November 01, 2004

Revisiting the Tora Bora Meme--and a Reaction to Andrew Sullivan's Endorsement

I hope Andrew won't mind; but I've reprinted a letter he received over at his blog as it's so well worth reading.

THE TORA BORA 'FAILURE': If you're going to cite the failure at Tora Bora, at the very least you should take the time to inform yourself about the military issues involved beyond reading what other pundits like Marshall have to say. Tora Bora was a tactical failure that occurred within the context of a spectacular strategic victory that destroyed "the base," unseated the Taliban and drove the bin Ladenists into hiding in Pakistan -- all with[in] a few weeks. This did not happen because of the Army brass at the Pentagon or Tommy Franks, but because Bush set a deadline of one month from 9/11 to develop and execute an attack plan, and because Rumsfeld whipped the Pentagon into meeting that deadline. It's almost certain that bin Laden and Mullah Omar expected the US to invade Afganistan -- indeed, that's probably what al Qaeda aimed to provoke by 9/11 -- but their model for what to expect was the first Gulf War and the Soviet Afghan quagmire. The US would need to land multiple heavy divisions at Karachi, requiring unambiguous Pakistani support, or find an overland route, making the effort dependant on Russia. In any event, that would take many months, probably precipitate a crisis within Pakistan and enable the Taliban to rouse Afghans against a new infidel invasion reminiscent of the Soviet war. But they did not realize how far the US military had come in 10 years -- how the combination of small SOF teams on the ground and pin-point air strikes mounted from as far away as Kansas -- could and did decimate Taliban forces and rout them. This strategy depended, of course, on local allies mostly bought for cash.

As the Taliban crumbled before this surprising, swift onslaught, bin Laden apparently saddled up and with about 1,000 of his men headed for the Tora Bora redoubt that had withstood years (remember that, years) of Soviet attacks. There were at this point few US troops who could have been deployed to this fight. Franks was able to draw on two, maybe three battalions -- a drop in the bucket of what he'd have needed to assualt that four-square mile fortress of steep slopes, hidden caves and trails only narrow enough for a single man. Air power had limited value, because strong points had been built in the 80s to be invisible from the air and unreachable even by "smart" munitions. Franks judgment was that; (a) US troops available would have been chewed to pieces in direct assaults; (b) ferrying in the far-larger troop elements and supplies that might have sufficed would have taken months; and (c) the locals from the "Eastern Alliance" like the Northern Alliance had demonstrated that the traditional Afghan ways of negotiating and bribing their way through warfare had worked well to pull support out from under al Qaeda and the Taliban leadership and, in any case, he had no other viable option. Meanwhile, Pakistan had not yet taken the plunge to cooperate beyond diplomatic words and a few super-secret consessions, so the Pakistan side of the border could not be close anyway.

Thus, the only reason we had anyone "trapped" at Tora Bora at all was that we had totally surprised and defeated them strategically. Put simply, if there were enough US troops in the theater to surround and assault Tora Bora, it would have been April, not December, and god only knows what we would have provoked in the process of getting them there.

Denouncing Bush -- or Franks -- for the tactical "failure" while overlooking the globally significant strategic victory is, at best, ignorant and, at worst, a reprehensible political attack on those who achieved that victory. As a result of that victory, which led to the installation of a pro-US Afghan government, we know for sure that Musharraf changed his position from one of indifference to US requirements to one of active alliance in crushing al Qaeda. [ed. note: End of letter.]

How easy all this handwringing about a failed Afghan campaign! Let's get back to basics, people. By any judicious standard, Afghanistan has proven a major success. People can, from the sidelines, carp on about neo-Talibs regrouping in the southeast and higher opium production rates. But here's the bottom-line. We were attacked on 9/11 by al-Qaeda. Bush got Pakistan on board and quashed the Taliban with utmost speed--denying al-Q their key state sanctuary in the process. This is, of course, a major victory in the war on terror--by any fair standard.

In Iraq, and little noted of late, Bush has successfully mitigated the perils of having to grapple with two insurgencies simultaneously--through a nuanced combination of sophisticated counter-insurgency efforts and attendant political machinations contra Moktada al-Sadr. We are now, therefore, free to focus like a laser on the key Sunni insurgent strongholds--with a battle for Fallujah looming shortly.

Oh, of course, Richard Perle was wrong about the flowers and squares to be named in Dubya's honor in downtown Baghdad. And we haven't heard from Ken Adleman in a while. But let's not get carried away about just how de minimis our force posture is there. We didn't just air-drop Ahmad Chalabi in Nasariyah and send in a few thousand special forces leading "free" Iraqi forces to victory. We've got 130,000 guys on the ground--a not insignificant amount of manpower. And we are making headway with elections approaching in January (ironically, and more on this another time, both Sadr reps and Chalabi are current liasing with Sunnis to try to get more of them to view the January elections as legit). Stay the course, people!

It is sad that people like Dan Drezner, David Adesnik and Andrew Sullivan have been snookered by Kerry's campaign rhetoric--the assurances that he will see Iraq through. I'm extremely dubious--as are the very people with most at stake--liberal, elite Iraqis (see Larry Kaplan's excellent WSJ piece on this--secular, urban Iraqi elites are mostly supporting Dubya--fearful that Kerry will cut and run). They are right to be so concerned--given Kerry's myriad mixed signals about the merits of the war.

How easy for Andrew Sullivan to write: "He [Kerry] has said quite clearly that he will not "cut and run" in Iraq. And the truth is: he cannot. There is no alternative to seeing the war through in Iraq." Of course there is an alternative to seeing the war through in Iraq. It's called not seeing the war through in Iraq. Kerry was against (post his laudable, if quite short, service there) the Vietnam war, major Cold War defense expenditures, Gulf War I, Bosnia. What gives Andrew comfort he will see this major Iraq challenge through? Words (so often contradictory), alone? Reminder: "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time." What thin gruel you are serving up to us, Andrew!

Sullivan then essays an argument that: "Kerry's new mandate and fresh administration will increase the options to us for winning. He has every incentive to be tough enough; but far more leeway to be more flexible than the incumbent." What does this mean? With apologies to Andrew, it means nothing. "Tough enough." "Flexible." Folks, the Canadian-French-German multinational contingent is not going to haul ass to Ramadi to free up more GIs for Fallujah simply because Kerry wins and they like his Euro-mane, Turnbull & Asser shirts, and Davos entreaties. Regardless, let's talk about flexibility. As I've said before, Bush has shown repeatedly he is capable of making strategic adjustments in theater--ditching Garner, handing over more power to the U.N., handling the Shi'a insurgency quite adeptly, in his approach (using elite Iraqi forces in tandem with U.S. troops) in places like Samarra, lately in moving budgeted funds back towards security needs rather than reconstruction. I ask you: on the critical 'train and equip' effort, can Dan or Andrew point to concrete examples of how the Kerry team will handle this better? What gives them this confidence? Really, what?

Look, all our biggest gripes about Iraq (Abu Ghraib, no security, stalled reconstruction) stem from too few troops. Andrew, who is likelier to keep 130,000 odd men in Iraq for longer--Bush or Kerry? After all, Kerry has already indicated troops will likely be fully drawn-down by the end of his first term. What kind of signal is this to our foes--telegraphing an exit date so as to provide hope to insurgents that they can simply wait us out--while keeping on grinding us down for another 2-3 years?

A word on Abu Ghraib. Readers of my blog know how massively disgusted and dismayed I was by the scandal. But recall Kerry's reaction to it initially. My best recollection was some boiler-plate denunciations--but that, mostly, this was a careful man seeing that there was 70% support for Rummy still and best not to rock the boat too much. If Kerry had, right out of the gates and with real political courage, denounced this major stain on our national honor with more alacrity and genuinity--perhaps I would have thought more of him. But he was basically watching the polls and performing a balancing act--condemn Abu Ghraib, to be sure, but not too mightily--lest he look 'weak' and not red-blooded enough. This will be his approach to much else besides, I strongly suspect, should he prevail tomorrow. Put differently, character matters, and mightily.

Andrew also writes, in his Kerry endorsement, that "the Bush Administration has shown itself impatient with and untalented at nation-building." Please. The PRTs in Afghanistan are doing pretty well, I'd think. And, of course, we've just had an election there--one fraught with huge peril--but one that has largely proven a major success. Elections are near in Iraq too--let's not, via 'Laphamization' and such, declare them a disaster before they've even occurred.

And from whence this verdict of impatience? It's Andrew who is being impatient--just over a year into Iraq he is getting wobbly and casting about for a 'new team' to save the day. He thinks simply because Bush is a "polarizing" figure; the world will rush to assist our effort should Kerry prevail, so that, with a greater international imprimatur in Iraq, the battle for hearts and minds will be joined more effectively. With the utmost respect for Andrew, I have to say, what claptrap! Andrew well knows the deeper sources of European-U.S. discord stemming from the end of the Cold War and concommitant Soviet threat, Kagan's Mars/Venus meme, neo-Gaullist faux-swagger, Schroder's uber-pandering (to a somewhat disingenuous and immensely self-conscious pacifist strain in Germany) and much more besides. Andrew is deluding himself to think Kerry's victory will lead to a materially different posture among Euro policymaking elites vis-a-vis Iraq.

Andrew further thinks we need to forge a bipartisan consensus on the GWOT--much like we did on the Cold War--another reason to vote for Kerry pace Sullivan! Only problem is, of course, Kerry was largely on the wrong side of the Cold War. (We would still be debating the merits of detente and arms build-ups if the Kerry wing of the Democrat party had its hands on the reins of policy-making on Soviet issues). And, I fear, on the wrong side of the GWOT. No, that doesn't mean Kerry is an UBL-hugger or bovine Mooreian blowhard. But it does mean that he is very likely to draw-down our force posture too precipitously in Iraq.

Look, does anyone seriously believe, should more troops be required in Iraq, that Kerry will push or get a troop increase through the party of Dean, Moore, and Kucinich? How can Andrew and Dan Drezner not grapple with this reality? What a sad abdication of intellectual leadership by these bright war supporters!

Andrew asks of the Bush team: "could they have run a worse war"? Of course, they could have Andrew. We could have brutishly blitzed through Najaf and Sadr City alienating (much more than we have) the Shi'a. We could be nowhere near getting elections organized. We could have pissed off the Turks more in the Kurdish north. And, believe it or not, things could be worse in the Sunni Triangle.

Finally, Andrew writes: "Does Kerry believe in the power of freedom enough to bring Iraq into a democratic future? I don't know. It's my major concern with him. At the same time, it's delusional to believe that democracy can take root overnight in Iraq; and a little more humility in the face of cultural difference does not strike me as unwarranted at this juncture. Besides, Kerry has endorsed democracy as a goal in Iraq and Afghanistan...his very election would transform the international atmosphere."

One does not simply "endorse" democratic outcomes in Afghanistan and Iraq and, voila, the all clear. One must remain in the trenches, likely for many years yet, striving for such an outcome through blood, sweat and tears. Kerry's team has called Iyad Allawi a "puppet," all but declared troops will be out by the end of his first term, hinted 'democracy' is not a tenable outcome in Iraq, and called this war a blunder of the first degree.

I ask you, how can this be the man to see this effort through? Do words no longer matter? Put differently, who is relying more on irrational "faith" here? Me, in hoping that Bush will more effectively prosecute the conflict in a second term, or Drezner and Sullivan and Adesnik--hoping against hope that Kerry really cares, yes--deep in his gut where it matters--cares deeply about seeing this generational project of Iraq democratization through?

As for a transformation of the "international atmosphere"--surely it will be more pleasant for Americans to attend cocktail parties in South Kensington and the 7th arrondissment--should Kerry win. We will no longer have to hold our heads in shame that a Simian dolt leads us hapless simpletons in myriad Crusades, willy-nilly, through the Middle East and beyond. But again, let's ask ourselves about the international atmosphere in Baghdad--where secular elites openly worry about what a Kerry victory will mean for their very livelihoods in the midst of significant chaos--far from the cushy drawing-rooms of London, Paris and the Upper West Side. That, right now, matters much, much more--vis-a-vis the "international atmosphere."

Finally, as with Andrew, this election comes down to a risk calculus for me as well. For the Economist (and ostensibly, Andrew), this risk calculus was framed as a decision between the incompetent (Bush) and the incoherent (Kerry). The Economist chose the latter. For me, it's more a decision as between a deeply imperfect and often too intellectually simple man, but one who is driven by real conviction to see our massive foreign policy challenges through; and on the other hand, a man who says all the right things and gets waverers like Sully on board--but doesn't really believe in what he is saying in his core.

Yes, of course, this is a subjective judgement. You are free to disagree. But, if Iraq is the crucible of attempting the hard generational task of modernizing the Middle East (and, per Sully, Bush 'gets' that democratization is the only ultimate security in an age of Jihadist terror), and if you believe that is the most critical task facing our next President--I believe a vote for George Bush is the wiser vote tomorrow.

Posted by Gregory at November 1, 2004 09:19 AM
Comments

Could Bush have done worse? Yes, it certainly could have been a hell of a lot worse. Have a look at this article from the Spectator to see how the French managed things 50 years ago.


http://www.spectator.co.uk/article.php?table=old§ion=current&issue=2004-10-30&id=5172

Posted by: Martin Adamson at November 1, 2004 12:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Who cares about this issue? Nobody, I suspect. The usual suspects will pretend to, as long as they find it useful to do so. And we are supposed to pretend that they are something other than intellectual whores.

Vote for Bush, to send a clear message to the media that their constant lies and fraud will not be tolerated.

Vote for Bush, to send a clear message to George Soros and his friends that the Presidency of the United States is not for sale, at ANY price.

Vote for Bush, to send a clear message to the Michael Morre Democrats that their contempt for our democratic process and their fondness for bizarre conspiracy theories are not acceptable. That is a party that desperatly needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.

Vote for Bush, and tell the "world community" what they can do with their ignorant opinions.

Vote for Bush, and let our troops know that we stand behind them. John Kerry as president would be a slap in the face to our military.

Vote for Bush, and let the terrorists, and more importantly, the states which support them, know that they cannot win. That is the quickest path to a true and just peace.

Posted by: flenser at November 1, 2004 12:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'll make this simple: no one can say with absolute certitude that Osama bin Laden was in Tora Bora. While the leakage of al Qaeda and Taliban from Tora Bora is a supportable charge, the Kerry claim that Osama was (1) there, and (2) given opportunity to escape, is unfounded and unsupportable.

Posted by: Captain America at November 1, 2004 12:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good post, Greg.

Posted by: Matt at November 1, 2004 01:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great post.
Afghanistan has got to go into the Bush-Rumsfeld win column. Amazing, perfect-fit tactics, and put together under intense time pressure. Also, given the descriptions of the sort of caves in the Tora Bora complex, I'm not sure anyone could have caught Bin Laden and company there.
I'm more Sullivanesque about Iraq though.

Posted by: gaw3 at November 1, 2004 01:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory, you neeed to understand Tora Bora in the Muslim context of "The Battle of the Trench": The Prophet Mohammed retreated with his forces from an army of unbelievers and dug a deep trench which the unbelievers declined to cross.

The Battle of the Trench is regarded as a great strategic victory for Islam because the unbelievers failed to finish off the Prophet.

This is the context in which the Islamic world regards Tora Bora as a defeat for the U.S.

Or, to put it more simply, he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. The is the context in which we votoers must regard Bush as a failure in Afghanistan.


Posted by: attobuoy at November 1, 2004 01:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ouch! This spanking of Andrew hurts so much even I feel it.

Andrew has a lot of hope and glory wrapped up in Kerry; to do so Sully must disregard Kerry's antiwar past, his rather thin legislative record, his failure of nerve in 1991, and the antiwar nature of today's Democratic Party.

The Democrats will run from Iraq faster than a scalded dog from a kitchen. They will do this because the base of their party has bought into Michael Moore's interpretation of reality (the most important political development of the year, btw, bar none), and it will drag Kerry out of Iraq should he be elected.

I promise you this; Kerry will run. He must. He will want to cut his losses and rationalize that in 2008, people will not remember a shameless bugout if they are enjoying prosperity. All of Sully's rationalizations cannot hide the fact that as the Democratic Party's activist base has turned decisively to the Left, Kerry must return home to where his base is. He is from that base, and a tiger does not lose his stripes with age.

(Apologies in advance for any hopelessly mixed metaphors...)

Posted by: section9 at November 1, 2004 02:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's look at the realities.

If UBL does not strike the US mainland in the next 48 hours, it's because he can't, and if he can't it's because W and the US military has destroyed his capability--and will continue to take his options away from him with every passing day.

There have been free elections in Afganistan. The principal Shia insurgency is to all intents and purposes pacified and Zarqawi (if he is still there, which seems likely) is isolated and cut off in Fallujah. Elections in Iraq in Jan. seem likely.

U.S. casualties, considering the ferocity of the enemy, seem very low (though every death is a sword through my heart).

All through this conversion on Iraq, there have been, IMO, two consistently incorrect assumptions made. The first is that Bush has placed himself in charge of tactics on the ground. That is false. Military general staff has made the calls on troop strength and tactics. I will never be convinced otherwise. The second false assumption is the Bush's motives in Iraq have been the same as the motives of some of his advisers. I firmly believe that the President took action in Iraq based on a fairly striaghtforward and correct analysis, to wit: 1) Every competent authority believed Sadam had WMD and was likely developing a nuclear capabilty, 2) Sadam was beyond doubt in communication with and supportive of major terrorist organizations and individuals, 3) there was a strong possibilty and a reasonable probability that if Saddam had WMD, they would wind up in terrorist hands, 4) there was, therefore, a strong possibility and a reasonable probabilty that they could be brought into this country by terrorists and be used to truly horrific effect--in the NYC subway system, for example. Bush correctly decided that was not a risk we could afford to take, and he acted. God Bless him for it! It was no more or less than any competent, sane, prudent president of the US--responsible before all else for the physical safety of its citizens0--would or should have done. It was that simple.

Btw, the only reason we didn't find WMD is because we went there and looked for them. If we hadn't and the inspections game had played itself out, Saddam IMO would have quite an arsenal by now if he didn't before. I don't find it at all difficult to believe that his weapons were moved to Syria. Anyone who was paying attention in the year leading up to the invasion knows that Saddam was NOT COOPERATING with the inspectors and had no intention of cooperating.

Sometimes I think all the very smart people, including some actual, honest-to-G-d, credentialed experts in the field of foreign relations, make these matters unnecessarily complicated and miss the forest for the trees--mostly it would seem because they want to be "smarter" more clever, more brilliant than the shlubs who are actually on the hot seats making the incredibly tough calls. As one blogger wrote "I win all the games I quarterback on Monday morning."

Thank you for providing this forum, and GO W!

Posted by: ricksamerican at November 1, 2004 02:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Martin's spectator article is very interesting - I posted about that on my blog (http://www.di2.nu/blog.htm?20041101 )

Posted by: Francis at November 1, 2004 02:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You said, "We were attacked on 9/11 by al-Qaeda. Bush got Pakistan on board and quashed the Taliban with utmost speed--denying al-Q their key state sanctuary in the process."

We might compare the response managed by George Bush with the response managed by Vladimir Putin. What has Putin done in response to Beslan? Either it's not being reported (which could very well be given CBS, et al, has been using their time to make up anti-Bush forgeries), or it's super-secret and totally nuanced, or there has been none.

Granted, Putin doesn't have the resources that Dubya has access to. But it seems to me that from a sheer leadership point-of-view where Bush was out standing on the smoldering heap with the firefighters, where Bush refused to go into hiding as his Secret Service wanted him to, and where Bush tried and tried and tried before the world and at the United Nations to gather support for the fight -- when we look at all the things Bush *did* do that showed leadership and didn't cost anything, compared to them, Putin has done NOTHING.

With the result that within one month, the US was *in* Afghanistan and chasing Mullah Omar and OBL, and within a year we were knocking on the door of Iraq. When did Beslan happen, and what has Putin done since then? He passed a few laws giving himself more power, and as far as I know, that's it. Not a bad track record from my perspective.

Posted by: NahnCee at November 1, 2004 02:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You are never less than competent, and this was brilliant.

One thing that upsets me is the effect of television. 48 minutes from now, Iraq is to have been fixed. If it isn't fixed, someone's at fault. If you contrast this with bin Laden's (earlier) speeches invoking relict slights from the 7th century, it's clear we need to grow up. The middle east is at minimum a 3 generation problem. If we and they don't solve it, it can become a millenium problem. We simply cannot go up against a group that measures time and tasks in centuries, with the modern american assurance that a 60 minute timeblock is enough.

Posted by: Earl Perry at November 1, 2004 02:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"The Democrats will run from Iraq faster than a scalded dog from a kitchen," says one poster above.

The Republicans will elbow them aside on the way to the exits, I'm afraid. If Bush is defeated, the Republican establishment will (rightly) blame the Iraq war and (wrongly) write it off as a politically toxic misadventure.

The neoconservative, internationalist faction in Bush's administration is a very small force that has managed to obtain spectacular leverage over events. If Bush's war is repudiated on Tuesday, Wolfowitz and his peers will be cast back to the outer darkness of academia and think tanks while the Republican Congress raises a stink every time Kerry builds a fire station in Baghdad instead of here at home. This is why Pat Buchanan's magazine has endorsed Kerry.

I fear that Republican support for the war is a mile wide and an inch deep - that the Republicans see the Iraq war as simply a matter of "standing by our president." If Kerry takes office, watch as the Republicans blame our difficulties on his "mixed signals," then plead that their hands are tied as Kerry retreats from Iraq. Privately, they will be grateful for the chance to call Kerry a coward for his retreat while no longer being seen as the accountable party for the war.

Has anyone put together a list of the Republican Congressmen who honestly favor the necessary committment in Iraq, and will stake their own political futures on seeing it through? The Republicans who will keep Kerry on track rather than sighing with relief when he gets to take the blame?
Adesnik? Drezner? Sullivan? Who exactly, besides John McCain, are you counting on to argue for more involvement rather than less once the war is no longer a Republican project?

Posted by: Matt at November 1, 2004 03:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Don't let Andrew Sullivan fool you. He endorsed Kerry not because of misgivings about the war but because of Bush's position on DOMA. The gay agenda trumps any other consideration. He tipped his hand a couple months ago at a meeting of gays in, I believe, Boston.

Posted by: Jerry at November 1, 2004 03:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Andrew's migration from skeptical pro war to 'sky is falling because of Bush's incompentence' is similar to the migration of several other urban writers (Richard Cohen).

I don't understand it completely but I think this is a phenomenon similar to what made many arab writers migrate from 'our rulers are bad' to 'damn Americans/Israelis' over the past 2 decades.

Combine passionate thinking plus a desire for everything to be explainable in a few concepts plus a failure to acknowledge ignorance in technical matters (Andrew's understanding of the military situation is very shallow) and you get this toxic brew.

Posted by: mhw at November 1, 2004 04:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Attoboy: So to render a defeat against the Muslims, we have to exterminate them?

I can live with that, if that's what it takes, but I'll try Bush's strategy first. Then Ann Coulter's second.

Matt: the Jacksonians are ticked off, they'll stand fast as they always do. I think there are enough of us that Bush will win, possibly win big. In a couple of days we'll see if i'M right.

Posted by: LarryD at November 1, 2004 04:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good post, Greg. I tend to agree that the Afghan criticisms of the Bush Administration are a bit exaggerated. It is the Iraq campaign that deserves the most opprobrium. To me, it is somewhat irrelevant to bring up Afghanistan since most thoughtful critics of Bush focus primarily on Iraq as evidence of this Administration's failings.

I think you are a rarity among Bush supporters, Greg --- someone who simultaneously sees Bush's failings and yet still supports him. But a University of Maryland study shows that 75% of Bush supporters believe that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and about 2/3rds believe that the September 11 Commission report supports this view. A similar number of Bush supporters believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Etc. In other words, most of Bush's support comes from people who don't know the facts.

I find it impressive that you continue to support him despite knowing the facts. I agree, it is a judgement call, but in your case I have to say that I think your judgement is rather tortured. Do you really think you'd stick with a Democrat who had a similar record as this President?

I think this Bush has violated most principles of what used to be called conservative foreign policy; that's why Mearsheimer is adamantly opposed to him --- for many of the same reasons I am. I think you have to make some sort of strong case why we should abandon the principles of realism in order to support this guy, despite his many failings --- so far, the case you've outlined seems to boil down to "okay, he's bad, but he could have been worse" combined with "I think he is more of a hawk in his gut!"

My ancestors were samurai --- one of the things I got from my heritage, my father and grandfather, was a sense that the complete warrior has to combine hawk and dove, be both willing and exceptionally forceful in the application of force when necessary while at the same time reluctant to use it unless needed. I'll agree that Kerry has been too dovish in the past for my taste, but he now seems to embody the qualities I feel are needed in wartime: the two, combined, hawk and dove. Bush, on the other hand, reminds me of the overeager junior officers in the Japanese Imperial Army who rushed ahead against the orders of the higher-ups, overextending Japan's armed forces and eventually leading to their overwhelming defeat.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 1, 2004 04:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sadly, Mr. Sullivan's about-face on the war stems from his allergic reaction to Mr. Bush's rhetorical opposition to gay marriage.
I support Mr. Bush, the war AND gay marriage.
A pity Mr. Sullivan feels he can only manage one out of three.
And, further, feels the need to inveigh, with such feckless hyperbole, against a war he once supported.

Posted by: McClain at November 1, 2004 04:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hmmmm.

1. I'd prefer to vote against Bush because of his stance on illegal immigration. I frankly don't see the benefits of illegal immigration and I think it's a massive security hole. If I were UBL I'd arrange for a group of terrorists to cross over the border and stage a few significant attacks, while videotaping the whole thing. Turn it into a indie-style "Blair Witch" type movie. Something like that would be absolutely devastating and it's something that Bush, and the rest of the GOP, seems to be actively courting.

2. Does anyone really expect Kerry to keep his word? Every liberal I know just shrugs off anything Kerry says with a simple "he's just doing that to get elected". The clear implication is that Kerry's actual agenda is far different from the percieved agenda. If this isn't true, and Kerry keeps his word, then his leftwing "Deaniac" base would get pretty angry with hiim. If he doesn't keep his word, to maintain his leftwing base, then what? Is there any assurance there at all?

*shrug* Kerry's first plan, before he nuanced it, was to exit Iraq within six months of the elections. Those elections are in January so the exit would be in around June/July. Just in time for July 4th celebrations and parades. Does anyone really think that Kerry won't pull the troops out that quickly? Particularly with a compliant MSM that would be very willing to spin any difficulties as Bush's fault and not Kerry's?

I'd love to vote against Bush. But I have no confidence in Kerry at all.

Posted by: ed at November 1, 2004 05:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>maintain his leftwing base

Well, firstly I think it's a mistake to assume that Deaniacs are necessarily in favor of swift withdrawal. Dean's own position was against the war (a position I believe was correct) but, now that we're there, we have a responsibility to stay to clean up the mess. "You break it, you own it." That's more or less Kerry's position as well, and I doubt many on the left would be very critical of Kerry were he to follow this through.


Further, Kerry's prediction of a six-month time period isn't based on the idea of leaving Iraq to fend for itself, but based on the assumption of increased international support. I tend to agree that the likelihood of significant increased support is very small, even with a Kerry win --- though NATO might be willing to supplement our forces deployed elsewhere so we can free some up for Iraq, possible. But in any event if the hoped-for international troops don't materialize, Kerry won't draw down our troops at least in the foreseeable future.

Finally, it doesn't really matter what Kucinich and his gang think (the real left-wing of the party) --- Democratic presidents have more or less ignored that wing for decades and will continue to do so I suspect. I see no reason to worry about that. Bush is the one that seems to like to "consolidate his base" --- Democrats have been running to the center for some time now.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 1, 2004 06:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

GD, spirited and impassioned while also marshalling a formidable set of sober, well grounded and well reasoned arguments; empirically and substantially informed, well focused and beautifully done in general. Best of the best.

Posted by: Michael B at November 1, 2004 06:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mitsu: I think you have rather a romantic view of your samuri ancestors. Far from being the complete warrior expected "to combine hawk and dove, be both willing and exceptionally forceful in the application of force when necessary while at the same time reluctant to use it unless needed," they were prickly about personal honor. If a peasant did not show sufficient respect, the samuri had the authority, not uncommonly used, to sever his head from his body with a stroke of the sword. And what you call the principles of realism is the sort of stuff Kissinger did before the idea of realpolitique was discredited. See evil, strike it -- just like the samuri did the disrespectful peasant.

Posted by: Jerry at November 1, 2004 06:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm with Captain America on Tora Bora. Drezner is likely to have leaned towards because of columns written in the Chicago Tribune by Steve Chapman and the Holbrooke position in a Kerry Administration.

First, Chapman has been wrong in his Trib columns about Tora Bora. He cites Christian Science Monitor reporting for his evidence of Bin Laden sighting at Tora Bora. Both General Tommy Franks and Lt. Gen Michael DeLong have each castigated such reports as hindsight knowledge not available to military or civilian intelligence agencies in the United States. When battle plans were drawn there weren't indications that Bin Laden was even in Afghanistan in the period of 9/11. As a note, Josh Marshall is also on par with Chapman but he cites WaPo reports instead of CSM reports.

The Kerry campaign usage of Tora Bora by Kerry himself, Dr. Susan Rice and Richard Holbrooke is ludicrous. It's nice campaign rhetoric, but it's clearly misleading statements based on hindsight. If the press was willing to vet out these statements the campaign wouldn't be using them anymore.

Holbrooke of all the players should understand the tremendous success of Afghanistan after 9/11. He's well aware of the problems Pakistan posed to US foreign policy in the region post Cold War. Bush lined up Pakistani support within days of the attack. It's amazing to see these facts blown away with the political wind as if they're simply tumbleweed.

Posted by: Brennan Stout at November 1, 2004 06:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

By FAR the BEST assessment of Iraq, Kerry, and Bush's take on the war. From your blog to God's eyes.

Baruch Hashem and Amen.

Posted by: Striding Lion at November 1, 2004 06:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"And what you call the principles of realism is the sort of stuff Kissinger did before the idea of realpolitique was discredited."

Without at all wanting to quibble, I do think realpolitik can have a valid place, depending upon the overall set of geopolitical circumstances and the degree to which it's emphasized within the overall set of strategies. But again, don't wish to quibble over that, I just think the term "discredited" goes a bit too far.

Much more importantly, as Paul Wolfowitz noted in a speaking engagement to a Polish audience, Poland, with its particular history, apparently has a phrase for the over-application of status quo, realpolitik: "the stability of the graveyard". Re, Saddam/Uday/Qusay era Iraq. A hard-nosed realism certainly needs to be applied, but not in a one-dimensional, narrowly assessed manner that selectively or absentmindedly excludes other substantial and crucial factors.

Posted by: Michael B at November 1, 2004 06:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hmmm.

@Mitsu

1. "Well, firstly I think it's a mistake to assume that Deaniacs are necessarily in favor of swift withdrawal."

Then please provide links that show that Deaniacs are NOT in favor of an immediate pullout. Because everything I've seen has shown that the Deaniacs are extremely consistant on Iraq. They think it's an illegal war and it should be stopped immediately.

2. ""You break it, you own it." That's more or less Kerry's position as well, and I doubt many on the left would be very critical of Kerry were he to follow this through."

You "doubt"? That's just a guess, based on what? Kerry has stated any number of times that he will pull out of Iraq. Is there anyone who thinks that Kerry could keep troops in Iraq in the face of continuing casualties? That he won't do exactly as he described in the early part of his campaign to withdraw the troops within six months of the elections?

Why wouldn't he withdraw? With the MSM to cover his tracks, and shift the blame to Bush and the GOP, why wouldn't Kerry withdraw? Because of some supposed "responsibility"?

3. "Further, Kerry's prediction of a six-month time period isn't based on the idea of leaving Iraq to fend for itself, but based on the assumption of increased international support."

Nobody who knows anything about NATO expects anything from that obsolete body. As testified by an American General in Congress there are 1.5 million soldiers in NATO, of which 1.45 million are American. That leaves about 50,000 soldiers who are non-American. The problem with this is that ALL of these non-American forces are horribly out of date and technologically obsolete. Even British forces are relatively obsolete and have difficulty in establishing themselves on the same battlefield.

One particularly powerful piece of technology is called the "Blue Force Tracker". This allows all units to instantly view the locations and status of all friendly units in any area. It allows unprecedented coordination and cooperation between units and does not exist in any other NATO military force except American units. Even in Afghanistan America had to upgrade the 9,000 coalition soldiers there with BFT because they didn't have the capability themselves. Just recently France has decided to purchase enough similar systems to outfit 30,000 soldiers, but that's at least a couple years away.

And it's indicative of how out of date NATO forces are when France, a premiere member, has only just now begun to utilize this technology and only for 30,000. A bare fraction of France's forces let alone the rest of NATO. So no NATO force is going to be anywhere near as capable has the incredibly highly trained American forces. Certainly Germany can't even come close as that country still relies on conscripts with a two year enlistment.

4. "though NATO might be willing to supplement our forces deployed elsewhere so we can free some up for Iraq, possible."

That is what NATO is doing in Afghanistan. But that's all that NATO is capable of, a relatively static defense of prepared sites. All offensive action in Afghanistan is being done by special forces units. In other parts of the world most of the work is being done by special forces units, not regular army units. I assume, though I don't know, that some NATO special ops forces are involved, but that isn't a big number to begin with. America has the largest, best equipped and best trained special ops forces in the world. And we've got maybe 25,000 total. There really aren't a lot of places where NATO could replace regular American forces, other than in Afghanistan.

5. "But in any event if the hoped-for international troops don't materialize, Kerry won't draw down our troops at least in the foreseeable future."

*shrug* How far is "foreseeable future"? Is it six months? A year? Two? 2008? Frankly 2008 isn't that far off. It's the future certainly, but we're not speculating on fusion powered spacecraft in 2122. And Kerry has stated that he is going to withdraw and no later than the end of his first term.

6. "Democratic presidents have more or less ignored that wing for decades and will continue to do so I suspect. "

Really? Democratic Presidents, like Republican Presidents, follow the money. As the saying goes, they're like cattle and they follow the green. Where is the vast majority of the money coming from for the DNC? Who is providing the vast majority of the opinion changing push?

IMHO it's easy to discount the Michael Moore's and Deaniacs. But who was sitting in the VIP box at the Democratic Convention? Who has the power in the Democratic Party? Who has been getting the press? Who has spent more than $300 million this year?

I think the leftwing of the DNC has a lot of pull this year than in past years. I definitely don't think that any apostasy by the Democratic Party will acceptable to this crowd. It's one thing to be an apostate to a religion. It's another thing completely to be an apostate to a cause.

7. "Democrats have been running to the center for some time now."

During election campaigns they have, but what about afterwards when the votes have been counted?

I hope you're right, but I don't see anything concrete that would give me confidence in that. Sorry man.

Posted by: ed at November 1, 2004 07:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>that show that Deaniacs are NOT in favor

Well, first of all, I know quite a few people who opposed the war, supported Howard Dean, and who think that we need to stay in Iraq. If you want further evidence, consider this link, which was quoting from the Washington Post more than a year ago:

http://talkleft.com/new_archives/003555.html

[quote]

....It's true that he opposed the war in Iraq, he says, but he supported the 1991 Gulf War and the Bush campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan. More interesting, at a time when many politicians are shuddering at President Bush's ambitions to remake the Middle East -- conservatives, because they are skeptical of such grand reshaping ambitions; liberals, because they see resources being diverted from social causes at home -- Dean sounds if anything more committed than Condoleezza Rice to bringing democracy to Iraq.

..."We have no choice. It's a matter of national security. If we leave and we don't get a democracy in Iraq, the result is very significant danger to the United States." And "bringing democracy to Iraq is not a two-year proposition.

...Dean is almost as sweeping about Afghanistan, where "losing the peace is not an option" and "pulling out early would be a disaster." Five times the current level of troops are needed, he said. "Imagine making deals with warlords to promote democracy. What are these people thinking?"

[end quote]

If you read the comments that follow, you'll see quite a few "Deaniacs" who agree with the above. For example:

"I don't think he ever changed his opinions on this. This is consistent with what I've heard him saying for months now.

And, in fact, it's responsible. Once we have destroyed a country, we have a legal obligation to restore it, even if the original invasion was illegal and immoral."

If you keep reading the comments on the page you'll see the vast majority support the above-stated position. And this is on a website that is called "TalkLeft.Com".

I think you'll find if you actually get to know more people on the "left" they're not as wild-eyed, as a whole, as you might think. Some are on the very far left (Kucinich, while I admire his ideals, is proposing very unrealistic solutions), but the Deaniacs are, for the most part, a lot more realistic than you might be fearing.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 1, 2004 07:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>If a peasant did not show sufficient respect, the samuri
>had the authority, not uncommonly used, to sever his
>head from his body with a stroke of the sword.

I don't want to derail this conversation with a side debate, but I did want to address this point. I've done some looking into this claim, but the fact is, there's little or no concrete historical evidence that samurai actually exercised this theoretical authority with any frequency. There are many other stories which indicate the opposite attitude: i.e., a samurai lord had his son executed because he had killed someone intemperately (after a long series of unstable tyrannical outbursts by his son), or a samurai who refused to carry out an assassination because their target had spit at them --- because part of the samurai code was never to kill in anger.

In fact, it's rather ironic --- for samurai, cold-blooded, premeditated killing was considered far more noble than killing someone in a rage.

However, I don't pretend samurai were saints or all perfect. What I do contend is that samurai culture encouraged a combination of restraint (i.e., not killing for emotional reasons) and fierceness. It's a position that many people fail to consider as they stake out "dovish" or "hawkish" positions.

For example, in game theory, it's well known that a population of mathematical "hawks" is unstable with respect to the introduction of "doves" --- the doves that retreat survive to breed, whereas the hawks attack and kill each other off. However, a population of all doves can be invaded by hawks, who take over territory as the doves retreat. Interestingly enough, a combination strategy beats both: fight when attacked on your own territory, but otherwise act like a dove. A population of such mathematical birds does better than either hawks or doves.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 1, 2004 07:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mitsu said: "I think you are a rarity among Bush supporters, Greg --- someone who simultaneously sees Bush's failings and yet still supports him." This runs counter to nearly opinion I've heard, either in personal discussion or in the media. In my experience, the vast majority of GOPers have problems with Bush- mostly on the domestic policy side of things- but are voting to re-elect him because the alternative would be even worse. The fence sitters, with no allegiance to either party, are the same way. Many are pulling the hold-your-nose-and-vote-Bush line.

As for "Bush, on the other hand, reminds me of the overeager junior officers in the Japanese Imperial Army who rushed ahead against the orders of the higher-ups, overextending Japan's armed forces and eventually leading to their overwhelming defeat." And here I was thinking the USN and USMC were responsible.

I'm also wondering if your ancestors were at Woodstock too. Maybe it's just because I'm a Mazda guy.

Posted by: Rob at November 1, 2004 09:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>Many are pulling the hold-your-nose-and-vote-Bush line

I thought that's what I just said.

>fence-sitters

Most polls show independents going for Kerry.

>USN and USMC were responsible

That's the whole point. Japan engaged in imperial overreach, attempting to establish security via preemptive military action and expansion of military control. Do this too much, however, and you risk energizing your opposition, which is what Japan did when attacking Pearl Harbor. This is a strategy that is a proven loser, and yet it's what this Administration has been pushing.

For reference to polls on how misinformed most Bush voters are:

http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/Pres_Election_04/html/new_10_21_04.html

[quote]

... 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.

....

This tendency of Bush supporters to ignore dissonant information extends to other realms as well. Despite an abundance of evidence--including polls conducted by Gallup International in 38 countries, and more recently by a consortium of leading newspapers in 10 major countries--only 31% of Bush supporters recognize that the majority of people in the world oppose the US having gone to war with Iraq. Forty-two percent assume that views are evenly divided, and 26% assume that the majority approves. Among Kerry supporters, 74% assume that the majority of the world is opposed.

[end quote]

In other words, most Bush supporters are living in a sort of fantasy world... it's nice that Gregory here at least is facing facts yet still supporting Bush. I think he's wrong but at least he's rational.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 1, 2004 09:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Do 40,000 fleeing Chaldeans count as "secular elites for Bush?"

Posted by: praktike at November 1, 2004 09:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mitsu's game theory works just fine until one moves into modern time, introduces non-state actors, weapons that can destroy civilizations and states that use proxies to fight their wars.

This volatile mix increases the risk to unacceptable levels that doves will be vaporized in their roost unless hawks find and destroy weapons in states that demonstrate any willingness to use proxies.

In this age, defense is not good enough and waiting to take a first strike is totally unacceptable.

Posted by: lugh lampfhota at November 1, 2004 09:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I write this in the early evening 11/1/04 and believe in my bones, as of this moment, that Kerry is going to win. If he does, it will be because of Bush's ham-fisted stubborness to amend, explain, or punish those responsible for the FUBAR that has gripped his reconstruction policies, not because of a fundemental rejection of our responsibilities by the majority of the electorate. He does not deserve another term despite the vast good he has done.

That said, I can't help but feel an ache for my country and my children's future. Kerry's election will without a doubt be the modern day equivalent of McClellan's in 1864, where the last best hope of man would have been discredited for 3 generations.

Let's instead try to make lemonade from the lemon I beleive the voters are going to give us, and see what can be salvaged in the near term. A few suggestions: Howard Dean for UN ambassador -- if he could turn his blowtorch ferocity on the feckless Kofi Annan and crew, with his undisputed anti-war bona fides, maybe the liberal elites in the EU will help with some reform. Bill Richardson for Homeland Security Sec -- we need a man with his ethnic heritage to finally get control of the borders, establish a national ID card, etc. Bill Clinton for Middle East Envoy -- with Arafat possibly out of the picture maybe something can be done. John McCain Sec of Defense -- we can always hope.

Posted by: wayneseib at November 1, 2004 09:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mitsu wrote: "That's the whole point. Japan engaged in imperial overreach, attempting to establish security via preemptive military action and expansion of military control. Do this too much, however, and you risk energizing your opposition, which is what Japan did when attacking Pearl Harbor."

Spinning like mad, Mitsu misses the essential difference. Japan engaged in rampant war crimes (rape of Nanking, attack on Pearl Harbor, slavery, genocide, etc.) for empire. America has not and is not engaged in imperial behavior. Japanese actions were purely offensive while OIF was an offensive operation for defensive purposes. Comparing the two is absurd.

Posted by: lugh lampfhota at November 1, 2004 09:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
In Iraq, and little noted of late, Bush has successfully mitigated the perils of having to grapple with two insurgencies simultaneously...We are now, therefore, free to focus like a laser on the key Sunni insurgent strongholds--with a battle for Fallujah looming shortly.

Good point.

http://davidp1.blogspot.com/2004/11/100000-and-falluja.html

Posted by: DavidP at November 1, 2004 09:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

More trouble for Greg's case:

"Most overseas attention has focused on the 160 or so foreigners who have been kidnapped, many of them representatives of Coalition countries. But militants and criminal gangs have also kidnapped thousands of Iraqis, most of them held for ransom. As a result, ***Iraqi elites are fleeing by the thousands***, many to neighboring Jordan."

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6371026/site/newsweek/

Posted by: praktike at November 1, 2004 10:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

">Many are pulling the hold-your-nose-and-vote-Bush line

I thought that's what I just said."

No. What you said was, "I think you are a rarity among Bush supporters, Greg --- someone who simultaneously sees Bush's failings and yet still supports him." My point was that most, if not all, of W's supporters disagree with him on certain issues, or 'see his failings' if you prefer, but are still supporting him. Greg isn't a rarity. Did you mean to say that most of W's supporters do not see his failings, or that most of his supporters see his failings and do not support him, which would make them... non-supporters? Or do all of Kerry's supporters simultaneously NOT see his failings and still support him? Perhaps a nice bird analogy would clear this up.

And regarding the Japanese empire: "Do this too much, however, and you risk energizing your opposition, which is what Japan did when attacking Pearl Harbor."

Actually, that's what UBL and his boys did in executing 9/11.

And as for all the poll data, it's nice to know that you were able to find the poll data that fits your impressions of Bush voters. They may be living in a fantasy land, but they'll have 4 more years of it.

Posted by: Rob at November 1, 2004 10:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Rob, do most of your friends who support Bush believe the things listed in that U of M poll? I am guessing that is not the case, in which case your friends are among the minority among Bush supporters overall.

>Comparing the two is absurd

You're making a moral comparison, I am speaking completely in terms of large-scale strategy. We are employing tactics which are much the same as many empires have in the past, although I agree that we do not, on the whole, intend to become an empire in the same sense that Japan did. However, the neocons do explicitly want to establish a unipolar world, and the Iraq adventure was an attempt by them to further establish American unipolarity. This is structurally similar to previous attempts at preventive security on the part of empires in the old days.

>non-state actors

If only the neocons really did understand the implications of that! Invading Iraq, to my mind, proved that these guys have not really realized that we are facing non-state actors, primarily. But that's a point many others have made and I don't want to get into a long discussion of that here. Suffice it to say that I fully agree that we live in a new world, and I don't think that Bush & Company have really come to terms with it --- in particular the different threat from non-state actors.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 1, 2004 11:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

praktite,

For perspective there's a lot of extortionist kidnapping in Mexico as well, and more in Colombia for purposes related to drug trafficing (recent stories in CSM and The Economist). India at one time went through a period where it was not uncommon as well, during the period of Britains rule. That was another period of monumental upheaval and terrorism btw as well, some very grisly stuff at times, yet now India is in some ways an exemplary democracy, though it took decades of pain, struggle, a variety of social/political movements. There were few saints, but both Britain and India herself held the line and did not abandon the vision that eventually emerged, even though plans often had to be reshaped to meet emerging contingencies and challenges. (Countries in the West have not been immune either, Italy is one example, during the 70's, if I recall correctly.)

Not only kidnapping, slavery is a problem in some parts of the world still, Sudan, some parts of the Brazilian Amazon.

So, your solution is to abandon hope, because that results in the appearance of short term gain that closes it eyes to long term pain? (Compare Korea, where we didn't give up, vs. Vietnam and Cambodia where we did, or compare to Taiwan where thankfully we never did have to fight a hot war during the Cold War period.)

Posted by: Michael B at November 2, 2004 12:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mitsu,

No empire has ever de-throned a tyrant with civilization destroying weapons in order to establish a democracy.

The unipolar world that you bemoan is a democratic world where human rights, freedom and hope replace tyranny and despair.

Non-state actors cannot fund, organize and acquire weapons without the support of states. Iraq was the message and Libya, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia, et al got the message. North Korea and Iran are both increasingly isolated by their intransigence and the Bush administration will deal with both in the second term. Rightly so as both nations only offer suffering and death to the world.

Posted by: lugh lampfhota at November 2, 2004 12:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

lugh lampfhota:

>tyrant with civilization destroying weapons

If you're referring to Saddam, I assume you know that he didn't have "civilization destroying weapons"...

We simply disagree on the efficacy of the Iraq war. I think we should have dealt with North Korea directly. Iraq as a "message" is a very poor use of our military power, in my opinion.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 2, 2004 12:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mitsu,

If Saddam didn't have civilization destroying weapons then why didn't he cooperate with UN inspectors? Why are partisans carping about missing explosives and uranium? Only Kerry gets to take both sides on every issue.

Posted by: lugh lampfhota at November 2, 2004 12:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thank you for your essay. I believe it states all that is important.

Posted by: m.blankstein at November 2, 2004 12:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>If Saddam didn't have civilization destroying weapons

Sigh.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 2, 2004 01:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>If Saddam didn't have civilization destroying weapons

Duelfer's report covers this in great detail. Saddam was trying to pretend he had WMDs to scare his neighbors, while he destroyed his existing caches because he knew if any of them were discovered he would be toast. Well, he was toast anyway, but he didn't know that.

In any event, chemical and biological weapons are hardly "civilization destroying". He couldn't even destroy Iran with those weapons when he had them in great quantities and used them freely. Studies show that, pound for pound, chemical and biological weapons are no more effective on the battlefield than conventional explosives.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 2, 2004 01:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One more time - Saddam was a threat because he was not living up to his commitments to the international community (UN). It was up to HIM to cooperate with disclosing and destrying whatever WMD he did or didn't have. It was setting a very dangerous precendent in front of other assorted bad guys, i.e., North Korea, Iran, Libya, plus leading others (Pakistan?) into temptation. Dangerous dictators do not get to play games like a teenage punk with the school security guard.

Belmont Club perfectly summed up, with this Chinese proverb, the reason for attacking Iraq : "Kill the chicken, and let the monkies watch".

Posted by: Jack Okie at November 2, 2004 01:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And Mitsu - get a clue. The threat of Saddams or others' biological / chemical weapons was given a trial run with the Sarin attack in the Japanese subway. Extrapolate to the NYC or Boston subway being attacked by a group more capable than that Japanese cult, and you will see why we worry.

Posted by: Jack Okie at November 2, 2004 01:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>the Sarin attack

Oh, come on. 12 people were killed by the horrible "Sarin attack". A crazy man in a South Korean subway car with a bucket of paint thinner and a match killed 100. That's a perfect example of how difficult it is to deploy these things, and how comparatively ineffective they are.

But the main point here is that a MUCH greater threat was North Korea --- they actually had a credible nuclear program. Bush sat by and did nothing. I've already argued this at great length in Gregory's earlier post endorsing Bush, I won't bother to repeat my arguments here.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 2, 2004 01:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mitsu,

Are you advocating an infantry attack on North Korea? Air War? Under what pretext? What UN resolution do you cite for such an attack? Do you think the people of South Korea and Japan would share your zeal for military confrontation with a nuclear armed DPRK?

Do you consider the five-way talks "nothing"? Could you possibly see them as a method of bringing international pressure on DPRK? Do you support the Kerry proposal to negotiate with DPRK al la Clinton as a wise option considering the fact that DPRK clearly developed their nuclear weapons during the Clinton debauchery?

Posted by: lugh lampfhota at November 2, 2004 02:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"So, your solution is to abandon hope, because that results in the appearance of short term gain that closes it eyes to long term pain?"

No. I'm just saying that Greg's "liberal, elite Iraqis" luv Dubya thesis a la Kaplan is a little tenuous given that "liberal, elite Iraqis" are fleeing Iraq in droves.

I'm not in favor of abandoning Iraq. I'm in favor of abandoning Bush.

Take, for instance, his strange decision to turn down an offer of Muslim troops to protect the UN election helpers. What was the point of that?

Posted by: praktike at November 2, 2004 02:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oops, just saw that Greg's troop level defense response on the other thread, so I owe him an answer.

He's got a point: it is highly unlikely that a President Kerry would send in more American troops. As of January, there will probably be, what, 150K?

What Greg doesn't realize, I think, is that the Bush administration has already pretty much decided to cut its losses.

Now we know that the Pentagon's plan as it stands now is to begin withdrawing troops as soon as July [http://nytimes.com/2004/10/31/international/middleeast/31command.html].

So, no, I'm probably not going to offer a riveting defense of Kerry. Maybe he'll have success with the Saudi offer of arranging for Muslim troops to come in and help out; maybe he'll simply do a more credible job of managing diplomacy with the Iranians and the Turks over the Kurds' imminent declaration of independence. He can get the Euros to do more training of Iraqis in Hungary or wherever. He can work with the Iranians to bust up the heroin business, a fair amount of money from which undoubtedly goes to kill Americans in Iraq. He can work with the French to further isolate Syria. He's not going to save the world, but I don't think he'll be as stubborn as Bush.

(By the way, do you *really* think Colin Powell's coming back for round two after his little Taiwan boo-boo? Torpedoing an $18 billion weapons deal is going to have certain powerful folks calling for his head, no?)

Posted by: praktike at November 2, 2004 02:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One parting shot: Colin Powell singing Jamaican Farewell in South Korea [http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/041108/whispers/8whisplead_2.htm]. Coincidence?

Posted by: praktike at November 2, 2004 03:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>North Korea

I've already outlined my arguments in great detail in the comments to Greg's post, here:

http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/movabletype/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=4095

I don't feel like rehashing those arguments here.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 2, 2004 03:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wretchard,

You leave even the best MSM columnists eating your dust. Thanks!

Posted by: Steve in Nashville at November 2, 2004 05:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I mean Gregory! I got bass-ackwards with my blogs!

Posted by: Steve in Nashville at November 2, 2004 05:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am a nobody blogger that no one reads, but just wanted to let you know that I had the temerity to address your response to NYTimes article.

GREG DJEREJIAN,http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/: He used one example but did focus on an example that represented a core character issue.

http://writewingwarriors4w.blogspot.com

Posted by: WordWizard at November 2, 2004 06:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg:
>>Andrew is deluding himself to think Kerry's victory will lead to a materially different posture among Euro policymaking elites vis-a-vis Iraq.

I don't think they'll (especially France) be sending any troops to Iraq. Why? Because they wan't to see the hyperpower US humiliated AND defeated before the world. The image of a defeated US is worth the price of letting Iraq fail.

Posted by: john marzan at November 2, 2004 07:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I just read your crap-ass contribution to the NY times page - what's wrong with calling a spade a spade? If Allawi's is a puppet regime, you really think the bad guys don't know that already? So sorry that information and criticsm isn't as restricted in the real world as it is in your fascist wet-dream wank-off land. Putz.

Posted by: jim at November 2, 2004 07:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The damage a Kerry victory would do to the project in Iraq is incalcuable. The demoralization to our armed forces, alone, of having Kerry for C-i-C is bad enough, but what of those Iraqi elites? The guys now working for Allawi to keep the trains running on time would have their children in Switzerland by the end of November, and their own eyes on the door constantly. Overnight, nothing would run as well. The elections in Iraq would be jeopardized, except they have until Jan. 20. Fortunately, however, there will not be a Kerry victory. The news of his less than honorable discharge is now curculating... Apart from his politics, this man is no damn good.

Posted by: exguru at November 2, 2004 08:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Even if France and Germany do send a token amount (50-100) of "peacekeepers" in iraq, they'd just as likely/quickly pull their troops out harms way anyway (ala Philippine style... or is it UN-style) on the first signs of trouble -- because:

a)they don't believe in this war

b)they are not committed to see iraq through.

Posted by: john marzan at November 2, 2004 08:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Posted by: JM Hanes at November 2, 2004 08:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

lets see now, you also think a non-elected, appointed by occupation troops "leader" is the sign of a nascent democracy. the rest of the world doesn't. nor, i suspect, do most iraqi's.

this would be the reason why kerry had no interest in meeting with him while he was here. he doesn't represent the iraqi people, only the bush administration. big deal.

truly, you are an idiot.

Posted by: cp at November 2, 2004 09:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

allawi a client puppet in a blatant client state. and i am sure you can defend 'w' in his zeal to free the iraq people from saddam. what seperates genocide just the name of the culprit.
spew on.

Posted by: clent puppet at November 2, 2004 10:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory,

This is off-topic on this thread, but I didn't see a post on the NY Times piece "The Revolution Will Be Posted."

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/02/opinion/02blogger-final.html?pagewanted=all&position=

I think the most significant moment in the campaign was when John McCain denounced the SwiftVets. If McCain hadn't bailed him out, Kerry would have been sunk by the Swiftees.

Posted by: HA at November 2, 2004 11:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If W loses the election, it will be because of his failed domestic policy. His outspoken support of DOMA, tax cut policies, stance on outsourcing, and IMHO worst of all his environmental record are all so bad it gives people reasons to find fault in his iraq policy. If only he could have been a little stronger at home, I think he would have had far fewer defectors.

Posted by: xzilla at November 2, 2004 05:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tim Cavanaugh wrote something that relates to this discussion of the liberal former hawks. He's criticizing all those who supported the war but now have turned on Bush, claiming that he's botched things up too badly, betraying them.

"... the liberal hawks must consider the very real possibility that what is happening today in Iraq is not an unforeseeable disaster but the best outcome any reasonable person could have expected. When you say yes to war, the only certainty is that you're saying yes to rape, murder, theft, destruction, starvation, torture, madness and every other calamity flesh is heir to. Fewer than 2,000 dead, cooperation from some of the conquered country's most respected figures, and the dim prospect of elections are not the natural consequences of any war: They can only be regarded as freebies. "

http://www.reason.com/cavanaugh/110104.shtml

Posted by: Matt at November 2, 2004 06:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am celebrating Pres. Bush's victory this morning by catching up on my favorite blogs. I am so glad I did because here is your post about Tora Bora. Your refutation of the nay-sayers is masterful. Many thanks, again.

Posted by: Claudia Lane at November 3, 2004 03:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I've been a fan of Andrew Sullivan for a long time. I started reading the New Republic when he was editor because I noticed what an excellent, lively magazine it had become. It took a few years for me to associate that excellence with Andrew.

When he began blogging, I made his site my home page. I love his writing and read "The Dish" religiously. Andrew went south on the Bush administration when Bush endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment. He was angry and palpably disappointed, and rightfully so. However he has allowed his indignation over FMA to color his analysis of the Bush administration's performance in Iraq and the war on Islamic Fascism. The correlation between the increasing number of Andrew's negative posts on Iraq and the FMA is too strong to ignore.

In the end Andrew is a single issue voter. His single issue is gay rights, not the war. I'm for the gay right to marriage; I share Andrew's concern with clear Republican gay baiting tactics. I too am a single issue voter in this election and my single issue is victory over Islamists and I see success in Iraq as integral to that victory.

Posted by: Jimmy at November 4, 2004 11:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

438 http://www.e-online-poker.info
online poker

Posted by: poker online at November 5, 2004 04:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

7455 http://www.top-online-poker.info
poker online

Posted by: http://www.top-online-poker.info at November 6, 2004 06:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

2412 online poker
http://online-poker.ownsthis.com

Posted by: online poker at November 7, 2004 07:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

7856 http://www.real-online-poker.net

poker online

Posted by: http://www.real-online-poker.net at November 9, 2004 01:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

3896 count sheep or use ambien for your
sleeping pill needs. Cialis and Adipex also
Butalbital and Tramadol and
Soma and Direct tv

Posted by: ambien at November 9, 2004 01:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

8704 http://www.all-texas-holdem.info
texas holdem poker

Posted by: texas holdem poker at November 12, 2004 11:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

4740 count sheep or use ambien for your
sleeping pill needs.

Posted by: ambien at November 13, 2004 08:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

4172 lose weight with phentermine the best diet pills available online

Posted by: phentermine at November 13, 2004 03:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

1056 http://www.top-texas-holdem.com
texas holdem
texas holdem

Posted by: texas holdem at November 14, 2004 09:07 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

3072 http://www.texas-holdem-play.net
play texas holdem

texas holdem

online poker

Posted by: online texas holdem at November 14, 2004 11:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

4983 http://www.i--cialis.net
Offering Cialis with overnight delivery. Also, If your looking for generic cialis this is a good site to visit.

Posted by: buy cialis at November 15, 2004 04:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
Reviews of Belgravia Dispatch
"Awake"
--New York Times
"Must-read list"
--Washington Times
"Always Thoughtful"
--Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit
"Pompous Ass"
--an anonymous blogospheric commenter
Recent Entries
Search
English Language Media
Foreign Affairs Commentariat
Non-English Language Press
U.S. Blogs
Western Europe
France
United Kingdom
Germany
Italy
Netherlands
Spain
Central and Eastern Europe
CIS/FSU
Russia
Armenia
East Asia
China
Japan
South Korea
Middle East
Egypt
Israel
Lebanon
Syria
Columnists
Think Tanks
Security
Books
B.D. In the Press
Archives
Categories
Syndicate this site:
XML RSS RDF

G2E

Powered by