March 27, 2003

Josh Marshall Is Terrified

Josh Marshall thinks he knows what the real grand strategy being followed by the Bush Administration is. And it leaves him completely, totally, utterly terrified.

If he is right, I am completely, totally, utterly terrified as well.


"Practice to Deceive" by Joshua Micah Marshall: ...What happened in the 1990s further reinforced that mindset. Hawks like Perle and William Kristol pulled their hair out when Kissingerians like Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell left Saddam's regime in place after the first Gulf War. They watched with mounting fury as terrorist attacks by Muslim fundamentalists claimed more and more American and Israeli lives. They considered the Oslo accords an obvious mistake (how can you negotiate with a man like Yasir Arafat?), and as the decade progressed they became increasingly convinced that there was a nexus linking burgeoning terrorism and mounting anti-Semitism with repressive but nominally "pro-American" regimes like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In 1996, several of the hawks--including Perle--even tried to sell Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the idea that Israel should attack Saddam on its own--advice Netanyahu wisely declined. When the Oslo process crumbled and Saudi Arabian terrorists killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11, the hawks felt, not without some justification, that they had seen this danger coming all along, while others had ignored it. The timing was propitious, because in September 2001 many already held jobs with a new conservative president willing to hear their pitch.

The pitch was this: The Middle East today is like the Soviet Union 30 years ago. Politically warped fundamentalism is the contemporary equivalent of communism or fascism. Terrorists with potential access to weapons of mass destruction are like an arsenal pointed at the United States. The primary cause of all this danger is the Arab world's endemic despotism, corruption, poverty, and economic stagnation. Repressive regimes channel dissent into the mosques, where the hopeless and disenfranchised are taught a brand of Islam that combines anti-modernism, anti-Americanism, and a worship of violence that borders on nihilism. Unable to overthrow their own authoritarian rulers, the citizenry turns its fury against the foreign power that funds and supports these corrupt regimes to maintain stability and access to oil: the United States. As Johns Hopkins University professor Fouad Ajami recently wrote in Foreign Affairs, "The great indulgence granted to the ways and phobias of Arabs has reaped a terrible harvest"--terrorism. Trying to "manage" this dysfunctional Islamic world, as Clinton attempted and Colin Powell counsels us to do, is as foolish, unproductive, and dangerous as détente was with the Soviets, the hawks believe. Nor is it necessary, given the unparalleled power of the American military. Using that power to confront Soviet communism led to the demise of that totalitarianism and the establishment of democratic (or at least non-threatening) regimes from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea to the Bering Strait. Why not use that same power to upend the entire corrupt Middle East edifice and bring liberty, democracy, and the rule of law to the Arab world?

The hawks' grand plan differs depending on whom you speak to, but the basic outline runs like this: The United States establishes a reasonably democratic, pro-Western government in Iraq--assume it falls somewhere between Turkey and Jordan on the spectrum of democracy and the rule of law. Not perfect, representative democracy, certainly, but a system infinitely preferable to Saddam's. The example of a democratic Iraq will radically change the political dynamics of the Middle East. When Palestinians see average Iraqis beginning to enjoy real freedom and economic opportunity, they'll want the same themselves. With that happy prospect on one hand and implacable United States will on the other, they'll demand that the Palestinian Authority reform politically and negotiate with Israel. That in turn will lead to a real peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. A democratic Iraq will also hasten the fall of the fundamentalist Shi'a mullahs in Iran, whose citizens are gradually adopting anti-fanatic, pro-Western sympathies. A democratized Iran would create a string of democratic, pro-Western governments (Turkey, Iraq, and Iran) stretching across the historical heartland of Islam. Without a hostile Iraq towering over it, Jordan's pro-Western Hashemite monarchy would likely come into full bloom. Syria would be no more than a pale reminder of the bad old days. (If they made trouble, a U.S. invasion would take care of them, too.) And to the tiny Gulf emirates making hesitant steps toward democratization, the corrupt regimes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt would no longer look like examples of stability and strength in a benighted region, but holdouts against the democratic tide. Once the dust settles, we could decide whether to ignore them as harmless throwbacks to the bad old days or deal with them, too. We'd be in a much stronger position to do so since we'd no longer require their friendship to help us manage ugly regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria...

Posted by DeLong at March 27, 2003 03:10 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Just remember how this goes down, I'm sure in a few months we will be hearing how our beloved administration has been informing us the entire time.

Whatever.

did anyone catch the ex-head of Mossad on 60 minutes II last night? Very interesting comments on how this war will remake the middle east.

I'm glad we have bush in office, I mean without any allies for this mission it is a good thing he is on a mission from god.

Hey, I'm sure you thought it was all over for the Blues Brothers too.

Posted by: jjj on March 27, 2003 03:18 PM

Perle would have resigned from his job as a security adviser:

http://www.agonist.org/archives/000870.html#000870

Can anybody tell me what that's supposed to mean?

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 27, 2003 03:32 PM

My paranoid faction gains converts. Joy.

Posted by: zizka on March 27, 2003 03:38 PM

I missed the part that's more terrifying than the Middle Easthole as it is right now.

Posted by: Mike G on March 27, 2003 03:59 PM

SALON.COM: Richard Perle resigns

March 27, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- Richard Perle, a former Reagan administration Pentagon official, resigned Thursday as chairman of the Defense Policy Board that is a key advisory arm for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

In a brief written statement, Rumsfeld thanked Perle for his service and made no mention of why Perle resigned. He said he had asked Perle to remain as a member of the board.

"He has been an excellent chairman and has led the Defense Policy Board during an important time in our history," Rumsfeld said. "I should add that I have known Richard Perle for many years and know him to be a man of integrity and honor."

Perle was an assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration. He took the advisory board chairman's post early in Rumsfeld's tenure.

http://www.salon.com/news/wire/2003/03/27/perle_resigns/

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 27, 2003 04:08 PM

I second Mike G's question, what's so scary about the Middle East being made to act like other normal people?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 27, 2003 04:48 PM

Among the troubling things with the plan, as it’s laid out, is the focus on bringing democracy to the region. Hopefully this is a term being used to broadly describe the rule of law, liberty and the respect for human rights. But democracy as such is just a way to generate leaders; it does not ensure good ones or good laws.

What further troubles me is that I have not heard a lot of glowing descriptions about how the afghani population is now being governed. After food and water these people need to be treated with respect and given institutions that support law and liberty more than they need physical infrastructure.

Posted by: Rob Sperry on March 27, 2003 04:51 PM

"I second Mike G's question, what's so scary about the Middle East being made to act like other normal people?"

You mean, like you in the USA? For us here in the entire rest of the world the problem is that we're ALL on your list. There are Australians held without due process in the Guantanamo concentration camp, which proves we're all vulnerable, and not just hypothetically.

But the problem for you is the one about riding the tiger.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on March 27, 2003 05:08 PM

"I missed the part that's more terrifying than the Middle Easthole as it is right now."

What could possibly go wrong?

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 27, 2003 05:12 PM

For the usual suspects to consider:

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/03/28/1048653833092.html

--------quote----------
Near Basra, Iraq: British military interrogators claim captured Iraqi soldiers have told them that al-Qaeda terrorists are fighting on the side of Saddam Hussein's forces against allied troops near Basra.

At least a dozen members of Osama bin Laden's network are in the town of Az Zubayr where they are coordinating grenade and gun attacks on coalition positions, according to the Iraqi prisoners of war.

It was believed that last night (Thursday) British forces were preparing a military strike on the base where the al-Qaeda unit was understood to be holed up.

A senior British military source inside Iraq said: "The information we have received from PoWs today is that an al-Qaeda cell may be operating in Az Zubayr. There are possibly around a dozen of them and that is obviously a matter of concern to us."

---------endquote---------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 27, 2003 05:30 PM

I didn't read the entire article, just the piece that DeLong posted. I do not understand what is so terrifying? Besides the naivete? I surely didn't read it carefully enough, but I am not so sure what is terrifying.

Posted by: Bobby on March 27, 2003 05:33 PM

Kind of like how Osama called for all arabs to fight the United States two breaths after declaring Saddam a worthless, evil guy, huh?

Posted by: Jason McCullough on March 27, 2003 05:36 PM

Yeah, whats wrong with an entire region of the world being taught to behave in the right way if they want to or not? Maybe people in the Middle East really aren't interested in having their lives reorderd by the United States. Plus, as Marshall mentioned isn't there something fundamentally dishonest about decieving the American public about what is going to be decades long process that amounts to a neo-colonial empire, if the other governments in the region don't make the right choice.

Posted by: Garyn Dunbar on March 27, 2003 05:43 PM

Yeah, whats wrong with an entire region of the world being taught to behave in the right way if they want to or not? Maybe people in the Middle East really aren't interested in having their lives reorderd by the United States. Plus, as Marshall mentioned isn't there something fundamentally dishonest about decieving the American public about what is going to be decades long process that amounts to a neo-colonial empire, if the other governments in the region don't make the right choice.

Posted by: Garyn Dunbar on March 27, 2003 05:43 PM

Yeah, whats wrong with an entire region of the world being taught to behave in the right way if they want to or not? Maybe people in the Middle East really aren't interested in having their lives reorderd by the United States. Plus, as Marshall mentioned isn't there something fundamentally dishonest about decieving the American public about what is going to be decades long process that amounts to a neo-colonial empire, if the other governments in the region don't make the right choice.

Posted by: Garyn Dunbar on March 27, 2003 05:44 PM

Sorry for the multi-post

Posted by: Garyn Dunbar on March 27, 2003 05:46 PM

Isn't this received wisdom by now? Anatol Lievin
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v24/n19/liev01_.html
said as much last October. Compare policy before and after 9/11, assess the importance of Iraq to Al Qaeda and have a look at the Project for the New american Century website to see who was saying what.

As for Al Qaeda in Iraq, surely they are just doing what the communists did in China win the battle for hearts and minds while militarily taking a free ride from a superior force (the Kuo Min Tang in China's case).

Posted by: Jack on March 27, 2003 05:58 PM

In theory, the neocon theory might work, but its likely a recipe for chaos in the near term... But then we are jumping ahaed of ourselves. There is the small matter of winning the war in Iraq.

Posted by: John McKinzey on March 27, 2003 06:17 PM

The hawks' plan as described by Professor DeLong sounds like the classic liberal interventionism of the Democratic Party. I don't think it's surprising that an isolationist like Mr. Buchanan should find it sinister, but why does a liberal object so strenuously when so-called conservatives adopt liberal ideas?

Posted by: Joe Willingham on March 27, 2003 06:26 PM

Because I'm a liberal realist, not an idealist...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on March 27, 2003 06:27 PM

Just what exactly is so terrifying about this plan? The status quo in the Middle East is COMPLETELY unacceptable. Quite frankly, something needs to change in that region. Straight democratization is not the solution, as there's real fear that once you have a real election, that'll be the last one ever held for quite some time (on par with Iran in '78 I believe).

What the neocons are advocating is a managed democratization, managed by who else but the world's greatest democracy and the country with the best track record in democratizing previously dictatorial regimes. A checkered past to be sure, but we still have the most experience and the most success when compared to others.

Not only this, but conquering Iraq will give us substantially more leverage over the region. Thus far we are walking a tight-rope trying to manage our relations with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey, trying to push them in the right direction but fearful of pushing them a tad too hard. A democratized Iraq, firmly under our influence, and also a potential base for some heavy divisions, will greatly increase our ability to influence politics in the Middle East, presumably for the better.

This strategy is not naive, it is ambitious. If managed correctly, we can all say that we were "present at the creation" of the 21st century.

Posted by: Jon on March 27, 2003 06:44 PM

There's no real problem with the plan as long as we win all the wars easily, and the occupation of the defeated countries is not difficult, and the world and American economies stay strong, and the Patriot and Patriot II acts are not used heavyhandedly against domestic opposition, and Pakistan, India, Russia, and China don't take advantage of the situation.

"I fail to see" indeed!

Posted by: zizka on March 27, 2003 06:50 PM

Relying on fictions like the UN is not realism. Thinking we can deal with terrorist regimes by being nice is not realism. It is the neocons who are seeking to combine liberalism and realism, in the great tradition of FDR, Truman, Acheson, Marshall, and JFK.

It is no accident that the neocons are ex-Democrats. For that matter it is no accident that Ronald Reagan was an ex-Democrat.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on March 27, 2003 06:52 PM

"At least a dozen members of Osama bin Laden's network are in the town of Az Zubayr where they are coordinating grenade and gun attacks on coalition positions, according to the Iraqi prisoners of war."

You mean this war is bound to increase terrorist threats??? Gee, if I had known I would have demonstrated against this war.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 27, 2003 06:58 PM

What's scary about the plan is that it implies that the US has the right to install governments where ever it pleases. When we start using words like 'unacceptable' and 'normal', you force your world view on everyone else. Who's to say that thirty years down the road we don't decide to invade Germany or France for having the 'unacceptable' policy of a social democratic state? This plan would certainly set a precedent for unilateral action against any state that doesn't fir US ideals for 'modernity' and 'democracy'.

Posted by: steve goodman on March 27, 2003 07:16 PM

A common thread running through the pro-taking over the Middle East position is that since the status quo isn't working we have to try something else. Hasn't that gotten us into enough trouble as is? Hussein came to power through just this kind of analysis.

The Middle East has problems, of that we can all agree, but isn't it wiser to work with the already established governments to try and move towards a more democratic society. Thats worked in Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and even South Africa to a large extent.

Specifically to the idea that we can use a "democratic" Iraq under our control. How can the nation really be both? Turkey has shown that when nations really get democracy the government becomes much less subservient to foreign dominance. So do we really want a democratic Iraq or a marginally less brutal autocracy that keeps the public and line and obeys orders from Washington?

Posted by: Garyn Dunbar on March 27, 2003 07:42 PM

"I missed the part that's more terrifying than the Middle Easthole as it is right now."

It's a recipe for a 30-Years War, friend . .

Posted by: rea on March 27, 2003 07:47 PM

"a managed democratization, managed by who else but the world's [soi disant] greatest democracy and the country with the best track record in democratizing previously dictatorial regimes. A checkered past to be sure, but we still have the most experience and the most success when compared to others." Notice that half way through it all switched to COMPARATIVES, "greatEST", "most", etc.

The thing is, that is just precisely what happened between the ages of Athens and of Rome (including the Macedonians in between). That's how it's done - keep selecting until the people get it right. And it still led to empires.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on March 27, 2003 07:50 PM

Welcome to my world.

Posted by: Max Sawicky on March 27, 2003 08:00 PM

The US helped to defeat fascism in Europe, but it certainly hasn't taken over Italy or Germany. We helped to defeat Communism, but we don't rule Russia. We helped to liberate Kuwait, but I don't think Kuwait has turned into an imitation of America. The program is to give aid to the struggle against Ba'ath and Islamist fascism, not to "take over" anybody.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on March 27, 2003 10:18 PM

In every case you cite the US was, unambigously, _not_ the aggressor, and this was essential to the perceived legitimacy of the governments that we passed off control of those countries to, in the eyes of the populations of those countries _and_ the international community. This makes for quite a difference in how willing people are to work within the frameworks the US proposes, don't you think? That's why it's difficult to impose democracy on a region. People who are coerced into accepting a political system have little motivation to respect the norms and institutions that are crucial to the success of democratic systems.

Note that the problem of perceived legitimacy is not just a problem for the success of a post-war Iraqi government itself. The taint attaching to that government will also get in the way of its serving as a subversive model for the populations of other countries in the region, which is a crucial part of the neo-conservative strategy under discussion.

And we haven't even mentioned the morality of imposing a form of government on a people.

Posted by: Alp Aker on March 28, 2003 12:07 AM

It would be interesting to know why Wolfowitz has changed his mind how to go about regime change. Orginally he was against a US attack.

http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqsep1898.htm

Posted by: Hans Suter on March 28, 2003 12:46 AM

"I don't think it's surprising that an isolationist like Mr. Buchanan should find it sinister, but why does a liberal object so strenuously when so-called conservatives adopt liberal ideas?"

Liberals learned our lesson in Vietnam. Remaking the world in our image tends to turn out badly.

"If managed correctly, we can all say that we were 'present at the creation' of the 21st century."

If managed incorrectly, it'll be world war 3.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on March 28, 2003 02:27 AM

It's scary because it's impossible. Or, as Talleyrand would have said, it's worse than immoral - it's stupid.

What you have right now is a Middle East that is unanimous in despising the US, and an American administration that simply refuses to acknowledge that fact. We are not being welcomed into Iraq - doesn't that give anybody pause? Sure, the Saddam loyalists are intimidating people, but those guys were around in 1991 and there were massive insurrections regardless. The difference is that now we have made it clear that we're coming to occupy Iraq, and however much Saddam is hated, there is such a thing as a national feeling that rebels at the thought of invasion and occupation by a foreign power.

Posted by: Dave Larson on March 28, 2003 03:01 AM

"however much Saddam is hated, there is such a thing as a national feeling that rebels at the thought of invasion and occupation by a foreign power."

That Iraqis might fight for their homeland, no matter their feelings towards Saddam, is not within the worldview of the adminstration.

Posted by: richard on March 28, 2003 04:21 AM

Joe Willingham,

Why are these “so-called” conservatives, while Brad is just a plain vanilla “liberal?” Symmetry in application of political labels would, I suspect, boost the credibility of your point of view to the unbiased observer.

I am ever fascinated by policy assessments that give great weight to whether the policy is “liberal” or “conservative” in preference to some other quality – like the balance of risk and reward the policy seems to represent or whether it is based on principles that US public has traditionally supported. Personally, I don’t give two hoots whether NAFTA, welfare reform, school testing and the like were originally considered liberal or conservative policies. Likewise, I don’t care whether the Perle-vision (sorry, couldn’t help it) represents a traditionally liberal intervention. That misses just about every important point – ya know, about ethics, risks, costs, whether the plan has a snowball’s chance of succeeding outside the policy statements of its adherents, that sort of thing.

The split in this debate, like in so many of the issues surrounding the Iraq situation, is between those who think both that we can remake things in the Mideast to our liking at least partly by indirect means and that the remaking will be relatively easy, and those who disagree with one or both of these premises. The precedents offered for success are never very good parallels. Why is it that, if democratic institutions are universally desirable, they have not come to the Mideast in any great measure while much of the rest of the world marched in that direction during the 20th century? Hasn't Lee Kwan Yu (forgive any spelling errors, please) argued that Asian paternalism is a natural and appropriate path, given Asian history, that western democratic traditions don't apply?

Anybody think there is a chance that the pace of the war will be determined in part by a desire to avoid the 3-month rule (3-month war means recession) offered up in today’s Washington Post? Will a cautious, low (allied and civilian) casualty approach to war be tolerated if it seems likely to end the political career of Bush II?


Posted by: K Harris on March 28, 2003 05:18 AM

So, Brad is finally catching on.

Given what has occurred and what Josh Marshall (and many others, myself included) conclude will occur it almost would appear that Bin Laden has been carrying a valid grudge. Certainly many in the Muslim world will be convinced that he is a visionary.

In fact, Bin Laden has presented the nature of American/muslim relations more accurately than any other political figure in the US/Britain.

We have no more right to forcefully impose our sense of order on the Middle East than they do imposing their sense of order on us. And might does not make right. Rather it creates Bin Ladens. If one argues that it is a matter of defense then you must consider who insulted who first and you must employ faculties beyond short term memory.

As an aside, a little while ago I mentioned Perle and the PNAC on a different thread. I was exdpressing the same fears that Josh Marshall does now. A prominant and ussually inteligent contributer to this blog (not DT) replied not to worry; that Perle is just a fringe element.

As I said then, clearly PERLE IS INTEGRAL. He is a driving force behind this admin.'s foriegn policy. See the headlines. Perle has been in top positions for a long time and now Rumsfeld cannot make do without him.

Posted by: E. Avedisian on March 28, 2003 05:32 AM

"Anybody think there is a chance that the pace of the war will be determined in part by a desire to avoid the 3-month rule (3-month war means recession) offered up in today’s Washington Post? Will a cautious, low (allied and civilian) casualty approach to war be tolerated if it seems likely to end the political career of Bush II?"

I think that a desire to minimize direct costs is driving the pace of the war. Otherwise, Rumsfeld would have fully invested the available capabilities. Political credibility is a major component of cost, and is inversely related to the time it takes to finish. Given the steady erosion of the administration's scaffold of lies that bought popular support (9/11 equals Saddam Hussein equals WMD), they'll need to conclude the killing as swiftly as possible. ATTM, that means that warfighting costs are being outweighed by political costs, and everything we have is being slowly brought to bear on the fire.

However, the neocon fantasy that victory equals near term happiness and prosperity for all Middle Eastern countries better occur, because a highly plausible alternative, as Marshall points out, is WWIII.

Posted by: Russell L. Carter on March 28, 2003 06:59 AM

"...you must remember who insulted who first."

That is the route to Hatfield/McCoy. Was the first "insult" in this...
9/11?
Kuwait?
Beiruit?
The Hostage Crisis of 1980?
The founding of Israel?
The betrayal of the Arabs after WWI?
Colonialism?
The Spanish Campaign against the Moors?
The invasion of Austria, Spain and Italy by the Moors and Turks?
The Crusades?
The conquest of the Holy Land by the early Muslims, circa seventh/eighth century?
The Roman conquest?

We could probably go on forever. Rarely do these vendetta wars end before one side or the other is utterly exterminated, like Carthage.

Posted by: rvmann on March 28, 2003 07:54 AM

I still haven't seen anyone explain what's so "terrifying" about this scenario. If some of you had been around in 1945 -- and if you had been die-hard Republicans and therefore partisan opponents of anything done by a Democratic President -- you would have been making the same sort of hysterical remarks about how hopeless it was to try to democratize Germany and Japan.

Posted by: Joe Millionaire on March 28, 2003 08:51 AM

I'm over in the camp that believes that democratic governments are in the long term interest of world stability.

What I don't like about the neocon view on remaking the middle east is

1.) it was created and is possibly being executed by a small group of policy makers without widespread support of either the professional military or the professional internation politicians (state dept.) let alone the rest of the government or populace

2.) there is no discussion of the risks involved, what are the best, middle and worst case scenarios?

3.) why is Sadaam a bigger near term (i.e., 30 to 90 days from the start of the war) threat than the threat of hurting relations with our most important allies, especially in the context of the bigger picture of remaking the middle east?

4.) why do supporters of this policy automatically trust the same small group of advisors in the execution of the plan even when shown repeated failures of the same team (read todays WaPost article on Turkey and any one of the dozens on Rumisfield overruling the military planners)?

Posted by: jjj on March 28, 2003 08:51 AM

"I still haven't seen anyone explain what's so "terrifying" about this scenario. If some of you had been around in 1945 -- and if you had been die-hard Republicans and therefore partisan opponents of anything done by a Democratic President -- you would have been making the same sort of hysterical remarks about how hopeless it was to try to democratize Germany and Japan."

No, the true parallel would have been to propose the forced democratization of Germany and Japan in 1938.

Posted by: Dave Larson on March 28, 2003 09:01 AM

I'm among those who fail to see what's wrong with having a 30-year plan.

Isn't it moronic and stupid to stumble from crisis to crisis with no plan, vision, or guiding principle in mind? How is any progress to be made-- how, even, can a loyal patriotic opposition offer up thoughtful alternatives -- if current leadership DOESN'T have a goal out there?

Quick! Clinton-fans, Gore-voters, and former officials of Democratic administrations -- what was the FORMER 30-year plan for the Middle East, that this "Marshall" Plan has supplanted? I'm sure I'm not sure -- but whatever the old plan used to be it seemed to require implementation by :

-- Starving a generation of children -- also known as "Sanctions"?

-- Bombing, but not putting boots on the ground,in Muslim-occupied territories in order to prevent Europeans from committing genocide.

-- Building enclaves where U.S. military troops were present and conducted training but no had no police powers or functions and where contact with the local populations were minimized -- (Doha, Bosnia, Khobar...) This is also known as "nation building" despite the fact that no banking, media, education, or even sewer systems were constructed outside the enclaves.

-- Launching cruise missile strikes at times of maximal domestic political convenience; against targets of opportunity as selected by third country nationals in the pay of deniable proxies of the C.I.A. (Sudanese aspirin factories and Iraqi office buildings where the informants used to clean the Secret Policemen's toilets...)

I'm sorry. I exaggerate. But please, what WAS the old plan that this is so much worse than? or what would be should be the NEW, new plan, that all good social (small-letter-d) democrats could get behind if articulated by Kerry or Lieberman or even John McCain?

Don't give me guff about diplomacy and multi-lateralism. Those are tools towards a goal; not goals in themselves. If you have a good goal, you can then try to persuade others to join you. You might even sigh on to other's goals. So, guys, what is the FRENCH plan for progress in Iraq, in Palestine, in Syria and Saudi Arabia?
What do the CANADIANS think the next thirty years should look like?

Assume, even, that a sufficiently attractive goal might draw some concessions from the U.S.; in some future administration. A president might say to the "red-state" voters -- "Look, I think Kyoto CO2 treaties are bogus programs to little good effect -- BUT we're going to sigh on in order to bring lasting Peace to Israel and the new Palestinian state, because Kyoto is a quid pro quo for -- (Fill in grand vision here...)

Any visionaries here?

My beef with this plan is not the plan itself, but the job the administration has done presenting it -- or the correct version. Given that Bush is the antithesis of glib, I don't find it surprising that he has failed, or chosen not, to speak on behalf of this vision -- again _if_ indeed this IS the vision. (Steven denBeste might agree with Marshall, although the two of them might quibble on priority for the scoop.) But as visions go, this ain't bad.


Posted by: Melcher on March 28, 2003 09:47 AM

Vision is one thing. Execution is something entirely different. Doesn't this "30-year plan" directly contradict conservative and libertarian principles? Principles derived from a long examination and contemplation of history.

Posted by: Russell L. Carter on March 28, 2003 09:59 AM

Wow, make a stray comment early enough in a bunch of comments and everyone comments on what you said instead of the article...

Here are my thoughts in brief in response to what everyone said:

The Middle East is so bad that it's hard to see how mucking around with it on almost any level can make it much worse. I mean, what could happen-- they all hate us? They commit acts of terrorism on US soil? They blow their GDP making nukes? They sink further and further behind the rest of the world forever? What terrible thing can you really suggest that isn't already happening or a significant risk?

The Middle East is so bad that almost any tipping point will produce potential improvement. What regime could be worse than most of the regimes they have? It's like the worst parts of Eastern Europe right before Communism fell, except Iraq and Iran didn't have to wait for Tito to be dead before they started fratricidal war. If five dictators fall in the next few years and are replaced by four dictators and one democratic leader, then that's more than just a 20% improvement-- it's proof that it's possible anywhere there. I find it hard to see why that's any less "realistic" than the hopes that someday Poland, Czech, Estonia and other such benighted countries might have democracies. Bad systems have a tendency to crash as a group, just ask the crowned heads of Europe before 1914. Or anyone who thought fascism was the inescapable shape of the future in the 1930s, which would be, most people.

Finally, what gives us the right? Well, clearly none of this would be happening without an attack on American soil. So partly the answer is the rah-rah one, sorry, Arab world, you gave up your right to bitch about American intervention when you made our 707s start intervening with our skyscrapers. But let me take a nice liberal broader picture view and acknowledge that the West has been messing with the Middle East since before September 11th. To which I reply: exactly. It's Gertrude Bell's arbitrary borders and the realpolitik that supported "our SOBs" and all that other stuff that helped the Middle East become the nightmare and blightmare it is today. If we are responsible, we owe them something better, and unfortunately, the only way to give them something better in a country like Iraq is to do us both a favor and remove the monster in charge. (I think Andrew Sullivan is over the top most of the time but he makes one good point today: the regime that is forcing soldiers into battle at gunpoint plainly was never going to fall by any other means except exactly what's happening.)

The Middle East has been the biggest problem in the world pretty much my entire life. It is a black hole of wasted hopes and broken promises. A 10% improvement would be a miracle. The likelihood of nukes falling into the hands of Saddams and Osamas (or any equivalent, it's not like they're short of either type) imposes an ultimate deadline on making it better; quite literally species survival could be at stake. My only question is why it took us so long to finally start.

Posted by: Mike G on March 28, 2003 10:12 AM

"(I think Andrew Sullivan is over the top most of the time but he makes one good point today: the regime that is forcing soldiers into battle at gunpoint plainly was never going to fall by any other means except exactly what's happening.)"

I'm trying hard here to figure out why Stalin isn't the counterexample that negates your entire argument.

Posted by: Russell L. Carter on March 28, 2003 10:37 AM

I thought Joshua Marshall's article was somewhat alarmist, because the wildly optimistic neo-conservatives are only one faction within the Bush Administration. You can expect Colin Powell and the State Department, as well as Blair and the British Foreign Office, to push back pretty hard against Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the neo-conservatives.

Why do people find the neo-conservative vision so appalling?
http://www.geocities.com/rwvong/future/mideast.html#4.2

If remaking the Middle East by fire and sword is a bad idea, what should the United States and its allies be doing instead?
http://www.geocities.com/rwvong/future/mideast.html#4.3

Posted by: Russil Wvong on March 28, 2003 10:39 AM

"I'm trying hard here to figure out why Stalin isn't the counterexample that negates your entire argument."

Well, he is. I typed regime while I was thinking dictator. Presumably any form of government will eventually come to an end, so by definition, any regime will too, eventually. But it is impossible to conceive of realistic circumstances by which the people would have overthrown Stalin in any reasonable lifespan for him-- except in a case where the Nazis had nearly destroyed the regime first.

As it turned out it took what, 46 years more after his death, which is half again as long as he ruled, for the Soviet system to fall apart. 46 more years of very gradual weakening of the iron fist before it happened overnight. Not a very encouraging statistic for the Iraqi people.

Posted by: Mike G on March 28, 2003 10:54 AM

D'oh! Can't add or get dates right. It would be 36 years, not 46, if it were 1989, which it really isn't anyway for the USSR as opposed to Eastern Europe. So 1953 to 1991, 38 years (almost 39 actually). Still longer than he ruled.

Posted by: Mike G on March 28, 2003 10:57 AM

Mike G. is right.

The conflict in the Middle East isn't really about the US, it's about the failure of the Islamic world to reach an accommodation with modernity and the resulting internal conflicts. Islamist terrorists have killed hundreds of thousands of Arabs. It's a giant civil war into which the US has been drawn as various factions try to use us for their own purposes.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on March 28, 2003 10:59 AM

K. Harris writes:

"I am ever fascinated by policy assessments that give great weight to whether the policy is “liberal” or “conservative” in preference to some other quality – like the balance of risk and reward the policy seems to represent or whether it is based on principles that US public has traditionally supported. Personally, I don’t give two hoots whether NAFTA, welfare reform, school testing and the like were originally considered liberal or conservative policies. Likewise, I don’t care whether the Perle-vision (sorry, couldn’t help it) represents a traditionally liberal intervention. That misses just about every important point – ya know, about ethics, risks, costs, whether the plan has a snowball’s chance of succeeding outside the policy statements of its adherents, that sort of thing."

I totally agree. My point is saying that the neocons seem to be (at least in part) traditional liberal interventionists is not that that makes them right or wrong. I mean only that their views are not sinister, which would imply that they are strange or unusual.

The traditional liberal conservative divide is in many ways outdated. Bill Clinton understood that, to his benefit and to the benefit of the country.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on March 28, 2003 11:13 AM

Russil-

"Why do people find the neo-conservative vision so appalling?"

What people find appalling is the stealth with which we suddenly find ourselves embroiled in policies that are dramatic shifts from our perception of the role of the United States in the world.

There has been no debate in congress, no debate in the press, no putting forth of a "neo-con" proposal for review.

I suspect that most in this thread (excluding those who use "liberal" as a swear word) are willing to consider new ideas that might make the world a better place to live, regardless of the source.

The problem with these ideas, they have never been considered except by the true believers who, in what is supposed to be a democracy, implement them by stealth.

Perhaps Steven Pinker is right and there is a "cheater detection" gene.

Sam

Posted by: Sam Taylor on March 28, 2003 11:15 AM

~"
If remaking the Middle East by fire and sword is a bad idea, what should the United States and its allies be doing instead?
http://www.geocities.com/rwvong/future/mideast.html#4.3
Posted by Russil Wvong "~

It can't see that the URL answers the question. Either Russil and I share the question, (I hope) or his "answer" as alluded to in the URL is rather ambiguous:

~" The question for the US and its allies, then, is which of these three choices is the least bad:

Going to war before Saddam Hussein can acquire nuclear weapons (either now or in the next couple of years).

Backing down, not going to war, and attempting to rely on deterrence once Saddam has nuclear weapons.

Not going to war, and withdrawing from the Middle East, either now or once Saddam has nuclear weapons.

I'm afraid it's not obvious to me which of these choices is the least bad. Frankly, they all look pretty terrible."~

So going to war and staying to reform the police, banks, schools, and media is even more bad? These are 3 better alternatives that Bush-oppenents like?


~"
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote (I am paraphrasing from memory here): "The most dangerous moment for a bad government arrives when it tries to reform itself." With such unknowns, what government would or should run the risks? By any measurement, our opportunities for fostering these kinds of changes, even if desirable and necessary from our point of view, are modest."~

Alex was confirmed when the U.S. under President Carter leaned on the Shah of Iran to lighten up on the torture and informants and dissent-crushing. It was widely held in the 1970's that the Shah was not only a rat bastard, but was a U.S. puppet-rat-bastard. That may be entirely true. But I wonder how many people who thought so find the Iran of the past two decades to be an unqualified improvement? What if, instead of attempting to distance ourselves from the problems of Iran, we engaged more fully?

The chances that a totalitarian regime can reform itself peacefully from within being modest, what sorts of outside pressures can be brought to bear successfully? Again, what have we seen work in the past? Sanctions?
The diplomatic scolding of the OAS or UN or NATO? (Again, who thinks the situation in Haiti has been improved by U.S. diplomacy and multilateral accord as evidenced in OAS resolution 822? ) Covert intelligence operations against political targets? What is the best alternative strategy -- to bombing the bejesus out of the bastards and setting up some MacArthur as the new "founding father" of some more liberal state?

Posted by: Melcher on March 28, 2003 11:16 AM

Sam writes:

"What people find appalling is the stealth with which we suddenly find ourselves embroiled in policies that are dramatic shifts from our perception of the role of the United States in the world."

A law was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton advocating regime change in Iraq. Mr. Clinton almost went to war with Iraq in 1998, but decided to confine himself to some missile attacks. The Clinton policy and the Bush policy are not fundamentally different. It's just that Mr. Bush had decided to *act* on Mr. Clinton's policy.

Mr. Bush has never concealed his aims in regard to Iraq. There is no stealth involved.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on March 28, 2003 11:29 AM

The United States does not have 36 years to wait out the collapse of Islamic totalitarianism (which really is a toxic mix of theocratic fascism and Stalinism), even if it could be assumed that it would happen that soon. The totalitarians' control of a large percentage of a natural resource that the world is dependent on, combined wuth the increasing ubiquity of massively destructive technology, along with a symbitoic relationship between oil-wealthy elements and elements that have an ideological fervor to slaughter Westerners is as massive numbers as possible, means that a very slow change in the status quo guarantees such a massive slaughter of western civilians.

When Warren Buffett said, shortly after 9/11, that a nuclear attack on an American city, was, over time, a near certainty, he wasn't making an assessment of Bush foreign policy. Of course, some might say that Buffett, being in the reinsurance business, has a vested interest in making such a prediction, in that he might be seeking socialized relief from such exposure. More likely, however, his comments reflected his assessment of the status quo, and what the odds were of that status quo changing rapidly enough to ward off such a catclysmic event. The odds ain't with us.

I share many persons' doubts about the ability of this Administration to execute such a policy, but then I tend to doubt any Administration's ability to execute their policy, even ignoring what a monumentally complex task this is. However, since the status quo, or even a slow change in the status quo, nearly guarantees cataclysmic disaster, I see no other alternative than attempting to change the status quo rapidly, which inevitably means war.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 28, 2003 11:51 AM

There may be nothing inherently wrong with the idea of bringing peace, democracy and stability to the Middle East. It is a vision not everyone might share, but it's one that's hard to argue against.

The more interesting question is, who's going to be that Messiah, and who died and made him God?

A number of people see themselves as the Great Uniters of the Arab world. Saddam had that grand vision. Osama bin Laden has that grand vision. And, apparently, so do the neo-cons. Some might argue that Saddam and bin Laden posess severe ideological and character flaws that make them undesirable as founders of a new Middle Eastern order. Others might argue that the so-called chicken hawks suffer from the same disease. What makes them more qualified?

A strong sense of responsibility, and more importantly, accountability, is an essential requirement for any candidate for the position of world saviour, and an even more essential requirement for any political and administrative structure aimed at replacing the present unaccountable regimes in the Middle East. Else you get that all-too-familiar "same shit, different day" feeling.

I leave it to you to judge whether Cheney, Perle and the rest of the Bush administration have set shining standards of accountability and responsibility in governance, and whether they will surpass even these shining efforts in the new territories of Pax Americana.

Posted by: StrontiumDog on March 28, 2003 12:19 PM

Will Allen

Why is containment and deterrence good enough for Iran and North Korea but not for Iraq? Your comments are sensible, but I am not sure they called for the action we now have taken.

Posted by: aj on March 28, 2003 12:49 PM

To date, North Korea is not nearly as closely linked to actors who have large ideological commitment to the slaughter of Americans, as the oil-rich states of the Middle East do. That isn't to say that we have 36 years to outlast North Korea. It helps, howver, that North Korea is dirt poor, is not sitting on top of the world's oil reserves, and is geographically isolated. With luck, and the enlistment of the Chinese (an iffy proposition, to be sure) North Korea can be outlasted, due to their economic condition. Any way you look at it, there aren't any attractive options, only options of lesser degree of hideousness.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 28, 2003 12:58 PM

As to Iran, there are elements of reform that are strong enough to give a greater chance of a more peaceful rapid change in the status quo. The mullahs, as awful as they are, are not as fully committed to the application of mass terror that Hussein, or Hussein's sons are, which means there is a chance that it can be changed from within. It is the difference between having Stalin in control of the U.S.S.R., and having an ailing Breshnez trying to control the U.S.S.R., after the willingness of the power elites to indulge in the massive appilcation of terror has been reduced from where it was in Stalin's era. Even if Hussein were to die of a stroke tonight, the entities that would seize control of the Baath would likely be just as willing to maintain control of the country through the massive application of terror.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 28, 2003 01:08 PM

aj:

~"Why is containment and deterrence good enough for Iran and North Korea but not for Iraq?"~

We come, at long last, to an economics question!

What is the opportunity cost of war on Iraq?

Isn't it, arguably, a cost of being unable to wage war on North Korea, or some other comparable threat? If we exhaust our munitions and national morale in a stagnating war in the Middle East, will we have the resources to keep secure our allies in Japan, South Korea and the rest of the relatively prosperous, relatively peaceful, Pacific Rim? If not, then containment and diplomacy are all that is left to apply to the problems in North Korea, (Argentina, Cuba,
Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Ivory Coast, East Timor...)

Of course, this assumes that war on North Korea, et al, was ever or is still in fact, a viable alternative...

It also implicitly assumes we do NOT have the vast resources necessary to wage serial war.

I tend to suppose the former assumption is more likely true than the second.

I wonder if somebody evil in the Bush administration -- surely there must be at least one such -- is making a list of the all the opposition pundits now asking "Why not make war on/invade/bomb/democratize North Korea (instead of Iraq)? " for the run up to the 2004 election -- and that year's war in North Korea?

Can't you hear some Rove-ian type complaining that the pundits "were _for_ this war in 2003 but have now flip-flopped. We once agreed that war on NK is necessary to world peace but we differed from our distinquished Democratic oppostion in the order in which the Axis of Evil was to be engaged. As soon as we are turn the administration's attention to their own stated objective, they've moved the goal posts and now ask why we should go after North Korea instead of another nuclear power like India ... "

~"The more interesting question is, who's going to be that Messiah, and who died and made him God? "~

Nelson Mandela tells of a dream in which he stands before God to ask, "Lord, who am _I_ that You should task _me_ with this terrible burden?"

Mandela says that in his dream, God in turn asks "Man, who are you to refuse?"

Of course, all world leaders who believe that God has called them to action are mad, dangerous, and no doubt evil...

Posted by: Melcher on March 28, 2003 01:24 PM

This time I read the entire article, and I can see why people are terrified by the idiocy of this Rube Goldberg plan. However, is there any coherent alternative vision by the moderate to liberals in order to fight terrorism? Surely it should be a domestic fight. But how far should it go beyond our borders? The absence of the alternative ideas does not justify the idiocy of the neocon plan but it does help its implementation.

Also, I don't like the ethnic stuff towards the beginning of the article. I would prefer it if the fact that a few of the neoconservatives are Jewish is ignored. It does not advance the debate at all to mention that they are Jewish, and could be harmful in light of growing anti-Semitism among the anti-Israel factions of the extreme left.

Actually the neocon plan probably encourages terror. For example, unfortunately today's apparent hijacking of a Turkish airline, which apparently is now headed towards Greece, might be due to the Iraq conflict. Hopefully this is unrelated, and everyone will be safe.

Posted by: Bobby on March 28, 2003 01:38 PM

I am amazed that the hijackers were not overwhelmed by the passengers in light of what happened on 9/11. I hope that they will do so lest these events be repeated.

Posted by: Bobby on March 28, 2003 01:50 PM

Melcher, I'm a reluctant supporter of the war with Iraq, because Saddam Hussein is the guy who set the Kuwaiti oil fields on fire for no apparent reason; the only real alternative to war is a continuation of sanctions, which has been a humanitarian and political disaster. But I'm skeptical that the war is going to solve the problems of the Middle East.

So what do I think the US and its allies should be doing to solve the long-term problems? "Over the long term, I think the US and its allies ought to work to change the status quo to address the needs and desires of the Arab world. Currently, the most important grievances are the sanctions against Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the longer term, what's needed is not just economic and social development, but the recovery of national pride."

That's vague, I know. Bruce Kuniholm:
http://tinyurl.com/7pb0

"To address this problem and, ultimately, to eliminate it, the essential task of U.S. policy in the Middle East and Southwest Asia must be not only to contain terrorism and aggression by states within the region but also to work with our allies and with countries in the region to help the region develop:

"- plans for economic growth that are consistent with the capabilities and aspirations of the region, that foster civil societies, and that encourage constructive discourse over common problems;

"- safety nets for the hungry, the dispossessed, and those in need of health care;

"- better educational systems that provide alternatives to the doctrinaire and regressive teachings of the madrasahs; and

"a recourse to solutions other than violence, such as mechanisms for the arbitration of major conflicts, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and peaceful change."

I think the Louis Halle quote is particularly important: "Real power is always something far greater than military power alone. A balance of power is not a balance of military power alone: it is, rather, a balance in which military power is one element. Even in its crudest aspect, power represents a subtle and intimate combination of force and consent. No stable government has ever existed, and no empire has ever become established, except with an immensely preponderant measure of consent on the part of those who were its subjects. That consent may be a half-grudging consent; it may be a consent based in part on awe of superior force; it may represent love, or respect, or fear, or a combination of the three. Consent, in any case, is the essential ingredient in stable power--more so than physical force, of which the most efficient and economical use is to increase consent."

Right now there's very little consent for US power in the Arab and Muslim world. I think the key goal is to rebuild such consent.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on March 28, 2003 02:45 PM

~"plans for economic growth...

"- safety nets for the hungry, the dispossessed, and those in need of health care...

"- better educational systems that provide alternatives to the doctrinaire and regressive teachings ...

"a recourse to solutions other than violence, such as mechanisms for the arbitration of major conflicts, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and peaceful change."

I am conditioned and habituated to hearing such proposals as Marxist and therefore unworkable.

Five year plans by the central ruling committee...

Guarenteed jobs and wages regardless of market conditions...

re-education camps for the politically incorrect...

star-chambers without public scrutiny or due-process...

How ignorant am I?

Posted by: melcher on March 28, 2003 05:09 PM

Kudos to this blog! I hastily posted this a.m. while gulping coffee and preparing to run off to a busy day.

Listening to NPR and reflecting on the topic of my post while driving I assumed that I would be accosted for insinuating some remotely positive characteristic in Bin Laden (honest assessment of US Mid. East policy).

I am pleasantly surprised that no hostile flames subsequently appeared.

Anyhow, I don't agree with what the Bush admin is planning for the Mid-East, for many reasons; a good number of which have been covered by others here today.

But what I really wanted to state clearly is that HONESTY is critical to our Democracy.

The PNAC and its members within the Bush admin. must be made to answer for the material they are producing. There must be an open and frank public debate of the plan's merits and weaknesses.

Again, we are a a government of, for and by the people; NOT a plutocracy. Ike's warning pertaining to the military/industrial complex seem especially salient now.

There is sufficient material concerning our covert designs in that region to allow conspiracy hypotheses, cynicism, and general distrust of our government to grow and fester. Not just at home, but abroad as well.

If a thirty year plan is in the making, the American people should be in on it from the beginning.

Posted by: E. Avedisian on March 28, 2003 05:32 PM

"I would prefer it if the fact that a few of the neoconservatives are Jewish is ignored. It does not advance the debate at all to mention that they are Jewish.."

I hear you. Just as I would much prefer it if the fact that David Frum is Canadian could politely be ignored. I mean, it's just so embarrassing.

Posted by: Canadian Reader on March 28, 2003 10:39 PM

Some interesting Melcher-speak to analyze:

~""plans for economic growth...""

(e.g., Hamilton's famous Report on Manufactures, 1790).

""- safety nets for the hungry, the dispossessed, and those in need of health care...""

(e.g., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid).

""- better educational systems that provide alternatives to the doctrinaire and regressive teachings ...""

(e.g., public schools in which religion has been purged from the curriculum)

""a recourse to solutions other than violence, such as mechanisms for the arbitration of major conflicts, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and peaceful change.""

(i.e., judges, binding, arbitration, trial by juries, etc. as opposed to duels and offers you can't refuse, Godfather-style)

"I am conditioned and habituated to hearing such proposals as Marxist and therefore unworkable."

So according to Melcher, this country has been Marxist almost since the moment it became independent. Of course, we're also seeing a bad side to all of that:

"Five year plans by the central ruling committee..."

Such as the new National Security policy of the neocons, and its application in the Middle East.

"Guarenteed jobs and wages regardless of market conditions..."

All that deficit spending! Much of it going to the "defense" department too.

"re-education camps for the politically incorrect..."

I like fisking better; it's a much more concise term. No doubt one day your co-believers will get around to sending us idiotarians to reeducation camps one of these days.

"star-chambers without public scrutiny or due-process..."

Such as Ashcroft's kangaroo courts for "enemy combatants"?

"How ignorant am I?"

Do you really have to ask?

Posted by: andres on March 29, 2003 11:03 AM

"Such as Ashcroft's kangaroo courts for "enemy combatants"?"

Just following the precedent set by FDR here.

And using them to merely hold "enemy combatants" isn't so bad -- FDR used his military tribunals to convict and summarily execute people, including at least one US citizen apprehended right here in the US, not fighting against us abroad.

So really, literally, they are FDR's kangaroo courts. Ashcroft is just following the legal rules and precedents set by FDR -- if only half-heartedly in that he's not actually using them to shoot people.

Now one might say that a modern conservative Republican should be expected to have more respect for civil rights and the Constitutition than the most famous of liberal Democrats ... but that's a whole 'nother argument.

Posted by: Jim Glass on March 29, 2003 04:12 PM

"I am conditioned and habituated to hearing such proposals as Marxist and therefore unworkable."

Kuniholm is advocating reform, not Marxism. Reform is definitely not easy; for a detailed discussion, see Douglas Macdonald's "Adventures in Chaos: American Intervention for Reform in the Third World." A brief review:
http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=afe9ed76.0301211325.2e778cde%40posting.google.com

Just an aside: I've heard politics compared to religion before, but I don't think I've ever seen such a great example. Plans for economic growth and social safety nets are Marxist heresies: following these heretical ideas will lead us to totalitarian hell! And yes, the New Deal and the Marshall Plan were also heresies, according to my religious sect/political philosophy! Return to the worship of the harmony of interests and the invisible hand!!

Sorry if I'm misconstruing your views, I just thought your reaction was pretty funny.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on March 29, 2003 06:26 PM

Jim: So you actually think that because FDR also did it, I'll jump into the "well,it must be ok, then" bandwagon? Get real. FDR also had some nice things to say about the first Somoza. Just because he's FDR doesn't make it right. Same goes for Bush.

Posted by: andres on March 29, 2003 07:35 PM

So let me get this straight... people are seriously arguing that plunging the middle east into complete chaos and a miasma of failed states is somehow better than autocratic regimes? That's absolutely and perversely absurd. Living in Syria may be awful, true, but I imagine that the kids being drugged up with a combination of heroin and gunpowder in Sierra Leone before being pressed into armies led by psychotic teenagers would probably prefer it to their current existence.

People pay attention to Hobbes for a reason. Tyranny sucks. Anarchy is worse.

Posted by: Demosthenes on March 29, 2003 08:12 PM

As to empire: I defy those who advocate it to point out a situation where the imposition of empire ever made things better in the Middle East. Indeed, it'd be a feat to find a situation where imperialism didn't make things much, much worse.

Posted by: Demosthenes on March 29, 2003 08:44 PM

"Jim: So you actually think that because FDR also did it, I'll jump into the "well,it must be ok, then" bandwagon? Get real. "

Not at all. What I am saying is they aren't "Ashcroft's kangaroo courts", they are "FDR's kangaroo courts", as approved by the US Supreme Court prior to the execution of that US citizen.

Some people like to use "Ashcroft" as an explitive in a way that doesn't have much to do with the truth and isn't entirely honest either.

If you don't like them, fine, just call them FDR's kangaroo courts with 60 years of legal precedent behind them. And don't pretend that Aschcroft either created them or has pushed them to anywhere near the limit that his predecessors did.


Posted by: Jim Glass on March 29, 2003 09:23 PM

It can always get worse. I can't belive people are arguing that it can't get worse.

Posted by: biz on March 29, 2003 11:23 PM

FDR was ruling during a war against two powers of comparable magnitude to the USA of the time. Not the spurious war on terrorism that this government keeps being so shrill.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on March 30, 2003 07:33 AM

"FDR was ruling during a war against two powers of comparable magnitude to the USA of the time. Not the spurious war on terrorism ..."

FDR's tribunals werer applied to people caught *in the US*, where they did *zero* damage to the US -- as opposed the "spurious" destruction of the WTC which killed many more people than the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was not even within the 48 states at the time, you may remember.

So you think it is unreasonable to have been so "shrill" about the attack on the WTC, and the bombings of those US embassies, etc. Gosh golly.

Posted by: Jim Glass on March 30, 2003 08:02 AM

I reckon that Ben Laden is not a menace on the same scale that Germany and Japan were. Even Saddam Hussein is not one such. But that you knew without my saying.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on March 30, 2003 10:05 AM

andres
~"
No doubt one day your co-believers will get around to sending us idiotarians to reeducation camps one of these days."~

;-) Yesterday, according to this authoritative source:

=== quote ===

http://jimtreacher.blogspot.com/

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Bushington, DB -- In a televised address from somewhere inside one of his 57 palaces, President George W. Bush today issued a fatwa on actress/comedienne Janeane Garofalo, calling for "all noble American people to hunt down the godless dog Garofalo and bring her to me alive." Bush then stepped back from the ornatedly carved podium and pressed a button on a large industrial plastic-shredding machine behind him, into which a pair of Secret Service agents slowly lowered a futilely struggling lamb, hooves first. "Such is the fate of all who would oppose me," Bush intoned, over the grinding of the shredder and the anguished shrieks of the gradually pulverized animal.

"The infidel Michael Moore," continued the heavily bejeweled president, after the gore-streaked machine had finished its work, "is to be soaked in kerosene and burned alive in the street, and the smoldering ashes mocked and spat upon by children and old women. Let it be so. Let it be so. The hopeless monkey Tim Robbins, who merely will be decapitated on the steps of the Bush [formerly Lincoln] Memorial, may count himself among the fortunate. God is great." Also named in the 45-minute statement were Sean Penn (drowning), Barbara Streisand (poison gas), Martin Sheen (the bastinado, followed by suffocation, flaying of the shins and forearms, more bastinado, and finally beheading), and Saved By the Bell star Dustin Diamond (genital electrocution), as well as several dozen other noted entertainers and the increasingly savage and complex methods of torture and/or execution in store for them.


Bush then ended the speech by hoisting a bolt-action rifle over his head, squeezing shut his kohl-rimmed eyes, and bellowing a stream of glossolalia, or "speaking in tongues," for several minutes.

===quote ===

Point about Hamilton noted. Though I recall he had stiff resistance from Jefferson and others of like status.

Regarding public education, those of us mildly intested in the education reform movement (bi-lingual education, vouchers, charter schools, social promotion ... other issues) can't help but hear from the anti-evolutionists about how historically LATE the excision of religion from schooling took place. So I'm not inclined to grant that this particular example supports the claim that the U.S. has been "Marxist" since it's founding. Interesting angle, though.

Similarly Social Security, (Medicare...) whether Marxist or not, hardly dates back to U.S. independence. Good example, just not for claim and conclusion.

Binding arbitration is new, too. Same objection. It is also quite distinct from the civil or criminal trial ("due") process. I would suggest that the loudest advocates of arbitration being major corporations might suggest to local social democrats that it is not something they would want an outside power to inflict upon them, however much deep thinkers here might suggest it appropriate for the third world.

Posted by: Melcher on March 30, 2003 11:12 AM

Demosthenes spake: "So let me get this straight... people are seriously arguing that plunging the middle east into complete chaos and a miasma of failed states is somehow better than autocratic regimes?"

So let me get this straight: you seriously think that the middle East isn't a miasma of failed states subject to the sort of chaos that allows one spoiled rich kid, mad because Daddy didn't love little Osama as much as 30 or 40 of the other kids, to turn himself into a real-life Bond villain capable of hijacking a country for his own purposes and waging a personal war against the most powerful nation on earth?

A stable region, even autocratic, would not be capable of being warped into a totally new and horrific direction by one fanatic with a trust fund. To me that IS anarchy, not what's preferable to anarchy; and it does suck, yes. If that's your idea of stability, I say it's high time to destabilize. The way Eastern Europe destabilized in '89, or Western Europe did in '45.

Biz sez: "It can always get worse. I can't belive people are arguing that it can't get worse."

Last I checked, one of the major prowar arguments was that the day Saddam gets a nuke WAS when it would get worse. Frankly, the kind of worse that involves ongoing chaos in the middle East worries me a lot less than the kind that involves "stable" autocratics with nukes.

Antonio Jaume says: "I reckon that Ben Laden is not a menace on the same scale that Germany and Japan were. Even Saddam Hussein is not one such."

He doesn't have to be on the same scale, because nukes mean you don't have to occupy the world-- you can just terrify it. Try to imagine, just for a second, what the world would be like now if Bin Laden had had a nuclear bomb on September 11th. Besides the fact that New York and Washington would be GONE, completely, now, think what else might well have happened as a result. Keep thinking about it until it terrifies you more than the present situation. It shouldn't take long.

And don't tell me Saddam would never give away nukes to Al-Qaeda because they'd be traceable back to him. Half the world believes the Mossad staged 9-11. Don't tell me the world would believe Bush-- or whoever survived as president-- when he said he knew the nukes came from Saddam.

Posted by: Mike G on March 30, 2003 01:39 PM

Ben Laden can get nukes from North Korea or Pakistan, or the USA (which is what I would do were I in his position). And the USA are teaching the way to make more maneuverable nuclear weapons, remember that terrorists do not need a perfect yield of their weapon to be dangerous. Still New York can withstand a lot of power and you would need a H-bomb to do the kind of destruction you imagine. What is more, that is pure fantasy, while the power of Germany and Japan were a fact.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on March 30, 2003 02:03 PM

amazing that this isn't a flame war

finally realized what pnac was that scares the crap out of kos and atrios.. i'm so happy i scare them!

as to whose right it is to do this? well saddam, osama, etc claim that they want to take on the US, iran says they'll nuke israel asap... so i just accept that they say what they believe. preventing a nuclear attack against the us or a replay of the holocaust using nukes is sufficient to justify anything. since its not immediate, nukes are out, but nothing else is.

the us burned itself in GWI by asking for revolution but not helping... this will fix the mistake and restore the US' threat power.. too bad that some people here don't like it, but it's a legitimate strategy!

so bring it on (and this isn't a new strategy, as mentioned above, it has been US policy for over a decade, just that GWB actually is implementing it)

there is no credible alternative. dems want to hide under the blankets while leftists want us all to die for our ins of being civilised and harming the earth mother... screw it, this fight is worth it


and as for an empire that succeeded in the Middle East: Macedonia, Rome, Caliphate, Ottoman, Persian.... lots of people have done it successfully

your historical ignorance is showing (all of the empires took over and ruled great swaths of territory... macedonia held territory but splintered bur to early death of alexander... they didn't lose the middle east...)

Posted by: libertarian uber alles on March 30, 2003 04:40 PM

Uh, okay, Antonio, so New York and Washington wouldn't be completely gone. Just partly gone. A million dead, not five million. I feel so much better.

"Mr. President, we're talking about two admittedly regrettable but nevertheless easily distinguishable postwar scenarios here. One where you got 20 million people killed, and another where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed!" --George C. Scott, Dr. Strangelove

Posted by: Mike G on March 30, 2003 07:44 PM

Jim Glass: To me the legal precedent set by FDR's kangaroos courts is a bad one. As I understand, this precedent has never been either used or challenged legally, so that its significance is unclear.

From a factual point of view, the individuals (including one American citizen) executed by the ruling of the kangaroo court were members of the Nazi German military who had been secretly landed by submarine in order to do sabotage of an unspecified sort. The reason why they actually did no harm was that one member of the group went to the FBI and snitched the others out before they could do anything. Not because they were harmless. None of this was mentioned in any of your posts, because it would of course weaken the cheap points you were trying to score. You just figured that the fact that FDR was a Democrat allowed you to flick a little cheap shit at Democrats.

One reason that many of us are extremely worried about Ashcroft's new powers is that we really have no idea how far he can, or will, push them. Patriot I and the impending and mysterious Patriot II propose to regularize what in the FDR case was essentially a one-time aberration. And probably you would care a little yourself if you cared about anything except flicking shit.

Posted by: zizka on March 30, 2003 09:20 PM

With such examples of clear thinking as the following, it is inevitable that these threads often turn into flamewars:

"there is no credible alternative. dems want to hide under the blankets while leftists want us all to die for our (s)ins of being civilised and harming the earth mother... screw it, this fight is worth it"

No comments are even needed.

Posted by: andres on March 31, 2003 09:13 PM

I've learned a lot just by reading the comments posted by others. I'm a student of Bible Prophecy, I believe that no matter what happens,God is in full control of the situation,no matter what will happen in the future. We are not to worry,we,as an American Nation need to turn back to Our Heavenly Saviour. America can no longer pretend to claim "We are Innocent of any wrongdoing." It's time to 'fess up folks.be honest,ask forgiveness of others you may have wronged. Our President & all the World Leaders need to turn to Jesus Christ who loves us no matter what our sins may be & is willing to forgive us & allow us to "start over anew." Trusting & Believing in Jesus is the only thing that could possibly save this Nation from Nuclear Retaliation which will happen,not "if" but "when?" Think about it,perhaps Our Saviour might spare the United States from such a nuclear horror,if people sincerely repent of their sins. God is calling His people out of Babylon before her ultimate destruction.Folks,we are the spiritual Babylon that the bible speaks of. We are in the "Last Days" of this sin-laden world,there is coming upon us,a great spiritual deception where the present god of this age will pretend to appear to all the world as Jesus. All nations & its peoples will be in stunned by such a revelation! Could this be true? Is this truly our risen Savior sent to deliver us? We need to read our Bibles & seek God's true will for our lives. For within the pages of the Holy Bible lies the true answer that will save us all from certain destruction.Our,true Risen Savior,Jesus Christ will return in the eastern skies for all to see, His shining Glory with His host of Angels to rescue us. His feet will never touch the ground,as we & those that passed on before us who are saved will be caught up to meet Him in the air. His coming will be no secret,Lightening will flash,the earth will tremble & collapse around us. Jesus has finally returned to save the world & establish His own Holy government crushing forever Satan's unholy,evil regime. Now is the time to repent & draw closer to God,for only He knows the future of mankind. Here are some sites that might be of interest to you: www.amazingfacts.com & www.bibleuniverse.com & www.thetrumpet.com
May you discover Jesus,my Friends!
Have a great safe Year!! :>D

Posted by: Madniteowl2 on April 18, 2003 03:19 PM
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