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Sunday, September 13, 2015

9/11: From Osama to Obama, The Defeat of the West? (Part 2)

Sorry for the delay in posting part 2. I tossed two earlier versions of this post as they had become too long and tried to encapsulate too much. Let me, mostly, concentrate on how the seeds of the West's defeat were fertilized during the years since 9/11/2001. While trying to restrict the time frame, I, however, do have to note that the ground for the defeat was prepared over many years especially with the progressive take-over of the universities, the education business, in general, the law profession, ever-growing government bureaucracies, and, of course, the media, to include Hollywood. I would note, in particular, that the pernicious doctrine of "cultural relativism" did much to sap the West's will to defend itself: We have, the Wise Ones tell us, no basis for judging whether one culture is better than another.

Under the current calamity we have in the White House, the process of defeat was greatly accelerated and even celebrated. In fairness, however, we must note that even under Bush, whom I generally admired as a competent war leader, actions were taken to undermine the effectiveness of our efforts. While I think Bush--and certainly Cheney--understood the battle that commenced on 9/11 as part of the long war, the administration let itself get mau-maued by the purveyors of political correctness. One of the tragic errors made early in this latest battle was the promotion of the nonsense that we all should go about our lives as normal. Shopping, it was proclaimed, was a patriotic duty! If you don't shop the terrorists have won! This helped undermine, in my view, the seriousness of the message delivered by 9/11.

An even greater mistake, a colossal one, in fact, was the administration's line that this was not a war against Islam, because "Islam means peace," apparently a confusion generated by the word "Islam" sounding similar to Salam (Peace). The terrorists, we have been repeatedly told, are not "real" Muslims: "real" Muslims follow the Religion of Peace. Salam, however, has nothing to do with Islam, which, in fact, means "submission." I remember, for example, just days after the attack receiving a telegram from State sent to all embassies asking for suggestions on how best to drive home that we were not at war with Islam. With the smoke still rising from the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a grassy field in Pennsylvania, Secretary Powell visited Washington DC's massive Saudi-financed Islamic Center to assure Muslims that we meant them no harm--and I won't get into the effort to let the Saudis off the hook for 9/11. This would have been the loose equivalent of, say, having had Secretary Hull visit Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, December 8, 1941, to stress that we were not really at war with Japan because "real" Shintoists would not have attacked Pearl Harbor. I saw, by the way, the same behavior by the British Ambassador in Indonesia in the wake of the outrageous 7/7/2005 bus bombing in London; he fell all over himself explaining that Britons did not blame Islam for the massacre.

Once we went to war, the splendid US and allied militaries did what Western militaries know how to do better than anybody else on the planet: conduct a complex, highly technical, lethal, and effective campaign that soon had AQ and the Taliban dead, running, or hiding.

It all quickly went downhill from there.

Let me turn for a moment to Iraq. Was the take-down of Saddam justified? I thought so at the time and continue to think that Saddam was a dangerous monster who had in the past used WMD, and had sought a nuclear capability (remember Project Babylon and Gerald Bull?) Nearly ALL the intel from many intel services indicated that Saddam had not given up his nuclear ambitions. Saddam had links to AQ and was a financial enabler of Palestinian terrorism. He was a destabilizing force in the region. He had to go. His regime soon found out what it was like to get on the wrong end of the world's only true military superpower.

The Iraq invasion, despite the last-minute betrayal by Turkey, was brilliantly executed. The problems began when the progressive dominated bureaucracy--and government is a major redoubt for progressives regardless of who's in the White House--began with nation building. Once again we got into the business of exporting parliamentary democracy and, as in Afghanistan, ignored the history of the country we had just invaded. In the name of women's education and empowering networks of non-governmental organizations, etc., we began breaking things we should not have broken. If you break old institutions and practices, you better have something real strong and real fast to replace them. We didn't. We did not intend to occupy the place for decades as we did in, say, Japan. No.  We took the top off the pressure cooker, and were surprised when the thing exploded.

Then came the ultimate act of progressive madness. Will deal with that in the next episode of The Defeat of The West.

40 comments:

  1. as bad as saddam was to his own people, he posed no direct threat to the u.s. we should not have invaded. we did, and once we defeated saddam we should not have demonized the bulk of the iraqi army, the only viable institution in that miserable nation. we ran roughshod, were totally unprepared for the responsibility of occupation and created the insurgency, that we ultimately defeated. fast forward and obama threw it all away, leaving us worse off. afghanistan was fine as long as we had defeated the taliban, but nation building was the ultimate exercise in stupid arrogance. clinton tried to rinse and repeat in libya, almost (but thankfully not) in egypt. syria is a similar tale of a brute running a country composed of brutes in a brutal neighborhood. obama's pandering/dithering, clinton's meddling and others' incompetence/posturing puts us now facing a soft (just for the time being) invasion of the west. with its standard bearer obama in the lead, the progressive, leftist elite has marched merrily on, mouthing poisonous drivel about the peace dividend, the end of history, cultural relativity, western guilt, etc. bush2 gave us obama who will likely give us either clinton or trump. is this how it goes? stop this bus, pull over and let me off, please. i am better off walking on my own.

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    1. easy to say this 'now'... if there'd been another attack on US soil and Saddam hadn't been removed, everybody and their mother would've blamed Bush for leaving the problem to fester. It's hard to recall what the state was prior to invasion... containment.. no-fly zones... such a huge distraction.

      - reader #1482

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    2. i beg to differ. saddam was never behind 9/11. he was simply a target of opportunity.

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  2. I agree with the impact the messaging about go out shop had but I don't think it came about nefariously. Glenn Reynolds was one of the early bloggers who pushed that line at the time because the fear was people would stay home to avoid the followup attacks that were sure to come. And for a while there with the anthrax mailings it wasn't that unreasonable a fear. We were just coming out of the tech crash and people were afraid what would happen to the economy due to the attack. I doubt Instapundit or anyone else realized that it would set the tone for the next 14 years.

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  3. A couple of points: Turkey did stab us in the back on the invasion of Iraq but they were put up to it by France. That is something to remember about our allies.

    More important is should we have invaded Iraq. The sanctions regime was breaking down (Oil for Food, France again) so something had to be done. The status quo in the Middle East was, and is, unacceptable, and we needed to shake things up. Unfortunately, we invaded Iraq because we could make the best legal for it based on UN resolutions. Looking at the legal case is a lousy way to make military decisions. Iran would have been a better choice and Saudi Arabia may be the real source of the problem.

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  4. Islam brings hope and comfort to millions of people in my country, and to more than a billion people worldwide. Ramadan is also an occasion to remember that Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefited mankind. Islam is a faith that brings comfort to people. It inspires them to lead lives based on honesty, and justice, and compassion. Islam is a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. It's a faith that has made brothers and sisters of every race. It's a faith based upon love, not hate. Mohammad's word has guided billions of believers across the centuries, and those believers built a culture of learning and literature and science. All the world continues to benefit from this faith and its achievements. The Islam that we know is a faith devoted to the worship of one God, as revealed through The Holy Qur'an. It teaches the value and the importance of charity, mercy, and peace. - George W. Bush !!!

    http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/infocus/ramadan/islam.html

    This is the very basis, the very foundation, upon which Bush built his "foreign/military policy", unmitigated insanity.

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    1. a propagandist's assertion that has massively failed to subvert a religion.... imo

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  5. Just my 2¢ but I'm of the opinion Diplomad Sir (and fellow - what's it up to these days, fourteen or so regular readers?) anyway splitting the posts up I'm figuring was the only real option, or 'Workable' at any rate.

    Couple - and minor ... very minor quibbles - eg "Nearly ALL the intel"?

    Now I ain't gonna put on a very public blog what Team Hillary [TH] very evidently did meaning - obviously Dip's site has a sitemeter and as Dip was State all my money'd be on while whoever took the stamps off the TH stuff will very likely avoid even a Petraeus Sort-of-Thing - "Most people" are not gonna be that fortunate.

    First minor quibble is with including the word "Nearly" - sure there were a few persons put in some reports "it is doubtful" - but "doubtful" is kinda like holding a pair of deuces, the pot has been raised and it's my/your turn to call.

    (Dip's got my IP so & remember that sitemeter: Anyway I'm on record as saying I opposed taking Saddam out at that particular time but it wasn't anything to do with me believing WMD wasn't there - to clear that out quick my opposition was due to what I've called "The Napoleon/Hitler Particularly Dumb Moves" ie, a simultaneous two-front big-time assault with what looked inevitably to be some period of occupation PLUS an erstwhile/*but not even in name at least publicly ally* sitting smack dab in the middle of the Geography.

    Bear in mind ... at least remember ... Iran and the Taliban were never what we would call cozy. Why a few Americans could just ride ponies into Afghanistan with Northern Alliance types and not have to concern themselves much with what might happen on Afghanistan's western border.

    But open a second front immediately adjacent to the Persian Gulf - which capital just happened to be a Shi'a majority area? Not to mention the Turks and those duplicitous Saudi bastards?)
    ___

    "The Iraq invasion, despite the last-minute betrayal by Turkey, was brilliantly executed."

    On that I'm not sure I consider I have well, precisely speaking a proper quibble ... except for maybe limiting (as possible/prudent) the takeout of critical infrastructure to the immediate vicinity of Tikrit (Saddam's hometown environs) That some/whoeverbody didn't think to consider - in a neighborhood where every nation (except for Israel) had a Sunni headed government - pissing off the Sunnis overly wasn't probably gonna turn out very well.
    ___

    Diplomad's point about "Lets keep shopping" - in my opinion - is probably the most insightful observation I have seen typed and presented on a blog. Of course we all know what everybody says about the 20/20 of hindsight but - at least among our parents (and some Grandparents probably now that I'm remembering here I sit typing to the Internet) ... Yes there were some "unknowable people" who've said as much earlier but, that sort of stuff - at the time - was said/promoted to the status of "airing dirty laundry" and, as far as I'm aware - has never made it onto a blog. Props Diplomad Sir.

    Can any of us who've seen our parent's - Grandparent's - ration stamps for sugar and gasoline imagine how we'd feel if our fore-bearer's Wills were read and each of left the office saying "Jeebers, I owe that much National Debt?

    Maybe I better become a Leftist Democrat."

    ***

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    1. One last thing (which I intended to try to avoid but - while I'm thinking of it Diplomad correctly also notes;

      "I, however, do have to note that the ground for the defeat was prepared over many years especially with the progressive take-over of the universities, the education business, in general, the law profession, ever-growing government bureaucracies ..."

      ___

      My desire/intention being - I want to see more comments/opinions before I place a link to somewhere else. Forgive me please Fellow Readers:

      http://warontherocks.com/2014/09/congress-can-fix-dhs-but-needs-to-fix-itself-first/

      ***

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    2. I've read this repeatedly, and I can't make head or tail of it. Seriously...what's with that third paragraph?

      Does it actually make sense or is it actually the gibberish it appears to be?

      Delete
  6. "Shopping, it was proclaimed, was a patriotic duty!"

    I also thought this was an unforced error but too many have forgotten that the 9/11 attacks were a huge blow to the economy which had just survived the collapse of the "dot com bubble." I also agree that there were fears that the public would "cocoon" and the economy would crash.

    I spent years wondering why Bush chose Bremer over Jay Garner to run Iraq post-invasion. That, to me, was the catastrophic error. Your insights on that question would be welcome.

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    1. I agree with Michael. I remember the fears the economy would collapse from people afraid to leave their homes. Remember the fears of the "next shoe to drop." I was absolutely convinced we'd see the nutters with their AKs in the shopping malls. "Keep Calm and Go Shopping" seemed like sane advice at the time. Only later did it morph into "don't pay attention to what's happening in the world." At least Bush didn't say, "Keep Calm and Watch the Kardashians."

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    2. I was at the Joint Forces Staff College in early 2004 and we had a non-attribution talk from someone in the room when Jay Garner briefed Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz on how he planned to deal with Iraq post-invasion. He layed out ten key concerns (all of which eventually came to pass) and said that the best way to handle them was to preserve the Iraqi Army (aside from some senior leadership) and empower them to maintain stability. Rumsfeld supposedly looked at Wolfowitz and said "what do you think?" "No." "OK, next?" That was the extent of the analysis and consideration on what was clearly the worst mistake of the war/post-war. I supported and still support going into Iraq for reasons others have stated, WMD notwithstanding. Where we failed miserably was in the post war phase, and I lay the blame on Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz for that.

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    3. I should have mentioned the Garner vs. Bremer debate. State, for once, had a much better plan for dealing with post-inaviosn Iraq than did DOD. Powell, however, was not a very good bureaucrat and Rumsfeld out maneuvered him easily, backing Bremer. DOD never really had a plan.

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    4. I recall the whole "go shopping" moment. It was a failure of epic proportions. Bush had the attention of the electorate and much of the world. But trying to fight a war while pretending it wouldn't cost us anything (materially or otherwise) was the high of un-seriousness and folly.

      We are still paying for it.

      I also recall in some of the work I did in the 2004-6 timeframe--there really was no "afterward" plan for Iraq. One of the dumbest things ever to come out of the post-Vietnam era is this idiotic notion of 'exit strategy' as if it were some sort of end in of itself.

      Exit strategy--you go home when you WIN.

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    5. I remember being absolutely furious when I heard that the Iraqi army was being disbanded, and not marched off to begin civil reconstruction work. Has the army just been marched into the desert, fed, amused, and paid them adequately, it would have been far, far better than dropping a huge number of militarily-trained unemployed pissed-off young men into a country awash with weapons.

      To be honest, my fear for Iraq's future began at the televised video of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdaus Square in 2003. The video started with a lone man sledge-hammering the huge base of the statue to almost no effect, then a crowd of Iraqis gathered to tie a string of ropes to the head of the statue to try to pull it down, with poor effect due to breakage of the ropes. Eventually, a US armoured recovery vehicle rolls up, a crew member climbs the crane arm to put a chain around the neck of the statue - and then puts a US flag over the face of the statue before the statue is toppled. It was the demonstration of the lack of cultural understanding of this act of placing the US flag and not the actual use of US power that was the worry; this whole incident was the Iraqi story writ small. Only when the US got militarily involved could Saddam be toppled, and until then the local individuals and groups were completely impotent. The US flag incident showed the US troops were not aware how imperialistic this made them look, and showed they didn't understand the cultural differences between Western Civilisation and Middle-East beliefs and behaviour.

      The higher-ups seemed to think that they would be welcomed like liberators in post-Nazi France and Belgium, with the fanciful notion that spontaneous Western-style democracy would break out in a domino fashion across the region. They were unable to empathise with the Middle Eastern philosophy, culture and norms of thought and kept seeing everything from a western civilisation point of view and kept assuming that everyone else had the same ideas and goals. Alas it was not to be and left a power vacuum in a country awash with unemployed militarily trained men with access to arms and angry at the infidel USA.

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    6. could've been there.. but instead of swamping the country with 10x the required soldiers, 10x the required rebuild funding, and 10x the general 'giving a crap', we short-budgeted everything we did there.... and that gave Obama the opportunity to convert a success into a defeat.

      - reader #1482

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  7. The Afghan takedown of the Taliban was designed to leave a small force in-country to overwhelm whatever unfriendly successor government arose. That was wise policy but was changed when Obama came to office with a plan to waste American military power for no good reason.

    Two options arose for post-invasion of Iraq. One was bust the Baarth Party and let a new strong man emerge to rebuild it the Iraqi Way but with a residual force as a trip wire for the new team and for Iran. I think Cheney was the principal advocate. State wanted the nation building role - the "You break it, you fix it" rule from Powell. The latter won out.

    I hope part 3 covers the internal Copperheads on the Democrat Party, those who jumped at the chance for political gain from national troubles, especially those who didn't let truth, honesty, consistency, or morals stand in their pursuit of power.

    There were some delicious moments of stupidity and lack of self-awareness - like when Senator Barbs Boxer, in one hearing, both decried the imperialist efforts of Bush while demanding that we push for female equality in Afghanistan.

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  8. "Was the take-down of Saddam justified?" If by that you mean the invasion of Iraq, the killing of people by the hundreds of thousands, and the turning of it into the present charnel house, evidently the answer is "no". Your own justification seems to me to combine non sequiturs with error. I am particularly dismayed by your deployment of the journalistic piffle-noun "links". " Saddam had links to AQ" indeed. What the devil does that mean?

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    1. If you don't mind Diplomad Sir?

      ***

      Let us Dearieme review exactly how Diplomad put it?

      "Let me turn for a moment to Iraq. Was the take-down of Saddam justified? I thought so at the time and continue to think that Saddam was a dangerous monster who had in the past used WMD, and had sought a nuclear capability (remember Project Babylon and Gerald Bull?) Nearly ALL the intel from many intel services indicated that Saddam had not given up his nuclear ambitions. Saddam had links to AQ and was a financial enabler of Palestinian terrorism. He was a destabilizing force in the region. He had to go. ... "
      ___

      Recall Dearieme at the end of 41's tenure - indeed even at the very end of the first ending of kicking Saddam's ass out of Kuwait the hue and cry "Why not do it all the way?"

      The simplistic answer - but hindsight being 20/20 I think maybe even you Dearieme would agree[?] was HW in his formative years was (and I go with my own Dad's being a Navy WWII vet ... and some more) but anyway, it wasn't just GW and his Neo-Cons wot dunnit - "Regime Change in Iraq" was first enunciated by The Clinton Administration. You do recall when the "No-Fly-Zone over Iraq" really really got teeth? (Not just "warning bursts" but actual shoot-downs?

      And really Dearieme look at exactly and precisely how Diplomad put it, "Was the take-down of Saddam justified? I thought so at the time ..."

      Well truth be told a whole lotta people (even for Chrissakes Hillary who voted 'Aye' to do just that) thought it "a splendid idea" and actually me too except for my above stated reasons [2 front war, losing a *nominally cooperative ally* etc ... plus the Israelis quietly advising us to "patience look at the long-term." Heck the Israelis even went so far as to what might go south in Syria - admittedly not even the vaunted Mossad foresaw a fruit-vendor in Tunisia lighting both himself off and with his self-immolation the so-called Arab Spring] but suffice to reiterate Diplomad you should carefully note did not type

      'Was the take-down of Saddam justified? Yes indeedy do' rather Diplomad typed "Was the take-down of Saddam justified? I thought so at the time ..."

      You very very likely have no clue Dearieme but, coming from a former dot gov guy (and especially State) that is a pretty Trigger Warning! goddam ballsy thing to put on a blog that's got the author's actual name featured prominently on the site.

      So you Dearieme some few words later saying, "Your own justification ..." makes it appear to me you either did not pay the self-acknowledged former dot gov guy his well-earned attention or worse, you're purposefully slandering.

      "I am particularly dismayed by ..." et cetera ... pisses me off too.

      ***

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  9. Very informative, keep posting such good articles, it really helps to know about things.

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  10. Oh Dearieme, not "hundreds of thousands of people." Iraq Body Count.org, last time I checked, put the total death toll in Iraq at right around one hundred thousand, which included people killed by the various Iraqi gangs in the ensuing Iraqi civil war. The Iraqi Ministry of Health put the number quite a bit lower. When we consider that Saddam killed about a hundred thousand in the years before we invaded, it's entirely conceivable that the number of lives saved was greater than those killed, by all elements.

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    1. "people killed by the various Iraqi gangs in the ensuing Iraqi civil war": that's a war unleashed by W's folly, though, isn't it?

      Look at the state of the bloody place: if that's your idea of success, God save the USA.

      Delete
    2. The folly was with Obama who abandoned the gains made by the US in stabilizing the country. I think the template for Iraq can be found in South Korea, another war-torn country that with US support and oversight, brought itself to prosperity and a reasonably civil political system.

      Iraq could have become another South Korea if Obama and the Democrat Party hadn't screwed it up.

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    3. Whitehall, you forget that South Korea is a peninsula, whereas Iraq is open to several other countries (notably Iran).

      Further, Korea has a large Christian presence (with lots of Presbyterians of an Evangelical stripe, like our own Dr. Witherspoon and a section of British opinion that preferred accommodation with the Colonies back in the 1770's) and not much of a Muslim one.

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  11. One of my favorite lefty quotes: "You can't impose democracy at the end of the barrel of a gun."
    Many will refer to the US rebellion against England as supposed 'evidence' that a violent overthrow must be homegrown.
    They've gotten their wishes:
    Syria

    - reader #1482

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  12. Normally I am in agreement with you but I do not agree with your assessment of the necessity of removing Saddam. Was he a monster" Undoubtedly. Was he a destabilizing influence? To a degree but if we wanted to remove the destabilizing influences in the ME we may have as well have started with Iran, Assad, (as obama seems to be doing) the Saudis, (who have funded to growth of fundamentalist islam around the world) ... and for good measure let's throw in the "palestinian" leadership. Saddam was not, by any stretch of the imagination, at the time of 9/11, a clear and present danger to the US or anyone else ,save his own people. As for his WMD's and his nuclear attempts, they were far from any danger to us. Legally he had used WMD's but they were not the WMD's the general pubic fears, nuclear weapons.

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    1. All good points. I think, however, when you're running a foreign policy you deal with the problems you can deal with. Knocking off the Iranian regime would have been great but a monumental task. You deal with one enemy at a time. Should we have gone to war against USSR during WWII? Probably not.

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    2. Diplomad's gonna surely be surprised at *** (there are a few Diplomads of course who, though I never address by name [even tho it's on the sidebar] Whitewall, James (recall we ... had a conversation concerning Israel possibly doing *something with/to/against Iran back in 10-13 [ heck at that time even Kepha seemed to get along with my opinions ... anyway I only "sign these days *** " simply because I'm so chickenshit - Dearieme notwithstanding.
      ____

      However our host Diplomad makes about the most pertinent point us Military (and whatever category Dearieme you should be catalogued into) Types right here September 14, 2015 at 3:07 PM.

      Money Sentence:

      "I think, however, when you're running a foreign policy you deal with the problems you can deal with."

      Thank the Powers that Be/Were all I had to do was blow shit to smithereens.

      Yes I find myself frequently disagreeing with Diplomad but the job-descriptions I am constantly aware were different.

      I never wanted to say on an actual blog what I probably have said in emails - but given some of what has been asserted earlier I'm pretty much, outta options.

      The Military shit is ... relatively speaking ... kinda easy. The Voter shit well, it kinda depends.

      But what Diplomad says in his second period at the aforementioned timestamp I certainly give all credit to.

      ***

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  13. Normally I am in agreement with you but I do not agree with your assessment of the necessity of removing Saddam. Was he a monster" Undoubtedly. Was he a destabilizing influence? To a degree but if we wanted to remove the destabilizing influences in the ME we may have as well have started with Iran, Assad, (as obama seems to be doing) the Saudis, (who have funded to growth of fundamentalist islam around the world) ... and for good measure let's throw in the "palestinian" leadership. Saddam was not, by any stretch of the imagination, at the time of 9/11, a clear and present danger to the US or anyone else ,save his own people. As for his WMD's and his nuclear attempts, they were far from any danger to us. Legally he had used WMD's but they were not the WMD's the general pubic fears, nuclear weapons.

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  14. "when you're running a foreign policy you deal with the problems you can deal with": but why was Saddam seen as the USA's problem at all? And why drag down a man (a murderous thug, admittedly) who might have been a useful constraint on Iran? The example of the USSR is surely useful: alliance with the USSR was accepted as a way of bringing down Hitler.

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    1. Well Dearieme - in a way I can see me totally agreeing with you Saddam wasn't the fellow we should've set our resources against - better choice probably woulda been Mohammed Bouazizi.

      But then there's that 20/20 hindsight again.

      ***

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    2. It might be hindsight in your case; it wasn't in mine. I thought the Iraq adventure the height of stupidity and recklessness. I was right too.

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  15. I agree that the "Islam is a religion of peace" meme was totally foolish. I agree that Soddy Barbaria got off too easily, especially when that sh***y princeling wanted Mayor Giuliani to blame the JOOOOOOOOOZ. That should've raised lots of red flags about where the land of sacred sand stands.

    I even agree that Sodom Insane was a menace--although the time to bring him down was during the First Gulf War.

    However, I agree that we should never have made the war on terror into a war on Islam per se (even if I recognize SERIOUS problems in Islamic theology). Also, I believe that successive administrations have reacted stupidly to the ferment in the Islamic world ever since 1979.

    Islam is a wide and diverse phenom--o, you know the mantra. But not everyone from Mauretania to Mindanao, the Kama to the Comoros, and Northern Nigeria to Ningxia thinks the same. I'm sure that there are plenty of Muslims who grumbled, "Who says Osama Bin Ladin is Caliph? Who is he to declare Jihad against people who are at peace with us?" And I'm also sure that our anointed talking heads have no business speaking for such people. But be assured that I say this as a pre-modern Christian who holds no candle for Islam at all--although I would consider it a disgrace to have to remonstrate with some Muslim-majority country because it won't recognize SSM.

    Frankly, I think we went into mindless panic mode when Khomeini did his end run around the odds-on favorites in the Tudeh when the Shah fell. We screamed about "fundamentalism" as if there were a secret tunnel connecting Lynchburg, VA to Qom, Iran, where every Thanksgiving the combined faculties of Liberty U and Qom met to dine on live-stewed liberated lesbians while the cackling shade of Meir Kahane intoned a B'rokhes. Seriously, as a practicing Christian with Jewish ancestors and Daoist kin, what I saw in our Leftist MSM and even gummint circles after 1979 made me think of some Renaissance-era European community thinking there were witches flying through the air.

    What I saw when being trained on Southeast Asia before going to Bangkok (including Islamist ferment in the Island countries) and read from INR while in China convinced me that the best brains in Washington were groping and flailing about trying to make sense of what was going on in the Dar-ul-Islam. I heard that Monsoon-region Sufis were wonderful, softy-softy mystics because they diallogued with Quakers (who are nothing but fire-breathing Ranters and Levellers who had unfortunate run-ins with Cromwell's Ironsides)--as if Sufi-inspired rebels hadn't given our boys a run for their money back in 1902 in Mindanao (and other empires similar issues elsewhere). I was assured there was no "fundamentalism" in Chinese Islam because China's Muslims were Sunni rather than Shi'ah, even while our reporting from the field was mentioning a low-level guerrilla war in Sharki Turkistan (colonial name: Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region) and riots over associations of Muslims and pigs among the Hui. I mean, at the time, the Chinese Communist regime was so scared of ANY religious ferment that they sweated bullets when some of their old "foreign friends" of Jewish origin started donning kippehs and attending seders in Old Age. From what I see now, I don't think anything's changed since the '90's and we're still badly served by the chattering classes.

    Our diplomats and policymakers ought to check their prejudices against pre-19th century traditions of discourse; recognize that there are Muslims and Muslims; and choose our fights very carefully; and for the love of Heaven (speaking as one who believes that G_d delivered the Torah to Moses and all Israel on Sinai) PLEEEEEEZE refrain from pretending that the aptly named Foggy Bottom knows Islam better than the 'Ulema at Al-Azhar and Qom!

    BTW Dip, l'shanah tovah!

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  16. The second Gulf War was the completion of unfinished business, it should of been concluded in the first. I don't know who was responsible for that terrible decision to leave him in power, Colin Powell. perhaps someone didn't read their history.

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    1. Bush the First took responsibility in a way by claiming that recovering Kuwait was the extent of his UN mandate. To invade Iraq in turn would be outside the rules he had built his alliance upon.

      The terms of the settlement in the field, such as the use of armed Iraqi helicopters, had significant weaknesses. Maybe Colin Powell had some hand in that.

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    2. Schwarzkopf admitted that he was "snookered" about letting the Iraqis have helicopters--they were thinking transport, not gunships. And then the administration's riling up the Kurds and others to 'rise up" against Saddam and then hanging them out to dry was the height of folly.

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  18. Gmar hatima tova friend, and an aeasy and productive fast I wish for you.
    Thank you for everything you do. It is appreciated.

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