Democrats & Liberals Archives

Chop Off Head of Snake

Al Qaeda is a snake that is twisting, writhing and killing people all over the world - in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. The al-Qaeda snake is poisoning the Middle East and killing American troops. Republicans want our troops to stay there to “protect” the Iraqis from the snake. Democrats want to chop off the head of the snake.

Republicans, such as Senator Lindsey Graham, describe how awful it would be for Iraqis if americans leave:

A congressional mandate to withdraw would be heart-breaking and in all honesty a death sentence, to the Iraqi’s who are aligning with us against Al Qaeda in Iraq. Had the Levin-Reed resolution passed, this ill-advised approach would have offered tremendous encouragement and spirit to our Al Qaeda enemies in Iraq. It would have been international news that the United States does not have the stomach for this fight. I’m proud of the role I played in rejecting this amendment.

Senator John McCain said something similar.

These Republicans are worried about the future of Iraq if American troops leave. As honorable people we Americans should worry. American actions led to current chaos there and Americans should try to fix it as well as we can. However, do we place the future of Iraq above the future of U.S.? The longer we stay in Iraq the more powerful the al-Qaeda snake becomes - the NIE says so - and the more likely the snake will become strong enough to attack America.

The snake has grown stronger in Europe. It knows that Europe and the U.S. have many intimate dealings with each other. It can use them to slimily slide into America where it would spout its venom.

McCain, has said that if American troops are not successful in Iraq it will be a big blow to their confidence. This sounds reasonable. However, nobody is suggesting that we "cut and run" like cowards, but that we redeploy our troops in order to better fight al Qaeda. The best of generals have withdrawn from losing battles in order to fight and win.

Let's get out of Iraq and redeploy our troops to Afghanistan and Pakistan to destroy al-Qaeda headquarters. Redeployment places a positive spin in our actions. Killing Osama bin Laden will give us a huge propaganda prize.

Only a small part of the body of the snake is in Iraq. The head of the al-Qaeda snake is in the wilds of Pakistan. Everybody knows that the best way to kill a snake is to chop its head off. Let's deploy our troops there and decapitate al Qaeda.

Posted by Paul Siegel at July 19, 2007 5:02 PM
Comments
Comment #226906

Alternatively, Paul, a head can’t live without a body. Smash the body and the head will die.

There are a number of problems with your analysis, but it’s at least progress to acknowledge that we are fighting Al Qaida in Iraq.

We can’t just redeploy troops to Pakistan in any case. Leaving Iraq to the mercy of terrorists, not finishing the job there, and running off to invade yet another country isn’t a solution that anybody is going to sign on for.

Additionally, how do we really that “the head” of Al Qaida is in Pakistan? We suspect it, but the same people telling us that are the ones who told us that we’d find Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. All Osama bin Laden (if he’s even still alive) and his little circle of associates would need to is skip out of Pakistan and hide somewhere new. They could conceivably do that in just a matter of days if not hours once we started a new war with Pakistan, who happens to be a nuclear power.

Meanwhile, we’d be left with the same problem we have in Iraq. Occupying a country and fighting insurgents with no end in sight. And if Osama and cohorts ARE NOT found immediately, which is very likely, we get to hear a whole new round about how we invaded a country on false pretenses. More “Bush lied!” rhetoric, and don’t believe for a second that Democrats who are currently agitating for a new front in the war wouldn’t be the first to blame Bush for having “misled them” with false pretenses. We’ve seen this storyline before.

And then what? We hear that Al Qaida’s leadership is in Syria? So then we invade Syria? That they’re in Lebanon, so we invade Lebanon? Where does it end?

No, Al Qaida has made it perfectly clear that the main battlefield is in Iraq, and that’s where they will continue to make their presence felt even if we go off on wild goose chases everywhere else in the Middle East and hand them a victory on the front lines. Defeat them in Iraq first, and only then talk about mopping them up in other places.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 19, 2007 7:09 PM
Comment #226907

Paul,
Al Qaeda is not a snake. You are making an oversimplified comparison. Al Qaeda is a hydra. You finally whack Bin Laden and then three people rise to do the work he was doing.

LO is right, we have to crush them where they openly state they are making their stand (the heart of the hydra), and THEN go track down the bodiless heads and bury them.

Posted by: Yukon Jake at July 19, 2007 7:46 PM
Comment #226908

Yes, this whole Pakistan thing is a red herring. We’re going to undermine Musharraf? His hold is fairly tenuous, at best, and as we all know, Pakistan has nukes. We’ve been allowed to do a few strikes in Pakistan every now and then, but if we’re talking about serious intervention, the country will explode and we’ll have another enormous mess on our hands.

Posted by: Gerrold at July 19, 2007 7:54 PM
Comment #226911

So the Democrats want more war now, is that it? A different quagmire is ok just as long as it’s one of their choosing? More of our kids have to die for lies and politics?

I thought the democrats were against attacking sovereign nations? Guess not. Is there one country in the world that would support the US invading Pakistan? Probably not. Haven’t we hurt our own reputation enough?

Bush already lied us into one illegal war, and look at the mess that is! Now the Democrats want us to go through the same shit in Pakistan???
Hypocrites, all of them! How many more people have to die for these political games? It seams like the real war is being fought between Bush and the Democrats and the rest of the world is in the crossfire!

Posted by: Norton at July 19, 2007 9:40 PM
Comment #226919

No you have it all wrong. The repubs want to kill the snake and the dems just want to shoo it away.

Posted by: papioscar at July 20, 2007 12:08 AM
Comment #226929

The most astonishing thing to me about this whole Iraq mess is how little we have learned from the lessons of the Israel/Palestine conflict. Those two are stuck in an endless loop of violence. Some Israeli soldier does something stupid, the Palestinians retaliate with terror attacks, the Israelis counter with tanks and missle strikes, and then get all befuddled when military action only makes it worse. Eventually it gets so bloody that the rest of the world steps in, they calm down, and then we wait for the next hair trigger to go off.

So what does this have to do with Iraq? Simple: military action only makes terrorism stronger, not weaker. Terrorism is built on a foundation of a martyr complex. They believe that they are the downtrodden heroes, the oppressed. Attacking them only reinforces their mindset and creates more recruits from the innocents affected by the military actions. This is why everyone on this thread is wrong, even Paul. Yukon Jake’s comparison to the hydra is the only one that is even close to the truth. Replacing military action against al-Qaida in Iraq with military actions against al-Qaida in Afghanistan or Pakistan will only relocate the bloodshed, it won’t stop it.

So what to do? Two words: get out. Let’s be dead honest, people. The only reason we are involved in the Middle East at all is because of it’s oil reserves. I am not one of those people who say “it’s all about the oil”, mind you. I am just pointing out the overarching reason we care about that part of the world at all. If you need proof, ask this: what are we doing about all the bloodshed and violence in Africa? Very little, because that area is not “strategically important”. So it is very simple, ladies and gentlemen. In order to get out of the Middle East we need to remove the reason why we want to be there in the first place, and that is energy reserves. The way we remove our desire is by becoming energy independent, by developing alternatives to oil. The entire reason al-Qaida attacked us in the first place was because of our involvments in the Middle East. If we remove ourselves, we are no longer justifiable targets. To beat this overused analogy just a bit more, we cannot cut off the hydra’s head, and terrorist are heartless beasts, so all we can do is starve it to death. They feed off us. Remove ourselves and the beast will die.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at July 20, 2007 8:50 AM
Comment #226933

I actually suggested something like this when the President announced his surge.

papioscar-
So, you know better than we what we want? I guess we can add telepathy to the Republican list of awesome powers.

Try taking people at face value sometime. It’ll make it so much easier for folks to agree with you on things.

LO-
You’re undermining the basic argument for going into Iraq. If we can’t really determine where al-Qaeda is with any certainty, why attack them in Iraq? They could be anywhere!

Your logic even undermines Afghanistan, if you take it that seriously. People could understand a mistake where there was reasonable cause to believe something was the case. We knew Bin Laden was in Afghanistan, we confirmed this.

The Bush Administration, however, went into Iraq with not a single WMD site confirmed before hand. Nor did we find the terrorists there at all, claims that were also relatively unsupported.

What happened was that your administration sought and only accepted intelligence that would support its case for a terrorist WMD conspiracy in Iraq. When you jump at the smallest bits of evidence to justify the greatest leaps of policy, that’s what’s going to happen.

Nobody thinks the information that puts al-Qaeda in Northern Pakistan is that bad, nor would people blame Bush for not finding him there, so long as he kept looking. One of my big breaking points with Bush, after supporting him post-9/11, was when he said that finding Bin Laden wasn’t that much of a concern.

Iraq was the wild goose chase. Bin Laden’s people won’t survive long if the Sunni’s last reason for tolerating them, namely us, is gone. We, on the other hand, stand to benefit greatly from refocusing on Afghanistan at the very least. Iraq would be sad to lose. Afghanistan would be ten times the humiliation. The way Bush is going at this point, our enemies will return to their original strength, and then some.

That does not strike me as a victory in the war against terrorism. It sounds like losing a war in order to win a battle, and a losing battle at that. It’s the height of foolishness.

Yukon Jake-
Hercules didn’t kill the Hydra by stabbing it through the heart. He decapitated each one and burned the stump so it wouldn’t grow back.

The real question is not chopping off al-Qaeda’s heads, it’s making sure they don’t grow back. That’s what Bush has never understood, not with his statistics of how many al-Qaeda leaders we’ve killed, or his damn notion of trying to defeat al-Qaeda by attrition in Iraq.

Norton-
Democrats aren’t against war in general, we’re against stupid wars. We’re not against attacking Sovereign nations, we’re against attacking sovereign nations that haven’t commited acts of war against us. Bin Laden and his people did attack us, and our pursuit would be legitimate. We might go covert about it in order to protect Musharraff’s government, but why should we quibble about going after the guy who’s the real threat?

The real fight was always in Central Asia. This administration took its eye off the ball.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 20, 2007 9:10 AM
Comment #226938

“So the Democrats want more war now, is that it? A different quagmire is ok just as long as it’s one of their choosing? More of our kids have to die for lies and politics?”

Norton, its all political preperation for when the Dems win absolute power next year and the actions they will take in the “war on terrorism.”
If we have another terrorist attack on US soil, the Dem Presidents response will be similar to Bushs’ response.
Its pre-emptive defense and justification in case the new Dem President decides to take the same actions Bush did.

A “covering all their bases” kind of thing.

Posted by: kctim at July 20, 2007 10:22 AM
Comment #226940

kctim-
How is it pre-emption to more vigorously pursue somebody who already attacked us?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 20, 2007 11:04 AM
Comment #226942

Its not what you guys think would be “more vigorously pursuing” that I am talking about Stephen.
We have already heard promises to “get those responsible” from a Dem and a Rep President and watched how that did not happen.
And we have already seen how ignoring the terrorists and doing nothing but lobbing a missle or two doesn’t work.
The Dem who wins in 08 will have to be tougher on terrorists and much of what that Dem will do will be similar to what Bush has done, especially here at home.

For 7 years you guys have used hindsight to negatively judge everything and you know that convienence is about to be gone.
You need to start the propoganda now so that people will somehow see the same as being different.

Posted by: kctim at July 20, 2007 12:11 PM
Comment #226944

Stephen,

Why should we quibble? Because I don’t want to see a lot of people die for no reason! You’re making the same arguments for terrorists in Pakistan as Bush did for WMD’s in Iraq, and with even less proof. It’s all guesswork, and it’s dangerous. Bush didn’t think of the “what ifs” before going into Iraq and the whole thing went out of control. The Democrats are making the same mistakes he did. Like Loyal said, when we go in and find nothing, the democrats will give up on our troops and use the issue to attack Bush. Just like the ones who “conveniently” forgot talking up Iraq for years. Bush might me incompetent, but if you force us into another war, the American people aren’t going blame it on him this time.

Posted by: Norton at July 20, 2007 12:56 PM
Comment #226953

kctim-
I doubt anybody will be just lobbing missiles at the terrorists, but speaking in terms of hindsight, you should be glad that Clinton did that much. There was no popular political support for invading another country to destroy al-Qaeda. He was excoriated for even lobbing the cruise missiles, by Republicans and Right-Wingers claiming he was just trying to distract from Monica Lewinsky. That is hindsight.

Hindsight is not being caught with your pants down on reconstruction when there were panels you yourself dismissed ready to hash everything out for you. Hindsight is not dismissing anybody who says that you should go in with more soldiers, including people expert in that kind of warfare.

Hindsight requires that things be truly unpredictable. If somebody thought about it, if a lot of people told you about it, it’s not hindsight, it’s blind disregard for anybody’s opinion but your own.

If anybody’s casting about propaganda, it’s those people who say that decisions will be made the same by Democrats as they were by Republicans. When the folks at PNAC came calling for Clinton, the best they tried to get him to invade, and couldn’t. When Bush came along, he put them on the staff! Where Clinton negotiated, Bush has bulldozed. Where Clinton used the UN and NATO to his advantage, Bush has gone around with a torch burning all the bridges he could find.

I mean, tell me seriously what sick bastard of a Democrat would have sent a man like John Bolton to the UN? What Democrat would have been foolish enough to take big risks on fighting a war, to depart from the nation-building paradigm and international support?

Only folks who are loathe to admit that events have vindicated the Democrat’s approach would be so quick to equate their foreign policies, to ignore what a radical departure this administration’s approaches have been.

Norton-
We’ve actually found al-Qaeda Terrorists in Pakistan. We never even confirmed WMDs in Iraq. I think that says all that needs to be said about the intelligence in question.

As for what we would do with the troops? I would not repeat this fiasco in Iraq. I would not force them into the same God-forsaken situation. If you took what people like me said at face value, you would understand that one of the reasons Democrats have come back is that these crises have given us the chance to approach policy with a passionate, clear-purposed sincerity we haven’t had in a long time. There’s strength in meaning what you say, and saying what you mean, and the Democrats have that.

As for talking up Iraq? It took Bush to make Iraq the next battle in the war on Terror, much less a valid target for pre-emptive strike.

We have reason to go after Bin Laden, reasons of self-defense which justify prudent, properly managed approaches to finding him, killing him or capturing him.

But if you need some reassurance, then understand this: Personally, I wouldn’t mind if we strike at the threat by different means than just military, so long as we get some results. I don’t care if it’s us that kills Bin Laden and eliminates him, or the Pakistanis. All I care about is removing the real threat to our country.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 20, 2007 2:37 PM
Comment #226955

Stephen, I was very glad that clinton tossed a few missles at al-Qaeda to divert attention. Our biggest complaint about that was that he didn’t do more about the terrorists attacking our fellow military brothers. Instead, he sent our soldiers to serve under the UN against a country which did not threaten the US.

Hindsight is saying how something should have been done after the fact and you guys will no longer have that luxury when you win in 08.
It will be a Dem who must decide which idea is the best one to follow and no matter what the outcome, the other side will then use hindsight and tell you how the Dems should have done it right.

“Hindsight requires that things be truly unpredictable. If somebody thought about it, if a lot of people told you about it, it’s not hindsight, it’s blind disregard for anybody’s opinion but your own.”

In a partisan view, yes. But tell us, how do you know that it was blind disregard and not just simply going with the most popular idea? or the most feasible? How do you know different ideas were not given consideration and that they went with what they agreed was best?
You don’t.

“If anybody’s casting about propaganda, it’s those people who say that decisions will be made the same by Democrats as they were by Republicans.”

We are? Are we the ones who, just a few years ago, were saying its useless to get OBL because 10 more will take his place and now say why haven’t we gotten OBL yet?
Are we the ones who voted in favor of going into Iraq and now act like it was a one party deal?
Are we the ones who said vote for us if you want a change in Iraq and then when given the chance, have changed nothing?
Are we the ones who say to invade Pakistan, a country who is not a threat to the US?
Sure are alot of similarities for being so different.

“What Democrat would have been foolish enough to take big risks on fighting a war, to depart from the nation-building paradigm and international support?”

Well, since you guys believe dying for the UN is ok and dying for your own country is for nothing and that international support (approval) is more important than your fellow Americans support, I would say none.

“Only folks who are loathe to admit that events have vindicated the Democrat’s approach would be so quick to equate their foreign policies, to ignore what a radical departure this administration’s approaches have been.”

And what was the Dems approach before 9-11? Sitting, monitoring and waiting really worked well for us didn’t it.
What was the Dems approach when they agreed with the intel about Iraq and voted with the Reps on action? How about rendition?
Funny how this radical departure you speak of has been supported or practiced by Dems also.

Lets look at what has happened in a non-partisan way and without the conspiracy crap.
Our country suffered terrorists attacks under clinton and Bush. Both faced challenges no other President had had to deal with before. Bad intel led to mistakes and miscalculations for both.
Both oppossing parties have used hindsight to make themselves look better.
But, no matter how much you need Bush to be seen as worse than the terrorists, you know they are going to be a thorn in your side also. And you know agressive action will need to be taken. And you know alot of that action will be similar to what Bush has done. And you know if you start making the same look different early enough, people will fall for it.

Posted by: kctim at July 20, 2007 3:58 PM
Comment #226968

kctim-

Stephen, I was very glad that clinton tossed a few missles at al-Qaeda to divert attention. Our biggest complaint about that was that he didn’t do more about the terrorists attacking our fellow military brothers. Instead, he sent our soldiers to serve under the UN against a country which did not threaten the US.

You’ll have to be more specific. If you’re talking about Somalia, It wasn’t even clear that there was an al-Qaeda at that point. It would be two or three years before we would revise our picture of Bin Laden from being a terrorist financier to being an actual leader.

Moreover, a number of things were true: We were meant to stay in Somalia only long enough for the UN to get its act together. Our mission was humanitarian in character, so it wasn’t exactly going to win points for us if we suddenly escalated it into a war, absent a real threat. Additionally, and the Republicans forget this, they voted to take us out of the country, to require the end of combat operations.

There we can see some true examples of hindsight: Nobody knew that Bin Laden was more than a Jihadist financier, much less involved. al-Qaeda was little more than something on the cover of a terrorist training manual we found in Brooklyn during the investigation of the WTC bombing. Certainly nobody had any idea of what ideas it would give al-Qaeda at the time.

Hindsight is not simply how things should be done after the fact. It’s a shorthand for 20/20 Hindsight, which implies that the criticism would have essentially required the person to be psychic, to anticipate what couldn’t be anticipated.

You’re right, if you say we will have less claim to the protection of being powerless in the face of events, and it’s something that concerns me well enough.

The thing of it is, Bush disregarded the opinion of folks who had actually done peace-keeping missions. They bargained down the figures their generals themselves came up with, and kept those figures down even after events showed the previous points of view to be wrong. Plus the humiliation of Eric Shinseki, who was called out as flat wrong in public by Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld.

In a partisan view, yes. But tell us, how do you know that it was blind disregard and not just simply going with the most popular idea? or the most feasible? How do you know different ideas were not given consideration and that they went with what they agreed was best? You don’t.

I read books like the latter two books of Bob Woodward’s Bush At War Trilogy, George Packer’s Assassins’ Gate, as well as viewing multiple documentaries and all kind of articles on the subject. There’s quite a bit of documentation on who did what, who thought what, and why. There’s quite a bit of information out there on where these people were on the war and other issues. Unless you’re too busy shunning this stuff because of the taint of the “liberal” media, you’d find plenty of evidence to back what I’m saying.

There’s a lot of projection that right-wing independents indulge in concerning Democrats. Truth be told, we haven’t said that killing Bin Laden is useless. It’s putting the foot soldiers through the meat-grinder that’s useless, unless you can cut off their ability to recruit.

We went along with Iraq after a bruising summer campaign where Bush began to use the tactics he still uses now to sell the war: conflating the fight against al-Qaeda with War in Iraq. Only then, you had an administration unsullied by the failures that would follow, a public scared out of its mind by a terrorist attack less than a year in the past, and the president speaking with all the authority a public then relatively unskeptical about intelligence about a connection with our worst enemies, saying that the Democrats were enabling them by voicing doubts on the war.

I’m not proud that things happened that way, but how the hell does folding to this kind of pressure equate with actively seeking this war?

Go back and look at how the two sides voted. The Republicans voted almost unanimously in both Houses, where the Democrats were much more divided. The Democrats never had a major faction pushing this agenda.

The Republicans? The Project for a New American Century, home to many future Bush Employees like Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, was essentially a Neocon organization from back to front, and the Neocons were a Republican institution.

And no, they haven’t given us a chance. Why do you think Reid forced the filibuster into the open? The President, a Republican, promises to veto any legislation that forces an end to the war. The Republicans recently got done filibustering a bill designed to do just that. And who passed legislation in both houses twice to do this sort of thing?

As for Pakistan? Pakistan fostered the Taliban, which in turn supported al-Qaeda. Their government is rife with Islamic extremists. And they’re harboring a man who committed an act of war, an act of terrorism against our country, allowing his forces to return to former levels.

The trick with Pakistan is that it is a threat. It’s a powder keg, though, which could easily turn into a worse threat if dealt the wrong blow. If we have other options, we should use them. But whatever happened to going after al-Qaeda? Strange that we must go after them in Iraq, were they weren’t there, and aren’t the biggest problem there now, while we keep focus off of Pakistan, which is one dead president away from being a nuclear jihadist state.

Well, since you guys believe dying for the UN is ok and dying for your own country is for nothing and that international support (approval) is more important than your fellow Americans support, I would say none.

I believe that? Dying for the UN? Good God, do you think we’re as obsessed with loving the UN as the GOP is obsessed with hating it?

International support is important so our soldiers don’t end up by themselves fighting a war that erodes our reputation, and makes thier job tougher in future wars. The point to getting UN approval is to clear the field for our soldiers to do their job. Do you think Iran, Saudi Arabia or Syria would be so frisky about intervening if this was a UN operation, like the last war? Do you think we’d be spending ourselves broke, they way we are now?

On the subject of terrorism pre-9/11, the Right wasn’t that keen on fighting that war when it wasn’t what they were clinging to for legitimacy. The Clinton administration has actual convictions and legitimate incarcerations because of its approach. The Bush adminstration has tangled itself up, brought the international community to question the legitimacy of our arrests and the legal status of our detainees.

We are different here. The question is whether your view is any different than theirs. I backed up my differences with the facts. What about yours?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 20, 2007 6:35 PM
Comment #226973

Hey, LO,

Bush DID lie.
Bush did MISLEAD us.

That isn’t even a question anymore.

Posted by: RGF at July 20, 2007 7:51 PM
Comment #226974

Am I the only one here that remembers that Pakistan is supposed to be our ally?
That we sold F-16s to these guys?

Why aren’t we exerting some pressure on Pakistan to do some of this work themselves?

I mean, don’t we have our hands full already?

Posted by: Rocky at July 20, 2007 8:05 PM
Comment #226991

Rocky et al
Why? Because the people in charge LIKE the world at war. They believe that is the natural state of human affairs and are makeing tons of money doing it. Time to take out the trash.9/11 was a prayer answered for them.We are about to deploy the Osprey. Price tag,110 million apiece. Never mind that they only work 62% of the time. When they do not work it is only working class kids that die anyway.What should have been a major police action has turned into what has become a meatgrinder. Lets see.this president is threatening to veto a bill that spends what it cost to build 15 Ospreys because it helps poor children get healthcare.

Posted by: BillS at July 20, 2007 9:43 PM
Comment #227006

Paul, So you are totally accepting of whatever genocide breaks out in Iraq? That’s ok because we have to run away and pretend it’s for a good reason?

With the huge support of locals Pakistan for Taliban and Al Qaeda I find it hard to believe your party can stomach Iraq II in Pakistan when they ran away from Iraq I in Iraq.

Posted by: Stephen at July 21, 2007 1:28 AM
Comment #227007

What does the Democrat party plan to do in Iraq if Hillary wins?

Hillary said she would keep US troops in Iraq for years.

Reid offered up a bill that would allow the president to keep a massive troop level in Iraq as long as he brings some home by a certain date.

Edwards, in his best “pick me Hillary” voice came out via his wife and supported Hillary’s plan to keep troops in Iraq. ‘My husband and Senator Clinton are in agreement on this” says Mr.s Kerry.

And I think I just heard similar noises from Obama. “Pick me Hillary, Pick me…not Johnny. I will support your agenda too”.

It sounds to me as if the democrat party is now moving away from the left, preparing for the general election with Hillary as head and with the real possibility that progess in Iraq combined with an increased terrorist threat means that the candidates will have to support actions in Iraq and support the idea of a war on terror.

Whens the last time Little Johnny called the war on terror a “bumper sticker” slogan? Not with Al Qaeda blowing people up again around the world.

Do you folks get the feeling that the flip flopers are flipping on you?

Posted by: Stephen at July 21, 2007 1:34 AM
Comment #227020

What we need is a sense of perspective. We’ve elevated a rogue terrorists group to almost mythic proportions. The United States, which accounts for half of total world defense spending, has allowed its leaders to engage in hysterical fear mongering to get us into a state of virtual perpetual war. As Madison wrote, “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Based on this article and from comments to it, this mindset isn’t only a Republican one. We need to realistically understand the threat and give that threat the attention it deserves, and not treat terrorism as an existential threat. International cooperation, good intelligence, thorough investigation, and, when necessary, limited military strikes with the cooperation of involved nations when possible are the way to deal with terrorism — not contemplation of invading sovereign nations, especially those which, under incredible internal pressure, have proved willing to work with us at least to some degree.

Terrorism will not be eradicated by invading countries. We need to stop making terrorists seem so damn sexy; we need to treat them as criminals. We have proven to be our own worst enemies. We’ve allowed our civil liberties to be eroded; we’ve allowed the executive branch to place itself above the law. We need to swing back to a saner posture.

Posted by: Gerrold at July 21, 2007 10:47 AM
Comment #227022

Pakistan does not control their own borders any more than we control ours, or the government of Colombia controls all their territory, or a hundred other examples of the same thing.

Posted by: ohrealy at July 21, 2007 11:01 AM
Comment #227034

Stephen-
Step out of your parallel universe for a bit. America and the Democrats agree on a phased withdrawal. It’s only the right’s usually cariacture of our position which has us pushing a precipitous withdrawal (precipitous is a fancy way of saying “pushed off the edge of a cliff)

It’s nice to throw that rhetoric around when you’re trying to fearmonger about the Democrats, but it’s, by your evidence, hardly the case about Democratic politics. In fact, I’d say it’s not representative of us at the grassroots, either.

Genocide in Iraq is definitely something we’d like to have avoided, but it’s already started to some degree. At worse, we would be allowing the problem to intensify, but eventually we’d have to leave anyways. Sad to say, our policy to this point has not given us a lot of options for preventing this once we’re gone, and that’s half the reason this war is a defeat for us. The other half is that it ever got out of control in the first place, but that could have been fixed if the president wasn’t either too bubbled in, or to interested in covering his own ass, to do something about it early, when our forces could have counted for more. The surge needed to have occurred in Fall 2003, not just gotten started in Summer 2007.

As for al-Qaeda blowing up people again? Well, if all you defended over the years had been true, that wouldn’t have ever come to pass.

These people haven’t flip-flopped. They’ve done what Bush thinks he’s too good to do: take positions that reflect the wishes of his constituents, and the general wishes of the country. If you’re not prepared to do the will of majority, the Presidency is not the job for you.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 21, 2007 2:45 PM
Comment #227061
America and the Democrats agree on a phased withdrawal. It’s only the right’s usually cariacture of our position which has us pushing a precipitous withdrawal (precipitous is a fancy way of saying “pushed off the edge of a cliff)

Stephen, if the war truly is lost, as you keep saying, then why would you want a phased withdrawal? That makes no sense at all. If a war is lost, shouldn’t the losing side get the hell out of there as soon as possible? Why should ANY American soldiers stick around at all and be vulnerable to harm in what is already determined to be a lost war? Shouldn’t the retreat be as “precipitous” as humanly possible?

Do you imagine that if American troops beat an overhasty-retreat, turn tail and run, the insurgents are going to roll up our flanks like the Russians did when Napoleon retreated from Moscow? Will we have a scenario like Dunkirk, with our surrounded forces threatened by the likes of Germany’s Panzer divisions?

If Democrats truly believe the war is lost, then the ONLY moral thing for them to do is come out in favor of cutting off all funding to the war (as is favored by a full 8% of the population, according the latest CBS/NYT poll) and get our troops out of harm’s way as soon as possible.

Sadly, however, they believe the war is lost but have decided to enact instead what they call a “slow bleed” strategy in order to avoid political fallout from making a precipitous retreat. Essentially, they want to keep what they believe is a losing war going as long as possible so they can blame somebody else for it and gain political advantage from the defeat of American arms which they are so actively seeking to ensure.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 22, 2007 12:37 AM
Comment #227074

LO,

That’s pretty scary either/or thinking. Realistically, we know that not all troops are going to be withdrawn. We know that the long-planned permanent bases will be in Iraq for years. But we also know that the massive levels of U.S. troops currently in Iraq are not helping and may, in fact, be hurting.

We also know that, realistically, it’s not possible to suddenly extract ourselves. Any withdrawal will take massive planning, both to prevent equipment from falling into the wrong hands and to secure a safe redeployment. So, no, precipitous withdrawal is not the moral thing to do. That’s erroneous either/or logic used to cast war opponents in a negative light. The reason that only 8 percent, if your report is correct, favor immediately cutting all funding is that the public understands this point.

At any rate, LO, as you know, it’s not just Democrats talking about reducing the number of troops in Iraq.

Posted by: Gerrold at July 22, 2007 2:05 AM
Comment #227081

LO-
Real world withdrawals leave you with a dilemma: It’s in your interest to leave, but any military on the ground is going to be faced with a greater concentration, man to man, of forces on the other side. So what do you do?

One angle is political and diplomatic. You work with the people there. Tell them the better they do the force protection, the easier it will be for us to leave. That should encourage some, and make those who attack us to mess with all this the object of annoyance, if not anger.

On the military front, have this thing be planned so our soldiers are at their least vulnerable. We got four big ass bases, a number of others. We should not be doing this in a hasty manner because haste makes waste, and waste can mean American lives lost. Not one person died during our withdrawal from Somalia, and that was with forces actively pursuing us.

The longer we wait, though, the more complicated all this is going to be.

You know, on a personal note, I get really annoyed when you folks tell us we’re the reason this war is seen as lost. Why do so many problems in the Republican Party get looked at as perception problems, rather than objective troubles?

We’re in this position now because Bush never had a plan for nation-building, for having our troops secure the country, but then decided that would be his course of action halfway through. The Bush Administration did not do the proper work of linking means and plans to ends. All the crucial failures of the war occured before public opinion of it declined, before people saw it as lost. That includeds the decision to disband the Iraqi army, which we’ve essentially rehired ever since, the decision to de-baathisize the civil service, a decision we’re just now trying to reverse, after almost four years. Also included among those crucial blunders are the decision to go in with less than a hundred thousand soldiers when at least twice that were needed to take good control of the major cities, as well as the subsequent decisions to privatize much of the security, and come down hard on internal dissidents like Moqtada al-Sadr, instead of quietly working to undermine them within the community. This administration though it could impose its will with these means. That is was wrong on certain things is understandable; that it was so many is astounding even to those of us with low expectations.

That four years into this war, they will not admit that their current situation is the result of their errors is simply unbelieveable. That they would blame this all on us, with the lengths they went to be the ones to manage and oversee this war (2002, 2004 elections, right?), and who the policies for this war came from, is unforgiveable.

One of the biggest mistakes of the Vietnam War was treating dissent as traitorous. It’s a tactic guaranteed to alienate the very people who need to be convinced. As others begin to have questions in the light of event, it can start a critical downhill slide of support, as those who have honest, modest questions about matters are subjected to withering attacks and disregard for their opinion. This is what’s corroded Republican margins on the war, in addition to the morale problems that come from a visibly regressive war effort in theatre.

In short, this Administration, if it wanted to regain the war’s approval among the general public, needed to be gentler and more respectful in dealing with dissents and disputes, and give people real, lasting progress, with solid policy behind it, to keep up their hopes.

Instead, the adminstration stonewalled on changing course on Iraq, and directed furious attacks at doubters and critics, even those who obviously wanted the best for their country and their people. It’s politically convenient to believe that people believe these things just out of pure politics, but in the end that has lead your party to drive off the very folks whose support they wanted and needed.

I don’t want a slow bleed. I want our withdrawals to be crisp and meaningful in their progress. Disorganized departure, done on political grounds, hardly fits the bill for me. Maybe if you took what I said at face value, and others as well, it might be easier to come up with an agreeable policy for those who don’t want to put America in a worse position than it already is.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 22, 2007 9:31 AM
Comment #227168

SD
Bosnia/Kosovo, not Somalia. And our troops were still there 10+ years later, serving under the UN.
There is a reason Reps voted to get us out of the Somalia debacle: we had no reason to be there.

Even if you think we knew nothing of AQ before WTC 1, what they for the next 5 or 6 years warranted immediate action, not to be ignored like they were.

I dont doubt for a minute that Bush disregarded the opinion of some folks who had actually done peace-keeping missions. But that does not mean he disregarded everybody who had.

“Unless you’re too busy shunning this stuff because of the taint of the “liberal” media, you’d find plenty of evidence to back what I’m saying.”

Thats the difference Stephen, I don’t “shun” info that does not agree with what I want to be true or which proves me wrong.
I know damn well that Bush was presented with different options like you stated, but I also accept the fact that he was given info that did not support your view of how things should have been done.
But rather than believing it was all an intentional lie, only about oil, corruption or whatever other opinions the left has, I happen to believe he used the intel available at the time and came to the plan that was used.
The war plan was superb, post-war has struck out. Those are facts.

“There’s a lot of projection that right-wing independents indulge in concerning Democrats.”

As there is from the left-wing concerning those on the “right.”
Supporting the troops does not mean you are pro-war or a blind Bush follower. Asking for proof of lies and corruption, rather than accepting opinion as fact, does not mean so either.

“Truth be told, we haven’t said that killing Bin Laden is useless. It’s putting the foot soldiers through the meat-grinder that’s useless, unless you can cut off their ability to recruit.”

All we heard was that killing OBL would be fine, but useless because doing so would make him a martyr and ten more would take his place.
What you guys wanted to do was to get OBL, if we could, but mainly believe we should shower that group of people with love and money so that they would like us and not be recruit material.
But here is a secret Stephen. The shitpiles signing up into AQ now are the same ones who cheered when the towers went down and no matter how much they say they like us because we gave them money, they would still be against us.

“We went along with Iraq after a bruising summer campaign where Bush began to use the tactics he still uses now to sell the war: conflating the fight against al-Qaeda with War in Iraq.”

Dems who voted in support of the war in Iraq, did so because of the intel everybody had at the time.
Why did the American people believe the info they were given? Probably because most of the Dems in office voted in approval.
So lets see now, we vote for people to represent us. They see the intel. They feel it warrants a yes vote and we believe and trust their actions. The majority agree something needs to be done.

“I’m not proud that things happened that way, but how the hell does folding to this kind of pressure equate with actively seeking this war?”

I don’t believe anybody was seeking war Stephen. Rep and Dems looked at the intel and believed there was reason for war and they voted for it.

“Go back and look at how the two sides voted. The Republicans voted almost unanimously in both Houses, where the Democrats were much more divided. The Democrats never had a major faction pushing this agenda.”

Republicans believed the intel and probably believed a quick, successful war was possible and would keep them in power for a long time.
Some Democrats, questioned the intel and probably were also afraid of what a successful war would mean for their party.

“The Republicans? The Project for a New American Century, home to many future Bush Employees like Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, was essentially a Neocon organization from back to front, and the Neocons were a Republican institution.”

And clinton is a member of the Blilderbergs and they want hillary to help them control the world, right?

“And no, they haven’t given us a chance. Why do you think Reid forced the filibuster into the open?”

He probably believes as you in that the Dems have some sort of huge mandate to end the war on their terms only and believes those not agreeing with his party will be voted out in the next election.

“And who passed legislation in both houses twice to do this sort of thing?”

Um, the party who knows Bush does not want timelines but still insists on trying to pass bills with strict timelines?

“The trick with Pakistan is that it is a threat. It’s a powder keg, though, which could easily turn into a worse threat if dealt the wrong blow. If we have other options, we should use them.”

Not should Stephen, must. Pakistan has nukes and must be dealt with as such.

“But whatever happened to going after al-Qaeda?”

Very true. Seems Bush has adopted a little harsher version of the clinton policy with them though. He is using Spec Ops to get at them.

“Strange that we must go after them in Iraq, were they weren’t there, and aren’t the biggest problem there now,”

Whether there were terrorists in Iraq before or not is no longer an issue. They are there now and must be dealt with.

“while we keep focus off of Pakistan, which is one dead president away from being a nuclear jihadist state”

I agree.

“I believe that? Dying for the UN? Good God, do you think we’re as obsessed with loving the UN as the GOP is obsessed with hating it?”

Well, lets see. You call your own President a sick bastard for sending Bolton to the UN and you say its foolish to act on behalf of your own country’s interests but ok to do so on behalf of the UN in their nation building schemes for international support.
Do I believe you are obsessed with loving the UN? Nah. I just find it odd that a Dem president sending troops to fight under the UN is ok, but a Rep president having troops fight for the US is wrong.

Having a reputation of getting permission from the UN to do anything, is hardly one that favors us.
We must act in our own best interests first and other interests last. You want the troops job to be easier? Let them do their job and leave.

“Do you think Iran, Saudi Arabia or Syria would be so frisky about intervening if this was a UN operation, like the last war?”

Yes I do. Even with the blessing of the UN, Iraq would still be what it is today.
I’m sure you beleive different, with all of the UNs previous success at nation building and all.

“Do you think we’d be spending ourselves broke, they way we are now?”

It would still be mostly our troops and it would still be mostly our money. Pretty much like any other major combat actions that are taken.

“The Clinton administration has actual convictions and legitimate incarcerations because of its approach.”

Ramsey Yousef and his gang? The ones who failed to kill themselves when they bombed the towers? Tell you what Stephen, if the 9-11 had failed to kill themselves, they would be in jail right now.

“The Bush adminstration has tangled itself up, brought the international community to question the legitimacy of our arrests and the legal status of our detainees.”

So, there is no way that this can just be a part of learning how to deal with something new? This is all first generation policy and will have problems. The Dem in 09 will be second generation and will experience the same. They will make mistakes that the right will try to capitalize on etc…

“We are different here. The question is whether your view is any different than theirs.”

Hmmm? I didn’t want to go into Iraq because I knew it would end up being another nation building wreck. I don’t want to provoke Pakistan because they have nukes and are very unstable.
Seems my views are different from both of the two sides. I just remain consistent.

“I backed up my differences with the facts. What about yours?”

You backed up your differences with “facts” which support your view without taking into account that other views were presented or could have been right.

Reps and Dems voted in support of the war and it was a very successful war. Post war has been a bitch and it appears a different plan should have been used. VERY few people deny this.
If Dems want to now say we told you so, fine. I just wish they would have voted that way so that we could have avoided all this.

So, where does that leave our differences?
You believe Dems are innocent in all of this and that they are the ones who will save us.
I believe Dems share responsibility and their actions, without hindsight, and the war vote show that.

Posted by: kctim at July 23, 2007 11:33 AM
Comment #227169

Paul:

Are you suggesting we invade pakistan? we are barred from fighting Al Queada there by the Paki government. And they are in the Nuke club.
what you say about generals re-deploying for better effect is really well put and very true, but does it apply in this case? I dont tihnk so.
The Titular head of Al Queada has labled Iraq the cornerstone of his war against the entire western world.
My opinion is that we need the Global War on Terror to live, not fade into oblivion as the left has stated. The best tactic is a global one with a global partnership.

Posted by: John InTexas at July 23, 2007 11:34 AM
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