September 07, 2004

Sullivan's Loss of Faith in Bush

Andrew Sullivan:

I agreed with almost everything in the foreign policy section of the speech, although the president's inability to face up to the obvious sobering lessons from Iraq is worrying. I get the feeling that empirical evidence does not count for him; that like all religious visionaries, he simply asserts that his own faith will vanquish reality. It won't. We heard nothing about Iran, North Korea or even anything concrete about Iraq. We heard no new bid to capitalize on the new mood in France or to win over new allies in the war on terror. We heard nothing about intelligence reform. And the contrasts with Kerry were all retrospective. There was no attempt to tell us where Kerry and Bush would differ in the future over the Middle East, just easy (and justified) barbs about the past. But Bush's big vision is, I believe, the right one. I'm just unsure whether his profound unpopularity in every foreign country has made real movement more or less likely. I do know that the rank xenophobia at the convention did not help American foreign policy or American interests.

You know, I've often felt grateful to Sullivan for his passionately intelligent writing or, perhaps, a poem he digs up that well reflects the national mood. Two days after 9/11, he posted this poem on his blog:

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand;
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand

This Melville poem, somehow, provided some much needed strength that day. I remember scrawling the poem down on a piece of paper and placing it in Union Square just days after the attacks.

Um, so what's my point? Well, I view Sullivan as someone who has a lot of integrity (for example, he rightly and forcefully called this Administration to task for the FUBAR going-ons at Abu Ghraib). And so, I guess, I was particularly saddened to see him fall (if in limited fashion) for the relativistic argument peddled in large swaths of lefty-Europe that Dubya is as much of a religious nutter as UBL (" all religious visionaries, he simply asserts that his own faith will vanquish reality.")

Sorry, but Bush is much more pragmatic than that. He has shown such pragmatism (put differently, a willingness to learn from his mistakes and engage with reality) repeatedly in Iraq. When Garner wasn't up to the job; he canned him and put in Bremer. After giving the U.N. short-shrift; Bush later gave Brahimi and the U.N. free rein to help broker Iraqi electoral modalities. He refused to flatten Fallujah, like a religious visionary might have done, in favor of sending in Iraqi forces (a strategy that looks to be proving highly problematic; though likely less problematic than if Bush had simply carpet-bombed said town). Similarly, the Sadr situation was handled, all told, with some subtlety (the Imam Ali mosque stands, Sadr hasn't been made a martyr, a political space for Sadr might still be allowed going forward). Some of the worst excesses of de-Baathification have been reversed. Rapprochment with Ankara and Berlin has proceeded apace. And so on.

Are these the actions of a wild-eyed, religious visionary? Well, no, of course they aren't.

And what of this "new mood" in France that Andrew espies? Right now, Le Monde's chat rooms are in full-blown schadenfreude mode that seven Marines died today, speculation that the CIA is behind the taking of the two French hostages (to drag the French into the Iraq imbroglio!), and that the U.S. is imperiling the freeing of the two French hostages.

Chat rooms certainly aren't scientifically accurate gauges of the national mood--whether in the U.S. or France. Still, they provide a window into some of the to and fro of national sentiment and debate. Relatedly, check out this article:

La concomitance de l'assaut contre Latifiya, dŽcidŽ par le premier ministre Iyad Allaoui, et des nŽgociations, trs dŽlicates et trs mŽdiatisŽes, relatives aux otages franais n'est pas passŽe inaperue ˆ Bagdad.

Lors d'une confŽrence de presse, dimanche, le cheikh salafiste Mahdi Al-Soume•da•, en annonant qu'il avait "promulguŽ une fatwa - dŽcret religieux - appelant les ravisseurs des deux journalistes ˆ les libŽrer immŽdiatement", a estimŽ que l'opŽration de Latifiya a "perturbŽ le processus de libŽration".

Translation: The occurence in connection with one another of the assault against Latifiya, decided by Prime Minister Iyad Allaoui, and very delicate...negotiations regarding the French hostages did not pass unnoticed in Baghdad. During a press conference on Sunday, the Salafist Sheikh Mahdi al-Soumeidai announced that he had "promulgated a fatwa--a religious decree--calling on the kidnappers to liberate the two journalists immediately," and averred that the Latifiya operation has disturbed the liberation of the hostages."

Similar stories are appearing in the leading center-right French daily Le Figaro--strongly suggesting that the U.S.'s latest military actions are risking scuttling the hostage release deal.

Now, is it possible that joint U.S.-Iraqi counter-insurgency operations are having a negative impact on the hostage release negotiations? Oh, maybe. But might not it be more warranted for the French press to, just perhaps, instead explore with more vigor the fanatical Islamic group's culpability in this whole sad affair? Instead of the old and tired 'blame the brutish Americans' song and dance? (Regardless, someone will have to clue in the French government that U.S. military actions in Iraq will not be calibrated and timed so as to ensure optimal conditions for various Salafist sheikhs to deem the time ripe for release of their two nationals. Fair, non?)

My point? There really isn't a "new mood" in France for Bush to have capitalized on. Any appeals by Bush to France in his Convention speech would, more likely, and I say this with real regret, have been met by Gallic scoffs, scorn and mockery rather than truly open and receptive ears.

Sullivan also complains that detailed Iran and NoKo plans weren't put on the table at MSG. But is a convention speech really the time to say:"..and if Iran doesn't cooperate with the latest IAEA requests I plan to ask my Euro-troika counterparts to bring this matter to the UNSC for consideration re: bringing punitive sanctions to bear on Iran"? Eyes would glaze over; the bounce would be smaller, and anyway, Bush would be castigated for going foward war-mongering.

Instead, as Sullivan admits, Bush made a powerful speech largely about the civilizational nature of the struggle we are involved in (the "big vision"). A speech that sounded, in parts, similar to this passage:

The forces of barbarism have clearly struck an extraordinary blow against freedom this morning. This is not about the United States alone. It is about the survival of free societies in an open, interconnected world where forces deeply hostile to freedom can wage a new kind of war against our humanity and our success. Words fail me. But my hope is that this will awaken the sleeping tiger. When our shock recedes, our rage must be steady and resolute and unforgiving. The response must be disproportionate to the crime and must hold those states and governments that have tolerated this evil accountable. This is the single most devastating act of war since Nagasaki. It is the first time that an enemy force has invaded the precincts of the American capital since the early nineteenth century. It is more dangerous than Pearl Harbor. And it is a reminder that the forces of resentment and evil...can no longer be appeased. They must be destroyed - systematically, durably, irrevocably. Perhaps now we will summon the will to do it.

The author? Andrew Sullivan, writing the day of 9/11. I wonder if Andrew, in his heart of hearts, truly believes Kerry will "summon the will to do it"?

I doubt he does. And, I suspect, many of my and his readers do to.

A final note. My Beltway spies tell me that a Bush II team (even sans Colin) will have a more pragmatic, realist tilt. Wolfy/Feith are not in the ascendancy anymore. Put differently, regime change is not coming to Iran in February of '05 in any Bush II (Bush just hinted at this strongly saying diplomacy had been given 12 years in Iraq; just one so far in Iran...)

Now, don't get me wrong. There's not going to be any Poppy restoration with Brent Scowcroft and Jim Baker rushing about hither dither. But a Bush II team is likely going to feature foreign policy practitioners more tethered to reality than some in Bush I. If nothing else, people are going to have learned from their mistakes. Wars (particularly securing the peace) takes soldiers. Lots of them. Intel needs to be judiciously and cautiously examined without histrionics and hyperbole. People, once liberated, turn on liberators quickly (ingrates abound in this world, let's never forget!). Exiles, particularly of the Knightsbridge variety, twist and turn with the winds with breathtaking gall.

Compare a more sober and realist Bush II team to Kerry's prospective line-up. Holbrooke might do a great job--but who will occupy the vast sub-Holbrooke ranks at State (key 6th floor appointees and such)? Who will man the Pentagon?

The bench is light, I fear. More on that soon.


A reminder. Comments are often unmonitored and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author of this blog. That said, I will exercise, at my sole discretion, the right to delete any and all posts that I view as off-topic, hateful, or otherwise offensive (even by regular commenters whose views I might often value). Thanks for your understanding and patience--even if I've deleted a comment of yours that you might have viewed as within the confines of appropriate discourse. Sometime it's a close call--but my space, my rules.

As for Kerry's prospective foreign policy team--check this article out. Sorry, but I'm just not that impressed (some quite junior people are being touted as heavy-weights-to-be). This link is registration required; so go check this out too.

As I said, more on this soon. I'm traveling on business to the States all week. Blogging may occur but will be somewhat irregular, erratic etc. Thanks for your patience.

STILL MORE: On France's current take on the hostage crisis, don't miss this either:

Frustration in Paris at delays in releasing the hostages kidnapped in Iraq is leading to suggestions that military action by the US-led coalition is undermining diplomatic efforts and jeopardising the lives of the captives.

Fouad Alaoui, secretary-general of the Union of French Islamic Organisations, said new US military operations might have made it harder to arrange a handover. "I think that it is making the mission difficult," said Mr Alaoui.

In an implicit criticism of the coalition's post-war planning, Michele Alliot-Marie, the French defence minister, told LCI television: "This country [Iraq] is in complete chaos, so that poses major difficulties."

A British diplomat in Paris yesterday said: "The current coalition operations are part of regular ongoing activity and have no connection with the French hostages. We continue to offer the French our full support."

This isn't from a Le Monde chat room. It's a statement from the French Minister of Defense.

Again, where is the "new mood"? Why are French government ministers suggesting the U.S. is to blame for the plight of their nationals--rather than the fanatical terrorists who have kidnapped and threatened to kill them? Really, why?

Posted by Gregory at September 7, 2004 01:02 AM

several thoughts immediately spring to mind:

1) you added "wild-eyed" to "relgious visionary," not Sullivan... the choice of phrasing by Sullivan was more an indication of faith in ideals getting in the way of admitting mistakes, not some claim that Bush is as bad as UBL as a zealot

2) the entire bottom of your post is complete and utter FUDmongering (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). You ask "[w]ho will occupy the vast sub-Holbrooke ranks at State" but specify no "more pragmatic" leaders for this hypothetical Bush II administration. All in all, you manage to drop a name, claim that because YOU won't suggest/don't know other names, no other names must be available for Kerry I. (a hint, one I would not expect to give you, would be to look at Kerry's foreign policy advisory team).

3) The French baiting was a nice touch, too. I think Mr. Sullivan was referring to the French government... so unless I'm misinformed about the media in France, chat rooms and articles aren't authored as government policy positions. Saying all of that, though, I'm not sure I got the new mood in France, either, but a real clarification would be better than forum posts (come on!) or news articles that simply report what a cleric said.

4) the most amusing thing reading this was that your defense of Bush is that he fixes his screw ups well. I'd rather have a President that, uh, won't screw up in the first place. To your point, though, this administration hasn't been good at selecting people so far, why should I believe you that they will do better in their next term, should they get one? This is the most significant problem I have with what you're saying... What fundamentally is different about their process of selecting cabinet (and agency/department staffers below the cabinet member) that will get better people?

All I read from you in this post was that they won't be worse because they'll be more "pragmatic."

You're far more compelling usually, so I'm hoping this is some aberration... this post was almost campaign-quality fluff.

Posted by: sujal at September 7, 2004 03:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

that anyone is willing to take a chance that GWB II will be filled with the competent is a massive leap of faith. i can not see a single piece of evidence to justify that leap. not a single piece.

Posted by: David at September 7, 2004 08:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Colin Powell seems to be in a good mood. There is an interesting "interview" of Colin Powell by P. J. O'Rourke in the Atlantic this month. I really like this interview because Mr. Powell and Mr. O'Rourke defend a culturally conservative philosophy which I admire. (There's also a nice article by Reuel Marc Gerecht about Shi'a Islamist democrats in Iraq.)

As an American of Indian Kashmiri descent I have long been a critic of Mr. Powell's close relationship with the Pakistani military establishment -- for example, in December 2001 after the terrorist attack on India's Parliament, Mr. Powell gently counseled Mr. Musharraf to consider perhaps taking action against then Pakistan-based al Qaeda terrorist affiliates Jaish-e-Muhammed and Harakat-al-Mujahadin, which Mr. Powell diplomatically described as "organizatons tentatively identified as terrorist groups". Tentatively identified?

Nevertheless, Mr. Powell is underrated overall (having won a series of unanimous UNSC resolutions on Iraq) and in the unlikely event that Mr. Bush wins re-election, one hopes that Mr. Powell might stick around, while Messrs Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith head to think tanks.

Posted by: Arjun at September 7, 2004 11:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Look at Bush & the tax-cut issue. Even Reagan pulled back from the tax cuts when it was clear they did not add up. The unfolding tax cuts over the next 5 years are going to create a structural deficit of around 600 billion dollars based on today's spending. But of course spending is going to go up as health care costs drive upwards. Tax cuts can be a short-term fiscal stimulus, but beyond a point they are a recipe for fiscal catastrophe. That is where we are going. Bush has only his faith-based solution of burning the bridges behind us by making the cuts permament. We are headed off a cliff under this guy.

Posted by: brendan at September 7, 2004 02:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Why are French government ministers suggesting the U.S. is to blame for the plight of their nationals--rather than the fanatical terrorists who have kidnapped and threatened to kill them? Really, why?"

1. Jeopardizes hostages. Criticism of the kidnapper/terrorists might jeopardize chances that the hostage turn-over happens.

2. Poisoned well. Overriding belief that such a mess only occurred because the the U.S. invaded Iraq. This colors their read of any such situations. The U.S. is the bad guy/aggressor, whereas the hostage-takers are colored in more neutral tones as aggressors 'of circumstance'.

3. Cynical politics/narcissism. The argument that U.S. is most to blame in the situation might not wash well qua argument, but it certainly plays well rhetorically with the French home audience (and with France's intended Arab-Muslim audience).

Posted by: M. Ajay Chandra at September 7, 2004 02:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

you can determine a lot from a person by:

1) Knowing what's the single most important issue for him this coming election

2) Who he is now supporting

For Sully, the answers are:

1) Gay Marriage

2) John Kerry, who says going to war in Iraq was a mistake. So either Sullivan now shares the same views with Kerry on Iraq, or he just doesn't care what Kerry stands for -- as long as Bush is defeated in November.

Posted by: john marzan at September 7, 2004 02:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mr. Chandra:

Would you please post a link regarding the statements by French Government Ministers ... I would like to discover whether this is just more shameless demagoguery (on your part or on "theirs").

In the abstract, even though the terrorists are certainly to blame for their criminal acts, secondary blame might be attributed to others if the others took steps that permitted or encouraged terrorists' acts. Who exactly is accusing whom of precisely what?

Posted by: brendan at September 7, 2004 02:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To echo something that Sujal mentioned, Greg you said:

"I was particularly saddened to see him fall (if in limited fashion) for the relativistic argument peddled in large swaths of lefty-Europe that Dubya is as much of a religious nutter as UBL (" all religious visionaries, he simply asserts that his own faith will vanquish reality.")"

But is saying that Bush is a religious visionary necessarily equating him to UBL? Is there no middle ground? Is everything so black and white? Bush himself has declared his religosity and openly preaches about God given imperatives and political structures. There is simply more "nuance" to what Andy was saying than religious visionary = UBL.

In fact, I think you yourself go on to attempt to explain away Andy's actual criticism:

"But a Bush II team is likely going to feature foreign policy practitioners more tethered to reality than some in Bush I. If nothing else, people are going to have learned from their mistakes."

Less visionary, more realism (although I am less sanguine in my outlook for Bush II).

Lastly, I think the theme that Kerry lacks the will/desire to combat al-Qaeda and the spread of radical Islamist terrorism is a bit tired and not grounded in fact or reason. You said:

"I wonder if Andrew, in his heart of hearts, truly believes Kerry will "summon the will to do it"?
I doubt he does. And, I suspect, many of my and his readers do to."

Really? You can disagree with Kerry on tactics or policies employed, but are you REALLY suggesting that Kerry would not confront al-Qaeda? Are you really suggesting that he would start to confront terrorism, but get bored, distracted or discouraged and turn away from the process? Because that is a bit on the ridiculous side. I think it is obvious that every American has the will to combat the spread of terrorism. The proscribed course and means to achieve those ends may differ, but the will in Kerry, Edwards, Bush Cheney, et al is resolute.

Posted by: Eric Martin at September 7, 2004 02:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I think for Sully gay marriage is a big one (can you blame him though?). He still agrees with Bush on overall foreign policy direction, but he has many valid criticisms about the execution of that vision by Bush and his team.

He also disagrees strongly with Bush on economic issues. Sully is a budget hawk conservative, whereas Bush is a tax-cut and spender. Note how discouraged Sully was with the expansive outlay of new spending programs in Bush's speech.

As with many voters/pundits, Sully weighs the pros, cons, agreements and disagreements to reach a final conclusion. It is not black and white.

Posted by: Eric Martin at September 7, 2004 03:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I honestly don't think that Andrew Sullivan is intellectually coherent whenever he talks about the Bush administration. His horror at Bush's endorsement of the FMA has colored everything he has written about foreign policy since February of this year or so.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at September 7, 2004 03:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Dr McManus:

In my comments, I follow convention and put the initial question in quotation marks to indicate that I am quoting someone else, i.e., Mr Djerejian who poses it at the end of his post. Please check the Financial Times story Mr Djerejian links (under his "STILL MORE"). NB: his post leaves unmentioned the detail that the new captors/terrorists want $5m for the French journalists' safe return.

I did not represent my comments as any more than my own thoughts. I think my comments are reasonable and do not cast France's politicians and public as any more self-interested than most. You are entitled to disagree.

You are right that the French politicians and public may discount principles like double-effect or new intervening agent which would excuse U.S. responsibility. Hence, my reference to, ÒOverriding belief that such a mess only occurred because the U.S. invaded Iraq.Ó I do not think that such a belief is ludicrous, but I also doubt the U.S. made anyone kidnap journalists or demand a $5m ransom (especially given that it would fund more Iraqi and coalition casualties).

Posted by: M. Ajay Chandra at September 7, 2004 04:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It's pretty disingenuous to claim that Bush learns from mistakes. Replacing Garner with Bremer in retrospect was no improvement at all -- and was Bush even involved in that? Asking for Brahimi wasn't changing his mind about the UN, it was asking them for help after he'd painted himself into a corner with no good way out. Again, is there any evidence that Bush was involved? And Brahimi got double-crossed.

Bush refused to flatten Fallujah? Was Bush involved in that decision? A member of the IGC resigned and others threatened to, US-appointed provincial governors begged the US not to, it was clearly a disaster for them -- and Bush noticed and changed his mind at the last minute? Maybe. More likely it was somebody lower in the chain of command risking his career by making that decision. Sure it's problematic. We want to bring democracy to Anbar province, and the one thing Anbar province is most agreed about is they want us to go away. We could flatten every building in the whole province and what good would it do u?

Calling the US strategy about Sadr subtle is like calling the Marines subtle. We wanted to get rid of him. I guess it was subtle to tell our tame judge to issue a murder warrant and keep it secret for 10 months. It was kind of subtle to send the marines to "arrest" him and announce that he had been killed resisting arrest before checkng whether they had succeeded. It could be considered subtle to surround him and then when the iraqis offer to let his party run in the elections and cancel the arrest warrant (which were his demands) let it go a little while and then say their negotiation didn't apply to us, we would still arrest him (kill him "resistinig arrest") and keep his party off the ballot. So then we go through the *whole thing* again, and this time it's Allawi who promises to cancel the bogus murder warrant and let Sadr's party run If we'd wanted to be subtle we could have given him that before we went back to trying to kill him. I guess we could have been less subtle, we could have dropped thousand-pound bombs on the shrine until we were sure he was dead, and then excavated it with bulldozers doing DNA testing on each corpse until we could announce that we were sure we got him, and maybe then bulldozed all the debris back into the hole and maybe mined the site. We could have had some Marine christian chaplains do public prayers first and tell the marines they'd done exactly the right thing, that the heathen don't deserve to have shrines. That would have been less subtle. But now that we got past that, I can't think of any particularly unsubtle thing left for us to do except maybe kill Sadr now, and proclaim it as a warning to bad guys everywhere.

But all this aside, I tend to think Bush was out of the loop. He hasn't changed his mind about any policies because he didn't make any policies in the first place. His various announced flipflops come simply because when he doesn't have a teleprompter he doesn't think about what he's saying.

Msybe whoever is making policy for Bush would dump the neocons after the election. But then, if they were going to do that wouldn't they do it *before* the election, so they could get the boost in votes? I'd say, if they dump the neocons before the election I'd give it a 50:50 chance they won't hire them back after they win. But if they don't do it before the election why would anybody think they'd do it afterward?

Posted by: J Thomas at September 7, 2004 07:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Why are French government ministers suggesting the U.S. is to blame for the plight of their nationals--rather than the fanatical terrorists who have kidnapped and threatened to kill them? Really, why?

Because in the middle east, France is most likely on the other side. At a minimum, France is triangulating between us and the anti-US muslim nations; more likely, as we saw in Iraq and are now seeing in Iran, France is determined to thwart or counter l'hyperpuissance wherever it does not cost them to do so.

And where it enriches them to do so, as with the sweetheart deal between TotalFinaElf and Saddam in Nov 2002 to develop 20 billion-- yes, that's right, billion -- barrels in the massive W Qurna fields that account for one-third of Iraq's reserves.

Again, the objective fact that's obvious to every Frenchman is that France is not an ally of the US in the middle east.

No Frenchman believes that France is on our side there. Why do we believe it?

Posted by: lex at September 7, 2004 08:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory Djerejian , you write that "French government ministers [are] suggesting the U.S. is to blame for the plight of their nationals" - Huh? Can we please get some quotes to support this assertion? The best you can do is reference the Defense Minister who states that ""This country [Iraq] is in complete chaos, so that poses major difficulties." Well, as it turns out the situation is rather chaotic and this does make communications with the hostage takers difficult. How this can be construed as blaming the U.S. is beyond me. This is not an opinion but a factual statement that a representative of a government attempting to negociate the release of its nationals would be in a rather good position to make. Since your own case is so weak you try to strengthen it with dubious associations - "hey this is what is being said in the chatrooms - oh it has nothing to do with the official position of the French governement of course but hey, let me just throw it in there because it might just stick and I can't find anything better to support my views!" After multiple references to these chat groups (which seem quite authoritative to you despite your disingenuous statements to the contrary) you mention the French press in the transparent hope that somehow the silliness prevailing in said chat rooms can be assigned to the media as well. You quote an islamic cleric who puts forth the view that the most recent U.S. actions may have delayed the release of the hostages (btw, this view doesn't seem wholly unreasonable either -noone is suggesting that the U.S. is hindering the release on purpose). And you write that there are stories iin the French press "strongly suggesting that the U.S.'s latest military actions are risking scuttling the hostage release deal." Again: Huh? As it turns the Figaro, which you link to, does mention the point of view put forth by the cleric but also DISAGREES WITH IT!:

Il y a aussi certains dŽtails troublants, comme la similitude entre le communiquŽ et les dŽclarations faites, ces derniers jours, par les milieux religieux irakiens, qui ont bl‰mŽ les AmŽricains d'avoir retardŽ par leurs opŽrations la libŽration ÇimminenteÈ des captifs.

Au vu du peu de contr™le exercŽ par l'armŽe amŽricaine et leurs auxiliaires irakiens jusque dans le centre de Bagdad, cet argument appara”t comme peu crŽdible. Une guŽrilla capable d'attaquer au mortier la Zone verte, quartier gŽnŽral des forces amŽricaines en Irak, en plein jour et au beau milieu de Bagdad, ou de tirer dans une autre partie du centre-ville une volŽe de roquettes contre des h™tels abritant des AmŽricains avant de dispara”tre, est, pour la plupart des spŽcialistes, parfaitement capable de transporter discrtement trois captifs dans une automobile o bon lui semble. Surtout si, comme l'envisagent certaines hypothses, les otages sont dŽtenus quelque part dans une villa de Bagdad, immense mŽtropole de plus de 7 millions d'habitants.


There are also certain troubling details, such as the resemblance beteween the communication by the hostage takers and the statements made by iraqi religious leaders who blamed the Americans for the delay in the "imminent" release of the captives.
Considering the lack of control exercised by the U.S. Army and its Iraqi auxiliaries even up to the center of Baghdad, this argument has little credibility.


So far from spreading the view that the U.S. is delaying the release of the hostages, the Figaro is characterizing these views as having little credibiity!!! Either you are dishonest or an outright fraud or your mastery of French is not as good as you think it is. I don't know if the "mood in France" has changed, but the mood tn the blogosphere -francophobic to the point of dishonesty- certainly hasn't.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 7, 2004 11:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is utterly disheartening that so many people throughout the world blame the U.S. for the acts of terrorists opposed to the U.S. I would cite, for example, the anti-American "peace rallies" in Turkey after the bombings in Istanbul. Then there was the predominant public reaction in South Korea to the brutal decapitation of a South Korean civilian (although, thankfully, there was at least one right-wing rally denouncing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- God bless those South Korean right-wingers).

The BBC asked "What do you think?" after an innocent BBC reporter was gunned down in Saudi Arabia and the first comment they highlighted was "I don't know how Bush and Blair can sleep at night." Bush and Blair??? How can the terrorists sleep at night? How can those who make excuses for the terrorists sleep at night?

Posted by: Arjun at September 8, 2004 01:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm voting for Mr. Kerry because I'm worried that the Bush Administration's tax cuts will imperil American supremacy.

Leaving that aside, however, I honestly think that one good reason to vote for Mr. Bush is that Mr. Bush has made big mistakes. Mr. Kerry is, in my opinion, less likely to learn from Mr. Bush's mistakes than Mr. Bush, precisely because Mr. Bush was the one who made those mistakes.

I'm not being facetious here. When I read the 9/11 Commission Report, I concluded that the Bush Administration failed to focus on the threat from al Qaeda in its first seven months. (I'm not absolving the Clinton Administration.) But the Bush Administration experienced first-hand the consequences of that failure to focus, and therefore, the Bush Administration is less likely to make that mistake again.

Posted by: Arjun at September 8, 2004 01:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't doubt Mr. Kerry's "will" to win the war on al Qaeda terrorism. (If I did, obviously, I wouldn't be voting for him.)

That said, choices need to be made. For example, I don't doubt NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof's "will" to win the war either, but Mr. Kristof has wrongly criticized Mr. Bush for calling the WOT "the focus of my administration". In other words, different people have different priorities. Our President's top priority, he claims, is the WOT. You can only have one top priority, and I like our President's choice.

I am troubled by Mr. Kerry's choices back in 1984, but that was a long time ago.

Today, I am troubled (and annoyed) by Mr. Kerry's statement that the Bush Administration's blunders in Iraq have wasted $200 billion in U.S. taxpayer money that should have been spent on schools and health care. Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that we admit that the Iraq war was entirely a mistake, and we get our $200 billion back. Wouldn't you want to spend that money on winning the war on terror?

I'm all for butter, but what about the guns?

My hero, Mr. McCain, has suggested that we may need to forgo missile defense in order to finance increased troop strength. But surely this is a false choice -- why can't we have both missile defense research and increased troop strength? Isn't enhancing national security more important than, say, helping Warren Buffett pay for his medications?

Mr. Kerry is copying Mr. Bush in one unfortunate way: he wants to try to win the WOT without demanding any great sacrifice from American taxpayers.

Posted by: Arjun at September 8, 2004 03:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The February invasion of Iran might not be necessary, especially if Bush receives a good landslide. The mullahs there will try to cut a deal with him by which they desist from making nuclear bombs in exchange for the U.S. staying out of their internal affairs. This would be a low cost solution in the best interests of the U.S., but would set back the liberation of the Iranian people for some time .. At home, the Bush landslide will bring a net gain of three or four seats in the Senate, not enough to give the GOP the magic 60, but the "nuclear option" of rules change will be employed to replace the retiring Supreme Court justices. The Supreme Court lifetime appointees are terribly important for domestic reasons, mostly, but will effect overseas nations eventually-- adversely--because they will be people who believe in free market capitalism, which inevitably will accelerate growth and prosperity here relative to yours.

Posted by: exguru at September 8, 2004 06:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think for Sully gay marriage is a big one (can you blame him though?). He still agrees with Bush on overall foreign policy direction, but he has many valid criticisms about the execution of that vision by Bush and his team.

Uh-huh. But his real number one issue against Bush is Gay Marriage. If you're a longtime sullivan reader like me, you would know that.

You ask, can you blame him? No... but his priorities are all screwed up and I really don't TRUST him anymore.

As with many voters/pundits, Sully weighs the pros, cons, agreements and disagreements to reach a final conclusion. It is not black and white.

I have to disagree with you there. It's really very simple, eric. Andrew is angry at Bush because of Gay Marriage, and he trashes Bush on other issues to mask his real grievance (G.M.).

Maybe he can fool some of his newer readers about his real intentions, but he can't fool his regular readers.

Posted by: john marzan at September 8, 2004 09:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I know about the anti-Kerry dirty tricks (SBVFT, the fabricated photo of Mr. Kerry with Jane Fonda, etc.) but can anyone tell me whether this is for real?

Posted by: Arjun at September 8, 2004 01:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I have been reading Andrew Sullivan for roughly two years. That may not be as long as you, but I think it is enough to get a general sense of where he stands (and it certainly predates the introduction of the amendment).

During that period, he has always expressed his conservative views on economic issues and those, to my knowledge, have remained consistent. Since he is a true conservative, preaching small government and deficit hawkishness, he has always had differences of opinion with the Bush administration.

Further, criticizing the lack of post-war planning and the Abu Ghraib incidents are not outlandish opinions that could only be explained away by his stance on the gay marriage issue. Other conservatives like George Will, Fukuyama, Tucker Carlson, Max Boot, etc., have also been critical of the Bush team's lack of post-war planning and executionm, and of Rumsfeld's responsibility for Aby Ghraib.

What are their ulterior motives?

Posted by: Eric Martin at September 8, 2004 03:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

yah. i read sully's blog daily for 2.5 years.

and i didn't need jonah or k-lo "outing" sully on his true intentions.

Posted by: john marzan at September 8, 2004 05:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The french part, "the new attitude" appears not to have a shelf life of more than a week.

Posted by: J_Crater at September 8, 2004 09:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


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