March 19, 2004

Former White House Terrorism Chief Richard Clarke Writes His Book

Former White House terrorism chief Richard Clarke writes his book about Bush administration counterterrorism "policy." From all accounts, the national security side of the Bush administration is an even more disgraceful clown show than the domestic policy side as told by Paul O'Neill to Ron Suskind in The Price of Loyalty:

CBS News | Sept. 11: Before And After | March 19, 2004 19:31:21: (CBS) Former White House terrorism advisor Richard Clarke tells Correspondent Lesley Stahl that on Sept. 11, 2001, and the day after - when it was clear al Qaeda had carried out the terrorist attacks - the Bush administration was considering bombing Iraq in retaliation. Clarke's exclusive interview will be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, March 21 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Clarke was surprised that the attention of administration officials was turning toward Iraq when he expected the focus to be on al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. "They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12," says Clarke. The top counter-terrorism advisor, Clarke was briefing the highest government officials, including President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

"Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq.... We all said, 'but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan," recounts Clarke, "and Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.' I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with [the September 11 attacks].'"

Clarke goes on to explain what he believes was the reason for the focus on Iraq. "I think they wanted to believe that there was a connection [between Iraq and al Qaeda], but the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there, saying, 'We've looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked and there's just no connection,'" says Clarke. Clarke, who advised four presidents, reveals more about the current administration's reaction to terrorism in his new book, "Against All Enemies."

Ah. So we finally have a rationale for our attack on Iraq. One proposed rationale--that we attacked Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people and establish democracy in the Middle East--would work fine for a normal American government, but not for this Bush administration that sneered at the idea of "nation building" in 2000 and has dropped the ball so completely in Afghanistan. A second rationale--that we knew that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to us--never made sense. A third rationale--that Saddam Hussein was allied with Al Qaeda--never passed the laugh test.

But here we have a fourth rationale: "there are lots of good targets in Iraq."

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Do it now.

UPDATE: It gets worse. Suburban Guerilla writes:

Suburban Guerrilla: From tonight's frightening interview with Richard Clarke on "60 Minutes":

"The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.

"I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'

"He came back at me and said, "Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report."

Clarke continued, "It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'

"I have no idea, to this day, if the president saw it, because after we did it again, it came to the same conclusion. And frankly, I don't think the people around the president show him memos like that. I don't think he sees memos that he doesn't-- wouldn't like the answer."

Lots and lots and lots of stuff the Banana Republicans don't want you to hear. You can predict their response:

Hadley asserts Clarke is "just wrong" in saying the administration didn't go to battle stations.

As for the alleged pressure from Mr. Bush to find an Iraq-9/11 link, Hadley says, "We cannot find evidence that this conversation between Mr. Clarke and the president ever occurred."

When told by Stahl that 60 Minutes has two sources who tell us independently of Clarke that the encounter happened, including "an actual witness," Hadley responded, "Look, I stand on what I said.""

And Atrios writes:

Eschaton: Here's an interesting exchange between Clarke and Stahl in 60 Minutes, in which the important bit is actually missed.

Stahl said to Clarke, "They demoted you. Aren't you open to charges that this is all sour grapes, because they demoted you and reduced your leverage, your power in the White House?"

Clarke's answer: "Frankly, if I had been so upset that the National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism had been downgraded from a Cabinet level position to a staff level position, if that had bothered me enough, I would have quit. I didn't quit."

Stahl thinks the important issue is that Clarke's demotion may have caused him to throw a hissy fit. I think the important issue is the fact that when the Bush administration came into power, they decided that the position of National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism wasn't important enough to be a Cabinet level position.

Also, we have this pretty shocking story:

Clarke was the president's chief adviser on terrorism, yet it wasn't until Sept. 11 that he ever got to brief Mr. Bush on the subject. Clarke says that prior to Sept. 11, the administration didn't take the threat seriously. "We had a terrorist organization that was going after us! Al Qaeda. That should have been the first item on the agenda. And it was pushed back and back and back for months. There's a lot of blame to go around, and I probably deserve some blame, too. But on January 24th, 2001, I wrote a memo to Condoleezza Rice asking for, urgently -- underlined urgently -- a Cabinet-level meeting to deal with the impending al Qaeda attack. And that urgent memo-- wasn't acted on. I blame the entire Bush leadership for continuing to work on Cold War issues when they back in power in 2001. It was as though they were preserved in amber from when they left office eight years earlier. They came back. They wanted to work on the same issues right away: Iraq, Star Wars. Not new issues, the new threats that had developed over the preceding eight years."

Clarke finally got his meeting about al Qaeda in April, three months after his urgent request. But it wasn't with the president or cabinet. It was with the second-in-command in each relevant department. For the Pentagon, it was Paul Wolfowitz.

Clarke relates, "I began saying, 'We have to deal with bin Laden; we have to deal with al Qaeda.' Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, said, 'No, no, no. We don't have to deal with al Qaeda. Why are we talking about that little guy? We have to talk about Iraqi terrorism against the United States.' And I said, 'Paul, there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States in eight years!' And I turned to the deputy director of the CIA and said, 'Isn't that right?' And he said, 'Yeah, that's right. There is no Iraqi terrorism against the United States."

Posted by DeLong at March 19, 2004 05:50 PM | TrackBack

Comments

I've been waiting for publication of that book since it was first announced. "60 Minutes" still has the biggest audience of any news program (I think), so it may reach some of those who are still wearing blinders.

Posted by: Linkmeister on March 19, 2004 06:36 PM

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Impeachment? Works for me.

There's just the slight problem of the GOP controlling Congress.

But despite that, if a whole bunch of Dems co-sponsored an impeachment resolution, and introduced it Monday morning, right on the heels of the 60 Minutes program, people might actually notice that something funny was going on.

Posted by: RT on March 19, 2004 06:50 PM

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If Clinton is impeached for sexual bad taste; if Nixon walks the plank becasue of a dumb cover up; if LBJ abdicates because of Viet Nam, what, o what, does this gang which has killed people needlessly to follow a discredited ideology, destroyed the finances of the state and torn asunder alliances merit? They deserve to be tried for treason and executed. Impeachment is too good.

Seriously, such a move should start, irrespective of where it winds up. Perhaps our fellow citizens will then wake up to the Orwellian big lie this gang has been propagating.

Posted by: El Greco on March 19, 2004 07:31 PM

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As a resident physician in psychiatry at a major academic institution in California, I would be the last person to pick on the mentally ill. However, I believe I am seeing something of a pattern. Most patients that are rather high functioning seem to have a natural mistrust of the Bush administration. However, I have had a paranoid schizophrenic who 'liked the things Bush was saying'. I had a former veteran crack addict with chronic drug-related low level psychosis who agreed with Bush's war in Iraq, because 'we have to kill the bad guys'. And just yesterday I cared for a very demented 99 year old who can no longer care for herself telling me she was 'for Bush'.

So I think I am beginning to see a pattern- albeit just from my own clinical experience- that cognitively impaired mentally ill patients tend to go for republican posturing. Maybe that's what we progressives have been missing all along...

Posted by: non economist on March 19, 2004 07:46 PM

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Sure. Spend time asking for the impeachment of a corrupt Rethug. While corrupt Rethugs hijacked by crossworshippers control our entire government. Probably get to that right after the Congress passes a resolution that, Clinton being the Antichrist, he really is responsible for everything.

Outsource Milton Friedman's Acolytes!

Posted by: kei & yuri on March 19, 2004 07:54 PM

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non economist -

How very Charles Krauthammer of you.

Posted by: Tecla on March 19, 2004 07:56 PM

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No one likes us-I don't know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let's drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money-but are they grateful?
No, they're spiteful and they're hateful
They don't respect us-so let's surprise them
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them

Asia's crowded and Europe's too old
Africa is far too hot
And Canada's too cold
And South America stole our name
Let's drop the big one
There'll be no one left to blame us

We'll save Australia
Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo
We'll build an All American amusement park there
They got surfin', too

Boom goes London and boom Paree
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town
Oh, how peaceful it will be
We'll set everybody free
You'll wear a Japanese kimono
And there'll be Italian shoes for me

They all hate us anyhow
So let's drop the big one now
Let's drop the big one now


Randy Newman was only kidding.

Posted by: Dubblblind on March 19, 2004 08:21 PM

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Think of it as a character test for the national corporate elite. Rational self interest should lead them to protect the life-raft by pushing Bush overboard to the sharks. I doubt that they will rise to challenge, though.

Posted by: citizen k on March 19, 2004 09:15 PM

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Non-Economist,

Don't forget to include yourself in the appropriate category of your non-scientific observations.

I'll reserve judgement. The quotation of Rumsfeld's sounds quite silly. In press conferences, Rumsfeld is sharp and quick witted. I don't buy the dim bulb quote. Let's wait to see what ax this guy has to grind. 60 minutes can twist a story with the best of them. They've got a real slant.

Posted by: Brian on March 19, 2004 09:21 PM

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Shorter Brian: where's my spin point?

Posted by: masaccio on March 19, 2004 09:26 PM

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On September 11 already? Oh my. Then again, the Aznar government tried no longer than a week ago to make political capital out of the murder of 200 of their own citizens. Call me naive or whatever, but I never believed I was living in a country ruled by scumbags like that. Similarly, I thought no European politicians would have dared (in equilibrium) to play the utterly immoral game Aznar played. And it's not like I was starting from a rosy assesment of right wing populists. In fact, I thought they had already robed me of my political virginity three times over... Einstein was indeed right when he warned us about the growing power of the military-industrial complex.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 19, 2004 09:45 PM

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You know, the Rumsfeld "lots of good targets" sounds goofy, but really reflects the view of the administration. Isn't that what Bush was saying today, that fighting terrorism is all about showing resolution and taking the fight to the enemy.

In the Postmodern presidency, reality is meaningless, only appearance matters. Post 911 it was important to beat somebody up real good, just to show what we can do, and Afghanistan was just all wrong for the part. Iraq had already had a juicy villein role and is an economical place to shoot. In Iraq we can stay on schedule, stick to the script. Afghanis and AQ are unreliable (like isn't it just like Osama to like just blow off his big death scene you know). Its terribly important that the terrorists understand we are willing to spend hundreds of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars to conquer impotent petty dictators and convert their otherwise quiescent countries into hotbeds of terrorist activity lest they mistakenly conclude we are craven appeasers and surrender monkeys.

Surely the economists here can recognize the subtle brilliance of the signal sent by attacking Iraq. George Bush has conclusively demonstrated he has no regard for American lives or specie, nor for geopolitical consequences, and that any attack on the United States will be played for maximum political benefit at home and used an excuse for delivering ever larger portions of both the Islamic world and American tax revenues over to George and Dick's cronies. Bring it on!! Notice that recognizing the counterproductive nature of further attacks on the US, Al Qaeda has focused on those lily livered furreners with no stomach for occupying unstable and ethnically divided countries and installing corrupt regimes for the personal and political benefit of their unelected leaders. Meanwhile Bush has kept us safe and we will remain so so long as foolish liberal intellectuals don't succeed in creating a dangerous link between George Bush's personal and political success and the welfare of the country.

Posted by: Dave Richardson on March 19, 2004 10:16 PM

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One thing that's come out recently is that the Spaniards are less blase about being lied to than Americans are. And at the governmental level, even the Poles, who are militarily and politically sympathetic to Bush, have expressed some annoyance at having been deceived.

Whereas a major talking point among American conservatives is "That was then. It doesn't make any difference any more. The war was worth it even if we didn't find WMD." And so on.

Posted by: Zizka on March 19, 2004 10:30 PM

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"Afghanistan was just all wrong for the part."

Well, had the GWB administration gone after Afghanistan, stayed in the country in full force until the Karzai administration is stabilized and actually rules the whole country, and had they gone after al Qaeda on location rather than open up another playground for them in Iraq, they could rightfully expect a reelection by a wide margin. Which in trun they could have used to escalate the conflict with Hussein to get their desired war. So Afghanistan wasn't so wrong after all. It was just that the PNAC hawks were too eager to go after their prize right away that they couldn't even think through the consequences of their actions.

Posted by: ogmb on March 19, 2004 11:28 PM

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I see a lot of pessimism here and, believe me, I'm not an optimist. I try very, very hard to be a realist. And I am certain that the national mood about Bush and this administration is undergoing a radical tranformation. I am hearing rumbles of discontent and *mistrust* from people I'd never have expected it. With the status quo continued, Bush will lose the election in November—but I see things continuing to get worse for him, not stay the same or get better.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on March 20, 2004 12:37 AM

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Where did Brian get the idea that Rumsfeld was quick-witted? Rummy is like the bastard schoolmaster snapping up his students in unreasonable logic traps. Where are the WMD? There're N, E, W & S somewhat. Is that wit or arrogance? Rummy sure did sound (and look) like an idiot when Firedman dared turn on him, although being Friedman he asked no follow-ups. He's never been witty: the disadvantage of the overprotected dictator emerging into a market where people actually comnpete, with Rummy cowering and wondering why oh why they're being so mean...

Posted by: kei & yuri on March 20, 2004 03:00 AM

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This is the gangsta administration. A bunch of punks sitting in a conference room wanting to kill anything that moves. Saddam dissed my daddy, so let's get his ass.

Bush's theme for 2004 is sure and steady, not like that crazy Kerry who wants to think about it before he picks an enemy. But he is a religious man. So what else does the electorate need to know.

Posted by: tstreet on March 20, 2004 06:04 AM

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Give up any hopes of impeachment. Ain't gonna happen. Not even if verified tape recordings of Bush personally outing Plame came to light. Not even if indisputable proof of Bush committing outright treason came to light. Lott, DeLay, and Hastert would never allow it.

Sadly, history will be Bush's judge. It will not be kind. Should Bush win this year, America will be in for a true nightmare. Indeed, I would be surprised if the country still exists come 2008.

Posted by: Derelict on March 20, 2004 06:20 AM

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Don't miss this classic Rumsfeld "war on Iraq" moment, caught on video:

http://www.moveon.org/censure/caughtonvideo/

Posted by: Michael Robinson on March 20, 2004 06:21 AM

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On the notion that by invading Iraq we 'sent a signal'. The logic is sound enough, but the threat has to be credible. Cutting taxes that finance the threat, putting stop-loss orders on troops in the field to avoid calling more up via a draft, and demonstrating a willingness to pull out a couple of days after a rocket hits the Baghdad hotel where Paul Wolfowitz is staying do not signal the will that makes the threat credible. One can oppose the preemptive strike scenario, but it does have a certain obscene logic when carried through. This administration carries nothing through. All they have achieved by the invasion and Occupation is to signal utter fecklessness. The only people to whom the threat now seems credible are a small majority of the American people. Everyone else can see through the fraud. This is very dangerous and ultimately very destablizing.

Posted by: knut wicksell on March 20, 2004 06:34 AM

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When will the next Daniel Ellsberg show up?

Posted by: bakho on March 20, 2004 06:37 AM

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"Let's wait to see what ax this guy has to grind."

Seriously? You don't know who Richard Clarke is?

That's a rather fundamental piece of missing knowledge for someone smart enough to find this blog.

Posted by: dennisS on March 20, 2004 07:11 AM

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make that General Einstein please . . .

Posted by: Luke Lea on March 20, 2004 07:13 AM

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sbw,
You will get what you want on the day Geo of Irak leaves office.
Enjoy

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on March 20, 2004 07:22 AM

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No good targets in Afghanistan, lots of good targets in Iraq.

Huh. I've been puzzling over that one since I fisrt saw the quote. No, he's not stupid. But what does he mean by targets, and what would have been the point? If he was referring to Saddam, shouldn't he have said "target" or called him by name?

I can't help thinking that even then--and starting from years before in planning the takedown of Iraq--they had to be thinking about the money to be made in rebuilding "targeted" infrastructure related to and possibly supported by oil. Otherwise, why not be satisfied with the reconstruction in Afghanistan? -- It was already rubble, and we then reduced it to gravel. Plenty of reconstruction opportunities there. But no oil.

The only other conclusion is that they really truly believed against all the evidence they already had that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction all over the country. Sorry I just don't buy that.

Posted by: scylla on March 20, 2004 07:22 AM

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I guess that's the similarity between mathematicians, bank robbers and Rumsfeld.

Mathematicians work on obscure field X because that's where the theorems are.

We all know about Willie SUtton http://www.banking.com/aba/profile_0397.htm

And now Rumsfeld.

Posted by: CSTAR on March 20, 2004 07:27 AM

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By "targets" Rummy means big things (e.g. cities) that can be hit by bombs dropped from an airplane. Rummy's view of a transformed military meant less troops, more tech. In Afghanistan, they ran out of such targets in a couple of days. They left most of the work on the ground of actually rounding up Taliban and AQ to the local tribal forces.

THIS WAS A HUGE MISTAKE AND NO ONE IS POINTING OUT THAT THE BUSH CROWD REALLY SCREWED UP IN AFGHANISTAN. We should have had more troops on the ground to do the cleanup work. Rummy' vision of a "soldierless" military is an arrogant, foolish illusion.

Posted by: ESaund on March 20, 2004 08:12 AM

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It's not like Rumsfeld/Cheney/Wolfowitz/Libby/Feith/etc. & Co. hadn't been waiting for years to take out Saddam Hussein - as this January 26th, 1998 letter shows:

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

OK. So Cheney/Libby/Feith didn't sign that one. But they signed this June 3rd, 1997 Statement of Principles:

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

Anyone think Iraq wasn't primarily about Neoconservative ideals? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? Beuller? Hold on, my clue phone is ringing...

Posted by: John Lyon on March 20, 2004 08:55 AM

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You know, this "lot's of good targets" story really isn't new.

Several blogs - including this one, I believe - ran a story in which Condi Rice was alleged to have been saying the same things in her push to attack Iraq right after 9/11.

These stories were running well over a year ago.

So there is probably some truth to it.

Posted by: avedis on March 20, 2004 10:20 AM

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"So I think I am beginning to see a pattern- albeit just from my own clinical experience- that cognitively impaired mentally ill patients tend to go for republican posturing."

As I said before, if after three years of disasters both foreign and domestic, people are still for Bush, it's no longer politics we're talking about but pathology. In the coming election, all we need are the independents. The Bushophiles can stew in their own juices -- and obey the law.

Posted by: jfk on March 20, 2004 10:24 AM

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No connection, huh. How about that Osama bin Laden himself told us he was attacking the U.S. because of our "infidel troops" on Saudi soil?

Troops invited in to protect Saudi Arabia from SADDAM HUSSEIN.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 20, 2004 10:32 AM

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Personally, I wouldn't care for an impeachment. What I want to see is an electoral count of ZERO for Bush in 2004. After spending $200M of "hard earned" Republican dollars.

Nothing else would be sufficiently humiliating.

Nothing else would do as much to encourage the GOP not to back another buffoon like this one.

Posted by: Alan on March 20, 2004 10:41 AM

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"My advice, not that you care, take a break, you need it."

Apparently the Republicans are withdrawing to their holes. Bye and give my regards to Donald Luskin.

Posted by: middle road on March 20, 2004 10:44 AM

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"Apparently the Republicans are withdrawing to their holes. Bye and give my regards to Donald Luskin."

... and that is excellent news. It means liberals are finally recovering some of their spine and are defining the debate ON THEIR TERMS, instead of apologizing for not being more conservative than the Republican party. Democrats must stop ASAP spending most of their energy responding to Republican questions, and come up with their own agenda, and force Republicans to answer their questions. But don't expect them to be happy or honest about that.

"I now open the site occasionally and think: BORING."

If this was what you think, you wouldn't bother to posting something like this here. You'd be busy commenting on another "more interesting" blog.

I am genuinely amazed (and I have always been) about how much fear cconservatives think they can inspire among liberals. I guess they are trying to maje use of the liberal Achille's talon, i.e. a commitment to be truthful even if it means loosing on some issues here and there. But I also think many conservatives think they still live in a world where if they just shout "buuuh!" to make liberals compromise over pretty much every thing, including their deep felt ethos and their self-perception.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 20, 2004 11:34 AM

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There are about fifteen books like this timed to dribble out over the election year. You'd better pace yourselves a bit.

Of course, the books that are pro-Bush are all lies.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 20, 2004 11:39 AM

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Tbrosz, listen to your friends.

Brad DeLong is a professional and a citizen. The citizen part is foremost these days, thank God. And the pure professionals and conservatives are not amused.

Not playing the Godwin card or anything, but in 1932 there were a lot of people who just could not be bothered. They were just made of too fine a stuff to let themselves be dragged into anything so crass as politics. Some of them despised Godwin, others were rather indulgent of him, and some remained in blissful apolitical ignorance for the duration. These people are not admired today.

And no, Bush isn't Godwin. But he's very, very bad, and Krugman and DeLong are acting rationally, and certain other people aren't.

Posted by: Zizka on March 20, 2004 11:56 AM

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Everything you need to know about Godwin:

http://www.faqs.org/faqs/usenet/legends/godwin/

Posted by: Zizka on March 20, 2004 12:00 PM

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Yeah, that Rich Lowry book on Clinton (no link) must read like gospel to the wingers.

Posted by: middle of the road on March 20, 2004 12:04 PM

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I was reading the Gruber Manifesto on Daring Fireball today. It started: "When was the last time you listened to an argument, and on the basis of that argument, changed your mind? Not just about something you hadn’t really given much thought to, but something which, prior to considering the argument in question, you felt quite certain regarding your original stance.

"In other words, when was the last time you realized you were completely wrong on a matter of opinion?

"If your answer is “never”, or even “a long time ago”, is it because you’re always right?"

... "When I end up changing my mind on a matter of opinion, it usually is not because I had the facts wrong; it’s because I was looking at the wrong facts."

A worthwhile consideration. This site has been a source of different facts, but recently its hard to sort them out for the infatuation with style and putdown.

Perhaps it would be useful to put conspiracy theories on the shelf and assume at least a modicum of integrity on the part of others.

Posted by: sbw on March 20, 2004 12:23 PM

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Yep, all the facts against Bush are part of a conspiracy. And Republicans refuse to come to this blog now because such inconvienent facts tend to be mentioned. How dare anyone point out the emperor has no clothes?

Posted by: Rob on March 20, 2004 12:34 PM

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Think what it takes to be a Republican these days? You'd have to ignore a record of failure without parallel in post-war American history. If your city was experiencing the worst crime wave in years, what would you think of supporters of the chief of police? It's not natural, I tell you.

Posted by: jfk on March 20, 2004 12:42 PM

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I've read through about half the thread and I don't think anyone has made the correct interpretation of Rumsfeld's comment about targets. Remember that Rumsfeld supposedly had a radically new idea of how the U.S. military could fight wars, using fewer troops and striking extremely fast, backed up by bombing that finally could be called "precision bombing". A war in Afghanistan would not allow Rumsfeld to show off his new concept and so was inferior to a war in Iraq. The idea was to intimidate terrorist-sponsoring governments by showing how easy it would be for the U.S. to topple any one of them.
Another, unspoken goal was to showcase U.S. military ware for international buyers---again, a high-tech war in Iraq makes a much better War Marche than a slog through the hills of Afghanistan.

One of the implications of the adminstrations focus on Iraq after 9/11 is the fundamental unseriousness of their approach to terrorism.
By now I think most intelligent people realize that actually eliminating terrorism is hardly a higher priority for Bush now than it was before 9/11. The Spanish electorate understands that.
Will the American public understand that in November?

Posted by: marky on March 20, 2004 01:19 PM

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Sullivan: "No connection, huh. How about that Osama bin Laden himself told us he was attacking the U.S. because of our 'infidel troops' on Saudi soil? Troops invited in to protect Saudi Arabia from SADDAM HUSSEIN."

Yep. Well, now most of the US military is entangled in frantic efforts to keep Iraq under control (at the same time that Iran, North Korea and possibly Pakistan are about to raise nuclear hell), the US troops are all out of Saudi Arabia, and Al Qaida and its brethren are STILL after us. Surprise, surprise. (Patrick seems to have been naive enough to believe that the latter wouldn't have occurred if only we had had sense enough to invade and occupy Iraq back in the Nineties.)

And, lest we forget, Bin Laden also announced that he was attacking us because Spain evicted the Moslems in 1492, so I really rather doubt that the US troops in Saudi Arabia were what pushed him over the edge.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 20, 2004 01:22 PM

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"My advice, not that you care, take a break, you need it."

More projection! As Robert announces to everyone he's leaving now to take a break. Perhaps once the impeachment is behind us we can get back to more interesting topics like endless deficits.

What Clarke has to say is significant. Dismissing his advice again as Bush did in 2001 would be up there with that phrase that occasionally ends with "can't fool me again."

Posted by: dennisS on March 20, 2004 01:47 PM

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A thoughtful post from SBW: "This site has been a source of different facts, but recently its hard to sort them out for the infatuation with style and putdown."

Tensions are growing because so much is at stake with the coming election. Many are truly concerned about what another four years of Bush will mean for America. But to the extent that discourse is meant to influence public opinion, thoughtful, reasoned, informed and humorous opinions are going to be more effective than in-your-face diatribe. According respect to others with a different point of view is civilized, avoids a defensive reaction and creates an opportunity for them to honestly review the merits during a time of quiet reflection. I'd like to think that the quality of the posts and posters can remain high between now and November. OK. Now, no hitting below the belt and at the sound of the bell, come out swinging!

Posted by: Dubblblind on March 20, 2004 01:55 PM

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I confess is that I've spend no energy at all in trying to convince Patrick Sullivan or Will Allen of anything. Some people you just write off.

I've spend a moderate time trying to convince moderates, neutrals, and centrists that the Democrat (now Kerry) will be vastly preferable to Bush.

By and large, though, what I try to do is convince liberals and Democrats that they should be more active, more political, and more aggressive. I'm not sure that I've been successful at that either, but it's persuasion, albeit of a different kind.

Posted by: Zizka on March 20, 2004 02:40 PM

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Anyone else notice that Richard Clarke has a name similar to that of the indefatigable host of New's Years Rockin' Eve?

Posted by: Dick Clark on March 20, 2004 02:46 PM

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zizka: "what I try to do is convince liberals and Democrats that they should be more active, more political, and more aggressive."

What I try to do is find the truth in opinions different than mine and weave it in to ideas I've found that stand the tests of time. Seneca advised that. Sound ideas work better than ideas that are simply liberal or conservative.

I also try to be sure that the question at hand will allow a sound and useful answer. If not, I try to rephrase it. Otherwise you spend to much time listening to "'Tis too!", "Tis not!".

Posted by: sbw on March 20, 2004 03:07 PM

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Brad must being doing something right.

Ha ha, Charlie. You miss the point so amusingly.

SBW -- That's wonderful, but take care not to seem like a self-righteous prig.

Politics involves conflict, taking positions, and fighting for the positions. If y'all don't like the game, get off the court. If Brad wanted to run an neutral, apolitical site, you wouldn't find me hanging around complaining about it. To me the choice he has made is the right one.

Posted by: Zizka on March 20, 2004 04:10 PM

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"I confess is that I've spend no energy at all in trying to convince Patrick Sullivan or Will Allen of anything. Some people you just write off.'

The author of the above now advises another poster:

" SBW -- That's wonderful, but take care not to seem like a self-righteous prig."

You're on a roll, ziska!

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 20, 2004 04:20 PM

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"...shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors"

This is what Brad DeLong is talking about. No amount of revisionism will change the fact that Bush and his administration have lied repeatedly to Congress and the American people. Didn't the Republicans try to impeach Clinton on the base of a lie that was pretty much harmless, especially given the economic and long-term security consequences of a war as compared with the consequences of some cigar games in the Oval Office...

Really, how dumb are we supposed to be? Oh, I forgot, perception is reality... Tell you what: I trust that reality will take -and is already taking- its revenge on rhetoric. All we have to do is actively report reality's challenges and victories and then watch you struggle to fit it with your rhetoric.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 20, 2004 04:26 PM

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"By and large, though, what I try to do is convince liberals and Democrats that they should be more active, more political, and more aggressive." writes Zizka.

And the take no prisoners approach is a good thing considering that the complacency of the Dems has let the Repugs set the agenda in recent years. Kerry seems to get the message but he (and his supporters) needs to be relentless in taking it to 'em if he is going to succeed in November.

Also, considering what is at stake with judicial appointments, which can shape the landscape of America for a generation or more, lets not forget that there is more than just a president up for election in 2004.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/2004-sen-house-races.htm


Posted by: Dubblblind on March 20, 2004 04:56 PM

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SBW raises the interesting point about changing opinions. I can say that a very long and careful reading of Richard Rorty's Philosophy and Social Hope, along with a whole lot of other reading and talking to people, conpletely changed my mind about several deeply-held views. SBW asks whether people are willing to make such changes, and I believe the answer is yes, under the right circumstances.

I think that such changes come about not from arguments that are simply the polar opposite, as we constantly get from the blogisphere, but from those that are orthogonal to our point of view, and which draw us out from our own fortified position so as to survey new ground. The beginning place has to be an area outside what we consider to be our area of expertise, so that we have nothing to defend and can inquire. And, because different principles govern argument in economics than in law, there is a way to learn orthogonally to law. Following my theory, I can learn something new here. Not exactly from the people who repeat stuff I can read on strictly political sites, but from people who really know about economics, and whose politics spring from that knowledge and expertise.

Posted by: masaccio on March 20, 2004 05:08 PM

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The problem with all the Republican apologist rhetoric concerning Iraq is that it boils down to a "the end justifies the means" argument. Let's apply that same kind of logic here at home. The best way to assure safety from a terrorist attack is to create a police state. So who is going to be at the front of the line to get their official government Patriot Act Identification Tatoo?

Posted by: Dubblblind on March 20, 2004 05:09 PM

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Ah. My mistake in interpreting Sullivan. What he was really saying is that the fact that Al Qaida said it was attacking us to drive our troops out of Saudi Arabia is really strong evidence that it was trying to drive our troops out of Saudi Arabia not to keep them from contaminating the Moslem holy grounds (as it repeatedly said), but actually to keep us from interfering with an imminent takeover of Saudi Arabia by Saddam. This is your idea of strong evidence of a connection, Patrick?

Especially given the fact that Al-Zarqawi -- in that captured memo currently being trumpeted by the Bush Administration as authentic -- denounces, at length, the idea of any collaboration between Islamists and the secular dictatorship of Saddam. Quoting Spencer Ackerman ( http://www.tnr.com/blog/iraqd?pid=1327 ):

"Here's the CPA-provided translation of the memo. You'll notice that it says not one word about cooperation with Saddam Hussein either before, during, or after the war. In fact, it strongly suggests what the balance of the evidence already indicates: that no such connection exists. Check out point number two, 'The Present and the Future':

" '[America] is looking to a near future, when it will remain safe in its bases, while handing over control of Iraq to a bastard government with an army and police force that will bring back the time of (Saddam) Husayn and his cohorts. There is no doubt that our field of movement is shrinking and the grip around the throat of the Mujahidin has begun to tighten. With the spread of the army and police, our future is becoming frightening.'

"So Zarqawi--assuming he's the person who wrote the memo--thinks the new Iraqi army and police will bring back Saddam's regime, or at least its iron-fist tactics. He sounds really happy about that, huh? ('With the spread of the army and police, our future is becoming frightening.') Now, if Saddam had any kind of collaboration worked out with jihadists, the return of his regime would be something any self-respecting jihadist would celebrate. The regime's methods of oppression, under the logic of the Saddam-n'-Osama theorists, wouldn't apply to Al Qaeda or its affiliates. So why is the memo's author afraid of precisely this scenario coming to pass?"

As for the idea that an administration deliberately lying about evidence to trick Congress into declaring war isn't grounds for impeachment: if that isn't a "high crime or misdemeanor", what the hell is?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 20, 2004 06:03 PM

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Incidentally, does anyone else remember the Administration emulating Patrick and saying that the very fact that Bin Laden was trying to drive us out of Saudi Arabia was, by itself, strong evidence that he was in cahoots with Saddam? I don't.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 20, 2004 06:10 PM

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By the way, Yousefzadeh's column misses the point completely. If you actually bother to read the CBS piece (which P.Y. apparently didn't bother to do; he certainly never quotes it), it quotes Clarke at great length as saying -- repeatedly -- not just that the Administration was considering the "serious possibility" that Saddam and Al Qaida were in cahoots, but that it was absolutely obsessed with trying to make that appear near-certain whether the evidence said so or not. Of course, the mere fact that Clarke advised both Reagan and Bush Senior is no reason to think that he isn't a flaming Democratic kneejerk-peacenik dove...

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 20, 2004 06:58 PM

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Dubblblind: "The problem with all the Republican apologist rhetoric concerning Iraq is that it boils down to a "the end justifies the means" argument."

Funny. It's because Dems do the endss/means thing so much in tax and social legislation I've never been able to join them. (I'm social liberal/fiscal conservative). [Actually, there were good reasons for the UN to go in to Iraq, but since the UN charter leaves internal affairs untouched, I don't mind it being the coalition.]

"Let's apply that same kind of logic here at home. The best way to assure safety from a terrorist attack is to create a police state"

I've opposed Ashcroft since as a Senator he'd trample the Constitution to save the flag. I hoped he was out of politics when he was beaten by a dead man.

Posted by: sbw on March 20, 2004 07:09 PM

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Patrick, not only do I not try to convince you of anything, I don't believe that anyone in the history of the world has ever convinced you of anything. Your opinions seem thoroughly calcified.

And on the many issues on which we disagree, you might well say the same of me! So what do we have to talk about? My entire political and intellectual relationship to you has been objectified in my attempt to make sure that you are an unhappy outsider come November.

On the other hand, there are many people here with whom I do have things to talk about. And you're the fifth wheel. very few people want to follow the decision the direction you want to take it. And contrary to your feeling of entitlement, no one here is obligated to listen to you, talk to you, or treat you with respect.

Posted by: Zizka on March 20, 2004 07:20 PM

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Nobody seems to get it.

This one's not about issues. It's not about break-ins or Whitewater or fluff-jobs or Great Society or the corrupt Supremes. It's not
about Osama versus Saddam, or Arab terrorism and Muslim majority, or Halliburton fraud and grand larceny, or that educated blacks have less job opportunity in America than poor white felons. It's not about the recalcitrant French, or the collapse of Germany, or new socialism in Spain, skyrocketing raw materials inflation despite low interest rates or Reagan Voodoo Trickle Down Economics and Bush's loss of 3,000,000 jobs.

It's about one thing, and one thing alone:
head-space on the grocery shelf of America's mind, such as it is. Bush is right at eye level, he's got far better advertising, and the price
is marked down just right. Hitler, the master manipulator, showed that in times of war and high economic stress, the Average Voter votes their gut, for Defense and Homeland Security and No New Taxes. Emperor George has this one dicked.
Watch in horror in January as he is re-sworn in.

The only way the Democrats are going to win is if we all stop singing to the choir and sharing sob stories, and go out, get our hands dirty and stump the lumpen proletariat one door at a time.

Then in December come back to Semi-Daily and Daily-Kos and sing the songs, "a song of joys, a song of occupations, a song of prudence, a song of the answerer, a song of the broad-axe, a song of the rolling earth, a song of the universal."

Posted by: Walt Timmerman on March 20, 2004 08:10 PM

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How do terrorists enter the US? They can enter through one of the major airports, or blend in with the hordes of illegals crossing in from the south. Let’s look at the airport problem first. I was witness to how easily security gets breached at LAX last year. The entire terminal that houses immigration area was cleared because of a bomb scare. Everyone waiting to get cleared through customs was evacuated and stood around in the street outside the terminal. Anyone wanting to enter illegally could then simply leave LAX instead of returning to the customs area. A security official admitted to me that this kind thing happens frequently, and yes a terrorist merely has to initiate a bomb scare, and then escape when the customs area is evacuated. I hear nothing from the current government or its opposition about this vulnerability. The same holds true for our borders. Neither party wants to face down the immigration lobby and really secure our borders. I don’t know who is worse on this issue Bush, or his opposition.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on March 20, 2004 08:14 PM

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Bush seems to do something outragous every month, then every week, now it seems like it's every day. It reminds me of the book "Future Shock" when people would be stunned by the pace of change. There is so much bad governing, lying, conflicts of interest, etc that people remain in a continuous state of shock.

If Bush went honest for a month the country would probably explode with rage as the shock wore off. Now everyone forgets the last lie when they read the new one. You could call this "future schlock" or "future crock" perhaps.

Posted by: Mito on March 20, 2004 08:17 PM

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To pick up on Bruce Moomaw, Pejman's article is the usual right-wing babble on this sort of topic, completely unworthy of attention.

To pick up on Zizka, Patrick Sullivan continues to make discredited assertions and has no intention of ever changing his mind. Future historians will find the collective delusional thinking of the right about iraq quite instructive, and not in a positive way.

To pick up on tbrosz, yes, in fact, by and large the pro-bush books are full of either fantasy or dishonesty - good of you to notice!

To pick up on our host, no one in their right mind would say that clinton did all that could be done about terrorism. But neither would anyone in their right mind say that bush did as much as clinton.

Posted by: howard on March 20, 2004 08:32 PM

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Correction:

And you're the fifth wheel. Very few people here want to follow the discussion in the direction you want to take it.

Posted by: Zizka on March 20, 2004 08:36 PM

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"... and that is excellent news. It means liberals are finally recovering some of their spine and are defining the debate ON THEIR TERMS, instead of apologizing for not being more conservative than the Republican party. Democrats must stop ASAP spending most of their energy responding to Republican questions, and come up with their own agenda, and force Republicans to answer their questions. But don't expect them to be happy or honest about that."

This is a very important point, particularly in foreign policy. The Democratic Party has no vision for foreign policy except as Republican Lite and a placeholder for the next Bush crony. How many Democratic principles are used in foreign policy?

The basis of Democrat philosophy is in part a safety net and aid to help the poor and disadvantaged to get on their feet. They should work out a plan to end diseases, initiate welfare in poorer countries, and end right wing dictatorships propped up by Republicans to be bulwarks against the communist menace.

The model for successful countries in Europe, the US, etc is a mixed economy yet the world is controlled by giving countries lessons in hard right economics and no welfare state. For example Argentina was wrecked by hard right policies forced on it. The world is a wasteland caused by the same lunatic partisan right wing policies that are wrecking the US now.

Democrats have to understand that the things they fight for in the US, they have to fight for them in the poorer countries too. You have Cheney proactically under indictment for bribing Niger for example. The Democrats need to look at prodding countries like Niger into distributing the oil wealth through the economy.

Democrats must offer a well thought out choice for a foreign policy vision for the world (like a kind of Marshall plan perhaps) as an alternative to spending so much on military.

The current situation is just like screwing the poor and then spending the money they get out of it on extra police to protect them from the starving homeless.

The Republicans have wrecked a lot of the world with their policies and an alternative needs to be formulated.

Posted by: Mito on March 20, 2004 09:00 PM

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To A. Zarkov: it seems to me that our major emphasis should be in two completely different areas.

(1) We absolutely HAVE to choke off the acquisition of nuclear weapons, or powerful bioweapons, by any other dictatorships or shaky democracies, now and forevermore -- as well as trying to keep those which have acquired such weapons from using them or giving them to someone else who will use them. This is the central deadly threat to all human civilization from now on, and it was a threat which would have come to a head at this time even if 9-11 had never happened. (Indeed, if 9-11 does alert the US and the entire human race to this deadly danger at the cost of a mere 3000 lives rather than millions, we may end up regarding 9-11 as a fortunate event.)

There is a very good chance that we would have had to go after Saddam's regime for this reason at some point in the pretty near future -- my objection has always been that it was not our most urgent target. The "war" in Iraq was actually just one battle in a worldwide war which is unquestionably necessary -- and it was the wrong battle in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thinking that one battle is stupidly chosen is hardly the same thing as opposing the war.

(2) We have to minimize the danger from terrorist attacks with non-nuclear and non-biological weapons -- and the most important measure, by far, that we must take there is to prevent them from getting their hands on any more large airplanes, whether jetliners or big cargo planes. (As Aviation Week has indignantly pointed out, there has been incredibly little discussion of the danger from the latter, and no action on it at all. The clock is ticking.) The damage that can be done by big planes as weapons is far greater than that which can be carried out by most chemical explosive bombs.

Preventing planes from being turned into weapons is tremendously more important, from the viewpoint of cost-effectiveness, than trying to chase small detached groups of terrorists all over the Moslem world -- especially since such attacks can be carried just as easily by non-Moslem terrorists, and certainly will be carried out by such in the not too distant future. The very first attempt by terrorists to kill thousands of people was carried out by the totally non-Moslem group Aum Shin Rykyo. And the dirty little secret of 9-11 was how incredibly easy it was -- one of our homegrown nut groups could have carried out even more easily than a bunch of Arabs could, and still can. It is, after all, "The Turner Diaries" which ends with the American Nazi hero flying his explosive-stuffed plane into the FBI Building.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 20, 2004 09:54 PM

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I am disappointed, tbrosz. Such a meager rejoinder.

Posted by: Ernest Tomlinson on March 21, 2004 12:45 AM

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Bruce Moomaw: Yes I agree that we need to do much more on other fronts, especially (as you point out) big cargo planes. However, I see a real difference between groups like the Aum Shin Rykyo and al-Qaeda. The latter is really suicidal, while the former have some sense of self-preservation. And yes some domestic groups have apocalyptic visions, but actually carrying out a suicidal fantasy is another matter.

The larger point I’m trying to make is that both sides of the political spectrum continue to undermine the fight against Islamic terrorists. Here is one example: scanning railroad container cars for special nuclear materials (SNM). Detecting SNM in a rail car is a really daunting problem because you have to process low-count-rate gamma-ray emission data, and our politicians and bureaucrats have made the problem even harder by imposing conditions. First they require no economic impact. This means you have to maintain the current throughput so we can’t slow the cars down at all while scanning them. Dollars trump security. The other side is just as bad. They insist we can’t expose any stowaways to any amount of excess radiation. This requirement puts a severe limitation on active interrogation methods. The stowaways can’t even get the exposure we allow for radiation workers which is a little riskier than the standard for the general population. Incidentally you can exceed the allowed standard for the general population by standing near one of the granite statues in the capital building for about five hours.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on March 21, 2004 01:26 AM

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"kerry's (and your) problem in a nutshell: all kerry has to offer is that bush did it the wrong way and he would have done it differently (in french, unless he did it almost the same, and voted against it before he voted for it, the way he did when he served in VietNam)."

You make it difficult with that standard. If doing something wrong is not a reason for criticism, then what is? You do have a point about a negative compaign though. It's tempting to only focus on what Bush has done wrong instead of what positive needs to be done. That's why I think Edwards would be a good VP.

Send him out there only talking about positive things and let Kerry do the negative stuff. When Bush and Cheney are like Curly and Larry it's tempting for Kerry to become like Moe all the time. People want to see a clear alternative in the war on terror. The options are clear enough in economics, the Democrats have a track record of what works already. The science of economics is indisputably on their side.

However they have fallen for the Bush approach in the war on terror, making Al Qaeda out to be evil people who make terror for no reason, letting Bush play the Spiderman part. Needing an action hero for president is no substitute for proper analysis though. I like the spiderman analogy because romp.com had a flash movie of Bush wearing Spiderman pyjamas.

If you look at any other terrorist group in the world, you know what they want. The IRA the PLO, Shining Path, ETA, etc all had specific claims. Bin Laden is made out to be a kind of Lex Luther though, no one knows what will make peace with them so it's impossible to negotiate so it's on to endless war with Bush the Superman to save us all.

Of course this is why the right tried so hard to avoid any analysis of why Al Qaeda is so unhappy, because once you know that then you can negotiate with them. Then you have a Barak point of view when Bush wants to say only a Sharon like attitude to Al Qaeda can work.

The whole argument has become so Orwellian that not only is it not considered possible to use the historically left technique of appeasement and negotiation with terrorists, but it is as if such techniques have never worked in the past.

The current belief is that Al Qaeda is evil for the fun of it, they can't be reasoned with like the Terminator, it doesn't matter what they want, and so a forever war to try and crush them is historically the only possible way to win against terrorists.

It's just nonsense. If they treated the PLO like that they'd still be hijacking planes.

Posted by: Mito on March 21, 2004 01:56 AM

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Mito: "The basis of Democrat philosophy is in part a safety net and aid to help the poor and disadvantaged to get on their feet."

Yes, demonstrating Dubblblinds "End justifies the means" characteristic I objected to earlier with Democrats. We all wish to address those issues, but simply throwing other people's money at the problems isn't always the wisest answer.

Mito: "They should work out a plan to end diseases, initiate welfare in poorer countries, and end right wing dictatorships propped up by Republicans to be bulwarks against the communist menace."

The US (Republican and Democratic) policies of the Cold War were expediencies of that time, not this time. Justifiable or not.

Mito: "The model for successful countries in Europe, the US, etc is a mixed economy yet the world is controlled by giving countries lessons in hard right economics and no welfare state. For example Argentina was wrecked by hard right policies forced on it."

The U.S. hasn't been following the Argentinian model. That is the problem with such generalizations as "right" and "left".

Posted by: sbw on March 21, 2004 06:17 AM

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sbw:
"The U.S. hasn't been following the Argentinian model."

I may be taking your point out of context, but these are all easily documented economic and political conditions/actions in the US right now:

* Increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of an ever smaller number of entities
* shrinking-by-impoverishment of the middle class
* warmongering to distract the populace from their worsening situation
* proto-fascist rhetoric directed against the regime's opponents

So if the Bush Regime is elected, or reappointed, this November, can we look forward to such Argentinian traditions as

* devastating economic collapse
* "disappearances" of the regime's opponents
* right-wing death squads operating in association with the government
?

I decidedly do not want to participate in such an experiment.

Posted by: tripsarecopsem on March 21, 2004 07:40 AM

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SBW: The phrase "The end justifies the means" is usually used to describe someone who does something evil (e.g., Lenin wiping out the kulaks) because he says that in the long run, he'll help more people than he hurts. Usually people who argue this way do NOT help more people than they hurt (Lenin didn't), but there's also a philosophical argument about the degree to which it is ever permissible to make that kind of choice.

For you, on the other hand, "the end justifies the means" means taxing one person in order to help a different person.

This makes you a raving loonie. Your comment on the Argentinian model is probably equally loony, but who cares?

Note: an ad hominem argument consists of saying "So and so is an idiot, so everything he says is stupid". What I just said is that "He just said something idiotic, so he's an idiot". That's not an ad hominem argument.

And while in areas like science or mathematics with well-prescribed protocols neither ad hominem arguments nor arguments from authority are valid -- you just look at the work that's been done and judge that -- in the real life world you tend to weight people's contribution based on their past performance. I suspect that you've entered the idiot category for more people than me.

Ginelli: have fun wherever you're going, dude, as long as it's not here. Hope you have something to say sometime, somewhere. I agree with you that Kerry needs a stronger positive program, but your cheesy "french" reference indicates that you're an incorrigible fool, so forget you.

Posted by: Zizka on March 21, 2004 07:58 AM

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"Yes, demonstrating Dubblblinds "End justifies the means" characteristic I objected to earlier with Democrats. We all wish to address those issues, but simply throwing other people's money at the problems isn't always the wisest answer."

Republicans always seem happy to throw money at the problems they want. Aren't these tax cuts for the rich throwing money at them hoping somehow it will trickle back? Aren't big military budgets, missile defense, corporate welfare throwing money at the problem?

The thing is, throwing money at poor people really is the wisest answer sometimes. If they had done that to Afghanistan the people wouldn't want the Taliban back.

The world economy is a collapsed society on the exact model of Argentina, Brazil, etc. Wealth concentrated in a few hands and big spending on policing to make sure the poor don't get any of it back. As soon as a country gets on its feet they bribe public officials to sell off assets at cheap prices, or to take big loans which are siphoned off. It's ironic to see Bush having shilled for Enron in Argentina and Cheney bribing the Niger government and then giving their vision for a prosperous world. A boot stamped in the face forever I suppose. Of course one of Bush's cronies would own the boot factory.

Posted by: Mito on March 21, 2004 08:09 AM

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Iraq troop rotation will be a political nightmare for Bush. Bringing home thousands of troops disillusioned with the hellhole created in Iraq will add to the anxieties of new families watching their beloved placed in harms way. Their stories are personal and will substantially reform the way Americans judge Iraq. Once the returning troops hear about the duplicity of the Bush administration that will fuel the next great veterans protest against American adventurism. The dead soldiers are few because our technology can protect them from death, but not injury. The 10,000+ casualties is a number not seen since Vietnam. Our wounded soldiers are a daily reminder of the consequences of failed foreign policy.

I got to see our Senator Lugar on MTP this morning. He was asked about planning for after the government handover to the Iraqi coalition. Lugar bluntly stated that planning for this was of the highest importance. In spite of repeated requests from Lugar and Biden, no plans have been produced. This is deja vu all over again. In Feb. 2003, I had a chance to hear Lugar speak and he was complaining then about the lack of planning for post war Iraq. Whatever is going on in the Bush administration, they don't seem to have a grip on the extensive planning that must go in to successful government efforts. If for no other reason, the Bush administration needs to be replaced on grounds of sheer incompetence.

Posted by: bakho on March 21, 2004 08:19 AM

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In any normal political situation, Clarke's charges against Bush ought to be enough to sink a sitting president. But I don't think the faith of the Bush supporters are going to much shaken by this revelation. Once the right-wing slime machine cranks up (Krauthammer, Will, Safire, Brooks, O'Reilly, Hannity, et. al.), they will provide all the justification the faithful need to continue feeling good about the administration. However, there may be a wavering voter or two out there for whom this will tip the balance against Bush this fall. I hope there are enough of those to make a differnce!

Posted by: Michael on March 21, 2004 08:45 AM

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Z on sbw writes:
"Note: an ad hominem argument consists of saying "So and so is an idiot, so everything he says is stupid". What I just said is that "He just said something idiotic, so he's an idiot". That's not an ad hominem argument."

Ah...I don't think so. The mere engagement, the speech act as it were, implies that both sides presume their adversary is capable of a non-idiotic response, no? When you move from an instance of purported (and very likely contested) idiocy to the general ( and very much more likely contested) condition of idiocy, you are not only committing an ad hominen offense but admitting that you are not capable of distinguishing these purported idiots,(that you have been duped by arguments/ points of view that were masquerading as non-idiotic) on the basis of previous speech acts.
So the ad hominem offense is self-molesting.
But sometimes good poetry.

Another take: Arguing from an instance of sub-performance ( any mindless utterance ) to the general case ( always stupid, idiotic etc) is an unreasonable, and here, ad hominem characterisation that does nothing for the argument. Your "..so he's an idiot" means discard whatever sbw writes ( especially in the future) because it's from him, the idiot. Neither of you are idiots of course, just a little heavy on the poetry at times.

Posted by: calmo on March 21, 2004 08:58 AM

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Zizka writes:

"I confess is that I've spend no energy at all in trying to convince Patrick Sullivan or Will Allen of anything. Some people you just write off."

"I've spend a moderate time trying to convince moderates, neutrals, and centrists that the Democrat (now Kerry) will be vastly preferable to Bush."

"By and large, though, what I try to do is convince liberals and Democrats that they should be more active, more political, and more aggressive."

This approach, I fear, is common on both sides, and an important reason for the increasing radicalization on both sides. Remember that this is a public forum. If you respond to Patrick Sullivan and Will Allen *as if they are persuadable* (whether they are or not) then you you have a chance to influence people now or later coming by to read who might be willing to consider their answers. If you respond too dismissively, then someone coming by who first things "[Patrick, Will] may have a point," even if that person is just mistaken for a moment, then that person has a good chance of being insulted by your remark, and think "Zizka must be wrong, what a maroon." If you had tried to persuade [Patrick, Will], then the same reader has a much better chance of thinking "Wait, now I see how that was wrong. Thanks Zizka!"

Discussion to persuade can include a back and forth exchange that traces back the disagreement to more fundamental issues and then debating those more fundamental (and harder for people to change) issues. It can also include arguing that "you think X on [a more fundamental issue], and I think Y, but by the following argument, we should agree on the the more immediate issue, with answer A, whether we believe X or Y."

[Note to Patrick Sullivan and Will Allen, when you respond as if everyone else is persuadable, even though they greatly outnumber you, it makes the discussion on both sides more useful.]

Posted by: Tom on March 21, 2004 09:20 AM

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When you have a 400 billion dollar military equipped to fight states, and win, your enemies are states. When you've spent all your money on hammers, nails are damned well going to be your problem.

Posted by: Brian C.B. on March 21, 2004 10:12 AM

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Ziska: A small point of correction on history. Lenin did not wipe out the kulaks, Stalin did. In the early years after the Bolshevik putsch in Russia Lenin tried to extort food from the peasantry with his “surplus-appropriation system,” meaning confiscation of all grain production above a subsistence level. Take their food and leave them just enough to live. The peasants resisted and Lenin had a problem so he backtracked and launched his “New Economic Policy [NEP] in 1921 where he encouraged the peasants to act like capitalists. NEP substituted a grain tax (tax paid by providing grain) for the surplus-appropriation system. The more successful peasants under NEP later became the “kulaks.” Actually “kulak” is a vague term, virtually any peasant could get branded as a kulak. Later Stalin abandoned NEP and simply took grain from the peasants by force resulting in the 1932-1933-terror famine and the subsequent collectivization of the Ukrainian peasantry.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on March 21, 2004 10:15 AM

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Tom, calmo -- sorry, you're wrong. I've read my own share of speech-act theory and rhetoric too, though I'm not an expert in it. If these bodies of thought don't provide for ways of cutting your losses and writing people off, they are pretty useless sciences.

Calmo, what's wrong with poetry? And are you of the opinion that you have to eat the whole egg before you say it's bad? If you want to argue that sbw is not, in fact, loony, make your case. But your formal treatment of the question has no application. Sometimes you have to make that kind of decision about people.

Tom, political positions have been one-sidedly hardened for at least a decade. Facing a hardened opponent, what do you do? Maybe basketball didn't use to be a contact sport, but it is now -- you play the game the way it's played. I've read easily a hundred posts each by Will and Patrick, and I don't expect any surprises. SBW is new to me, but he's a familiar type: libertarian, "neither left nor right", and a much finer and more thoughtful person than whomever he's addressing.

In fact, in any real-world situation, ad hominem arguments and arguments from authority play a valid and necessary role. Brad here, for example, at times has as much as said "if anyone but Greenspan had said that, I wouldn't have taken it seriously". Likewise, if I pick up a publication and find out that it comes from the LaRouchies, if I read it at all I take it with a shovelful of salt.

There are people who are persuadable, but Will and Patrick absolutely are not among them. Someday SBW might be, but not in the timeframe of the 2004 election which defines this thread.

Posted by: Zizka on March 21, 2004 10:23 AM

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Mitro says: The current belief is that Al Qaeda is evil for the fun of it, they can't be reasoned with like the Terminator, it doesn't matter what they want, and so a forever war to try and crush them is historically the only possible way to win against terrorists.

We know what al-Qaeda wants. They have both immediate and ultimate goals. First they want the US completely out of the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia. Then they want to topple many current Arab regimes and replace them with Fundamentalist Islamic republics. Ultimately they want an Islamic world where those who refuse to convert are killed or enslaved. So on which of these are you willing to negotiate? Perhaps you think my list is defective, if so tell us what you think their goals are.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on March 21, 2004 10:33 AM

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A friend of mine (an anarchist but no lefty) has developed the theory that we should embrace Total Information Awareness. Not just in the sense of Ashcroft's doomed plan, but proper, full on, Big Brother style cameras and bugs everywhere. We should do this, he says, because the state, no matter how many spies and analysts it hires, will never be able to sort through all the data and come up with anything useful. I can't say I agree, but I'm beginning to think BushCo are using a similar strategy that I call Total Incompetence Awareness.

Basically, the plan is that in order to disguise their key goals (tax cuts for the rich, deregulation, toppling Saddam), the administration screws up as much as possible in other areas, and lies about everything it can, in order to flood the political sphere with evidence of incompetence/disingenuousness. People just can't absorb all the ridiculous things the administration has done and said. There are so many of them that people assume it must be Democratic posturing - after all, no admistration could really be that inept or insidious. There was a fantastic demonstration of this, cited by Krugman in The Great Unravelling, when "focus groups literally refused to believe accurate descriptions of the stimulus bill that House Republican leaders passed on a party-line vote back in October [2001]. " Krugman uses Kissinger's description of a "revolutionary power" to explain why people don't grasp the BushCo agenda, while O'Neill suggests that the incompetence is down to the total marginalisation of policy in favour of politics. This may be true, but I like to think the two are linked.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow on March 21, 2004 10:42 AM

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http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn21.html

--------------quote-------------
For over a year, there've been jokes about the ponderous way the senator brings Vietnam up at every opportunity. Ask him about John Edwards' pretty boy bangs, and Kerry says solemnly, ''I know something about bangs for real.'' But he's beyond satire now. The Humane Society sends him a questionnaire asking ''Do you have any pets that have made an impact on you personally?'' Instead of citing any of the ginger toms, gerbils and cockatoos that have passed through the Kerry household in the last four decades, he goes back to those four months in Vietnam and recalls a pooch named VC who accompanied him on his swift boat missions.

Is it normal to take a yappy mutt on a swift boat patrol through enemy territory? Especially a mutt named after the enemy. Calling out ''Over here, VC'' in the middle of the jungle seems a good way to get taken out by friendly fire. Come to that, how many folks name their dogs after the enemy? Did British Tommies stumble across stray French poodles on the beach at Normandy and think, ''Aw, cute li'l feller. I'll call him SS''?

Weird. And, just to round out a weird week, John Kerry, accompanied by the press, went into a sporting goods store and bought a jock strap. Even for a campaign marked by a strangely insecure macho exhibitionism, this was a little too self-parodic. Next time he shouts ''Bring it on!'' I want to see that VC puppy trot out with the jock strap between his teeth so Jacques Chirac can ceremonially drape it round the senator's neck.
------------endquote----------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 21, 2004 10:45 AM

____

Why the war In Iraq? So Mr. Bush can be like his Dad, strut around, and be a "War" President! The whole Bush Administration are retreads from Bush 1, and they all wanted to "blame Saddam" , and be "heroes" all over again! Because without this war, the adminstration was going nowhere. The Clarke info is old news, but the US Media has been completely in Mr. Bush's hands since 9/11. What a very sad situation. 600 dead Americans, 2000 injured, over 10,000 dead Iraqis, more terrorists in Iraq than ever, and $120 billion. Not to mention all the fat contracts before the bombing started. Remember "Bring It On" from Mr. Bush only a few months ago!

Posted by: mozart fan on March 21, 2004 10:55 AM

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" Ah. My mistake in interpreting Sullivan. What he was really saying is that the fact that Al Qaida said it was attacking us to drive our troops out of Saudi Arabia is really strong evidence that it was trying to drive our troops out of Saudi Arabia not to keep them from contaminating the Moslem holy grounds (as it repeatedly said), but actually to keep us from interfering with an imminent takeover of Saudi Arabia by Saddam. This is your idea of strong evidence of a connection, Patrick? "

I think Bruce Moomaw has been watching too many episodes of "Law and Order". Especially the scenes near the middle of the program where the prosecutors have their best evidence thrown out by the presiding judge because its not acquired properly, or would be prejudicial to the jury.

Anyone not willfully obtuse can read the excerpts from the Woodward book and see exactly the connection that Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush are making. There's a reason it's not Called the War Against Al Qaeda.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 21, 2004 11:08 AM

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"Ms. Coulter, what do you think of Clarke's description of the goings-on in the Bush White House?" Response,"I think Clarke's a traitor and should be shot at dawn."

Posted by: M. Tullius on March 21, 2004 11:11 AM

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"[Note to Patrick Sullivan and Will Allen, when you respond as if everyone else is persuadable, even though they greatly outnumber you, it makes the discussion on both sides more useful.]"

I'm here for the sheer delight of reading the stuff that hasn't a scintilla of self-awareness. Like:

"SBW is new to me, but he's a familiar type: libertarian, "neither left nor right", and a much finer and more thoughtful person than whomever he's addressing."

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 21, 2004 11:14 AM

____

"Self awareness".

"The mere engagement, the speech act as it were, implies that both sides presume their adversary is capable of a non-idiotic response, no?"

"What I try to do is find the truth in opinions different than mine and weave it in to ideas I've found that stand the tests of time. Seneca advised that."

Jesus, everyone's going all sensitive on my ass. Did I come in the wrong door or something? I just don't thenk that there are a lot of liberals on conservative sites talking that shit. Not for long, anyway. I don't feel that being the nice guy has worked.

Point taken, Zarkov. I'm vague about specifics -- my sources are a short story by Babel plus Scott Martens' great-grandfather's memoirs (on "Pedantry".)

Posted by: Zizka on March 21, 2004 11:56 AM

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The GOP has been so successful in painting Democrats as "weak on defense" that any Democrat challenger needs some immunity from attack. Kerry brings up Nam all the time because the GOP brings up the weak on defense lie all the time. The GOP is not strong on defense. They are only strong on military industrial complex spending. If you actually look at the records, GOP and Democrat Congressmen and Senators have similar rates of military experience. The Clinton administration had as many veterans as the current Bush administration (They only had 3 until Ridge came on board.)

Posted by: bakho on March 21, 2004 12:18 PM

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Patrick, Mark Steyn is both a demonstrable liar and an idiot, and if he's really interested in "descent into caricature," he might start with himself, move forward to the apalling intellectual decline of the vigorous conservatism of 25 years ago into the pathetic right-wing tropes of today, and continue on the caricature of a president that george bush demonstrates on a daily basis.

Posted by: howard on March 21, 2004 12:34 PM

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well here's some more proof that George Bush is a no-nonsense type of guy who knows exactly what direction he wants to take the country in:
http://images.google.com/images?q=left+arrow&imgsz=icon
scroll all the way down, see something out of place?

Posted by: bryan on March 21, 2004 01:11 PM

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Let me ask Patrick again: has the Bush Administration -- or Tony Blair -- been peddling the simple fact that Bin Laden wanted to drive the US troops out of Saudi Arabia as strong evidence that they wanted to drive the US troops out of Saudi Arabia so that Saddam could invade it and take it over? (Not in my experience. They've been grabbing for everything else they could get.) How likely is it that Bin Laden would be willing to set up the decidedly irreligious Saddam -- whom other Islamists detest -- as Supreme Caliph of his unified Moslem Empire, rather than Bin Laden himself or some other intensely Islamist figure? And is this not the likely reason why (A) the Bushites and Blair haven't been using your argument as strong evidence of an Osama-Saddam tie, and (B) most security analysts who know a lot more about this than either of us have also rejected it as evidence?

As for Woodward: he has long ago established the fact that he's turned into about as reliable a journalist as Matt Drudge. The Right was griping about this fact first, and now the Left has caught on. His M.O. is to provide "authoritative" books supposedly presenting a Godlike infallible perspective on what really happened in the Inmost Circles of government, without ever telling us who actually leaked this Authoritative Account to him -- and his leakers, of course, always have self-interested motives. As does Woodward, who can't have these people continue to talk to him if he doesn't say what pleases them.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 21, 2004 04:10 PM

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"Strangely insecure macho exhibitionism"? From someone who actually got shot at with monotonous regularity? As compared to the Hero of Houston strutting around on an aircraft carrier in an (unnecessary) flight suit? Steyn (like Patrick) is grabbing frantically for anything he can get at this point.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 21, 2004 04:13 PM

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Parenthetically, Patrick, I'm still waiting to see your response to the point I made about the flat-out stupidity of Yousefzadeh's column.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 21, 2004 04:26 PM

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This old ABC news story isn't doing your position any favors:

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/DailyNews/bush_advisers_clarke.html

-----------quote------------
Richard A. Clarke was appointed today by President Bush to be the Special Adviser for Cyberspace Security within the National Security Council.

He will be charged with protecting the nation's telecommunications and information technology infrastructure against a terrorist attack.
Experts have warned that hackers and terrorists could try and cripple systems — computer networks that monitor a city's water supply or air traffic, for example — to create further chaos.

Should such a crisis take place in cyberspace, Clarke would coordinate efforts with the private and commercial sectors to bring the affected systems back to normal.

Similar to his previous position as National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism, Clarke will remain on the president's National Security Council. In his new role, he report to both National Security Advisory Condoleezza Rice and newly appointed Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.

Clarke is a career member of the federal government's Senior Executive Service, having started there in 1973 in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Since May 1998, Clarke was the first National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism.

In that position, he led U.S. government efforts on cyber-security — and on counter-terrorism, continuity of government operations, domestic preparedness for weapons of mass destruction, and international organized crime.

In the role of counter-terrorism czar, he will be replaced by retired four-star Gen. Wayne A. Downing. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge will serve above Clarke and Downing in the new role as the president's Homeland Security adviser.

Clarke became well-known for his use of the phrase "electronic Pearl Harbor," when predicting the implications of a cyber-terrorist attack. Critics say he overstates the threat, perhaps as a tactic to win greater attention, support and resources for government computer defense capabilities.
-------------endquote------------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 21, 2004 04:56 PM

____

Yes, it does get worse. But for Lesley Stahl and the usual suspects, not Geo. W. Bush:

http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/143

-----------quote-------------
Richard Clarke's Legacy of Miscalculation
The outgoing cybersecurity czar will be remembered for his steadfast belief in the danger of Internet attacks, even while genuine threats developed elsewhere.

By George Smith Feb 17 2003 01:38AM PT


The retirement of Richard Clarke is appropriate to the reality of the war on terror. Years ago, Clarke bet his national security career on the idea that electronic war was going to be real war. He lost, because as al Qaeda and Iraq have shown, real action is still of the blood and guts kind.

In happier times prior to 9/11, Clarke -- as Bill Clinton's counter-terror point man in the National Security Council -- devoted great effort to convincing national movers and shakers that cyberattack was the coming thing. While ostensibly involved in preparations for bioterrorism and trying to sound alarms about Osama bin Laden, Clarke was most often seen in the news predicting ways in which electronic attacks were going to change everything and rewrite the calculus of conflict.

[snip]

Clarke's career in subsequent presidential administrations was a barometer of the recession of the belief that cyberspace would be a front effector in national security affairs. After being part of the NSC, Clarke was dismissed to Special Advisor for Cyberspace Security on October 9th in a ceremony led by National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and new homeland security guru Tom Ridge. If it was an advance, it was one to the rear -- a pure demotion.

[snip]

In 1986, as a State Department bureaucrat with pull, he came up with a plan to battle terrorism and subvert Muammar Qaddafi by having SR-71s produce sonic booms over Libya. This was to be accompanied by rafts washing onto the sands of Tripoli, the aim of which was to create the illusion of a coming attack. When this nonsense was revealed, it created embarrassment for the Reagan administration and was buried.

In 1998, according to the New Republic, Clarke "played a key role in the Clinton administration's misguided retaliation for the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which targeted bin Laden's terrorist camps in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan." The pharmaceutical factory was, apparently, just a pharmaceutical factory, and we now know how impressed bin Laden was by cruise missiles that miss.

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

This is better than "Bush was AWOL".

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 21, 2004 05:05 PM

____

It appears that Clarke has a kind of John Kerry problem (From Jim Lehrer's Newshour last October):

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/white_house/july-dec03/rice_10-13.html

-----------quote------------
JIM LEHRER: To pick up on your analogy, to pick up on Ivo Daalder's analogy, if you're caught between two giants, you can get smashed. Is that what's happening now to Condoleezza Rice?

RICHARD CLARKE: Not at all. As Ivo said, she has a tremendous close personal relationship and great trust from the president. So no one is going to squeeze her between two rocks. But it is true you have a very unusual situation here. You have a vice president who used to be a secretary of defense, used to be a White House chief of staff, who is playing a big role in foreign policy. You have a secretary of defense who used to be a White House chief of staff and used to be a secretary of defense. You have a secretary of state who used to be a national security adviser and used to be...

JIM LEHRER: We forget that, that Colin Powell was the national security adviser in the Reagan administration.

RICHARD CLARKE: And he also used to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs so Colin Powell has held three of the six positions around the table at an NSC principals' meeting. So this president has chosen people who are very strong personalities. He wants them to debate and engage as Franklin Roosevelt did. Franklin Roosevelt used to get his advisers to go at it to see what that produced in terms of analysis and alternatives and options. This is very unlike the president's father, the first President Bush, who didn't like disagreement among the boys. And really you were given demerits if you were a little obstreperous in the first Bush administration. This administration is not like that at all. What people are complaining about is that there is contention and debate and analysis and confrontation. I think that's better than trying to sweep everything under the rug.

[snip]

RICHARD CLARKE: JIM LEHRER: Now based on your knowledge of Dr. Rice, now that she has a stick, what can we expect?

RICHARD CLARKE: I think you can expect much more integration of Treasury, State Department, CIA, Justice Department, assets -- not just DOD going it alone. I think you can expect a lot closer oversight, detailed, everyday oversight, milestones, goal posts, people being relieved if things don't happen. Condi Rice is a very nice person, but she's also a very tough manager.

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

Gee, I guess all this stuff just slipped his mind last fall.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 21, 2004 05:18 PM

____

Note the exact nature of Clarke's accusation (which Yousefzadeh apparently didn't bother to read at all before writing his column). He didn't accuse the Bushites of just saying that there was a "serious chance" that Saddam was in cahoots with Osama -- they would have had a reasonable argument for that. He says that they were absolutely obsessed with concluding (without evidence) that it was a virtual certainty that Osama was actually just working for Saddam, and that we should therefore forget about attacking Osama for the time being and attack Iraq first instead. Which -- unless you are certain that Osama is just working for Saddam, has no goals and resources of his own, and will therefore close down his own operations the moment you attack Saddam -- is nuts, even if you DO think there is a serious chance that Saddam may have been assisting him. The most urgent and unquestionable enemy should be attacked first.

As for Clarke being an Unreliable Source: CBS has found at least one and maybe two independent witnesses who say he's telling the truth about his conversation with Bush, and that Hadley is lying. And -- unless Clarke is flat-out lying, rather than just mistaken in his judgements about the top-level threats to us (as George Smith says in the URL that Patrick mentions above), both Tenet and the CIA's deputy director agreed with him on the subject of Iraq.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 21, 2004 05:30 PM

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Mito wrote:

//If you look at any other terrorist group in the world, you know what they want. The IRA the PLO, Shining Path, ETA, etc all had specific claims. Bin Laden is made out to be a kind of Lex Luther though, no one knows what will make peace with them so it's impossible to negotiate so it's on to endless war with Bush the Superman to save us all.

Of course this is why the right tried so hard to avoid any analysis of why Al Qaeda is so unhappy, because once you know that then you can negotiate with them. Then you have a Barak point of view when Bush wants to say only a Sharon like attitude to Al Qaeda can work.//


The sum total of the Left's "analysis" of why Al Queda is so unhappy amounts to projecting their own anti-Bush/anti-US narrative into Bin Laden's mouth. What makes this so painful to witness is the fact that Bin Laden's own Islamist ideology is so much more complex and well developed that it makes the Left's hubris look even weaker than it already is in comparison. Bin Laden may be a lot of things, but he's not your sock puppet.

Bush et. al. have simply taken Al Queda at it's word. Why? Because there isn't anyone in the Bush Administration who believes as you do, that we can bullshit our way out of anything, including war, by the sheer virtue of our rationalism. Both the Left and the Right believe that war should be a last resort, but what the left won't admit is the belief that with enough dazzling bullshit, we never have to arrive at the last resort.

Yesterday on another blog I read for the first time a great quote Churchill made upon Chamberlain's return to Britain from Munich with a fresh "Peace" pact with Hitler:

“You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

:jackson

Posted by: jackson zed on March 21, 2004 05:45 PM

____

"Because there isn't anyone in the Bush Administration who believes as you do, that we can bullshit our way out of anything, including war, by the sheer virtue of our rationalism."

Rationalism, no. Bullshit, yes.

Gee, I guess I was wrong when I claimed that there's no talking to Patrick R. Sullivan. Bad me.

Posted by: Zizka on March 21, 2004 05:59 PM

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First, please stop calling the people of Afghanistan AFGHANIS! This is the name for their MONEY. They are Afghans or the Afghan people, but NOT AFGHANIS.
Bush might be Mabus after all. That's the good news. The bad news is that he might win in 2004. Get rid of those electronic voting machines that leave no PAPER record, or a fuhrer is bound for glory again.


Posted by: MinorPoet on March 21, 2004 06:00 PM

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First, please stop calling the people of Afghanistan AFGHANIS! This is the name for their MONEY. They are Afghans or the Afghan people, but NOT AFGHANIS.
Bush might be Mabus after all. That's the good news. The bad news is that he might win in 2004. Get rid of those electronic voting machines that leave no PAPER record, or a fuhrer is bound for glory again.


Posted by: MinorPoet on March 21, 2004 06:00 PM

____

"Mito says: The current belief is that Al Qaeda is evil for the fun of it, they can't be reasoned with like the Terminator, it doesn't matter what they want, and so a forever war to try and crush them is historically the only possible way to win against terrorists.

We know what Al-Qaeda wants. They have both immediate and ultimate goals. First they want the US completely out of the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia. Then they want to topple many current Arab regimes and replace them with Fundamentalist Islamic republics. Ultimately they want an Islamic world where those who refuse to convert are killed or enslaved. So on which of these are you willing to negotiate? Perhaps you think my list is defective, if so tell us what you think their goals are."

I don't think we do know what Al Qaeda wants, and we certainly don't know how much they will settle for. We don't even really know why they did 9/11.

For example was any of it a retaliation for Bush's threats to the Taliban about the pipeline? We don't know, some say the attack was planned before this but we don't know if the schedule was pushed ahead. It may have been done to deter threats of invading Afghanistan. There was a book written about this, so there may have been something to it.

We know they wanted US troops out of Saudi Arabia and they got it. I doubt they want the US completely out of the Middle East, as an inflexible position. They probably want a fair deal for the Palestinians.

Inevitably in a terrorist situation the government, even dictatorships, take this attitude of sovreignty as allowing them to do what they want, and not to negotiate with terrorists. Then when the terrorists don't roll over and start attacking they use the attacks as an excuse to say they are criminals, have no agenda other than to kill, and their demands are too outragous to listen to.

This has happened in virtually every terrorist situation in history. In ever case, even the unsettled ones there have been negotiations and the terrorists have moderated demands.

The real problem is that the US doesn't want to give them enough to make peace because they think they can crush them militarily. They can't do this, but they can keep the hope alive for generations in a forever war.

Sooner or later, as happens in nearly any conflict Al Qaeda will find a painful enough way to strike back to force negotiations, maybe something that will make 9/11 like a pinprick.

Trying to crush terrorists and give them nothing is a typical Republican tactic, Bush is just doing like his daddy done in the CIA with South America. He's extending the Monroe Doctrine to the whole world. Democrats need to have a separate vision, like Clinton had of trying to make peace. He did it with Ireland and nearly with Israel. His big mistake was in not opening a back channel with Al Qaeda and trying to find a settlement with them while he was in office.

My guess is if the US gave a lot of aid to Afghanistan, made a deal with the Palestinians or at least stopped supporting hard line tactics of Sharon it would in large part defuse the anger of Al Qaeda. After all they are allowing religious clerics to participate in Iraqi politics.

The US wants to control the area and maintain friendly dictatorships to protect oil flows, and so weighs that against negotiating with Al Qaeda. Like all terrorist situations they persist because governments involved want to hang onto some assets and believe they can handle the attacks with giving up anything.

Even Clarke commented in Time that they have to find the roots of what Al Qaeda want, that they can't be beaten. We can't just listen to tapes made by Bin Laden, there has to be a combination of carrot and stick to solve this. The stick by itself hasn't worked so far and only Halliburton and Bechtel seem to get to eat the carrots.


Posted by: Mito on March 21, 2004 06:01 PM

____

A lot more on Clarke's pre-9/11 activities and attitudes can be found in Time magazine's Aug. 6, 2002 cover story ( http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,333835,00.html ). It turns out (as confirmed by its interviews with other Bush Administration officials) that he had spent both his last few months with Clinton and his entire tenure with Bush up to 9-11 yelling bloody murder for an all-out military (NOT cybernetic) attack on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan -- and that his demands got ignored by both administrations both because of the months-long chaos surrrounding any transition in presidential administrations in this country, and because of the Bush team's obsession with threats from hostile governments as opposed to separate terrorist groups:

"Sometimes history is made by the force of arms on battlefields, sometimes by the fall of an exhausted empire. But often when historians set about figuring why a nation took one course rather than another, they are most interested in who said what to whom at a meeting far from the public eye whose true significance may have been missed even by those who took part in it.

"One such meeting took place in the White House situation room during the first week of January 2001. The session was part of a program designed by Bill Clinton's National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, who wanted the transition between the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations to run as smoothly as possible. With some bitterness, Berger remembered how little he and his colleagues had been helped by the first Bush Administration in 1992-93. Eager to avoid a repeat of that experience, he had set up a series of 10 briefings by his team for his successor, Condoleezza Rice, and her deputy, Stephen Hadley...

"The terrorism briefing was delivered by Richard Clarke, a career bureaucrat who had served in the first Bush Administration and risen during the Clinton years to become the White House's point man on terrorism. As chair of the interagency Counter-Terrorism Security Group (CSG), Clarke was known as a bit of an obsessive-just the sort of person you want in a job of that kind. Since the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen on Oct. 12, 2000-an attack that left 17 Americans dead-he had been working on an aggressive plan to take the fight to al-Qaeda. The result was a strategy paper that he had presented to Berger and the other national security 'principals' on Dec. 20. But Berger and the principals decided to shelve the plan and let the next Administration take it up. With less than a month left in office, they did not think it appropriate to launch a major initiative against Osama bin Laden. 'We would be handing (the Bush Administration) a war when they took office on Jan. 20,' says a former senior Clinton aide. 'That wasn't going to happen.' Now it was up to Rice's team to consider what Clarke had put together.

"Berger had left the room by the time Clarke, using a Powerpoint presentation, outlined his thinking to Rice. A senior Bush Administration official denies being handed a formal plan to take the offensive against al-Qaeda, and says Clarke's materials merely dealt with whether the new Administration should take 'a more active approach' to the terrorist group. (Rice declined to comment, but through a spokeswoman said she recalled no briefing at which Berger was present.) Other senior officials from both the Clinton and Bush administrations, however, say that Clarke had a set of proposals to 'roll back' al-Qaeda. In fact, the heading on Slide 14 of the Powerpoint presentation reads, 'Response to al Qaeda: Roll back.' Clarke's proposals called for the 'breakup' of al-Qaeda cells and the arrest of their personnel. The financial support for its terrorist activities would be systematically attacked, its assets frozen, its funding from fake charities stopped. Nations where al-Qaeda was causing trouble-Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Yemen-would be given aid to fight the terrorists. Most important, Clarke wanted to see a dramatic increase in covert action in Afghanistan to 'eliminate the sanctuary' where al-Qaeda had its terrorist training camps and bin Laden was being protected by the radical Islamic Taliban regime. The Taliban had come to power in 1996, bringing a sort of order to a nation that had been riven by bloody feuds between ethnic warlords since the Soviets had pulled out. Clarke supported a substantial increase in American support for the Northern Alliance, the last remaining resistance to the Taliban. That way, terrorists graduating from the training camps would have been forced to stay in Afghanistan, fighting (and dying) for the Taliban on the front lines. At the same time, the U.S. military would start planning for air strikes on the camps and for the introduction of special-operations forces into Afghanistan. The plan was estimated to cost 'several hundreds of millions of dollars.' In the words of a senior Bush Administration official, the proposals amounted to 'everything we've done since 9/11.'

"And that's the point. The proposals Clarke developed in the winter of 2000-01 were not given another hearing by top decision makers until late April, and then spent another four months making their laborious way through the bureaucracy before they were readied for approval by President Bush. It is quite true that nobody predicted Sept. 11-that nobody guessed in advance how and when the attacks would come. But other things are true too. By last summer, many of those in the know-the spooks, the buttoned-down bureaucrats, the law-enforcement professionals in a dozen countries-were almost frantic with worry that a major terrorist attack against American interests was imminent. It wasn't averted because 2001 saw a systematic collapse in the ability of Washington's national-security apparatus to handle the terrorist threat."

The article goes on from there. Whatever else Clarke is, he's no brainless peacenik. And his accusations that the Bushites had a wildly overblown obsession with Iraq should therefore be looked at very carefully -- especially since he's been backed up by one other witness, and has explicitly said that Tenet and the CIA's deputy director agreed with him. (By the way, he's scheduled to testify before the 9-11 Commission this week, which should give us a clearer understanding of how much substance there is to his charges.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 21, 2004 06:04 PM

____

Further research (requiring about 30 seconds' worth of work on Google) shows that, in George Smith, Patrick Sullivan has chosen a very strange ideological bedfellow. He regularly writes for the Village Voice, and his opinion of Rumsfeld is neatly summed up at the end of http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0314/smith.php .

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 21, 2004 06:29 PM

____

What we see with the rush to attempt to discredit Clarke, as we saw with the rush to attempt to discredit o'neill, and as we saw with the rush to attempt to discredit diullio, is the show-trial mentality in all of its splendor. People with lifelong non-left bonafides now stand revealed, in the police state mindset of attacking the critics, as actually having been soft on terrorism, soft on tas cutting, or soft in the head.

And the arguments that are left in favor of bush, like those jackson zed pursues above, defy imagination: you couldn't possibly make up someone arguing that the threat posed by al qaeda, a non-state terrorist organization, is equivalent to threat posed by the nazis. It takes denial and self-deception of a grand scale to make this argument, and historians of the future will be fascinated by the mass delusion that has gripped the right over iraq and terrorism.

Posted by: howard on March 21, 2004 06:52 PM

____

Mito writes:

//My guess is if the US gave a lot of aid to Afghanistan, made a deal with the Palestinians or at least stopped supporting hard line tactics of Sharon it would in large part defuse the anger of Al Qaeda. After all they are allowing religious clerics to participate in Iraqi politics. //

Has it ever occurred to you that Al Queda wants nothing that is within the power of US to give them? What if that's true? How do you negotiate with someone that doesn't want anything from you?

You seem to have a hard time distinguishing between an Al Queda excuse and an Al Queda demand. They have plenty of excuses, going back centuries evern. They've presented us with no demands.

:jackson

Posted by: jackson zed on March 21, 2004 06:55 PM

____

As for George Smith's opinion of the Bush Administration in general and the war in Iraq in particular -- well, my God. See the remainder of his "Weapon of the Week" columns for the Village Voice.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 21, 2004 06:58 PM

____

Mito: What would you offer al-Qaeda? And what would you do if they refused—offer them more? Suppose they took your offer but, continued their acts of terror what would you do then? In any case why should anyone negotiate with al-Qaeda, what makes them a legitimate entity with which to negotiate? They are not a national state, nor do they control any territory. No national state even recognizes them as legal military force. They have no responsible chain of command, nor they do not wear uniforms or any insignia, nor do they carry their arms openly. Moreover they target innocent civilians as a matter of policy. Thus they do not even qualify as combatants under the Geneva Convention, which of course they are not a party to. Do you believe that any group that demonstrates the ability to blow things up deserves our solicitude? If that is the case then Clinton should have offered to negotiate with the people who blew up the World Trade Center or the government office building in Okalahoma. Negotiate with Timothy McVeigh?

Posted by: A. Zarkov on March 21, 2004 07:04 PM

____

//And the arguments that are left in favor of bush, like those jackson zed pursues above, defy imagination: you couldn't possibly make up someone arguing that the threat posed by al qaeda, a non-state terrorist organization, is equivalent to threat posed by the nazis. It takes denial and self-deception of a grand scale to make this argument, and historians of the future will be fascinated by the mass delusion that has gripped the right over iraq and terrorism. //

Perfect. This is the rationalism I'm talking about. Instead of actually offering an argument, I'm simply called names. And what names? The most horrible thing a rationalist can imagine calling anyone: irrational.

"Denial." "Self-deception." "Mass delusion."

Sticks and stones, Howard.

Next.

;jackson

Posted by: jackson zed on March 21, 2004 07:09 PM

____

jackson zed:

"Has it ever occurred to you that Al Queda wants nothing that is within the power of US to give them? What if that's true? How do you negotiate with someone that doesn't want anything from you?"


Step 0: ID likely short-term threats, and take action against them. *Don't* blow off the threat in favor of things like Star Wars and Iraq.

Step 1: strip them from potential allies, recruits, friends and resources. *Don't* take actions which give them the above.

Step 2: gather potential allies, recruits, friends and resources for yourself. *Don't* alienate them.

Step 3: put in place longer-term actions, which will both strip off more allies/recruits/friends/resources, and others which will hurt them.

Step 4: repeat steps 1-3.

Please note that a good approximation of this could be arrived at by taking the Bush administration actions, and inverting them.

Posted by: Barry on March 21, 2004 07:24 PM

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Barry,
Damn right!!!
I'm saving your comments. Short and to the point. I hope we get an adminstration that impliment your logic.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on March 21, 2004 07:48 PM

____

"Has it ever occurred to you that Al Queda wants nothing that is within the power of US to give them? What if that's true? How do you negotiate with someone that doesn't want anything from you?

You seem to have a hard time distinguishing between an Al Queda excuse and an Al Queda demand. They have plenty of excuses, going back centuries evern. They've presented us with no demands."

Every terrorist group in history has done it because they wanted something. To say otherwise is to go back to the Spiderman analogy where the bad guys just do it for the fun. Governments however often try and pretend terrorists don't want anything as an excuse to not negotiate with them. The same tactic was used on the IRA to stop negotiations and now most of that is settled because they admitted the IRA did want something reasonable.

Bin Laden has been clear about what he wants from the US in his videos, there's no way around that. The question is what is their bottom line? What combination of carrot and stick will solve the problem?

The US hasn't been there for centuries, the basis of this terrorism is what has happened in the last few decades.

Posted by: Mito on March 21, 2004 08:05 PM

____

Why, Oh why, Can't We Have a Better 60 Minutes Correspondent:

" Stahl said to Clarke, 'They demoted you. Aren't you open to charges that this is all sour grapes, because they demoted you and reduced your leverage, your power in the White House?' "

Apparently it didn't dawn on Lesley that what she said FOUR TIMES about Clarke being the "top" counterterrorism man in the Bush Administration is inconsistent with his being "demoted".

Nor did she follow up on his non-denial denial of being of assistance to Rand Beers.

Nor did she seem to be aware of Clarke's singing a very different tune back in October on Jim Lehrer's show:

" So this president has chosen people who are very strong personalities. He wants them to debate and engage as Franklin Roosevelt did. Franklin Roosevelt used to get his advisers to go at it to see what that produced in terms of analysis and alternatives and options. This is very unlike the president's father, the first President Bush, who didn't like disagreement among the boys. And really you were given demerits if you were a little obstreperous in the first Bush administration. This administration is not like that at all. What people are complaining about is that there is contention and debate and analysis and confrontation. I think that's better than trying to sweep everything under the rug."

What a Clown Show.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 21, 2004 08:14 PM

____

Jackson, for the record, noting that you couldn't make it up doesn't quite equal "calling you names."

That said, there's nothing to argue about: you've made no argument in the first place. You'd like us to believe that Al Qaeda offers precisely the same kind of threat to what i'll loosely call the western order that the Nazis did; you're simply wrong.

The threats are nowhere close. If the Japanese hadn't attacked Pearl Harbor and the US had stayed isolationist, the Nazis might well have won (and i'll beg, for the moment, defining exactly what "winning" would be, other than to say that it wouldn't have been any fun for those not of the master race).

There is no chance of Al Qaeda "winning." There isn't suddenly going to be a great uprising to restore fundamentalist Islam.

There is a question of how best to keep them from winning. Thus far, the backbone administration has offered diverting our resources from the struggle against them to the task of building a democracy in iraq at astonishing cost of blood and treasure, which, you would have us believe, arises from the willingness of the backbone administration to take al qaeda on its own terms.

But those terms are deranged, since they can't and won't win, and taking them on those terms leads to foolish policy choices like invading iraq in lieu of doing something useful about islamic fundamentalist terrorism and the networks that are working to advance its interests.

Supporting that mindset isn't an argument; it's a mistake.

Posted by: howard on March 21, 2004 08:16 PM

____

"Mito: What would you offer al-Qaeda? And what would you do if they refused—offer them more? Suppose they took your offer but, continued their acts of terror what would you do then? In any case why should anyone negotiate with al-Qaeda, what makes them a legitimate entity with which to negotiate? They are not a national state, nor do they control any territory. No national state even recognizes them as legal military force. They have no responsible chain of command, nor they do not wear uniforms or any insignia, nor do they carry their arms openly. Moreover they target innocent civilians as a matter of policy. Thus they do not even qualify as combatants under the Geneva Convention, which of course they are not a party to. Do you believe that any group that demonstrates the ability to blow things up deserves our solicitude? If that is the case then Clinton should have offered to negotiate with the people who blew up the World Trade Center or the government office building in Okalahoma. Negotiate with Timothy McVeigh?"


These are the same arguments most governments try to get out of negotiations. Why negotiate with the IRA, they might just ask for more? It's back to the Spiderman analogy, the bad guys are in it just to be bad, they don't really want anything, so they can't be negotiated with.

A lot of what they do want is reasonable. It was reasonable to want US troops out of Saudi Arabia, it hasn't affected the security there and it doesn't offend religious people any more.

Also it is reasonable to be against Sharon, a lot of the world is and a substantial part of the population of Israel is against his policies. Al Qaeda believes the US is propping up Sharon and preventing a settlement with the Palestinians. A more even handed role in that dispute might take a lot of wind out of their sales.

What if they want more? Do they want the US given back to the Indians? Parts of Mexico given back? Who knows? This is the point, we don't know because there is no negotiation, no Sinn Fein to talk with. If we knew their bottom line we would know if a combination of carrot and stick will work. We don't because Bush wants to use the stick only with no incentive for Al Qaeda to stop.

Al Qaeda is as legitimate an entity as most of the the Middle East. The CIA installed the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordon, and Israel was made by the US and Britain over the objections of the Palestinians. It never bothered anyone if they were legitimate when they were toeing the line.

All terrorists target innocent civilians, that's the definition of what a terrorist is.

Posted by: Mito on March 21, 2004 08:23 PM

____

Thanks Barry,

I'm familiar with the whole "war as diplomacy" paradigm. I disagree with it; it's the recipe that brought us Kim Jong Il. It's the recipe that compelled us to sacrifice 60,000 soilders in Vietnam--- for nothing.

And all that such a recipe offers us in return is a false feeling of security that we somehow have a choice over going to war against a capable and willful self-declared enemy.

:jackson

Posted by: jackson zed on March 21, 2004 08:26 PM

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Here's another report from December 2000--supposedly when Clarke was so gung ho to attack Al Qaeda, that isn't consistent with Clarke's latest story:

http://hongkong.usconsulate.gov/uscn/wh/2000/121501.htm

--------------quote--------------
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

December 15, 2000

PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL COORDINATOR FOR SECURITY INFRASTRUCTURE
PROTECTION AND COUNTERTERRORISM FOR NSC RICHARD CLARKE, ASSISTANT
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT
RAND BEERS, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF TREASURY FOR ENFORCEMENT
JOSEPH MYERS, AND NSC DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL CRIME GROUP FRED ROSA

The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

11:12 A.M. EST

[ ...Intervening Text... ]

Q: Mr. Clarke, can you or one of your colleagues tell us how serious
the alien smuggling problem is right now, and are we seeing some sort
of a transition from the illegal immigration problem going from
individuals coming through from Mexico to international cartels
smuggling people for money?

MR. CLARKE: There obviously continue to be individuals transiting our
borders, but for the last seven or eight years we have seen an
increasing trend of cartels.

In China, in Southeast Asia and in parts of Latin America and the
Middle East, organized cartels, moving people great distances and at
great risk to the individuals involved and at great financial prices
into the United States. We find only the tip of the iceberg, but we
find them with great regularity, people smuggled into the United
States in containers, shipping containers at risk to their lives on
the terrible sanitary conditions.

All too often, what we find is that the people who are smuggled into
the United States, then when they get here are put into work
environments that amount to servitude, involuntary servitude. And
particularly troubling is when that occurs to women and children and
they are forced in the United States as well as overseas into
prostitution. That is an increasing trend around the world, but the
United States is the most attractive destination for these organized
groups.

---------------ehdquote-------------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 21, 2004 08:32 PM

____

http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/degreeprog/courses.nsf/0/4548cb72b5f5d6c985256e06000afe33?OpenDocument&ExpandSection=1

-------------quote---------------

KSG ISP-213 Post-Cold War Security: Terrorism, Security, and Failed States
Faculty: Richard Clarke; Rand Beers Semester Spring
Course Credit: 1.0


Day Time Room
1st Day 2\4
Meet Time W 4:10 - 6:00 Starr

Review

Description
Between them Rand Beers and Richard Clarke spent over 20 years in the White House on the National Security Council and over 60 years in national security departments and agencies. They helped to shape the transition from Cold War security issues to the challenges of terrorism, international crime, and failed states. This course is more than a retrospective on that transition, it focuses also on continuing institutional and analytical problems facing governments addressing these security issues today. Case studies will include Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Iraq, Colombia, and Afghanistan. Challenges of counter-terrorism and homeland security will also be addressed.
Permission of the Instructor required for non-KSG students.

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

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 21, 2004 08:37 PM

____


Howard!

//That said, there's nothing to argue about: you've made no argument in the first place. You'd like us to believe that Al Qaeda offers precisely the same kind of threat to what i'll loosely call the western order that the Nazis did; you're simply wrong.//

I simply never made any such comparison in the first place. I was merely juxtaposing Churchill's ability to discern when he was faced with an enemy, and all that that implies, vs. Mito's inability to do the same.

//There is no chance of Al Qaeda "winning." There isn't suddenly going to be a great uprising to restore fundamentalist Islam.//

And the French thought the Maginot line was impenetrable. But I digress.

The appropriate response to this is: so what? You're confusing ends with means. Winning isn't the end, it's the means. The end is self-preservation. Just because Al Queda can't win doesn't mean that we can't lose--- "big time."

:jackson

Posted by: jackson zed on March 21, 2004 08:50 PM

____

Patrick,

Richard Clark was 'demoted' in that his _entire function_ -- conuterterrorism -- was reduced in status from cabinet leveal agancy to staff function. He remained the head of the function, and thus, senio antiterrorism person in the administration. It's just that, y'know, anti T wasn't all that important for GWB and the gang.

Posted by: John Casey on March 21, 2004 09:36 PM

____

Er, Patrick. Rand Beers also worked for Bush at the time of Clarke's confrontation, and also bailed out later because he thought the Bushites were insufficiently serious about dealing with the real threats.

As for Clarke not being "gung-ho" about dealing with terorism: several Bush officials told Michael Elliott for his "Time" article back in August 2002 that Clarke had indeed presented a very forceful plan to "roll back" Al Qaida - just as he says -- in January 2001. (Read the article, dammit.) One "senior Bush Administration official" said that it was a carbon copy of "everything we've done since 9-11." And the Washington Post has now been told by TWO Bush aides that they eyewitnessed Clarke's confrontation with Bush, as reported to CBS by only one such aide earlier ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13607-2004Mar21.html ). They also said that Condoleeza Rice witnessed it. The ship is no longer airtight, and there are signs that the rats are starting to bail out.

Why oh why are you governed by such idiotic stubbornness, Patrick? You're far more frantic to defend that nitwit Bush than I am to defend Kerry.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 21, 2004 09:57 PM

____

This just in: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the head of Hamas, has been killed by an Israeli rocket. There will now be a short pause while we all attempt to contain our grief.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 21, 2004 10:00 PM

____

Mito: You still have not said why we should regard al-Qaeda as a legitimate entity to negotiate with. They are not a national state as Israel or Egypt or Jordan. Are you saying that all terrorists are legitimate?

I am amazed that you would say: “The CIA installed the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, and Israel was made by the US and Britain over the objections of the Palestinians” as you have no basis in fact for such an assertion. For example Jordan is a Hashemite monarchy, so you would have to believe that the CIA installed Abdullah as the king of Jordan in 1948. Or do you believe the CIA assassinated Abdullah which would be strange because the assassin also tried to kill his grandson Prince Hussein who ascended to the throne three years later. I don’t understand your reasoning at all.


Posted by: A. Zarkov on March 21, 2004 10:21 PM

____

Judging from her Post op-ed piece, ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13881-2004Mar21.html ), Condoleeza Rice could give the cuttlefish lessons in protective coloration.

It's obviously an attempt to call Clarke a liar, but she never actually names him ("Some have said...") She makes no mention of whether or not his confrontation with Bush (which Hadley denied, but which has now been confirmed by two Bush aides who say she was also present) occurred. And now compare her description of Clarke's early 2001 anti-Al Qaida plan with the description of it in Michael Elliott's "Time" article:

Rice: "In response to my request for a presidential initiative, the counterterrorism team, which we had held over from the Clinton administration, suggested several ideas, some of which had been around since 1998 but had not been adopted. No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration...

"We judged that the collection of ideas presented to us were insufficient for the strategy President Bush sought. The president wanted more than a laundry list of ideas simply to contain al Qaeda or 'roll back' the threat. Once in office, we quickly began crafting a comprehensive new strategy to 'eliminate' the al Qaeda network. The president wanted more than occasional, retaliatory cruise missile strikes. He told me he was 'tired of swatting flies.'

"Through the spring and summer of 2001, the national security team developed a strategy to eliminate al Qaeda -- which was expected to take years. Our strategy marshaled all elements of national power to take down the network, not just respond to individual attacks with law enforcement measures. Our plan called for military options to attack al Qaeda and Taliban leadership, ground forces and other targets -- taking the fight to the enemy where he lived. It focused on the crucial link between al Qaeda and the Taliban. We would attempt to compel the Taliban to stop giving al Qaeda sanctuary -- and if it refused, we would have sufficient military options to remove the Taliban regime."

Elliott: "Berger had left the room by the time Clarke, using a Powerpoint presentation, outlined his thinking to Rice. A senior Bush Administration official [Rice, I presume -- Moomaw] denies being handed a formal plan to take the offensive against al-Qaeda, and says Clarke's materials merely dealt with whether the new Administration should take 'a more active approach' to the terrorist group. (Rice declined to comment, but through a spokeswoman said she recalled no briefing at which Berger was present.) Other senior officials from both the Clinton and Bush administrations, however, say that Clarke had a set of proposals to 'roll back' al-Qaeda. In fact, the heading on Slide 14 of the Powerpoint presentation reads, 'Response to al Qaeda: Roll back.' Clarke's proposals called for the 'breakup' of al-Qaeda cells and the arrest of their personnel. The financial support for its terrorist activities would be systematically attacked, its assets frozen, its funding from fake charities stopped. Nations where al-Qaeda was causing trouble-Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Yemen-would be given aid to fight the terrorists. Most important, Clarke wanted to see a dramatic increase in covert action in Afghanistan to 'eliminate the sanctuary' where al-Qaeda had its terrorist training camps and bin Laden was being protected by the radical Islamic Taliban regime. The Taliban had come to power in 1996, bringing a sort of order to a nation that had been riven by bloody feuds between ethnic warlords since the Soviets had pulled out. Clarke supported a substantial increase in American support for the Northern Alliance, the last remaining resistance to the Taliban. That way, terrorists graduating from the training camps would have been forced to stay in Afghanistan, fighting (and dying) for the Taliban on the front lines. At the same time, the U.S. military would start planning for air strikes on the camps and for the introduction of special-operations forces into Afghanistan. The plan was estimated to cost 'several hundreds of millions of dollars.' In the words of a senior Bush Administration official, the proposals amounted to 'everything we've done since 9/11.' "

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 21, 2004 10:29 PM

____

"I am amazed that you would say: “The CIA installed the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, and Israel was made by the US and Britain over the objections of the Palestinians” as you have no basis in fact for such an assertion. For example Jordan is a Hashemite monarchy, so you would have to believe that the CIA installed Abdullah as the king of Jordan in 1948. Or do you believe the CIA assassinated Abdullah which would be strange because the assassin also tried to kill his grandson Prince Hussein who ascended to the throne three years later. I don’t understand your reasoning at all."

Bad grammar, I meant that Jordan and Israel were formed by the US and Britain:

http://www.cpa.org.au/garchive/941huss.htm

"At the 1918 Paris Peace Conference the imperialist powers outmanoeuvred the
Arabs: large chunks of the former Ottoman Empire were awarded not to
"Arabia" but to Britain and France as League Of Nations "mandates". One of
Britain's mandates covered the area later known as Palestine and Jordan."

The governments throughout this area were set up by the west, not by any democratic input. What right did they have to do this, and why are they any more legitimate than those who were left out of the process?

Using the word legitimate is just a way to exclude them from the process which is often far from democratic anyway. Were the IRA legitimate when they were fighting for uniting their own country? Were the Americans legitimate when they threw Britain out and declared independance?

Were the American Indians legitimate for fighting the white man taking their country? Are the Chechnyans legitimate for wanting to secede from Russia? Where the people who resisted Pinochet and Somoza legitimate?

The fact is Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordon, etc have no intention of electing a democratic government and the US doesn't want them to. The main fear is religious hard liners will take over and deny oil to the West so we prefer to deal with corrupt dictatorships that give little to their people. Not unnaturally some of the poorer people don't like that state of affairs and since they consider it is their country (as much as the Americans did against the British) they want to fight for it.

Only understanding the roots of the problem will solve it. Maybe for example if more was distributed to the poor in those areas the motivation for change would go away. You can be sure Bush won't be doing any policies that go down that road so the only policy being tried is trying to crush terrorism and call it illegitimate. Historically it doesn't fix the problem, with luck it may give security.

If Al Qaeda were angry enough they could destroy the US.

Posted by: Mito on March 21, 2004 10:58 PM

____

"I simply never made any such comparison in the first place. I was merely juxtaposing Churchill's ability to discern when he was faced with an enemy, and all that that implies, vs. Mito's inability to do the same."

Just like there are two political systems there are two world views. Typically the left tries to resolve conflicts by sharing with the poorer and disadvantaged. For example in the US the American Indians get enough to make them reasonably happy. If they got nothing at all, no land, nothing, they might well be blowing things up.

When you have a group in a society that has a grievance, legitimate or not, you can either defend yourself against them, or negotiate a deal with them, or a combination of the two. If you look at societies that have terrorists you usually have the rich controlling a large percentage of the resources and an unhappy poor group.

It may well be that people keep trying to paint Al Qaeda as madmen impossible to negotiate with (even though no ones knows if this is true) because they want to continue to prop up Middle East dictatorships and inequality. This is not the Democrat way however, and Democrats need to have a view of the world'd problems that is not just Bush Lite or an extended Monroe Doctrine.

The problem has to be solved. It's quite conceivable suitcase nukes and e-bombs could be used eventually and for all we know their real demands may be acceptable.

Posted by: Mito on March 21, 2004 11:18 PM

____

Hmm. Lemme see. I get bitchslapped for suggesting that "the ends justify the means" applies equally to Dems as Republicans... and that I'm a raving loonie [Zizka] for pointing to a tax policy that allows the tyranny of the majority to take as much money from someone to give to another because it is for a good cause. So how much can you take under this argument? Enough to finish the job? Or enough so you don't quite lose office, start a riot, or have people (business?) move out of the state or country?

I thought it was quite reasonable to suggest that if we put our minds together we might find a better way that satisfies both Republicans and Democrats.

But bitchslapping seems to be a recreational sport around here -- on both sides.

Posted by: sbw on March 22, 2004 04:40 AM

____

sbw, when you start undercutting the whole premise of representative democracy by using loaded right-wing terms like "a tax policy that allows the tyranny of the majority to take as much money from someone to give to another because it is for a good cause," you're not just looking for how we can all work together.

Jackson, when you use analogies like Churchill and the Maginot Line, you'll have to forgive the reader for assuming that they are, in your mind, analogous and taking you at your word.

Posted by: howard on March 22, 2004 08:02 AM

____

SBW, collecting taxes from people is universal government behavior, and all government spending benefits some people more than others, so you are always going to end up taking one person's money some of the time and spending it to help a different person. For you, it's a basic truth that this is wrong (with the result that government souldn't do anything at all), so to you anti-poverty programs are wrong and comparable to the various other "end-justifies-the-means" crimes of human history. But very few share your theory of government or non-government, so your use of the TEJTM phrase seems ludicrous. Usually TEJTM is used in the cases of brutal criminal acts that cause lots of suffering.

As for the slippery-slope question, "How much is too much?", well, almost all practical activity depends in part in making decisions about where on the slippery-slope you will stop. I don't think that your level of indignationwas ever justified by any poverty program in the US, granted that some of them were worthy of criticism.

Sometimes compromise solutions are the way to go, when both sides are partly right, where neither side is able to win, or where the issue isn't really very important. But politics proceeds by conflicts and decisions, and sometimes you just want one side to win and the other to lose.

It's common enough in American political talk to treat all substantive disagreements as meaningless, like playground disputes between children, but they very seldom are.
At the present moment the usual Democratic-Republican disputes have been intensified by the takeover of the Republican party by its far-right faction.

Posted by: Zizka on March 22, 2004 08:11 AM

____

howard, try: "a tax policy that allows the [delete: tyranny of the] majority to take as much money from someone to give to another because it is for a good cause,"

There isn't a sensible way to know how much is "fair" to take. How can I phrase this to make it accessible to you?

Posted by: sbw on March 22, 2004 08:15 AM

____

Since the United States is in danger of being taken over by religious hard liners, the pending elections should be cancelled.

Posted by: Eli Rabett on March 22, 2004 08:43 AM

____

"Since the United States is in danger of being taken over by religious hard liners, the pending elections should be cancelled."

Didn't the supreme court cancel the last one and award it to Bush? Let's not get in the habit of doing things like that.

Posted by: Mito on March 22, 2004 08:55 AM

____

sbw, there already is an answer to your question: it's called representative democracy.

I believe in simple, progressive taxation (meaning, for instance, that i think the reagan '86 tax bill was a very good idea). You undoubtedly believe something different.

We are both entitled to try and bring about the election of people who agree with us, and they are empowered to debate and discuss and resolve american tax policy.

that strikes me as a pretty fair system that has worked pretty well for 225 years or so (yes, i know that income taxes only showed up in the 20th century; i'm referencing the overall system).

Posted by: howard on March 22, 2004 11:48 AM

____

howard: " believe in simple, progressive taxation". Yeah. I used to, also. Now. Since the politicians on all sides fan it into class warfare, I've changed my mind to think that since the benefit of society is the transaction, every transaction ought to be taxed. More transactions & greater amount means the rich pay more. Then you've got a set level and fixed pool to allocate through representative democracy. If representatives decide there is enough in the pool to rebate to lower incomes, do it by all means.

I'll apologize for leaning portions of this thread away from Mr. Clarke. I'll renew the discussion at a later, more relevant thread. Thanks all for your insights. I keep on learning.

Posted by: sbw on March 22, 2004 12:07 PM

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