Sunday, October 31, 2004

An Open Letter Back To Lefty

Being a promised response to his open letter

By Mark Connolly
Editor, Dallas Bureau
That small group of relatives and friends that read the Glob Blog have noted with interest the political nature of the blogging going on, and the interesting group of people that stumbled across The Glob and actually came back! And, they even let me post to their blogs and don't erase them or anything!

Even more interesting, and actually invigorating, is the nature of the political debate. It is heated yet mostly courteous. The ones styled as on the left are erudite and more than capable of supporting their arguments. These are Lefty Jones and This We'll Defend, and you can link to their blogs in my blog list yonder.

During these last days before the election, I posted a somewhat whiny comment to one of Lefty's posts. He correctly identified the emotion behind it, and graciously responded with an open letter to me. He then posted specific thoughts regarding the war in Iraq.

I said I would reply, and do so now here in this post. PLEASE NOTE: I have attempted to incorporate a table into this post. For some reason, it doesn't work just right. It's down there somewhere. It is a Point/Counter Point, so, in the spirit of these things, I shall start with "Lefty, you ignorant slut..." (Anyone not old enough to know the Saturday Night Live reference here, please understand, that was a joke. I do not think Lefty is a slut. ;-)

Typos abound. Sorry. Scroll down please. Way down. Keep going... Down down down, to that burning ring of fire...

thoughts are here on, well, the left.
thoughts are here on, the middle of the page. OK, the right side of the table (Nuance, fellas, nuance.)
Bush wants Bin Laden and vows we will get him "Dead or Alive"
I think we can all agree with that

Invasion of Afghanistan- Bush warns that " Bin Laden can run but he can't hide" and "that we will smoke him out of his hole"
I think everyone wanted this to be true.

Bush claims, "you're either with us or you're against us" as a general threat to the countries of the world. As a general threat, or as a general policy shift? This war against an ideology rather than a state requires different tactics. At the time this was said, I agreed. My interpretation was, if you are housing
terrorists, than you are against us, and we are going to do something about it. The problem with that is the very nationalistic/jingoistic mindset that entails. It also limits your diplomatic options, making everything an issue of force.
Fall/Winter of 2002- The build up to war with Iraq no comment beyond, Hussein had options to prevent this, had he only allowed UN inspections to carry on unimpeded. You can't blame Bushfor the fact Saddam miscalculated.
January 2003- Iraq is a clear and present danger according to the administration This issue can and will be talked about for years. Personally, I think Iraq was a clear and present beachhead in a strategic war agains terrorism; the only nation we had any pretense of legal recourse to go in and take over. Yes, I know what I just said. I didn't say I agreed with it. The whole WMD thing was a marketing ploy, to put it plainly.

Yes, I have huge problems with this.

This is not the kind of war we are used to fighting. History will tell if the right decisions were made.
We are warned and shown the locations of the weapons that are known as WMD's and that are a direct threat to our security. I now make the tired and long expressed argument that everyone thought they were there. Intelligence failures to be addressed below.
America Invades Iraq

Occupation begins
No WMD's are found true to date
Bush photo op's onto a plane in flight suit- you know......"Mission Accomplished" and declares the end to major combat. This was, in my opinion, for the troops, not for you and I sitting in our easy chairs. It had the intended effect on the troops. It was misguided, in my opinion. It was certianly premature, but that is easy to say with our new glasses on.
Still looking for weapons. yes
Sadaam Hussein found in hole. yes
Factions of resistance become harder to put down By this time, I more or less expected this. We are seeing why Hussein ran his country the way he did. I'm not saying I agree with it. I'm saying that it is apparently necessary given the socio/politico/religiotico(?) circumstances. By our standards of evaluation, everyone over there is crazy. Hussein ruled with an Iron Fist in an Admantium Glove.

Once his enemies were certain he wasn't coming back, they began their own power plays.

This demonstrates a very fundamental misunderstanding of who we are dealing with over there.
hostages being taken by terrorists/resistance groups Yes. Terror is the primary weapon.
No " 911" link between Iraq and Bin Laden found.

Tenuous links between the group are found at all.
I put these two together as they are contradictory. Tenuous is one word. Potential is another. Limited is another. Few is another. Non-existent is another.
They all modify 'link'. In this situation, there are either links, or there are not. You can't have a 'tenuous' link without having a link.

So, there was a link or two of some sort.
The 'evidence' is contradictory. Enough evidence to go to war? I don't think so. Leastways, not by the usual methods of determing whether to go to war or not. But, see above, I don't think that is why we went.
Intelligence flaws are bandied about, smaller players in the administration admit that our intelligence wasn't as good as it should have been. This is pretty much an accepted fact. This is the result of Clinton's shortsighted administration foreign policy decisions. I make that statement because the decisions of a president that don't clearly focus on 1/3 of his constitutionally defined job (foreign affairs) affects all of us for years to come. Still, it is now an easy target. We can all point and say Bush is an idiot for not having better intelligence before going in.
Terrorism inside Iraq is now flourishing....around 1100 American
soldiers are dead, over 7000 wounded and.....

uncounted numbers....thousand upon thousand of Iraqi's are dead, maimed,
disfigured, charred. Children without hands, legs, parents, homes or a future.
This is a product of going in to Iraq. No doubt.
Among Kerry's more interesting statements about how we are in the wrong war, blah blah, and he would have not gone in, but if he did, blah blah, is the IGNORANT assumption that if you are going to fight terrorists, they will not fight back.

Let's not all be amazed that they are fighting back, OK? I mean really.

The terrorism that is there is not really the issue, is it? Isn't your main point that we should not have gone in when we did, or at all?
Claimed hope that elections will occur after new year.....significant
portion of the country is not under coalition control.
This can still happen. Whatever the war situation is over there, you aren't getting enough relevant information from the media to comment.
Skipping a few statements of accepted fact
Against 225 years of history and precedent we attacked a nation,
and KILLED a lot of people because we believed that this nation posed a
This is an important statement by you. I was concerned about the concept, and stated to friends and family that I felt this was a bad precedent to set. We had never been in the business of regime change in the past. The long term repercussions are unforseeable. The WTC attacks have changed the face of national defense. The rush to war in Iraq I basically opposed. The concept of Hussein giving WMD to terrorists made me think, well, maybe this one time we need to.
The intelligence was wrong at best. We now use the ends to justify the means. This is one way of looking at it. The ends justifying the means. I don't believe the ends justify the means, but historically, a lot of people have died for just that reason.
The intelligence was wrong. We can talk about whose fault that is, and we can talk about Bush's use of what he had available, etc. But the ends don't justify the means. That does not mean the end may not be a favorable outcome to our nation.

It does mean we have blood on our hands.
You're either with us or against us.

You don't support the troops

Sadaam was a bad man, he gassed his own people

It's either over there or it's going to be over here

You have to stay on the offensive in terror

The most offensive thought out there is that if somehow you don't support
this war that you are unpatriotic or a threat to our own country!

Maybe the worst of these comments is,:

Hey...I agree it's a shame that Iraqi's are dying but you know, freedom comes at a cost, it's not free and besides, imagine living how terrible living under Sadaam Hussein was.

I have heard the democrats say that the Republicans say all these things. I don't say them, and none of my friends or associates say them. Bush said it about countries housing terrorists, not about American citizens.

When Kerry says some of the things he says, in his political position, I think it harms the world's perception of the solidarity of our country, and that does affect the war effort.

But, he can say what he wants, this is a free country. I don't have to like him for it. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
--Thomas Jefferson

That is an American viewpoint, and it is assumed that the people yearning for freedom have decided to do something about it.

He never said, "Go ye, and find ye the oppressed and kill ye them to set them free." That's kind of their job, not ours.

I disagree fundamentally with our role in regime change.

Of course the people don't want war.

But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy,
and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a
democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the
leaders. That is easy.

All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the
pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

This is chilling. And used to good effect by you in this context. I'm
adding it to my list of quotes on the side.

I added this, Lefty didn't put it in:

Therefore Vote Kerry.

Not so fast Lefty! See commentary below.

So, some may be thinking "Well, he kind of mostly agrees with Lefty, it appears, so why is he supporting Bush?" Valid question.

This war is something new. We have never before embarked upon a war of preemption on what amounts to an ideology when said ideology was not attached to a specific State. The closest thing would be Communism. Those were state philosophies. We are dealing with a religion that cuts across political boundaries. There is no State to deal with. There is not clear cut leadership to deal with. All the norms for waging war are suspect. All the norms for protecting your citizenry have been called into question.

But we are treating this war like there is a finite enemy to go after (Osama Bin Laden) and one place to go (Afghanistan) and declaring anything else WRONG. Fine. Except Osama Bin Laden is the flavor of the month in Islamic Terrorism.

Why did he order the attacks on the Pentagon, The WTC, and (probably) the White House? *crickets chirping*

What could we have done to prevent someone from hating us for liberating Kuwait? *crickets chirping*

Some would say, our support of Israel is the cause. So, who believes that Islamic Fundamentalists would not try to kill Americans if we walked away from Israel? Or to put it more succinctly, Is There Anyone That Islamic Fundamentalists Are Not Willing To Kill For Their Obscure Causes? *crickets chirping*

To win a war, you have to know the Climate, if you will. The Terrain. The Opponent.

The fundamental and unappreciated fact is that this war does not share the assumed Climate, Terrain, Opponent, etc., of past conflicts in our recent history. Most commentary and debate about this war is coming from the perspective that this is just another war, like any other in the last 100 years.

That flawed assumption renders all of Lefty's points above as suspect in their inception, and probably irrelevant. We are fighting a religious ideology with no recognizable political identity. There is no head of state to address. No one to demand an accounting of. This is a brand new situation to all of us living today.

Kerry does not understand that his basic assumptions are irrelevant. Therefore, all his thought, nuance, careful consideration, etc., are worse than useless. He is preparing to play a football game. But the game is baseball. The rules are different. The field of play is different. Offense and defense are different. And he has failed to recognize that.

Bush does recognize this, in my opinion. He is not perfect, and he has and will make mistakes. Let's all quit pretending that every war, every conflict, every attempt to safeguard our nation has not had monumental blunders in the past. Let's all quit allowing Kerry to basically state "I will never make a mistake. There will be no blunders on my watch. All is forseeable. All can be planned for." So, the big deal now is that 0.06% of the known Iraqi arsenal was looted. So what. Yes, I said So What. Anyone that thinks that all of the ordnance in Iraq was securable while in the process of invading the country and attempting to take it over is not living in the real world. That is the mindest brought into court by trial lawyers, as they sue some company because someone cuts their own hand off with a chain saw. The fantasy world of Edwards, which Kerry apparently subscribes to, is that there is no such thing as a mistake. There is only incompetence, and someone should pay. Preferably someone with a big bank account.

Well, that may play in the courtroom of today here in the USA, where idiots that cut their hands off are treated as victims. But the rest of the world doesn't care.

Bush is in uncharted territory. Iraq is a strategic outpost in that territory. A beachead in the war on terror. The Native American Indians in the war on Terror, if you want to put it that way. Yes, I know what I am saying. It sounds cold blooded.

It's war. But, it's not your grandfather's war, our your dad's or your's. This is new. To us. The rise of the Nation State is relatively new in human history. This type of war, being waged by barely connected groups tied together solely by religious ideology and family ties is centuries and centuries old, and has been waged on local levels for those thousands of years. Modern technology makes it possible to export this formerly ignorable type of war.

Kerry does not understand. Bush does.

I now go into seclusion to write a science fiction story. Everyone go vote. I don't care who you vote for. Just Go Vote.

Afterward, I will not move to France regardless of who wins. I will not wail and gnash my teeth. I will trust in our Constitution, and our People. God Bless America.


Anonymous said...

Excellent. Amen.

Friar Cook said...

Dr. Gene E. Vieth wrote a book recently published by Concordia Publishing (I think it was Concordia), about Islam and its relation to fascism. I have not read the book, but from what I gather from interviews with Vieth, Islam is a religious system predisposed to lean towards fascism with a mix of theocracy. From what I have watched on the news, 9/11 was bound to happen sooner or later. I am unsure how Iraq fit into the picture, but it was a fascist state with a pronounced tilt towards Islam. I don't believe our government understands fully how a religion has become an important part of the spread of terrorism. It is certainly on display with every act murder. The Koran is quoted, and Allah given his props, and then they saw off a head. But what I find strange is they have no real demands. The hooded figure always calls for a smaller nation to withdraw, Poland, the Phillipines, Japan, Korea. I don't recall ever hearing any of these terrorists calling for the U.S. to leave Iraq. I may be wrong though. I do hear them talking about punishing us. I do not think the terrorist groups are afraid of America.

Kat said...

Jason, I think you would have to see the whole context of war as something bigger than direct actions against one opponents "troops" if you will.

by cutting off the heads of people, American or otherwise, with nothing but demands for smaller countries to withdraw, this is a new version of battle field tactics called "divide and conquer". They are hoping to put America alone and cause it some moral dilemna by weakening it's position and showing it as the lone aggressor against the Arabs. Also, with the public outcry of the other countries' citizens and America's they hope to force a dialogue, not between us and them, but amongst ourselves as to the "causes" of this action.

Much like the peace movement in the late 60's. They cannot hope to defeat us militarily. it is not that they are not afraid of us, but rather try to show some "grit" in the face of overwhelming odds. They like their roll as the underdog because it plays well in the Arab world as well. In short, they do not hope to defeat us militarily, but ideologically and they hope they can do it by making us alone in the world and divided amongst ourselves.

That is the face of this war and one area, I'm afraid to say, we haven't totally gotten under control. Propaganda.