November 05, 2006

Quote of the Day


Hans Morgenthau:

Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe. As it distinguishes between truth and opinion, so it distinguishes between truth and idolatry. All nations are tempted--and few have been able to resist the temptation for long--to clothe their own particular aspirations and actions in the moral purposes of the universe. To know that nations are subject to the moral law is one thing, while to pretend to know with certainty what is good and evil in the relations among nations is quite another. There is a world of difference between the belief that all nations stand under the judgment of God, inscrutable to the human mind, and the blasphemous conviction that God is always on one's side and that what one wills oneself cannot fail to be willed by God also.

The lighthearted equation between a particular nationalism and the counsels of Providence is morally indefensible, for it is that very sin of pride against which the Greek tragedians and the Biblical prophets have warned rulers and ruled. That equation is also politically pernicious, for it is liable to engender the distortion in judgment which, in the blindness of crusading frenzy, destroys nations and civilizations-in the name of moral principle, ideal, or God himself.

Posted by Gregory at November 5, 2006 05:38 AM

aka -- driving planes into skyscrapers and thus killing lots of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters , husbands, wives, cousins is not good. but there isn't an enemy we can legally indict in a court of law.

so go home, you can still catch the current episode of 'desperate housewives'.

Posted by: neill at November 5, 2006 06:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Silly rabbit. Morgenthau's warnings apply most intensely precisely to theocrats such as flew those planes into the skyscrapers. But they also apply to people who think that simple-minded, clodhopper-style behavior is the best way for the US to fight such an enemy -- or any other enemy. George Bush read far too many comic books as a kid, and he clearly hasn't read anything else since then -- he obviously thinks of himself as a superhero, and at this point one has to conclude the same thing about Cheney and Rummy.

Posted by: BruceMoomaw at November 5, 2006 06:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

put it up, dude. put it up. i've been been waiting...years....for your plan of action. give it up.

Posted by: neill at November 5, 2006 06:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Me, or Greg? (We differ considerably.)

Posted by: BruceMoomaw at November 5, 2006 07:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Neill, it isn't our place to get a consensus on one alternative strategy. There's a consensus that what we're doing is not working and cannot work. And Bush has made it plain that we can't stop him from continuing the agony unless we impeach him.

So the first step in the plan has to be to impeach Bush. At that point we can look at the current situation in iraq and decide what to do.

Any plan that gets stated now will be overtaken by events. Whatever I think might be workable -- now -- will be obsolete by the time Bush is gone, the situation will have gotten so much worse that it won't work.

There's a strong chance that we'll get pushed out of iraq before we can dump Bush. In that case It's way premature to decide now what we'd do then.

If there was a reasonable chance that we could dump Bush and Cheney tomorrow adn replace them with republican leaders who'd listen to advice, then I'd want to make proposals for the war. But as it is, that's pointless.

So that's my proposal. Dump Bush. Dump Cheney. Get in new republican leaders who will try a new plan. If the new guys agree on a plan that's workable and then they win in 2008, so be it.

Posted by: J Thomas at November 5, 2006 03:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Impeachment and conviction would be a given, in any sane era.

But this isn't a sane era, and even a Democratic sweep on Tuesday would be only a first step.

There's too much to be done before impeachment is feasible, and the things that have to be done first - getting factual information about the war planning, the war financing, the role of mercenaries and contractors in the war, the torture policy, the repeated stop-loss orders, and the diversion of monies into cronies' pockets (to name just a few) - would each involve protracted fights just to get documents and testimony. The Bush Admin is perfectly aware that it's broken the law more often than a mafia don and will fight to the bitter end to avoid being brought to justice, and the GOP will aid and abet in that fight, and the deadenders who still support Bush will do what they can, too (30% of the US electorate is enough to cause serious trouble). By the time impeachment could happen, it'll likely already be 2008.

If Congress wants to get US troops out of Iraq, about the best and only thing it can do is defund the war. I'm not even sure if that'll work, though, since Bush can do what he's done in the past: divert funds from somewhere else.

I wish I knew more about the generals in charge of troop movement. I wish I knew if they have the stones to just pull our kids out regardless of what Bush, Cheney, or Rumsfeld say. That would take a literally suicidal devotion to duty, since Bush would put them all on trial for high treason.

Posted by: CaseyL at November 5, 2006 03:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think both Bush and Cheney need to be impeached for the long-term health of our political system, even if they aren't convicted. Conviction is unlikely, and if it happens the process will take so long it will make little difference. The speaker would serve as a lame duck president for a month or two. Maybe Congress would designate the newly elected president as acting president to avoid a lame duck December, although the legality of that would be questionable.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 5, 2006 04:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You and me both, Neil. Although I only check in from time to time lately - every once in a while DJ does threaten to hang it all up.

But, as you imply - these are the talking pages.

Meanwhile, my latest assignment puts me around a fairly robust cadet corps. Largest they've had, and, with the first semester drawing to a close, on track to maintain the largest percentage of commissionable officers in the program's history.

And yet, the "Army" Times (heh) notwithstanding, these are people that spent their formative high-school years under Rummy, the Boss, his Vice, and 2 - count 'em, two - shooting wars.

But here, amongst the most showy and frequent use of the word "risible" in the history of western civilization, all is lost. And I search in vain for any mention of what might have been under the leadership of the man that the 34th Infantry Division destroyed.

Let's bring it all around - Isn't that the kind of thing that should have appeared in the "Army Times", amidst all the articles on Halo 3, my '07 pay raise, and the latest gadgets that PEO Soldier is cooking up? Surely that story is of more interest to my PX bound kinsman of the US Army than discussions of influencing civilain control of the military. But that's our Greg - must have run out of rotten things to say of Prof Reynolds.

Can't wait for the editorial blasting the MPs of the Minnesota Army National Guard.

Posted by: Tommy G at November 5, 2006 06:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A shame that the Army can't recruit enough new soldiers any more to fuel all those new officers, Tommy.

Posted by: BruceMoomaw at November 5, 2006 06:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Although I am an agonistic, perhaps recovering Roman Catholic would be a more accurate phrase to describe my attitude toward all organized reiligion, I find myself transported to the heavens in brief moments of divine rapture when I read the political polls predicting a Democratic take-over of the House of Representatives. And of course being a rather cynical Vietnam veteran and having witnessed where this patriotism thing, to paraphrase the elder Bush's lament about the vision thing, can lead, I am also giddy with schadenfruede now that the neocons and liberal hawks, who were the political and intellectual cheerleaders beating the drums for this war, have been shown to be fools whose cups runneth over with hubris. So Brent Scrowcoft's prediction years ago in an op-ed piece of the WSJ has been vindicated, while one of his old school collegues, James Baker, once again must fulfill the odious role of family retainer and sober interventionist for Junior's botched joke that he calls staying the course.
We live in dark times. Just read the NYT Magazine article that Greg linked to in his recent post on Ahmad Chalabi, international man of mystery held like Austin Powers in deep freeze all these years, just waiting and scheming for his anointed role as savior to rescue Iraqi citizens from their long nightmare during Saddam's regime of terror. I especially loved the incident of his armed caravan going to the head of a long line of the Iraqi citizens waiting to fill up their cars with gas and then later pontificating to a gathering of elder tribesmen about this incident, conveniently forgetting to mention his profile in courage at the gas station. How Richard Perle thought this man had the bonafides is simply beyond me. Perhaps I have lived in an opposing and parallel unvierse since I returned to the world almost four decades ago as a young and disillusioned medical corpsman over there. But that salient experience in my life continues to inform my consciousness.
I hope Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mi) is not now sharpening his knives in anticipation of his majority leadership on a House committee looking for high crimes and misdemeanors for bills of impeachment against Junior and his crazy uncle Dead Eye Dick. That sends the wrong message to the American voters, who are looking for some kind of civilized closure over the wounds inflicted on the body politic from the debacle in Iraq. And I certainly hope that Congress refuses to take away funds for the prosecution of the war and aid to Iraqi citizens. We abandoned the Vietnamese years ago and seem to be heading toward the same scenario now that we committed back then. Representative John Murtha's call for a gradual redeployment of American troops to a nearby country seems to be the best compromise in the Iraq War. Perhaps the operative word would be a national reconciliation of some sort. I fear that once again the opposing camps of hawks and doves will retreat into their idealogical camps, nursing their wounds and promising retribution, while their fellow citizens once again fall into a collective amnesia over the whole sorry affair. The army, a unique institution for warriors with the calling in a society of hardcore civilians, needs our attention to be rebuilt. If Jim Webb does succeed over Senator Macacavitz in Virginia, he would seem to be a natural to fulfill this necessary political function in the future while Senator John Kerry continues to put his silver foot in his mouth and comically swiftboats himself for our amusement.

Posted by: george hoffman at November 5, 2006 07:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Posted by: tregen at November 5, 2006 08:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As for "all being lost" in Iraq: well, shucks, Tommy, it's Centcom that thinks that -- at least judging from that Powerpoint slide that somebody there just leaked to the NY Times ( ). Or, more precisely, they think that we've been sliding steadily toward "Chaos" (labeled in blood-red) since we occupied the place, that there is no sign of the slide coming to a halt, and that we have only a few months left before we finish the trip. Nor are they the only ones who think so: see for a nice summary of the frantic mutual finger-pointing now going on among the war's former enthusiastic supporters. (It's kind of like Nast's cartoon of the Tweed Ring, which of course is also relevant nowadays for other reasons.)

I will say, though, that I too have been patiently waiting for some time for Greg to tell us how he proposes to rescue Iraq at this point. Everybody seems to agree that the only possible way to do so is -- as it was from the start -- to put in one hell of a lot more troops. But where are we going to get them, given the fact that voluntary enlistments have now dropped to the point that the Army is frantically accepting criminal psychopaths, white supremacists, and the borderline mentally retarded? The only possibility is a draft. But in that case:

(1) How many Americans would trust our current governing gang of nitwits and shysters with a draft? (About 28% of them, according to the polls.)

(2) Even if we immediately institute a massive draft, how could we train the draftees within a few months -- which is almost certainly all the time we have left where Iraq is concerned?

(3) If we DO get a massive influx of properly trained draftees, why should we use them for that purpose instead of for other higher-priority items -- such as trying to keep Iran from acquiring the Bomb, or dealing with any crises produced by the fact that North Korea and Pakistan already have it? (Of course, we may not have to worry about any of those situations, since the Administration seems to have no actual plans to deal with them.)

But what am I saying? Why should we pay any attention to this trivia when Tommy is seeing an increase in the number of officer cadets (at least where he lives)?

Posted by: BruceMoomaw at November 5, 2006 09:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Comments seem to have travelled a long way away from political realism and the excellent quote of Mr Morgenthau, starting with neill's refusal to actually use his forebrain, since this would be a betrayal of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Glad to see the left side came right back with calls for W's impeachment. How very politically realistic!
I'd just like to offer my own short quote:
Disputes with men pertinaciously obstinate in their principles are, of all others, the most irksome; except, perhaps, those with persons entirely disingenuous, who really do not believe the opinions they defend, but engage in the controversy from affectation, from a spirit of opposition, or from a desire of showing wit and ingenuity superior to the rest of mankind's.
--David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

Posted by: Antiquated Tory at November 6, 2006 11:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As a Non-American resident of a reliable ally, the quote seems a clear reference to the idea that there is no fixing of Iraq that America is capable of. Why would you debate 'who has a plan' in light of that fact, or do you take issue with the quote?

Whether you excoriate or praise Bush, you are both exploring in your highminded ways, a focus on the pain of the American body-politic. This is merely refusal to admit that America cannot fight a 'just war' of choice in foreign fields and acheive 'nobility'. But, you think, surely that cannot be so given our decency? And so you debate who has betrayed that decency and what its nature is.

For both sides of the US debate to be focussing on that question is merely compounding the initial callousness of this war by pretending that the best result and indeed the only hope for the people directly affected in their millions is to wait for America to reach a resolution to that painful internal question.

You have lost, and like Vietnam you lost from the outset by misundertanding that power does not confer legitimacy, it requests it. Power that acheives legitimacy is directly and soley accountable to those who it affects. Legitimate power is the only form of power that has even a slim chance of being 'decent', regardless of good intentions at the outset.

But your rule is not accountable to Iraqi's. They cannot avoid seeing it as a tyranny, because it cannot avoid being acccountable for the American desire to 'find' a victory. Worse tyranny's stalk them in the future perhaps, or even probably, but you have no legitimacy to direct their future. America is not a moral absolute, it is a country among many that, at best, serves as a qualified good example in its self government.

The only starting point for future Iraq policy is that America, like every other country in the world, is incapable of leading another country directly, and still seeing in the looking glass a 'good empire'. It's become a homicidal narcissism to seek that self-view. Leave.

Posted by: Kiff Newby at November 6, 2006 12:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

AT, I want to point out that I was responding to Neill's demand for a plan.

There can't be a realistic plan for iraq while Bush and Cheney are in office. I've heard stories about new plans from the military roughly every 6 months, and none of them amounted to anything. Proposing a new plan from the outside that we might hope the army can propose to Rumsfeld and get approved? Heh.

If we can't get Bush/Cheney removed quickly, then we can hardly present a realistic plan for later. If somebody had said in 2004, "Give me a plan for iraq starting in 2006", we might have come up with some good ideas but they would have been useless. Because in 2004 we wouldn't have suspected it would be this bad now. If I think up a plan to deal with iraq starting in 2008, how bad should I assume it's gotten? Should I assume that US forces are still in iraq, sitting inside a few heavily-fortified bases supplied entirely by air? Should I assume at that point that we're at war with iran? Should I assume the saudi government is still functioning? Will turkey have invaded kurdistan? These are questions that will make a big difference for any plan starting in 2008, and there's a lot of uncertainty about each of them.

How can I possibly come up with an alternate plan for 2008 when there's no way to tell how bad Bush will have messed it up by then?

So I deny that I owe Neill a plan. The plan has to start by getting Bush/Cheney out of the way. Perhaps we could get them medical discharges? Get Bush's medical records unsealed and put him up on drug charges?

Posted by: J Thomas at November 6, 2006 12:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The plan has to start by getting Bush/Cheney out of the way. Perhaps we could get them medical discharges? Get Bush's medical records unsealed and put him up on drug charges?

Good thought, but no. This is governed by Amendment 25. Declaring the president unfit for duty requires the consent of the vice president.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 6, 2006 12:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sure, but if we could impeach Clinton for a little casual almost-fornication, couldn't we impeach Bush for cocaine or whatever it is he's on?

Posted by: J Thomas at November 7, 2006 12:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mr. Morganthau's sermon has no point, because it can't be parsed into a reasoning process one can use to decide what to do in a given circumstance.

Saying it another way, if you can't define "moral" clearly and obviously to the person standing beside you, leave that word on the shelf and try another. If Morganthau were to put "moral" on the shelf, he'd come up empty.

So, while he sounds good, and convinces those who already believe him, look elsewhere for your wisdom. It's out there, but not where he's looking. For a hint, peel everything that defines a culture back to the rock-bottom minimum that any two people who must deal with each other must establish amongst themselves as the minimum requirements for society. I have found only two.

Reminder: Society resides underneath culture. Culture is everything religious and national above the minimums all cultures must share to believe in society and be above the animals who only embrace the law of the jungle.

Posted by: sbw at November 7, 2006 01:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

and ours will shatter if our allied enemies have anything to do with it.

November 06, 2006
Many theatres, one struggle

"David Rivkin has an article in the latest issue of National Review called "No Substitute for Victory." To my knowledge, this article is not available online.

I hope to comment on Rivkin's piece later in the week, but for now I'll just quote his final paragraph:

Adolf Hitler had nothing to do with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Japan and Germany were not even coordinating their war strategies against a common enemy, the Soviet Union. Indeed, Japan rather foolishly chose not to engage Russia in the winter of 1941, when the Germans were pressing it hard to do so, and this allowed Stalin to pull Soviet Forces from the Far East and rush them to the gates of Moscow.

Our World War II foes were animated by different and even inconsistent ideologies. Yet no serious military historian would question that combat with Nazi Germany in the European and African theatres was a part of a broader epochal struggle against the Axis Powers.

Likewise the streets of Baghdad, the dusty roads of the Sunni Triangle, the back alleys of Kabul, and the mountains of Pashawar are all theatres in the global struggle against the Islamists. The surest way to hand them victory is to lose sight of this reality."

BGer's -- fiddling while Rome burns.

Posted by: neill at November 7, 2006 06:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So tell us, Neill: which of those theaters is most important? And how do we fight in all of them, or even in more than one of them --or, in the case of Iraq, adequately in even one of them -- without a draft? (As for "the mountains of Peshawar", the reason we're staying mostly out of there is the obvious one: Pakistan has the Bomb and is teetering on the brink of either an Islamist takeover or a chaotic civil war in which its Bombs could fall into God knows whose hands. I wonder if Rivkin would have urged us to go charging on into China during the Korean War, or into North Vietnam during that war? After all, what's a measly nuclear war or two?)

And as for SBW's ramblings: Morgenthau's basic advice is both concrete and relevant -- nations shouldn't get overly arrogant in their appraisal of either their strength or their morality, because that is the perfect road to both moral and strategic disaster. Precisely this mistake has led nations to disaster over and over again throughout human history, which makes it more surprising that the Bushites committed it again in Iraq.

Posted by: BruceMoomaw at November 7, 2006 01:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

BruceMoomaw: "Morgenthau's basic advice is both concrete and relevant -- nations shouldn't get overly arrogant in their appraisal of either their strength or their morality"

Good advice or no advice? Care to explain when one is overly arrogant in either? Oh, I see. You know it when you see it. It's all relative. I hate to break it to you, sweetheart, but this is not advice; this is rhetoric.

You tell me, in society, what is worth standing up for? Now I'll listen to your "ramblings." ... No answer? I thought so.

Posted by: sbw at November 7, 2006 02:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What's worth standing up for, my dear, is precisely a society that maintains peace and coordinates collective action against oustide threats, but does NOT get too arrogant or authoritarian for its own good or the good of its people. That is, what's worth defending in any society is precisely what Morgenthau defends. Now tell me how a country getting excessively and unrealistically arrogant about its own righteousness or its own strength is beneficial to preserving social tolerance.

And, yep, SBW, in practice we all have to decide for ourselves when we're seeing it, as of course humans have had to do for as long as there have been humans. But then, about 2/3 of the American people and about 5/6 of our pundits and educated analysts are seeing it right now where the Bush Administration is concerned. They disagree on the precise nature of the corrective action that's required; but at least recognizing that you made a mistake IS the necessary first step in any plan to correct it, and so far the Three Stooges currently misgoverning us haven't even done that. So: time to provide us with YOUR specific policy recommendations. (I've already stated mine, in this thread and in others on Djereejian's site: stop fucking around unproductively in non-Kurdish Iraq and start using our military strength instead to try to keep Iran from going nuclear, to deal with any crises resulting from the fact that North Kore and Pakistan have already done so, and to maximize GENUINE precautions against other types of terrorist attack.)

Posted by: BruceMoomaw at November 7, 2006 04:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"...and to maximize GENUINE precautions against other types of terrorist attack." Let me add that I don't regard chasing bin Laden and Zawahiri endlessly around and around Afghanistan the way the tigers chased Little Black Sambo as the best way to do that, either.

Posted by: BruceMoomaw at November 7, 2006 04:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, let's start.

I don't buy your conjecture that popular equals good. I'm not sure why you would. So far as admitting mistakes, there are bigger ones that could be made than any that might have been made so far. Like leaving Iraq too soon. Now on to at least one observation:

The UN is not functional, if only by reason of Article 2, Principle 7, because any culture that does not allow a process for the peaceful change of government has no legitimacy. Currently, the UN is a chief executive preservation club. That change alone might alter membership enough that it becomes useful. Until then, I guess someone else will have to step in, even if it may seem arrogant to some.

You can chuck the idea that peace is the answer. Nope. Peace is the result. Bart Hall at the Winds of Change website said, “Peace is the absence of threat not the absence of conflict."

And I'm sure your eloquent enough that you don't need the dramatic four-letter expletives to make your point.

Posted by: sbw at November 7, 2006 06:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

> So far as admitting mistakes, there are bigger ones that could be made than any that might have been made so far.

This is akin to the argument that at least the US is not torturing as many people as Stalin did, and at least the US hasn't tortured as many people in Abu Ghraib as Saddam did. Or the argument that the Republicans only protected an active child molester -- at least they weren't killing children.

This kind of moral standard, where you strive to make sure there exists someone somewhere in history who was worse -- is very uninspiring, and it is hard to differentiate from complete depravity -- I guess the main difference, is that it is embarassed depravity, instead of unashamed depravity.

Posted by: john doe at November 7, 2006 07:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The greater mistake would have been to do nothing.

Posted by: sbw at November 7, 2006 07:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is distressing to see, time and again, that hindsight is not 20 20. There are principles of human behavior that transcend 'will' and 'purpose.' No country can be relied upon to fight indefinitely when not in their interest, no matter what commitment was given prior:such as the U.S. in Indochina. No country can be relied upon to roll over, when national interest is perceived to be threatened when means exist to fight, no matter that they have given way on peripheral issues: such as Britain standing up for Poland.

The tragedy if W's incompetence is that it will leave behind the opportunity to believe that the outcome could have been otherwise: when interventions will always fail in their goals. I try to explain that in my blog, but your beliefs will challenged, and you may have to unlearn them. And man, is that hard.

Posted by: Tom at November 8, 2006 02:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"I've already stated mine, in this thread and in others on Djereejian's site: stop fucking around unproductively in non-Kurdish Iraq and start using our military strength instead to try to keep Iran from going nuclear, to deal with any crises resulting from the fact that North Kore and Pakistan have already done so, and to maximize GENUINE precautions against other types of terrorist attack"

speaking of arrogance, bruce, this sounds rather that you don't like the former expression of military arrogance, but after its withdrawal, you are proposing several others. in my opinion, after a withdrawal, we'll be too politically paralyzed for any further pre-emptive agression. as of tonight, we've already started on this track.

if there's one thing that empires, in all their different forms, have in common, it's arrogance.

and what is the likely effect of our withdrawal (basically an apology for our arrogance) on the prestige and behavior of the enemy?

Posted by: neill at November 8, 2006 07:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Which enemy? Limiting ourselves to Iraq and environs for a moment: The Iranians? The Salafists? The Ba'athists? Iranian Shi'a groups with say in the Iraqi government? You have to be specific here, you know.

If you mean 'all of the above,' well, they're pretty disparate, but my guess is that if we left non-Kurdish Iraq tomorrow, they'd fire guns in the air and ululate a lot. And then they'd get down to the serious business of destroying the government and reducing the country to a bunch of tiny tribal fiefdoms and neighborhood warlord strongholds, at least until the next Man with the Moustache comes along. And he could make Saddam look like Mother Teresa and still be a great hero, because people will welcome even the worst tyrant over total anarchy.

Posted by: Antiquated Tory at November 8, 2006 05:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

so let's all scoot home and hide under the couch. and it'll all be better in the morning.

and let the neighborhood take care of itself.

How about the arch-enemy that coalesces to take over the neighborhood, house by house?

Posted by: neill at November 9, 2006 03:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

answer the question straight, tory.

what will be the consequence on the wider war on terrorism of our withdrawal from Iraq? and in your answer assume there are 2 sides....

Posted by: neill at November 10, 2006 04:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here's but a wee taste from al quaeda in Iraq head al-Masri:

"The al-Qaida army has 12,000 fighters in Iraq, and they have vowed to die for God's sake... We haven't had enough of your blood yet... We will not rest from our Jihad until we are under the olive trees of Rumieh and we have blown up the filthiest house — which is called the White House... The American people have put their feet on the right path by ... realizing their president's betrayal in supporting Israel... So they voted for something reasonable in the last elections... I say to... the ruler of believers (Abu Omar Baghdadi, the leader of the Mujahideen Shura) I vow allegiance to you... I put under your command 12,000 fighters who are the army of the al Qaeda... The victory day has come faster than we expected... Here is the Islamic nation in Iraq victorious against the tyrant. The enemy is incapable of fighting on and has no choice but to run away. We have to be unified by the sword, even though disagreements exist between us [between al-Qaeda and Sunni insurgent groups]... Go where God has ordered you to go and know that we are with you. We are your soldiers and your men."

Bill Roggio of The Fourth Rail:

"The tape highlights the very real fact that al-Qaeda works to influence elections in the West, and has a real preference in their outcome. This was true in Spain in the spring of 2004, when the Madrid rail suicide bombings killed over 200 commuters just days before the election, and led to the subsequent victory of the current Socialist government and immediate withdrawal of Spanish forces from Iraq. Over the summer, U.S. intelligence uncovered a 66 page document that explained al-Qaeda strategy to manipulate Western elections. The document, which was published on the web in a private al-Qaeda forum, has yet to be declassified."

al quaeda plays you guys, through the media, like a stradavareus.

and the uptick in violence orchestrated in the month before election our represents an enemy calculation identical to that of the Spain bombings, or for that matter, Tet.

Posted by: neill at November 11, 2006 02:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

and Tory, our enemies may be "disparate", yet they are UNIFIED in their violent opposition to America.

Our enemies are, hence, allies.

Posted by: neill at November 11, 2006 06:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The "greater mistake", SBW, is -- as is so often the case in war -- wasting our strength by DOING SOMETHING IN THE WRONG PLACE. Our top priority, by an overwhelming margin, in the current situation is keeping nuclear weapons from falling into terrorist hands -- it's conceivable that future historians (assuming there are any) may end up regarding the 9-11 attack as an ironically fortunate wakeup call to us on this front. Our invasion could have been justified on that ground, IF Saddam really had had an active Bomb program. Since he didn't, we have other fish to fry, before they fry us. If the only way we can avoid being "too politically paralyzed" to do that is to keep our troops stuck in the wrong damn country, we're done for anyway.

It's not hard at all to follow the reasoning that got Bush and company into Iraq: the invasion, occupation and reformation of Iraq would all be a "cakewalk", in Adelman's infamous phrase, and so it was worth doing even though we knew that Saddam did not have much of a nuclear program -- because, after we had ever so easily reformed Iraq and turned it into a pro-American democracy, we could then use it as a military base from which to invade and reform Iran and Syria with equal ease. Remember that slogan beloved of prewar Neocons: "Men go to Baghdad -- REAL men go to Teheran and Damascus"? It didn't quite work out -- and, less forgivably, they had absolutely no contingency plan in case it DIDN'T work out. (But then -- as pointed out by Peter Galbraith and Scott Ritter, who were direct eyewitnesses -- Rummy didn't even have any plan whatsoever for occupying and guarding the likely CBW depots in Iraq after the invasion. The assumption seems to have been that the grateful citizens of Iraq would do all that for us, after they were done throwing flowers.)

Posted by: BruceMoomaw at November 13, 2006 10:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.

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