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December 02, 2003


Jon H

Respect doesn't necessarily mean a spineless pacifism, which seems to be the implication.

Take, for example, the police. Police should treat people with respect, and should maintain that respect even while arresting someone. But that doesn't mean they can't get out the whoopass when necessary.

Jon Henke

Brother Judd has a mistaken notion of what libertarianism really is. For some reason, it's a common misconception, too. Libertarianism is NOT anarchy.

Libertarianism simply advocates a government that is only limited TO protecting people from those who won't leave each other alone. Sort of the exact opposite of what he claims.


Jon - I think Orrin Judd understands very well what libertarians believe. It may be better here to distinguish between Libertarian-party libertarians, who tend to be individualistic and dislike cooperation, and conservative libertarians who are more social and respectful toward the moral virtues that promote cooperation.

As Orrin says, the Libertarian-party sort holds that if we got rid of unjust violence, everything would be fine -- we wouldn't need to concern ourselves with morals. The conservative take is that in the absence of morals, a society won't stay non-violent for long.

Alex Parker

I think most libertarianism is grounded in the belief that no matter what awful things people on their own might do, the things they do with the power of the government might be worse.

Funny me, I was sure there was some part of the Bible where it says that you aren't supposed to judge, you're supposed to let thieves go, and treat others as you want to be treated, which sounds a lot like "respect" to me, but I'll defer to the experts on Christian theology.


Just to be uncharacteristically clear, I am all in favor of treating people with respect. However, the logical conclusion of the Dean approach seems to be that if only we had not dissed Osama, none of this would have happened.

An alternative view is that the Islamo-fascists have objectives and values which are not fully compatible with our own, and that our lack of respect for them is not the problem at all.

Hei Lun Chan

A good follow-up question might ask why it is always incumbent upon the West to be the first to show respect. It seems the approach for Dean et al. is to show respect, then if we get attacked, we should show more respect, instead of asking why it didn't work the first (or second, or third ...) time.

Alex Parker


You're assuming that when Matthews was referring to "The East," he was specifically referring to Osama and the Islamo-fascists. He could have been referring to the many people in the Mid-East, and elsewhere, who are extremely distrustful of American intentions.

And I don't think that it is completely off-the-wall to say that our foreign policy of late has contributed to this fissure.


OK, I should put down my bottle of Scotch long enough to establish the context of Matthews' question:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Dean, could you tell us how your administration will actually get bin Laden?


DEAN: I think this president is conducting the war on terror in exactly the wrong way. About three months ago, ABC News smuggled uranium into Los Angeles, California, from Jakarta, Indonesia, and we didn’t find out about it. That was the purpose, just to see if they could do it. And they did.

We’re spending a lot of money in Iraq. We’re spending money building tactical battlefield nuclear weapons, which are never going to be helpful fighting terrorism. And we’re not spending money on human intelligence and on cyber-intelligence and on cargo inspection and on buying the enriched uranium stocks of the former Soviet Union. If that stuff gets in terrorist hands, we have a major national security problem.

So what we’re going to do is focus on terrorism and not on nation states, unless the nation states merge with the terrorist organization, as they did in Afghanistan. And I supported the action we took in Afghanistan to fight terror.

But, by and large, this president, I don’t believe, has any idea how to fight terror. And I don’t think he is being particularly successful at it either.

MATTHEWS: Is there any way to reduce the hostility between East and West, the hatred that’s growing toward us from the East?

DEAN: Yes, treat people with respect and they will treat you with respect. And that’s in short commodity.


MATTHEWS: Why did you-if that’s the case, why did you abandon your statement that you were for an even-handed policy in the Middle East? What’s wrong with an even-handed policy, if you want respect from the other side?

DEAN: There may not be anything wrong with an even-handed policy, but even-handed is a code word, which I belatedly found out.

MATTHEWS: Well, then drop the code word. What about the principle? Are you for an even-handed foreign policy towards Arab countries, as well as Israel?

Chris Matthews does jump around a bit (verbally, too) but the topic was, at least at one point, terrorism.


Wow, I hadn't seen these passages of the transcript. Sorry, but this is pathetic. Sadly, Dean is displaying exactly the sort of understanding of vital foreign/defense issues that I'd expect: a young House staffer's talking points.

Tactical nukes? Huh? How is continuing to develop nuclear ordnance an issue here at all? If he's referring to deep-penetration systems, then of course he's completely wrong, as the main mission for such things would be to neutralize WMD that's protected in hardened or buried facilities. A big and growing problem.

"So what we’re going to do is focus on terrorism and not on nation states". Where does Dean think terror groups eat their hummus and study their car-bomb diagrams? Mars? Pluto? Uh uh. Earth. In ... uh ... nation states. In any case, one obviously focuses on ALL aspects of the problem -- nation states, failed nation states of relevance, terror groups. Which the administration is doing. Really, Gov. Dean. It's in all the papers (when there's room left after parsing the credibility implications of the president holding a turkey platter).

Not spending on human intelligence? Really? Where does Dean get his briefings? Oprah? Streisand? Get a clue, pal.

Bush was no pointy-head scholar of such things as a candidate, either, and it's unreasonable to expect all the challengers to be experts -- Dean is smart and of course would learn on the job if he got it. But is it too much to ask for the opposition party to make just one serious or non-risible point about big issues like this? To get just one major fact straight?

There's something else. The bit about respect. This is truly idiotic. The ones on the outs with us richly deserve it, and they know it. Raise your hand if you think Chiraq or Schroeder's behavior stems from a lack of respect from the US. Or Beijing's. Or Putin's. Thought so.

This was indefensibly dumb -- and troubling, because it implies a disconnect from the world any president has to contend with.

As to mistrusting intentions, who is it that we've failed to reassure? Oh, right. Arab publics, medias, and governments -- insular, dead-ended, consumed by wacky and childish conspiracy explanations of the world, so morally degraded they cheer the murder of children and break down into tears when a genocidal despot is deposed. Their "mistrust" reflects on us, and not them? Guess again.

Or the 30% of Germans surveyed who believe the US invaded Iraq "for oil." THERE's sophistication for you. Guess they finally figured out that we invaded Germany in the 40's "for the COAL!"

(By the way, did you know that skinheads don't trust Jews -- and don't feel respected by them? Shouldn't the Jewish community look inward and see where they might mend their ways?)

Sorry to drop the polite circumlocutions. Dean sounds like an airhead on national security -- and though it's very likely academic, it would be nice to have an opposition with a remotely serious rhetorical approach to life-and-death issues during war-time.

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