-one through terrorist actions. That's our disaster scenario. There are many paths towards preventing this situation but most of them result in massive loss of life, e.g. the Three Conjectures. Arguably, the worst "tactic" would be to do nothing (that's what the moonbats want). The path that President Bush has chosen is difficult, currently unpopular and contains some risk but if successful should result in minimum loss of life.

4/05/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I wouldn't criticize Sharansky, on the grounds that he endured unbroken a very long living-death inside the Gulag, and yet emerged humane, hopeful, and objective about the meanings of the systems which we either build, or have others impose upon us. He's a good work. Maybe that's why some hate him.

4/05/2006 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Cedarford, it's not only Muslim countries that have abandoned democracy in the past. If memory serves, Germany at one time abandoned its democratic institutions too in favor of a strongman dictator. By your reckoning, does that mean the Germans thus proved themselves eternally unsuited to freedom and self-rule?

I don't understand your tiresome harping to the effect that people are condemned by the mistakes of the past. Maybe the reason democracy hasn't flourished in the Middle East before this is that it has never been fully supported. In fact, you may look to Iran as a case where it was not merely unsupported but actively undermined by the West.

Does this mean we should just consign this part of the world to its own past version of hell? We could keep supporting one strongman after another in hopes of finding one who is both ruthless and gentle enough for our perfect purpose, but is that really any way to run a world? And hasn't that method already earned us opprobrium and loathing enough to convince us to end it?

4/05/2006 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Mika, since you like delphic oraculars and sleeping Buddahs, didja know that this morning, Wednesday, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 AM, the time and date was 01:02:03 04/05/06 ? And that it will never happen again ?

4/05/2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Buddy - I wouldn't criticize Sharansky, on the grounds that he endured unbroken a very long living-death inside the Gulag, and yet emerged humane, hopeful, and objective about the meanings of the systems which we either build, or have others impose upon us. He's a good work. Maybe that's why some hate him.

The same "he emerged heroically from years of imprisonment" - as signifying higher wisdom acquired through being in a prison - was also attributed to Nelson Mandela, Saddam Hussein, and Ayman al-Zawahiri. All who were all kinds of screwed up.

The merits of Sharansky's argument, which he says applies to all but Palestinians who can't be trusted with democracy - is irrelevant to his being imprisoned by Communists in another country.

***********************

Aristedes - That's ridiculous, Cedarford. If the Iraqis didn't want democracy, all they had to do was stay home. Nobody forced them out to vote. A no-show would have killed our democracy project faster than any other contingency.

That's specious. Iraqis went to the polls under Saddam all the time. Totalitarians love elections. We just pulled Saddam's purple ink wells out of storage and had another election where people voted for the heads of armed militias representing their tribes and ignored Al Qaeda's request not to vote. That doesn't mean an election gives rise to democratic elections - as the example I gave of democratically elected cannibal leaders put which island to raid next for human flesh represents a "democratic, pro-western vote".

What the Iraqis voted for were Sunni tribal leaders, generals in the Pesh Murga, and armed and ready representatives of the Sadr militia and other Shia armed groups. A vote trying to allocate political power to their people, and control future use of lethal force to better protect against other Iraqis and get their demanded share of jobs and oil revenues.

The post US invasion Iraqi elections had nothing to do with advancing women's rights, promoting secularism over Islamic primacy in culture and law, love of American "liberators", or any sense of kumbaya brotherhood between the 3 opposed groups. They were votes for power, control of ministries, and restoration of security that while most thought Saddam evil and odious...security that worsened in America's botched postwar occupation.

Kerry's op ed is right - it is time to start imposing deadlines on the Iraqi Arab shitheads. If they can't afford a government by mid-May, we should split, withdraw to Kurd territory, and accept a civil war until the "noble" Iraqis sort out what sort of screwed up nation they want in the end.

Not our job. Not worth burning through 200 billion in borrowed money every 8 months for a nation full of squabbling, murderous shitheads.

Hopefully the Iraqis won't make that call, and America can realize some of it's goals....but America has massive unadressed issues that are lurching towards becoming crisises - on foreign policy, fiscal deficits, failure of US schools, health care, competiveness fronts, and unaddressed areas in fighting Islamic fascism (like unguarded borders) and we have entirely diverted for over 4 years of near total fixation on a nation of shitheads to the exclusion of all other major problems.

The country is going in the wrong direction on most of those "issues", and it is time to wrap up our neocons "excellent adventure" in Iraq so we can focus on bigger threats and concerns that impact every American.

4/05/2006 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger romanesq said...

As I recall the Japanese worshipped their Emperor who wasn't considered quite human like them.

Somehow they managed to make the tough transition.
As for the intellectuals throwing in the towel, perhaps their view of the common man and his yearnings is not within their capability.

The political battle must be waged and must be won.

4/05/2006 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Buddy,

The Idea of Eternal Return
by Milan Kundera:

Read / Listen

4/05/2006 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Buddy wrote:

" The only thing we can do is struggle toward the light. If your nation was ten or a thousand times better than it is, it would still be sinful, and there would still be the call, the need, the duty, to improve."

True, and if we acknowledge that we are all sinners and none of us have a direct connection to the Almighty then we can move forward toward settling our disputes more justly.

For example, (Aristides take note) instead of appointing ourselve Judge, Jury and Executioner vis a vis Iraq in the buildup to the last invasion we could have bolstered the ICC, continued to back weapons inspections, and chased down Saddam that way. Similarily we can deal with Iran in a similar fashion instead of getting all huffy and righteous and attacking them all by ourselves.

4/05/2006 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Much better post, C4. Here's the nut--we pullout now, in the middle of this war, and AQ will suddenly become the Wave of the Future rather than a relic of the past. The question of which is which is still up in the air. You're right, the nation has many unaddressed issues--but most of them are mostly political, and will be fought over between Dems & Pubs whether we are fighting the war or watching AQ price oil for us.

As far as your "borrowed money" theme, I wish you'd dig into that a little. We're making a 2:1 return on that debt, and the global economy is booming as a result, Plain old fiat paper urrencies are holding value, global interest rates on both ends are low, global business is expanding (except for the dislocated hi-cost manufacturers who aren't adapting to new models), income is growing, profits are growing, we're in a boom--by the numbers, not by your or my or anyone's opinion.

Any economist can tell you that it's a basic-mtrls boom, a capex boom, an emerging-mkt infrastructure boom, and a consumer boom related to confidence and growing personal income. You can find lagging sectors, sure, and I'm sure you will.

But those economists will also tell you that energy costs are the worlds's vulnerability, and if you think we can execute JFKerry's plan and not have AQ on the oil price quicker than a cat can lick its butt, you're dangerously confident in your hope-for-the-best opinion.

And Sharansky offers so, so much more than his imprisonment. Just the phrase "Fear Society" makes him a historical hero. Your other examples emerged *for* a fear society, remember? You say you see no difference?

4/05/2006 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

From Iraq the Model:

"...By doing this, they are even opposing the majority opinion of the UIA as it's been made public that major powers inside the bloc gave Jafari a 3-day deadline as a last chance for him to try to convince the other blocs with his program and win their acceptance, otherwise he must step down.

Of course this doesn't mean the Sadrists will withdraw to sit at home and watch others form a government but it means they will fight those who oppose their vision. In fact lately I've been hearing some Sdar followers say they predict a large-scale offensive to target Sadr city and the Mehdi Army soon and that the ranks of the Mehdi Army are kept at full alert to respond to any such offensive."

All I can say is, inshallah.

4/05/2006 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

And say you're right, that no foreigners are worth this much effort, then why didn't your political position keep us out of the 20th Century World Wars? Your position was well-known, popular--and ultimately repudiated, every time. It just took a little thinking to understand that if foreigners were worthless, then maybe we were too.

4/05/2006 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Ash, I think you're just plain dead wrong on which end of the political spectrum believes in the perfectability of human nature.

And as far as your ripost to Aristides, may I interject that your precise prescription WAS tried; it is called "the 90s" and it gave us among other not-good things, a mestastisizing global crime syndicate nurturing protected inside the holy place of transnational progressivism, the U.N.

4/05/2006 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Now that AQ has fired their General, and the Sectarian Shia have repudiated Al Ja'afari, and by proxy, Al Sadr I guess it truly is time to declare "Defeat," and go home.

4/05/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

`

4/05/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

...and reaching high into the sovereign governments of the world's most respected social-democrat nations. Those same governments and institutions that you, Ash, now say offered an alternative to the Coalition's "wrong" behavior.

4/05/2006 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Fleming said...

Speaking from my own Belgian experience, the capital will be a hard nut to crack.

Baghdad will be the microcosmos of all the institutional problems Iraq will have to face.

Brussels has been the focal point of almost every institutional controversy in Belgium for more than 30 years and I don't expect them to be solved anytime soon, but at least we haven't stopped talking (including the regular name-calling) about them.

4/05/2006 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Peter Fleming, there'll be an end to all this dispute when the next-to-last Homo-Sapiens-Sapiens takes his/her last breath.

4/05/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

Will, Bucklet et. al. are brilliant men and keen observers of history. Fortuneately they are not always right, I should say correct, for they are RIGHT. There is one glaring factor missing from their articles and the posts here.
The Russians and the Iranians are working overtime to sabotage the entire process.
Iran will have to be nuked, and soon. Russia certainly won't like that but they'll only jaw bone our aggression. Russia and Iran and nukes. We actually need that to happen, and it's coming.

4/05/2006 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Iran with nukes!! - chill out - you'll get used to it just as you have with Russia, Israel, China, North Korea, India, and Pakistan.

4/05/2006 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

EXCERPT

One
The idea of the eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzsche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything recurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum! What does this mad myth signify?

Putting it negatively, the myth of eternal return states that a life which disappears once and for all, which does not return, is like a shadow, without weight, dead in advance, and whether it was horrible, beautiful, or sublime, its horror, sublimity, and beauty mean nothing. We need take no more note of it than of a war between two African kingdoms in the fourteenth century, a war that altered nothing in the destiny of the world, even if a hundred thousand blacks perished in excruciating torment.

Will the war between two African kingdoms in the fourteenth century itself be altered if it recurs again and again, in eternal return?

It will: it will become a solid mass, permanently protuberant, its inanity irreparable.

If the French Revolution were to recur eternally, French historians would be less proud of Robespierre. But because they .deal with something that will not return, the bloody years of the Revolution have turned into mere words, theories, and discussions, have become lighter than feathers, frightening no one. There is an infinite difference between a Robespierre who occurs only once in history and a Robespierre who eternally returns, chopping off French heads.

Let us therefore agree that the idea of eternal return implies a perspective from which things appear other than as we know them: they appear without the mitigating circumstance oftheir transitory nature. This mitigating circumstance prevents us from coming to a verdict. For how can we condemn something that is ephemeral, in transit? In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine.

Not long ago, I caught myself experiencing a most incredible sensation. Leafing through a book on Hitler, I was touched by some of his portraits: they reminded me of my childhood. I grew up during the war; several members of my family perished in Hitler's concentration camps; but what were their deaths compared with the memories of a lost period in my life, a period that would never return?

This reconciliation with Hitler reveals the profound moral perversity of a world that rests essentially on the nonexistence of return, for in this world everything is pardoned in advance and therefore everything cynically permitted.


Two
If every second of our lives recurs an infinite number of times, we are nailed to eternity as Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross. It is a terrifying prospect. In the world of eternal return the weight of unbearable responsibility lies heavy on every move we make. That is why Nietzsche called the idea of eternal return the heaviest of burdens (das schwerste Gewicht).

If eternal return is the heaviest of burdens, then our lives can stand out against it in all their splendid lightness.

But is heaviness truly deplorable and lightness splendid?

The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man's body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.

Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.

What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?

Parmenides posed this very question in the sixth century before Christ. He saw the world divided into pairs of opposites: light/darkness, fineness/coarseness, warmth/cold, being/nonbeing. One half of the opposition he called positive (light, fineness, warmth, being), the other negative. We might find this division into positive and negative poles childishly simple except for one difficulty: which one is positive, weight or lightness?

Parmenides responded: lightness is positive, weight negative.

Was he correct or not? That is the question. The only certainty is: the lightness/weight opposition is the most mysterious, most ambiguous of all.
.
.

4/05/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

It needs a name, Habu--some call it the "Caspian Axis" and the game includes how to keep Turkey, Germany, and France out of it. The Russian gov't takeover of Yukos (the gas which warms Europe) for "tax-evasion" was the opening move on the Northern Front. Now, as always, Russia has put General Winter on its side.

4/05/2006 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Staring In Disbelief said...

W,

Another superb analysis on the best blog on the internet. I am struck by the use of Madison and Washington as examples by critics of our "affair d'Iraq". These very gentlemen, the paragons of democratic thought, were deeply concerned with american "factions" tearing the new republic apart. Cripes, the Federalist Papers are AWASH in discussion of the tools and tricks of balancing & check power. Iraq is on the 21st century "accelerated" course (thanks to instantaneous media) that the US took and "passed" in the 18th century. Power, like water, must find its stable resting place and is still roiling and churning in Iraq. The shoreline is beginning to become apparant, though, as the Sunni's take the only rational course before them. Now it is the Shiite's turn to flirt with overreach. I think all the players will settle into arrangements in their mutual, long term interest: a stable, unified, federal Iraq with (relative to the rest of the ME) sensible political, economic & religious freedoms.

In game theory, the "Irrational Actor" is an important concept to consider when predicting the actions of others. The great strength of democratic plurality is the "rationalizing" effect of large numbers of decisions made by millions of time. I think this is the way Iraq will turn out. To paraphrase Churchill: messy, foolish, costly, even bloody - but better than any other way.

4/05/2006 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

Ash is clearly willing to gamble with our lives.

no thanks

4/05/2006 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Schroeder, the anti-American ex PM of Germany, went straight from being ousted by pro-west Angela Merkel to working for Russia, as the president of Yukos. Everyone following this realizes that gas just became an overt stragec weapon that unlike bombs can be easily used anytime, to control the neighbors.

Remember the mysterious bombs that blew up some of the pipelines during the horrendous cold snap a couple months ago? Those two or three sticks of dynamite brought the pro-west leader of Ukraine--the guy who got poisoned and disfigured probably by KGB hands--to Moscow just the other day, looking very sad and accommodating indeed.

4/05/2006 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I've been following that front of the war, for news of Ukraine's third-party leader Julia Tymoshenko, who is an absolute knock-out, and who could rule the world if she wants, just say so.

4/05/2006 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Buddy - No one except the most shameless die-hard neocons and Likudniks still claim that if we leave, we will "surrender" Iraq to Al Qaeda Sunni Arabs who will push aside Iraqi sunnis, Shia, the Kurds, and dominate the country for the Evil Mastermind. Your thoughts are comic book sophisticated and outright ludicrous. Sunnis in Al Anbar have killed Al Qaeda fighters seeking to dominate their tribes. And Al Qaeda has no penetration with the Shia - who they call godless heretics deserving death - or the Kurds. The end result will be either a Shiite dominated "democracy" or the country splitting into 3 parts after the civil war so many want.

And say you're right, that no foreigners are worth this much effort, then why didn't your political position keep us out of the 20th Century World Wars? Your position was well-known, popular--and ultimately repudiated, every time. It just took a little thinking to understand that if foreigners were worthless, then maybe we were too.

We fought in 2 World Wars not because we were foreign loving and compelled to do humanitarian interventions as the world's free 911 service, but because they were in America's vital national interest.

We can make all sorts of cooing noises about our moral obligation to waste treasure and sacrifice our lives for the "noble" Sudanese, Congolese, Myanmarese, Tibetans, Ivory Coasters, Sierra Leonans where in the last 5 years of Bush's Administration - millions have died and tens of millions endure brutal oppression - but it's not in our vital national interest to try intervening and pissing away another trillion in China IOUs and squander another 17,000 casualties when all we get would be a "OK you saved us, now leave you evil Americans!"

Think our vital interests Buddy. Don't get sidetracked on our "Moral obligation to all suffering peoples on the planet", safeguarding our Bestest Ever Pal Israel's security and conquests, or how we must hoist the White Mans burden Europe has shed. Americans are sick of that.



Sirius_sir - Cedarford, it's not only Muslim countries that have abandoned democracy in the past.

What are you talking about? IN 1400 years of "noble" Muslims, they have never tried to start a democracy outside Turkey, and Most worked hard to dismantle Western institutions supportive of democracy but not supportive of corruption or strangman rule the 1st chance they got.

Sirius_sir - If memory serves, Germany at one time abandoned its democratic institutions too in favor of a strongman dictator.

Your memory doesn't serve. Hitler was dmocratically elected then passed his emergency "enabling acts" establishing Fuhrerprincip by popular referandum. The Anchluss was another popular referandum, and rates right up there with the noble purple fingered AK-47 sporting members of the Sadr Militia Death Squads.

Sirius_sir - By your reckoning, does that mean the Germans thus proved themselves eternally unsuited to freedom and self-rule?

No, they already had 400 years of rule by law, democratic local institutions, unions, democratic elected mayors, as well as a strong period of national democracy that proved their previous suitability.

Sirius _sir = I don't understand your tiresome harping to the effect that people are condemned by the mistakes of the past.

What you call tiresome harping, others, not with their head stuck up their asses like Bush and Sharansky, call realism. And democracy is even harder to impose in a vigorous, strongly religious culture that has rejected it as "Un-Islamic" for 1400 years than even in the most primitive African or New Guinean society where a clean slate, a tabula rasa exists and no extremist religious culture pervaded by time-honored corruption and violence must be defeated first.

Maybe the reason democracy hasn't flourished in the Middle East before this is that it has never been fully supported.

Then, if you believe that, all you do is loop back to excusing the people that rejected democracy and freedom all their history, as antithetical to their religion and culture, and play the "Blame the West" game. Realism seeks nations with stability and security first, then seeks to inculcate democratic, institutions of freedom and rule of law from within, not impose them by external aggression.

4/05/2006 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

Ashe,
If you're going to San Francisco make sure to wear some flowers in your hair ....and on and on.
You clearly haven't a clue as to the machinations played out by the Soviets/Russians/Putin KGB boy in league with Iran.
But then perhaps you're right. Since I didn't have it in MY FACE like 9/11 I could get use to a Mao,Stalin,Pol Pot,Castro,Chavez.Hitler's and all the other mass murderers whose aim was solely for world domination.
Yeah, in Vietnam I got use to a lot of things.

4/05/2006 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

C4, you're using "AQ" as narrowly as possible--I meant it broadly, as the anti-western movement that will, you can bet your bottom petrodollar, mount an economic war against us via oil prices as soon as we have no boots atop the reservoirs. How can you and JFKerry be so rash?

I stand by all that other stuff--I read your post, we're into semantics at this stage, You "World Wars were in our interest" is identical to the Iraq front of GWoT. And, too, in both cases, there is an undeniable humanitartian, "poor huddled masses" component that twins the harder interests.

You're very effective in your variations of presentation of the costs, putting a debate opponent into the position of appearing callous to them.

But I'm convinced that you & JFKerry's plan will give us a year or 5 or 10 of surcease, followed by an expense of blood and treasure that will utterly dwarf the current, and, to boot, with far, far, far less prospect of victory.

Think "catastrophe". We don't get to make all the choices, you know.

4/05/2006 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Cedarford,

What, no response to my 10:31 or 10:35? Do elections count?

4/05/2006 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

habu_1,

World Domination? Is that what this is all about? Are you referring to the neocon project for a new american century?

4/05/2006 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

and here's the crux of the matter:

Cedarford (c4?) said:

Realism seeks nations with stability and security first, then seeks to inculcate democratic, institutions of freedom and rule of law from within, not impose them by external aggression.


Sounds oh so noble, no? the problem is that prior to our Iraq adventure nobody bothered with step two.

Also ya gotta love the term "realism". Nothing like a little good old fashioned arrogance on a cloudy wednesday afternoon. Realism is what C4 says it is and don't you forget it.

condi got it right, we persued stability instead of democracy and ultimately wound up with neither.

there's a lot of debate about the pathology of the anti war crowd these days.

Both C4 and Ash seem to be offended by "acts of aggression". to them our effort to dramatically change the situation in that cauldron of hate that is the ME was an act of agression. And promoting democracy through something as horrible as an act of external agression simply isn't done in the post evolved rarified world of C4 and ash.

External agression is to be shunned I suppose. but tell us, please, are internal acts of agression still OK? What do they look like?

4/05/2006 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Bigger Diggler said...

C4 said "The end result will be either a Shiite dominated "democracy" or the country splitting into 3 parts after the civil war so many want."

And/Or the end result will be the usual and very normal indecisive, morally and intellectually indefensible, freewilling, ungovernable ongoing mess of democracy, wherein faction will be pitted against faction forever more, cancelling each other out, maintaining the "hydraulics of power balance equilibrium" so eloquently noted by Justice Scalia. But this mess of democracy in Iraq will prevent, like it does everywhere else it takes root, the emergence of crystal clear and rational and consistent ...... Tyranny.

Of Hell.

Which is why tyranny is the only viable alternative to the mess, disarray and disorder of democracy.

4/05/2006 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

C4, there is always a first moment. Before English common law, there were traditions that led to common law - but before those traditions, there was tribalism, there were regional "kings" whose territories waxed and waned with the number of fighters they could field. Before the Protestant Reformation, there were reformers - but before those reformers, there was the ultimate Christian strongman, whose authority went unquestioned at the cost of souls. Before Japanese democracy, imposed from the outside, there was Japanese imperialism, and before that there was Japanese feudalism...

So why can't Iraq have its own first moment? And in what way is dropping Iraq into the deep end, with piranhas, protective of our national interest? In the past we've all been able to see how vital the Middle East is to our - to the world's - interests; what's changed? For heaven's sake.

Judeo-Christianity asserts that one person may be right even if the whole world disagrees with him; it asserts that there is a moral center to the universe that isn't affected by mortal concerns, no matter how inconvenient it is. These tenets aren't exactly conducive to representative government either... yet somehow we've made a go of it. Iraq has benefits medieval Europe did not - namely, concurrent examples. Iraqis (and not just Iraqis, either) don't have to wonder whether, say, Athenian democracy could work in a modern world; they can look at multiple representative governments and judge their relative success for themselves. Yet you seem to think they're just barely able to compare two melons in the market.

And I know this must be well-traveled ground, but what is it with you anti-Israel people? Who has the obsession?

ash, what a non sequitur. But while we're on the subject, in a unipolar world, can you think of a better de facto hegemon than America? (And the corollary: if you'd prefer going back to multipolarity, who's our opponent? And how good are they at opposing us? I tend to think unipolarity, like pretty much everything else in the human world, is unstable, but I'm not cheering for our next challenger.)

4/05/2006 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

dan, 6:42 AM

In fairness to Mr. Buckley, a heretofore unerring clarion, his position in an earlier interview (possible commentary at NR on-line) was that the Bush administration needed to change the game's paradigm; that is, do not place all its chips on "democracy".

4/05/2006 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

danmyers, 6:56 AM

The "big stick" must be for a long time to come a large, powerful, poised military presence. This will not only make the point to Iraqis but to the regional players generally. It must be made patently clear that the old game is over, forever.

The American public would be well served if the Bush administration would be brutally frank; at which point the partisan debate could begin in earnest, to the advantage of the administration, I believe.

4/05/2006 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Cederfard,

How did Israel become a democracy? There's nothing in Judeo culture that would intimate it. In fact Judeo and Greco cultures were often rivals. Today there are very few true democracies. One of them is Israel. The other Italy. How did Italy become a democracy? Where is it in Roman culture that you would find a hint of such a future?

4/05/2006 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

C4 & Ashe are obviously part of a faction that would let others fight and die so they can have their freedoms. It is doubtful the chasm existing between the C4's and Ashes' of this country and people like myself is that we can talk, but never reach consensus. But we are now at a stage in our polarized country (since Vietnam in the curent iteration) where we are talking past each other to no purposeful end.
The flower children grew older not wiser, still idolize Herbert Marcuse,Che, and a host of other anti Western types.
When the going gets tough they'll cut and run. They have no guts but those who have sacrificed theirs.
Luckily they are easily identified.

4/05/2006 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Jamie/All,

Should we consider the fact that being a hegemon, but not acting like one is a cause for problems or concern in the future?

It seems that throughout history opportunists have filled a power vacuum with their will. Who's will do we want it to be?

4/05/2006 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Allen,

Yes, we would be better served with the truth. But, the truth is hard to find in a political climate such as this. Where are the statesmen?

4/05/2006 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

danmyers,

Re: "Where are the statesmen?"

This site, its thoughtful contributors, and countless others must serve that end until the moral vacuum of the baby-boom has passed.

A caveat: it is a unifying theory that is required more than charisma. To their advantage, our opponents have both.

4/05/2006 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I had the same thought reading Allen's post. And Habu's.

The butterfly flits around but it always come to light on the nose of the American Left--aka the reason GWB can't be brutally frank.

He'd be brutally hounded out of office, or neutered within it (as the see-no-evil people try to do anyway).

Which begs the question, he's already perpetually vilified by the see-no-evils that he might as well, in his last two years, go ahead and drop the niceties and let 'er rip.

4/05/2006 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Certainly, danmyers, not in the White House. If past performance is indicitive of future expectations.

We can well expect a "settlement" to come in Iraqi politics. A substitute for Mr al-Jaafari will arise. Mr Mahdi or suitable replacement will recieve the 2/3 support required.

Many believe Mr Mahdi and the rest of his Shia Revolutionary Guard to be little different from Mr al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army, on the same course but more intelligent, more obscure.

Another "milestone" passed on the road to a political settlement of Iraqi internal politics.
Saddam will be gone.
The WMD threat eleminated.
UN Resolutions will be complied with.
Will we have won, then?

Or is there yet another Goal Post in Iraq?

4/05/2006 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

IN 1400 years of "noble" Muslims, they have never tried to start a democracy outside Turkey...

Wrong. Cedarford, you obviously don't remember that Iran was a democratic country under Dr. Mossedegh before he was replaced by the Shah.

Your memory doesn't serve. Hitler was dmocratically elected...

[The Germans] already had 400 years of rule by law, democratic local institutions, unions, democratic elected mayors, as well as a strong period of national democracy that proved their previous suitability.

Cedarford, you cite these facts to refute the observation that Germany " abandoned its democratic institutions too in favor of a strongman dictator"? I'm confused.

No, actually I think you are the one who's confused. Maybe you should try getting your facts straight before attempting to produce an argument. But on second thought, that may not actually help. You need to be able to employ logic to make a cogent argument. You try to argue that Muslims aren't capable of democracy because having previously abandoned it somehow proves your point. I suggest to you that Nazi Germany did the same thing--a fact which you inadvertently support--and the implication goes right over your head.


Realism seeks nations with stability and security first, then seeks to inculcate democratic, institutions of freedom and rule of law from within, not impose them by external aggression.


Precisely the formula we followed with Japan and Germany, right?

Feel free to come back when you have a credible argument.

4/05/2006 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Buddy,

I will put GWB up there with FDR and Reagan as great "foreign affairs stealth-statesmen" if he does. We can only hope (and needle, cajole, generally make nuisances of ourselves - No that would be leftist, sorry)

4/05/2006 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Did you ever wake up to find
A day that broke up your mind
Destroyed your notion of circular time

It's just that demon life has got you in its sway..

4/05/2006 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

D.R.

I find it hard to counter your argument vis a vis Iraq. But, as you may have noticed, that hasn't stopped me before... I seem to be beating a dead horse, but we really do need this geography. A democratic Iraq, to me is gravy. Sorry, I am not one of those "Democratic Iraq or Bust" guys. I want it and believe it is worth fighting for, but I am not willing to give up the geography...We need our troops ready to smite any idiot that tests us again. Guess that makes me a warmonger, but I have been called worse - ask "She Who Must Be Obeyed".

GWB, well I don't know. I am a supporter of the man that took us in. Signs point to weakness, but I will not count him out.

4/05/2006 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

cedarford,

Who told you about our conspiracy? It would be worth a great deal to get our hands on the turncoat; because, as with any conspiracy, a turncoat it must be. Contact Rothschild & Sons, Paris.

On a humorous note, may I assume your subscription to the “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” (Walt & Mearsheimer, 2005)?

If the Zionist, Israeli, Yiddish, Ultra-Orthodox, Communist, Jewish cabal wields the power/influence you posit, why, then, is the security of Israel in greater jeopardy than at any time since the War of Independence? As a member of the Elders, I am truly disappointed in how little value we are getting for the money.

Could you rid your theses of the Jewish angle, much of what you say demands serious consideration.

4/05/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

As far as Israel, I'm totally mystified that the rising tempo of attacks on the entire West hasn't clarified for the American Left that the whole anti-Israel raison d'etre ("the jihad is Israel's fault") has been utterly discredited.

Just as the Wall Fall never clarified for American Socialists that they'd profoundly lost the debate.

Mystifying.

4/05/2006 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen, 4:13 PM

Indeed! If the President believes the zero tolerance policy he has articulated, then, rationally, going for broke seems the best choice. He will be damned by the NYT conglomerate even in death.

4/05/2006 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Buddy - exactly.

Isn't it OBVIOUS now that we've had to take a nice nasty long look at this region as a whole? Answer: yes.

4/05/2006 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

There's some big events since the goalposts were erected, Rat.

1) An increasingly bellicose geographical and economic encroachment--mostly implicitly so far--by a crucial oil supplier to the close south, and

2) an increasingly xenophobic Russia moving to use her hydrocarbon surplus to intimidate consumer/hostage Europe,

3) a burdgeoning open alliance between Russia and an Iran racing to build nukes and swearing to wipe an ally off the earth,

4) oil @ $65/bbl and electrically-sensitive to the previous developments.

After we remove our presence from Iraq (a prize of tremendous value to the oil-war-makers allying against us), what do you see happening over the next say five to ten years?

4/05/2006 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Buddy,

As variables go, I must admit, Russia surprised me. The signs were there, but as optimism sometimes blinds.....

4/05/2006 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

Buddy,
If we abandon Iraq the next five to ten years will make the killing fields of Pol Pot look like a love fest.
The left/fifth columnists in this country will become more embolden to open our borders and we'll end up with a miasmic stew of illiterate illegals sucking on the teats of our welfare system. Further there will never be a chance to pass a National Service Act requiring 18 year olds to serve in some capacity for the good of the nation.
As a boomer I could see in college what a spoiled,cheating,lying, cowardly group many were. I was at the UNiversity of Florida when Walter CRonkite called it the Berkely of the South. He was right.
To everything ther is a season ..it's time for the showdown or we're finished. We are the only country that can FORCE change right now and we must have the courage to do so. Semper Fi.

4/05/2006 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It would all depend, buddy, on the extent of our departure or more importantly the size and mission of the stay behind force, wouldn't it?
That is never discussed.

War! beats the drum.
Yet we are about to fund Hamas.
Money is fungible, fund Hamas you fund terror.
Sponsor terrorist, you are a terrorist.
The Bush Doctrine is in effect, arm the Tomahawks, we have a new target...
White House, Washington DC, USA
Hamas sponsor.

Bang those War drums, while funding the Enemy.

It'll be a Long War.
Makin' that terrorist payroll for 'em. Keep 'em rollin, that's the ticket.

4/05/2006 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

ODDLY IRAQ IS IN AN UNUSUAL POSITION. It has neither external enemies nor friends. The absence of external friends allowed the infiltration of terrorists and jihadists. Their intervention was not because the wished to support the Iraqis. They are there to kill Americans. There presence is fortuitous for revenge seeking Iraqis wanted to settle blood scores with the Americans that killed family members. The jihadists have clearly overplayed their hand and seem to be diminished, most likely by both the Americans and Iraqis.

Without an external threat there is little pressure to form a united coalition. Those various groups that would prefer to have an individual Sunni or Kurdish State are happy to have chaos. In the long run it serves their interests. Clearly there are many in this group who are united only in their wish for disunity.

The absence of Iraqi friends and allies is another problem for the US. A self-absorbed Iraq is not a threat to its neighbors. Iran could not be more delighted. Not one neighbor of Iraq has the slightest interest in helping establish Iraq security. None. There are those that are quite pleased with events.

China is happy selling a dollars worth of goods for fifty cents to all takers. In doing so it is pursuing a goal of mercantilism unprecedented in scale. They use the huge dollar reserves as capital for their financial system and to buy favors in Latin America, Iran, South East Asia, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. On this ocean of dollars they have built a colossal merchant marine, are building a formidable blue water navy and an impressive offensive missile capability. At some time in the future, they will be able to offer their currency as a reserve currency and take their lumps with massive dollar devaluation. They may not. But they will extract a price for not doing so.

An ex-KGB punk. A Putin of a punk is also delighted with the outcome in Iraq. He has elevated Russia to a G-8 when they are barely a G-25. He has jumped rank with the help of Iraqi inspired disrupted oil markets and has celebrated with new Marxist friends like Hugo Chavez.

Oddly enough, a war planned to demonstrate American power has exposed some serious American weaknesses. Nature abhors a vacuum. Ross Perot predicted a big whooshing sound of American business fleeing to Mexico after NAFTA. Too bad someone did not predict a big whooshing sound of deflating American power and prestige over Iraq.

It is time to look outside Iraq to see the real damage being done to vital worldwide American interests. Iraq may not have external friends and enemies. America has both in important long lasting numbers.

4/05/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Buddy Larsen said...

"As far as Israel, I'm totally mystified that the rising tempo of attacks on the entire West hasn't clarified for the American Left that the whole anti-Israel raison d'etre ("the jihad is Israel's fault") has been utterly discredited.

and then you wrote:

3) a burdgeoning open alliance between Russia and an Iran racing to build nukes and swearing to wipe an ally off the earth, "

One of the prime reasons many folks cite for attacking Iran and delaying its nuclear process is Irans intention to wipe Israel off the map. As odious as this concept is, do we have a NATO like agreement with Israel? Are we compelled to enter the fray because they have made enemies?

I was asked earlier if I could think of a better hegemon then the US...ya, I could come up with plenty...how about Canada, Sweden, Finland...kinda of a silly question really.

4/05/2006 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger AST said...

I've considered various scenarios, but StrategyPage had an article with a point I hadn't considered. All three groups owe the U.S. bigtime. We intervened to protect both Kurds and Shiites from Saddam's vengeance after the last war and now we've taken him off their backs entirely. The Sunnis are now realizing that without us there, they are likely to be the victims of vengeance from the families of those Saddam put in mass graves. If we pull out, there will be three weaker states left and they'll be prey to Syria and Iran. We have to stay there at least until the Iraqis demonstrate that they can defend themselves and have the weaponry to do so.

Why no Democrats are mentioning the consequences of abandoning these people I think we all know, but they must be made to face up to them.

What really worries me is the possibility that a Democrat President would repeat LBJ's mistakes in Vietnam.

4/05/2006 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Re:China

The following three posts were submitted earlier. I believe they are worthy of consideration in this context.

Do consider that American stocks of crude oil are now at twenty year highs. This does not, of course, include the strategic reserve. It is not hard to imagine that, in a pinch, the US could muddle through for a year. Moreover, most of the US petroleum imports are not of ME origin.

Do consider that the inventory of Chinese crude stocks is probably in the thirty day range. Approximately 70% of Chinese oil imports pass through the Straight. The Closing of Hormuz would hurt the Chinese almost immediately.

Therefore, would the Iranian government risk alienating a powerful ally by blocking the waterway?
**************

Something else you might consider with reference to China is the state of its banking system. For quite some time analysts have expressed concern about the vast pool of non-performing loans held by the banks. Some estimates place the number as high as 75% -mostly loans to state sponsored or owned businesses. The potential losses range into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Taking a page from the Enron playbook, “Accounting Standards R Us”, the banks have shifted much of the bad debt into shell companies and accounts, erasing the red ink from the books.

Any economic constriction placed on the Chinese economy by a closing of the Straight would place enormous international brokerage pressure on the Chinese to cleanse the rot prior to the exportation of large flows of petroleum, C.O.D. or net. Were this to happen, China would be obliged to utilize its US cash reserves to collateralize the dubious debt.
***********

If anything I have written, beforehand, suggests “in and out” or “easy”, I have erred. To be perfectly clear, I take the position that the US will be in the region, in force, for years (?) to come. Like Gibraltar, Iraq must and will be held at all costs. The potential for loss is simply too great to lackadaisically assume that our “allies” and/or regional proxies are up to the task.

If memory serves, China has a GDP of about 10% that of the US. This would mean that, relatively, China has less to lose. Unfortunately for China, it has not the reserve capacity to deal with significant loss, given the real size of its economy compared to that of the US. Like poker, the player with $100,000 in chips has a marked advantage over the opponent with only $10,000 to wager. Succinctly, in logistics, bigger is better.

Returning to the antagonist, Iran, the country has little refining capacity. Its finished product needs must be met, on the whole, from outside outside sources. If war comes, it is difficult to imagine that the US would permit the unimpeded flow of finished product into Iran. As to how long Iran could withstand the loss of imports of every sort or how long the government could stand without such necessary inflows, I cannot say. Unless Iran has strategic reserves, heretofore unacknowledged or reported (granted, a real possibility, given the lack of reliable intelligence), days to a few weeks would seem as good a guess as any.

Again, returning to China, whose role and influence may be dispositive, she has everything to lose and little to gain from a closure of the Straight. If anything can be said of the government there, conservatism is the watchword. Essentially, I am disinclined to accept the proposition that China would acquiesce to the closing of Hormuz by the Iranians. The risk of loss to China’s strategy for the Pacific Rim is simply too great. That China signed onto today’s Security Council resolution, rather than exercising a veto or abstaining, may be indicative.

4/05/2006 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Habu for Bush speechwriter! It IS the foggy thinking in this country's boomers that keeps every scab everywhere picked open indefinitely.

Rat, right, it does for sure depend on what you said. Nobody wants to even mention the word 'tripwire' so it's hard to talk about the long-term except as we're 'in' or we're 'out'.

But can't you feel the map kinda slipping around your neck?

Funding Hamas, aka fulfilling an aid promise previously made to a legitimately-elected government, and hoping to carrot-and-stick a step forward in the long game.

Who can like it, but you veer toward oversimplification, to the possible detriment of the game as your leaders are trying to play it, when you characterize it as careless fecklessness.

4/05/2006 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

Buddy & Aristides: Aristides, right, if Washingtons and Madisons are necessary, how did a hundred other existing democracies fire up without such giants, using only ordinary leaders to plug away at a job worth doing?

This is hair-splitting in a cultural context. No one has suggested that the extraordinary is isolated from the ordinary - only that the ‘phenomenon’ itself has failed to materialize. If Washington, Madison, et al manifest at an ‘ordinary’ scale [which I always thought/hoped might happen in a western culture that makes mince meat of public icons] then thumbs up. But do not denigrate the power of their voice-vision because history has yet to record their impact.

4/05/2006 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Allen,
Your points are well taken. Economic statistics about China are difficult to evaluate because there are many Chinese not benefitting from the tremendous economic expansion. I have visited China several times over the last year. My first and lasting impression is that it is unthinkable that China and the US would ever come to hot conflict. Even we do not make politicains that nuts. Neither do they, but they will always be a formidable competitor. They have amazing ability to command things to happen and are never more than a few steps away from epropriating our military technology and secrets. It sickens me to see us so distracted with a military venture that has such a modest upside.

4/05/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Thanks 2164th, this is very relaxing: My first and lasting impression is that it is unthinkable that China and the US would ever come to hot conflict. Even we do not make politicains that nuts. Neither do they, but they will always be a formidable competitor.

While we avoid over-emphasizing their Threat, would it be too much to ask China to start over-emphasizing their Agreeance (or whatever is the opposite of 'threat')?

4/05/2006 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

DanMyers said...
Cedarford,
What, no response to my 10:31 or 10:35? Do elections count?


Do elections count? Obviously! That is why totalitarians, Islamofascist dictatorships, and democracies are so keen to have them. The largest direct election record, I believe, was held by Chairman Mao, who got over 300 million votes. But a little news:

elections = democracy?

Heck, no!

As for noble purple-fingered Iraqis, one of Saddam's Ba'athist Party officials introduced the purple inkwell about 26 years ago to prevent voters from repeatedly coming back and voting for Dear President Hussein. (The poll workers were pissed).

Jamie - Judeo-Christianity asserts that one person may be right even if the whole world disagrees with him; it asserts that there is a moral center to the universe that isn't affected by mortal concerns, no matter how inconvenient it is.

Well isn't that special! Here's a hint....The Arabs are MUSLIMS!

Jamie - Before Japanese democracy, imposed from the outside, there was Japanese imperialism, and before that there was Japanese feudalism...

Not true. Nippon had democratic institutions like elections in temples and in town and prefecture administration, and in the workplace, to promote greater consensus and social harmony. Long before Commodore Perry arrived and the amazing Meiji Resoration happened. Japan also made an internal decision to embrace a suite of democratic reforms from the West. Mostly British and Prussian, including the Diet structure (after Parliament), torts, private property rights, unions. Japan had a liberal democracy in place in the early 1900s, supplanted by the militarists that believed Japan was strong enough for Empire and beeded the resources. Left unresolved were some nasty aspects of Shinto and Bushido tradition that even had Nazis commenting on the inhuman cruelty of the Yamotos in war. After the US defeated the militarists, they were already preparing to go back to pre-militarist Japan. BUt that wasn't good enough for the US. WE dictated changes to their constitution AND their religion.

Jamie - So why can't Iraq have its own first moment?

I hope they can. But democracry depends on far more than just packs of people waving purple fingers. It depends on an internal commitment to take a path of new institutions and law and belief that it works and religion and money and other things should not interfere with it's essential exercise. Only Turkey of the Muslim countries has taken that path to a true democracy (checked by the military). Iran has robust partial democratic institutions still left from British rule, but uses them to promote Islamism. The UAE, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Malaysia, and Indonesia have initiated some reforms - but as a rule, democracy has been a failed or unwanted experiment in Islamic lands.

So lets be positive that Iraq will be an exception. But lets also be conscious that the norm is democracy cannot be imposed from the outside and after 3 years of the US burning through 260 billion dollars, 6,000 casualties, and 750 lives a year - that our patience in not inexhaustable while Arabs haggle on their "Inshallah, infidels, we will take our sweet time" schedule.

If the Arabs don't get their shit together...we owe it to America - to move on and finally get on all the problems Bush has let fester while he fixates on Iraq. It's time to either see Iraqi commitment to success or coldly decide - "OK, we tried - you were intransigent. See ya, and good luck on your Civil War".

Habu_1 said...
C4 & Ashe are obviously part of a faction that would let others fight and die so they can have their freedoms.


That's the general idea. If after 3 years, the people of Iraq are not willing to fight and die for their own freedom, they are not worth the bones of a single further US GI.

4/05/2006 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Lek the Avenger said...

"Funding Hamas, aka fulfilling an aid promise previously made to a legitimately-elected government, and hoping to carrot-and-stick a step forward in the long game."

Well, Buddy, perhaps those commitments to "AID" the Jordyptian exiles can be met with actual, physical pumps, pipes, switches, poles, cement, tools... and instructions:

"1/Roll up your sleeves.
2/Get busy helping yourself.
3/BUILD something FOR your people.
4/STOP whining."

4/05/2006 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Allen, you might mention that the Chinese reserves of USDollars represent only about 6% of the outstanding USTreasury obligations. Of the total 40% foreign-held, Britain and Japan dwarf PRC holdings, and would defend in concert any attack on USD. Were it not for the worrisome PRC/ChiCom military buildup, China's USD would be seen as an investment in the USA (it is), and as an unalloyed positive force for raising global living standards, with the synergistic effects on inflation-checking low-cost plant and labor capacity.

Granted at double our growth rate, PRC takes points off our total share of global commerce, but we had our highest share right after WWII, when Europe and Japan were flat and PRC was undergoing regular famines. The world's wealth is rising up toward ours. C'est la vie; so long as it don't tread on us.

Granted that "were it not for the mil buildup" sounds like "other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?"

4/05/2006 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"I was asked earlier if I could think of a better hegemon then the US...ya, I could come up with plenty...how about Canada, Sweden, Finland...kinda of a silly question really."

I've got some more great ones: Luxemburg, Lichenstein, and San Marino (the only Western European country to vote in a Communist government, for those scoring at home).

4/05/2006 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

Re: "Funding Hamas"

I really regret having to disagree with you on the issue of Hamas funding; I agree with you on so many other matters.

First, when you speak of promises made to the previous PA government, if a "government" it could be called without disgusting irony, that administration had in English, at least, renounced violence and accepted the perpetuity of the nation Israel, borders to be determined. The Hamas has done neither, despite the best efforts of its erstwhile suitors to make it seem so.

No administration in the history of the US has ever disenfranchised any segment of the citizenry as the matter of political expediency. Yes, I know there are the instances of Royalists, Confederates, and Japanese, but, agreeing for the sake of brevity, only, these cases occurred during or as the result of open hostilities against the United States. Hardly the case with American Jews, you would agree? And, support for the Hamas would have exactly the effect of abrogating those parts of Constitutional law requiring the unstinting protection of the rights of all citizens.

Consequently, the predilection of the Bush administration to support the current PA mafia must be resisted at all costs. The price of complicity will be one horrendously unimaginable to the US.

4/05/2006 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Lek, I'm sure not defending helping Hamas in any way. I'm just a dumbass who tries not to pick at Condi Rice while she works her visions out her way. I don't even know the deal, except that it's international and predates Hamas winning the election. We're in a weird position, not liking the results of the process we've been promoting. Gotta give it some (sigh) time.

4/05/2006 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

allen,

You seem to be treating and American Jew as if he/she were an Israeli. There is a differnce, is there not?

4/05/2006 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

The first civics lesson following a free and fair election is governing. Hamas must now man municipal offices and provide municipal services and security to the people that elected them. They can no longer govern from the rear seat of a stolen Toyota Landcruiser. If they reject violence and make peace with Israel, they are blessed with being located next to the most dynamic economy in the Arab world. They can achieve peace and wealth. If they do not make that choice, they will learn the next civics lesson. Bad choices have consequences.

4/05/2006 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Allen, I'm assuming that our every effort re Hamas is dovetailing with the Israeli gov't. My feeling is that we and Israel are good-cop/bad-cop, with israel refusing to deal with terrorists, while we good-cop, working with the duly-elected gov't. This thing has ramifications spreading out through western supporters in the rest of Islam, too. I see no air between the long-term interests of USA and Israel.

4/05/2006 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen, 7:16 PM

Well said!

The present symbiotic relationship of the PRC and the US would seem, again, to elicit China's rejection of any plan by Iran to interfere with the Straight. Obviously, Iran is a sovereign state, but its lack of capital structure and consequent financial foundation makes it exceedingly vulnerable to Chinese countervailing leverage.

As to poor Mrs. Lincoln, I am reminded of Ms. Pelosi: good news, she no longer does Botox; bad news, she no longer does Botox.

4/05/2006 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

ha! the only thing not frozen is her mouth, the only thing that ought to be, is her mouth.

4/05/2006 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

ha! the only thing not frozen is her mouth, the only thing that ought to be, is her mouth.

Then there's Bawbawa Boxer, the mouth movements are okay, just need to turn off the sounds coming out. People might think she's saying words that mean something in English.

4/05/2006 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I saw a giant smiling big-brother little-sister face on tv today, it was Katie Couric smiling and nodding as she relayed the obviously world-shaking news that she was changing channels from "I Love Lenin" to "Gilligan's Gulag". I broke two ribs diving out the window as it was closer than the remote, wish I hadn't been upstairs but what the hell, but I think she was explaining that nine hundred million dollars per show was not the reason for her "embracing change".

4/05/2006 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

ash,

Re: "You seem to be treating and American Jew as if he/she were an Israeli."

Actually, that is not what I am saying, although legally, both under Israeli and US statutes, they are or can be, simultaneously.

Israel has always been a "safe haven" for any/every Jew. That was understood to be the primary driver for the creation of the country under resolution of the UN. Whether American Jews care is arguable, but not arguable here and now. Suffice to say, I think you would find most American Jews unconflicted - polls show that most support the administration's Israeli foreign policy, generally.

My concern about the funding of the Hamas is strategic, the civil rights of Jewish Americans offering the most significant present avenue for both personal and general rhetoric. I would make the same presentation were the potentially aggrieved Roman Catholics. If the administration funds the present government of the PA, no matter how sophisticated the rationale, it will ultimately prove to our enemies that it is incapable of an uncontradicted dialectic. That being the case, the justification for action against our future adversaries will be hopelessly compromised.

4/05/2006 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Allen,

Have we met before? Your voice, particularly in the last post, sounds awfully familiar.

4/05/2006 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

ash,

Re: allen, 8:15 PM

Addendum

Succinctly, if the Bush administration has been beaten about the head and shoulders by its opponents over the so-called failure of WMD discovery, that will pale by comparison to the onslaught coming with the funding, by any means whatsoever, of a terrorist organization.

4/05/2006 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

who dem demon song lyrics from, Mika? I can hear the song, but the arteest excapes me.

4/05/2006 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

mika,

Re: allen

I have lived on three continents; most recently (2002 - 2005) in Germany.

Born in Missouri and lived there for many years.

4/05/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

The same rolling stones that sang sympathy for the devil.

4/05/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Heard on the tv yest that the Hamas gov't was "in crisis", "broke" and really upset with USA over some hitch in the aid.

Hell, i'm gonna google up the whole thing, and be a 5-minute expert.

4/05/2006 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

oh, of course, the stones. how booshwa of me.

4/05/2006 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

The mannerism of speech in that post triggered the feeling I read this before somewhere online. Must be deja vu.

4/05/2006 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Palistine needs money.
Palistine is at War with Israel, our ally.
The US must fund Palistine.
It is a promise that was made to Mr Sadat and Mr Arafat.
Each long dead.

Money is fungible.
Money to terrorists pays for terror.

That is the essence of the Bush Doctrine.

If we have to give money to enemy terrorists because of decisions made before the War began, then there is no war.

Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of our ally. We will fund those efforts, no matter what the funds are dedicated to, money is fungible.

Arm the tomahawks, we have found the enemy's sponsor, finally the Enemy has a name, it is US.

4/05/2006 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Allen, your "incapable of an unconflicted dialectic" is addressed in the closing of Wretchard's new post. Don't know what to do about it, we're too intermingled to have a real war to stop the "avalanch of partisan attacks", though I feel much more empathy with almost every demographic-- race gender politics language nationality--on this planet than I do with spoiled, dishonest, selfish, ungrateful, ignorant American hard-lefties. Few ever in time or space have so coldly gnawed the hand that feeds them.

4/05/2006 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Oh, the ancient Camp David payoff. I had thought there must have been a new proviso. Why, Allen, the sudden anger over something so long-running? Not that longevity makes it any more palatable. Glad I'm not Condi. The time to've raised holy hell was during the Arafat Intifadas.

4/05/2006 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Yes, buddy,I think that the history of the payoffs began then. It was running to about $35 Million USD per month, to the PA. $4 Billion USD per annum to Eygpt.

Do we continue those payments?
To Hamas.

What if old Neville Chamberlain had been paying tribute, both before and even more after he went to Munich, to the NAZIs?

How would history judge that appeasement?
How will we judge our own appeasement payments as they become better known.

Think the Dubai Ports deal was a bust for Mr Bush?, wait 'til US figure out Mr Bush wants to fund Hamas, more business as usual, not a War on Terror.

That giant sucking sound Mr Perot spoke of, that weren't nothin' compared to the sound of flushin' US money down a Hamas's rat hole.

Talk about your political tin ear.

4/05/2006 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Well, I'm watching Condi Rice on the tv right now, and she is a dazzling intellect. have faith awhile longer, rat.

4/05/2006 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

She could be right as rain, buddy, like on the Dubai deal.

How hard is it to run to the "right" of funding terrorists?

This is how the Bush Administration is going to
"Let it rip"?

They are about out of time, buddy.
It just ain't me.

4/05/2006 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Go 'way from my window
Leave at your own chosen speed
I'm not the one you want, babe
I'm not the one you need
You say you're lookin' for someone
Who's never weak but always strong
To protect you an' defend you
Whether you are right or wrong
Someone to open each and every door
But it ain't me, babe
No, no, no, it ain't me babe. It ain't me you're lookin' for, babe.

--Bob Dylan, somewhere in the 60s.

4/05/2006 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

sorry, that was goofy.

Sometimes I think, tho, that we expect events on cue, to happen when they 'ought to'. But the closer you get to anything, the more hair, the more detailia has to be coped with. This is a time to believe in your chief.

4/05/2006 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tex said...

c4: If the Arabs don't get their shit together...we owe it to America - to... finally get on all the problems Bush has let fester.

Reason 47 to lose the war: household chores.

Next.

2164th: [Hamas] can no longer govern from the rear seat of a stolen Toyota Landcruiser.

:-) Memorably said. And if Palestinians were a rational citizenry, very apt. For now though, I think the Palestinians are so far gone in the spasms of death-cult that a sane evaluation of Hamas' governance is quite beyond them. Seriously: when Hamas robs the aid chest and abandons the Eternal Refugees to their squalor, who do you think will catch hell for it? The Martyrdom Superstars, or...?

I agree there should be consequences for Palestinian madness: consequences ranging from sealed borders to permanent loss of land. (!) But I get the impression the US Administration ranks the Palestinian problem far down its list of priorities for the second term. Bigger fish to fry, I mean -- and to my mind, one very big fish does need to be gutted, and soon...

buddy: I feel much more empathy with almost every demographic-- race gender politics language nationality--on this planet than I do with spoiled, dishonest, selfish, ungrateful, ignorant American hard-lefties.

Mm-hmm. I don't like them either. :-) Of course, energetic Lefties don't want to be liked. What they want -- what they live for, to the neglect of every natural and humane desire -- is power. I vote we never give it to them. All in favor?

--

I appreciated "The political game". Wretchard's / Ignatius' notes on the framework of the unity government were especially helpful. They explained succinctly the purpose of each governmental body. Checks and balances: good idea! And U.S. armed forces at the ready, just in case: that's an even better idea.

4/06/2006 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

[eye roll]

Cedarford, I said:

"Judeo-Christianity asserts that one person may be right even if the whole world disagrees with him; it asserts that there is a moral center to the universe that isn't affected by mortal concerns, no matter how inconvenient it is."

And you said,

"Well isn't that special! Here's a hint....The Arabs are MUSLIMS!"

But funnily enough, you left off my closing sentences in that paragraph:

"These [Judeo-Christian] tenets aren't exactly conducive to representative government either... yet somehow we've made a go of it. Iraq has benefits medieval Europe did not - namely, concurrent examples. Iraqis (and not just Iraqis, either) don't have to wonder whether, say, Athenian democracy could work in a modern world; they can look at multiple representative governments and judge their relative success for themselves. Yet you seem to think they're just barely able to compare two melons in the market."

...with my added emphasis, since you missed the gist completely the first time around, apparently. Would you care to address the point I was actually making rather than just making an out-of-context attempt to make me look stupider than I can manage on my own?

ash, what makes Canada, Sweden, Finland, and whatever other socialist paradises better hegemons than the United States would be? Is it their thriving economies? Their determined and persuasive standing armies, ready to take action when necessary? Their commitment to classical liberal ideals rather than cheap lip service to multiculturalism? Gosh, you're right, it was a silly question. Because a hegemon doesn't need to have the ability to be forceful, economically, militarily, or philosophically, in order to be effective...

4/06/2006 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

Re: "sudden anger"

Since 1983, with the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, I have made the same case to any person willing to listen. While courteous, all counsel patience - better the devil we know than the one we don't, don't you know. All the while, each additional insult to humanity and reason has upped the ante. At some point, even the addicted gambler must take stock and fold a losing hand. To the misfortune of this administration, that time has now come regarding the US and its relationship with the PA. To yield to any degree to the Hamas will cause irreparable damage to the US.

4/06/2006 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Allen, sorry, I had mistakenly placed the umbrage beginning on the recent appearance of the document on the base in Georgia (limitation of this medium, as usual).

I think you're right--as is desert rat--to run to the right of the admin on this. But, with an idea that we may be unaware of the admin's various inside ploys, coupled with an awareness that we're all on the same side.

4/06/2006 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Tex said...

c4: a better hegemon then the US...ya, I could come up with plenty...how about Canada...

Reason 62 to lose the war: we're not Canada.

Next.

4/06/2006 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

Re: "all on the same side"

Indubitably. And the administration should thank its lucky stars.

4/06/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger The probligo said...

"Why can no one say AMERICA! YOU FUCKED UP, AND THAT IS YOUR PROBLEM! SNAP OUT OF IT!"

Oooppps, sorry about the misquote. The devil made me do it.

Frankly I can only wonder what might have happened if the US had started the war in Iraq (not the GWOT or whatever) with the fundamental premise that the Iraq of the past had not worked, had never worked as a political entity; that it was time to try something new...

Like three separate states - Shi'a, Sunni and Kurd.

4/06/2006 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Unless we get religion out of government there is no hope for a stable one either here or Iraq. Free elections DOES NOT a democracy make. It's a constitution that guarantees rights for everyone that is honored by everyone. It must be the least common denominator of the society allowing anything the least group chooses for their life style. I think, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness pretty well sums that up.

Religion is the great enemy of democracy. It always insists on setting the life style for everyone. In territories where religious law supercedes civil law there can be no democracy. This tells us there is no winning in Iraq and that all we have done is open the door for competing religions to war with each other.

The simple minded approach by the Bush administration shows a complete lack of understanding of the principle even though they have set our country on a course to become a church driven one just like the Islamic countries. There's a light at the end of that dark tunnel. The Bible where Bush, his evangelicals and the Muslims get their authority to dictate life style, it, the Bible is a proved hoax. Moses has been identified from the written historical record proving beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt the Bible is bogus. The story is on the Internet at:
http://www.hoax-buster.org

It will take a long time for the wounds that hoax, the Bible has caused to heal. Don't look for miracles is what that says.

4/12/2006 04:43:00 PM  

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