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April 07, 2004

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Mithras

the silent majority ...

Man, that's a blast from the past. It really is Vietnam all over again, isn't it? If it goes well, it's a triumph for the war party. If it doesn't, well, then America was stabbed in the back by the hippies and fifth columnists at home. Next you'll be posting stories about how young soldiers coming home are getting called baby killers and spit on by Markos Zuniga.

WillieStyle

Okay, okay,
I get the "Hate the other guy more than I like my guy" thing, but I really must freakin' insist that unless you think everything's honky dory in Iraq right now, you take a second, choke down the next wrinkled Kerry joke, and actually criticize the #@%$ guys in #^%&* charge of this #%$^ mess.

Or not, whatever.

Paul Zrimsek

The Nixon flashbacks don't stop there, Mithras! Here's Ted Kennedy on Larry King Live (via RealClearPolitics):

I think John Kerry has the background, the war experience, somebody that's seen war, understands war, and the foreign policy experience to give us a new opportunity to see this resolved, where we can bring Americans home with honor.

The Silent Majority is only a blogospheric trial balloon at this point... but Peace With Honor has the support of national Democrats at the highest level. Can Nattering Nabobs of Negativism be far behind?

TM

Willie, I agree - a couple of posts earlier I did provide Rumsfeld's unique perspective, which I hope did not come across as a wholly uncritical acceptance of the Admin line. (Although that said, I did find Rumsfeld's enthusiasm a bit contagious near the end).

I'm going to come back to thus when I have more time - I am (broadly, but not w.r.t. myself) worried about the point made my Mithras as well.

WillieStyle

TM,
Fair enough

TM

Well, "silent majority" is emerging - Tom Friedman, "Are There Any Iraqis in Iraq?":

We cannot want a decent Iraq more than the Iraqi silent majority.

"Nattering nabobs" should, per the Faster Failure Thesis Mickey is always touting, emerge this afternoon.

In fact, I may steal that.

OK, my short answer to Willie - yes, I spent most of yesterday looking for a graceful way to evacuate my... oh, never mind. Clearly, Iraq is going badly, and one does wonder whether Team Bush has got this under control (or even has a clue). That said, the last gasp of the dead-enders prior to the June 30 transition has been predicted for a while, so it is possible that we are "on track", Heaven help us all.

Now, my free advice to Kerry sort of segues into my response to Mithras - Kerry cannot be seen as exploiting this. We are going to have bad days in Iraq - if he wants to restate his ongoing concerns, fine, but he can't go all manic-depressive on us based on a couple of grim news cycles. Steady on, John - you might be President yourself one day, and you can't govern if you are constantly perched on a window ledge. (Anyone who has watched a baseball game in the company of a Red Sox fan knows what I am saying here).

And for the Bush side - don't go wrapping yourself in the flag, and pretending that critics are giving aid and comfort to the enemy (no matter how much you believe it). This war has had serious, thoughtful critics from long before it began, many of whom (including Bush 2000) were extremely skeptical of this nation-building exercise. We do need a clear commitment to US success at this point, but your critics are not wholly wrong in wondering whether you are the guy to lead us there. Give us a plan, or a pep talk, but don't go bemoaning the presence of skeptics. (And I don't know if the Admin has, but I see that tone emerging elsewhere.)

An example is provided by Kennedy, although following to the final update is pretty funny.

IceCold

Friedman should consider experience in the former-Soviet republics. From personal experience I can confirm that decency-seeking silent majorities in post-totalitarian situations who show passivity, ignorant cynicism, and timidity are the norm. That is our biggest challenge in Iraq, not Iranian or Syrian meddling or AQ infiltration, as important and real as those are.

Kerry's (and Biden's) empty mantra of "internationalizing" the situation is a stunning demonstration of how little they have to offer. It's been chanted for months, and has never made any sense. It's an illogical emphasis on means over ends. The objective in Iraq depends more than anything on willpower and persistence -- not whether these qualities are shown by forces of 101 countries, or one.

It's even worse than that. It's inconceivable that the reaction -- from Iraqi Kurd to Sunni to Shi'a, not to mention that of key players like Iran and Syria, to "internationalizing" and sharing the burden would be anything OTHER than to perceive it as a flinch by the US -- because it would be. That was probably true a year ago, it's certainly the case now.

The performance of the UN in Iraq, not to mention the Spanish, Kazakh, and Japanese and Korean situations, illustrates this point for outsiders, but Iraqis have never had any reason to focus on any party other than the US to make their calculations. The Kerry approach to Iraq is akin to syndicating a bank loan, when in reality the task is more like winning a knife fight in a dark alley with deadly enemies.

There's also the small matter of facts. There are not, contrary to the mostly unspoken assumptions of the "internationalizing" mantra, capable forces ready to lift the burden from our shoulders in Iraq just waiting for sufficiently "humble diplomacy" from the US. For very good operational reasons most of the coalition contingents have hitherto been assigned to mostly quiet areas. The limitations of most NATO militaries relative to our own, the military and political undesirability of trying to simply insert others as substitutes into key areas seeing action like Fallujah, and the underlying lack of political will for the mission in NATO and other countries have nothing to do with US diplomacy, but are the result of long-term trends or local situations. See the current difficulties in standing up even a semi-respectable expeditionary NATO effort in Afghanistan for hints as to the reality.

Kennedy et al are making their own beds and no wrapping of flags by others is required for them to eventually lie there. But the substantive vacuity of the "internationalizing" chant is one that would have long ago been exposed in a country with a skeptical and intelligent media.

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