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August 07, 2004

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capt joe

Tom, I know this is tongue in cheek. Did you read the transcript of his interview with Larry King (also at redstate)? This is where he admits to being dumbfounded for about 40 mins between plane 1 into WTC and the pentagon hit.

Bruce Moomaw

Translated into English: if the UN inspections hd found that Saddam wasn't complying and/or actually did have WMDs, Kerry would have attacked him -- as opposed to Bush, who didn't bother to wait for the UN inspetions to be anywhere near finished before attacking anyway (on false evidence). Shockingly cowardly of Kerry!

capt joe

Wow, Bruce, so attacking Iraq would have been a GOOD thing if "found that Saddam wasn't complying"?

Really. Pardon me for having some skepticism on believing that.

False evidence? Oh you mean, "BUSH LIED" in leftiespeak. Surely you don't mean Joe Boy Wilson. Sorry, but Tom has already thken care of that little meme.

Bruce Moomaw

Er, Captain Joe. The inspections weren't nearly complete...

Bruce Moomaw

And, by the way, it was the SSCI report that found out that the US invaded based on false evidence -- NOT including Wilson's account. (That, lest we forget, was the official conclusion of the SSCI report...) It does help to read. Their conclusion was that the CIA created most of the false evidence, not Bush -- but there are some very large and very peculiar self-contradictions even in that part of their story (as neatly summarized by Michael Issikoff in the July 19 Newsweek).

Which returns me to my original point: as Kevin Drum points out, France had suggested instead massively stepping up the inspections (by a factor of about 10), and backing them up with military strikes on any site that Saddam tried to keep the inspectors from reaching. Bush didn't take that offer. Had he done so, we would have avoided a hell of a lot of trouble -- but then, if he hadn't ridiculously overestimated the ease and cheapness with which we could occupy and reform Iraq, he WOULD have been a hell of a lot more hesitant about invading on such flimsy evidence.

capt joe

Bruce, and when would they be complete, if ever.

And Kerry would have seen right through that false CIA evidence. After Tenet placed his career on the line by saying "it was a slam dunk" (Woodward's book, "Plan of Attack")? How would he have done that exactly? Sounds like a case of xtreme wishful thinking.

And France as a source of righteousness, ah interesting. Perhaps it was that Oil for Food scandal and the corresponding massive oil contracts for Elf Total that lead me to question their motives. We certainly can't find any corresponding case where the French have used commercial contracts to sway their political will such as Darfur, n'est-ce pas, mon vieux?

Paul Zrimsek

So exactly what information would the UN inspections have turned up that our own post-occupation inspections didn't? The question, remember, was whether Kerry would have attacked knowing what we know now.

Bruce Moomaw

To paraphrase Orwell, mon Capitaine, some things are true even though Jacques Chirac says them. At some point, of course, those inspections WOULD have been complete enough to deliver a definitive verdict -- or else we would have blown up everything in Iraq that Saddam refused to let us inspect, which would also have destroyed any WMDs he possessed.

To repeat what I said earlier: if you really think the CIA came up with that overblown case against Saddam without any pressure on it by the White House -- or that the White House didn't deliberately ignore the CIA when it DID come up with evidence against an invasion -- you're free to read Isikoff's excerpts from the SSCI report in the July 19 Newsweek. To say nothing of all the indignant 2002 and 2003 magazine stories by the pro-Cheney-Rumsfeld neocons (and in the case of Laurie Mylroie, an entire book) accusing the foolish doves at the CIA of understating the case against Saddam, and thanking God that Cheney and Rumsfeld and their Office of Special Plans were ignoring it and telling Bush the TRUTH.

For the record: no, Virginia, I am under no delusions about our not being up against an extremely dangerous worldwide threat -- with the deadliest aspect of that threat by far being nuclear proliferation among dictatorships. The "war" in Iraq was only one battle in that world war -- a very badly chosen battle, especially given what we now know about Iran -- and thinking that one battle has been badly chosen is, to put it mildly, not the same thing as opposing the war. Had the Bush neocons not been conned by Ahmed Chalabi, and by Rumsfeld's psychotic wishful thinking, into believing that we could conqure, occupy and reform Iraq for a pittance, they would no doubt been a lot more cautious themselves about going in on such questionable evidence as we had. Especially since chemical and biological weapons (which almost nobody in early 2003 doubted Saddam had) are tremendously less dangerous than nukes (which a hell of a lot of people doubted he was anywhere near getting, whereas even at the time it was clear that Iran was about to get them).

The trouble with Iraq is that it was a military red herring, at a time when we can't afford one -- and the consequences of that red herring are now clear as a bell in Iran (and in North Korea although of course that country must be handled differently because it already has the Bomb). The Mullahs unquestionably are about to get the Bomb, and apparently we can't do a thing about it militarily because we've tied down and/or exhausted ourselves in Iraq. To repeat: had we followed France's advice and held off on invading Iraq until we had inspected it more thoroughly, we ourselves would now be in a much stronger military position to deal with the top-priority threats.

If this makes me a Leftie in your eyes (and never mind that I regard most of Michael Moore's movie as garbage), well, that's your problem.

Brian

I'm not really sure how it's fair to criticize Kerry for a statement he didn't make.

You'll probably tell me that he said that or something like it in some other publication. Well, okay, let's see it.

Bruce Moomaw

As for Bush's demand that Kerry say whether or not he'd invade even if we knew in advance that Saddam did NOT have WMDs: yep, Kerry squirmed. So did Sen. Roberts, GOP chaiman of the SSCI, when the NY Times asked him exactly the same question 24 days ago.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/15/politics/15inte.html?ex=1092024000&en=a6a2232112734662&ei=5070&pagewanted=print&position= :

"But in an hourlong interview on Wednesday morning in his office, Mr. Roberts said he was 'not too sure' that the administration would have invaded if it had known how flimsy the intelligence was on Iraq and illicit weapons. Instead, the senator said, Mr. Bush might well have advocated efforts to maintain sanctions against Iraq and to continue to try to unearth the truth through the work of United Nations inspectors. 'I don't think the president would have said that military action is justified right now,' Mr. Roberts said. If the administration had been given 'accurate intelligence,' he said, Mr. Bush 'might have said, "Saddam's a bad guy, and we've got to continue with the no-fly zones and with inspections." '

"At one level, Mr. Roberts's comments can be seen as offering support for the White House, by underscoring the view that intelligence agencies, not Mr. Bush, should be held responsible for fundamental misjudgments about Iraq. But the suggestion that Mr. Bush might well have chosen a different course appeared to run counter to the White House suggestion that the president had been obliged in the case of Iraq to head off a potential threat."

OK. So Kerry's position on that one is identical to Sen. Roberts -- whereas Bush is continuing to insist that he would have invaded anyway. Which strikes me as pure idiocy on Bush's part, since -- had we "known then what we know now" we would have known that Iran was a far more urgent danger than Iraq. (As was North Korea, although of course it must be handled differently.)

So the question is whether is whether Kerry was squirming when he answered another question entirely -- whether we would have invaded had we known that Saddam DID have WMDs -- by saying, "You bet we might have". Unfortunate phrasing; but since he did unquestionably actually vote to give Bush the go-ahead for war if evidence of WMDs turned up, unfortunate phrasing is all it is.

So: yep, Kerry squirms. He just doesn't squirm any worse than the GOP chairman of the SSCI. And both of them avoid Bush's statement that he's to be admired because he would have plunged ahead idiotically and invaded anyway, therby ladning us in exactly the same jam that -- well, shucks, that we're in now because he plunged ahead idiotically and invaded.

TM

France had suggested instead massively stepping up the inspections (by a factor of about 10), and backing them up with military strikes on any site that Saddam tried to keep the inspectors from reaching.

I have certainly seen the "coercive inspections" idea (Wesley Clark, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace come to mind), but I would love to see a link suggesting that it reached even this level of seriousness.

Bruce Moomaw

Actually, I got it from Kevin Drum ( http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/monthly/2004_07.php ):

"Before the invasion, France and several other countries made proposals for even more intrusive inspections: thousand of inspectors backed up by military units. George Bush turned them all down."

This is part of his overall message, which is also interesting:

"...[T]he drumbeat repetition of this argument [that Saddam unquestionably was trying to prevent inspections] -- mostly by war supporters -- deliberately obscures a far more important point: by the time we invaded Iraq none of this mattered.

"Remember, UN inspectors re-entered Iraq three months before the invasion and found nothing there except a handful of missiles that violated UN limits by a few miles. Saddam destroyed them.

"The United States provided the inspectors with detailed intel on where to find Iraq's WMD stockpiles. No dice: every single followup turned out to be a wild goose chase.

"Hans Blix's team searched everywhere, including Saddam's palaces. Nothing.

"Before the invasion, France and several other countries made proposals for even more intrusive inspections: thousand of inspectors backed up by military units. George Bush turned them all down.

"The fact is that by March 2003 we didn't have to rely on CIA estimates or on the estimates of any other intelligence agency. We had been on the ground in Iraq for months and there was nothing there. There was nothing there AND WE KNEW IT.

"Did the CIA screw up? Probably. Did it matter? No. George Bush invaded Iraq in March 2003 not because he was convinced Iraq had WMD, but because he was becoming scared that Iraq DIDN'T have WMD and that further inspections would prove it beyond any doubt. Facts on the ground have never been allowed to interfere with George Bush's worldview, and he wasn't about to take the chance that they might interfere with his war.

"Whatever faults the CIA has, let's not blame them for the war in Iraq. We all know exactly whose mistake it was."

I'm not as confident of this as Drum -- it's possible that, with a relatively small number of inspectors, Saddam MIGHT have been able to keep playing a shell game forever by shifting all evidence of WMDs around to keep one jump ahead of them. But with thousands of them (or, if that wasn't enough, tens of thousands) backed up by military force, there would have been no way for him to do so. And the US -- with or without the UN's permission -- could have done that far more easily than it could invade and occupy Iraq. The reason it did the latter instead is that the Bushites managed to stupidly convince themselves that Iraq COULD very easily be beaten, occupied and reformed. For which we are, of course, now paying the price -- although we're nowhere near paying most of it, if my suspicions about Iran successfully tells us to screw it and develops the Bomb.

Bruce Moomaw

Error in last sentence: it should have been "if my suspicions about Iran are correct AND IT successfully..."

Hei Lun Chan

So Bruce, you would have been in favor of firing missiles into areas where there are tens of thousands of civilians if Saddam refused to let U.N. inspectors in? If I were Saddam this is exactly what I would have done, forcing the U.N. into killing innocent civilians.

Bruce Moomaw

No, Mr. Chan; I would have been in favor of either bombing or ground-troop raids on such locations, with those aforementioned "military units". And -- to repeat another of my points -- it was tremendously more important to establish that saddam was not capable of building NUCLEAR weapons that it was to keep him from acquiring either chemical weapons (which aren't really much more destructive than explosive ones) or biological weapons (which are likely to become increasingly lethal in another few decades, thanks to the wonders of genetic engieering -- but which are currently nowhere remotely near as dangerous as nukes). And it would also have been tremendously easier to determine whether he was trying to build nuclear weapons than CBWs, and tremendously easier to stop him from doing so. Permanently.

My whole point is one of misplaced priorities. I never thought I'd end up quoting Maureen Dowd, but she's completely correct on this one: Bush did indeed "home in on the least dangerous member of the Axis of Evil - not North Korea, which already has the Bomb, or Iran, which is about to get it, but Iraq, which only wanted it" (and was nowhere remotely near getting it). And now see our mess -- Iran is about to get it, and our ability to prevent that has been tremendously weakened by our following the red herring of Iraq and having most of our military bogged down there.

Paul Zrimsek

"Exactly the same question", Bruce? Roberts was asked to speculate about what the Administration, of which he is not a member, would have done. Kerry was asked what he, John Kerry, would have done. And the reason he was asked in that particular form, let's not forget, is that he'd already punted questions about what he'd do in Iraq if elected, on the grounds that he can't forsee the future-- an ability he apparently expects to develop sometime between now and January. All that Roberts' (incorrect) guess proves is that it's harder to know someone else's mind than it is to know your own-- unless you're John Kerry, that is.

Jay C.

So: yep, Kerry squirms. He just doesn't squirm any worse than the GOP chairman of the SSCI.

Bruce, who cares? Pat Roberts is not running for President.

Bruce Moomaw

Paul, Sen. Roberts (as pointed out by the Times in the next paragraph, although it should be obvious) said that if HE were in Bush's shoes, he might very well have decided that we should not invade. He never did say that he himself would have disagreed with that decision. And -- to repeat the obvious yet again -- since Bush is now criticizing Kerry's judgment by implying that he might (shudder) not have invaded Iraq if there were no WMDs in it, then by the same standard he's attacking the judgment of Sen. Roberts.

If you want to attack Kerry for shilly-shallying on what he'll do about Iraq now, fine -- it's his biggest sin. But keep in mind that Bush, up to now, has a sterling record of doing the spectacularly wrong thing about Iraq and then sticking stubbornly to it afterwards, which makes it a judgment call which you prefer. Personally, I have trouble deciding so far which of the two men I prefer (or, rather, less dislike) on foreign and military policy, which leaves me to free to vote for Kerry on the grounds that his domestic policies are infinitely better.

ed

Hmmm.

It's not about Bush, it's about Kerry. Nice of you to go so far off tangent.

Dan Patterson

The choices for President of the United States are:

-A preening prick with dangerous delusions. One who's cabinet choices and Supreme Court nominees would not likely support the Constituition.

-A flawed but tested leader with moral clarity and an understanding of the duties of the office.

The rest of the analysis is interesting but amounts to academic crowing for other "oh-so-smarts". The time for such nuanced observations was during the primary season.

Thank you for your insightful and interesting notes; I will keep your site on my reading list and learn from everyone's experience and observations.

Dan Patterson
Winston-Salem, NC

Paul Zrimsek

I thought that what Bush is doing is trying to get Kerry to say just what the hell his judgment IS, which would seem to be a necessary prelude to criticizing it. No joy.

As for Bush's own judgment, let's just say that its spectacular wrongness is nowhere near as obvious as Bruce Moomaw believes it to be. I'm coming to realize that there are few things in this world of which that could not be said.

Insufficiently Sensitive

Bush's judgement that Saddam Hussein could not responsibly be left in place after 9/11 as dictator of Iraq (surprise! Same as the Clinton administration's position before 9/11) was forthright and resulted in the decision to invade. That's what leaders need to do from time to time.

The idea that the invasion was solely on account of intelligence of WMDs is at best a canard and at worst a creation of administration critics wishing for excuses to quibble. Such quibbles are purely reactionary - wishing to return to the 'good old days' status quo ante. They weren't good old days, and had every chance of getting worse.

Having US and allied forces in position between Iran and Syria is a progressive force for change for the better. Has anyone noticed that Sadr's 'uprising' has just well and truly cost him citizen support and a couple of battalions of casualties? The new Iraqi government has better and better chances of stability, regardless of the bleating of the NYT.

Cheer up, Bush-haters, this caper might work after all despite your relentless ill-founded media attacks. Hell, you might give a little credit to the invasion for exposing Libya's WMDs. And should stability ensue in Iraq, we're not 'bogged down' at all, but are in a superb position to deal with the neighboring tyrannical Islamofascist governments. You too can help - enlist today in the progressive forces of the struggle against those tyrannies!

TM

Getting warmer!

Knowing then what he knows today about the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Kerry still would have voted to authorize the war and "in all probability" would have launched a military attack to oust Hussein by now if he were president, Kerry national security adviser Jamie Rubin said in an interview Saturday.

Any day now!

Paul Zrimsek

We're expecting a definitive announcement Monday about whether President Kerry would have called heads or tails.

TM

OK, Paul, but do you remember the Super Bowl where the ref mis-identified the coin toss as it lay on the ground? Maybe he can come in as a Kerry advisor.

Patrick R. Sullivan

" I never thought I'd end up quoting Maureen Dowd."

So much for Paul's contention that it's hard to know what's in another's mind. That aside, let's turn to one of the few adults who served in the Clinton Admin (you out there, Bradford?) to make mincemeat of Bruce (I'm bored doing it myself all these years):

http://www.cfr.org/pub7204/stephen_r_sestanovich/how_saddam_failed_the_yeltsin_test.php

---------quote---------
When America demanded that Iraq follow the example of countries like Ukraine and South Africa, which sought international help in dismantling their weapons of mass destruction, it set the bar extremely high, but not unreasonably so. The right test had to reflect Saddam Hussein's long record of acquiring, using and concealing such weapons. Just as important, it had to yield a clear enough result to satisfy doubters on both sides, either breaking the momentum for war or showing that it was justified.

Some may object that this approach treated Saddam Hussein as guilty until proved innocent. They're right. But the Bush administration did not invent this logic. When Saddam Hussein forced out United Nations inspectors in 1998, President Clinton responded with days of bombings -- not because he knew what weapons Iraq had, but because Iraq's actions kept us from finding out.

A decision on war is almost never based simply on what we know, or think we know. Intelligence is always disputed. Instead, we respond to what the other guy does. This is how we went to war in Iraq. The next time we face such a choice, whether our intelligence has improved or not, we'll almost surely decide in the very same way.

------------endquote------------

Brian

"-A preening prick with dangerous delusions. One who's cabinet choices and Supreme Court nominees would not likely support the Constituition."

Harsh, very harsh.

Brian

"The idea that the invasion was solely on account of intelligence of WMDs is at best a canard and at worst a creation of administration critics wishing for excuses to quibble."

If you are going to try and tell us that this was largely a humanitarian mission, you need to be slapped. Sure that was part of it, but to pretend that WMD intelligence and national security reasons weren't the overwhelming issue in the invasion is absurd, no matter what your feelings on the war are.

"Hell, you might give a little credit to the invasion for exposing Libya's WMDs."

Because nothing else, nothing at all, was involved.

Bruce Moomaw

"Knowing then what he knows today about the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Kerry still would have voted to authorize the war and 'in all probability' would have launched a military attack to oust Hussein by now if he were president, Kerry national security adviser Jamie Rubin said in an interview Saturday."

In other words, he's now firmer on the subject than Sen. Roberts. But on the wrong side.

Bruce Moomaw

What Sestanovich doesn't mention, of course, is the fact that Iran was a more serious threat than Iraq -- much more serious -- and that that fact was starting to beome apparent even when we went charging into Iraq.

Bruce Moomaw

For the record:

(A) I read Sestanovich's piece when it first came out.

(B) It has no relevance whatsoever to my reasoning -- which is that nuclear weapons are tremendously more dangerous than CBWs, and that therefore the fact that by 2003 Iran was already known to be much more likely than Iraq to acquire nukes in the near future was a very good reason to delay the invasion of Iraq (even though virtually all observers considered it probable that it did have CBWs) in favor of dealing with the threat of Iran first. I think it very likely that we would have had to deal with Iraq not too long afterwards -- but if the Bushites hadn't ridiculously overestimated the ease of turning it into a peaceful democracy and thus getting a two-for-one deal, they themselves would very likely have gone after Iran first. As I say, we are now all looking straight at the merry consequences.

Aaron

I would have supported increased inspections if France and Germany provided 150,000 troops to replace ours in rotation at those tent cities in Kuwait.

They offer some good ideas, but unless they pay the bill (political and financial) we could not have extended inspections much longer.

Also, it's important that Iraq REJECTED that French idea. So it's a non-starter.

ed

Hmmm.

"Bruce Moomaw"

"What Sestanovich doesn't mention, of course, is the fact that Iran was a more serious threat than Iraq -- much more serious -- and that that fact was starting to beome apparent even when we went charging into Iraq."

Interesting. Now explain how America would be able to counteract Iran without having taken down Iraq. Go ahead. Write it up.

I triple dog-dare you.

Pouncer

BRUCE:"it's possible that, with a relatively small number of inspectors, Saddam MIGHT have been able to keep playing a shell game forever by shifting all evidence of WMDs around to keep one jump ahead of them. But with thousands of them (or, if that wasn't enough, tens of thousands) backed up by military force, there would have been no way for him to do so."

oooOOOKAY...

Let's recall how well it all worked out for the "inspectors" looking for suspected factories of illegal weapsons at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

Multiply by hundreds of sites.

So we suppose we have ten thousand body-armored kevlar helmeted machine gun and RPG carrying "inspectors" roaming around in Hummers conducting surprise no-knock kick-in-the-door inspections -- over the dead bodies of the Republican guards assigned to keep such inspectors out. And if they happen to get killed in the process of kicking the doors in we surround the location with siege engines ...

Exactly how much better is this than a "war", if you don't mind elaborating, please?


Paul Zrimsek

Ahhh, Pouncer, but that's where the Good Diplomacy comes in. Sure, it may sound wishful to you to suppose that we could have gotten Iraq to agree to what amounts to an invasion-- and not to strike back against our isolated detachments after we've started blowing up their stuff. But if the Good Diplomacy would have succeeded in getting Chirac to back a war to which he gave ever sign of being unalterably opposed, who can say what else it might not be capable of?

Reid

One thing Bruce and his ilk seem not to notice is that it was the threat of US forces right at his doorstep that obliged Hussein to resubmit to inspections. How many more times would we be obliged to do that?

While it may be true that Hussein had no stockpiles of WMD at the ready, he retained the knowledge and infrastructure to make them. The sanctions were crumbling and Hussein would soon have been completely unfettered to resume his aggressions. But, he was on the record as having said that the mistake he made in Gulf War I was in not having waited until he had the weapons to deter American intervention. He would not have made that mistake again.

Also, Bruce's contention that bioweapons are currently less dangerous than nukes is fatuous. A modern day smallpox epidemic could kill millions, possibly far more. Even a good, drug resistant anthrax strain could easily kill tens of thousands without boomeranging on the attacking nation. Most importantly for a killer like Hussein, such an attack could be launched with very little in the way of fingerprints. We still have little clue who launched the anthrax attacks in 2001.

Jay Duffy

Actually there is currently a good bit of evidence accumulating that the 2001 anthrax attacks may have been the work of a NJ doctor who was trying to market his new anthrax vaccine. Things are seldom what they seem, Reid. As we, the American people, have been finding out these past three years.

As a New Yorker, all I keep thinking about is how great it would be if some of those billions being spent in Iraq could have been used to buy us some actual port security. Plus wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to be in bed with one fundamentalist Islamic nuclear power wannabe (Pakistan)begging them to arrest terrorists for us, while at the same time we're now completely militarily impotent to face down the other Islamic fundamentalist nuclear power wannabe (Iran)? And pulling our Army out of Korea, where they're laughing at us these days, seeing how we've crippled ourselves. Almost 1000 American lives, over 5000 Americans maimed, over 10,000 Iraqi civilians dead...and we've accomplished what? Destroyed an entire infrastructure, bred hordes of American haters, inherited a deficit that will grow exponentially for the rest of our lifetimes, stretched our military to the breaking point and dispersed the homeland's first defenders overseas. If this meant we were now safe from any other nation ever threatening us with WMDs, a case could be made. Instead, we've exposed just how limited our military power really is and inspired the imagination of all who hate us.

Reid

Jay - These are the ravings of an undisciplined mind.

I presume that the evidence against this NJ doc is stronger than that against yesterday's bad guy, Mark Hatfill? Or, against previous FBI suspects in other cases such as Richard Jewel? Let's not be too hasty to produce a verdict before the trial, shall we?

Port security is more a logistics problem than a money problem. And, a lot more is being done in this area than you know or I can tell you.

Pakistan is no nuclear wannabe. It is a nuclear have. It is also a nation half as populous as our own (147 million people, last time I checked, nothing like Iraq with 26 million). You have to deal with that reality. It is also a very pluralistic society with a pro-American elite. American and Pakistani relations go back to the country's founding while Truman was still in office and through bipartisan administrations. I recall in Chuck Yeager's autobiography,
he writes of living in Pakistan for a time in the '60's helping train their air force. Pakistan almost surely would not exist today had we not supported it in its wars with India, a nation that was a thorn in our side for most of the Cold War era. President Musharraf's own son lives in Boston.

The action in Iraq has added significantly to our deterrence to the bad actors in the region and, given us an immeasurably stronger position to attack Iran, should it become necessary.

It is high time we moved our troops out of Korea. They serve no purpose there. South Korea is more than able to counter the threat from the North.

Every death of one of our fighting men is a tragedy but, the action in Iraq has been one of the lowest casualty conflicts we have ever waged.

We were far more hated in the region for the sanctions and the alleged deaths of "over 1 million" (see bin Laden's 1998 fatwah declaring jihad against the US) innocent Iraqis from them than anything associated with this military campaign. Bush didn't start the fire. It was already burning white hot. So much so that 20,000 jihadis attended bin Laden's training camps in the 1990's and, 19 hijackers tried to kill 50,000 Americans at the World Trade Center in 2001 and succeeded in killing 3000. It would be difficult to argue that things can get worse than that.

The deficit has been declining as a percentage of GDP for a couple of years now, nothing to get your panties in a wad over.

The bottom line is, there was no long term possibility for lasting peace in the Middle East with Saddam and his spawn in power, no hope of drying up the fever swamps that bred jihadis like flies. Now, there is hope.

Jay Duffy

Weill, Reid, you may find my thinking undisciplined, but I find yours smug and supercilious. somehow I doubt you''ve got information on port security too secret to share, but the US Coast Guard has estimated we need about $7.5 billion over the next ten years to secure them. Sounds like a bit of cash to me.

The rest of your points are typical neo con war babble. Do you actually trust Pakistan? The "elite" is pro American (you know except for pre 9/11 when they treatied with Al Queda for protection) ...and those 147 millions? I've noticed how neo cons always like to discuss the human beings in other countries as less significant than the chess pieces in their minds. However, these are the very same human beings currently killing our soldiers at the rate of almost 2 a day - and that's since the occupation "ended".

It will be easier to attack Iran? How? Where are these soldiers coming from? How many sons have you contributed? I don't know any good young men masochistic enough to be getting themselves involved in this thing now. Anothter interesting characteristic of the neo cons is how FEW of them actually participate in this dying and killing thing, or let their children do so. It's all chess peices to them, US soldiers or innocent civilians... And, seeing how gloriously we acquitted ourselves in Iraq against a weak, dying regime, one can only trust that an invasion of Iran would be a piece of cake.

Re: American hatred in the Middle East. No, Bush didn't start the fire. He just threw gasoline on it. Casual insensitivity to any culture other than the one bred in Crawford, Texas...but then again, they're only chess pieces.

And if the deficit doesn't get your panties in a wad, I'll wager you've got your nest egg nicely tucked away for you and yours. For the rest of us that means hard times, for as far as we can picture. The Democrats have been more fiscally responsible in the past few decades. It's the Republicans who now spend our national treasure like drunken sailors. Lets not forget, we had an actual surplus not too long ago, no comfort to you apparently, but it would have made my Social Security look a little more possible.

You sound like a smart guy. Can you tell me how we will ever get OUT of Iraq? What assurances do you see for establishing democracy in a country with no democratic traditions? What will become of the millions of young men being schooled in the fundamentalist schools, who will know nothing but hatred for America from their infancies? Am I correct in guessing that you foresee American military bases in the midst of a sea of Islamic fundamentalism, defending "OUR" oil from the voracious Chinese consumers?

Do you see any place at all for alternative energy, for any way of weaning our technology from fossil fuels? Do you have any interest in the future of our children besides making sure that we always have the biggest guns and are feared for our willingness to kill all the other chess pieces on the planet? In other words, in your future vision, is there anything but killing the insects of other cultures, and sacrificing everything that makes our own lives worthwhile to pay for it?

I really am interested. you sound smart, and I've found that the only smart Republicans I know are all corporate shlls and military apologists. I really am interested.

Reid

"You sound smart."

Maybe I ought to quit while I'm ahead. I'm at least smart enough to know that there is unlikely to be anything I can say that will pop your mind out of its well worn rut.

I've already covered the earlier stuff and, you've brought nothing new to the table except for some jaw droppingly facile stuff that I just don't want to get bogged down in (for one thing, I broke my arm falling off a ladder painting this weekend so, this is being arduously typed one letter at a time).

I will make a note about the energy situation. I think conservation is good. I think Hummers for domestic use are an abomination. But, I also believe that a lot of the ideas for achieving energy independence are a bunch of hooey. Actually, more than just think. I'm an engineer and, I've done the math. The only technology available in the next several decades that could replace oil is nuclear fission. It's probably the most environmentally friendly energy source on the planet, despite its reputation.

With nuclear power generating the hydrogen to power our cars and the electricity for our homes, we could achieve energy independence. I'd be all for that.

Jay Duffy

The rigid predictability of our political corners these days is truly mind boggling. Out of all I wrote, the only thing you didn't dismiss out of hand was the need for renewable energy...and your solution is nuclear energy! Of course! Will you be offering up your backyard for that plant to be built in? That was indeed a classic conservative response. As was the condescening, superior tone in which it was given.

I do lament that the two schools of thought in America are no longer able to learn from one another. I honestly would like to know how a neo con envisions a future that sounds at all desirable or livable to average Americans. But the conservatives have nothing but disdain and arrogance to offer to the conversation. And moderates and liberals do not trust there is anything other than greed and domiination on the conservative agenda.

So no one is listening. Or learning. Meanwhile our country faces grave problems, and neither side by itself can solve them.

Jay Duffy

The rigid predictability of our political corners these days is truly mind boggling. Out of all I wrote, the only thing you didn't dismiss out of hand was the need for renewable energy...and your solution is nuclear energy! Of course! Will you be offering up your backyard for that plant to be built in? That was indeed a classic conservative response. As was the condescening, superior tone in which it was given.

I do lament that the two schools of thought in America are no longer able to learn from one another. I honestly would like to know how a neo con envisions a future that sounds at all desirable or livable to average Americans. But the conservatives have nothing but disdain and arrogance to offer to the conversation. And moderates and liberals do not trust there is anything other than greed and domiination on the conservative agenda.

So no one is listening. Or learning. Meanwhile our country faces grave problems, and neither side by itself can solve them.

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