Scarecrow on Dick Cheney’s Honor

From Scarecrow at Firedoglake, a nice catalogue of reasons why Dick Cheney is in no position to lecture the world on the subject of U.S. honor: Dick Cheney’s Honor.

18 Responses to “Scarecrow on Dick Cheney’s Honor”

  1. shcb Says:

    Judging by the name of this site and the after reading some of the entries, I get the feeling there is some animosity directed at President Bush. At the risk of injecting truth and facts into the discussion, the President did not lie in regards to our entry into the Iraqi campaign. I use the term campaign advisedly, we are not fighting a war against Iraq, we are fighting a war against Islamo-facism, Iraq is merely one battleground.

    Definition time class, to be a lie, three conditions must be met; first the statement must be untrue, second the person making the statement must know at the time he makes the statement it is untrue, lastly a degree of malice needs to be present. While the third condition is not technically required for a lie to occur, it does limit the degree of the lie. “I did not sleep with that woman” is a lie. By itself it is mediocre in severity, under oath in a sexual harassment case the level is raised several notches. “Your blue hair is very attractive grandma” doesn’t even raise the needle off the peg.

    To date I haven’t seen any credible evidence anyone in the Bush administration got much higher on the scale than winking to grandpa after the blue hair comment. Faulty information was gleaned by our intelligence community to be sure, but this is war after all. Armed conflict has a long and storied history of inadequate intelligence. The enemy after all is a thinking, conniving adversary, opportunities are frequently fleeting and brief. As analytical as we try to be, emotions still come into play, reputations and pride take their toll. All in all, we try and limit our human faults, think as Mr. Spock would and give it our best shot. We then observe the results and adjust tactics to suit, again with all our human limitations. To do less in serious situations would surely invoke an even greater peril. A rush decision as to mustard or not a hotdog at the ball game probably won’t have long term ramifications on anyone’s life. The decision of a firefighter to tuck the young child under his arm and jump through a window, risking both lives while the building is collapsing around them may.

    Back to that history thing. In WW II the Germans though the Allies would land at Calais, some still held this opinion several weeks after the invasion. At Iwo Jima, the Japanese built almost 11 miles of tunnels most of which were 20 m below the surface of the small island, all without detection by the Americans and their allies. The beaches were volcanic ash, not sand as the Allies thought. Again the crafty Japanese farmed these beaches undetected to the point tanks were bogged down making them stationary targets for artillery. In the battle of Leyte Gulf, Japanese Vice-Admiral Takeo Kurita mistook the task force Taffy 3 for Admiral Halsey’s main battle group. In his haste to secure a killing blow to the Americans’ landing in the Philippines, he rushed his vastly superior force into action without forming a traditional fleet line. This allowed the small destroyers and destroyer escorts, whose combined weight was less than the Yamato alone, to dart and weave at great peril to themselves and their crews to striking distance of the two greatest battle ships in history, sink the Musashi, and send the Yamato running back to the home land. When the smoke cleared, the Imperial navy was all but destroyed by a hand full of escort ships with 5” guns, some WW I battle ships, and a few state of the art battleships that had been re-floated and refitted after Pearl Harbor. Remember Halsey? He was off chasing nearly useless Japanese aircraft carriers with almost no planes on them. Military intelligence at its best. But if you will note, even with all the mistakes and misinformation, WE WON. Primarily because we didn’t give up, and we didn’t allow pacifists to surrender on our behalf.

    But fear not my little liberal friends. I understand why you don’t see the need to go to war, or know how to judge if progress is being made or not. I know why you are always against the best interest of the United States. You hate war. You see no utility in armed conflict of any sort. If you had your way all wars would end in a tie, after a few of these you could legitimately say there is no purpose in war. Since you are pragmatic enough to understand a tie is almost an impossibility, you settle for America to loose by a little. You don’t want a great loss of life of our boys, just enough to make us not want to engage in the next battle. This is suicidal public policy if allowed to become mainstream thought.

    I can’t expect you to be well informed about military history, strategy, or tactics. You hate war. I hate opera, I will probably never be an expert opera commentator because human nature is human nature and unless I am well paid to pinch my nose and suffer yet another fat soprano, I simply won’t put forth the effort. But I won’t criticize the rotund lady either.

    If you have a suggestion of how to defeat this vicious enemy, we’re listening. If you’re just going to repeat lies about lying, go do what you do best and volunteer at a soup line and feel good about what you’re doing. Leave the dirty work to us, we’ll protect you.

    Short Haired Country Boy

  2. ymatt Says:

    Wank wank wank wank.

  3. shcb Says:

    I’ll take that as a concession to my points. I win again! Libs are so easy.

  4. ymatt Says:

    And I’ll take that as evidence that your post was an eleborately executed piece of sarcasm. “Leave the dirty work to us” indeed — well done, sir! Riotous parody!

  5. shcb Says:

    No lies, no parody, meant every word.

    “I’ve always followed my father’s advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intended to.”

    John Wayne

  6. shcb Says:

    Let me expound on the statement “we will protect you” in a simplified example. As a gun owner and a believer the second amendment is one of the four most important items that make America the greatest nation on earth, I don’t care if you don’t own a gun or hate guns and gun owners. If you want to depend on the police for personal protection, more power to you, if someone is committing a crime against me, and I have a gun, the response time for help to arrive is about 3 seconds, if you want to wait 5 minutes, so be it. If we were neighbors and my home was armed and yours wasn’t, I am protecting you by proxy because the crook who is attacking random homes doesn’t know which house is armed and which house isn’t armed, so at the margins it may deter a criminal. If you want to test this theory, get a sheet of plywood and paint something like “there are no guns on the premises, violence solves no problems” and see how long it is before your stuff is missing or a family member is raped or killed.

    So people like me that see the utility in war, us warmongers, protect the pacifists in the process of protecting ourselves.

    “To abjure violence is a luxury which a delicate few enjoy only because others stand ready to do violence in their behalf” George Orwell

  7. ymatt Says:

    Haha, quoting John Wayne — awesome. I still have trouble believing that a reasoning person could actually espouse the kind of git-er-done foreign policy you’re going on about, but I’ll bite and respond as point-by-point as I can.

    “…we are not fighting a war against Iraq, we are fighting a war against Islamo-facism, Iraq is merely one battleground.”

    So we’ve removed the most secular (if brutal) leaders in the Middle East, actively unfriendly to al Qaeda by all accounts, and this somehow is about the “war against Islamo-fa(s)cism”? There are a hundred more plausible reasons for Bush to have invaded, not that he’s made it at all clear which one is “it”. I have my own theories, but I think it’s pretty damn clear that one way or another Iraq was a target of opportunity that has now created a more chaotic Middle East. That sure isn’t harming the Islamo-fascists.

    “To date I haven’t seen any credible evidence anyone in the Bush administration got much higher on the scale than winking to grandpa after the blue hair comment.”

    So lying about a blow job under oath is of a high level of severity, but lying repeated to the American people, the UN, and anybody else who will listen about our reasons for invasion is a wink to grandpa? The reasons for invasion changed time and again as we approached the invasion, and once no WMDs were found — the reason that pulled enough public support for Bush to go with it — suddenly this became a humanitarian mission… and then a matter of “fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here”. At least some of those statements were flat lies, and the adminstration has demonstrated a disturbing tendency to lie about anything it thinks we don’t need to know about (warrantless wiretaps, CIA abductions, etc etc), the law be damned.

    “Faulty information was gleaned by our intelligence community to be sure, but this is war after all. Armed conflict has a long and storied history of inadequate intelligence.”

    I’ll remind you that we were in fact *not* in armed conflict with Iraq when this intelligence was gathered. And as we made claims of WMDs, there were UN inspectors in Iraq refuting — correctly as we now know — those claims. The intelligence was bad, but given the huge amount of non-administration skepticism for this intelligence even at the time, it’s pretty clear that the administration wasn’t looking for reliable intelligence, only intelligence supportive of invasion.

    “The decision of a firefighter to tuck the young child under his arm and jump through a window, risking both lives while the building is collapsing around them may.”

    By this analogy, I assume you mean that we were making a choice between inaction and possible dire consequences. That analogy of course doesn’t hold as even if Saddam *had* had any significant weapons, he had absolutely no method of doing any harm to the United States with them (although Condi did her best to wink-wink nudge-nudge the connection with her “mushroom cloud” nonsense).

    “Back to that history thing. In WW II the Germans though the Allies…”

    I’ve already spoken to the “bad intelligence” argument, but I do want to make a point about the implicit parallels you’re drawing with your extended analogy to WW II, the kind of parallels that Bush seems to like drawing these days, because I think there’s a very important comparison to be made here.

    When we entered WW II, Europe had been all but overrun by the Nazi regime, with millions being executed on the whim of a madman. Imperial Japan was greedily expanding throughout the Pacific, raping and killing in their wake. This was, very literally, an all-out struggle for the fate of free civilization. To win that war, 60 million people had to die. Judgment calls were made on imperfect intelligence because a lost opportunity could mean a turn of the tide that could end with the US as the lone holdout against two powerful, militant, and I think I can even say evil, superpowers. We nuked two Japanese cities to halt one theater of that conflict — and very sadly I believe it was probably the right thing to do.

    Comparing this struggle to the war in Iraq, even the War on Terror, is both idiotic and insulting. You want brutal pragmatism? All right: On 9/11 we lost 4,000 innocent citizens because those aboard the airliners that crashed into the WTC thought they were on hijacked planes that would end with a landing and some tense negotiation. It was, by any reasonable measure, a horrificly sad fluke, but about 10 times more people die every year in car crashes. This is nothing even remotely comparable to a struggle for our nation’s existence. It’s not WWII, WWI, the Civil War, or the American Revolution. This isn’t even the Viet Nam or Korean Wars — those at least were responses to invasions of sovereign nations. No, we experienced a horrific fluke, and this administration used that as a springboard for the invasion of a sovereign nation, resulting so far in the deaths of as many soldiers as civilians that died on 9/11 and around 60,000 Iraqi civilians, and costing us sums of money that will haunt us for generations. And we did it on nothing more than tenuous intelligence that Saddam maybe, someday, somehow might possibly hurt us.

    “But if you will note, even with all the mistakes and misinformation, WE WON. Primarily because we didn’t give up, and we didn’t allow pacifists to surrender on our behalf.”

    We won because we had to and because nothing else mattered if we didn’t. This is a war where even defining “winning” is very difficult indeed, and the stakes are infinitely lower. The men who died in WWII fought to preserve our way of life. Osama, with a fluke, has caused us to start down the road to giving up our way of life voluntarily.

    “But fear not my little liberal friends. I understand why you don’t see the need to go to war, or know how to judge if progress is being made or not. I know why you are always against the best interest of the United States.”

    No, you know how to put words in other people’s mouths to prop up your own John Wayne conceptions of what this war is about. The United States is my home and I want to see it keep the values that I think make it unique and great. There is nothing about this war that has anything to do with our best interests. I’m interested in seeing us respect the rule of law, both domestic and international, and going to war only when the inevitable cost, chaos, and bloodshed is without a doubt worth it (and make no mistake, there are times when it is sadly worth it). That’s an incredibly high standard, and one that America did well by sticking to for much of its history. This time, we failed.

    “If you have a suggestion of how to defeat this vicious enemy, we’re listening.”

    You first. Bush has clearly not offered a solution, and has only succeeded in strengthening the enemy. And remember that this is an enemy that is statistically less dangerous to you than driving to work every day. The response to that kind of enemy is controlled, and precise. When you need to fight the big battles, as we did in Afghanistan, you have to win them solidly and we have failed to do even that as we waste our resources, lives, and attention on Iraq.

    “Leave the dirty work to us, we’ll protect you.”

    When the crook shows up on my doorstep, I’ll be ready with a gun. But I refuse to drive across town to shoot at a guy that might possibly be a crook, only to inflict a flesh wound and incite the other real crooks nearby, and incidentally start a local gang war that we can’t leave until we “win”. That’s a stupid analogy, but hey, you started it.

  8. shcb Says:

    Well, I am a thinking man, I’m a senior engineer for an international company that employees in the neighborhood of four thousand people, 50 years old, white, bad hearing and poor eyesight. I’m also a redneck with a git-er-done attitude, we live on a small farm outside Denver. When the neighbor’s ewe was attacked by a coyote and left for dead while her husband was on a business trip, I got my rifle off the gun rack in my pickup, another stereotype, and put the critter out of her misery. She had called the vet, but it was going to be a couple hours, and we didn’t want to have her laying there with her guts hanging out suffering that long. When stalls need cleaned, we don’t call “the guy”, we clean the damn stalls. I’ve seen my daughters shear sheep and unload and stack a ton of feed in the morning, and go to the opera in the evening. And John Wayne is still our hero, just like when we were kids.

    Admittedly, Bush isn’t the most articulate communicator and didn’t sell this campaign very well. There were, I believe, 23 or so reasons to invade Iraq in the brief given to congress, somewhere around a third had to do with WMD. The administration, in my opinion, took the easy way out, they made WMD the most important aspect. WMD of course was a very important aspect, but others were important as well. The other criticism of the administration I have is the “we’re going to get the job done, and get out” statements. Any student of history knows we will be there for the next 40 years, like Japan, Germany and so on. I think we just gave Iwo Jima back to Japan a few years ago. We won’t be there in any great numbers like now, but we will maintain 10 to 20 thousand troops somewhere out of the way, probably down by the ports.

    You’re right, Iraq was a target of opportunity, we are at war, that is what you do when your objective is to win. The reason for removing the most secular leader is because he ruled the most secular nation of the enemy nations, making it the most likely to accept democracy. It was also the weakest as far as we knew having defeated its forces a decade earlier. Attack your enemies weaknesses, exploit the vacuum created by that attack to create and even greater weakness, and then attack that weakness. That is how wars are won. Since you don’t think we are at war, your objective is not to win, mine is. That is where our irreconcilable difference is.

    Have we created more enemy fighter, probably, but what is the alternative? If my enemy has 1000 fighters and I kill 200, causing 500 to join forces giving me 1300 now to fight, I have to fight 1300. The 500 that joined are more than likely second stringers, less likely to fight as hard as the original 1000 or there would have been 1500 to start with. The alternative is to be overrun by the original 1000.

    As to the lies, I have yet to see someone that says Bush lied to give a quote of one of these lies, in context. The “lies” seem to be more impressions of what Bush meant when he said something. While reading between the lines is important, I wish opponents would be more accurate. I fear dilution of the word “lie”.

    I’m with you on the torture and abduction thing, I think we should shut down Gitmo too, we should follow the Geneva conventions and execute any foreign fighter not in uniform on the spot. Fighters not covered by the Geneva conventions because they are not fighting for a signing country can be covered by the rules of the conventions if they follow those rules, this enemy isn’t.

    Wiretaps, read the FISA (hope I have that right) law, I can find the section in my notes if you like, it gives the President, through the justice department, authorization to engage in electronic surveillance of anyone foreign or domestic if the calls are about acts against the USA. The law is in two sections one right after the other, I wish I could remember the numbers. The only stipulation is the administration has to give a report of the program every 6 months, I believe. The wording is quite clear an unambiguous. It is just a law, you guys have both houses, you can repeal it if you want. You can also de-fund the war, but for all the bluster, I don’t think your guys have the guts to do either.

    I guess I don’t understand your statement that we were not in armed conflict with Iraq when the intelligence was gathered. I’m sure the guys patrolling the skies over the no fly zone would have a different opinion. But let’s say you’re right, we were using the intel as a reason to invade, of course we weren’t in an armed conflict, at least not on the ground. Germany didn’t attack us in WWII either, neither did Bosnia, Viet Nam, Panama, Grenada, or Cuba. The reason for preemptive war is to avoid being attacked. If you wait to be attacked before acting, you will be in a perpetual siege. Once a castle was surrounded and a siege was underway, the only way to prevent the inevitable sacking of the kingdom was to either break out of the castle with your armies of depend on a friendly kingdom to come to your assistance. It was much more preferable to meet your enemy before it came to that.

    As I’ve said, I think WMD wasn’t the only important reason to engage Iraq. But WMD was a big concern. We know he had WMD in the form of poison gas, the UN cataloged something like 20,000 shells with gas in them. Deeming them too dangerous to move, the UN left them in place with nothing more than a sealed lock to guard them. The sides of the bunkers housing the shells were louvered and easily removable. The UN “inspected” these bunkers periodically by stopping by and making sure the seal on the lock was intact. When the US inspectors arrived (the marines) the shells were gone. So yup, he didn’t have WMD. He did however have 1.77 metric tons of yellow cake, enough to make between 1 and 6 Hiroshima size bombs depending on the purity of the yellow cake. He had 7000 series aluminum tubes drawn over a mandrel to smooth the interior. This is the tubing used to make a centrifuge. The 911 commission dismissed this, preferring to beleave Sadam. He said they were using the tubes for missile production (which is against the cease fire agreement). The rest of the world uses 6061 aluminum for missile tubes. The head of his nuclear development department, who defected, has stated Sadam was waiting for sanctions to be lifted to restart the program, heard the interview myself. Finally, in the famous speech where your side says Bush said Iraq was and imminent threat, if you actually listen to the speech, you will see that Bush actually says that we need to deal with Iraq “before it becomes an imminent threat”

    I’ve addressed our differing opinions of whether we are at war or not, but let me be clear, this situation is indeed not as serious as WWII and I would like to keep it that way. History has shown Churchill was right and Chamberlain wrong.
    Question: You will not deny the use of force is only the last resort?
    Answer: “I not only deny it, I denounce it as a mischievous, dangerous cliché. Force should be resorted to when the absence of force does not affect an imperative national objective and should always be used when less force guards against the use of more force at a later time. A lesser force used against Hitler in 1937 would have prevented the need for greater force used against him beginning in 1941. the difference between the two modes of force is measured by about 45 million lives.” William F Buckley

    Bush has not only offered a solution, he has done it. By attacking the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has removed these as safe havens of radical Muslims. Something resembling democracy is sprouting, giving women not only the vote but an active voice in government, unheard of even five years ago. Tens of thousands of our enemy are dead with minimal loss of life to the civilian population from our weapons, and minimal loss of life of our soldiers. We have removed the WMD threat in Iraq and have forced other nations in the area to be less hospitable to radical elements, primarily Libya and Saudi Arabia. Sounds like a solution to me, of course it is more of a git-er-done solution than a talk-em-ta-death solution, but to each his own.

    Finally, (I’ve got to learn to be more succinct) your analogy of the crook at the door. I agree giving him a flesh wound, inciting the others is not a good idea. It shows an unwillingness to git-er-done. If crime from this group has gotten to an unacceptable level, and you really want to stop it , wade into the middle of them, kill a half dozen and make it perfectly clear you’re not going to take any more shit from them. Problem solved.

    Short Haired Country Boy

  9. ymatt Says:

    I don’t think my disagreement with you is ideological so much as it is factual. The data from which you draw your conclusions seems taken entirely from the mouths of the administration, and I think I can only encourage you to seek dispassionate sources that don’t have a stake in swaying your opinion one way or the other. While I agree that the difficult jobs must sometimes be done (see our action in Kosovo), I deeply disagree with the evidence and conclusions throughout your reply about the effectiveness and results of this war.

    When you’re willing to give Bush a pass for “impressions of what [he] meant when he said something”, I think you’re going out of your way to defend him. It was extremely clear to everybody at the time that Bush and others in the administration were scaring us with visions on imminent attack — “less than 45 minutes” was a phrase that was used. I am quite sure that all of those statements were carefully crafted to not be technical “lies”, but that doesn’t in the slightest change the fact that the public was gravely misled. And that’s not how democracy is supposed to work. Once you can see that objectively, I think you’ll be less likely to trust their words, and their version of reality that is very far separated from the reality that we and the Iraqis inhabit.

    And even if you’re willing to dismiss the disingenuity and focus on ends instead of means, the fact remains that we have not, in fact, gotten-er-done. I agree that sometimes force needs to be used to avoid greater violence, but one must still be very careful in invoking this reasoning. Roosevelt and Churchill acted when it was necessary. Bush I believe has acted rashly.

    I am also an engineer, and it’s a profession that I love because the engineers’ first response to a problem is to start working on it, rather than overanalyzing it. You’ll never progress to the solution if you’re not making any progress at all. But the best engineers I know know how to adjust direction as they go to find an elegant solution, as efficiently as possible. But the worst engineers I know only give the illusion of progress by making quick decisions without consideration, and the illusion of skill by being stubborn in the face of problems that can be avoided. Bush seems every ounce the bad engineer to me.

  10. shcb Says:

    Well Ymatt, I think we may be drawing close to an impasse. I don’t think either is going to sway the other, and we’ve pretty much laid all our cards out for whoever else reads this thread. But I may be wrong, I’ve been wrong before, it was in ’75 or ’76 I believe.

    I do instinctively trust this administration and conservatives in general, and distrust liberals. I think that is only natural, I’m sure you’re the same. I recognize my biases and prejudices, but I also try and do as Reagan said “trust but verify”. As all of us, I have a job and a life so I can’t study this stuff 10 hours a day, so a lot of my info comes from talk radio, web sites etc. When I’m listening, I tend to take with a grain of salt obvious opinions and things that are stated “facts” unless the speaker gives a source that is reputable. My lowest measure of reputability is, as the word implies, do they have a reputation to uphold, is their livelihood dependent on that reputation. No one should take anything you or I say on this page with anything but passing amusement because we have nothing to loose, hell we don’t even give our names here. They may use it further their own research, but that’s all.

    I do listen and read stuff from the left and just find it mostly, but not always, incompatible with history or common sense. I haven’t been real impressed with the honesty of the main stream press lately either, Dan Rather and his forged documents (he still thinks there was nothing wrong with that story) Reuters doctoring photos and staging shoots, Democrats that were all for the war and then weren’t, and now it looks like global warming may be a charade of mistruths and cooked research. And no one seems to be able to produce a “lie”.

    I also believe this administration because I believe in this mission on it’s merits, I would have the same opinion if it where this or the Clinton administration should 911 have happened on his watch, I probably would have been more critical of Clinton on peripheral issues such as troop levels and tactics in the field, but so much of that is Monday morning quarterbacking, and my biases showing.

    As an admittedly very amateur student of military history and tactics, I have looked at his situation and have concluded this was the right move from a strategic standpoint. As you have said, it is the most secular nation in the area, it is located in the center of the area, it has a port, some of the countries in that region are land locked. It has oil, and since oil is the fuel of democracy and capitalism, its free flow is vital to our national security.

    Ymatt, if this doesn’t rise to level of the need to use force, pray tell what does? We were attacked on 911 by the Muslim world, not all Muslims to be sure, just as not all Germans or Japanese attacked us, but we were attacked. We didn’t spend time individually hunting down only the pilots that attacked Pearl Harbor, we attacked JAPAN. It wasn’t just a rouge, fanatical splinter group, we’ve been being attacked since the Carter administration, we just ignored it. I’m sure you have heard the list of attacks that have occurred on every administration’s watch since Carter, so I won’t give it here. When you are at war, and you want the war to come to a conclusion, someone has to win, and someone has to loose. I know this war won’t end with a ceremonial signing on a battleship moored at Pearl Harbor, in fact it’s going to be difficult to know when the war is over, it took 4 presidential administrations to understand we were even at war, two of them two term presidencies. The best measure I have of knowing we are even close is when Muslim clerics and national governments denounce these butchers as just that. I know we’ll never reach 100% but right now I don’t think it is much over 5% of the Muslin leaders denouncing the actions of these baby killers. Until that day comes we have to continue to fight the countries on a military and diplomatic level, and the splinter groups on a police and covert ops level.

    Conservatism isn’t easy, doing the right thing rarely is, ask anyone who has successfully raised children. Liberalism is easier, you just shove the stall cleaning off to someone else or ignore crap is building up. Conservative don’t want to be in this fight, we were happy buying their oil and let them abuse their women, and chop off shoplifter’s hands. But they sucker punched us one too many times. So now we have to get the shovel and rake out and start cleaning those stalls, we know we’re not going to get help from the Europeans and none from the libs, we just wish they would stay out of the way.

  11. ymatt Says:

    I’ll respond to your question: “if this doesn’t rise to the level of the need to use force, pray tell what does?”

    Responding to 9/11 did in fact have a reasonable forceful response: invading Afghanistan, with a government that was legitimately using much of its resources to help and harbor the training of the guys making these attacks. And it is not a country that suffers from immense factional tensions, so invasion posed far fewer risks of potentially causing worse problems than were solved.

    Iraq however — and I urge you to go back and check your facts here — was not in any way connected to 9/11. Even Cheney has admitted this under questioning (again a case of technical truth versus the impression that even you have taken away). Simply saying that “the Muslim world” attacked us is dangerously ignorant of the real Middle East. I’m certainly not an expert, but everything I’ve read indicates that Saddam, the secular dictator holding together a divided nation (Saddam’s Iraq was secular, but the Iraqis themselves are far less so than even the Iranians on average), had a vested interest in keeping Al Qaeda outside Iraq. Would he have liked to harm the US anyway? Sure, but he had absolutely no ability to do so, and here I again urge you to check your facts. He was not at all close to developing a nuclear weapon. Even if he had, there was no way of him delivering it. The UN inspection process, despite Saddam squirming around it as much as possible, was working. The inspectors said so before the invasion, and they have been proven correct.

    There are times when force is necessary, but you can’t just use one event as a blank check for use of force wherever you like. Unless of course you take up the other point of view that you bring up: that invading Iraq is justified because it gives us control of a good tactical position and resources. Even setting aside whether or not this was a good purely-military decision (given the expense, I doubt it), this is extremely dangerous reasoning. You seem to believe that this is an all-out war with the Middle East (which again is patently untrue, if you look at the extremely low level of real threat to the US) and so we can make these kinds of military decisions. But the rest of the world firmly believes that we are a nation invading another for reasons that are neither defensive nor humanitarian. You may say “so what”, but when the rest of the world believes that, we have become an empire, and that’s a strategically very dangerous thing when there are other superpowers in the world, and it’s a shameful thing for a nation that should be trying to make the world a better place, not necessarily a more American one.

  12. ymatt Says:

    And seriously, read this statement again:

    “We were attacked on 911 by the Muslim world, not all Muslims to be sure, just as not all Germans or Japanese attacked us, but we were attacked. We didn’t spend time individually hunting down only the pilots that attacked Pearl Harbor, we attacked JAPAN.”

    Japan was a powerful nation with millions of troops, shpis of war, an airforce, artillery, and strong industry supporting its military. Ignoring its threat could easily have led in time to the occupation of our allies and the US itself. Do you really think that Al Qaeda is anything like this kind of threat? Terrorism is used by an enemy that is too weak to mount a true offense, and seeks to inspire fear, and we have been made fearful. True bravery is not stubbornly pursuing a deadly, expensive, counter-productive war with an unrelated enemy — it would be refusing to change our way of life in the face of terrorist attack, and that’s where we’ve lost ground to this enemy.

  13. shcb Says:

    Well, I think you have managed to boil this argument down to the core issue, forget all the crap about lying and my John Wayne bluster, the quick of this argument is how big a problem do we have here. I always liked the line from the Dire Straights song “two men say there’re Jesus, one of them must be wrong”. The question is have I been duped by a lying, conniving administration or have been duped by lying, naive liberals. I’ll put my money on the later, and use history as my backup any day of the week.

    Step back for a moment if you can and read your last post from my point of view, that this is a world war against an enemy that will stop at nothing short of our domination or death. You forget WWII was fought before nuclear bombs and missiles, it was also fought with battleships, where are they now? In historical berths like Pearl Harbor and Houston. Times change, so does war and tactics. A cruise missile can hit a ship from 100 miles away, the biggest gun in WWII the 18” on the Yamoto could only muster a little over 30 making battleships obsolete. You don’t need an aircraft carrier to destroy a city, just an old UPS jet, you do however still need a country to produce a nuke, even the richest James Bond villains didn’t have the money to produce one themselves.

    Look at the history of liberals underestimating despotic regimes; Chamberlain underestimated Hitler, 50+ million dead. Truman versus Stalin, 25 million. Uncle Walter and the college professors won the Viet Nam war ( for the enemy) their communist opponents (or were they allies), killed ¼ the Cambodian people, their own people, 1 to 1.5 million.

    You may be right, I may have been duped if I am, I’ll be the first to admit it. History said that it was impossible to win a war without boots on the ground, and yet that is just what Clinton did in Bosnia, I was wrong. I would however rather be wrong than have one of my daughters killed while having a cup of coffee a block away from ground zero.

    As far as Iraq and Al Qaeda not being friendly, I don’t remember the Russian translation, but the quote goes something like, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Hence, our alliance with Stalin and China in WWII, and Saddam when he was fighting Iran.

    As to your last statement, to keep a stiff upper lip, as the British would say, while under attach is surely a brave and commendable trait, to do nothing else is simply suicidal. To keep a stiff upper lip, while cheering on our boys and their valiant leaders in their quest to vanquish the enemy is just as commendable and so much more pragmatic.

  14. ymatt Says:

    I think you’re right that we’ve reached the core of the disagreement, and I think I at least have gained some new insight from it. It’s sad how amidst all the conservative-vs-liberal bluster (and I detest the bluster on both sides) that the substantial, reasoned viewpoints are lost completely. I think you haven’t been able to hear viewpoints against the war like mine above the noise of democrats pointlessly (and often hypocritically) complaining, even though I don’t consider myself either “liberal” or “conservative” — and I haven’t been able to hear viewpoints like yours above the noise of republicans shouting down critics as traitors.

    That said, I do profoundly believe that this is not a war of the type that can be won in a heavy-handed manner. And I don’t believe that the risks are anywhere near the level for us to be incurring the costs and making the risky decisions that we are. Understanding that you fundamentally disgree with those beliefs actually sheds a lot of light for me on the real reasons for the support for this war even in the administration itself, and thanks to you for that. But I still have to hope that those who hold my viewpoint (Obama’s my man in ’08) take control of our direction. And I hope even more that we’re right, as I’m sure do you.

  15. shcb Says:

    Well done my friend, we may never agree on everything, but as an old friend says “that’s why they make chocolate, strawberry and vanilla”, at least we remained civil. I don’t mind being called an idiot, I’ve called myself that on more than one occasion, as long as there is a reason. I dislike, as you said, when shouting and name-calling is mistaken for honest debate. I have really enjoyed this back and forth, I hope others will read it and see how a vigorous, bare-knuckled debate can proceed for days on end and end with a smile and a handshake in center court at the end of the match. Perhaps we will meet in the field of battle again. Thanks for helping out with Pearl Harbor on the other thread, I owe you one.

    I agree this war will not be won on the battlefield; all I think we can hope for is to keep it at bay. Women are going to win this war, when Muslim women say enough is enough, and tell their sons to not blow themselves up the war will be over. When Muslim women get real power in the governments, and the workplace, and feel they can speak their minds freely, the war will be over.

    Good luck with Obama, he seems like a good man, way to liberal for me, (I’m grinning now), but hey, the best man (or woman) will probably win. I haven’t made my mind up yet on my side, I keep hoping someone new will pop up, I am leaning the direction of Rudy right now, never much cared for McCain, If it were the gov from New Mexico, Richards? Richardson? And McCain, I might even vote Democrat, don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret ballot after all.

    Take care

  16. enkidu Says:

    Well this is a refreshing change: two very different opinion holders discussing things in a generally civilized manner. shcb enjoys a bit of the backhanded put down (“little” “naive” etc), but seems willing to at least talk about the current situation in adult tones. Well done. I would like to point out that some of his ‘facts’ are just plain wrong (ex: Clinton put boots on the ground in the Balkins, and the intervention resulted in few losses and substantial successes).

    I think the crucial flaw in shcb’s position is the touching faith in a failed and incompetent administration. While in another thread poster ‘newpearlharbor’ made a wide array of conspiracy theory claims (with a charming punctuation style if I may say so ;-), I think Occam’s Razor easily reduces the “why?” of 9/11 not to some incredibly elaborate (and therefor highly unlikely) über conspiracy. Our government is just plain incompetent and at best actively malevolent. It is as simple as that. Middle East peace has taken about 20 steps back under w, and it isn’t all the fault of 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. The ‘Road Map’ is a complete failure.

    We haven’t killed Osama and Mullah Omar or incapacitated the extremists (it would be tempting to include w, cheney and the neocon war/noise machine). Pakistan has the bomb and plenty of radicals, yet the tribal areas are seeing a huge resurgence in taliban and al queda activity. Afghanistan is moving in the wrong direction, Iraq is moving in the wrong direction, the middle east, our position in the world and indeed America itself… all moving in the wrong direction. In fact we have done nearly everything in our power to enable, embolden and empower the fringe elements of the Muslim world by our (generally incompetent) actions. I am glad that there seems to be some progress in North Korea: the Clinton plan is being reimplemented hooray!

    They hate us for our liberal freedoms, not the the new fascist dismantling of our basic freedoms and rights. The freedoms FDR and the entire united free world fought for in WWII. Saying Truman won WWII is like saying Reagan won the cold war…

    And to wrap up I agree with ymatt: Obama would be a refreshing change. Anyone worrying about his experience should be reminded that he has the same amount of political experience as another great Illinois pol by the name of Abe Lincoln.

  17. shcb Says:

    Thanks for the compliment Enkidu, I find your arguments hold more weight when they are delivered in rational tones. Sorry about the snide remarks, they are for the most part done in jest, or to piss people off. I find angry people say and do stupid things, and from the little I’ve looked through this site it seems myself and Teachervet may be the only conservatives in sight, and I need all the underhanded tricks I can muster. But I know it can get old real quick so don’t worry my little liberal friends, I’ll keep them to a minimum, except for new meat and Pearl Harbor, they get the full broadside. If you hit a hot button, I’ll let you know, don’t avoid the hot buttons, but don’t be surprised when I speak my mind either.

    So let me tell you where I sit before I tell you where I stand, I’m quite conservative as you have seen, I’m pretty much agnostic in my beliefs, and I’m not anti abortion, so you don’t have to worry about me preaching. I’m pro gun, property, and states rights. I think some drugs, and prostitution should be legalized. I think capital punishment should be used often and within two or three years of conviction. I’m anti tax to a point, I think we are 2 or 3 percentage points of GDP over taxed. I’m anti labor union and pro business, and I think capitalism is the cure for most of the worlds problems, but not quite to the point of Ayn Rand, although I’m a fan. I think Reagan was the best president or my lifetime and Carter was the worst. I quit watching football 3 or 4 years ago and am totally hooked on NASCAR now. Was born in Colorado, grew up in Kansas through high school, and have lived in Colorado since. I’ve never been east of the Mississippi, and if I died tomorrow, I wouldn’t regret never being to the east coast. That’s it, now you won’t have to wonder who you’re dealing with.

    Enkidu, I’m not going to respond to your points, I printed out the exchange with Ymatt today and it came to over 20 pages, we would just be rehashing, but thanks for letting me know how you feel, I’m sure we’ll circle back to them in due course.

    I’ll start with a light subject, I think Obama is a very bright, articulate good looking man, and he has Soros’ money and covert mud slinging machine behind him. From what I’ve seen, he seems like a decent guy, I think Bill would be more fun to have a beer and chase women with, but Obama’s alright. Do you think he is tough enough to stand up to Hillary and Carville and company? Speaking of Hillary, what the hell was she doing in Selma this weekend. That was a solemn event mostly for black people and Obama is mostly black, let the guy have his moment in the sun for crimany sakes.

    Now I have a question for you; I’ve already said many times I think we were justified to invade Iraq, and I know you disagree. I also think we are at war with a large portion of the Muslim population, and you don’t. What I would like to know is what event, events, evidence etc would it take to convince you we should have invaded Iraq and/or at war with the Muslims at large. “Nothing” is a legitimate answer if you like. This isn’t a trick question, I’m not going to pounce on your answer and say, “but you said……”, well I might if it’s real obvious, but you get my point. I’m just wondering if there is a line in the sand the Arabs can’t cross. I’ll even through in a little bonus, I think we would be justified in invading Iran and Syria as well. For this exercise (at least at the beginning) forget your hatred of President Bush, Charlie Brown is president, (I can hear the wheels turning now, left myself wide open with that one).

    Let me know what you think.

    Short Haired Country Boy

  18. ymatt Says:

    A new post posing shcb’s question has now been added here. Perhaps this discussion could be continued there…

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