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October 19, 2004

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reader

isn't the mission to get osama?

SaveFarris

Apparently the mission is to pass the global test.

meep

To Tom:

Off-topic here, but I mentioned it below, and I thought I'd give you a more full text (and besides, email to you is bouncing):

here's the cite:
WSJ, Oct 19, pg D5
Cranky Consumer: "Tracking the Election on the Web" by Sam Schechner

You're mentioned alongside Talking Points Memo, Real Clear Politics, Electoral-vote.com, and Spinsanity.

In the article:
"On a more partisan level, Tom Maguire's conservative blog, JustOneMinute is a satisfyingly sarcastic read, replete with football metaphors and Dem bashing. Last week, he said one of Mr. Kerry's explanations about his Mary Cheney mention 'set our BS detector flashing to CODE BROWN!'"

Then there's a handy comparison chart of all the sites. Here's your entry:
Site: justoneminute.typepad.com
Politics: Right-leaning
Strength: Makes fun of both sides when warranted -- recently joked about a poll showing that more Republicans than Democrats are happy with their sex
lives.
Drawback: Some readers don't get his sarcasm
Comment: Unlike some other popular bloggers, he is good about responding to posted comments on the site

That's about it. I think it's interesting that yours was chosen as the representative right-leaning site.

Crank

I guess Kerry didn't love the smell of napalm in the morning.

carsick

I'm sorry where did you point out that the president "accomplished the mission"?

Oh, you didn't.

As Kerry said, "I think it depends on where you are tactically".

Where are we now tactically three years after Osama bin Laden had his terrorists team attack our country?

Osama who? "I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run."

TM

Thanks very much. I am not worthy.

Cecil Turner

"I am not worthy."

Yes you are. If not you, who?

"As Kerry said, 'I think it depends on where you are tactically'."

Where we are tactically is we retired the last flamethrowers back in the Vietnam era--and napalm requires a low-angle delivery that puts planes in the heart of enemy weapons systems. So we pretty much don't use 'em any more. Thermobaric FAE bombs are the new cool bunker-buster.

As far as Osama goes, haven't heard much from him lately . . . Maybe he caught a stray one. At any rate, rolling up his network (not him personally) should be the focus of effort if the goal is to prevent future attacks.

The Kid

Osama ain’t got no base no more. That’s important, as this points out, because without a base he’s got no facilities to conduct a lengthy curriculum for highly motivated whackjobs in murder, mayhem, operational security, producing chemical / biological agents, etc.

Then again, Osama’s not been heard from lately.

Mantis

Something I don't see anywhere in your analysis is Kerry supporting that we pull our 5th Special Forces group--who seemed to think they were close to catching bin Laden--out of Afghanistan and put them into Iraq after they had put in six months of fighting those terrorists who did attack us on 9/11. The decision to pull them out, despite the fact that they were most qualified to carry out the mission, was their experience in the first Iraq war and therefore their value in this one. Since Bush decided to invade Iraq during our Afghanistan incursion, doesn't the responsibility for this diversion of resources and expertice fall upon him?

TM

Here is a story about the 5th Special Forces. No date as to when they re-deployed, although this story suggests August 2002. Tora Bora was Dec 2001, of course.

The stock answer is, this is not a war on Osama, it is a war on terror. We did not want all our troops marching through the mountains of Afghanistan obsessing about a guy who might be dead and might never be caught when there are other bad guys to worry about. Global threat, keep the initiative, and all that.

John Kerry understood this in Dec. 2001, anyway. From the same Larry King show:

KING: What about enhancing this war, Senator Kerry. What are your thoughts on going on further than Afghanistan, all terrorist places...

KERRY: Oh, I think we clearly have to keep the pressure on terrorism globally. This doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination. And I think the president has made that clear. I think we have made that clear. Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue, for instance, Saddam Hussein. I think we...

KING: We should go to Iraq? KERRY: Well, that -- what do you and how you choose to do it, we have a lot of options. Absent smoking gun evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the immediate events of September 11, the president doesn't have the authorization to proceed forward there.

But we clearly are he ought to proceed to put pressure on him with respect to the weapons of mass destruction. I think we should be supporting an opposition. There are other ways for us, clandestinely and otherwise, to put enormous pressure on him and I think we should do it.

Cecil Turner

". . . and put them into Iraq after they had put in six months of fighting those terrorists who did attack us on 9/11.".

The terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are dead. Every operation since has been aimed at their support base (e.g., training facilities, financiers, training cadre, and operational leadership). That "base" (Al Qaeda) supports a loose confederation of terror outfits and provides expertise to increase operational effectiveness . . . it isn't limited to any one country.

Training camps in Afghanistan were part of it . . . and so were Zarkawi's facilities in Iraq. (And so is the sanctuary since provided by Iran.) But the biggest fear is that some terror sponsor will provide WMD materials and training (and that doesn't require large stockpiles of large pointy weapons with fins). Prisoners at Guantanamo indicated Iraq trained Al Qaeda members, and that Al Qaeda was looking to Iraq for help in manufacturing chem/bio weapons. And Saddam topped that list.

The state sponsors of terror in the Near/Middle East were: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Sudan. Afghanistan was left off the list to avoid recognizing the Taliban as a government, and Pakistan was arguable. Now, Iraq and Afghanistan no longer support terrorism. Libya, Sudan, and Pakistan have also made credible pledges in the right direction. And we're in a strong position to lean on the two holdouts, Iran and Syria, precisely because of the much-criticized Iraq policy. A "distraction"? I don't think so.

The main goal of the Afghanistan operation was to shut down Mullah Omar's terrorist sanctuary and the training camps (and capture or kill as many terrorists as possible). It went pretty well. Snooping around the mountains looking for individual terrorists runs into a fairly obvious case of diminishing marginal returns. Sending more troops to look for the last terrorist cavedweller is not a sensible use of force. Kerry may have scored a cute debating point, but his position is unserious--and undermines what little defense credibility he has left.

Al

Re: CNN quote. Why is it that Tom Maguire is better than the entire RNC/Bush-Cheney opposition research team? This quote should have been put out there weeks ago. Now it's too late. Which is why Bush is probably going to lose. Karl Rove is way, WAY overrated. (And I'm one of Bush's supporters.)

karen

Kerry voted to say that comment before he voted against saying that comment. So he actually agreed with the tactics before he realized he didn't agree with the tactics. But Mary Cheney is a l-l-lesbian. General Sinseki was fired. Tora Bora outsourced.

Kerry and Heinz think the only "real" job you can have is marrying someone who has $500 million dollars more than you do. I will take Laura anyday.

The Lonewacko Blog

Osama ain’t got no base no more.

"Al Qaeda" is from "the database", not a physical base of operations. Explained here and probably at many other sites.

The Kid

Sheesh, Lonewacko, I was only punnin'. I prefer to translate "al Qaeda" as "the base."

I did follow your link, but had prepared by wrapping my head in duct tape after apply not one, but two layers of time foil. It was just enough to protect me from the MK-Ultra mind altering technique I found there.

Yet, I gotta give credit to anyone who can, on one page, link together al Qaeda, Vince Foster, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Henry Kissinger. That is something truly special.

Rob W

Um, I don't see Kerry responding to any question about outsourcing to Afghan warlords here. I see a simple tactical question about whether we should use napalm or flamethrowers. Nowhere in the quote does he mention Afghan or U.S. troops at all. Maybe you guys could get some ammo by parsing that one out a lot and taking it out of context. That's all this is.

Paul Zrimsek

Al-your-Qaeda are belong to us.

Cecil Turner

"I prefer to translate 'al Qaeda' as 'the base.'"

I thought he was joking . . . but after visiting his site, I'm not so sure.

It's true that the "base" is more of an ideological foundation type of thing . . . but there's also training, finance, and operational expertise. In any event, the idea that other branches are somehow less of a threat because they don't have an interconnected command structure is ludicrous. Whether the Bali bombers reported directly to Bin Laden or not is surely not a primary concern.

Similarly, the "terrorism as ideology" argument is often used to excuse terror sponsors--ignoring the fact that plausible deniability is precisely why states choose terror tactics.

There may be a defensible US grand strategy that involves beefing up special forces and less overt use of US military power. But I sure can't think of one . . . and those who support such a plan are uanble or unilling to describe it.

Cecil Turner

"Um, I don't see Kerry responding to any question about outsourcing to Afghan warlords here. "

I don't see him bringing it up, either. In fact, the only thing he said about the operational concept was at the opening:

"I think we have been smart, I think the administration leadership has done it well and we are on right track."

Rob W

When he's discussing the operation, he appears to be talking about the entire Afghan operation. The criticism he's leveled at Bush is: "You didn't put U.S. troops in for the critical moment where they were needed most." I've seen no real refutation from the Administration on this question. The quote is just an attempt to make something look like it's not.

The whole idea is disngenous. They were ripping on Kerry for having adovcated in the early '70's for UN authorization of force in all U.S. conflicts. According to the logic shown here, Kerry should turn around and say "Mr. President, you didn't criticize me for saying that in 1971, but now you are changing your tune for poltical purposes." The whole idea is a laugher.

Cecil Turner

"When he's discussing the operation, he appears to be talking about the entire Afghan operation."

That's one interpretation. But there's no doubt when he's responding to the question about the caves, he's talking about the Tora Bora operation. And there, he's says the same thing, as TM quoted above:

"But for the moment, what we are doing, I think, is having its impact and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively and we should continue to do it that way."

Rob W

Actually, some of the comments here seem to show Kerry as being amazingly consistent on these issues:

"Absent smoking gun evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the immediate events of September 11, the president doesn't have the authorization to proceed forward there.

But we clearly are he ought to proceed to put pressure on him with respect to the weapons of mass destruction. I think we should be supporting an opposition. There are other ways for us, clandestinely and otherwise, to put enormous pressure on him and I think we should do it."

Rob W

p.s. I'm terrible at HTML. any hints on how to get my quotes to italicize and indent like yours?

p.p.s. I like this blog--seems like some rational discussion going on between both sides. What a welcome change from the rest of the internet.

Cecil Turner

"There are other ways for us, clandestinely and otherwise, to put enormous pressure on him and I think we should do it."

That's a nice thought, but when he's getting tens of billions of dollars through UNSCAM, the only real pressure is threat of invasion. And at some point, you have to mean it.

You can download an easy HTML primer here. For simple stuff, just put your text between starting and ending tags like this: [i] italics [/i]; [b] bold [/b]; [blockquote] indent [/blockquote]. (replace brackets with these: < >)

CroolWurld

I'm against the Global Test. If we impose a Global Test, then teachers will begin teaching TO the Global Test. Also, what if there's not a Ebonics version of the Global Test? How un-Global would that be?

Brian

He doesn't specifically mention Tora Bora in the passages that you selected. There were obviously more things besides the hunt for OBL happening at th time. It seems ridiculous to assume that he's giving a pass to everything when that is very unclear.

Gen. Franks is clearly the military expert here, but it seems odd that he says we don't know exactly where Osama was, but that he was "never in our grasp." Which is it? Franks also avoids the question of whether the job was really given to warlords. He simply states it was given to Afghans. His third reason is even more vague. He doesn't say what our special forces were asked to do, just that they were there. And his final paragraphs are little more than a standard play for the re-election prospects of Bush and Cheney. I hate to say it, but it seems like he's muddying the waters here.

martin

Tora Bora Schmora-Osama's dead. Iraq-shmiraq. Some mop-up operations and elections in January.

So -seriously-what's the next operation in the war on terrorism?

Grand Moff Texan

Why is it that Tom Maguire is better than the entire RNC/Bush-Cheney opposition research team?

Because he's not as dumb as the people who see a Kerry flip-flop in this quote? I thought that was obvious.

Just like the other mangled Kerry quote on 'sensitivity.' Cheney picked that fabrication up from some moron at a stump speech.

I don't think it's that Rove is overrated, I think that Rove has simply overestimated the intelligence of the people he's trying to manipulate.
Poetic justice, I guess.

Paul Zrimsek

"Very unclear", Brian? Everything Kerry says is always clear, no matter how the wingnuts try to tell you otherwise. Why, you can read all about it on his campaign site!

Don't know about you, but when a thing's in my grasp I always know where it is: in my grasp.

Rob W

Why is the Bush position about what Kerry said, until it is proven that Kerry has been consistent, and then the argument is then shifted to whether or not the strategy Kerry advocated at this or that time was correct?

That's a nice thought, but when he's getting tens of billions of dollars through UNSCAM, the only real pressure is threat of invasion. And at some point, you have to mean it.

My point was simple. Bush has been accusing Kerry of taking different positions on the war. But when one looks through everything he's said it comes out that (1) he was for putting pressure on Hussein; (2) That without solid evidence of a direct state link, going in would hurt our main goal of isolating and destroying terrorists; (3) Any action we would take would be best done with international support.

But here the subject was changed again. I think the flip-flop meme has to be discarded and the issues Kerry has brought up discussed openly.

p.s. Hey this HTML stuff works--Thanks Cecil!

TM

As to whether Kerry was specifically supporting the tactics used at Tora Bora, that battle began on Nov. 30; this interview was Dec 14.

And it seems pretty reasonable to argue that Kerry was talking about Osama; from the transcript, the previous questionhad been about what to do if Osama was captured, and the exchange I excerpted is here:

KING: Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania -- hello.

CALLER: Hello. Yes, I would like to ask the panel why they don't use napalm or flamethrowers on those tunnels and caves up there in Afghanistan?

KING: Senator Kerry?

CALLER: My golly, I think they could smoke him out.

KING: Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Well, I think it depends on where you are tactically. They may well be doing that at some point in time. But for the moment, what we are doing, I think, is having its impact and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively and we should continue to do it that way.

KING: Congressman Cunningham, what do you think of that question?

CUNNINGHAM: I think Senator Kerry is right on the mark. To use a flamethrower, you've got to get right into the area close in. And plus, it doesn't penetrate that deep in those tunnels. You've got to go in there after him. So I think you have to neutralize that threat. And then you can get him out in a lot of different, various ways including what the gentleman spoke about.

It depends on the meaning of "him", I suppose, but really...

Here is a WaPo rebuttal to Gen. Franks from April 2002.

Doesn't affect my argument, which is that Kerry only became a critic after the fact.

TM

Bonus tub-thumping - if I were lauding Kerry's consistency on Iraq, I would NOT point to this:

"Absent smoking gun evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the immediate events of September 11, the president doesn't have the authorization to proceed forward there.

In that quote from Dec 2001, Kerry was surely referring to the specific legislation that authorized the Afghan war as a response to 9/11.

Now, I can't promise to keep track of every Kerry position On Iraq, but when he was the anti-war candidate defending at a debate in Feb 2004, he explained his Oct. 2002 vote authorizing war against Saddam this way:

GILBERT: “But what about you? I mean, let me repeat the question. Do you have any degree of responsibility having voted to give him the authority to go to war?”

KERRY: “The president had the authority to do what he was going to do without the vote of the United States Congress. President Clinton went to Kosovo without the Congress. President Clinton went to Haiti without the Congress.

“That's why we have a War Powers Act. What we did was vote with one voice of the United States Congress for a process...

That is the shortest of excerpts, and John Edwards had the classic comeback:

That's the longest answer I ever heard to a yes-or-no question," Edwards said. "The answer to your question is ‘Of course.' We all accept responsibility for what we did."

I don't know whether Kerry is currently accepting responsibility for his vote.


Reginald Thornton

Isn't it time, yet, to get past the parties, and to agree that someone who plays politics with everything from another man's daughter to the war on terror is absolutely the worst thing that could happen to this country under any circumstances, let alone now?

Brian

"As to whether Kerry was specifically supporting the tactics used at Tora Bora, that battle began on Nov. 30; this interview was Dec 14."

I'm not entirely convinced.

"In that quote from Dec 2001, Kerry was surely referring to the specific legislation that authorized the Afghan war as a response to 9/11."

Are you for real?


"Now, I can't promise to keep track of every Kerry position On Iraq, but when he was the anti-war candidate defending at a debate in Feb 2004, he explained his Oct. 2002 vote authorizing war against Saddam this way:"

Oh, come on. It seems pretty obvious he was saying that the president can send troops somewhere without a declaration of war.

And I must say, it's amusing what you mock his consistency, yet give link to a site that has him saying things like "The process was to build a legitimate international coalition, go through the inspections process and go to war as a last resort" and "It was appropriate to stand up to Saddam Hussein. There was a right way to do it, a wrong way to do it." That's pretty much what he's been saying all along, plus or minus a little bit for the bullshit factor that all politicians have in their comments.

Brian

Correction: "that you."

Cecil Turner

"Why is the Bush position about what Kerry said, until it is proven that Kerry has been consistent"

I think it's fairly obvious TM and I have two different issues here. TM supported his case fairly well (and I agree the Senator flip-flopped from supporting to criticizing, I just don't care all that much). My problem with him is that his overall strategy is flawed (or incoherent). If he thought Osama should be the focus of the WoT--consistently or not--it's a stupid idea. The Administration is correct that the goal is to prevent a future attack, and that leads to a strategy of deterring state sponsors. Kerry's comments on Tora Bora are clueless (but, to be fair, so are Cunningham's . . . and he has a lot more experience).

"p.s. Hey this HTML stuff works--Thanks Cecil!"

You're welcome--glad it worked for you. It's nice to have a reasonable dissenting voice around here, so doubly welcome. (And sorry about the tardy reply, but I'm a little busy this week.)

TM

I'm not entirely convinced.

I'm not entirely rebutted.

"In that quote from Dec 2001, Kerry was surely referring to the specific legislation that authorized the Afghan war as a response to 9/11."

Are you for real?

Yes, I am real. However, despite my reality, I fail to grasp your point.

Do you think Kerry was referring to something else other than that legislation?

My point is that, in Dec 2001, Kerry said the President did not have authority to invade Iraq, at least under the legislation passed immediately after 9/11.

By Feb 2004, however, Kerry was arguing that his October 2002 vote, which had been widely misinterpreted as granting the President the authority to go to war with Iraq, was really just meant to display national unity. He further argued that the President had the authority to do whatever he wanted with Iraq under his normal constitutional powers, subject to the War Powers Act.

That is certainly not an implausible position, BTW. However, it is not exactly consistent with what he had said before.

Your position is what?

Brian

"Yes, I am real. However, despite my reality, I fail to grasp your point."

Unless I happen to be reading you point incorrectly or unless I am not picking up on some joke that you are making, it seems like you are saying that comment was in reference to Afghanistan. It most clearly was not, as the country in King's question was Iraq. Don't believe me? Check the transcript.

"My point is that, in Dec 2001, Kerry said the President did not have authority to invade Iraq, at least under the legislation passed immediately after 9/11."

And this is proved...how?

"By Feb 2004, however, Kerry was arguing that his October 2002 vote, which had been widely misinterpreted as granting the President the authority to go to war with Iraq, was really just meant to display national unity."

I do not see how anything you've presented relates to national unity.

If anything, the two links you gave me above prove that Kerry has been largely consistent with his positions. He mentions international coalitions and what not.

"He further argued that the President had the authority to do whatever he wanted with Iraq under his normal constitutional powers, subject to the War Powers Act."

This seems to be some sort of thing that was only relevant in Kerry's head. Unless we get inside his head, we won't know how it is related. (If I had to guess, I'd say it was to quell an notions that he would cede soveignty.) No worries, as it doesn't seem to matter that much.

"Your position is what?"

I don't know. For some reason, you threw in a dig at Kerry's allegedly shifting positions, when the topic at hand was Tora Bora. And for some reason, you ignored all of my comments that I made in response to your post that mentioned Gneral Franks.


Rob W

Cecil:
Too bad state sponsorship isn't the problem. According to today's Washington Post, (see here at MSNBC,) the second-tier leaders of the War on Terror see the problem as "metastasization," a collection of untrained individuals starting their own groups and improvising. Turns out the Madrid attacks took only five weeks from start to finish and were apparently carried out by near-amateurs. More importantly, the 12,000 members of the resistance are apparently mostly locals, with a smattering of professional jihadists. Bush's terrible Iraq strategy essentially created this breeding ground. What's worse is that the Administrations utterly deficient planning and reliance on bombing to acheive our aims in Iraq have led to an alienation of large chunks of the Iraqi population.

Indeed, I think in the long term, we should be more afraid of the army of average Muslims who are willing to look the other way when terrorists are operating nearby. These are the people who contribute to "charities" and are willing to help. If we don't win those people over we will lose. Kerry sees this. Bush mistakes posturing for will.

Slartibartfast
Unless I happen to be reading you point incorrectly or unless I am not picking up on some joke that you are making, it seems like you are saying that comment was in reference to Afghanistan. It most clearly was not, as the country in King's question was Iraq. Don't believe me? Check the transcript.

No, it's you that should be doing the checking, Brian. They clearly were not talking about Iraq, during the cited portion of the show, unless there were some caves in Iraq that you think bin Laden was hiding in. Plus, the word "Afghanistan" ought to have been a dead giveaway.

But if you need further clues:

Number if Afghanistan references: 18
Number of Iraq references: 1

They don't mention Iraq until after the cited passages, and then only incidentally.

TM

Brian - I'll try again.

On 9/11/01, America was attacked.

On 9/14/01, Congress passed a bill authorizing Bush to "may fight any "nations, organizations, or persons," if he "determines" that they "aided" the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks – or even "harbored" anyone who did.

One might argue whether the President has a separate Constitutional authority to act, but this bill certainly gave authority to the President to invade Afghanistan.

On Dec 14, 2001, Sen. Kerry was asked on Larry King Live about expanding the war on terror beyond Afghanistan. His answer, as I cited earlier:

Absent smoking gun evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the immediate events of September 11, the president doesn't have the authorization to proceed forward there.

My guess is that Sen. Kerry is referring to the 9/14/01 legislation mentioned above which authorized war against Afghanistan, but (lacking evidence of an al Qaeda connection) not against Iraq. Your guess seems to be that he was referring to Iraq. Yes, the "Saddam Hussein" reference is a good clue there.

Rob W. then cites this as evidence of Kerry's consistency in an 8:15 AM Oct 21 post.

My response - Kerry argued on 12/14/01 that Bush lacked authority to invade Iraq.

Kerry then argued, in a debate in Feb 04, that the Oct 2002 vote authorizing war against Iraq actually did not really authorize the President to do anything special - the President already had a separate Constitutional authority to act against Iraq.

This, in my view, is different from Kerry's position on Dec 14, 01, when he argued that the President lacked authority to invade Iraq.

I continue to be unable to follow your answer.

Cecil Turner

"Too bad state sponsorship isn't the problem."

None of those lads attended training bases in some sympathetic polity? None received explosives training from experts holed up in a sanctuary provided by a state sponsor? Or funds from a government source, or a financial network that was allowed to flourish? Prove it.

"These are the people who contribute to "charities" and are willing to help."

We agree on one of the major sources of the problem. But do you really believe those "charities" can flourish without, at a minimum, governments turning a blind eye?

But all that's not the real issue. A Madrid group can cause a few hundred casualties, and is very difficult to stop. An effective bio attack can cause hundreds of thousands. Islamic terror sponsors are just now starting to develop effective WMDs. If we don't get a handle on state sponsorship soon . . .

Rob W

Cecil,

Read the article. The only Islamic terror sponsors I see developing effective WMD are Pakistan (v. India) and Iran. I can't fault the Administration for its handling of the Gordian knot that is Pakistan, but Bush has been terrible on Iran. Instead he has the greater part of U.S. combat strength tied up in Iraq. Face facts, Bush can't aim. Even if you take state sponsorship of terror as the most important issue, Iraq represents a major blunder. They had NO WMD and Iran was merrily building a nuclear infastructure while we carried out the fantasies of the Project For A New American Century.

We can't go after Iran right now because we have 140,000 U.S. troops who are struggling to deal with an insurgency which, according the the NY Times today, numbers between 8,000-12,000 people and has nearly unlimited funds provided by Saudis and run through the Syrian border. Without an expanded military force and better leadership, we won't be able to deal with Iran effectively. Furthermore, our distraction means that we must rely on allied support to do much of the job with Iran. And its not the kind of support that Poland can provide.

I think that Bush is nowhere near the war leader he is made out to be. He focuses on the wrong enemy, alienates the very people whose help we need, and then badly botches the campaign he wrongly chose. Case in point: Fallujah. We need somebody better.

Slartibartfast
We need somebody better.

Maybe in 2008, you can actually put someone better up for the office. That'd be refreshing.

Rob W

Somebody better? Kerry is somebody better. He is not who you think he is. His record has been systematically distorted more than any politician I have ever seen. Its the Karl Rove special. Bush has basically engaged in character assassination for months now, seeking to use procedural votes and statments made in campaigns 30 years ago as fodder for ridiculous statements that Kerry will turn over the defense of the United States to other countries, or worse Cheney saying that Kerry would not retaliate if a nuclear bomb went off in a U.S. city. This doesn't even include the Swift Boat lies. What I don't understand is how rational conservatives can just buy that stuff. Its not right and demeans the political discourse.

Cecil Turner

"Even if you take state sponsorship of terror as the most important issue, Iraq represents a major blunder. They had NO WMD and Iran was merrily building a nuclear infastructure . . ."

Nope. In the first place, the WMD's we're worrying about here are primarily small amounts of bio agents--nukes are considerably less practicable for terror attacks--and Iraq was well ahead of Iran on that score. In the second, an invasion of Iran is not militarily feasible without taking Iraq first.

"Without an expanded military force and better leadership, we won't be able to deal with Iran effectively."

Nice talking point, but unlettered. We have forces on both of Iran's borders, and have been working on regional defense agreements (Caspian Guard)--we are in a much better position to deal with Iran now than we have ever been before. And anyone who says differently is either operationally illiterate or disingenuous.

martin

Ah yes, now that we rule Assyria, we are going to take out the Persian empire. This is getting freaky.

Cecil-if your claim on the bios is true-why was Cheney discussing the nuking of an American city only 2-3 days ago?

Rob W

Forces on both of Iran's borders? We have a single DE (Division Equivalent) in Afghanistan. We have 140,000 troops in Iraq, but they're, um, busy. Not only that but if we had to do something about Iran with those forces we'd be screwed because we'd double our problem in Iraq--not enough troops to keep and win the peace.

Small amounts of Bio agents? Ha! Remember "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud?" Condi Rice on Meet The Press. That's national TV folks. I love how as the WMD threat slowly was proven to be nothing, the rationale for the war magically shrank with it.

Nuclear proliferation is the number one threat. Bush and Kerry both agreed on that in the debate. Bio weapons are nothing compared with the big one. Some people will be immune from bio weaponry. A nuclear bomb makes areas sterile for decades.

And plenty of bomb material is floating loose around the former Soviet Union. We gotta get that stuff and so far Bush has been galivanting between the Tigris and Euphrates for 20 months. He's a terrible war leader--Got no aim.

Rob W

Let's look at CASPIAN GUARD. Azerbajan has 72,000 military personnel total. They aren't going to be helping us. With only 220 total tanks, I'm not going to betting the farm on this
club.
They have 54 aircraft total.

Our other potential ally is Kazakhstan. They come in at a whopping 64,000 total military personnel. See here for
details.

Bush's lame attempts to put small up small nations with weak armies as some sort of compensation for real fighting coalitions is disengenous. Caspian Guard will do nothing to increase our ability to confront Iran if need be. The error in Iraq has weakend us.

martin

You forgot Poland, Rob W.

Rob W

I didn't forget. They're pulling out.

Cecil Turner

"We have 140,000 troops in Iraq, but they're, um, busy."

Are you seriously suggesting we can't mass enough force in Iraq to invade Iran? Or that we could have invaded Iran without first securing a staging area in Iraq? Both are laughable.

"Remember "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud?""

Riiight. Remember: "It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known."?

"Bio weapons are nothing compared with the big one."

Sorry, but there's no nice way to phrase this one. You don't know what you're talking about.

"Caspian Guard will do nothing to increase our ability to confront Iran if need be. "

Again, this is clueless. We don't need more combat aircraft--we need bases and supportive governments. Either this isn't your area of expertise, or you're being disingenuous.

TM

If we are going to argue about Cheney's threat assessment, let's get the quote right:

"The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us - biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans."

Not just nukes.

Gee, Mr. Turner is right again - why did I bet on the Yankees and not on him?

TM

As to Kerry's record, I don't need Karl Rove's rhetoric to make me uncomfortable about a guy who became a card-carrying member of the Blame America First movement in 1970, advocated a nuclear freeze in the 80's (he later admitted that some of his positions were, in his word, "stupid"), and opposed Desert Storm despite a UN sanction and Franco/German support in 1991.

It is clear what Kerry's default settings are. And regardless of his own squishiniess, he has never, in twenty years in the Senate, defied liberal orthodoxy or led his party.

When the Kennedy wing decides it is time to cut and run from Iraq, Kerry will blame it on Bush and come home, America.

Do I know that? How could I? But there is nothing in his record to reassure me on this point.

martin

Right-Cheney says terrorists may show up with bios or nukes or chems and that squares perfectly with Turner's statement that we are now primarily concerned with bios-nukes are "impractical".

Fine. The party line is now that biological agents are the "primary" threat. Cool. I'm glad the nuclear threat is passe (it's just so pre-invasion). I just hope the terrorists don't show up with a nasty flu virus like the one that killed millions in 1918.

So then-what is the Bush-Cheney plan for battling flu terrorism anyway?

Cecil Turner

"we are now primarily concerned with bios-nukes are 'impractical'."

Actually, I think the words I used were: "considerably less practicable." The bio threat is primary because:

  • Terror sponsors are still in the process of developing nukes; and
  • Bio agents are much easier to smuggle and use.

    This is hardly something made up after the Iraq invasion. At the UN, Colin Powell held up a vial--not a suitcase nuke. And the worst case, smallpox, is far more deadly than flu. Bill Frist (in an August, 2002 NYT editorial) said:

    Our vulnerabilities to smallpox, one of the deadliest diseases, today are higher than ever, and terrorists know this. Most adults are no longer protected by the vaccination they received as a child, and the mobility of our society would facilitate rapid spread of the highly contagious virus. Advances in technology have made it easier than ever to deliver smallpox as a weapon of mass destruction.
    In April, 2002, the Telegraph was a bit more sensational:
    TONY BLAIR rushed through an order for 16 million doses of the smallpox vaccine after Dick Cheney, the American Vice-President, warned him that a military attack on Iraq would be met by a biological terror onslaught on Britain. . . .

    Last year another computer model suggested that the introduction of smallpox in three American states during the winter would result in three million cases and one million deaths by the following February.

    According to American intelligence, Iraq is believed to have developed stocks of the smallpox virus, which is highly contagious and cannot be cured once contracted, during the early Eighties.

  • Whoever

    Yes, I think it's a good idea to quote Bill Frist. Bill Frist, a surgeon whose family owns a huge hospital chain with ties to Eli Lilly, among other major drug manufacturers. Bill Frist, who had a provision included in the Homeland Security bill making it illegal for parents to sue Eli Lilly for mercury contamination of childhood vaccinations. Only Eli Lilly. In the Homeland Security bill. Think of this next time you hear Repubs bloviating on tort reform. Or on pork barrel gluttony in the Senate. Or on the farce they've made of Homeland "Security".

    Anyone who thinks these people have the welfare of the American people in mind is...what is that word?...oh yeah, disingenuous. We are asking people to protect us from bioterrorism who couldn't give a shit about making sure we have sufficient flu vaccine. In fact, were it not for the integrity of the British manufacturer, people who would have allowed contaminated flu vaccine to be delivered. The incompetence of this administration, the willingness to lie, to concoct explanations after the fact and to abuse the fear and trust of the American people is a scandal we have only seen the tip of. Once the election is past, energy can be redirected into the kind of investigative journalism we are lacking right now. There is a mountain of garbage to be sifted through, starting with the CIA report incriminating members of the administration with tampering with pre war intelligence. I'm thinking this post election period will make Watergate look like a picnic.

    Cecil Turner

    "Bill Frist, a surgeon whose family owns a huge hospital chain with ties to Eli Lilly . . ."

    Yeah, what could a surgeon with "ties" to drug manufacturers possibly know about biological issues? Sorry, Whoever, but I'm not interested in another invective-fest. If you have a cogent point to make, try stripping out the ad-hominems and go for it. As much as I like helping to get your message out there (IMHO, the loonie lefty fringe is Karl Rove's best ally)--I'm not spending any more time responding to drivel like:

    "The incompetence of this administration, the willingness to lie, to concoct explanations after the fact and to abuse the fear and trust of the American people is a scandal we have only seen the tip of."

    Whoever

    Cecil, darling, you're hardly a stranger to ad hominem attacks yourself.

    Are you honestly implying that Frist's being a surgeon who owns hospital chains means he is a paragon of political virtue. The man had legislation inserted into a HOMELAND SECURITY bill, where it had no place whatsoever, to protect his political contributors, even though they had contributed to the illness of children. This is not an ad hominem attack. This is an accusation of impropriety against an elected official. I am an American citizen and, unless we've already fallen under the spell of a new form of fascism, this is what informed citizens DO in this country.

    The point is this elected official who arguably could be in a position to protect us from bioterrorism, is NOT so inclined. He works for his constituents - i.e. the special interests that line his pockets. It' s not unusual in Washington. Does it shock you?

    And yes, you will see the political energies of this campaign redirected after the election. If Bush manages to win this, you can be very sure the opposition will be coming after him very hard. There's energy out here you can't fathom, and it isn't going to be dissipated because the Repubs managed to fear monger the ignorant masses into voting against their own interests yet again. It will be some cold comfort to watch his ownership society take shape - where Republicans are forced finally to take responsibility and OWN the recession they single handedly created as well as the coming degeneration of Iraq into a fundamentalist state and the ignominious retreat of the humbled US military. As a patriot, I work for Kerry's election, since I understand that we need an intellectual approach (or "reality based" as we like to call it) to the complex problems that face us in the future. But on the gutteral level preferred by the Repubs, it will be some good fun to finally watch Bush run around that mouse trap with no one to blame but himself and all the world pointing and laughing (though with tears in our eyes at what devastation he's bringing on our country).

    Cecil Turner

    "If Bush manages to win this, you can be very sure the opposition will be coming after him very hard. There's energy out here you can't fathom, and it isn't going to be dissipated because the Repubs managed to fear monger the ignorant masses into voting against their own interests yet again."

    Let's see if I have this one straight. The electorate's choice isn't legitimate, and because of "their laziness, selfishness, bigotry and ignorance," you need to choose for them? That's persuasive.

    What exactly do you plan to do with all that "energy" if your candidate is defeated?

    Whoever

    Cecil, you know whoever wins, it will be by the slimmest of majorities. There will be no mandate. And there will be no protection against any crimes committed by any elected officials. Does your vision of America include the image of a completely docile bunch of sheep who allow the President to behave as a dictator and fear to hold him to account?

    As for "choosing for the people", correct me if I'm wrong , but isn't that what the Republican witch hunters when the people chose to reelect Clinton - by a far larger majority than either Bush or Kerry can expect to get? Your selective patriotism reminds me of the selective morality of the religious right.

    Like I said, if Bush gets reelected I will enjoy the show of watching this little coward being forced for the first time in his entitled life to take responsibility for his incredible messes. But as a patriot, it will sicken me. The sad irony is that a Bush election will be the worst possible fate for our country, but probably the best possible outcome for the Democratic party. After two years of recession and foreign policy debacles, the midcycle elections will be quite a specatacle. There will be no way to convince even the fat, lazy armchair addicted public that Repubs are capable of protecting either the nation or the economy. It's just a shame that the sores will be allowed to fester that much longer.

    The backlash should start fairly quickly. Around the time winter heating oil bills start piling up.

    Cecil Turner

    Oh yes, first-termer Clinton with 43 percent of the vote had so much more of a mandate than Bush's measly 48 percent. I rather doubt either candidate can get elected without matching his 49 percent second-term effort. And of course the evil Republicans forced him to lie in grand jury testimony.

    All of which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that your candidate has no national defense strategy, nor any apparent clue on how to formulate one.

    Whoever

    Well, clearly Cecil I disagree that Kerry has no national defense strategy. I beleive instead that Bush is the one with no strategy.

    His policy with respect to nuclear proliferation? I believe it used to be called "benign neglect". More nations that despise us now possess nuclear weapons than they did at the start of his tenure. Less of the nuclear material in Russia is being reclaimed than at the start of his tenure. The means by which he will protect us from this threat? I don't know, but clearly his failure to follow the terms of the 2002 Bioterrorism Act isn't helping, as he has refused completely to stockpile the potassium iodide as recommended. I suppose the plan there, that failsafe plan that passes for national security for Repubs, is the same old - ATTACK EM! It has worked out so well in Iraq that, according to the BBC (since we have no objective news sources in this country at the moment), coalition forces are currently experiencing NINETY attacks a day. We are bogged down in a guerrila war. We have enabled wild inflation in oil prices, enriching our enemies, especially Iran, increasing their options and their power.

    Now I know you believe with all your heart that our future lies in two things - attacking state sponsors of terrorism and implanting democracy into societies that loathe us and have no democratic traditions whatsoever. I assume you think Bush has a defense strategy for this reason. However, I contend the following: You can never attack all the states that in some way sponsor terrorism and Bush in fact has not even threatened the VAST majority of these states. Instead all he did was decimate a country that arguably had one of the weakest links to terrorism. In addtion, terrorism has proven time and again that it does not require a state to sponsor it. I can assure you there are many terrorist cells operating in Brooklyn, NY. Does this make Brooklyn a state sponsor of terrorism? (Please, let my family escape before you nuke them.)

    As for the national defense strategy of "viral democracy", I think that one belongs in the fairy tale books, not West Point textbooks. Bush's national defense strategy in fact is probably the textbook opposite, as he has done something remarkable: Divided our allies and United our enemies. It's brilliant!

    Kerry's national defense strategy is the natural descendant of the one that has protected us for over half a century - diplomacy and rational use of force as a last resort. 9/11 did not change the world as much as you think. It only provided the most virulent war hawks a cynical excuse for their paranoid and violent fantasies. If anyone had told me on that awful day that this was God's greatest gift to George Bush, I'd have never believed it. The tragic fact is that this turned out to be exactly the truth.

    Cecil Turner

    Hey, those are actually cogent arguments.

    On nuclear proliferation: the two real problem areas are Iran and DPRK. The only way to address Iran is with a credible threat--which our forces in Iraq provide. The DPRK program is a direct result of Clinton/Carter, their toothless "agreed framework," and predates the Bush administration. Cajoling China into leaning on them is the best policy . . . which unfortunately will go nowhere as long as there's hope for bilateral talks under Kerry.

    Clinton's feckless policy was also responsible for much of the recent nuclear proliferation boom. In particular, India/Pakistan and the whole AQ Khan network flourished on his watch. The Administration (through some good work at CIA) uncovered the most dangerous proliferation threat to date (Pakistan-DPRK-Iran-Libya) and shut it down . . . incidentally dragging Libya and Sudan into cooperation with the WoT at the same time. And that's also directly related to Iraq, because, as Khaddafi said to Berlusconi: "I saw what the Americans did in Iraq, and I was afraid."

    Buying up nuclear material in Russia is a worthwhile program . . . but the feared post-USSR chaos never really materialized, and it's not a big threat. The program is also ongoing, and most of the demagoguery about funding levels is precisely that.

    "If anyone had told me on that awful day that this was God's greatest gift to George Bush, I'd have never believed it."

    It might just be me, but the fixation many on the left have with how this (or other issues) might or might not help George Bush strikes me as irrational. My takeaway from 9/11 is that I'd really rather not see it (or worse) repeated. And my main problem with Kerry is, I don't think he takes it seriously--it isn't personal. If the left could manage a similar dispassion for Bush, they'd be a lot more convincing.

    Whoever

    I don't know how on earth you could come to the conclusion that Kerry doesn't take 9/11 seriously, or that it isn't personal. First you'd have to be inside his mind to know that. Second, I am dispassionate enough to believe that every single American alive today takes 9/11 personally - including those I believe have exploited it for personal gain. How could you not? Watching those people jump, seeing those towers pancake to the ground against that blue sky. I think it is a delusion of the right to believe that we to their left do not understand or value national security.

    Kerry wrote a book in the late 90s that proves more than any after the fact rationalization that he absolutely understands the terrorist threat. One of his strongest credentials is that he has researched and investigated the machinery of global criminal networks and understands more completely than most how they operate. This is one of my clearest motivations for voting for him, because I think he DOES understand the mechanics of terrorist operations and is in a postion to defeat them. The problem with the right wing is that their love of military action clouds their judgment. There is an almost automatic response that the military response is the best solution, regardless. For example, no study of terrorism concludes without recommending that headway must be made against the poverty and ignorance in Arab countries. While that persists, terrorism will breed. So it should be a component of any anti-terrorism program, as even Bush, in his less histrionic moments, has admitted. Yet if Kerry should state this obvious fact, the girly-man brigade will be out with the Bronx cheers in seconds flat.

    You need willingness to commit to military action. But you need PRUDENCE as well, planning, wise use of resources. And you need to cut off their unding. And you need to infiltrate their communication networks. And you need to address the root causes within the society. This operation would not be most effective if it were carried out respectfully in concert with other civilized peoples of the earth, who all stand to benefit from a peaceful, safe world order. Kerry is in a far better position than Bush, by his training, temperament and reputation to get this job done.

    Believe it or not I'm voting for Kerry, not because I'm a "loony lefty", but because I pragmatically believe he is the man for the job. If you believe, as so many Bushies seem to, that the mere wilingness to commit the militarily - even recklessly and incompetently, as Bush has done - is the essence of leadership and is a guarantee of national security, then clearly you can't vote for Kerry. But I believe with all my heart that a Bush victory will be the beginning of the end of our dominance in the world, and will bring a permanent end to our reputation as a force for good in the world. I think it will lead to further recklessness in the region, a rise in terrorist threat here at home, an increase in our financial indebtedness to China and a rapid decline in our influence and power. So I AM voting for Kerry's national security policy, 100%, without qualm. I believe in the power of reason rather than of violence. Very simple. I am as patriotic as you, as intelligent as you, as concerned about my family's safety as you.

    What is most interesting is that you will find my point of view to be more dominant the more you speak to the inhabitants of areas that really have something to fear from terrorism - NYC, LA, DC and cities in general. It is in the rural places, where they are far safer, that you will see the fever to support Bush for national security reasons. One of the many ironies of this bizarre election.

    Rob W

    Whoever has it right on, Cecil. The only "evidence" that exists that indicates that John Kerry does not take 9/11 seriously is coming off the printer at Bush/Cheney '04 headquarters across the river in Arlington.

    I live in Washington, D.C. I was here on September 11. Nothing like waking up to see a big plume of smoke coming up in the sky. We had troops at all the major intersections for weeks. The Sunday after 9/11 I thought we were all toast--as we sat in our backyard we heard really loud and really low jet engines. As someone ran in to turn on the TV to see if this was our time to go, we saw it was Marine One, escorted by 4 F-15 's. I know what it was like to be in fear for my life from terrorists.

    But like almost all of my fellow D.C. citizens, I will be voting for Kerry. If Bush was so reassuring on terror, why is that we are all voting for Kerry? Because Bush is terrible on terrorism. As far as I can tell, the only terrorist attack on the U.S. that was stopped during his term was stopped by a stewardess on a London to Miami flight.

    Furthermore Bush has created terrorists, not reduced their numbers. He has created new recruits for them throught the Muslim world by his utterly mindless invasion of Iraq and its follow through. Now not only are they mad at us, but they conclude we are weak because of the way we have handled Fallujah and al Sadr. These craven retreats from bold posturing by the President have emboldened our enemies.

    Just because Bush can posture effectively does not mean his national security policy team is getting the job done. Indeed, except for all of his statements, all the evidence says otherwise.

    A vote for Kerry is a vote for a sucessful War on Terror. A vote for Bush is a vote for a continued parade of incompetence which will only further undermine our efforts to separate terrorist fanatics from their funders and enablers in the Arab world.

    Cecil Turner

    "Kerry doesn't take 9/11 seriously, or that it isn't personal."

    Sorry, poorly phrased. I meant my problem with Kerry wasn't personal . . . unlike the visceral dislike of the President evinced by many lefties. It appears to cloud your judgment.

    "The problem with the right wing is that their love of military action clouds their judgment."

    The problem with the left is that they are enamored with ineffective military action: lobbing a couple of missiles or inconclusive bombing raids. "Doing an enemy a little harm" has been recognized as bad policy for centuries.

    The problem with being unwilling to use effective force in a circumstance where it's clearly warranted, is that it emboldens expansionist regimes. Most people with any sense of history look at Saddam's 12 years flouting UNSC resolutions and see a close parallel to events leading up to WWII. The breakdown of collective security mechanisms leads inexorably to war . . . the only choice is a little one now, or a big one later.

    "I believe in the power of reason rather than of violence."

    Fine. Come up with a reasonable solution to the current terror problem. Preferably one that doesn't leave the world's most active terror sponsor(s) with up-to-date WMD arsenals. At a minimum, that means revamping the UN Security Council and establishing a credible means of enforcing its will. Until someone on the anti-war side makes some proposals that don't boil down to returning to a 9/10 approach, I'm likely to conclude they just don't take it seriously.

    "It is in the rural places, where they are far safer, that you will see the fever to support Bush for national security reasons."

    The rural places are also home to the majority who view national defense as most important, judging from Service demographics.

    Cecil Turner

    "The only "evidence" that exists that indicates that John Kerry does not take 9/11 seriously is coming off the printer at Bush/Cheney '04 headquarters . . ."

    Hmm, well I consider being on both sides of every defense issue to be unserious. Other than voting for a war resolution he now claims he didn't mean, his proposals add up to a vacuum. (And no, I didn't get that off the printer at B/C '04.)

    "But like almost all of my fellow D.C. citizens . . ."

    Is this the latest "chickenhawk" argument? Now only residents of big cities can cast a legitimate vote? Sorry, it's unconvincing.

    9/11 affected everyone, temporarily shut down the travel industry, and came close to turning a mild recession into a depression. Another attack will lead to expanded war, and that will be fought disproportionately by "red" states. I also notice the left's emphasis on the views of military personnel has dropped off dramatically lately . . . and can't help concluding it has something to do with their nearly 70 percent support for the President.

    Rob W

    Cecil:

    I think Kerry has been very consistent. I think the best place to look is on the record when they are speaking about the resolution as they are about to vote on it and I think here you really understand what the Senator was getting at.

    When Writing in the New York Times in early September, I argued that the American people would never accept the legitimacy of this war or give their consent to it unless the administration first presented detailed evidence of the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and proved that it had exhausted all other options to protect our national security. I laid out a series of steps that the administration must take for the legitimacy of our cause and our ultimate success in Iraq --seek the advice and approval of Congress after laying out the evidence and making the case, and work with our allies to seek full enforcement of the existing cease-fire agreement while simultaneously offering Iraq a clear ultimatum: accept rigorous inspections without negotiation or compromise and without condition.

    This has been the consistent position of Mr. Kerry the entire time. When asked if he would have voted the same way today, he says yes. If the Administration had followed his lead, we wouldn't be here today.

    As to the "chickenhawk" arugment, no it is not a chicken hawk argument. What I'm saying is that the people who are most convinced that they will be attacked appear to be those in the least danger of being attacked. This goes along with the recent Boston Globe poll indicating that large majorities of Bush supporters still believe in assertions the President made but have since been disproven. This shows that they are less informed on these issues and that their fear is basically visceral and not based on any real appreciation of the facts.

    I look up thread now and see some comments about my conclusion about the forces being too busy in Iraq to invade Iran. Despite your potshot at me--I stand by this assertion. Where are the forces to invade Iran going to be found? We are tied down in ROK, Iraq and Afghanistan. The rest of the troops are either coming/getting ready to go to Iraq. We have taken huge readiness hits in these last two years. Where are we going to get 200,000 more troops? Poland?

    Several times in this debate you make conclusory statments such as:

    Either this isn't your area of expertise, or you're being disingenuous.

    Yet I see no actual evidence provided by you to show that we have the capability to invade Iran, pacify it as we have in Iraq, and maintain our pacification efforts in Iraq. Precisely, please explain to me which elements of our land forces, (just go with divisions, no need to get fancy), are going to be available for such an invasion. Furthermore, our support units are stretched to the max and our MP strength is downright anorexic. I will grant you that air power will not be a problem. But mere conclusory statments that we do have the forces available to invade Iran do not advance your arguments. I guess I am also in the "reality based" side of the equation.

    Rob W

    One more thing: Why is it always assumed in these Conservative message boards that us Kerry supporters come from the "left?" I suspect that the vast numbers of Kerry supporters are moderates like myself. The amazing reliance on straw man arguments and labelling as argument on your side of the ball simply amazes me.

    Whoever

    The problem with the left is that they are enamored with ineffective military action: lobbing a couple of missiles or inconclusive bombing raids. "Doing an enemy a little harm" has been recognized as bad policy for centuries.

    The problem with being unwilling to use effective force in a circumstance where it's clearly warranted, is that it emboldens expansionist regimes. Most people with any sense of history look at Saddam's 12 years flouting UNSC resolutions and see a close parallel to events leading up to WWII. The breakdown of collective security mechanisms leads inexorably to war . . . the only choice is a little one now, or a big one later.


    Ok, Cecil, let me play one of your games and parse your statement out.

    The problem with the left is that they are enamored with ineffective military action: lobbing a couple of missiles or inconclusive bombing raids.
    So are you suggesting here that the US action in Iraq has been effective? In what way? In deposing an impotent unarmed nation? Well, yes, but surely that result could never have been in question. How do you explain (and please try) the: unsecured border, disbanded military, looting, failure to provide continuity of government and services, failure to secure armaments and materiel, failure to anticipate the insurgency, failure to defend major cities from being taken over by the insurgency, inability to secure the city of Baghdad, and on and on. How do you categorize this action in any way, shape or form as effective ? Clearly we can blow any sitting dictator out of his office. It's the messy part of dealing with the masses of humanity that we can't seem to manage under this incompetent president.

    Most people with any sense of history look at Saddam's 12 years flouting UNSC resolutions and see a close parallel to events leading up to WWII. Most people? Are those like the "some people say" on Fox News, those anonymous experts we should all be trusting our lives to? Again please EXPLAIN how there was a close parallelt ot WWII. Saddam was building a gigantic military enterprise, a la Hitler, not (as facts show) pretending for the sake of his Iranian enemy that he was not what he was - utterly defanged and impotent? Where was the equivalent of the Anschluss, the Czech invasion, the invasion of France? Please explain. I am quite lost. We had a dwindling little dictator in our sights, under almost complete control, almost completely disarmed. Did he cherish fantasies of building a new Persian empire? Sure. Did he have any chance of doing that, with the world watching him like a hawk, with a thousand methods of controlling and observing him? NO! This was NOT a prelude to WWIII. One of the great crimes of the Bush administration is pretending it was.

    The breakdown of collective security mechanisms leads inexorably to war . . . the only choice is a little one now, or a big one later. So PLEASE explain how we have not let collective security mechanisms break down in N. Korea and in Iran. Please explain this. I know you are gung ho for some more bigtime fighting in Iran. I think you are deluded if you think this nation of fat, lazy tv addicts is going to donate their sons to this cause. And please don't compare Iran and Iraq. Iran has a strong, well funded, nationalist army. They will fight, as the Iraqis did not. The US action has resulted in a FLOOD of capital to this oil rich nation, and they have never been wealthier, or better equipped to mount a defense. What will happen to Iraq when we send our troops into Iran? Will it be allowed to drift at will, or will our gunpoint democracy have flowered instantaneously into a force of secular civilization?

    You have to stop pretending this is a chess game. Or a fairy tale. I'm not sure if you even understand what reality based really means. It doesn't mean pushing pins around a map. It means accepting the realities you don't like as well as the fantasies you cherish.

    Rob is right. This isn't a chickenhawk argument. The FACT is that in the big cities, we have spent more long nights pondering the threat of terrorism than you country folk will ever know. We are NOT idiots. Please stop basing your logic on that assumption. I absolutely want my family to be safe. My conclusion that Bush is a danger to our security and that Kerry is our best option at this point is entirely reality based and entirely selfish based.

    Cecil Turner

    "If the Administration had followed his lead, we wouldn't be here today."

    There's no clause in the Constitution for "giving the President the authority," or conditional declarations of war. The Senator can claim he abrogated his responsibility, or that he made a mistake. He can't vote for a resolution for the use of force, and then convincingly complain when force is used.

    "We are tied down in ROK, Iraq and Afghanistan."

    Last I checked, we had ~38,000 in ROK, ~140,000 in Iraq, and ~12,000 in Afghanistan. Our active duty force is 1.4 million. Pretending we can't field an invasion force out of the rest, even if you make the erroneous assumption that none of the forces in Iraq could be used, is nonsense.

    "Precisely, please explain to me which elements of our land forces . . ."

    How about same as last time: 3ID, 4ID, 101st, 1st MARDIV? Perhaps reinforced by elements from 1ID, 1st Cav and 10th MTN?

    "Again please EXPLAIN how there was a close parallelt ot WWII."

    You are ignoring the WWII nations of Spain, Italy, and Japan. And modern-day Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea. Italy's invasion of Abyssinia (and the feckless international response) convinced Hitler there was no down side to expansionism. Iraq's flouting UNSCRs could do the same for the Iranian leadership. The Spanish Civil War would be nothing compared to one in Pakistan. Right up to the invasion of Poland, France had a larger army than Germany, with more tanks--they could safely wait . . . I'm not claiming the parallel is perfect, but this could easily have turned into a large regional conflict, and then reignited Korea (and it still can).

    "The FACT is that in the big cities, we have spent more long nights pondering the threat of terrorism than you country folk will ever know."

    Puh-lease. You guys try to learn about war after you get drafted. And then give [bad] advice to the professionals. There are ways to deter aggression . . . but they start with a credible threat. You guys are so busy making our threat non-credible, you undermine any chance of a peaceful resolution.

    Whoever

    Cecil, your WWII parallel isn't just "not perfect"...It's not there. Germany had rebuilt a military machine, was united under an ascendant leader. Iraq was basically unarmed and their leader was losing power. We had him under control There were any number of ways to keep him under control. He posed NO threat whatsoever to anyone, imminent or otherwise. He was only putting on a front to keep Iran guessing. Your argument presumes conditions that were years away from being present, yet you use them to defend action that was undertaken as if in an emergency. The net result has been the very destabilization of the region you claim we prevented.

    What happened in Iraq was a grave error of judgment that has harmed our national security and limited our military options. You list the divisions available for an invasion of Iran. You don't explain how you believe this invasion, which would be far more problematic than the Iraqi invasion, will somehow escape having even worse repercussions. You don't explain how an Iranian invasion would impact our current occupation in Iraq, or what actions it would instigate on the part of the neighboring countries. You don't explain how the world economy, already reeling from the oil production problems and price hikes, would survive the conflagration. You list a few divisions and act as if that is a plan... Come clean now. Are you reallly Donald Rumsfeld using an alias?

    Cecil Turner

    "Iraq was basically unarmed and their leader was losing power. We had him under control"

    We'd convinced Saddam to halt WMD production. (Except perhaps for bio, which we're really not sure about.) He expected to restart them in a matter of weeks after sanctions were lifted.

    "What happened in Iraq was a grave error of judgment that has harmed our national security and limited our military options. "

    A few weeks ago, we were hearing the same song about Afghanistan . . . until elections demonstrated the weakness of the insurgency. There is no reason to believe the insurgency in Iraq will be any different.

    "You don't explain how an Iranian invasion would impact our current occupation in Iraq, or what actions it would instigate on the part of the neighboring countries."

    Obviously invading Iran is not the preferred solution. But it is preferable to allowing the current regime--the world's most active terror sponsor--develop a nuclear arsenal. A credible threat might well deter them--but it has to be credible. Talks with France and Germany will not.

    Cecil Turner

    BTW, in the WWII analogy, Iran (not Iraq) is the parallel to Germany. Iraq corresponds to Italy. The Gulf War and subsequent sanctions on Iraq analogous to Italy's invasion of Abyssinia and the failure of the League of Nations to take effective action (including a very similar French refusal to enforce oil sanctions). The result in WWII was to make allies out of Hitler and Mussolini, and a loose agreement with the Japanese aimed mostly at keeping the Brits (especially the Royal Navy) off balance. In the modern version, post sanctions, Iran and Iraq become allies, and the DPRK keeps the US off balance. Again, the comparison has holes (the biggest being the military disparity between the US and everyone else--another being WMD wildcards). But especially in light of Pakistan's instability and the recently uncovered Iran-Pakistan-DPRK missile/nuke cooperation (and coordination between Iraq and DPRK) the dangers of an escalating situation ought to be obvious.

    TM

    On the notion that Kerry has been consistent on Iraq, the Times was quite amusing:

    In May 2003, two months after the United States invaded Iraq and routed Mr. Hussein's army, Mr. Kerry was the presumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont, from the antiwar wing of the party, was not yet regarded as a serious threat.

    In a nine-candidate debate in Columbia, S.C., on May 3, Mr. Kerry declared: "I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein. And when the president made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him."

    By October 2003, Dr. Dean had begun to emerge as a strong candidate and it had become clear that no unconventional weapons would be found in Iraq. On Oct. 12, Mr. Kerry asserted on the ABC News program "This Week": "The president and his advisers did not do almost anything correctly in the walk-up to the war. They rushed to war. They were intent on going to war. They did not give legitimacy to the inspections. We could have still been doing inspections even today."

    Comic emphasis added.

    The San Fran Chronicle had one of my favorite Kerryisms last March:

    Kerry also downplayed the importance of his Iraq vote when he told The Chronicle, "Moreover, we didn't give (Bush) any authority he didn't have. (President) Clinton went to Kosovo without Congress. Clinton went to Haiti without Congress."

    And: "What we thought we were doing was getting him (Bush) to a place where it would be harder to go to war."

    See, if he had voted against the authorization, Bush might have attacked right away...

    martin

    Laugh now monkey boy.

    Rob W

    Cecil: You ignore readiness in your analysis of available units. Units that have been involved in the Iraqi theater are not available right away for combat in another. Furthermore, how are we to occupy another Middle Eastern country when we have our hands full with the one we are currently occupying. How about the scarce MP, MI (esp. Farsi speakers) and Civil Affairs units needed, not to mention the sheer need for manpower?

    Cecil Turner

    "You ignore readiness in your analysis of available units."

    Not having access to current SORTS data, it's necessarily a guess.

    "Units that have been involved in the Iraqi theater are not available right away for combat in another."

    In the first place, Iraq and Iran are in the same "theater" (in fact, we're talking about moving units to the Iran/Iraq border). In the second, the most recent rotation of the major combat units appears to be 4ID's return in April, 2004. Units of 3rd ID are already scheduled to rotate back to Iraq in November, so . . .

    But hey, this was your "test":

    "Precisely, please explain to me which elements of our land forces, (just go with divisions, no need to get fancy), are going to be available for such an invasion."
    So, Professor, did the exercise have a point? If not, I'll repeat my earlier one: invading Iran requires staging forces in Iraq. The argument that OIF makes engaging Iran more difficult is exactly incorrect.

    "How about the scarce MP, MI (esp. Farsi speakers) . . ."?

    Yes, we're short on Farsi speakers. That shortage is hardly new, and it isn't due to Iraq.

    Rob W

    Cecil. I'm not a professor. No need to resort to name calling. I just like discourse. My point is that U.S. forces in Iraq have internal security responsibilities that cannot be taken over by the Iraqis right now. Any units diverted mean less security in Iraq, and Iraq needs as much security as it can get right now.

    The next problem is that, beyond the defeat of Iran's Army, a second, larger problem looms--internal security in Iran. Like Iraq, we can bring in enough forces to defeat the forces of the enemy, but not enough to keep internal security going. Iraq's population is around 24,000,000. Iran's is 66,000,000. If 140,000 U.S. troops cannot keep security in Iraq, how are we going to do so in Iran? Using population as a general measure and assuming that Iraq security is working with current levels (its not), we would need 275% of our total forces in Iraq to pacify Iran. That's 378,000 troops. Please explain where these troops are coming from? You can't without assuming that Iran is going to be a cakewalk. But this is war, and you must plan worst-case in order to properly estimate risk. We just don't have the troops to control both countries, police their borders (we aren't even doing that in Iraq,) and carry out our other enagements.

    Cecil Turner

    "The next problem is that, beyond the defeat of Iran's Army, a second, larger problem looms--internal security in Iran."

    Those goalposts are moving fairly rapidly. I'd suggest the requirement to pressure the Iranian regime is a credible threat of regime change . . . and the near-certain prospect of a defeat of Iran's army is probably sufficient. Carrying through would admittedly be messy, and too few occupation troops would probably result in unnecesary casualties--mostly Iranian.

    But anyone who uses terms like "division equivalents" and "readiness hits" has some familiarity with military planning. It should be obvious to any competent strategist that Iraq is a prerequisite to Iran. Therefore, statements like this mystify me:

    "Bush has been terrible on Iran. Instead he has the greater part of U.S. combat strength tied up in Iraq. Face facts, Bush can't aim."
    Which is pure BS, since OIF enabled real pressure on Iran.

    Many of the other points are red herrings. Not having enough MPs or MIs or CA units will cause a mess (and more casualties) and is a tragedy--it does not preclude military action. Combat support and combat service support is similarly not a show-stopper. . . especially considering the assets in place in Iraq and the relatively short distance to the border.

    What I suspect is that you based a partisan remark on something you know to be BS, and didn't expect to get called on it. That annoys me, and I'm calling you on it. Maybe my opinion of your expertise is exaggerated, or you haven't considered the problem fully. But I don't see how one can honestly argue that OIF made pressuring Iran more difficult. And I'm not going to discuss finer points with that issue unresolved.

    Whoever

    Carrying through would admittedly be messy, and too few occupation troops would probably result in unnecesary casualties--mostly Iranian.

    This is what Eintein meant when he defined insanity as "repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results".

    Good plan, Cecil. Iraq has been such a smashing success, let's just dump that hunka junka chaos and move on to Iran. Bigger country, better army, more stable government, better financed, more nationalistic and motivated...don't worry, guys, only innocent Iranian civilians will die unnecessarily due to our incompetence and inability to accomplish the mission. And the extra thousand of our kids that bite the big one ... don't worry, the dumbass Americans don't bother to question any of this shit anyway. And let's face it, they aren't OUR kids, so who really gives a crap about them?

    If Bush gets reelected, you can just about count on that being the philosophy that carries the day. God help us all.

    Rob W

    We can't rely on assumptions that the goalposts are moving rapidly. Who is to carry out this regime change? Is there any credible group to take control. I admit total ignorance on the issue of Iranian resistance movements. But I have heard of none save some previously-classified as terrorist group which we support.

    But the idea of easy regime change is what is called "magical thinking" Why would there be easy regieme change? Iran, human rights violator that it is, was no Saddam's Iraq. The people do have the right to vote (rigged as its been in the last two years). They are far from ready to revolt.

    Even more important is this: My numbers as to control of the country assume that the current troop levels in Iraq are sufficient. I think the jury came in on that issue in April--they are not. Thus, even higher troop levels will be needed to control Iraq. I suspect it might be as high as 900,000. We don't have those forces. They do not exist.

    You really don't address the numbers issue. I'm sure you might have some better arguments--I would like to see them.

    Bush has made us less secure. Iraq is basically a breeding ground for terror, we have lost ground on separating Islamic terrorists from the societies which feed and breed them and the governments that look the other way. We need a change.

    Rob W

    I'm going to take back the 900,000 for internal security in Iran, its too high. Lets assume that had we brought in 275,000 troops, (back of napkin reasoning), we could have controlled the borders and controlled the weapons dumps in Iraq. Multiplying the incrased population, you get 765,000 troops for occupation duty. Add that to the 140,000 in Iraq and you get 900,000 troops. We can't sustain that.

    Cecil Turner

    "Bush has made us less secure. Iraq is basically a breeding ground for terror . . . "

    Which of course is obvious from the vastly increased number of terror attacks in the US. And the 140,000 must be grossly insufficient because the insurgents are winning. Except that doesn't square with the UN's recent admission that:

    Preparations for the crucial January election are "on track" and the absence of international observers due to the country's tenuous security should not detract from the vote's credibility, the top U.N. electoral expert here said.
    "You really don't address the numbers issue. I'm sure you might have some better arguments--I would like to see them."

    Your "numbers issue" is fuzzy math. We have 140,000 in Iraq and dropping . . . compared to a total active force of 1.4 million active duty (plus another 170,000 activated Guard/Reserves). We're still using a modified peacetime unit rotation schedule (though admittedly with added perstempo stress--and extensions that generate big headlines). A good indication of how "dire" the situation is is that we haven't even bothered to increase recruitment, let alone begin a wartime mobilization effort. We have finally started redeploying troops out of some Cold War strategic locations (e.g., Korea), but so far it's having minimal effect.

    If you assume sealing borders is essential, your numbers are actually too low. Of course, the main border we're talking about "sealing" (Iran/Iraq) is the one we'd be massing on. And the others (for Iran) are the ones affected by the Caspian Guard agreement you derided earlier. (From an insurgent perspective, having an unfriendly government on the other side of a border makes it much less attractive.) Also, occupation troop requirements are not concrete. The minimum is less than half your number (nearer 300,000, some of which could be taken from Iraq).

    In any event, your argument appears to be: we can't threaten to invade Iran because we don't have enough troops for a well-ordered occupation--so the only possible response to Iranian nuclear ambitions is diplomacy. Which is dangerous nonsense. A nuclear-armed Iran is an unacceptable threat to US interests. We need to establish a credible, military threat (which also means we need to be prepared to follow through--difficult occupation or not). OIF has both provided a place to stage military forces, and vastly enhanced the credibility of such a threat.

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    Wilson/Plame