Thursday, October 12, 2006

Impunity

The New York Times belatedly senses a mounting world crisis and wants America to act forcefully to deal with it, with or without Russia and China; with or without the UN. Yet it cannot bring itself to admit what part it has played in the problem. In an op-ed today it said:


Khartoum was obviously feeling cocky. But why shouldn’t it? The Security Council — or more to the point, the big powers that run the Security Council — made clear that it won’t send in troops to stop the genocide unless Sudan first agrees. Then there’s Iran, which is still defiantly enriching uranium. And the North Koreans, who blew off the rest of the world when they blew off what they said was a nuclear weapon this week. ...

There is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to empowering rogue states. The Chinese have been shielding Sudan and North Korea. The Russians have been shielding Iran. ... Closing our eyes for another two years isn’t an answer. Washington needs to assert its leadership, no matter how tattered, on all these fronts. We suspect that cargo inspections and a cutoff of military and luxury trade will not be enough to get North Korea to back down. But having started there, Mr. Bush now needs to tell China and Russia that all future relations will be judged on how they hold the North to account. ...

As for Darfur, Khartoum might feel less cocky if Mr. Bush announced that he was taking the lead on soliciting troops for a peacekeeping force while asking NATO to start drawing up plans for a possible forced entry should the United Nations fail to act.

Why, the Times asks, can't the Bush administration be as forceful as President Clinton? "When the Russians blocked U.N. action in Kosovo, President Clinton got NATO to stop the killing." In the NYT's view the America has been paralyzed because of Iraq and the political weakness of the Bush Administration.

President Bush has squandered so much of America’s moral authority — not to mention our military resources — that efforts to shame or bully the right behavior from adversaries (and allies) sound hollow. ... But the United States is so overstretched in Iraq that no one in this White House is even talking about sending NATO to stop ethnic cleansing that has already left more than 200,000 dead and displaced more than two million. ... We fear it will take a lot more than the trials of a few low-level prison guards to repair the damage, whether from Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, the secret prisons or the whole mismanaged Iraq war. There can be no impunity at home either.

Of course, what the editorial apprently means is that there can be no impunity for George Bush; for the Democrats impunity is awarded as a matter of principle. In fact, Oxblog examines the widely held liberal argument that since "the Democrats are the opposition, they have no obligation to propose an alternative policy for Iraq" -- and finds it unpersuasive. "The point being that it is absolutely impossible for anyone to do worse than Bush, so it is completely irrevelant whether Democrats have polished arguments and well-developed plans" is an intellectually bankrupt stance besides being the fundamental reason why the Republican Party has the monopoly on national security issues. You can't fight something with nothing. And that's in the end what the NYT editorial throws up in the face of the world crisis. Nothing.

Update

Here's a related article in the Washington Post from Robert Burns, which notes that the US military is not all about Iraq. As has been pointed out on this site before, the last 8 years have seen major changes that have practically flown under the radar. The redeployment of US troops from the DMZ; the buildup at Guam; ballistic missile defense -- just to name a few -- are instances of the vast change in US posture since the end of the Cold War. Not every analyst things the changes are laudatory, but the Wapo story reminds us that American defense needs are "full spectrum". They need to take into account a vast spread of threats, ranging from nuclear war, to a conventional clash between armies to fighting terrorists in different parts of the world. Here's what Burns has to say:

Much of the United States' ground combat might is tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the U.S. is reducing its infantry forces in South Korea. But American air and sea power in east Asia, a key to almost any imaginable military conflict with North Korea, has grown in numbers and reach. ... Michael Green, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a private research group, said in an interview Tuesday that short of a total collapse of North Korea, the U.S. military has what it needs to handle the problem. "The South Korean ground forces are strong enough to handle and deter a North Korean attack on the ground," said Green, who was senior director for Asia on President Bush's National Security Council. "What they need is help with air forces and naval forces, and that is not what we're using in Iraq right now."

And here's the counterintuitive part, but one which is apparently in line with the current administration's strategy: shifting the burden onto US allies.

Next week Rumsfeld is scheduled to meet at the Pentagon with his South Korean counterpart to discuss progress in reducing U.S. forces in South Korea, consolidating the remaining troops on fewer bases farther from the North Korean border, and shifting more command authority to the South Korean government. The Pentagon wants to restore wartime control of South Korean forces to the Seoul government as early as 2009, but the South Koreans say they need more time, at least until 2012, to create a new command structure.

That's why the argument about the opposition not having any obligation to propose alternative defense policies is so nonsensical. It is a fundamental requirement for any serious political party to constantly refine its thinking about what it takes to keep the United States and the world safe. It can never be enough for any opposition party to say "it is absolutely impossible for anyone to do worse than Bush" and therefore you must vote for us, whatever we happen to think or whether we have bothered to think anything at all.

21 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

ot but worth the read (ht 'Rat)
--
Mr. al-Hakim‘s surprising triumph
Thursday, October 12, 2006
In a remarkable development, the Iraqi parliament passed a law allowing the formation of federal regions inside Iraq. Three weeks ago, analysts (including Westhawk) assumed that opposition by the Sunni parties, the secular Shi’ite bloc, and the Sadr movement inside the Shi’ite religious alliance would be enough to prevent the legislation from passing.

10/12/2006 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger ipw533 said...

Nothing, eh? From the NYT I'd expect nothing less....

10/12/2006 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

It is hard to deny that the US has gone from mission creep to mission impossible. Nato maybe has one more mission in it, but then what? If something else comes up, who is going to be ondeck. There is some hope in what Doug has posted regarding Westhawk. An Iraqi wish to split up would be welcome if it permits a reduction of US troops performing unwanted and unappreciated police duty. The concern that the Shiites will unite with Iran is unlikely and at this point, if that is what they want, let them.

10/12/2006 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

The problem with partitioning Iraq is that Bush has a tendency to dig in and stand fast with his first decision (shades of Harriet Miers here). Two years from now the Republican platform could be to hold together a united Iraq ala Bush's vision while the Democrats promote a plan that is more in accord with the facts on the ground and the will of the Iraqi people. Already, Hillary is talking about "redeploying" US troops to the north and south as a way to put pressure on the people to "stand up and fight" for Iraq, as she puts it.

10/12/2006 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger SarahWeddington said...

Clinton didn't stop any killing in Kosovo. ANy objective look at the fatcs will show that the killing actually INCREASED during Allied Force to much higher levels than it was before. Billy Jeff threw NATO in with the terrorist KLA and other Muslim gangs allied with Iran, AQ, and the Chechen terrorists. What an embarrasment that whole situation was.

Of course Clinton was right there to stop the killing in Rwanda, Sudan, the Congo, and the 500K Iraqis that were dying edvery year due to Clinton's sanctions.

The NYT is pathetic, but useful as a barometer of just how lame the lib establishment is.

10/12/2006 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Why is it that Democrats want to deploy the military only when US interests are not involved? Should the President send troops to Dafur? Wont our troops perhaps need to kill a few Muslims in order to stop the genocide? I thought violence never solved anything. I thought war was bad. What I should understand is that using the military to defend America is whats bad. Oh yes, vote Democrat...it all makes sense.

10/12/2006 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

To the extent that the admin is (suddenly) insufficiently bold for the NYT, that tentativeness can be ascribed to the unrelenting attacks from the political faction led by, created by, the NYT.

It's like shooting someone in the foot, and then blaming them for bleeding.

10/12/2006 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

This is incredible! The NYT saying Bush should be more forcefull...!

This means that now is not the time to act rashly. Let the Norks feel the enmity of the world. A silent U.S. is an unanswerable "I told you so".

What do these people think the Norks have been doing and we have been screaming about all these years? There is something Orwellian about the Left, the Far Left , the Liberals and the Democratic Party and Academia and Hollywood. If you made this stuff up no one would believe you. Where are the adults in the Democratic Party? This does not bode well for America. It is a very sad thing to see. These people need a nanny.

10/12/2006 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger katom said...

I am a fan of this lady.
One well-placed Murder
http://www.democracyarsenal.org/2006/10/one_wellplaced_.html

That posting may not be her best one indeed.

I still can not believe Bush,
but really want America with authority as a nation.

Sorry...

10/13/2006 03:57:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

In other words, the NYT "Supports the refugess" in the Sudan "but not the war" that would be required to fix the problem.

Likewise, it "supports strong measures" to deal with North Korea and Iran "but not the war" that would be required to fix those problems, too.

This is like "supporting the Daytona 500" but "not the gasoline and cars" required to run it.

10/13/2006 04:46:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

The MSM led by the NYT risks being ignored altogether by responsible adults.

To make the assertion that 'We have no ideas, no vision, no leadership, but want to be taken seriously in our lust for position' causes me to worry about the future of our democratic government.

We need, and I say this with a consistent record of staunch conservatism, a viable second party to survive.

The question is: What entity will fill the void left by the now bankrupt and defunct Democrat party?

10/13/2006 05:52:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Buddy: Spot on (as usual).

The Times exploited Abu G., Guantanamo and the difficulties of this long war -- all of them not unprecedented in past wars -- in a deliberate attempt to diminish the image and 'moral authority' of the U.S. in the eyes of its own citizens and those around the world who read the Times.

A bit dishonest for the Times to portray relentlessly everything the U.S. does in the most negative possible light, then hold up the opinions of those who rely up the Times as evidence of American waywardness.

10/13/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

P.S. I've long contended that the 'world-hates-us' meme is a con aimed at the growing number of weak-kneed Americans more interested in what others think than in doing the right thing.

People around the world aren't able to 'watch' America as do spectators at a sporting event, judging for themselves the quality of play.

Rather, the only picture of this country most people on this planet will ever see is presented to them through words and images selected by editors and producers in the politically-compromised newsrooms of the West and at state-owned propaganda organs in places like China and the Middle East.

It's fraudulent to present an exclusive, non-stop narrative of American wickedness, then hold up the manufactured animus of the audience as 'proof' of U.S. waywardness.

And I've never bought into the 'whole-world-can't-be-wrong' crap either. I could start with what 'the world' thought of Copernicus and work my way through history to 'peaceful co-existence' -- but I'd need my own blog to do it (and I'm stretching Wretchard's hospitality as it is with this rant).

I predict the volume and viciousness of anti-Americanism will be reduced if Americans elect leaders more susceptible to the seduction of oily European diplomats, more quickly duped by third world/NGO/UN con artists, and more easily intimidated by Chinese totalitarians.

10/13/2006 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

In other words, the Times and its cousins want to cow us into electing the 'right' leaders and pursue 'correct' policies -- policies which correspond more closely to the consensus of trans-national elites and anti-democratic regimes than they do to America's actual interests.

I'll shut up now.

10/13/2006 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Staring In Disbelief said...

Sarah, Chris & Buddy are right on the money. Why does anyone even pay attention to the NYT fiction-contradiction machine anymore? Cripes, I can't imagine how a group of people with that kind of non-sensical thinking even find their car keys in the morning.

Darfur is one more tragic horror on an entire continent of tragic horrors that we can only marginally influence. Iraq is only important because of its position athwart an ocean of vital natural resources. So what's wrong with that? I'm proud that when our couthry intervenes in its own natiional interest (as is its RIGHT) it does so in a way consistent with its highest ideals (establishing democracy, rule-of-law, human rights, etc.) instead of what are probably safer imperial methods like partition, mass murder, persecution, proxies and bribery. I cannot say I have confidence in our approach and prospects in Iraq, but I understand the dilemmas and hard choices our leadership has had to make and am personally glad it wasn't my call. Install democracy or a strongman? Massive force (like, say, 500,000 troops a la South VietNam) and risk dependency (a la South VietNam) or marginal force (e.g. 130,000) and risk a lack of decisive effect (no end in sight) but with the hope that the Iraqis will stand up to it themselves (a la the Kurds, who had a 10 year head start)?

Truman was reviled in his time (and in some ways deservedly so) only to be recognized as one of our greatest statesmen. Bush's legacy to history is being written write now but won;t be read with clarity for probably 20 years. Let's hope there's a happy ending.

10/13/2006 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"Closing our eyes for another two years isn’t an answer. Washington needs to assert its leadership, no matter how tattered, on all these fronts."

They are admitting they have had their eyes closed for the last 6-14 years+?

How'd things get tattered? Perhaps mocking the phrase "axis of evil" was involved...who did dat?

What gets me is the NYT ceased being a great newspaper in the mid-late '70's. Been all poser-ville ever since. Gee... who was Prez in mid-late '70's anyway?

10/13/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Forklift said...

enscout:

I think things are further along than you indicate. It's clear to me that the capable young professional people I associate with are not using the MSM and NYT to form their opinions and plans for the future. They're looking to sources like PJ Media and numerous other alternatives.
Isn't it just too delicious seeing the lefties confused by their own silly ideas?

10/14/2006 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger tckurd said...

Staring In Disbelief said...
Sarah, Chris & Buddy are right on the money. Why does anyone even pay attention to the NYT fiction-contradiction machine anymore? Cripes, I can't imagine how a group of people with that kind of non-sensical thinking even find their car keys in the morning.


It's the New York Times - I'm sure they're taking the subway. I can't imagine how a group of people with that kind of non-sensical thinking even find their subway tokens in the morning.

10/14/2006 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger tckurd said...

But to be fair, it's a time when The Daily Show is considered news.

I mean, I remember Jon Stewart in his first shows -- he looked like the deer that had been HIT by the headlights.

But somehow, he's now relevant as an authoritative source, not an entertainment jockey.

But the kiddies - they watch Stewart. Then they read similar headlines at the NYT. Somehow, this will lure non-sensicals into believing.

It's like a young twenty-something friend of mine who believes the moon landings are a hoax - because he saw a "pretty convincing" TV show on Fox (yes we all say that and wanted to hang ourselves). When I showed him he was in lockstep with Bill Kaysing's thinking, he decided to take another look.

There can be hope - but you won't read about it at the NYT.

10/14/2006 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger tckurd said...

Correction: "(yes we all saw that and wanted to hang ourselves)"


Sorry, having some trouble with my neocon cloven hooves this morning.

10/14/2006 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I find if you grasp your forked tail between your front hooves, you can keyboard just fine.

Here's where leftist thought-by-slogan ends up:

10/14/2006 09:37:00 AM  

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