Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tony! Toni! Tone!

Now is the Time for All Good Men to Come to the Aid of their Country.
Now is the Time for All Good Men to Come to the Aid of their Country.
Now is the Time for All Good Men to Come to the Aid of their Country.
Now is the Time for All Good Men to Come to the Aid of their Country.



My friends on the left call me a Bush dead-ender. I think my more retro-con and Con Classic™ fellows here at TRC are too polite to do the same. Surely Dubya's 32% approval rating indicates much disapproval from both left and right, and vindicates them all.

All I can offer is that I listen to barely a whit of Bushist rhetoric: I poke through the this & that and my conclusions are my own. That they largely agree with the administration's is a matter of coincidence. Or not.

It's all about Iraq, of course, the defining issue of the Bush43 presidency. I must wonder if our ally France had got our back instead of protecting its Oil-for-Food arrangement, or if Russia and China weren't amoral, Hobbesian brutocracies, that freeing 25-odd million Muslims from the boot of a murderous dictator in the heart of the Muslim world and offering them the chance of freedom might have been seen as morally admirable. But that's neo-con fantasy*, so let's leave that for the moment.

The War, of course, is over, and was within one month. The US and UK are on a humanitarian mission now. No one, not nobody, expected that the one of the world's oldest civilizations would so quickly descend into savagery and indiscriminate fratricide. Neither that al-Qaeda would so remorselessly kill more of their own co-religionists than Americans. Still, even if Bush is blamed for the carnage, he has killed fewer innocent Iraqis than Saddam Hussein, fewer innocent Iraqis than al-Qaeda, and fewer innocent Iraqis than the Clinton Administration did with their bloodless but no less deadly sanctions.

This should be, but isn't, common knowledge. There's the rub.

It's acknowledged by all, even us dead-enders, that the Bush administration is abyssmal at communication with the American people and thereby the world.

There are perhaps tens of thousands of murderers yet in Iraq. But there are a quarter million more who risk life and limb to join the police force, and millions more who risked being butchered to vote, each in his or her small way defying the murderers. It would be cowardly to abandon them to the tyrants.

This should be common knowledge, too, but it's not.


And so, a guy recovering from cancer, who has a family to think about, who is taking a huge pay cut from his gig as a media talking head, decides to step into the breach to try his hand at fixing the biggest problem of his government, and perhaps sustain the last light of freedom in this cold and corrupt world.

Here's to you, Tony Snow. You may be accused of being an opportunist, although considering the facts of your life, it's hard to imagine how. Perhaps you're just a good man, coming to the aid of his country, and the world.

* Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge—and more.
---John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Inaugural Address, 1961

34 comments:

Hunter Baker said...

I've been trying to come up with a time when an established media type left that stuff to go to the White House instead of the other way around. The only other example I can come up with is when Pat Buchanan left Crossfire to be the Director of Communications for Reagan, but that was emphatically not the catbird seat spot where you get pelted with questions day in and day out. I'm looking forward to see if Tony Snow can hit a (non 'roid assisted) home run.

Bubba said...

Here! Here!

From the comments that I've read on other blogs, the folks in the Heartland are eagerly waiting for Mr Snow to ride in on a white stead and clean up the stench that belongs to the White House Press Corps(e).

I apologize for this synaptic spasm as a result of the JFK quote. It will probably denigrate the comments onto a side issue.

However, after considering the quote and how easily it could have been said by either Reagan or Bush43, it is quite telling how far afield little bro Teddy has taken the Democratic party in 40 years. Especially in light of JFK's income tax policies.

In keeping with my promise to be "content-conscious" these are what I am referencing:

"It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now ... Cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus."

– John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, president's news conference

"Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased – not a reduced – flow of revenues to the federal government."

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 17, 1963, annual budget message to the Congress, fiscal year 1964

Matt Huisman said...

Roid assisted? Quite the opposite - his doctors have been poisoning for six months. No need to put an asterisk next to his name; overcomers stand out on their own.

Now I'm with Tom in viewing this appointment as having global significance - no doubt Mr. Snow sees it the same way. Given what he's about to go through, he must. But maybe there's hope to be found here in Revelation 2:

"He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death."

My exegesis may be a little shaky there, but the ex-politico (Snow) - whose political life died some time ago - will have little fear of the second death. For the challenge for him will not so much be getting the message out (I expect him to do exceedingly well there), but more likely handling those on his own side.

Fortunately for him, this time around he's got a lot more clout - and little to lose.

Tlaloc said...

"I must wonder if our ally France had got our back instead of protecting its Oil-for-Food arrangement, or if Russia and China weren't amoral, Hobbesian brutocracies, that freeing 25-odd million Muslims from the boot of a murderous dictator in the heart of the Muslim world and offering them the chance of freedom might not have been seen as morally admirable."

That was not the mission until of course the administration had to keep moving the goal posts to try and create a mission it could win. Nobody was talking in 2002 about freeing Iraq, they were talking about WMD. Americans as a whole would not have invaded Iraq just to liberate the Iraqis.

And said liberation is a smokescreen anyway. The government we put in place is just as ruthless and the last one we put in place (Hussein). In fact originally we didn't intend to make Iraq democratic, originally Iraq was going to have a US imposed government (remember?) set up by Bremer. It was only after a great deal of outcry that Bush said we'd let them vote and then he tried to take credit for something he had to be strong armed into.

You'll have to try a lot harder to rationalize this failure.



"No one, not nobody, expected that the one of the world's oldest civilizations would so quickly descend into savagery and indiscriminate fratricide."

Funny, I wonder why then Shinseki said we'd need 5x as many troops? I wonder why I heard ALL THE TIME from the left that Iraq would implode if we just decapitated the government.

Tom YOU never heard that Iraq would implode because YOU rely on bad sources (*cough*FOX*cough*). The REST of us did in fact hear and talk about the chaos that Iraq was headed for.



"Still, even if Bush is blamed for the carnage, he has killed fewer innocent Iraqis than Saddam Hussein"

Give him time. By some accounts he has a high rate of killing Iraqis than Hussein. Hussein just had longer to rack up a death toll.



"But there are a quarter million more who risk life and limb to join the police force,"

Their 30+% unemplotyment rate and 60% inflation might have something to do with it.



"and millions more who risked being butchered to vote, each in his or her small way defying the murderers."

Except that other than the first vote the "murderers" encouraged voting because the people by and large were voting against america (witness the result: a profoundly theocratic government, and the US backed party has consistently lost).

But if Tony Snow could bring the real truth of what has happened home to the Bush Deadenders then I'll join you in a toast to him.

James Elliott said...

"Americans as a whole would not have invaded Iraq just to liberate the Iraqis."

I disagree. I think Americans, as a whole, would be far more likely to agree to an overthrow of tyranny than to Bush's tilting at WMD windmills. I'd've been all for a simple liberation justification. The problem with the Administration and Iraq is that liberation was never the focus until after the WMD failed to appear. Nation-building was wholly secondary and flat-out ignored in the preparation phase and thousands of people have paid the price, without an utterance of responsibility on the part of our leaders.

"Still, even if Bush is blamed for the carnage, he has killed fewer innocent Iraqis than Saddam Hussein"

I really don't see how this is a defense of anything. That's like a drunk driver who takes out an entire family saying, "Well, at least it wasn't another schoolbus full of kids like that guy last week!"

And then there's the rampant generalizations, like this:

"It's all about Iraq, of course, the defining issue of the Bush43 presidency."

And the cronyism. And the death of professionalism in governance. And so on.

"It's acknowledged by all, even us dead-enders, that the Bush administration is abyssmal at communication with the American people and thereby the world."

As if the sole problem with the Bush administration is that it don't speak English right good. Doesn't your head hurt when you concoct posts like these?

Tlaloc said...

"I disagree. I think Americans, as a whole, would be far more likely to agree to an overthrow of tyranny than to Bush's tilting at WMD windmills."

I doubt it. How many americans do you think would be up for a US intervention in Darfur where a real genocide is going on? Not many. Americans still have a deep isolationist streak (god bless em). That's why Bush had to lie so muuch about nuclear weapons to get the country behind his Mess'o'potamia.

Look at Iran. Instead of trying to motivate us with stories of how bad Iranians have it (and for the most part they really don't have it bad) they again go with lying about nuclear capabilities.



"I'd've been all for a simple liberation justification."

Good lord why? You really think that it is eaither our place or a job we could accomplish with any degree of success?

Tom Van Dyke said...

The irony, friend James, is that while you dispute the contention that the administration's problem has been communication, you say you'd have supported the war if it had been sold differently.

Yup, my head sure does hurt.

James Elliott said...

"The irony, friend James, is that while you dispute the contention that the administration's problem has been communication, you say you'd have supported the war if it had been sold differently."

Indeed, put that way, it is ironic. Too bad that's a complete misinterpretation of what I wrote. My problem isn't the selling of the war; it was the motivation for it. I, for one, am fully behind, and will commit whatever resources I am allowed and able, to a struggle to overthrow tyranny wherever it rears its head. The essence of liberal internationalism should be a Wilsonian venture, aggressively so if need be.

The Bush Administration's motivation was never about tyranny or freedom, or even truly about WMDs, and those of us who make a habit of studying international politics understood this. It was about oil. American international politics has, especially since the fall of the Soviet bloc (but really since the Carter years), been all about the black gold. To paraphrase a great film, anyone who tells you differently is selling something.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Sorry, you lost me with the oil part. It is far from self-evident.

As for the "motivations," there has been a revisionism (gotcha!) that it was all about WMDs, but a review of the record shows that to be inaccurate. If Saddam had not already proven himself a mass murderer (with a fascination for WMDs), no war.

Iran, as heinous its threats to the West and particularly Israel, as unbalanced as its leadership is, doesn't slaughter its own people like Saddam. If it did, game on.

James Elliott said...

"As for the "motivations," there has been a revisionism (gotcha!) that it was all about WMDs, but a review of the record shows that to be inaccurate."

I'm sorry, Tom, but that's complete BS. I don't recall Colin Powell giving any UN presentations on mass grave sites. The entire war was puiblicly predicated on a need to prevent hostile elements from attaining WMD capability. If liberation from tyranny was anything resembling a motivation, why were no steps taken to plan for the ensuing breakdown in Iraqi society the sudden power vacuum inevitably led to? A breakdown, mind you, predicted by the military, the CIA, and the State Department and categorically ignored, denied, and stamped on by the administration. I'm afraid that yours is the revisionist position.

You don't think this whole thing was about oil? You need to wake up and smell the gasoline, compadre. Why is it that oil-rich, Kurd-controlled Kirkuk has received far more in funds, materiel, and security than most of Iraq, exactly? Why has the US pushed an Iraq policy that seems to lead to a high likelihood of an oil-rich, politically independent, and definitely pro-American Kurdistan? Why promote nuclear power in India--abrogating the non-proliferation treaty while we're at it--unless you want to stave off the skyrocketing energy needs of an economically burgeoning competitor in an ever-tighter oil market? Why bluster and bully Iran, whose nuclear weapons, without a critical sea of oil, mean precisely nothing to the United States? (Israel, the moral "answer," is nuclear-equipped and wholly capable of its own deterrence and even pre-emption.)

If the moral argument is a crucial piece to the puzzle, why then does the White House roll out the red carpet for men like Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema, an anti-democratic misruler if ever there was one? If the oppression of democratic processes is not enough (your reason for our lack of action in Iran), then why do we play host to people like President Lt. Gen. Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir of Sudan, whose government has been found complicit, not just by the African Union and NGOs but by our State Department, with genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan? Why then does the Bush administration's national security agenda include increased rotations of bombers to Guam, if not in the face of a possible conflict with China - not over Taiwan (should they declare independence in a democratic exercise, we will do precisely squat) but over the shipping of oil. Why do we so vigorously oppose oil-rich nations like Venezuela and Iran cozying up to one another and China and Russia? If not for the oil, upon which all aspects of our economy turns, then what?

Spare me, Tom. It's all about the oil.

Evanston said...

Tom, I largely agree with your perspective, except your comment that "No one, not nobody, expected that the one of the world's oldest civilizations would so quickly descend into savagery and indiscriminate fratricide." Actually, many U.S. and overseas experts thought this may happen, and this was a major reason we did not go all the way to Baghdad during Desert Storm. Of course, we had other reasons as well (first, our promise to our allies not to do so, and second, the desire to keep Iraq strong to counterbalance Iran).
France, Russia, the UN, and others have definitely been exposed as hypocrites at best and greedy, bloody co-conspirators with Saddam at worst.
As a nod to TLALOC and JFE, I'll readily admit that Bush's invasion was riskly. I would hope they both have the maturity to admit that we couldn't continue the No Fly Zone indefinitely and Saddam was definitely not cooperating with the WMD inspections program that was part of his peace treaty. So Bush had to do something (invade or stop pretending that we'll actually enforce a treaty), and he made a choice. T-Man can call that a rationalization, I think of it as "rational" but then again I've actually had to make management decisions for a living.
JFE, I'm sorry that you and others find the WMD argument lacking, I guess if you lived in Halabja or served in the Iranian army you'd have a different perspective on Saddam's WMD capability and aspirations. I must also observe that it's either obvious or stupid (take your pick) to claim that the war is really "about oil" because it was obviously "about money." Without money Saddam wouldn't have invaded his neighbors twice, supported the PLO, Abu Nidal, and other terrorists and developed the gas he used to massacre Kurd civilians and Iranian soldiers alike. His aggression also impacted where Saudi and Kuwaiti money went -- either in alliance to the U.S. so we would counterbalance Saddam, or they would be forced to pay him off. Per Desert Storm, his lunacy is what brought us into Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in the first place. Perhaps you prefer that we only limit our military intervention to crappy places with no money? Such places abound, and do you really think it would be best for us to intervene in Somalia again, or Rwanda, or the Congo, or you-name-it and be Cops of the World as long as it's safe and we can cut and run when things get ugly, just like we did in Somalia, Lebanon, etc.? Bin Laden learned from these examples, and thought 9-11 was a great idea because the U.S. didn't have the national will to actually invade Afghanistan, etc. I've had previous discussions with T-Man on this subject when I've asked him for his foreign policy recommendations. Well, you both can pretend you're Bush for a second, it's the day after 9-11 and puhlease tell me what you'd do, oh wise ones.
What would Evanston do? Well, I believe it's best to restrict our military intervention to areas that clearly serve our national interest, and that means places that have resources/location to invade oil-producing neighbors, build massive armies, develop WMDs, and support international terrorists. Iraq meets that description quite nicely. Make sense?
To repeat, Iraq is "about oil" because it is literally and figuratively "fueled" by oil. And if you are asserting that this whole thing is due to a cabal of American or multinational corporations, then at least give Saddam some credit for making it mighty convenient.
Personally, I have no problem freeing the Iraqi people and fighting radical muslims on their home turf and inserting a democracy in the heart of the Middle East. But if you think we should have just dropped the UN sanctions and No Fly Zone, abandoning the Kurds, just say so. Because again, these sanctions could not have continued indefinitely. Bush made a choice, he made the right choice, and all the fools crying "Civil War" and "Millions of Refugees" and "the Mother of All Battles" have been wrong and will continue to be wrong.

Tlaloc said...

"I would hope they both have the maturity to admit that we couldn't continue the No Fly Zone indefinitely and Saddam was definitely not cooperating with the WMD inspections program that was part of his peace treaty."

I'm no fan of the no-fly zone either. In fact there is pretty much nothing about our treatment of Iraq from Reagan, Bush (I), Clinton, and Bush (II) that I find remotely commendable. We should have left them well enough alone.

It is somewhat accurate to say Hussein was not cooperative with inspections. But also somewhat inaccurate. At the time Bush chose to invade it was the US and not Iraq that was hampering UN inspections. Saddam had previously played games with them but had in fact allowed inspections to resume before the US invasion.



"Well, you both can pretend you're Bush for a second, it's the day after 9-11 and puhlease tell me what you'd do, oh wise ones."

Refrain from jingoism. Refrain from revenge fantasies that feel good but are counterproductive to the goal. Sit down with the nation in a televised appearance and explain in no uncertain terms that the only correct reaction to terrorism is no reaction. It is psychological warfare, and it is ineffective if you ignore it.

The brits should have been our role models, they have a great capacity for the "stiff upper lip."

Furthermore it would have been appropriate to point out the history that lead to 9/11 and the various ways we had in fact been aggressive toward those who were aggressive in return. It would have been a time for considering the follies of previous years and making a resolution to learn from them and thus prevent future atrocities (by us or upon us).

America lost the war on terror on 9-11. If 9-12 had been just like 9-10 we would have won it. That was when we had the opportunity to win it. The only opportunity. Instead we capitulated to our worst nature and demanded bloodshed regardless of the cost.

Kind of like Israel and Palestine. Circle of violence.



"But if you think we should have just dropped the UN sanctions and No Fly Zone, abandoning the Kurds, just say so."

Sure. If it looked like Saddam would have rebuilt enough to threaten the kurds again then let the UN station a peacekeeping force there. We can be part of that.



"Bush made a choice, he made the right choice, and all the fools crying "Civil War" and "Millions of Refugees" and "the Mother of All Battles" have been wrong and will continue to be wrong."

Uh there is an Iraqi Civil war going on right now.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thank you Mr. Evanston. The savagery I was speaking of is killing women and children, suicide bombers in mosques, and the like. That used to be reserved for the Jews.

Matt Huisman said...

James, I’m still a little unclear about what ‘It’s all about the oil.’ means. Certainly oil related geo-politics keeps us from projecting an entirely consistent morality. But this lack of consistency doesn’t mean that we can’t draw the line somewhere. In the end, the Iraq invasion was the result of the accumulation of too many interests/risks/atrocities for us to ignore.

That you would like to be more of an interventionist is admirable – whether it is wise or not I don’t know. But if you really do believe in America’s ability to influence the world for the better through various degrees of intervention, I have a hard time seeing how the Dems inspire you. Say what you want about Team Bush’s motivational purity, their voting base is quite sincere on this front – and looks a lot more like you on this issue than the other side.

And if I may stand up for the Bushies for a moment here on the message front, their ‘message’ options were really quite limited once they decided to go the U.N. route (thanks Mr. Blair). No one over there wants to hear anything about ending tyranny. But while speaking to the world about WMD’s, there were plenty of (the U.S. equivalent of) local imams speaking in Arabic justifying this intervention on a whole laundry list of grounds including the opportunity to liberate a suppressed people and transform the region. Criticize the planning? Fine. The execution? Sure. The motivation? Your going to have a hard time getting me to feel more cynical about the Bushies than I do about everyone else.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Thanks Matt.

I too believe that the its all about oil croud is looking at things too simply.

If Iraq had no oil, would the US have intervened? Maybe not.

If Iraq did not have a murderous dictator would the US have intervened? Probably not.

If Saddam had been more open regarding WMD's " " ". Probably not.

Take away any one of these three and the US stays home.

James Elliott said...

"JFE, I'm sorry that you and others find the WMD argument lacking, I guess if you lived in Halabja or served in the Iranian army you'd have a different perspective on Saddam's WMD capability and aspirations."

Am I the only one who remembers Donald Rumsfeld delivering those WMDs to Saddam with a wink and a smile? And is it even worse that I was like ten at the time and am still the only one? Someone remind me how great Reagan was again.

The "more forthcoming" argument about WMDs is interesting. We now know what our intelligence apparatus had every indication of: Despite past usage of chemical agents, Saddam had no WMD arsenal to speak of and the sanctions had crippled his ability to produce them. His nascent WMD programs were little more than a prayer and a vow. It is curious that you mention Iran yet manage to totally miss why Saddam would not have been forthcoming: His perceived WMD capability was the only thing between his regime and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iran fomenting its Iraqi Shia brethern to do unto him as they did unto the Shah.

"But if you really do believe in America’s ability to influence the world for the better through various degrees of intervention, I have a hard time seeing how the Dems inspire you."

The anti-war Left and I don't see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. For example, I'm backing off from my blanket critiques of capitalism largely from the readings this place has inspired me to explore. I'd probably bolt for a third party that offered an activist agenda, both at home and abroad. And that's why I side with the Dems - they provide the political impetus for domestic activism.

I had quite a flirtation with neoconservatism in undergrad. In terms of international politics, there's a certain amount of "idealist goals through realist means" that is appealing to me. However, I could never get on board with either their domestic agenda or their basic impression of humankind, which I find revolting, aristocratic, and inhumane.

James Elliott said...

Matt, a friend of mine put my opposition to ever joining the Republican party in far better terms than I did:

"You know, at the end of the day, it's more the fact that the
Republican Party is just a huge scam by moneyed interests to build a
corrupt non-democracy than anything else. There are some conservative
principles that I can respect, or even agree with, but that damn
party doesn't exist to further them. As far as I'm concerned, Republicans, including the party thinkers and intellectuals, are
either corrupt or are a bunch of dupes.

"I'm connecting the GOP more and more with the Soviet Communists. Sure the stated economic goals are different, but in the end, they are
both parties using jingoism and oversimplified political philosophy
to advance an aristocratic and anti-freedom cause for the enrichment of a small minority at the expense of the worker."

Devang said...

The two speeches, as the president would say, are different, the 2003 State of the Union stresses saddam's weapons capabilities (8-10 paragraphs) and spends 3 lines (I counted) on saddam's human rights violations. The UN speech makes a much better case of human rights violations, but in all reality, didn't convince the audience.

Any revisionism being done thereafter, is either A) the media or B) yourself :)

The members of this administration have a record, our country has a record, and it's only fair to bring it up. That's what the left does, and it's why I think this war was for oil too. The left and the democrats are, as far as I know, still calling for universal justice, and joining the world court, that's the most important thing we could do to fight terrorism, and what we should've done on 9/12.

I'm forgetting all the nice facts like the actual weapons inspectors have said it was the administration that miss characterized their findings and how many UN member states were benefactors of the corrupt oil-for-food program...

mjwatson said...

If it's all about the oil how come we never just take it? If the Left is right our world-wide reputation is shot to hell anyway, what would we have to lose?

If Bush is the sort of slime as to lie (which means, btw, to know the truth and say something different, not just to be wrong), why wouldn't he also fake WMD's for us to "find"? It's not much of a stretch. He'll have our boys kill, and be killed, but he'll knowingly set himself up for failure by putting everything in terms of WMD? Why wouldn't he plant some there to be found?

Finally, even if it were just for oil (Venezuela here we come!), that's not as illiberal as it sounds. Who hurts the most during an oil crunch? The poor.

Hunter Baker said...

Those are some excellent points, Senor Watson.

James Elliott said...

"Finally, even if it were just for oil (Venezuela here we come!), that's not as illiberal as it sounds. Who hurts the most during an oil crunch? The poor."

That's a rather fatuous misunderstanding of liberal, isn't it?

"If Bush is the sort of slime as to lie (which means, btw, to know the truth and say something different, not just to be wrong), why wouldn't he also fake WMD's for us to "find"? It's not much of a stretch. He'll have our boys kill, and be killed, but he'll knowingly set himself up for failure by putting everything in terms of WMD? Why wouldn't he plant some there to be found?"

Condescencion aside, this crosses from hubris, which we've discussed with respect to Bush, to outright ridiculous conspiracy theories. It's too hard to fake WMDs that will hold up to scrutiny, I imagine. I'm not one who holds to the "Bush lied, people died" theme - I believe that a part of him is sincere in his moralizing - and to lump legitimate, logical criticism such as mine in with such rhetoric is nothing more than a cheap, and ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to discredit them.

"If it's all about the oil how come we never just take it?"

Um, because you need a stable place to pump it into barrels and package it for transportation? Because it's not a net gain if you have to spend more to secure the supply than it would to just buy it? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to poke holes in that one. In fact, it's fairly elementary.

James Elliott said...

Came across this today at Foreign Affairs (via Andrew Sullivan. Of most interest to those of us who like to make a serious study of the Iraq War, it's a fascinating look at Saddam's regime. Of particular relevance to the turn this discussion took, is the section detailing that Saddam's power rested in large part upon the perception of his own government that he had stockpiled WMDs. Also of great interest: the Fedayeen were preparing to conduct terror operations in the West and Iran in July of 2003. Say what you will about the causes of war, some concrete good absolutely resulted.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, I saw somewhere: Bush didn't lie, Saddam did.

to lump legitimate, logical criticism such as mine in with such rhetoric is nothing more than a cheap, and ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to discredit them.


Fair enough, James. I'll get your back on that one. I get enough lumping in with Pat Robertson whenever I venture on to enemy territory.

On the other hand, I think that blood for oil rhetoric will understandably be seen as fever swamp boilerplate without at least some effort to justify it, preferably with your own unique take. Live by the boilerplate, die by the heat.

Matt Huisman said...

You know, at the end of the day, it's more the fact that the
Republican Party is just a huge scam...


James, I’ll give a nod to the notion that we have some wretched folks running around our halls shooting beer cans with Dick Cheney, but good grief, I could swap Democrat for Republican and say the same thing to you.

My guess is that Devang gets closer to the real reason why Dems are Dems when he speaks of ‘calling for universal justice’ (more likely fairness). Sure it sounds great, but when you actually listen to what they have to say, it’s always the case that my frustrations are someone else’s fault. I’m sure they’re even right some of the time – but you can have that life and its bottomless pit of finger pointing and frustration.

At the end of the day, I prefer the optimism (and the track record) of capitalism – and choose to applaud the successes of those who’ve earned them; to take pride in the moments where my talents are stretched and found up to the challenge, and to look in the mirror when they don't.

Devang said...

You're absolutely right mjwatson, we can just take it, and we do (however much, as best as we can), the question is at what cost? Should it be like it's in Nigeria, Columbia, or Saudi Arabia (we know the case made for blowback from that one)? You would think the greatest benefactors, the oil companies, could be a little more democratically accountable in those countries. Sadly, not so, with US government help, in the form of plan columbia. To be fair, it is really the countries' fault that oil was found there.

When is the Senate going to finish the investigation into the role the executive branch played in the intelligence failures anyway? I want to say within a month...

In light of the recent 60 minutes report, among other things (what the generals have said about how the war was carried out), there really is a fine line between counting on ideology vs. realism, hoping everything fits the ideology and, lying like you define it. It at the very least borders on being dishonest. Count me in the rhetoric obsessed liberal crowd, if I think the difference between the two is moot. I define being honest as making a sincere effort to find the whole truth.

Can you really fault me for having a liberal definition of the word lying? I have bigger faults, I really do :)

Tom Van Dyke said...

As long as you're OK with Ann Coulter's liberal use of the word "treason." ;)

James Elliott said...

"On the other hand, I think that blood for oil rhetoric will understandably be seen as fever swamp boilerplate without at least some effort to justify it, preferably with your own unique take. Live by the boilerplate, die by the heat."

I'm fairly certain I haven't cast any moral aspersions or come down on whether or not the geopolitics of oil are a universally bad thing. Despite my activist, liberal goals, I'm pretty much a realist when it comes to international relations. Sometimes pragmatism has to trump ideology, especially when it comes to dealing with other countries. "Blood for oil rhetoric" implies I placed a value judgment on the policy that I hadn't articulated.

Just like Iraq, the Gulf War was about oil, too. And there were some good side effects (like liberating Kuwait from an occupier). And just like the Gulf War, some good side effects have come from a war that is principally about scarce resources. It's a hallmark of international relations, Tom: Countries don't go to war for ideology - it's too costly for a purely moral victory to be worth it.

"My guess is that Devang gets closer to the real reason why Dems are Dems when he speaks of ‘calling for universal justice’ (more likely fairness). Sure it sounds great, but when you actually listen to what they have to say, it’s always the case that my frustrations are someone else’s fault. I’m sure they’re even right some of the time – but you can have that life and its bottomless pit of finger pointing and frustration."

And how is that any different from Republican demagoguery, which is all about who's to blame for which problem? It's really not. In the end, I'll take a party that at least manages to stumble into doing right by the common good and social justice over a party that exists to use the language of pseudo-populism and faux-religious zeal to enhance an business executive aristocracy. For pity's sake, the Republicans can't even PRETEND to be conservatives or about minimalist government. Not without looking really stupid.

Devang said...

Liberal usage and defining of words shall hereby be rights confined to liberals only. This right shall be confined to political talk only. Had a laugh... good. You control all the branches of government, language is all we have (Since FOX has a monopoly on truth). As tlaloc said in another post "...one must never underestimate the colossal ability of democrats to lose despite having every political advantage."

I'm all for free and fair trade (that would include oil), neither party is too good at it, unfortunately (although the democrats could do better if given a chance). As Milton Friedman said on Charlie Rose about CAFTA: "It's full of exceptions."

Once Phase II of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report comes out about the executive branch, Feith, blah, blah... If what the executive did isn't lying or dishonest or untruthful, what is it? better start thinking now Tom... :)

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'd probably write something close to my original essay, which you're invited to enjoy again. Then reread the comments, until you get to this one. Rinse, repeat, for the rest of your natural life or until you get my point, whichever comes first.

Matt Huisman said...

And how is that any different from Republican demagoguery, which is all about who's to blame for which problem? It's really not.

I hear you, James. I wasn't trying to differentiate Reps/Dems on their rhetoric.

In an earlier post, you said you could never sign on to the neocon agenda because of their basic impression of humankind. That's closer to what I was shooting for - a comment on the where Dem ideology leads you. My experience is that those who primarily concern themselves with fairness - rich or poor - never really believe that they have received a fair deal in life.

Some cope by fighting injustice - and that's fine (for a while) - but most just remain eternally pissed off. What a drag.

Evanston said...

Tom, "Wisdom is justified by her children." -- Matthew 11:19. I sympathize with your back-and-forth with tlaloc and Devang. Sometimes events must just unfold, as in Iraq. Then the liberals will change the standards for success and continue to tell us that worldwide capitulation to aggressors is a good thing. Example? I asked tlaloc for a specific solution, and how did he respond ? "We should have left them well enough alone." WOW! Smiles.
Devang believes that the UN and World Court would be super duper if it weren't for the U.S. and ugly Americans like me who somehow don't trust unelected officials from far-off lands to protect our interests. I listened to these same fools in the 1970s when they told us that communism was good for women, the poor, health care, minorities, you-name-the-issue. They were wrong, of course.
Now they have literally and figuratively have pulled out their old t-shirts featuring Che and the Hammer & Sickle. Smiles again!

In regard to your response that "The savagery I was speaking of is killing women and children, suicide bombers in mosques, and the like. That used to be reserved for the Jews."
This, in fact, was part of our expectations during Desert Storm if we marched into Baghdad and disrupted the political order. Internecine warfare would not be limited to uniformed military, but would engage all sorts of revenge killings among Sunni and Shia Arabs, and Kurds. They have a history of thousands of years of terrorizing each other, including women & children. Wisdom is, indeed, justified by her children and Islam is also known by its children: war, raids, rape, and any other act involving force. They live by the sword, and lacking easy victims turn on each other and governments in Islamic countries have historically been built on large scale terror, not the consent of the governed. This is what makes Bush's democratic attempt in Iraq (a classic balance of power calculus) particularly gutsy. My main beef with war opponents is that that there was a good solution available for Iraq. Bush's choice was between bad and worse, and he made the right decision.
Like you, he has to tolerate liberals who don't want to be specific about the present or predict the future because they are so often wrong. What we see instead is the piecemeal monday morning quarterback style advocated by tlaloc.
Bush's Smiles will occur as he looks back on his dismantling of an evil regime and creation of a government that, in the Islamic world, will be about as good as it gets.

Evanston said...

I meant to say at the bottom of my last comment that "there was no good solution available for Iraq."

Devang said...

...Americans like me who somehow don't trust unelected officials from far-off lands to protect our interests.

You must be joking, we abide, or atleast try to abide by dozens of other treaties. If abiding by one more treaty, which says nothing more than UN charter is really that hard, you're better off trying to live on the moon, either that or maybe you're already screaming blasphemy when someone says democracy.

Let me be specific, Henry Kissinger's paper against universal justice is mind boggling, I specifically want statesmen like him to be held accountable by someone, since his alleged atrocities were not committed in the US, so our government or courts aren't particularly about to do anything. Let the world court hold it's trial about his alleged crimes, along with any other statesman who would dare to mis-use American power (which there is a lot of), and if they can't, to be truthful to the Americans by de-classifying documents or not becoming statesman in the first place. Therein lies the crux of the argument, our government will do anything to protect our way of life over the short term, and I don't want them to if it means not holding people like Kissinger accountable. Joining the world court will never be to the detriment of ordinary Americans, while at the same time will hold our leaders accountable internationally. This isn't about sovereignty, it's about universal justice, and we can make the laws as specific as we want, democratically, at the UN.

I don't even know who Che is, and as far as the Hammer and Sickle is concerned, I am an open-source advocate, guilty as charged by Microsoft.

The humanitarian case for the Iraq war never needed to be made, never to anyone on the left alteast, when even according to the right, nation-states lose sovereignty when they commit humanitarian crimes (though consistency is hard to achieve here apparently). I was trying to go beyond that point, which Tom repeated several times in his post.

My criticism is about the lack of transparency, the outright lies propogated in and through the media, then about sidestepping the inspectors (This is why I argued against the war until the last minute I could), and then about the details with which this war was and is being conducted. And mine is not the same as a bleeding liberal's, it's about letting the Iraqi's rebuild their own country instead of having contractors from Oklahoma do it. There have been many books and documentaries about all of those phases. All of them, with the view of the left, with documenting Saddam's atrocities. Have I seen a single documentary with the view and the points advocated by the right? No. Are there any? I have discovered Victor Hanson's book recently, which I may yet pick up this summer.

The choice was made with disdain and disregard for a lot of things, it doesn't take too much disregarding before the even a right choice turns into a terrible one. But you are right, events must unfold.

Evanston said...

Devang, you say "This isn't about sovereignty, it's about universal justice, and we can make the laws as specific as we want, democratically, at the UN."
Well, let's start with the UN, and work our way back to U.S. sovereignty:
- The UN is not truly democratic. The majority of member states are dictatorships or have a form of representative government that you would find authoritarian if you lived under it. You may find it "democratic" to give the political appointees of despots an equal vote in world affairs as most other member states (excepting the Security Council). I find it ludicrous.
- You mentioned one benefit of the World Court as "transparency." Hey, remember the Volcker Commission report on the U.N. Oil for Food scandal. Did you follow its developments, or compare it to the U.S. congressional findings? This is not "transparency." Nor were the proceedings of the current procurement scandal, nor the peacekeeper sex scandals. Try the Claudia Rosett archive for details:
http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/cRosett/
archive/
- Latest "reform" failure, regarding Human Rights Council (evidently an area of interest to you):
http://www.heritage.org/Research/
InternationalOrganizations/wm1031.cfm
- You mention "Universal Justice." Hey, we have disagreements in the U.S. about proper penalties for murder, pedophilia, drug possession, etc. What makes you think we can have a consensus on "Universal Justice" that meets your expectations for "justice?" Or is the only thing that matters is that it is "universal" -- that is, you trust foreigners (unelected, whom you do not know, nor will ever meet, nor whom have to live in this country) more than Americans? If this sounds xenophobic, I'm sorry, but I want someone whose parents, kids, friends, cousins, you-name-it live in the U.S. to make decisions about how things go here. Look how pleased Kofi Annan is to be questioned by a U.S. journalist:
http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/
feature.html?id=110007729
- You also say "This isn't about sovereignty." Huh? This is precisely what it is about. If government derives its right from the consent of the governed, then I hate to break it to you but the majority of Americans and presidents as different as Clinton and G.W. Bush want nothing to do with a World Court. Nor do I since if you claim it would be great to put Kissinger on trial, what would stop it from putting Clinton on trial for Kosovo or lowly me for my involvement in Iraq? You mention how the U.S. has already signed many international treaties. You act as if this is just another treaty. Isn't this a bit disingenuous? First off, we have declined to sign many others. We choose to do so because we have sovereignty. Second, and critically, if we sign on to a World Court, potentially we lose control over every law of this land. Everything we do is subject to review. You may believe this is "justice." I call it a coup d'etat.

Regarding Iraq and American contractors, I was there and most are employing Third Country Nationals or Iraqis for low skill work. You have to understand that the Iraqis do not possess the technical skill to install state of the art equipment. Before the war they relied on the Russians for their oil work and the Yugoslavs for large building projects. This is nothing new. Recommend you read posts on http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/ for a gritty assessment of what is going on there. It's not all candy and roses, that's for sure. But I believe in democracy, and this is what we have just established in Iraq.

I commend you for caring about human rights, etc. Just don't be too trusting of people you don't know anything about, nor can even conceivably influence.