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Indifference

First, let's talk about context. Two different sites linked to this post of mine (no, I will not do those sites the favor of giving links. They both seem a bit obsessed with me, one to the point of frightening me just a bit). In their rants against me, the authors of both sites choose to sift through my words and come up with something palatable to their readership, if not entirely true. What they refer to is this passage: bq. Right now, in my anger, I want to go to war with the entire Middle East, save Israel. I want to annihilate them. I know it is unreasonable and I know it isn't right. I know it's a horrible thought, but it's there, at the tip of my brain, trying to get me to shout it out to the world. Kill. Them. All. They did not reference the rest of the post at all, which would have given their readers a better feel for my anger and a sense of how raw it was at the time I wrote that. Both authors also chose to gloss right over the fact that I admitted the thought was horrible and unreasonable. Perhaps these two men have never had a gut reaction to terrorism like I have. In fact, I'm willing to bet they never had a reaction like mine at all because, judging from their sites, we're only getting what we deserve. Perhaps I might have stayed at their sites and argued my position in the comments, if not for the tone. One site's author and commenters are so hateful towards me there's just no point in trying to defend myself. The other author, who once declared that he was devoting his entire blog to disseminating my words, parlays his rant against me into a rant against Jews and Christians and, well, I lost interest in what he had to say pretty darn quick. He also says this when he links to me: Anyone who claims that anti-Semitism, religious intolerance and extremism are basic tenets of Islam is talking out of their ass. Well, I never said that. I have said over and over again that the so-called religion the terrorists of the Middle East are practicing is a warped, twisted version of Islam, defined to their own benefit. But don't let that stop you from your baseless conjecture, Josh. He also accuses me of "murderous indifference" because (and I don't know he comes up with this idea): bq. She's harboring that belief that seems so common to Americans, that the United States is an indestructible giant; that other countries only exist because we allow them to exist and that all sovereignty but ours is conditional on our approval. Michele reacts to every headline as if her reaction to the death of an American is somehow more significant than the reaction of an Iraqi woman to the death of one of her countrymen. I hope you are reading this Josh. Read it very slowly, one word at a time and try to comprehend. This is a personal weblog. I write about my personal feelings. I have never interviewed an Iraqi woman about the death of an Iraqi because I am here. Home. In America. I am not a roving reporter and I am not required to seek out and publish all aspects of a story. This is a place where I note my reactions to what's happening in my small world. That does not make my reactions any more important than someone else's. It just makes them visible. I think - and I've said this before - that Josh and his kind are in a state of denial about the war on terror. They see the war on terror as something we started. They see us as the aggressor and enemy. They see us attacking other nations, they do not see us defending ourselves against terrorists. You and I see a war against the kind of people who would fly fully loaded airplanes into tall buildings; they see it as the U.S. oppressing a religion. It's a shame, really. When Joshua accuses me of murderous indifference and then says that "Michele and her kind" are throwing punches that will drag this conflict on and on, I bite my lip in frustration. I see it the other way. When I see people who side with the terrorists, people who think that the car bombers in Iraqi are just innocent people defending their homeland, people who think that Palestinians have the right to walk onto school buses and blow them up, people who think America brought 9/11 upon themselves, I see what I think are the people who are dragging this conflict on.; people who do not recognize a war, who are blind to the fact that there are several groups of zealots out there who want us dead. I really want to know what Joshua means by murderous indifference, though. That's sticking in my craw a bit. Donald Sensing wrote a great piece on ways the war on terror could end. He lists four different scenarios. Basically: * We win and democracy prevails in the Middle East * The terrorist win and radical Islam prevails in the Middle East, which now absent Israel. * A massive attack on the U.S. prompts an all out war * The war on terror drags on forever, with nobody winning or losing At the end of Donald Sensing's post, he states: Does anyone doubt we must win this war? And does anyone still doubt that we really are at war? I can answer those questions for you . Yes and yes. One could surmise that even the "esteemed" members of the 9/11 commission fail to realize the extent of the war we are waging; that there are those who do not realize what could happen if we didn't continue this fight. And it's not just a fight with Iraq - anyone who thinks Iraq encompasses the entire war of terror is not paying attention. Witness Iran: bq. Some people remember that the folks running Iran today were the "students" who seized the U.S. embassy in 1979 and held 52 American men and women hostage for more than a year, while President Carter fiddled. Witness Saudi Arabia: bq. Al-Qaeda says it got help kidnapping American contractor Paul Johnson the New Jersey man from people inside the Saudi security forces.
The militants say sympathizers gave them uniforms to help them capture the American. And witness countries who continually wage war against their own: bq. The longer the warfare is allowed to continue, the more a next-few-months mass starvation scenario is locked into place by a combination of public health conditions, and logistics limits on delivering aid during the monsoon season when roads become impassible. This deadly scenario, I believe, is exactly what the government of Sudan wants: Having cleared thousands of square miles and burned hundreds of villages of black Africans, it now hopes to starve the victims so they can never return to claim their land and reestablish their families. Is Darfur not part of the war on terror? I would think it is. Genocide is just another form of terrorism. And you can bet your last American cent that we would suffer the same fate as those in Darfur if our enemies have their way. If we are going to fight the war on terror, we have to fight it for everyone, not just us. But first, we must all recognize that such a war exists. And then, we must all agree that the war needs to be won. That it even comes into question is deplorable. And it does come into question. There are those who dismiss the war on terror. As stated above, there are those who think we are evil aggressors. There are those who would put a halt to this important war we are fighting. And they say I am guilty of murderous indifference? Perhaps they are guilty of projection.

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» Sheesh from Sheila A-Stray's Redheaded Ramblings
Yet another example of people who seem to be under the misguided impression that bloggers are actually part of mainstream media ... and need to be excoriated for having personal responses [egads!!] to the news. Michele writes (and I loved... [Read More]

» Get serious from Inoperable Terran
Michele takes on all comers.... [Read More]

» Fiery Steed from Jan's Liahona
Jan dusted off the old soapbox to rail about the War on Terror and why it's the single largest issue that is out there. She also asked a pertinent question: is it OK to use the word "Jew" or should another phrase be used? Perhaps "person who practices ... [Read More]

» I Don't Think You Heard Me from JimSpot
Michele is catching flack for a post about all-out war on the Middle East, which I thought was worded quite... [Read More]

» Heads in the Sand II from Room 101
This was posted on this thread over at A Small Victory, written by a poster named "pk." I didn't want to waste Michele's bandwidth fisking it, so I brought it over here. Those of you who act like this is [Read More]

» what was said. what wasn't. from the red pages
Evidently, Michele recently put up a post addressing some of the points I raise in the previous entry ("context"). In that post, she makes some accusations, and denies some others. Let's take a look at some of these, shall we?... [Read More]

Comments

Michele -

These morons have to keep trying to defend their position, which is morally and intellectually indefensible.

Because the idea that "we must not be prejudiced against Muslims" is the sole and solitary trick in their intellectual bag, of course that is what they are going to use, whether it makes sense or not.

Michele, how much do you think Josh cares about the 300,000 bodies in the mass graves in Iraq? Don't you think the murderous indifference is on the part of Josh and "his kind"?

I know, it's easy for me to say "don't let it get to you". But really. Just remember this: the fact that this barking moonbat felt the need to howl against your blog, means that you must have inflicted a sensation unpleasantly akin to thought on his tiny brain. And so, the little glands that secrete the cobwebs of self-deception had to work overtime, spinning the web of words and rhetoric that we're accustomed to hearing from these nitwits.

And another thing: Josh wouldn't be so upset if his side - the fascists and the terrorists - weren't losing.

But, but, Michele...if we all just don burkas and give up our eeeeeevillle hegemonic ways, we can all live in sweetness and light with one another! After all, no other country anywhere is as evil as America! Right? Right?

I suspect the folks you mention are obsessed with what you write primarily because no amount of rationalization and blaming us first and calling for deeper understanding has managed to squelch the suspicion that maybe the radical Islamists just want us dead because we exist and aren't under their thumbs. And that's gotta be a tad disconcerting if you've spent your whole life secure in the knowledge that there are no "bad" cultures (well, except ours, of course), just "different" or "victimized" cultures.

My reaction was, to the beheadings of Paul Johnson and Nick Berg, the same as yours. The anger I felt was one of frustration and I thought horrible thoughts of how I would like to get my hands on these animals and let them feel our wrath. I wonder how many other Americans felt this type of rage? These two must live in some LALA land, somewhere in the land of Oz.

She's harboring that belief that seems so common to Americans, that the United States is an indestructible giant; that other countries only exist because we allow them to exist and that all sovereignty but ours is conditional on our approval.

What part of "they declared war on us" doesn't he understand?

Without provocation - none at all - Saddam invaded Kuwait, threatened Saudi Arabia and hit Israel with missiles. He kanoodled with terrorists. He gassed his own people, set up rape rooms and threw kids into prisons. Hey Josh: Is that the kind of sovereignty you want the U.S. to respect?

Meanwhile, the terrorists have been running around flying planes into buildings, bombing trains and beheading innocent people.

What are we supposed to do? Ask the U.N. for permission to send them a strongly worded statement asking them to stop?

I wish these jackasses would spend a little time learning about Wahhabist Islam, the influence it has over terrorist groups, and the poisonous effect it is having on the whole region. Then they'd understand the particular brand of Islam that we're fighting.

As it stands, their constant confusion of the issue, by insinuating that the U.S. is at war with all Muslims, only clouds their understanding of the problem and bolsters the arguments of our enemies. I'm beginning to think it really is willful ignorance on their part...or murderous indifference. Take your pick.

Here is video of what Josh is promoting;

http://www.aei.org/events/eventID.844,filter.all/event_detail.asp

This video shows people being tortured by Saddam's goons. It includes video of people being eating alive by dogs among other things. If you can watch this whole video then your stomach is stronger than mine. This video shows how bad Abu Graib was under Saddam; these are not merely naked men with panties on their heads. These are people being tortured to death for Sadddam's amusment. And this is precisely the kind of thing Josh supports. He says Saddam should still have his prison so that the filming of these brutal murders would have continued unabated.

This is what Josh is arguing for; the success of a worldwide death cult. He refuses to beleive what the crazy Muslims have been declaring for over thirty years; All infidels must die. And Josh is an infidel. It won't matter to the Muslim who comes to saw Josh's head off with a dull knife that he promoted the death cult... Josh will still go under that knife. And apparently Josh looks forward to it

Well, I'm sure the people linking to you probably weren't very nice, but I tend to agree that "Kill them all" is a pretty disgusting sentiment. If you're going to spread your personal opinions like that, others will too.

Well, Dimmy, what part of the "unreasonable", "isn't right", "horrible thought" (Michele's words) "disgusting sentiment" (your words) didn't you get?

Shouldn't many people in the Middle East be asking, "Why do people like Michele hate us?" I mean let's look at root causes and stuff. Then you'll understand that Michele's "kill them all" sentiment (which she would never act on, compared to, say, the terrorists) is based on something that they could change (say, not killing our innocent civilians!!).

"Kill them all" IS a disgusting sentiment, and that is what Michele said in her post! Sheesh. Can't people read?

I don't like almost anything Bush has done in this fight against terrorism after the invasion of Afghanistan, but I completely see her point. I feel that rage and that "Why the hell do we bother trying?" exasperation, too. Yes, we might disagree on the conduct of this Administration in its handling of these terrorist morons, but we (as in the civilized world) can't sit back and make cutting each other down our top priority. One thing Michele has said that is indisputable: These perverters of Islam won't ask if you're one of their sympathizers. They'll just kill you because you're not them.

Michele, this isn't about your post, or it would have been presented in its entirety, qualifiers and hesitations included.

No, you have inconvenient views, and people might read them, so you must be destroyed.

...that other countries only exist because we allow them to exist and that all sovereignty but ours is conditional on our approval.

What part of "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" doesn't he understand?

Not so different, and now also fighting with Joshua, http://ramblingrhodes.mu.nu/
I believe he is the other link to your post.
And Michelle, I understand the emotion, but I think Joshua is right about one thing, the US could not have just gone into the country and nuked it till it glowed in the dark, we would have been sanctioned, and there probably would have been repercussions from other countries.
I'd not really considered it, but if several other countries decided to band together and take us down a notch because of our actions in Iraq, Afganistan etc, they could.
We just have to quit thinking that we are so well liked world wide that no one has a problem with us. They do, and we aren't. I personally just absolutely didn't realize this until 9/11. And my first reaction was well, they can just bite me, but that's not very productive or conducive to figuring out what went wrong. Don't get me wrong, we didn't "deserve" 9/11, but maybe we shouldn't have been surprised. Again, I think alot of people were like me, and just unaware.

There seems to be a concerted effort coming from those on the far left to wage an all-out propaganda campaign against anyone they feel is a threat to them.

Be honored, Michele. You scare the bejesus out of them. Keep it up!

I take offense at the idea of killing them all and let God sorting them out.

God won't sort them out. Satan will.

Josh will get the point which his decapitated coiffed head rests on the small of his back.

He may want to should his sympathties for them but they would just as soon cut his head off.

Tell you what, let's get money for a fact finding trip for Josh so that he can go and ask them. Seeing him squeal like a pig on camera might serve as an object lesson. This does sound harsh becuase Josh is deliberately choosing with them.

great rant!!!

Michele-keep it up! As you said, this is a PERSONAL blog, expressing your PERSONAL feelings. If they happen to upset some, who cares?? As my grandmother used to say, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." So if people don't agree with what you are saying, let them get out of the kitchen!

Thanks to softly-softly approach to radical Islam we get crap like this happening.

Of course, this is war and appeasement won't work any less than it did in the 1930s.

We're all fucked. Period. It's just a matter of time.

You're murderously indifferent, though, eh??

I started a comment, it turned into a rant. The gist: these asshats need a good long gaze into a mirror.

> I'd not really considered it, but if several other countries decided to band together and take us down a notch because of our actions in Iraq, Afganistan etc, they could.

Really? How? Be precise and complete.

Yes, the USSR and/or China could launch nukes or the EU could stop trade, but what does committing suicide do for them?

Yes, US power has limits - the US probably couldn't successfully invade the EU (if it stuck together, which is a huge IF), the UK, the USSR, or China. However, the US can make any of them uninhabitable, and with a couple of exceptions, there's nothing comparable that any of them could do in response.

"My reaction was, to the beheadings of Paul Johnson and Nick Berg, the same as yours. The anger I felt was one of frustration and I thought horrible thoughts of how I would like to get my hands on these animals and let them feel our wrath. I wonder how many other Americans felt this type of rage? These two must live in some LALA land, somewhere in the land of Oz."

I think that's part of the problem Cathy. They do have the same reaction that we do but their ideology tells them to feel this way is wrong so they rebel against their own nature. This is why they cling to deaths of Iraqis/Afganis(to show they do indeed have compassion, which they do) and find some way to excuse(should'nt have been there, part of the MID) death for the West(which somehow mitigates their initial reaction which they found reprehensible). It's why the left seems anti-american. They aren't. They just subscribe to an ideology that values self introspection and criticism above all. And that conflict bubbles forth especially in those that are the most devoted to the ideology(see Ted Rall).

The right has their problems as well. And yes, I am generalizing a bit. But in terms of why the left seems to react that way to American deaths and terror against America, this reason seems right to me.

Michele, don't think you are the only one who has had these thoughts. I don't think I'd want to talk to anyone who hasn't. Rage, rightous anger, call it what you will. If no one ever got mad, nothing would ever change.

Those of you who act like this is "war," and only through "war" will we "win," are hysterical. A few individuals in hostile regions are killed, and you are shaking in your beds in America? Do you actually fear that the United Staes of America is two steps away from defeat at the hands of a few thousand radical Islamic theocrats? Yes, they hate us; yes, they may attack again; yes, they may kill some of us: But there is NO WAY THEY CAN WIN! For crying out loud, show some backbone!

It is foolish to believe that an all-out war is the answer to our security problems, and it is insane to believe that it is the EASY answer. It is, in fact, impossible. With Iraq and Afghanistan each still on the brink of chaos, you would now have war with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan? We have the largest military in world history, and it is stretched to the limit.

Iraq is showing us that it is impractical and immoral to try to win this war through slaughter. It cannot be done. Yes, we must defeat terrorism, but every example of history from the American Revolution to the Vietnam War shows that a great power can be defeated--or fought to a bloody standstill--by a smaller, committed indigenous force. We may call ourselves liberators, but we CANNOT force a U.S.-friendly democracy upon them at the end of a gun.

Expanding this war-like approach will make enemies of those who were not our enemy--and to those of you who declare that anyone who becomes our enemy is therefore a "terrorist," I ask you to look at your reaction to 9/11. Were you a good person before? Do you desire now to kill those who killed our people? Are you still a good person? How are you different from a normal Iraqi whose block was destroyed by an American bomb? If you were in their shoes, would you actually be able to say, "Yes, my family is dead, but the Americans meant well"?

Yes, we are DESPISED and DISTRUSTED in these regions. But it is a MINORITY that actually joins the suicide terrorists. We have to find forceful diplomatic means to bring peace and stability to the region. We have to apply pressure on Israel and the Saudis, and provide support to progressive Iranian groups.

We see ourselves as Good, and indeed our ideals are the highest ever set down by a nation's founders. But we are NOT perfect. We have often compromised our ideals for strategic and economic advantage, and other people have suffered for it. It is not BLAMING AMERICA to confront this: it is simply understanding reality.

We MUST recognize our culpability and complacence in allowing authoritarian regimes to thrive with our support--Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia. Saddam, the Shah, the Royal Saudis: all did what they did to their people with our backing, and were happy to let their people blame their problems on us. And as long as their leaders suppressed dissent, we were happy to stand by and reap the strategic benefits.

Proving our good intentions and regaining trust will take generations, and we have to start by putting down the guns. There are progressive factions in the region, and people who will never agree with out Western philosophies but who still do not want endless war. It will not be easy, and it will not be without cost, but it will be just, and it WILL bring peace. Because--with the exception of a relative handful who, yes, must be ruthlessly rooted out and defeated--it is human nature to want peace for oneself and one's children.

You do not want endless war, and that's what it would be, because human history shows that what people want is independence, security, and prosperity, and they must get it for themselves. People who accomplish this will live in peace with their neighbors.

For too long, we have been part of the structure that kept down the citizens of the Arab world. If we try to keep the lid on the powder-keg or do more to ignite it, then God help us. We might win the "war," but we would lose ourselves, and the world.

Sorry--I know, I do go on.

Thank you Pk.....pretty much proved my theory as lame as it is.

"We MUST recognize our culpability and complacence in allowing authoritarian regimes to thrive with our support--Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia. "

The implied clause to this is "without actually doing anything of substance to remove the authoritarian regimes from power." Because if we do anything to correct our misjudgments of the past, we risk "losing ourselves".

Of course, as we all know, it's only America, and America alone, which has propped up dictators throughout the years. All those other players were merely working in their best interests; we did it just to be mean.

And thus we deserve everything we got coming to us.

Am I reading that right, pk?

I live and worked in the country. I happen to really like dogs. During my career I had to shoot several rabid dogs.
Screw a bunch of Joshes. These mad dogs have just beheaded that poor Korean guy. It is impractical to quarantine them, they need to be hunted down and killed. Sooner or later they'll be blowing up here. When that happens we'll have to hunt them down here. When that happens I'll go right over the Joshes if I have to. They know it. that's why they're so hysterical.

PK wrote: ...but we CANNOT force a U.S.-friendly democracy upon them at the end of a gun.

Yeah, how could anyone in their right mind think Germany or Italy could have been turned into democracies at the end of a gun? We can see how disasterous that has proven to be. Every time we do something they don't like they start threatening to kill us all.

Donna said:

I'd not really considered it, but if several other countries decided to band together and take us down a notch because of our actions in Iraq, Afganistan etc, they could. We just have to quit thinking that we are so well liked world wide that no one has a problem with us.

Since when does our being "well-liked" have anything to do with anything? Should our foreign policy be focused on making sure other countries don't "have a problem with us"? I'm sure John Kerry would agree with you.

And regarding other countries banding together to "take us down a notch", that would take cooperation and resolve. Oh, and enough combined military might. Good luck.

Wow, that was something, pk. Yep, somthing, all right...

(I didn't want to waste Michele's bandwidth, so I fisked pk's post here.)

> The implied clause to this is "without actually doing anything of substance to remove the authoritarian regimes from power." Because if we do anything to correct our misjudgments of the past, we risk "losing ourselves".

No, not what I said. I think we have to do a LOT to correct our mistakes and remove or reform the authoritarian regimes. But we do it by supporting the good guys, not by killing the bad guys for them, along with a whole lot of neutral/innocent guys.

> Of course, as we all know, it's only America, and America alone, which has propped up dictators throughout the years. All those other players were merely working in their best interests; we did it just to be mean. And thus we deserve everything we got coming to us. Am I reading that right, pk?

No. Come on. I'm not saying America is worse than everyone else, or that we deserved what we got. I'm just saying we're not perfect, and there are reasons why not everyone will support our goals even if we blow up their family. And we ought to be realistic about that.

Given the stark fear that some of you express of the imminent destruction of our society by the all-powerful Islamic supervillains, has it escaped you that the war in Iraq has been a propaganda dream for bin Laden; the greatest recruiting tool al Qaeda and its allies could have asked for; a drain on our defense and intelligence resources; and, if Iraq descends into chaos after June 30, a whole new playground for terrorists to operate in?

Germany, Italy, and Japan were top-down dictatorships--nations and goverments with armies and high-value targets. Defeat the army, occupy the territory, win the war. Then pacify and secure the more-or-less homogenous population and let them get on with governing themselves.

How many years are we going to be refereeing the Kurds, Shia, and Suni while terrorist-insurgents blow up cars, civilians, and U.S. reservists, and we blow up homes, terrorist-insurgents, and civilians? Time will tell, and maybe I'm guilty of overlooking all the new schools, hospitals, and fresh donuts, but so far the Iraq war isn't looking like a wise move made wisely.

We have to imagine another way to do this besides head-on warfare. The terrorists are non-governmental grass-roots organizations: They don't have territory and capitals to bomb and occupy. Kill them here, they go over there. It becomes a body-count war, and we lost our last body-count war. And unlike that one, in this war, our enemies have shown they will attack us here. I'd like to actually WIN this war, not fight it for 10 years and then give up.

They are an idea, and we have to defeat them ideologically, and the way to do that is to rob them of adherents, by providing people of the region with positive alternatives.

I'm not saying that'll be easy or perfect or without sacrifice, but it will be more American. And we won't need lawyers to find legal loopholes that let us wipe out a whole civilization and still not be guilty of genocide.

But we do it by supporting the good guys, not by killing the bad guys for them, along with a whole lot of neutral/innocent guys.

Who are the "good guys?" In the case of Iraq, the good guys were in jail. Or in exile. Or, in the majority of cases, DEAD. Even then, the good guys often aren't very good, only less brutal than those they'd like to replace.

And I'd like to know exactly what kind of "support" we're talking about. Please spell it out, pk.

We have to imagine another way to do this besides head-on warfare.

Because, you know, that's all we're doing. Yup, it's the sum total of the Administration's efforts in the WoT. Everyone at the State Department was sent home at 5pm on 9/11/01, and haven't returned since. Same with the DOJ and the USAID folks.

/sarcasm

"Germany, Italy, and Japan were top-down dictatorships--nations and goverments with armies and high-value targets. Defeat the army, occupy the territory, win the war. Then pacify and secure the more-or-less homogenous population and let them get on with governing themselves."

Because Iraq was a decentralized commune community?

Do you have any idea how long it took before we let Germany, Italy and Japan to even govern themselves? And that's ignoring that fact that we STILL have loads of troops stationed there.

Michele,

Those people are not worth your time. Stop listening to them; stop pretending that their opinions matter. They've chosen to ally themselves with hatemongers and fanatics. Forget about them.

PK:

What in the world makes you so damn sure that we are going to confront these regimes (Saudi, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan, etc.) militarily as a first option? It sure didn't take Libya long to figure out that the USA is deadly serious about fighting terrorism, and we were willing to back up our words with actions. Khaddafi folded like cheap patio furniture. I regret that we had to invade Iraq, but Saddam has had since 1991 (that is 12 years, BTW! How's that for a rush to war) to get back in good standing with the world community. Instead, he chose to tell us all to F**K OFF! I believe we should exercise all options before resorting to military force. But in order to make those options meaningful, one must be prepared and committed to back them up with military force. All talk and no action will get you nowhere in dealing with the Middle Eastern despots.

Hi Michele. I love your blog and I agree with a lot of what you have to say about the War on Terror. I want to win this war too and it's frustrating that so many people are in denial about the nature of the war. That said, let me put this gently: Any post including "Kill. Them. All." invites, nay, begs, to be described as "murderous indifference". Yes, it's your blog and you can say what you want and, yes, taking this quote out of context doesn't do your post justice. But so what? You still said it and you're smart enough to know that people will react to it just as viscerally as you expressed it to begin with. If you don't want people to react carelessly to what you say, why not be more careful yourself?

Perhaps they are guilty of projection.

Oh no, they absolutely never do that.

Norton's a fruitcake who couldn't get published if he were the last writer on earth. Count yourself lucky he hasn't left you another 3500-word comment that wanders all around the mulberry bush, over hill and dale, over the river and through the woods, without ever quite reaching a . . . oh, what's it called . . . oh, a point.

Good to know your existence gives the lives of a few parasitic others some meaning, though, huh?

PK,

You wrote:

Germany, Italy, and Japan were top-down dictatorships--nations and goverments with armies and high-value targets. Defeat the army, occupy the territory, win the war. Then pacify and secure the more-or-less homogenous population and let them get on with governing themselves.

Iraq was not a top-down dictatorship in your opinion?

You really need to read more history. And not rely so much on your "progressive" doctrine. Or indoctrination, as the case may be.

> In the case of Iraq, the good guys were in jail. Or in exile. Or, in the majority of cases, DEAD. Even then, the good guys often aren't very good, only less brutal than those they'd like to replace.

Iraq didn't pose a terrorist threat and if our purpose was to battle terror, we shouldn't have invaded. I was talking about countries we haven't already occupied. We took on Iraq like we took on our WWII foes. We'll see how it works out vis-a-vis the war we were actually in.

> Iraq was not a top-down dictatorship in your opinion?

Um, yeah, it WAS. I was replying to the context of another's comment; I wasn't talking about Iraq: first, Saddam's Iraq wasn't behind the terrorists we were after; second, we're talking about what to do NOW; and third, my point was that Germany, Italy, and Japan weren't a stitched-together construct of rival factions like Iraq is. We're going to have to wait a hell of a lot longer for Iraq to be able to safely govern itself than we had to wait for Germany and Italy; the reason for our longer troop presence there was because of the Soviet bloc, not because the Germans wanted to kill each other.

> And I'd like to know exactly what kind of "support" we're talking about. Please spell it out, pk.

> What in the world makes you so damn sure that we are going to confront these regimes (Saudi, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan, etc.) militarily as a first option?

I'm not so damn sure. I was arguing with those calling for more war. If you agree that other options such as support for moderate, progressive factions would be a better first option, then we're in agreement; you don't need me to spell them out. Intelligence assistance, political support, political pressure--the usual. Putting American boots on the ground in unfriendly YET NOT ACTIVELY HOSTILE territory is only going to bring more of the trouble we're trying to stop, and none of the stability that will end it.

I'm not arguing for a deemphasis on fighting terrorists; in fact, I'd like to see us get back to it. I'm just arguing with those who are talking about war and only war. That's pretty much what I got from Michele's post, and from a lot of other commenters.

Michele: "And it's not just a fight with Iraq - anyone who thinks Iraq encompasses the entire war of terror is not paying attention."

This is exactly what those of us opposed to the Iraq invasion have been saying. Iraq was a distraction from the war on terror. Americans may be too polarized to speak rationally about this, but argument after argument proffered by the administration has been reduced to smoke, with supporters mocking anyone still looking for the gun.

I'm sorry; I'd like to see the gun. Its immediate cost in lives is enormous; its eventual strategic cost in the war on terror may be enormous. Saddam was an evil man. The terrorists are evil. They weren't working together. The terrorists hated Saddam, and Saddam hated the terrorists.

It's the damndest thing, but Arabs were less bothered by Saddam slaughtering Iraqis by the hundreds of thousands than they are by Americans killing them by the tens of thousands. Call it crazy, but it doesn't change the facts on the ground, which show that, through our insistence on war, we're making the terrorist problem worse.

Iraq didn't pose a terrorist threat

Horseshit.

Abu Nidal. Salman Pak. Abu Abbas. Khala Khadr al-Salahat. Financial support for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Palestine Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf, and the Arab Liberation Front. $25,000 payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. THE ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF A FORMER US PRESIDENT AND THE EMIR OF KUWAIT.

I call that terrorism.

and if our purpose was to battle terror, we shouldn't have invaded. I was talking about countries we haven't already occupied. We took on Iraq like we took on our WWII foes. We'll see how it works out vis-a-vis the war we were actually in.

Boy, THAT's convienient. So you can't answer the point because Iraq's already been invaded? You were against the Iraq war, correct? Then I can assume that you think your plan (the whole "good guys" thing) is how we should have handled it. So, tell me how it could have worked with Iraq! You're the one who believes in the plan, not me.

And you didn't answer my question about support. It looks like you skipped over it entirely, and only briefly mention vague intelligence sharing.

I'll ask you AGAIN: spell out your "support." Military? Financial? Moral? Diplomatic? Intelligence support is one thing, but it's worthless without other types of support.

Here's what I think, pk: YOU DON'T HAVE ANY IDEA. You are in favor of fighting terrorists, but you don't know how to do it. You want opporessive governments to magically go away without anyone getting their hands dirty. You don't live in the real world.

By the way, pk, read this if you want to know the full reason why we're in Iraq, how we're fighting the WoT.

We're trying to change the Middle East. We're trying to drain the swamp, rather than wait to be hit again and again and again.

As my grandmother used to say*:

"People so dumb."

  • As always, the standard disclaimer applies that my grandmother never actually said that.

Well, well, PK. I guess we do agree on something. You said: "I'm not so damn sure. I was arguing with those calling for more war. If you agree that other options such as support for moderate, progressive factions would be a better first option, then we're in agreement". Sorry if I misunderstood you. I'm not sure we agree on the methods or the timeline (I would think my methods would be more agressive and my timeframes shorter; no more 12 year periods of jerking around), but I will always believe that the full brunt of our military should be used as a last resort.

Michele: I really want to know what Joshua means by murderous indifference, though.

I think he was talking about when you said "Kill. Them. All."

That's not what America is about. People like you are an embarrassment to our country. We have some serious house cleaning to do.

Oh well, Chimpy's going down. I'm just worried he'll weasel out of the worst of it. Like his dad, who pardoned the co-conspirators, including Caspar Weinberger, so there was no one to testify against him and his fellow traitor, the movie star.

If there's any justice in the world Chimpy will be locked up for war crimes. The Abu Ghraib scandal is just starting to break, just in time for the political season. Better make sure I've got enough popcorn-- this is going to be fun.

Oh yeah, and the A.P. is suing to have his military records released. Remember? The ones he already released? Well, now they really are going to be released. Now we'll find out why he missed his physical.

Restore honor and dignity to the oval office my butt.

Oops, that was suposed to be "military records", not "medical records". I guess I was thinking about that physical he missed.

It's not the crime, its the coverup.

Insomni: You said: "Since when does our being "well-liked" have anything to do with anything? Should our foreign policy be focused on making sure other countries don't "have a problem with us"? I'm sure John Kerry would agree with you.

And regarding other countries banding together to "take us down a notch", that would take cooperation and resolve. Oh, and enough combined military might. Good luck."

That was not what I meant, what I said was that I personally did not understand just how much of a problem other nations had with the US. How disliked we were. We've been taught to believe that we are the greatest nation on earth. That we are the great helpers of all countries. That all other countries should be in our debt because we are the ones they can call on to help them out.
I am obviously naive but I thought those things were true. I just didn't understand that other nations didn't want to be us.
I mean really, why would anyone want to live like they do when they could live like us? And that arrogance is what got us planes flying through our airspace intent on being martyrs for their cause.
We didn't see this coming because we thought we were well liked amongst the world.
Do not misunderstand me, I wouldn't vote for Kerry if he were the only one running. But do understand this, if we, as a nation do not realize that other nations do not see us as we see ourselves, they will continue to be able to attack us due to our own blindness.
And this is what I meant by other countries banding together to take us down a notch, what makes you think that there aren't enough countries with enough military might that wouldn't love to come here and take what we have? We didn't think 9/11 could ever happen either. That is the arrogance I was talking about. They wouldn't dare, we are too, (fill in the blank here). But guess what, someone already did come here. And considering there were only a few of them, they did a pretty good job of destruction didn't they? Imagine that as a well organized vendetta by a country with some resources. That arrogance will kill us in large numbers. We may be tough, but we are not tough enough to withstand a concerted effort on many fronts.
Or to break it down to your level, play a game of risk sometime. We have alot of borders.

> Imagine that as a well organized vendetta by a country with some resources. That arrogance will kill us in large numbers. We may be tough, but we are not tough enough to withstand a concerted effort on many fronts.

Killing Americans in large numbers is a really bad idea. At some point, the gloves will come off.

Imagine a plain of glass, or 40.

Andy: Imagine a plain of glass, or 40.

I thought we were there to liberate the Iraqis from a tyrant. Isn't it called "Operation Iraqi Freedom"?

The scary part is you conservatives really believe your own rhetoric.

Big Brother: "Abu Nidal. Salman Pak. Abu Abbas. Khala Khadr al-Salahat. [...] THE ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF A FORMER US PRESIDENT AND THE EMIR OF KUWAIT."

Nothing to do with 9/11! Saddam was a secular dictator doing just enough in attempts to curry favor with the broader Arab public, but not enough to incur full-on war--until we got a White House eager from the get-go to invent or define-down war pretexts and risk regional chaos. Who knows? Maybe it'll all work out swell. It's going to be a hot summer, though, and it has only strengthened al Qaeda's political hand in the region.

No, I don't think the "good guy" plan was the way to handle Iraq. I said I wasn't TALKING about Iraq. I was talking about the war on terror, and frankly, I think Iraq was pretty well "handled," geopolitically, before we invaded: no WMD, isolated and contained, NOT INVOLVED WITH 9/11. Granted: Saddam bad man. Priorities: Who was our immediate threat? From comments here, we all agree it was the actual terrorists who attacked us: NONE OF WHOM WERE IRAQIS.

Big Brother: "I'll ask you AGAIN: spell out your 'support.' Military? Financial? Moral? Diplomatic? Intelligence support is one thing, but it's worthless without other types of support."

Yes, yes, yes, all the above. Pressure on the Saudis, pressure on Syria, pressure on Israel, support for Iranian moderate/progressives. My point above all is that this is a POLITICAL challenge, NOT a military one, at least not primarily. Military solutions only drive people to hopeless violence.

Absolutely: Drain the swamp. Covert ops, deep intelligence, back-country Delta Force shit--whatever it takes. Understand I'm talking about fighting terrorists, not undermining legitimate, even if unfriendly, governments. That's how we got into this in the first place.

But open war with American boys and girls getting medieval on innocent Arabs: it'll get us nowhere, and in Iraq, it may have already set us back years in terms of stability, regional relations, security, and defense and intelligence resources.

Big Brother: "You are in favor of fighting terrorists, but you don't know how to do it. You want oppressive governments to magically go away without anyone getting their hands dirty. You don't live in the real world."

Actually, where I DON'T live is in a fantasy world where American superweapons have the power to destroy people's neighborhoods, make them forget that their oppressive governments were once our trusted allies, and somehow not make them want to join groups that want to kill us.

There are too many people who think getting their hands dirty--with blood--is the way to feel like we're "fighting terror." There is no easy way, and there will be blood, but there is a right, smart way and a wrong, stupid way. If Michele and everyone else is talking about a more general kind of "war," as in "struggle," against terror, then I don't know why we're arguing, or who you think is OPPOSED to that, outside of a few anarcho-hippies throwing bricks and granola at Starbucks.

I have no idea what Bush intends to do about terror next--which is what we all care about, right? But what he has done so far has produced a dangerously unstable situation in a part of the region that was, yes, controlled by an incredibly bad man, but was not responsible for the attacks of 9/11. (And Afghanistan doesn't look so great, either.)

So if more of his kind of "war on terror" is what you're arguing for, then we disagree. The past 18 months have given me no faith in this administration's ability to handle what comes next, politically. They've shown they can win battles and lose wars.

p.s. Donna's making good points, too: "I just didn't understand that other nations didn't want to be us. [...] We didn't see this coming because we thought we were well liked amongst the world. [I]f we, as a nation do not realize that other nations do not see us as we see ourselves, they will continue to be able to attack us due to our own blindness. [...] That arrogance will kill us in large numbers."

Understanding that doesn't mean we hate America.

Yes, yes, yes, all the above. Pressure on the Saudis, pressure on Syria, pressure on Israel,

Stop. Right. There.

ISRAEL?!?!?

You list ISRAEL as a terrorist nation?

Right up there with Syria and Saudi Arabia, eh? No mention whatsoever of the Palestinians. Nice.

I'm done with you.

I thought we were there to liberate the Iraqis from a tyrant. Isn't it called "Operation Iraqi Freedom"?

We are, and it is. Andy was referring to a response to some group or nation killing large numbers of Americans, which you conveniently didn't quote for some reason and try to claim it was in reference to Iraq. Why, oh why would you do something like that?

The scary part is you conservatives really believe your own rhetoric.

Is it their own rhetoric, or presumptions based on what you think their rhetoric means?

Big Brother, do you ever reply to the gist of a comment, or do you just seek out loopholes to pick apart?

That wasn't a list of "terrorist nations," nor meant to be comprehensive, and I certainly don't think Israel is one. Israel and the PLO by now have plenty of blame to share for the most inflammatory conflict in the most inflammatory part of the world. Both sides need pressure.

Big Brother wrote: "Abu Nidal. Salman Pak. Abu Abbas. Khala Khadr al-Salahat. [...] THE ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF A FORMER US PRESIDENT AND THE EMIR OF KUWAIT."

To which PK responded: Nothing to do with 9/11!

No one ever said that Saddam did. The war on terrorism is not about prosocuting the perpetrators of a particular crime (9-11). It is partly about that, but it is also partly about protecting ourselves from future attacks. Just because Saddam had not acted on that one occasion does not mean he hasn't acted against us in the past nor would he try again in the future.
Most leftists (I don't know if this applies to you or not, but it is common) blame Bush because he didn't act to prevent a terrorist act (9-11), and they blame him again because he is acting to try to prevent a terrorist act. You can't have it both ways.

Fair enough. I do think Americans can be forgiven for misconstruing MANY Bush administration statements to be at least implying that Saddam had something/anything/a lot/a little to do with the "imminent threat" (to coin a phrase) of al Qaeda and 9/11. Or at any rate, many Americans did get that impression.

Still, fair enough. But since the final effects of the Iraq war on the terror war remain to be seen, none of us can claim to have won the argument for/against it yet. I'm certainly hoping that Iraqi people of vision see this as the moment to take their future in their hands. It's the only hope for all of us.

PK wrote:But since the final effects of the Iraq war on the terror war remain to be seen, none of us can claim to have won the argument for/against it yet.

The problem with a wait and see attitude about winning the case for war is that if a terrorist act is prevented there is no way to prove that it was going to happen.

Saddam's connection to Al Qaeda and his involvement, whether individually or collaborativly with OBL, in terrorist acts perpetrated against the US in the past is no guarantee that he was going to do it in the future. It just makes it very likely.

The question is, which mistake would you rather make: Take Saddam out when he wasn't going to attack us, or leave him alone when he will.

Given the massive long term positive side effects of a false positive (removing a brutal dictator, liberation of oppressed Iraqi's, an anchor to democracy in the middle of the ME, etc...) versus the relatively minor short term negative side effects (civilian causualties, etc), and the massive negative side effects of a false negative (1,000's or maybe 100,000's of American civilians dead or wounded, millions around the world hurt by the economic repurcussions) and the relatively minor short term positive side effects (likeability at the UN and EU, no US military casualties, no Iraqi Civ casualties), I choose war.

PK also wrote: I do think Americans can be forgiven for misconstruing MANY Bush administration statements to be at least implying that Saddam had something...to do with ...al Qaeda and 9/11. Or at any rate, many Americans did get that impression.

Mainly because the media who is decidedly anti-Bush misrepresents those statements to a public that doesn't listen to anything other than the headlines and sure as hell don't read the actual quotes. This can most recently be seen in the NYTIMES and LATIMES headlines that the 9-11 Commission found no link between Saddam and Al Qaeda, despite the fact that the 9-11 commission did say there were multiple links, just none concerning 9-11. The very vocal leftist will be out and about screaming "No Link, No Link", while the uninformed will pick up the lie that's been told long enough and loud enough.

Masked Menace,

There's also no way to prove that a terrorist attack that DOESN'T happen was prevented by the war in Iraq. But if one DOES happen, we can pretty well say the war DIDN'T prevent it. (Maybe it didn't CAUSE it, but...just sayin'.)

I just don't believe Saddam was going to attack us. He was a dictator with a country, not a nomad terrorist. He was a brutal, corrupt coward, not a focused radical with a cause. I think he would have sat on his ass and talked up Arab/Islamic jihad and generally been a pain in the ass without doing anything to bring the real shit down. He had interests and territory to lose. That's just what I think.

As a result, I don't see your "massive long-term positives" as being as relevant, or your "minor short-term negatives" as being so negligible. If terrorism is our enemy, and hatred is what we're sowing, then I see the negatives as long-term, and quite possibly major. Our "liberation" of Iraq hasn't exactly been a PR victory. I wouldn't support Saddam--I believe we should never have supported him--but as I noted before, the Arab world will apparently tolerate casualties at the hands of Arabs in far greater numbers than at the hands of Americans. Given that Saddam was contained and apparently disarmed, he was not our highest priority.

As for arguments against the war, I don't see the "massive negative effects of a false negative" (an attack not prevented) as being very LIKELY, nor do I see the "minor short term positive effects" (good UN/EU relations, no US/Iraq casualties) as being MINOR.

It doesn't take that many angry, committed people to do great damage. Add to that the continuing likelihood of civil war in Iraq, and I don't think we've seen the end of trouble there. Iraq could become an ungovernable hotbed of conflict and terrorism in the heart of the region, not on the frontiers of Afghanistan. We clearly have neither the experience nor the resources to deal with the rival factions there, and if they can't get along and restore order, it will be chaos. At this point, that outcome appears at least as likely--to be generous--as the creation of a friendly, Western-style democracy.

All hypothetical at this point, and no longer practically in our hands. And so we "wait and see."

As for the media, given your opinion of it and my opinion of it, I think we can both agree that the media is like a reverse-mirror in which no one sees themselves.

Yes, there were communications between Saddam and al Qaeda, just as there are between terrorist groups and every gov't in the region, both friendly and unfriendly to us. But no solid tactical, operational, financial, or territorial arrangements have been found, and, indeed, nothing in the operating philosophies of bin Laden or Saddam--other than, yes, hatred of America--indicate they would ever ally themselves. Why are opponents of the war expected to prove a negative?

The "better safe than sorry" argument sounds good, but I don't believe the Iraq war has made us safer.

That said, thanks for the civil discussion. Seriously.

PK,
You are correct, that if an attack does occur, our action in Iraq didn't prevent that attack, but it may have prevented 3 others. In any case you made my point that you can't observe data after the fact to make judgements on pre-emptive action (unless there is a control group to measure against - sorry stat major coming out in me :-) ). By acting on the subject you change the result, no one knows what the result would have been, thus there is no way to compare it to what actually occured.

As such, you can only make decisions based on the information available at the time. If a policeman chasing a known killer, see that killer turn and point something at him, I expect the cop to shoot him. If it later turns out that the killer pointed a water pistol at him the cop made a mistake, but that mistake was justified. Thus finding Saddam to be mostly disarmed, may be a mistake (we did find some WMD and I doubt that was all of it) but it is one that was still justified. General consensus did not hold that he was mostly disarmed until after the US started taking steps to actually do something about it.

If by saying you don't think Saddam was going to attack us you mean that he wasn't going to fly Iraqi planes over New York and drop bombs or try to land tanks in Miami, I agree with you. But Saddam has shown in the past his willingness to use covert methods to harm us. It is not a large leap to think he would do so in the future.

If al-Qaeda presented him the opportunity to hurt us, you honestly think he wouldn't take them up on it? Do you honestly think Saddam wouldn't search them out given his rhetoric? Keep in mind the realpolitik of "The enemy of my enemy is my friend". It'll explain why secular Saddam and Religious OBL would work together (it also explains our support for Saddam against Iran). Also keep in mind Saddam believes he won Gulf War I, so loss of power is not something he would have been worried about. As such that is not a viable deterrent to him.

In addition, even if he only continues to be a pain, it is worse to have $1 a day stolen from you than $300 all at once. Eventually, you have to say enough is enough, and there is no way someone who murdered, tortured and raped his way into power, then murdered, tortured and raped to stay in power is ever going to leave that power voluntarily. It can only be done thru force, or the threat of force. Threat of force had been tried for 12 years with no success. That only leaves one option. The only question is when.

As for the long term benefits, I have a hard time believing that you find the prevention of torture of innocents irrelevent. If you think this could be achieved diplomatically see my previous paragraph again. Also the introduction of heretofor unseen freedoms may be the only real way to combat radical Islam. Thus it is imperative that we do whatever is neccesary to see things thru in Iraq, even if it takes several decades. If the Iraqi's can taste real freedom, we may yet see popular uprisings against the theocratic dictatorships abounding in the areas. At this point, perhaps, radical Islam may become analogous to the KKK: reprehensible, but not a significant player on the world stage.

As for civil discussion: you are quite welcome. I find the chance for me to persuade you and you to persuade me incredibly fun. I have been known to argue points and convince others and I have been known to argue points and lose and consequently change my views. This generally explains why I am now much more conservative and slightly libertarian than I used to be.

Have a good night.

Saddam's evil is of course the one place where every argument against the war is weak. I can't deny that. All I can say is that I think Bush went about it in a way guaranteed to deny us the allies and resources necessary to do it right. Worse, because the reasons for war were so manifold and convoluted and in some cases dishonest, the American public may lose focus and want to quit before we reach the goal of Iraqi liberation. And that will make the battle against terror much more difficult.

Patrick Chester: Andy was referring to a response to some group or nation killing large numbers of Americans, which you conveniently didn't quote for some reason and try to claim it was in reference to Iraq. Why, oh why would you do something like that?

Oops. You're right on this one. I didn't read his post very carefully.

:-(

PK:
I don't see how Bush could have gone about what he did in any way that would have brought us more Allies than he did. The UN is largely ineffectual. It had passed, give or take, 15 resolutions over 12 years trying to get Saddam to comply, with no success and no action taken. It reminds me of the Monty Python line, "STOP, or I shall say Stop again!" We are also finding that France likely had a conflict of interest.

Of course, the answer "It was impossible to get more Allies" usually brings the response, "Then he shouldn't have acted". This is the standard internationalist/European paradigm. The level of consent is the measure of correctness of action. The only way to insure that action is in the best interest of the group is everyone has to agree to that action. If there are some in the group that propose action and most do not, then corrective action is taken to bring those countries back into consensus. This seems to follow logically, however, it is based in a faulty premise, that the majority is always right. The problem is that the majority isn't always right. This is why Americans typically don't care about being well liked. Sometimes, there is a big difference between doing the right thing and the popular thing. This post does a fairly elequent explanation of this contrast between US and European mentality.

I, too, worry that the public will lose their will to fight. But not for the reasons I think you do. I worry that OBL is right in saying that Americans are fat, lazy, and have no will to tolerate sacrifice and blood. Americans today are a microwave society, they expect difficult situations to be resolved overnight. I wonder if todays generation could have fought WWII and won given it would take 5 years of very bloody warfare to do it. It's not the military I worry about. The soldiers would fight until the fight was won. But the public today screams as we've lost almost 1000 soldiers in over a year, how would they handle losing 10s of thousands of troops in one day on Normandy? Would the politicians have retreated until Germany and Japan put boots on American soil. Long after it's too late? Iraq could never deal us such a blow, but I fear today's society is unwilling to support tasks which are difficult regardless of the benefits. War is awful, it is brutal, both the guilty and the innocent die, but sometimes the cost of inaction is greater.

I've enjoyed the conversation we've had over the last days. I think we've each made most of the points we've wanted to make. Perhaps, we'll return to this dicussion on a later thread. It's been fun.