Friday, May 30, 2008

Who can you trust?

Two news articles related to Pakistan are in the news. The first describes how Pakistan's AQ Khan recanted a "confession" that he participated in an underground nuclear arms market. The second is an NYT report on suspicions that Pakistan's Frontier Corps is refusing to fight the Taliban and may in fact be aiding them.

Here's the ABC article about AQ Khan's recantation.

The Pakistani scientist blamed for running a rogue network that sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya has recanted his confession, telling ABC News the Pakistani government and President Perez Musharraf forced him to be a "scapegoat" for the "national interest."

"I don't stand by that," Dr. A.Q. Khan told ABC News in a 35-minute phone interview from his home in Islamabad, where he has been detained since "confessing" that he ran the nuclear network on his own, without the knowledge of the Pakistani government.

Interestingly, Khan doesn't deny his actions so much as the allegation that they were unauthorized by the Pakistani government. That raises the question of exactly how reliable Pakistan is as an "ally" in the nonproliferation effort.

"Those people who were supposed to know knew it," Khan said about his activities. If true, it would mean Pakistan lied to the U.S. and the international community about its role in providing nuclear weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

"Those people who were suppose to know" would certainly include the very top of Pakistan's leadership. In particular, Khan cited a trip to North Korea. "Khan said the North Korean nuclear weapons program was 'well-advanced' before he arrived, as part of an officially sanctioned trip by his government."

In another news article, the NYT describes how a Pakistani counterterror group may be double-crossing the US. The NYT's source is "Sen. Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the U.S. Senate's committee on armed forces."

"If that's our intelligence assessment, then there's a real question as to whether or not we should be putting money into strengthening the Frontier Corps on the Pakistan side because if anything there's some evidence that the Pakistan army is providing support to the Taliban," Levin told reporters after visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan this week.

But why just the Frontier Corps? Is the problem limited to that unit? Both stories underscore the limits and difficulties inherent in containing nuclear proliferation and terrorism using proxies in general and Pakistan in particular. Treachery among allies has a long and sordid pedigree. Some years ago Bill Gertz wrote a book called Treachery, which essentially argued that terror groups are connected, in one way or the other, to America's "friends".

Nor is betrayal a recent phenomenon. At Yalta, near the end of the "Good War", the Allies, perhaps with the aid of sympathetic foreign office officials in the Churchill and Roosevelt governments, condemned Eastern Europe to Stalin's tyranny. Normally it is the powerless who are apt to be left holding the bag.

That is because the long term disincentive to betray is the prospect of eventual payback. In the classic case of the "Prisoner's Dilemma" the incentives to betrayal are eliminated if the game is played continuously. This is because the betrayed can get back at the betrayer. Judas gets his and that prospect, rather than conscience, makes cowards of double-crossers. This is why the powerless, as was the case of the Eastern Europeans, are most commonly sold down the river. They are incapable of imposing payback.

In the iterated prisoner's dilemma the game is played repeatedly. Thus each player has an opportunity to "punish" the other player for previous non-cooperative play. Cooperation may then arise as an equilibrium outcome. The incentive to defect is overcome by the threat of punishment, leading to the possibility of a cooperative outcome. So if the game is infinitely repeated, cooperation may be a subgame perfect Nash equilibrium although both players defecting always remains an equilibrium and there are many other equilibrium outcomes.

Great powers, like the United States, derive power from maintaining a consistent policy because consistency guarantees the eventual punishment of traitors. It would have been difficult to successfully prosecute the Cold War without a common policy among successive American Presidents.

One of the unintended consequences of a Barack Obama's avowed intention to repudiate his predecessor's policy is that it sends a signal to America's betrayers that there may be no consequences for their actions. And while there may be good reasons to change policy when it isn't working, one of the implicit costs of doing so is that it weakens the disincentives to betrayal.

Will Pakistan fear the wrath of Barack Obama? Maybe they already know.





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73 Comments:

Blogger Mrs. Davis said...

BO has threatened to invade, so they have reason to be concerned.

5/30/2008 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Where did Khan first get his nuclear education? Surely he didn't learn how to make nukes all on his own and do it in Pakistan with his own little pink fingers. Who did he steal the knowledge and technology from?

5/30/2008 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Doc99 said...

Khan worked in Nuclear Physics in the Netherlands and Belgium in the 1970's. Undoubtedly, he brought home some souvenirs.

5/30/2008 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The Dutch

In 1972, the year he received his PhD, Khan joined the staff of the Physical Dynamics Research Laboratory (FDO) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. FDO was a subcontractor for URENCO, the uranium enrichment facility at Almelo in the Netherlands, which had been established in 1970 by the United Kingdom, West Germany, and the Netherlands to assure a supply of enriched uranium for the European nuclear reactors. The URENCO facility used Zippe-type centrifuge technology to separate the fissionable isotope uranium-235 out of uranium hexafluoride gas by spinning a mixture of the two isotopes at up to 100,000 revolutions a minute. The technical details of these centrifuge systems are regulated as secret information by export controls because they could be used for the purposes of nuclear proliferation. These technical details along with blue prints of centrifuge were clandestinely 'taken' by A Q Khan and were used later to develop his own nuclear black market..
...
In December 1975, Khan suddenly left the Netherlands; he returned to Pakistan in 1976.[4].

The former Dutch Prime Minister, Ruud Lubbers, said in early August 2005 that the Government of the Netherlands knew of Dr. A.Q. Khan "stealing" the secrets of nuclear technology but let him go on at two occasions after the CIA expressed their wish to continue monitoring his movements.


All on wiki

The idea that Dr Khan ran a "nuclear network" independent of the Pakistani Generals is nonsensical, always has been.

5/30/2008 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Roy Lofquist said...

I have maintained from the start that the Pak government initiated the Khan activities. I have also maintained that the US knew. What we see here is a diplomatic two-step. Pakistan is allowed to save face in exchange for its cooperation vis-a-vis Afghanistan.

5/30/2008 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Somewhat OT, Wretchard, what happened to your post on the German immigration policy?

Will you repost it? It was very interesting. I agreed with your assessment on the language being a veil for impermissible topics.

--------------
Westhawk also has a post on this, calling Pakistan a 5GW opponent, both an enemy and ally at the same time. Perhaps another word for a failed state or tribal agglomeration unable to become a state.

Ultimately, the wisdom of Harris in that the people not the leaders are the cause of the problem is likely to be born out by events. It's unlikely that the policy of Khan and his backers were unpopular at least with the tribal grouping. Who sought advantage from nuclear proliferation.

Probably not the least of which was foreign networks offering safe-havens to tribal leaders if things go south back home.

5/30/2008 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Another way to look at it is this: the Frontier Corps can't betray the Taliban until they are good and hooked in with them.

Sen. Obama has been busily negotiating on our enemies behalf -- acting as their lawyer, you might say. And our prosecutor. Because the US is guilty of many crimes. The Democrat's have already plead guilty (on our nation's behalf) to torture, to imperialist wars of aggression, to despoiling the planet and seeking the ultimate destruction of human life for profit. Quite a list.

It will be hard to make good on all that bad. But he's already started. He's offering Iran Unilateral and Rapid withdrawal from Iraq. He says he will abandon missile defense, as well as our allies. He solemnly promises to make deep cuts in our arsenal. He will shackle our security policy to "an international test" (and it ain't pass/fail -- more like "fail/fail").

Imagine what more the mullahs will get by simply pretending to go along for a few years (they are great at that). After all, it is not like anyone will check. In return for a promise of some sort, maybe we can make up that 35 billion that went missing recently? We'll call it "make good money" for all the harm we've done them. With more to come, of course.

As a bonus, he promises the world he will raise taxes and trigger a trade war, which should tank our economy. We can file that under "self mutilation while praying for forgiveness." From ourselves. For we are the people we are waiting for to punish us. And to forgive us. But that will have to wait until the second term.

5/30/2008 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

The idea that Dr Khan ran a "nuclear network" independent of the Pakistani Generals is nonsensical, always has been.

Exactly right, according to a well written, well documented book I read recently, the title of which I, alas, cannot recall right now. They were thick as thieves.

And still are.

5/30/2008 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Terrorists, who are the most susceptible to betrayal, because they are weak in conventional strength, control their populations by ruthlessly revenging themselves on informants. Although formally unschooled in "game theory", terrorists -- and mafiosos -- intuitively understand the power of carrying over accounts. Thus, while government can come into a village by day and plead for cooperation, for as long as the terrorists can come by night, the pleas will fall on deaf ears.

Who in the long run should the Frontier Corps fear the most? The Taliban or the US. The Taliban live there and long after America loses interest in the Northwest Frontier, the bloodthirsty mullahs and their memories will remain.

This is not an argument for entering the thug game. A great power cannot survive by being a thug. But no power has long endured unless it has a reputation for dealing out justice. Justice is not an arbitrary thing; it isn't founded on caprice. Rather, it stands for a willingness to enforce certain well-understood rules. Nuclear nonproliferation among irresponsible powers and the prohibition against terrorism are two of the most important rules under which 21st century civilization operates.

There is in certain "progressive" circles the idea that we can let both those rules fall into disuse. Or be lax in its implementation. And the temptation to do so is great because watching "allies" like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is a tiresome and thankless task. I wonder if there anyway around it though.

5/30/2008 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

hdgreene:< It will be hard to make good on all that bad.

Too right! While Liberal self-loathing may know no bounds, let's all hope that their ability to actively achieve it remains as difficult as it should be.

Wretchard: ... watching "allies" like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is a tiresome and thankless task. I wonder if there anyway around it though.

There is. Regime change, not the pseudo-regime-change we have seen in Afghanistan and Iraq but the real thing. Allowing any form of political Islam to reseed itself post-liberation is a guarantee of failure. The terrorist Hamas government being democratically elected by its Palestinian constituency stands as proof of this.

Due to Islam's self-entrenching character, one of the only ways of seeding true regime change is by imposing a quasi-benevolent military dictatorship for a sufficient period of time whereby more modern and non-totalitarian modes of social governance can take root.

Yes, this is an extended process, but it represents one of the least bloody ways of breaking Islam's stranglehold upon its Muslim slaves.

As an example: Under military dictatorship, women would no longer be required to wear veils. At first, some women would die in so-called "honor killings" for not doing so, but the male family members who committed the killings would be subjected to incarceration or execution. After enough families lost their major bread-winner and began starving, there would begin a slow shift away from punishing women for not wearing the veil.

The same applies for the prohibition on women going unescorted, mandatory prayer attendance and the entire Neanderthal rigmarole of shari'a law.

As to all this rubbish regarding A.Q. Khan and who knew what and when, others here have already expresssed sufficient scorn for such patent balderdash.

5/30/2008 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

Very well developed, Wretchard.

One of the problems with our system is that we often produce presidents who don't know how to play the game. Other leaders are always inside our OODA loop. We got the most decent guy on the planet, Harry Truman, negotiating with the baddest sly bastard of all time. Harry was no pushover, but he had difficulty understanding just what kind of creature he was dealing with. FDR didn't do so well on that score either because he was running on empty. Every president has been bamboozled at one time or another. We pick our presidents for their ability to play a positive game of prisoner's dilemma. They're all olive branches and handshakes. Maybe only Nixon was sufficiently paranoid.

I really think that Hillary was the best thing that ever happened to Obama. She taught him to fight. But it's still a big worry. Is he constitutionally capable of dealing with evil? Can he even recognize it?

Pakistan and China and Russia are all playing double games. The superficial tit-for-tat looks normal to us because we haven't learned to focus on the deeper game and we haven't developed the necessary will to play the deep game with those remorseless power players. Democracies are good at dealing with honest partners, but not so good with these guys. Our only advantage has been economic.

5/30/2008 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

I don't think we in the West understand the dynamics within Pakistan. What does the current regime have to gain by appeasing the US and stomping the Islamic hard-liners? Where's the upside?

Somehow we think that Pakistan would be a better place without the Taliban - maybe so. But we fail to realize that the Taliban has popular support.

So again, what doe Pakistan have to gain by keeping the US happy? The US is a friend today, but tommorrow?

5/30/2008 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

If true, it now dawns on me (belatedly) where Saddam's Zippe and prints were gotten. That was a 1st Cav. find I believe.

Khan was a bad man working in a bad environment with some bad people. What else would we expect? Other than the continuity of the operation to "watch", perhaps to interdict or intercept. If I had to guess I would blame too many eyes on the Failing Soviet Union, for failing to follow through. But that would assume a coherent neighborhood watch was in progress.

5/30/2008 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Great powers, like the United States, derive power from maintaining a consistent policy because consistency guarantees the eventual punishment of traitors.

The problem is that democracies don't usually work like this. We talk and talk and talk and talk, and then a line is crossed and then we bomb and bomb and bomb and bomb. We are slow to anger, but our wrath is severe. The Iranians are probably the opposite.

Saddam didn't understand this. He believed that we would never really attack him. Of course the French were whispering in his ear that we wouldn't attack him either. What did they know?

Every four or eight years our govt changes and the policies change wholesale. Consistency goes out the window. In fact it's anathema if the party changes.

In the end it's usually to our enemies' loss but one never knows.

5/30/2008 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger Roy Lofquist said...

What did Pakistan have to gain by aligning with us? That's not a relevant question. The relevant question is what would happen if they didn't. Bush stated publicly and definitively that if you weren't with us you were against us. We were going to invade Afghanistan. If you tried to deny us air corridors we would destroy your air force and anything else you put in our way. Given the situation with India it was an offer they couldn't refuse.

5/30/2008 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Butto's party (currently in power) pursued the appeasement posture before. Know who the army is officered by. The frontier corps is lead by members of the same group. The only difference between the army and the FC is that the army has more folks from the rest of Pakistan while the FC is recruited from the population that calls the Taliban neighbor.

There is no reason for the Pakistani defection, and every incentive to to cooperate with one another. Even with a very strong player calling the shots for us, we can't change the outcome unless we can alter the number of parties interested in competing. Looking west? north? A little further east perhaps?

5/30/2008 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger Kim Lokken said...

A lesser light said, He says he will abandon missile defense, as well as our allies. He solemnly promises to make deep cuts in our arsenal."

On the contrary, Obama has called for "continuing U.S. cooperation with Israel in the development of missile defense systems."

I answer that with our troops going on third and fourth deployments, lasting from a year to fifteen months, Barack Obama has perceived that we should shift our emphasis from high-ticket items such as the F22 and F35 and invest in more troops and everything that goes with them.

Objection 1:"He will shackle our security policy to "an international test"

You are confusing Obama with John Kerry, who propounded upon a "global test" for allowing international opinion to override US interests. Obama mentioned something along these lines having to do with the profligate US consumption of limited resources, but he has made no statement suggesting we place the US military subordinate to a world body.

5/30/2008 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Betrayal presupposes in the first place an ability to relate to something outside one's self or one's immediate family. Without belief, without a prior sense of brotherhood there is no betrayal. A British novelist, who in a previous career was a case officer and hence confessor to those who he himself led to the path of treachery famously wrote, "love is whatever you can still betray."

Most of society's great men, including some of our political leaders, are men who are schooled in betrayal. They came early to the idea that society never keeps its promises; have concluded that no real brotherhood exists; that "principles" are really pap for the masses and that it is really every man for himself. Dulce et decorum est is for chumps and gullible young people. Joining the military is for bitter Bible thumpers clinging to their guns. A stock portfolio and a law degree are for those who really know how the world works.

Cynicism is above all a loss of faith in the long term rules, as those who have bent them or actually manufactured them in a moment of bitter jest well know. Ultimately cynicism becomes a conviction that there are no long-term rules at all. Just a collection of legalisms to shield a Swiss bank account.

The very wealthy are often like the very poor in that they are at the extremes of alienation, but on opposite ends. The cynical billionaire may conclude that life has no meaning because everything is for sale. On the other hand the poor man becomes convinced that life must have meaning because because otherwise things would be too absurd. The incomprehensibility and cruelty of the world leads to two opposite conclusions. For the one betrayal becomes a way of life; and for the other faith itself becomes the only thing that keeps them afloat.

The Marxian project was at heart an attempt to create a regime of long-term rules on earth. If neither God nor brotherhood nor love existed, then it could be constructed. In a National Health Service sort of way. What the revolutionaries did not reckon with was that revolutions were made by men. The Marxian project could not end betray because it could itself be betrayed. It could not exempt itself from its own logic. If all men are animals then so were Stalin, Castro, Kim Il Sung and Lavrenti Beria. Man could not rescue man by the simple act of abolishing God.

Really the problem is not finding reasons not to betray as much as finding reasons to believe. It's not the darkness that is hard to find but the guiding star. The betrayals of the Frontier Corps are commonplace. It's why men risk their lives to keep us safe, knowing they will unthanked that is the real miracle.

5/30/2008 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

The problem, ultimately, is the Pakistani People, or more accurately the tribes in power.

Wretchard asks, where is the stick for failure to hold up the bargain? The punishment for reneging on the deal? The promised vengeance that holds an agreement?

Currently there is none. The West structurally cannot deal out pain in a way that matches the thugs and tribal chieftans who stepped over dead bodies to leadership.

But there is another way. Alliance with India to simply destroy Pakistan as a nation. Identify some red line. Wait predictably for Pakistan to cross it. Destroy Pakistan as a collection of tribes, in alliance with India to essentially put paid to all the status-quo of bargaining with actors who have neither the ability nor the desire to uphold deals.

US assistance need not be direct, i.e. flying sorties or what have you, but use of our satellite comm system and targeting and so on would be quite useful. India erases a menace on it's borders, gets to break a dangerous foe sponsoring terrorism, and the message is sent. To everyone. In ways that are well understood.

5/30/2008 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

We'd be asking the Hindus to put their cities at risk. They would understandably be reluctant to do this.

5/30/2008 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Regime change, not the pseudo-regime-change we have seen in Afghanistan and Iraq but the real thing.

"Regime change" is what the CIA got into so much trouble over in South America, tipping over banana republics. And I can't see that changing all those regimes really took hold there, either, so why would we think it would affect even more pig-headed types in the Middle East?

The only time we have been able to turn the natives around and make them STAY turned is when we had totally obliterated them (to quote a candidate), and then came in and watched them very closely as they rebuilt themselves. I'm speaking, of course, of Germany, Italy and Japan.

Even when we toppled USSR into oblivion, they are busily and messily rebuilding themselves into a version of their former way of government, which is guaranteed to lead only to further oblivion for the Russians and angst for watching America.

I think we must have to actively be there enforcing "the American way" for it to take. But Geez, Louise -- that is absolutely the most expensive way of doing it, and I'm still not convinced that the American taxpayer needs to foot the bill to teach humanity to every uncivilized shit-hole on the planet.

5/30/2008 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

India and Pakistan have been at each other's throats for years now. Pakistan has actively gone into India's Parliament and killed their politicians. I believe I read an article recently that Indian cities are starting to show their Muslims the door and suggesting they relocate someplace more beneficial to their health, especially since the Muslims insist on getting their little feelings hurted about silly things and then rioting and burning things up.

I don't think the Hindu's would at all be negative about leveling Pakistan, if they thought they could get away with it.

I'm very curious indeed about whether or not Khan's vaunted nuclear weapons still work ... if they ever did. And what, exactly, is the nuclear technology that we are in the process of donating to India (that we wouldn't give copies to Pakistan of the same thing).

5/30/2008 10:23:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Whiskey,

The problem is that what the US needs is world order. What makes stock prices go up and oil prices go down is order. People get up in the morning, go to work, make their widgets and go home.

Blowing sh*t up, like countries, makes stock prices go down and oil prices go up. Usually anyway.

Wretch mentioned consistency. Pakistan has been our best bud since 2001. Now we blow them up? Not consistent.

To put it another way: This is damn complicated.

Khan said five years ago he did it by himself. Now he says that he didn't. The guy's a terrorist. You don't believe him just because he says something that you agree with. You don't believe him at all. You need evidence.

Having said that, it's basically impossible that the guy was running a nuclear proliferation business from the spare room in his house without the knowledge of the Pak govt. But we still need evidence.

Anyway, now would be a good time for us to ask the Paki rulers: where's binny, or else.

5/30/2008 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Lokken, here's a link to a YouTube video of your man in his own words saying he'll kill Missile Defense. This after it worked. Saying he'll abandon space so the Chinese can shoot down our satellites (which also run our civilian comm network). That he's got a global test.

Ace of Spades Website with YouTube Link

Face it, the man is who he is. A "community activist" who hates the US, whites, the military, and wants to "punish" all of the above. He honestly thinks he can "negotiate" with tough men who rose to power by killing people, like he did in Chicago throwing graft around for endorsements, or challenging signatures for primaries.

It's one thing to do that to unseat long established pols who don't see the betrayal coming. Politicians in the US don't kill rivals. It's another to sit down with Nutjob who made his way up executing political prisoners and torturing the Embassy hostages for Khomeni. Obama is weak, stupid, and naive for all his obvious hatred of Whites, the Military, and most of all, America.

Utopia -- I said establish clear red lines that would be predictably crossed. Such as continue to allow logistic support to Afghanistan, or not proliferate to other countries, or not give nukes to Osama and Co. Any one of those is predictably too much for Pakistan, since tribal factions will guarantee they all be violated. Let alone any one.

You assume things are stable now. They are not. Prices likely factor in the likelihood of a US city being nuked by our Pakistani allies. After all, who is afraid of the US now? What reasonable retaliation can we promise when Obama's response to that possibility was hug all the first responders? Obama is weak because the Dem Party is weak and fearful and panicked and hoping the bad men will just go away.

Wretchard -- I would take issue that most Great Men as we understand them believe in nothing and are filled with cynicism. Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Lee Kwan Yew, Charles De Gaulle, Winston Churchill, FDR, TR, Ike, Truman, and Konrad Adenauer were all men who believe(d) in the general rightness of what they did, the policies they implemented, and the justness of their cause. They are all of course "legitimate" leaders, more or less honestly selected to lead their country and men who aspired to be more than just a naked politician but statesmen representing as they saw it the best interests of the nation.

I think you are too cynical here, and Cornwell is a bitter, used up man filled with anti-semitism and deranged by Britain's slide into amoral muck which he himself helped to create by a sense of helplessness and doom and amorality. Truman for example dropped the bomb, thought it an appalling thing, but necessary. Jackson was convinced that exiling the Cherokee was the only solution to the constant, low-level warfare between the tribes and the settlers, and while brutal brought peace.

We have plenty of historical records of the thoughts and words of these men. None of them ever expressed that they had betrayed what they wanted to do. Their goals. All were justly proud of what they did.

5/31/2008 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Kim Lokken, whatch this and when you finish applauding you can come back and apologize to this lesser light.

"I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems." That comes direct from the horse's but he will make an exception for Israel if you'll vote for him on that account. If you have a problem with defending Israel, just figure he's lying. Sorry, that should read "horse's mouth but..."

I realize we are suppose to believe what he is telling Jewish voters now and not what he told peace activist when that was convenient. The last thing to come out of his mouth is the operative statement -- at least until further notice. But this is not surprising. As Jeremiah Wright says, "He is a politician and he will do what politicians do." I quote from memory. He talks from experience.

Now Kim, I'm sorry, but who is John Kerry campaigning for? And I gather you opposed Kerry in the last go round on account of this international test business? And you support Sen. Obama because he has repudiated the notion? Or do you support him because he hasn't?

It is interesting what you didn't object to in my humble screed: "The Democrat's have already plead guilty (on our nation's behalf) to torture, to imperialist wars of aggression, to despoiling the planet and seeking the ultimate destruction of human life for profit. Quite a list."

I stand by my statement: We are the ones we are waiting for to punish us.

5/31/2008 04:55:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

I see Whiskey linked to the same video. Kim, you picked the wrong day for an intervention. A few days ago the response might not have been at our finger tips. Sorry, kid, good try.

5/31/2008 05:13:00 AM  
Blogger Kim Lokken said...

Lesser lights said, "I see Whiskey linked to the same video. Kim, you picked the wrong day for an intervention. A few days ago the response might not have been at our finger tips. Sorry, kid, good try."

And also: Kim Lokken, whatch this and when you finish applauding you can come back and apologize to this lesser light. "I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems."

Good thing we've proven a basic barebones missile defense already, or he'd make cuts in that too. In the video, Obama declared that he would make defending America the sole mission of the Department of Defense. Imagine that. All we've got under Bush is a rekindling of the cold war with Russia through provocative ABM sites planted on their borders and an invasion of a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 or WMDs just to satisfy the US bloodlust that remained unquenched after the Taliban rolled over in Afghanistan. And in your video, Obama did not claim that he would subordinate US military policy to world approval, as you assert in the post about an international test.

5/31/2008 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Kim Lokken said...

A lesser light said, "Most of society's great men, including some of our political leaders, are men who are schooled in betrayal. They came early to the idea that society never keeps its promises; have concluded that no real brotherhood exists; that "principles" are really pap for the masses and that it is really every man for himself."

A broken promise is a lie. Tolkien said, "He that sows lies shall not lack of a harvest in the end, and soon he may rest from his toil while others reap and sow in his stead."

The cynical billionaire may conclude that life has no meaning because everything is for sale. On the other hand the poor man becomes convinced that life must have meaning because because otherwise things would be too absurd.

There is no crown without a struggle. Christ had to endure the crucifixion. Your cynical billionaire, likely the inheritor of old money, has grown up knowing he can fulfill any whim by writing a check. The poor man doesn't need to convince himself that life has meaning. His heart is not bent toward things he cannot obtain, because his struggle merely to provide for the things he needs has put unnecessary possessions into their proper perspective. Thus he has a contentment the billionaire can never buy. And that is a crown indeed.

5/31/2008 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"A stock portfolio and a law degree are for those who really know how the world works."

If you don't understand when to go short, you don't really understand when to go long. You don't understand the game, because you don't have eyes to perceive the game.

5/31/2008 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Comment #1 - does it occur to anyone else that the main thing Kim is really good at is changing the topic? Didn't Wretchard explicitly request of comments just a week or three ago not to do that, and to limit comments to three or four per thread? When she's proselytizing for an angry mulatto, then why does anyone respond to her? WHen she's obviously a trouble-maker taking up space, time and bandwidth, then why does anyone respond to her? When the only arrow in her intellectual quiver is a snarky little "lesser lights", then why on earth does anyone take her seriously enough to pay attention to her?

(P.S. Anyone notice Teresita's gone, so Kim is just T's sub until she can manage to bail her ass out of the looney bin?)

Comment 2: DeGaulle was a "great man"? Being well-known is not the same as great (see Michael Jackson, for example). DeGaulle hid under a table until America freed his country, tagged along until America got to Paris, and then strode through Paris acting like a conquering hero ... with America trundling behind him picking off straggler Nazi's. DeGaulle then did his damndest to screw up both the UN and NATO. As far as I can see the only thing DeGaulle did NOT do was to participate in a tyrant's oil for food scam. If you're aware of some wonderful thing that deGaulle did or did not do that elevates him to greatness, I wish you'd describe it to me.

5/31/2008 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

I'd ban Kim simply on the basis of her pretentious opening line. Who wants to read that over and over?

5/31/2008 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

"Your cynical billionaire, likely the inheritor of old money"

Old money like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or Sam Walton? Good grief, what a waste of electrons!

NahnCee,

I think you have to understand the context: de Gaulle is great in that mysterious French, Napoleonic, de Villepinian way.

5/31/2008 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

A lesser light said, “A broken promise is a lie. Tolkien said, ‘He that sows lies shall not lack of a harvest in the end, and soon he may rest from his toil while others reap and sow in his stead.’”

Kim, you brought Tolkien into this conversation because …

Can you post a comment describing the basic plot of ‘The Hobbit’, ‘The Lord of the Rings’, and ‘The Simarillion’?

At what point did the aggressive discussions with Sauron stop?

A lesser light said, “Your cynical billionaire, likely the inheritor of old money, has grown up knowing he can fulfill any whim by writing a check.”

The most cynical inheritors of money I can think of are Senators. The Kennedy’s who don’t pay inheritance tax, the Rockefellers, the Feinsteins who have no problem with a ‘little war profiteering’, John and Teresa Kerry who chose not to pay the pre-Romney tax, etc..
But then Bill Gates and Warren Buffet – self made billionaires – are working hard to divest themselves in their lifetimes. Divest themselves to effective charities – not bloated government. Their children will be well off, but not Rockefellers.

Kim, may I be so bold as to suggest retiring the ‘lesser light’ meme.

5/31/2008 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

de Gaulle is great in that mysterious French, Napoleonic, de Villepinian way.

Well hell, then, if we're going to have fluctuating and mysterious definitions, I'm going to aver that Bush is great in that Jeffersonian, Franklinite, Lincolnist, Rooseveltish, Trumany, Eisenhoweresque and Pattonic sort of way.

5/31/2008 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Nahncee: Didn't Wretchard explicitly request of comments just a week or three ago not to do that, and to limit comments to three or four per thread?

I guess with Nahncee, five is the new three.

Utopia Parkway: The problem is that democracies don't usually work like this. We talk and talk and talk and talk, and then a line is crossed and then we bomb and bomb and bomb and bomb.

This is true. It probably goes back to the days of William Tecumseh Sherman, who invented total war. Once a Anglo-Saxon liberal democracy has completed its slow transformation into a military dictatorship, you get an implacable steamroller, intent on obtaining "unconditional surrender" and rolling over every noble tradition and civilized code of conduct until the other side cries uncle. In 1918 this machine was just getting online when there was a putsch in Germany and the Hapsburg Empire fell. In 1945 Germany this machine had to roll on until there was nothing left to oppose it. If the Japanese did not surrender after the a-bombs they would have faced this machine for the next year, but they would not have been able to stop it. And the miraculous thing is, when the war is over, the Anglo-Saxon military dictatorship transforms right back into a liberal democracy with unbelievable speed.

5/31/2008 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Kim, at first I thought "lesser light" was meant as some sort of insult. But it occurred to me that it refers to one of those eco-friendly light bulbs and is actually a term of endearment. Sorry if I had that wrong.

One thing I noticed in that video is how angry Sen. Obama looked. Was he thinking, "Damn, why did they have to go and prove a bare bones missile defense! Now I'm going to have to build it!"

I'm sure when his audience heard him they thought, "When he is President he will deploy missile defenses. Gee, I may as well vote for Hillary."

What the Belmont Club needs is our very own Obama interpretor. Someone who can tell us, "See, he blinked three times when he said that. So it don't mean what it sounds like.It actually means turn forty five degrees, walk ten paces forward and dig under the tree. That's where you'll find his postion."

Glad you cleared that up, Kim. And we may need your help in the future.

5/31/2008 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Kirk Parker: "Your cynical billionaire, likely the inheritor of old money"

Old money like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or Sam Walton? Good grief, what a waste of electrons!


I knew those three were billionaires but didn't realize they were cynical. :-)

Whiskey_199: Alliance with India to simply destroy Pakistan as a nation.

Great, then you've got another Somalia, but with nukes, and instead of dealing with one strongman you have to deal with a dozen warlords. And you've got a negative example, in that the United States will have destroyed another democracy for the first time in history. There will never be an incentive for other thugocracies to change after that. And there's the end of the Project for a New American Century.

5/31/2008 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

It probably goes back to the days of William Tecumseh Sherman, who invented total war.

piddle, piddle, piddle, Billy Sherman was a piker conpared to Genghis and Hulegu, and many another.

5/31/2008 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Hdgreene: As a bonus, he promises the world he will raise taxes and trigger a trade war, which should tank our economy

At least we will start paying for our own stuff rather than making our children and grandchildren pay for it by pushing our debts (caused by trillions in new spending coupled with tax cuts) onto them.

A trade war? When we can't so much as build a used car lot in Japan or China, but they are sending us their crap in container ships 137,000 metric tons at a time, I'd say we're already in a trade war but we don't admit it.

5/31/2008 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Nahncee,

Since I am in and out on these topics I did not see the comment/request of Wretchard to try to stay on topic. But, since I joined in the discussions a few days ago I noticed that these Leftist/Islamist pests almost reflexively do exactly what Wretchard asked that people refrain from doing. I noticed it and I objected to what these people were doing, in my own way. I do resent the way they try to hijack the threads. You and I have seen this done before on other weblogs by similar types.

I truly do not want to see Obonga the main topic of conversation. Those of us who do our homework have got his number. But, while we are on the topic of that Chicago Shape Shifter, I would like to point out that Obonga's policy adviser on nuclear proliferation is a certain Joseph Cirincione, who is a man who is utterly opposed to missile defense and satellite defense. He believes in the value of unilateral disarmament, and other such fantasies. There, I'm done with that... got it off my chest. On to Wretchard's topic.

Since I hew to more traditional, Christian values and structure than someone like George Soros and other cynical, vile super billionaires who fund socialist political movements, I think betrayal is one of the most despicable acts one can be guilty of. There are worse, of course, but betrayal of one's people, one's country, and one's civilization are right up there with the more dastardly crimes.

There are two types of people who will not commit treason. One type will not do it because of a calculus of risk/reward. The other type will not do it because he or she loves those to whom loyalty is owed. We may betray a country or a political body, but the truth is more deep than that: we betray PEOPLE, since nations and parties are certain abstractions. Hollow is the human being who cannot be steadfast in love and a sense of duty to people. When nations deal with each other, they do so out of mutual self-interests. Friendship between nations is a ridiculous abstraction. It is shared interests and values which ought to guide the relations between nations.

And with respect to Pakistan there is a certain murkiness with regard to what exactly the interests and values are that we share. I am inclined to take the harder line with Pakistan and deal with them on the most elemental of levels: the carrot and the stick.

5/31/2008 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Fred responding to Nahncee said:

"Since I am in and out on these topics I did not see the comment/request of Wretchard to try to stay on topic. But, since I joined in the discussions a few days ago I noticed that these Leftist/Islamist pests almost reflexively do exactly what Wretchard asked that people refrain from doing. I noticed it and I objected to what these people were doing, in my own way. I do resent the way they try to hijack the threads."

I'm convinced that Belmont Club has political impact. From time to time, I'll see discussion concepts that first appeared in Belmont Club reappearing in the general public media usually from really bright guys, i.e. people in the Krauthammer, Samuelson, Koch and VDH class of commentators. It wouldn't surprise me that the media's best-and-brightest lurk at Belmont Club for raw material. Also, Wretchard is one of the smartest guys on the web. Any professional pundit who wants to stay well informed would feel obligated to read Wretchard's writings.

This brings us to Fred and Nahncee's point, i.e. leftist trolls. It would not surprise me for a moment that leftist groups are assigning people to post stuff at Belmont Club. The Left must find this place threatening. One wonders how a genuine moonbat could tolerate posting here for very long. The cold reason that permeates this place must be deeply offensive to a moonbat.

Fortunately the people here (for the most part) are grownups. Most of us know how to ignore trolls.

5/31/2008 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Was De Gaulle a great man? Yes. Moreover, one who kept his promise.

He resisted, and counseled fighting, always. You may not like that during peacetime but he was no Petain. De Gaulle (if you read his memoirs, self serving I know but still well documented) counseled a fighting retreat through the South of France, a "Dunkirk" through the Med and using the French fleet, and fighting from Algeria with a promise to the Algerians of independence after the War, or full citizenship their choice. Using France's African colonies also. De Gaulle was an obstinate, stubborn, prideful, and very French man, but it was precisely those qualities that counseled France to resist even when it seemed hopeless.

Teresita -- I think we can safely say that Dems agree that democracy is bad for Muslims, that they are incapable of forming democratic nations in anything other than one man, one vote, one time to create theocracies. Dems want a return to Saddams so they would be happy with the policy of destroying Pakistan.

Certainly Pakistan's nukes are an ongoing threat to America's cities. Destroy them, and create a Somalia which is policed by a proxy, and you prevent creation of more nukes and provide a useful object lesson.

Wretchard asks, how do you police international deals when there is no fear of reneging? Without a vendetta society in the West?

The answer is total war, which is Western in the Greek Way, a straight-on engagement to destroy the enemy in battle completely. Sherman did not invent it, it was merely the further development of what the Spartans and Athenians and Thebans created. Western societies cannot and never have tolerated eternal, attrition-type sporadic conflict. It creates too much uncertainty and thus erodes the fundamental nature of cooperative, stable, secure Western societies. Thus the preference since 480 BC for decisive battles to destroy the enemy.

Republicans from McCain to Bush embrace the decisive battle heritage of the West. Dems from Obama to Carter have substituted "Eastern" ways of talk and at best, low level attrition warfare. Part of the Dem's disease is their love of the East without understanding how "Eastern" ways are completely inappropriate to destructive of Western Society.

It's not just anti-American, but anti-western.

5/31/2008 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

This is the MOTHER of the Mad Fiddler. You should disregard his posts because:

(1) He's been abusing his computer privileges by logging onto naughty sites.

(2) He's been posting under various alternative identities just to stir things up and get around the "three comments per Post" rule.

(3) He's only 13 years old, and is still taking anti-ADHD drugs and wets the bed.

I peaked at the comments section here, and it looks like you might have a lot of that sort of thing going on.

---Mad Fiddler's Mother (really!)

5/31/2008 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Whiskey,

I'll agree that sometimes the path to order goes through disorder. The way to peace in 1942 required D-Day and Hiroshima and millions dead.

The problem with believing in clear red lines and retaliation is that every case is different. When we're dealing in international affairs and international conflicts every case needs to be weighed on its merits. I'm not saying don't have clear red lines and yes the NPT is a clear red line. However, we have many conflicting goals at any time and our administration needs to be free to do what it thinks best at the time.

As an example consider the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel and Israel's inability up to now to stop these attacks. One frequently sees on the web remarks along the lines of: tell Hamas that for every missile they fire Israel will fire back two or ten or some other automatic mathematical retaliation. Doing something like this just puts control of the situation in Hamas' hands. They want to be on the front page? Fire some missiles. Pres Bush is visiting Jerusalem, fire some missiles.

Also, the bad actors will do their best to come close to the red line but not cross it, they will test the red line. If the Pres says 'cross this line and we'll bomb you' and then the line is crossed and he doesn't respond he looks like a dope. It's better if the line is a little fuzzy so we can shoot if we really feel like it and not shoot if we don't. Yes carrying a big stick is a good idea but we shouldn't need to use it too much.

One other thing, we can only destroy a limited number of countries. There are costs. We need to pick our fights carefully. I don't think Pakistan is the one we should focus on right now.

5/31/2008 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

MF Mother - I don't think he's peaked at all. Perhaps if you peeked a little further you'd cut him some slack.

* * *

RE: DeGaulle: "He resisted, and counseled fighting, always." Yeah, using American troops he was real good at resisting and fighting, always. It just doesn't count, any more than it would count if the UN finally achieved *its* goals and took over the American military (or the internet). I refer again to Michael Jackson who also has a history of resistance and fighting - and then fleeing the country to live to fight another day. It's not the same thing as being "great" if you achieve your greatness hiding behind someone else's skirts.

* * *

Eggplant - I've noticed that, too, but thought that perhaps I was (a) imagining things or (b) letting my ego run away again. Of course there's always (c)that the administration (and others) uses pre-selected sites like Belmont Club to run an idea up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes it before throwing it out for the media to do their piranha schtick over.

I also used to notice the same thing happening at a site called fuckfrance.com before it lapsed into senility, which is why I tend to lean towards the flagpole theory.

* * *

Fred - would it be wrong of me to start referring to him as Obanga, the Mad Mulatto? :-)

5/31/2008 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Jill Pennell said...

The only time we have been able to turn the natives around and make them STAY turned is when we had totally obliterated them (to quote a candidate), and then came in and watched them very closely as they rebuilt themselves. I'm speaking, of course, of Germany, Italy and Japan.

I'll give you Germany and Japan. But Italy surrendered in September 1943. It was then invaded by Germany, and if it was totally obliterated, then it was the Nazis who did the obliteratin'.

5/31/2008 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

NahnCee said:

"I've noticed that, too, but thought that perhaps I was (a) imagining things or (b) letting my ego run away again."

Great minds work alike... For the longest while I also thought I was imagining things or allowing my ego to again get out of hand. However I suspect this is real. Compared to most of the Internet, the Belmont Club is like an oasis of sanity. I came here because I got tired of moonbats and loons shrieking at each other.

NahnCee said:

"Of course there's always (c) that the administration (and others) uses pre-selected sites like Belmont Club to run an idea up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes it before throwing it out for the media to do their piranha schtick over."

They'd be crazy not to. Most of the people who post here are very bright. A policy guy from the federal government could post new ideas here anonymously and see how they played out. If the idea crashed and burned, none of his/her peers would be the wiser. Also the same guy could harvest new ideas here. I can imagine someone at a Condoleezza Rice staff meeting proposing some out-of-the-box idea then everyone else at the meeting quietly thinking to themselves, "Didn't I just read that at Belmont Club?".

5/31/2008 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

For those who enjoy a good sermon--this one by a calvinist CJ Mahaney on mp3 illuminates psalm 42. I can't recommend better.

Its particularly appropriate to the kind of wandering rocks one experiences when contemplating the interests of pakistani elites.

But this sermon discusses the internal dialogue that occurs in everyone--and the tools that God has given to manage the noise.

5/31/2008 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

FWIW

These new critics, in concert with mainstream Muslim leaders, have created a powerful coalition countering Al Qaeda's ideology.
According to Pew polls, support for Al Qaeda has been dropping around the Muslim world in recent years.
The numbers supporting suicide bombings in Indonesia, Lebanon, and Bangladesh, for instance, have dropped by half or more in the last five years.
In Saudi Arabia, only 10 percent now have a favorable view of Al Qaeda, according to a December poll by Terror Free Tomorrow, a Washington-based think tank.

Following a wave of suicide attacks in Pakistan in the past year, support for suicide operations amongst Pakistanis has dropped to 9 percent (it was 33 percent five years ago), while favorable views of bin Laden in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, around where he is believed to be hiding, have plummeted to 4 percent from 70 percent since August 2007.

Unsurprisingly, Al Qaeda's leaders have been thrown on the defensive. In December, bin Laden released a tape that stressed that "the Muslim victims who fall during the operations against the infidel Crusaders ... are not the intended targets." Bin Laden warned the former mujahedin now turning on Al Qaeda that, whatever their track records as jihadists, they had now committed one of the "nullifiers of Islam," which is helping the "infidels against the Muslims."

5/31/2008 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...


Lawrence Wright

Hewitt: Hour 3 - Hugh spends the hour speaking with The Looming Tower author Lawrence Wright, who has written a very interesting piece in this week's New Yorker about the current state of al Qaeda, and why it would be a mistake to leave Iraq now.

5/31/2008 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Of of the points of the speaker is that you can't trust your soul if its troubled. Another point is that its better to talk to your soul than to let your soul talk to you. You have to preach to yourself. Most of your unhappiness in life is that you listen to yourself rather than talking to yourself. You have to get grip.

5/31/2008 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

I find myself talking to myself all the time, so far it's never done me a bit of good, that I can see.

Condi Rice just dropped by the Elephant seeking imput.

5/31/2008 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger bobal said...

I find myself talking to myself all the time, so far it's never done me a bit of good, that I can see.
////////////
I think you have to preach to yourself with words from the bible. Typically you find the words there are many orders of magnitude more powerful than any words you can gin up from your own repertoire of if ands or buts.

5/31/2008 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Did you tell her to get a new hairdresser and run for Vice-President?

5/31/2008 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

eggplant, of course, we shouldn't over look (d) which is that Wretchard is CIA and we're all being manipulated and brainwashed.

5/31/2008 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

It maintains your "Street Cred"
w/the wife though, al-Bob.
Remaining convinced you'd be out on the street babbling w/o her.

5/31/2008 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Al-Qaida chief death confirmed.

An al-Qaeda trainer and explosives specialist involved in a range of European terrorist networks has been killed in Pakistan, the latest senior militant to die in a spate of controversial American missile strikes.

The death two weeks ago of Abu Suleiman al-Jazairi, a highly experienced Algerian militant, has been confirmed only in the last few days, intelligence sources in Pakistan and Western Europe told The Observer. Al-Jazairi, thought to have been 45, died along with at least 15 others when the house in which he was staying in Pakistan's Bajaur tribal district was hit by a missile fired from a Predator, an American pilotless drone.

5/31/2008 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

"Cynicism is above all a loss of faith in the long term rules .... Ultimately cynicism becomes a conviction that there are no long-term rules at all. Just a collection of legalisms"

Cynicism can also be understood as the loss of faith in goodness, that there is no such thing as good and evil; and as a corollary, cynicism can result from a loss of faith in God.

Cynicism is not just academic; there are political and societal consequences to this. Our founding fathers, for example, believed our human rights were Divine in nature; and this idea bore fruit as a foundation of our American Liberty in conjunction with the purely rational and secular idea of just government power deriving from the consent of the governed; and along with their great courage and sacrifice. Our founders were not cynical; they believed in both the goodness of Divine higher law as well as man-made rational law; and they married the two. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution are our long term rules, and they reflect both ideas of law – the long-term rules of America. "Law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.” Thomas Jefferson

Betrayal of one's fellow man is ultimately connected to the idea that both himself and his fellow man are mere animals, albeit often highly intelligent ones. If we are just animals the long term rules, for those clever enough are the rules of the jungle, i.e.: no rules. Fyodor Dostoyevsky understood the relationship between cynicism and betrayal: “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.”

5/31/2008 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

Wretchard writes:

``Justice is not an arbitrary thing; it isn't founded on caprice. Rather, it stands for a willingness to enforce certain well-understood rules. Nuclear nonproliferation among irresponsible powers and the prohibition against terrorism are two of the most important rules under which 21st century civilization operates.''

Neither the U.S., nor any nation, has consistenly enforced those rules.

The U.S. declined to even impose sanctions on Pakistan for developing a nuclear weapon, even when U.S. law required such sanctions. The U.S. administration acted out of political and, some argue, geopolitical, convenience, as it so often does. As we now know, Pakistan's weapon has spread widely among "irresponsible" regimes.

Then there's Israel. The U.S. has done nothing to discourage Israel from expanding its nuclear arsenal and has made clear it has no intention to oppose proliferation, as long as the proliferators are allied with the U.S.

Back in the 1980s, the U.S. supported the Islamic terrorists in their war against the Russian-backed government. Saddam Hussein got U.S. support as well, back when his regime's atrocities were peaking and its antipathy to Israel nakedly belligerant.

Moreover, Saddam started Gulf War I because the ``rules'' were not at all "well understood." The U.S. had stood by him after he started the war against Iran, then, even as he gassed thousands of Kurds in Halabja and brutally oppressed the Shia majority. Remember that April Glaspie, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, actually conveyed to Saddam that he would NOT be punished for invading Kuwait. Some dispute what was actually said and what it actually meant, but there is no disputing that Saddam believed the U.S. wouldn't attack him and that he believed that because the U.S. had allowed him all manner of other atrocities.

American conservatives like to either forget that history, deny it or excuse it. Our enemies do not, nor, even, do our allies. They know that domestic political considerations drive American foreign policy, not any principles of opposing terrorism or nuclear proliferation.

6/01/2008 01:21:00 AM  
Blogger Oengus Moonbones said...

Corollary to the Three Cities Conjecture:

Losing at least three cities will finally focus the minds of the American political class.

6/01/2008 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger Kim Lokken said...

A lesser light said, Moreover, Saddam started Gulf War I because the ``rules'' were not at all "well understood."

I answer that this is a case of blaming the victim. There are certain standards of behavior expected of all civilized nations, whether they be written or no. You don't send your army streaming over the border to loot your neighbor. You don't declare neighboring countries to be your nineteenth province and just take it.

6/01/2008 06:51:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

McDaddyo - would you concede that the problem with Islam is that they haven't changed their rules for thousands of years? That their Koran is engraved in stone, and interpreted literally? That they never, ever, think outside the box, and the word "flexibility" is unknown in the Middle East?

Why on earth would you think it would be a good thing for the West to "follow the rules" always and to never change or upgrade them to account for new circumstances?

Even our Constitution has procedures in place to amend it, so why shouldn't every other facet of American life, manners and jurisprudence also be equally amendable.

I'll bet you're an Obama supporter. How do you react when he says he's all for "change"? Or is that just a code that you "progressives" use that means "change the White House from Republican to Democrat and then crack down on what everyone can think or say because real change is too uncomfortable"?

6/01/2008 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

"Wretchard asks, how do you police international deals when there is no fear of reneging? Without a vendetta society in the West?

The answer is total war, which is Western in the Greek Way, a straight-on engagement to destroy the enemy in battle completely. Sherman did not invent it, it was merely the further development of what the Spartans and Athenians and Thebans created. Western societies cannot and never have tolerated eternal, attrition-type sporadic conflict. It creates too much uncertainty and thus erodes the fundamental nature of cooperative, stable, secure Western societies. Thus the preference since 480 BC for decisive battles to destroy the enemy.

Republicans from McCain to Bush embrace the decisive battle heritage of the West. Dems from Obama to Carter have substituted "Eastern" ways of talk and at best, low level attrition warfare. Part of the Dem's disease is their love of the East without understanding how "Eastern" ways are completely inappropriate to destructive of Western Society.

It's not just anti-American, but anti-western."


If we had been allowed by the Democrats and by the U.N. to fight Gulf War I the way we do it in the Western tradition, the Babylonian Baathists would have been kaput and most of the political, economic, and cultural problems we are now grappling with would never have happened. We would have captured the WMD's before the Russians could remove them. The de-Baathification process would have cleaned up the hornets' nest. There would not have been a descent into hell in Somalia. No 1993 World Trade Center bombing and perhaps no 2001 disaster. The Paleosimian intifadas would have had much less financial and logistical support. Other Islamic terrorist groups would have had one less state sponsor. We did have overwhelming force in Gulf War I, and there would have been no complications due to the machinations and obstruction from Turkey and France.

Instead, we got over a decade of low intensity warfare. We got a hot internal political war that gives life to the American Left - giving them a galvanizing issue to hang their hats on.

President George H.W. Bush should have done what many of us, including me, at the time thought: go on to Baghdad and get rid of this thug. He should have thought outside of the box and gone against James Baker and his Jew-hating Arabists.

6/01/2008 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Fred said:

"President George H.W. Bush should have done what many of us, including me, at the time thought: go on to Baghdad and get rid of this thug. He should have thought outside of the box and gone against James Baker and his Jew-hating Arabists."

It's easy to attack a decision maker when viewing the problem with 20-20 hindsight. The same sort of argument is often made against George W. Bush concerning WMDs in Iraq.

President George H.W. Bush's decision to end the Persian Gulf War at the borders of Iraq was sound based upon the information that he had at the time. Also, the fragile coalition that he had constructed to free Kuwait would have collapsed had he opted to go on to Baghdad.

It was reasonable to assume that Saddam's henchmen and thugs would have attacked Saddam after so glairing a failure in leadership as he demonstrated in the Persian Gulf War. That Saddam survived was a surprise.

Of course (again with 20-20 hindsight) maybe it should not have been such a surprise. Saddam survived the Iran-Iraq War despite his obvious failure in leadership. Given that earlier history, it should not have been surprising that he survived a second time.

This stuff is complicated. I'm certainly not competent to serve as President and wouldn't want the job. It greatly disturbs me that someone like Barack Hussein who is obviously not competent is having some success at campaigning to become President.

Why can't people see this?

6/01/2008 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

Kim writes:

``You don't send your army streaming over the border to loot your neighbor.''

Indeed you don't. And Saddam's invasion of Kuwait rightly horrified the international community, which united, including countries like Syria, Iran and, certainly Saudi Arabia, against it.

My point was not that it was OK for Saddam to invade Kuwait but that to the U.S., it was okay for Saddam to gas the kurds, start a war against Iran and oppress the Shia majority.

As Wretchard pointed out, to have moral weight and practical effect, policies need to be consistent.

6/01/2008 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

U.S. Deaths in Iraq Fell Sharply in May

The 19 American casualties in May were the lowest monthly total since the 2003 invasion, the military said.

6/01/2008 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

I think this post makes three. So as I make my points please pardon the spindle...,

... I will not get stuck on myself nor allow my ego to believe anyone in DC or elsewhere would seriously read this stuff for any reason but to see if their slip is showing or their zipper's down...,

..., I gather that even the worst reading of Ambassador Gillespie's discussion with Aziz and Husein, gives Saddam a green light only if Saddam employs very selective hearing. If your looking for an excuse I suppose you use whatever you can get. Saddam made his decision based on other factors, and selectively used the words of the Ambassador to cry wolf. It was BS then, it is BS now.

The US had no diplomatic ties with Iraq and little in the way of even trade relations until 1984.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation efforts got their legs under President GHW Bush. Seen then as a case of closing the barn door before the stock fled, it was already too late to stop AQK. It was also the first attempt at serious containment of such activity. Prior to that the technological obstacles were themselves the big and I daresay the only real obstacle.

International law and common sense make any attempt to curb Saddam without a committed coalition. Until after the cease fire agreement was made we had very little usable leverage over Saddam.

A very considerable web's been woven at this point it seems to me. It is telling that we have very little apparent leverage in Pakistan, and the stuff occurring in the NW Territories..., Other than what the hand of Allah reaps.

6/01/2008 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

"As Wretchard pointed out, to have moral weight and practical effect, policies need to be consistent." --"mcdaddyo"


The problem with this demand is that it is virtually impossible to fulfill. Different parties govern at different times, and they have their own worldviews and priorities. Circumstances change. We learn lessons (and forget some too)and it takes time to implement change.

Also, the one who issues this charge surely must cynically admit that part of the comparative landscape includes periods which conveniently fit into the Left's critique of the U.S.

The most important consistent principles of this country should be:

1. Defense of the nation and our trading relationships overseas.

2. Standing by our allies, even when difficult to do so. What happened in April 1975 is seared in many of our memories.

6/01/2008 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

Let's try some facts:

Transcripts of Glaspie's comments to Saddam in late July 1990 show she told him the U.S. had ``no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border dispute with Kuwait.'' Glaspie herself has confirmed that she said that, while arguing that Saddam misinterpreted her overall remarks, which included that ``conflicts should be settled peacefully.'' She has said she didn't realize that Saddam was "too stupid'' to get the message right.

One thing is clear: the record shows the Bush administration made no explicit threat or warning to Iraq before the invasion.

On Pakistan:
After the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, U.S. security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski sent Carter a message on December 26, 1979, saying, “This will require a review of our policy toward Pakistan, more guarantees to it, and, alas, a decision that our security policy toward Pakistan cannot be dictated by our nonproliferation policy.”

In addition to undercutting a key U.S. nonproliferation pillar, U.S. assistance to the mujahideen also boosted Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, including the rise of the Taliban and al Qaeda.

In 1981, The Reagan administration pushed through a $3.2 billion economic and military assistance package for Pakistan with a legislated six-year waiver of the sanctions against Pakistan for its nuclear violations. Such waivers were extended, and assistance for the mujahideen via Pakistan continued until the Soviets began to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1988.

6/01/2008 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

You must be using the Saddam sanctioned translation of the meeting. in which efforts to settle the dispute with Egypt among others is applauded and encouraged, and strokes given for pursuing the matter in that way and not through use of force.

If the reading of the meeting is accurate, it is a hugh leap from the FACT that no implicit or explicit green light was given and the FACT that the discouraging language was not as strong as it could have been had Saddam not expressed agreement to continue to pursue those "Arab" solutions, to speculation of the Bush Administration giving a green light for the invasion. That is just BS.

As for AQK and President Carter et al, Given the technological hurdles and given the cold-war temperament of Carter Administration among others what would you do, given the genie's horse no longer occupied the barn in the bottle.

Are you suggesting that we should let anyone who has the will to proliferate, or are you suggesting that successive US Presidents blew it in assessing the danger of AQK and Pakistani complicity? Which was the more pressing threat and could addressing one perhaps benefit efforts to negate the damage done by the other? The necessity of stopping Soviet ambitions in Central Asia and assistance to Pakistan in return for a promise of non proliferation. Given the military and diplomatic might of the US in 1979, what options did we have?

I hope we can agree the decision made in April 1975 should not be the the standard of consistency.

That decision alluded to by Fred undermined President Carter dreams before he was ever even president. Not that it would have made that great of a difference to Carters actions, but maybe it would have been a little less painful to watch. There are too many who could not stand to watch it anew.

6/02/2008 03:13:00 AM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

Wade:
What do you suppose Glaspie meant when she said the U.S. had ``no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts?''

My point isn't that Bush green-lighted the invasion of Kuwait. Of course he didn't. Rather, the U.S. had been HELPING Saddam get away with murder for most of the decade, so he was certain to give a positive spin to whatever Glaspie said.

The point is that the U.S. has little or no moral authority in the region, given its history of supporting tyrants like Saddam.

I'm sure you'll understand that its impossible for ordinary Iraqis or Afghans to accept at face value the U.S. claim that it supports democracy in the region, when the history tells such a different story.

It's not so much that the U.S. supported dictators like Saddam, monarchs like the Kuwaitis and Saudis and terrorists like the Afghan mujahideen, but that so many American political leaders and their followers believe that geopolitical expedience is somehow a legitimate excuse for that history.

If I'm an Iraqi or an Afghan, and you tell me that the U.S. did not even consider my interests--but rather only its own Cold War geopolitics -- in supporting the dictator who wiped out my family and the terrorists who destroyed my country, how can you expect me to trust you to "bring democracy" at the point of a gun, this time??

It doesn't help that from Cheney to Rumsfeld to the Bush family, its exactly the same people who carried out the policy of supporting Saddam who now insist that nothing is to big of a sacrifice for the Iraqi people to make to clean up the mess made by destroying Saddam's government.

Meanwhile, the holocaust faction here on this blog should remember that there is no more basic bedrock American value than religious tolerance. If you cannot support freedom of religion, you cannot be an American.

6/02/2008 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

I understand your take on the no opinion on Arab vs. Arab disagreement. I do not agree that it was the reason Saddam believed we had no interest. He must have known of GHW Bush's history with the Kuwaiti Royal Family, and the extensive business dealings with both Kuwait and the KSA. Granted I was not there, but it seems to me there is no justification, no rationalization possible for Saddam's actions. But that Saddam used the words of a US Ambassador to attempt to not only intimidate the USA into staying out of the mix but to intimidate KSA and others in the neighborhood as well.

He was not that stupid, but he was capable of believing we were.

As to moral authority, that dilemma was a given at the beginning of the the GWOT, an admission that past decisions affected the condition of Islam today. It is not a reason to leave, it ought to be a reason to stay, especially with so many positives now in Iraq. I you were to ask that same family how they felt after the relative calm of the surge, I have no doubt they would be angry. I also have no doubt they would be thankful as well.

Afghanistan as well as challenges in Pakistan. It is not over, and the difficulties in Afghanistan posed by the NW of Pakistan are by no means small.

I have to believe if we take the position you describe we would be accepting a rational for quitting. In trying to swallow it, the sense of right and wrong, the twisting required of my personal sense morality, would trigger an involuntary action of rejection.

6/02/2008 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

McDaddyo: Meanwhile, the holocaust faction here on this blog should remember that there is no more basic bedrock American value than religious tolerance.

Then, by your own lights, Muslims in general are exceptionally un-American. There is no more intolerant creed than that of Islam. Wherever it comes to power, Freedom of Religion is one of the first things to be abolished. This is regardless of how extensively shari'a law is implemented.

The persecution of Iraqi Christians, including crucifixion of their children, the burning of churches and beheading of Christian schoolgirls in Malaysia, the murder of peaceful Buddhists in Southern Thailand, the genocidal anti-Semitic ravings of Iran's Ahmadinejad all stand as glaring examples of Islam's profound religious intolerance.

Yet, you seem to have no problem over allowing Islam's practice within the United States. This, despite the Koran's numerous exhortations that all Muslims are obligated to live by and seek the installation of shari'a law wherever they may live.

Your cognitive dissonance is showing.

6/03/2008 02:07:00 PM  

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