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Have You No Shame, Sir?

| 247 Comments

Sometimes I do read things that mainstream liberals write and wonder what the hell I'm doing associating with them.

Over at Think Progress, associate editor Matt Corley has a charming little piece up reflecting the black core at the heart of liberal Bad Philosophy. And it's something that burns me but good, because one reason I chose to become a liberal - or a progressive - or whatever - back in my formative years was that they were the ones who believed in free expression, they believed in the liberating power of debate. Liberals tried to kick down the barriers that conservatives had erected to make sure that 'bad people' had no voice. When the hell did we become the bad guys?

Because Corley is surely one of them. He approvingly cites Richard Clarke (yes, I know he's not a liberal) on Olbermann's show:

CLARKE: Well, there may be some other kind of remedy. There may be some sort of truth and reconciliation commission process that’s been tried in other countries, South Africa, Salvador and what not, where if you come forward and admit that you were in error or admit that you lied, admit that you did something, then you're forgiven. Otherwise, you are censured in some way.

I think he means something like this:


red_shame382w.jpg

Look, it's not (just) that something like this is aimed at me (good luck, fellas!!); it's the notion that somehow one's participation in the political process is conditional on having your thoughts vetted by the Right People.

F**k that.

There's a long and messy conversation to have about Iraq and what it means, what led to it, and where it will lead.

And it's just as fair to point out that people said things that were patently wrong as it is to say that history isn't baked well enough for us to say just yet.

But the notion that some people should be excluded from the political process - that

... we can let these people back into polite society and give them jobs on university boards and corporate boards and just let them pretend that nothing ever happened when there are 4,000 Americans dead and 25,000 Americans grieviously wounded, and they'll carry those wounds and suffer all the rest of their lives.

...is just effing outrageous.

What we need to do, he's saying, is have a hunt to find the people with evil thoughts or judgment. Maybe we can put them on a list and make sure they don't find any work until they have stood on the Mall in Washington with a sign around their neck for a week or so.

Look, it doesn't matter which side of this issue you're on, you should be absolutely as mad as I am about this. Because once we set that style of politics in place - once we 'ban' people until they have passed some kind of smell test, our politics are no better than Zimbabwe's. This isn't a matter of who sits in the big chairs and who in the small, it's not the division of power and spoils that happens every time there is a change in who governs here. It's a call for the exclusion of the people who aren't on top, whose ideas are not popular, who don't pass the test of whatever the Establishment nomenklatura feels at the moment. And so, obviously, we should Photoshop them out of the pictures, and not let them live near the capital. WTF is this, a Martin Cruz Smith novel?

Look argue the points as aggressively as you choose to, call Wolfowitz and Feith names - they're big kids, they can take care of themselves. Argue them down, and drive down their stock as policymakers and public intellectuals if you can.

But when you talk like this, the only thing I can think to ask is "Have you no shame, sir? Have you no shame?"

Because once they've shut them up, they'll come shut me up, and soon you'll be looking over your shoulder as well.

247 Comments

And it's just as fair to point out that people said things that were patently wrong as it is to say that history isn't baked well enough for us to say just yet.

Relying on a future in which the current inhumanties will be justified is just like Stalin and Lenin.

Right, because the US is just like Stalin's Soviet Union.

We have a basement under the Supreme Court building where the convicted are taken and quickly shot...don't we?

A.L.

You really have to wonder at the people that are quick to scream that the current system is facist, terrible, practically Nazi Germany, but who also want to send people to reeducation centers, send thier political opponents to jail, and so forth.

#2 Armed Liberal -

The LOGIC is the same. Too many times thousands or millions have been sacrificed for the future/

Steve, if you think the logic is remotely the same, I genuinely worry about your knowledge of history.

A.L.

#5 Armed Liberal -

The appeal to a better future has been the excuse for many atrocities.

Good on you again, AL.

I suspect they really mean this stuff, although like you, I don't think they intend anything violent. I think that they mean that if people like Donald Rumsfeld or Doug Feith ever want a job at a university, unless and until they've had their confession and self-criticism, they should be protested every day, hounded out of their jobs, etc.

And really, the Left has the power to do that, using the protest machine. It'd be easy to raise the costs of employing a former Bush administration official to a degree that made it unprofitable for a business -- or unpalatable for a university, which might hate the negative publicity, security risk, and disruption of classes -- to employ them.

These protest machine groups, somewhat like the Red Guard, aren't formally part of the government or even the Democratic Party. Party leaders wouldn't even have to take formal responsibility for it: they could just say, "Well, it's a shame but, you know, they really ought to think about the harm they caused, and I guess many people feel they need to get right with America."

If that kind of thing isn't to happen to people, it'll be because good folks refuse to countenance it and call it what it is. I'm glad to see you doing that. It's not what America's system is about.

#3 Celebrim writes "who also want to send people to reeducation centers, send thier political opponents to jail, and so forth."

I think Mark Levin has called for something like that but of course it would only be for people who oppose the Iraq War.

OK, Steve - cite?

A.L.

#9 Armed Liberal -

Sorry, I got that from listening to Levin's radio show and I don't have a transcript. I also recall that he said that people who are anti-war need to be "rolled" - and by that I think he meant beat up.

He's got audio archives - if you remember the date, you could post a link. I'd love to add him to the Savage ship of tools.

Levin - like Olbermann, Coulter, the Air America crowd and Savage - is a clown, not a policymaker. When folks closer to the center of policy say things like this it matters a lot more.

A.L.

#11 Armed Liberal -

I don't write down the dates. I carry a little notebook and write down statements that I find provocative. Let me see if I can place it within the correct week.

PS - I strongly disgree with your characterization of Olbermann and Air America, I strongly AGREE with your position on Savage.

Having popped over to your site, I'm shocked of course that you disagree with me re Olbermann and Air America...

A.L.

AL -

Ok, as best I can tell, Levin said this after Pollack & Hanlon had their op-ed published. It was also after Liberberman had a op-ed in the WSJ.

I know that isn't much to go on but it's the best I can do right now.

Having popped over to your site, I'm shocked of course that you disagree with me re Olbermann and Air America...

:-)

It's sad, isn't it?

Almost tragic, in a way, and I don't mean that lightly. It's not that conservatives-- some conservatives, only, and in varying degrees-- haven't done this, don't do this, won't do this. That's self-evident bullshit.

It's tragic in a way because liberals-- some liberals, only, and in varying degrees-- are becoming like their opponents (I can't bring myself to use the word "enemies" when speaking of two nearly-halves of the American population) and just honestly don't see it. Of course it's not the same, they say. The difference is, they're right. Usually without an inkling of a real, visceral understanding that the impolite discussion we've been having on the ordering of society has been going on at least a thousand years. But, oh no, they're right.

I have a simple word of advice for the culture warriors on both sides, and the ones who think they need it the least usually need it the most: Stop knowing you're right about everything. Stop believing it, too.

Start hoping you're right, and maybe you'll get somewhere.

Is Clarke talking about thoughtcrime or is he talking about amnesty for genuine crimes, even, at least in South Africa, extending to government assassins? The idea is that the powers-that-were fess up in lieu of tumultuous judicial processes.

I'm not sure where, if at all, this fits in with the planning of Iraq, but I can see some prospects for it with respect to criminal abuse of prisoners, criminal embezzlement of "reconstruction" funds, criminal illegal domestic surveillance programs, etc. Of course, if we find that in the pre-9/11 meeting Dick Cheney held with energy company executives, the one where they stiffed Congress on the minutes, there was a Michelin Map of Iraq on the table and Cheney was divvying up the oil fields for future use, we might fold planning the war back into the agenda.

Zimbabwe?

How about Canada, or see a lot of what is here: http://www.thefire.org/

Clarke's right, until these people admit their guilt they should be excluded from jobs, etc. After all, shouldn't being a proven LIAR disqualify anyone from holding a serious job? I think conservatives call it "good business policy".

Because once we set that style of politics in place - once we 'ban' people until they have passed some kind of smell test, our politics are no better than Zimbabwe's.
Yes, indeed. What I always wonder, when people get all excited about this kind of stuff (i.e. skirting close to the criminalization of political disagreement) is, do they want a civil war? How did that work out last time?

I can only hope their clueless (especially about history, as you point out) and not doing this knowingly.

Good on you, AL. You detail all the reasons I am no longer a Liberal or a Democrat. I did not leave them, they left me. A long time ago.

Once we start enforcing speech codes in this country, we are done.

And, I fear we are not far from it.

This "Red Guard" process has already begun in the case of John Yoo vis a vis his "torture memos." Slide on over to Crooked Timber or Balkinization(especially Balkinization!) where they've been foaming at the mouth for weeks about whether he should have been given tenure at UC Berkeley--or even allowed to teach for that matter. Once again, it is a matter of our intellectual and moral "bettors"--those Liberals with "The Vision of the Anointed" (to use Sowell's term) that will use both the power of the State and the intellectual Red Guard to "march us sinners to virtue at bayonet's point" (as one commenter at CT so well stated).

"Scratch a Russian and you'll find a Tarter," so the old saying goes; I've revised it to: "Scratch a 'Progressive' and you'll find a potential Robespierre."

PS: I forgot to mention the call for arrest and trial for War Crimes at both sites for the good Professor Yoo. Those guys don't hesitate to get to the bottom line real quick--but then "consider the source" applies per usual.

Let me beg to differ with you a little AL@#11. The Olbermann's of this world, etc., while not super close to the "centers of power" themselves, certainly can (and often do) insidiously create over time the sort of social atmosphere that allows real power-holders to use the "new reality" thusly created to act out their more Stalinist impulses than otherwise would be the case.

AL, what's your answer to the question posed by Olbermann: "Democrats, prominent Democrats said today that impeachment was not a remedy to this, but can anyone argue with a straight face, post-Lewinsky that these lies, the blood and treasure that they cost us, don’t deserve some kind of remedy. And is there some other kind of remedy?"

It's a fair question surely? This isn't about thought-crime and it certainly isn't about you. It's about serious crimes for which people have in the past been tried and punished. I find it very sad that after one generation of Americans did so much to establish the principles under which those who wage aggressive war can be put in the dock, another generation is reviving the doctrine that might is right.

I think it's a natural consequence of the wholesale adoption of utilitarian ethics by the left. (And in many cases, crude act utilitarianism, at that.) Rights are fundamentally a teleological concept, they have no grounding in utilitarian morality, where the end, and only the end, justifies the means. Efforts to sort of tack them onto rule utilitarianism are an obvious patch job, and not very convincing.

If you're a utilitarian it becomes all too easy to rationalize that any means at all which you think will advance your (Good, of course!) ends are justified. The actual utilitarian calculations to prove the contrary being not even theoretically possible. While a bad end, (Your opponents'.) can't justify any means at all, no matter how innocuous.

It's a recipe for evading all limits on yourself, and stripping your opponents of all liberty.

That's not to say that everyone will follow the recipe, but it's a characteristic hazard of the ethical theory.

Kevin, I think that's called the electoral process, and we're going through it.

To the extent that the GOP and other hawks are defeated at the polls, the public intellectuals, staff, etc. that work for them and support their ideas are going to be out of jobs - naturally, with a clear shot at redemption in the next election if their opponents fail, and if they can make good arguments.

No public hazing required.

A.L.

Further Kevin - we don't put people 'in the dock' for 'waging agressive war'. We put people in the dock for war crimes - murdering POW's, deliberate targeting of civilians, concentration camps. Think the Rape of Nanking or Bataan Death March; think Birkenau or Lidice.

When we commit those - at a policy level, as they were by Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany (and the Soviet Union) - you'll have an argument. We haven't, and you don't.

A.L.

"Because once they've shut them up, they'll come shut me up, and soon you'll be looking over your shoulder as well."

Oh please. Did you commit perjury? Any other crime? Did you lie to the American Public and redirect their tax money on that basis to initiate a disastrous and costly war? Have you stolen contracting money intended for use in Iraq? Approve illegal torture or detention of individuals?

Then you have nothing to worry about.

Kevin's right. This is about the sad state of our society where we allow criminals to walk free among us without recourse. That certainly is not censorship and it is not a slippery slope leading to a cranky blogger.

"Kevin, I think that's called the electoral process, and we're going through it."

Actually, what I think Clarke is talking about is the Judicial process, not the electoral process. You don't try crimes by public polling.

"To the extent that the GOP and other hawks are defeated at the polls, the public intellectuals, staff, etc. that work for them and support their ideas are going to be out of jobs - naturally, with a clear shot at redemption in the next election if their opponents fail, and if they can make good arguments."

So what do you do, what does society do, when this doesn't happen the "free-market" manner you suggest?

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who was forced from his job amid a controversy over the firings of federal prosecutors, has been hired to provide assistance to a special master on a patent case.

Link.

You're essentially defending the "right" of these people to escape from potential crimes by suggesting that some kind of imagined market force of self-censorship will suffice.

I think you forget that we live in a country based on laws that are meaningless unless they are enforced. Unless, that is, you're suggesting that one only needs to abide by the laws they agree with, because to me it seems like in this case you don't.

"I think you forget that we live in a country based on laws that are meaningless unless they are enforced. Unless, that is, you're suggesting that one only needs to abide by the laws they agree with, because to me it seems like in this case you don't."

I think this is not a complaint Democrats are well positioned to make after the Clinton administration.

I think what needs re-examining is the principle of seditious libel. The traditional view is that the Constitution protects people who are wrong on public policy and who even lie in furtherance of it. NYTimes v. Sullivan suggests as much. But seditious libel does have a long common law background and the Supreme Court has never specifically ruled that the Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional.

I would strongly urge President Obama to hire a Constitutional scholar, like John Yoo, with a strong background in antebellum era legal theory to develop these points. I am pretty confident that with strong public support and a good legal strategy, seditious libel could be dusted off for the twenty-first century.

Well, Brett, I'm not a Democrat, but I am a US citizen who wants the government to enforce laws. I don't think that's too much to ask.

But on your point, did Clinton commit potential war crimes, theft of government services and taxpayer dollars, and commit torture or rendition? Did he conspire to lie to the American public, to withhold information collected on our behalf and with our tax dollars? I really don't see the equivalence.

Well, Tyler, the commenters in Michael's Serbia post seem to think that Clinton did. And there's the risk.

Look, it's one thing to be wrong; and to bear the consequences for that. It's another to be criminal. And what I see in your comment, Tyler, is a desire to criminalize error and to criminalize political positions that are unfavored. And to me, that goes directly to the heart of the American project, and I'll speak and work against that - from either side - as hard as I can.

A.L.

AL:

Further Kevin - we don't put people 'in the dock' for 'waging agressive war'. We put people in the dock for war crimes

In fairness, and as a friend and supporter of yours, you should know that unjustified aggression is THE war crime. None of the others compares to it in severity. It is the crime that leads to all the other crimes that happen in the course of the war; as well as the non-criminal destruction that attends the war. We certainly did try the Nazis for it at Nurmberg -- two of the major counts were for planning and waging a war of aggression, and conspiracy to commit "crimes against peace."

The defense, in the case of the Iraq war, is deep: the failure of Saddam to abide by the cease fire that ended the Persian Gulf war; the uptick in murders from 2000 onward by his state apparatus, and the mass murders of the 1990s, which can justify a humanitarian invasion (not considered "aggression" because his state has failed in its basic duty to its citizens by mass-murdering them, and is therefore not a legitimate state protected by the laws of sovereignity); denial of basic human rights, such as freedom from rape rooms; refusal to comply with international agreements; etc., etc., etc. There's no reason to rehash it all.

But it is true that "aggressive war" is a war crime. It is the fundamental war crime.

"And what I see in your comment, Tyler, is a desire to criminalize error and to criminalize political positions that are unfavored."

Wrong. What your post indicates is a desire to forgive potential crimes, partly by raising this baseless accusation of "censorship".

I hope you're aware that "censure" (what Clarke said) does not mean "censor" or "suppress". Could it be that this entire post is nothing more than a rant by someone with a poor vocabulary? That would be rather humorous.

You're also ignoring the comments by Clarke that we should be willing to forgive those who lied if they own up to it, like McClellan has. His tone is actually quite reconciliatory in my view.

Really, you're making this out to be something entirely different than what it is. Let me guess...you're a pro-Iraq war holdout?

AL wrote: we don't put people 'in the dock' for 'waging agressive war'. We put people in the dock for war crimes - murdering POW's, deliberate targeting of civilians, concentration camps.

Grim, thanks for setting AL straight on that. I was about to post a little homily, about how Hjalmar Schacht and Franz Von Papen found themselves in the dock at Nuremberg, when I saw your comment.

As you probably know, the justifications you mention for the Iraq war were considered by Britain's AG, who rejected them. He fell back on the WMD issue. Given what we now know I don't think that would hold up in court. (IANAL however.)

I think what needs re-examining is the principle of seditious libel

Ding ding ding ding. Good going, Shaw.

FWIW, Shaw, the Sedition Act was used to attempt to outlaw political dissent. If you get that revived, you'd better hope your side wins the next election, because there probably won't be one after that. What do you want to do next - revive the tradition of Palmer raids and Comstockery, targeting your political opponents? Better bring some guns, pal.

Bottom line is Jonah Goldberg is right about the totalitarian tendency in 'progressivism'. Like a lot of other ideologies it is susceptible to it, and that side of progressivism is rearing its hydra head. Sorry if I'm getting a little bit snide but I'm unable to forget who has been lecturing us about Bush destroying the constitution for the last 8 years, and hearing the same people talk about punishing speech and thought and votes is a bit too much. Yeah, you're going make it illegal for politicians to cast the facts in a way that favors their preferred outcome? Riiiiight...

Clarke that we should be willing to forgive those who lied if they own up to it, like McClellan has.

When/where did McClellan admit to lying about the war?

McClellan (from his book):
I still like and admire George W. Bush. I consider him a fundamentally decent person, and I do not believe he or his White House deliberately or consciously sought to deceive the American people.

Gonna' need another source.

The British AG has no authority over the United States of America; I believe we established that precedent in 1781. I certainly believe that all of those justifications are valid; and, as an American citizen, I've as great a right to speak to it as anyone.

What I would like to see is a decent respect for each side, of the sort AL intends to advocate here. I wish people would quit declaring that the other side are "liars" -- people who throw around fighting words like that are doing no one any good service, although of course it is true that politicians of every sort are untrustworthy. AL is right that the electoral process is the means to resolve this, and that we as a society will benefit from decency, and a commitment to treat each other not just fairly but generously.

That's hard to do sometimes, and I don't claim to be perfect. But it is also what's best for us all.

[....]You 'killed' me here several years ago

[And as far as I can tell you are still banned. Thanks for checking. --NM]

"Levin - like Olbermann, Coulter, the Air America crowd and Savage - is a clown, not a policymaker."

The difference between them is that Coulter is a professional clown. It's a shtick, she knows it, it's an act she does for the money. In that, she's a lot like Lucile Ball - on TV she was a The Whacky Redhead, in real life she was a VERY intelligent studio owner. Coulter's really as Glenn Reynolds, she leans to the right but not very far. Olberman, Levin, Savage and the Air America people (especially Rhodes) really believe what they're saying.

Hey [redacted], You're the one who gets his news and information from Think Progress, watching Richard Clarke on Olberman, etc. Surprised by that world view? You got what you deserved.

The Iraq war is not that complicated. We don't need an endless dialogue to figure out what happened. We don't need to rehash every decission during the war to know how to proceed.

Iraq is the strategic center of the ME. It is occupied by the US and our allies. We moved the fight from our soil to the enemies and in so doing we have co-opted an arab government and people to help us in our fight against Islamic extremism. We have weathered the worst of the struggle and come out virtually unscathed.

The path forward is equally simple. Finish the job! Establish a free and representative government in Iraq (and Afghanistan) that can defend itself and is allied to the US in important areas. These areas include military, logistics, long term strategic interests, short term forward deployed tactical interests, and other things.

The thing to avoid is unilateral US surrender for no other reason than domestic politics. Vote Obama, and you will have endless dialogue. Dialogue about how it was a good idea to surrender to the enemy, humiliate the US abroad, destroy the hard won progress made by our troops, and how to spend the dollars normally dedicated to the military on a new nanny state taking its direction from a neo-socialism similar to the failed policies of old Europe.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

[Doug, in the interest of civility I cut out the insult. Be advised this sort of micromanagement is not the best use of either your time or mine. --NM]

Levin - like Olbermann, Coulter, the Air America crowd and Savage - is a clown, not a policymaker."

No, the main difference is that Olbermann is a news anchor who hosts a newscast and who co-anchors the news desk for MSNBC's campaign coverage.

At least, that's how Olbermann is sold to the public. As a: news anchor, news reporter, news host.

He and MSNBC say he keeps his opinions to himself and that he reports the news with no favor for anyone.

The others are commentators and pundits.

And if you believe all that about Olbermann, I'm going to roll the dice and say that you're not looking at things the way I do.

I suggest that the refusal to criminalize policy disagreement (the terms "crime" and "criminal" are thrown around in these comments a bit loosely) is the minimum price we pray for a free society. For if one side is "criminalized" by the other because it won the last election, what's to say the newly marginalized/criminalized just simply refuse to accept the state of affairs and seek to overthrow the new regime? If they lose freedom (literally) in the new state of affairs, why go along with it?

The "civil war" comment made earlier in the comments has been ignored a bit. My question is: say one wants to criminalize a particular approach to the war (either or con) and one attempts to enforce that with actual arrests and trials. What's to say that the putative criminal, and their sympathizers and supporters, will accept that state of affairs?

I posit with that way of thinking the death of the concept of peaceful transfer of power in American electons. Is the possible death of the American system of peaceful transfer of power worth the glib assertions and squawks of those who want to criminalize policy they disagree with? Or are those who argue against AL's position simply pollyannas, or just confident that if there is such a conflagration, that they will win it?

Or is peace the sacrifice we make for "correctness"?

#46 should read at one point "(either pro or con)."

Apologies for the error.

Would you mind a pedant pointing out that WTFG translates to "way to f***ing go". In the context of the sentence "WTFG is this, a Martin Cruz Smith novel?" . . . it makes little sense.

I believe you intended to simply type WTF, which translates to "what the f***". No G.

:)

Just knowing the liberal establishment as well as the Democrat Party are gung ho to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine tells me all I need to know about them.

Freedom of Speech my ass. Freedom of your speech is all the liberals care about.

Fairness Doctrine, a misnomer if there's ever been one.

[Mr Pelto, stop. Please. The "point" you are trying to make is bogus. Quoting from the linked article you seem incapable of comprehending,

Chuck Pelto (???) got into a serious scrap with A.L. back on armedliberal.com, and couldn't seem to resist derailing threads here to talk about [unrelated] or semi-related things and continue the feud (important troll signal). A.L. banned him from commenting on his posts, he was suffocating the whole discussion zone. I had much more time for Chuck but A.L. was right about that, and in his threads it's his call anyway, and so I asked Mr. Pelto to refrain. He couldn't seem to stop himself, so I enforced the request with a ban.

(Correction mine)

A decent respect, etc., etc.

--NM]

mea culpas -

I'm gonna go reread my Nuremburg history this month as penance, and less seriously - yes, I did mean "WTF". Correcting it now...

A.L.

[Rich, what you posted is just a little bit too "trollish-driveby" for a first post. Try something else. --NM]

What is unbelieveably disgusting about the entire "Bush Lied" crap is that the US Congress voted quite decisively (far more than in 1991) to authorize the war. And remember that Bush kinda hinted that summer that he did not need such authorization, there was a standard hue and cry, so the admin said, "Fine, let's put it to a vote!".

In October of 2002. "Whaaaat, right before the election!! How dare you!" As if there could possibly be a MORE legitimate time to ask the people's representatives such a momentous question.

"Ahh, but he LIED, doncha get it? How could the Congress vote adequately in such a case?" Huh?? Are these 535 children? (don't answer that). Do they not have ENTIRE committees and research offices paid for by you and me? Do they not pride themselves on being entirely separate from the executive? Can they not call the NSA, CIA, Pentagon, etc and get their OWN info, straight from the source? And of course, were they not all saying the same things about Iraq for years? That this subsequent "We didn't know what the hell we were doing" argument doesn't automatically disqualify one from public office shows just how far into childishness we have fallen at our highest levels.

That the administration did not listen to the now vindicated James Carville for political advice (from afar) is one of their worst mistakes in 7 years. Namely that you NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER stop making your case (EVERYONE said Saddam had WMD... everyone!, etc), and make it EVERY SINGLE DAY, DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY, until we are all so sick of it we want to scream, and THEN you say it THREE HUNDRED MORE TIMES! Because if you don't, your enemies WILL say it EVERY SINGLE DAY (Bush Lied, People Died, blah blah blah), and they WILL carry the day as a result.

Public relations and enery policy are the two places this administration has catastrophically dropped the ball. As I have said a hundred times about a bunch of people I thought were supposed to be business savvy: Where the hell is Marketing?

What's to say that the putative criminal, and their sympathizers and supporters, will accept that state of affairs? I posit with that way of thinking the death of the concept of peaceful transfer of power in American electons...

I think that's precisely correct. That's the chief danger.

I think that they mean that if people like Donald Rumsfeld or Doug Feith ever want a job at a university,... they should be ... hounded out of their jobs, etc. And really, the Left has the power to do that..."

...even to liberal apostates like Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard.

I think the original quote is:

"Have you no decency sir? At long last, have you no decency?"

Throw that back in these so-called liberals' faces and watch them squirm like the self-aggrandizing opportunists they are.

Let me guess you're a pro-Iraq war holdout?

Let me guess: you're a the Iraq War is Lost! holdout? How quaint how 2006.

Grim: The British AG has no authority over the United States of America....

Thanks Grim, actually I knew that. For my part I think the best outcome would be for an American court to try the matter. I don't see why you see a great danger in the putative criminal refusing to accept the verdict. Convicts frequently reject the verdict. They are not required to accept it, they just have to do their time.

What a nice change of pace. A discussion on the merits of policy, not on the personalities of the posters involved.

A tip of the hat to the moderators. :)

For my part, the idea that anyone 'lied' is pretty far out there. After 6 years, several dozen investigations, a change in leadership and a complete rethinking of the war there has been only one single criminal case made and that was spurrious at best. (Libby).

Were the war supporters painting the worst case scenarios? You bet. Were the Dems in Congress doing the same? You bet. Was there a reason? You bet.

Let's make the best of what we've started and drop the 'criminalization' of policy.

Otherwise, there wouldn't be anyone left in Washington.

Dear Sir:

You have nailed the single great flaw in many of today's "progressives." They hate and attempt to stop any and all rational debate and to paint those who who are not on their team as criminals. The constant attempt to turn policy differences into criminal acts is exactly what Lenin called "infantile Leftism" at its most extreme, most petty and most vulgar.

One reason why the "progressives" use insult and personal invective against the so called "neocons" is because they are unwilling and often unable to stand up and go head to head with them. Many if not most of these "neocons" are are bona fide intellectuals and many of them are renegades from the Left. Additionally many of them are from the very combative New York Jewish Intellectual scene and well trained in rough take no prisoners intellectual debate.

I happened to be in Berkeley in 1964 when the Governor, Jerry Brown's Dad, used University cops and California Highway Patrol officers to clear Sproul Hall and the sit in folks were loaded at four in the morning into yellow school buses waiting at the end of Telegraph Avenue. They called for "Free Speech." Today anybody calling for free speech would for sure be brought up on charges of racism, sexism, homophobia, intolerance of diversity or whatever unforgivable sins are an affront against the current hot intellectual fad.

The one thing that is common to both leftist "Moonbats" and rightist "Wingnuts" is their closed mind intellectual bigotry. The other thing they have in common is that their eyes glow in the dark.

Sincerely

John Kelly

Adverting to an earlier topic, Armed Liberal has no intellectual or ethical responsibility to search for that item. Steve J does, but it does not seem likely to happen.

The "civil war" comment made earlier in the comments has been ignored a bit. My question is: say one wants to criminalize a particular approach to the war (either or con) and one attempts to enforce that with actual arrests and trials. What's to say that the putative criminal, and their sympathizers and supporters, will accept that state of affairs?

Short answer: they won't. And the state of the nation could get very ugly, very quickly. Especially so, given that the aforementioned "sympathizers and supporters"--strong believers in the Second Amendment--will be far better armed as well. Shucks, if you can name me a leftist politician who admits to owning a firearm, let me know.

The other problem with attempting to criminalize policy differences is that it could easily lead to a massive alienation of the Armed Forces and much of the police from the government--resulting in their direct entry into the political process. Worried about a coup? Heck, the Armed Forces wouldn't have to even do that much--the troops could simply mount rolling work stoppages, "by the book" slowdowns, or just have everybody call in sick. The government would be then faced with a Hobson's Choice: cave in--and effectively grant political power to the Armed Forces--or use force, which could result in a lot of ensuing nastiness. Hey, after all, who could "President Obama" send to arrest generals buttoned up in M1 tanks? County mounties?

Look, it's one thing to be wrong; and to bear the consequences for that. It's another to be criminal. And what I see in your comment, Tyler, is a desire to criminalize error and to criminalize political positions that are unfavored. And to me, that goes directly to the heart of the American project, and I'll speak and work against that - from either side - as hard as I can.

AL, I think you're purposefully overstating the case here. There ARE errors that are criminal - and there are errors that should be criminalized - but I don't see anyone saying that it's political opinion that should be criminalized. That's a purposeful obfuscation that only comes out of your own writing. Some of those criminal errors are an outgrowth of political opinion, but it's the error, not the opinion, that deserves prosecution.

Insofar as it can be proven that Bush intentionally mislead us on WMD intel - and while there' a great deal of evidence that he spun it as hard as he could, I doubt anyone will ever be able to prove, in a court of law, that he outright lied - then yes, he deserves prosecution. Ditto directives like water-boarding that came straight from the top.

But the political opinions that drove this stuff are merely wrong, and should be rebuked and set aside, which, as you point out, is exactly what's happening. Clarke's not calling for anything more than that, nor should he.

Of course, it's to your advantage to make a big deal out of this, isn't it, AL? Without this kind of argument, you're merely somebody who's argued for a heck of a lot of ideas over the past five years - from the Iraq war to the need for Democratic, Lieberman-style "reform" - that have all been proven wrong. By grandstanding on how horrible Keith Olberman is (in the same league as Coulter? Please...) you redefine yourself as a champion of liberty and civil debate. Clever, but pity there's nothing more here than a straw man.

Convicts frequently reject the verdict.

All men of principle reject the verdict of a show trial.

I've seen this deja vu too many times over the years. A good organization doing good work is infiltrated by the left and bent to their purpose until it breaks or is broken by the push back. The left moves on to another victim. The left is a disease.

Moving on the American legal system is certainly ambitious.

Re this quote: "There's a long and messy conversation to have about Iraq and what it means, what led to it, and where it will lead.

And it's just as fair to point out that people said things that were patently wrong as it is to say that history isn't baked well enough for us to say just yet."

Actually it's pretty cut and dry.

The invasion of Afghanistan was prompted by its use as the major operating base for al Qaeda.

The invasion of Iraq was instigated by 12 years of nose thumbing on the part of a WMD-wielding terrorist-supporting megalomaniac. U.N. Resolution 1441 gave Hussein an ultimatum and us the specific authority to force compliance, by any necessary means. That included military force.

In case you didn't know, we found a substantial amount of hidden WMD along with documents and recordings in which Saddam Hussein emphatically stated his intention to continue WMD development and deception.

1) Declassified NGIC report

2) 1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium

3) 1,500 gallons of chemical weapons agents

4) Chemical warheads containing cyclosarin: link1 link2

5) Over 1,000 radioactive materials in powdered form meant for dispersal over populated areas

6) Roadside bombs loaded with mustard and "conventional" sarin gas, assembled in binary chemical projectiles for maximum potency

Those weapons were previously unknown to U.N. inspectors.

Hussein gave thousands of dollars to families of suicide bombers and in addition, Iraqi intelligence met with al Qadea operatives and provided with training camps in Northern Iraq:

The Mother of All Connections
From the July 18, 2005 issue: A special report on the new evidence of collaboration between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda.
by Stephen F. Hayes & Thomas Joscelyn
07/18/2005, Volume 010, Issue 41

Source:
link

I'm an Iraq War vet, and I'm damned glad we not only invaded, but took out the sonofabitch and got those WMDs before anyone had the chance to use them.

Had I the power, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran (for starters) would have been asphalt parking lots on 12 September 2001. But, I'm a former Soldier, not a diplomat.

[Bare links corrected. --NM]

Chris, by your definition, President Clinton deserves prosecution. And BTW, US troops are STILL in the Bosnian "quagmire".

Cato Institute: Bait and Switch in Bosnia

Recall how this mission began. President Clinton announced his decision to deploy U.S. military forces in Bosnia on November 27, 1995. In a nationwide television address, the president declared that his proposed mission would be "precisely defined with clear realistic goals" that could be achieved in a "definite period of time." What kind of time frame did the president have in mind? President Clinton assured skittish viewers that this mission "should and will take about one year." The White House and the State Department then went to work to sell the mission to a skeptical Congress.

Throughout the 1996 election year, the Clinton administration led voters to believe that the one-year deadline would be adhered to. Even into late October, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns adamantly denied that there were any changes in the Clinton plan to withdraw 15,000 American soldiers from Bosnia that December. As far as the voters were concerned, Bosnia was a non-issue -- especially since the Republican presidential candidate failed to express any interest in prolonging the military mission.

Within two weeks of securing his re-election, however, President Clinton suddenly announced a change in his Bosnia plan. "Quite frankly," the president declared, the "rebuilding process" was taking longer than anticipated. Because of the unexpected delay, thousands of U.S. troops would have to remain in Bosnia -- not just for a few more weeks, not just for another year, but for an additional 18 months!

Mysteriously, however, no cabinet official or military commander was dismissed from his job because of poor intelligence or planning. The timing of that policy declaration seemed designed for purposes of political cover. President Clinton spoke matter-of-factly and made it seem as if this lamentable extension of the mission was the result of an honest error in his own judgment.

Written in 1997. And there they remain.

Well, the US courts could try the question, but the US courts aren't governed by the precedents at Nurmberg. "Aggression" is a war crime; but it is not a crime under US law. US law establishes one test for whether an invasion is justified and lawful, and that is Congressional approval for the President's actions -- which, no one denies, was given. The war was fully authorized.

It was also reaffirmed constantly, through Congress' appropriation of funds.

If you ask the US system of law, there's no basis for prosecutions at all. (Internationalists who want to see Bush tried in some sort of international court are on stronger ground in pointing to Nurmberg, but they havet to contend with the fact that the UNSC also repeatedly authorized the Coalition forces' presence in Iraq under Chapter VII, and continues to do so to this day.)

The US system does envision an occasion when you can be prosecuted for political reasons rather than formal violations of law -- the impeachment process. But the Constitution also formally limits the penalties that may be imposed by that process to removal from office, a peanalty already effectively imposed by the simple arrival of January.

Thus, in emergency cases when we 'can't wait' for elections, we can deal with the situation without disturbing the basic trust that underlies the peaceful transfer of power.

When people stop believing that they are safe to relinquish that power -- that they won't be persecuted when power passes from their hands -- they'll fight instead.

That way does lie civil war.

It really is of no import that liberal would-be score-settlers may not mean to literally shoot or imprison persons they judge to be bad. Because the point is, all that self-righteous, self-serving, self-congratulatory twaddle they've smugly oozed since the 60's, about how they were the only champions of freedom of expression and conscience, is revealed as so much opportunism. It was merely a tool they used to ensure the levers of power remained in their oh-so-decent hands. So that they could realize their dream of replacing God with the State. And they've just about done it.

Reading thru the comments there seems to a fair amount of discussion as to criminalization of certain things like war or the consideration of it as policy. But has anybody considered that it may not be possible to do so constitutionally? The constitution specifically directs the Congress to go to war as circumstances permit. By extension the ability to enact such activities implies the tacit legal construct that both the policy and the action are legal by their mere presence in the constitution.

Just a thought.

As to the balance of the disucssion. I tend to abhor the current labeling going on. So my current assessment of policy makers are do they support the expansion of the State or not. If they are the former they are enemies of my personal freedom. Sadly that covers a lot of people.

it's the notion that somehow one's participation in the political process is conditional on having your thoughts vetted by the Right People.

Welcome to the left. How long was your nap?

Grim: Internationalists who want to see Bush tried in some sort of international court are on stronger ground in pointing to Nurmberg

It might be worth considering what the chief prosecutor, Justice Robert Jackson explained at Nuremberg:

The Allies are still technically in a state of war with Germany, although the enemy's political and military institutions have collapsed. As a military tribunal, this Tribunal is a continuation of the war effort of the Allied nations. As an International Tribunal, it is not bound by the procedural and substantive refinements of our respective judicial or constitutional systems, nor will its rulings introduce precedents into any country's- internal system of civil justice.

Andrew X, last I checked, the US was virtually out of Bosnia in 2004.

And it's hard to argue that there's no substantive difference between Clinton sending in thousands of ground troops for what really was a peacekeeping mission - remember, most of the actual fighting was carried out by airstrikes - vs. Bush sending in tens of thousands of troops into actual, grinding urban combat.

That said, for all the bitching and whining about how horrible the liberals are being with their political persecution, it's worth pointing out that Bush hasn't gone through one tenth of the political investigations that Clinton did. And while there are a few on this thread who probably were just as vocal about what happened to Clinton back in the day - AL likely being one of them, I must admit - I doubt whether many here were all that upset when a much larger shoe was on the other foot.

Tyler Jones, you really need to remember that people are innocent until proven guilty, and that we have a Constitutional right to trial by jury. You toss around the word "criminal" with a great deal of abandon, when all that you have is a difference of opinion until someone is actually convicted of a crime. And so far nobody's been formally charged, so you don't even have a defendant, let alone a "criminal."

And this "potential crime" term you've come up with is very troubling, as are your "you don't try crimes by public polling" and "we should be willing to forgive those who lied if they own up to it" statements.

A "potential" crime is no crime at all.

Defendants are tried by a jury according to the Rule of Law, and according to the U.S. Constitution they are innocent until proven guilty. Elected officials are chosen by public polling.

And "confess and you'll be forgiven" was a device of the Inquisition. Is that seriously something you want to revive?

Do you see the problem here? You, yourself, have decided guilt in advance of any trial. I believe the term for that is "prejudice."

In #22 "virgil xenophon" says "Scratch a 'Progressive' and you'll find a potential Robespierre." Remember Robespierre's end.

Regards #44.

NM you are right. Sorry.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

Chris -

2004 minus 1996 = eight years, not one. Hence Clinton lied to all of us for political reasons and should be prosecuted.

Not. I actually remember Clinton making that one year pledge, and saying to myself "He's lying!". Not because I hate(d) Clinton, I didn't and don't. Not because I thought Bosnia was a bad idea, I didn't. I actually thought, at that time, that if NATO and US troops were needed to chill the place down, I was for it, and if Clinton had say something totally unbelievable like "one year" to get Congress to do what in fact had to be done, then so be it. I certainly would never consider prosecuting him for it. If Congress, one year later, had not the balls to pull the plug, case closed. If they did have the balls, then "problem" solved. Tout fini.

So the idea of prosecuting Bush for going into Iraq with the sanction of Congress (my argument on that is detailed in post #53 and needs no repeat here) is nothing less than obscene, and it IS in fact prosecuting for political differences, in essence, one side using courtrooms and lawyers to win a political battle that their politicians and legislators lost. And that is something we have seen all too much of.

NAS has already documented the fact that it's nearly impossible to obtain a BA or MA degree in social work without signing what amounts to an ideological "statement of faith." The accrediting association, the Council for Social Work Education, requires such a commitment before it will even accredit a school. A number of people have been denied degrees on the basis of their beliefs, or unwillingness to work for certain politically-correct causes. This is all, of course, far above and beyond the overwhelming ideological bias in the academy, and the numerous obstacles placed in the way of successful academic careers, tenure, etc.. It amounts to a kind of creeping fascism, but rather than simply placing one under arrest and before a firing squad they simply make it next to impossible to make a living.

Frankly, I don't see how the election of Obama won't further entitle this sort of fascism. Maggie Gallagher notes, for instance, that the really enraging thing about advocating traditional opposite-sex marriage is that same-sex marriage advocates use verbal bullying to imply that anyone advocating the former is, by definition, a bigot. There therefore can't be any legitimate argument against same-sex marriage, no matter how well it's documented, researched, or reasoned. Just one example.

The argument for the Iraq war is simply that Islam in the Arab world is a risk factor, and that some effort to mitigate the risk factor was required, before the takfirist revolution fully metastasized. I don't understand how this amounts to a crime against humanity, even if some public relations deception was involved. Abraham Lincoln rested the case for the Civil War on the need to preserve the Union, which was clearly a public relations ploy since he'd probably not be able to galvanize the public for the sake of anti-slavery. Did this make Lincoln a war criminal?

BTW, the 1864 vote was probably ensured by the fact that a lot of veterans were able to vote, even though soldier enfranchisement was vigorously (and successfully in some cases) opposed by Democrats. Sherman even granted furloughs so that some of his troops could go home to vote.

Well, I wandered rather far afield, but it was to touch upon the primary themes that the new soft-fascism uses to justify itself. Their case basically rests on flawed reasoning, or what AL calls "bad philosophy." It is real, unfortunately, and it is a problem.

The idea of the post is about is that government officials performing their legal duties in creating policy should be social pariahs and not allowed back in the hallow halls of academia.

The hallow halls of academia are full of totalitarian leftists who are positive that their worldview is the only correct one. If you do not believe please check the FIRE website and free speech zones.

What many leftists seem to want is an emotional punishment of Bush and Co. since they feel that their time is coming in the sun.
Many seem to have forgotten that several elections have occurred since the Iraq war was initiated. The American public agreed with the war and even that was a major issue of 2004 elections. Congress approved and voted for this war. WMD was only one of the reasons stated in the war resolution. WMD was found but not in the quantities anticipated. Intelligence from western countries agencies agreed with US intelligence that WMD existed. Bush never stated Saddam had nukes. Clinton administration also agreed that there were WMD.

The ME has been a problem but getting the strategic center as an ally is important in order to influence a perennial crisis area. That is a plus. If several posters do not agree, my question is do you support America or it's enemies? Iran is an enemy, so is Hezbolla and Hamas. If posters are more sympathetic to those entities, maybe they should question why they want to be US citizens?

I would wish that people would stop trying to change history and lie about it. They want Bush impeached because "he lied", but do they recognize their own lies? Bush did not lie, the genuinely believed that more WMD was in Iraq.

Get over it, Bush he is not running for election, Vote for your candidate but stop indulging in Bush Derangement Syndrome

A.L. is correct if he thinks that many in this country would tamely allowed themselves to be imprison for their beliefs and speech. People would start to revolt.

To those brownshirts among the above commentors who want to criminalize policy differences: This is a two edged sword. When you see the sharp end gliding toward your own neck, just remember you set it in motion.

These liberals should be afraid. Very afraid. They have aided and abetted genocide since 1917 and continue to advocate for, assist, and adhere to genocidaires, as long as they wear a leftist or anti-colonialist mask.

What we need is to deal with the people who have aided communism and its crimes against humanities. SDS membership = crime against humanity. Weathermen - crime against humanity. Aiding the VietCong through protest - crime against humanity. Denying the killing fields (aka Noam Chomsky et al.) crime against humanity. NYT - crime against humanity thanks to their little Pulitzer denying Ukrainian genocide. Protests against cruise missiles - crime against humanity for aiding and abetting the KGB.

It is far past time for consequences for treasonous and malicious political acts, its just that it's the left that is guilty of the murder of more than 100M. I look forward to seeing them hanging high! Side benefit, no more liberal arts profs!

Grim: US law establishes one test for whether an invasion is justified and lawful, and that is Congressional approval....

I repeat, IANAL so I really don’t pretend to know whether the American courts offer any redress. However it may not be as simple as you suggest. Yes, Congress approved the war, but was Congress intentionally misled? I recall that in 2003 John Dean suggested that some of Bush’s statements to Congress may have contravened the false statements statute. So it may be that the war was legal, but officials broke the law in order to get the Congressional approval they needed to make it so. I haven’t kept up with the topic and it may be that that avenue is closed. Maybe officials can be prosecuted after they leave office, maybe not. Hell, maybe Dean was talking through his arse.

I suspect that if any legal remedy exists it will be on a par with jailing Al Capone for tax evasion. It wasn’t all he deserved but it was all the prosecutors could get. But whether anything can be done or not, Olbermann’s question was a reasonable one and Clarke’s reply doesn’t justify AL’s outrage.

I'm not surprised that people who think Keith Olbermann is a news anchor and cite him approvingly will also believe George Bush victimized Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi Baathist dictatorship by removing them from power.

Geezus friggin' Obama.

Some months ago, I looked into the NAS claims of bias in Social Work education.

They describe approximately three cases of egregious pressure on students from their faculty supervisors. In all cases, the faculty member was appropriately disciplined by their institution after a complaint was filed. In some cases, the student went on to graduate; in others, they changed their plans.

Of course, it would be lovely if no faculty member ever put inappropriate pressure on any student, just as it would be lovely if no student ever cheated on a test. But here in the real world, abuses will occur. The question, if you are looking for systemic problems, is whether those abuses are handled appropriately when the situation is brought to the attention of the academic authorities. And in these cases, they were.

LIkewise, the code of ethics that social work students are asked to sign includes phrases like "social justice". Parsed as simple English, it's hard to get offended at this. However, the NAS gets its knickers in a twist because this is a "code word" for an ideological position, and for some reason should not be interpreted as simple English. (This reminds me of silly school principals who prohibit wearing of red, because it's a "gang color".)

Finally, it shouldn't be a big shock that social workers, and the people who train them, are going to pay a lot of attention to the factors in our society that cause poverty, and seem to make it unfairly difficult to get out of poverty. (Surely, you are not going to try to argue that all such factors are fair!) Neither does it come as a big shock that the Business Schools, at the same universities, are filled with students and faculty who are big fans of capitalism, and arguably create an inhospitable environment for Marxist students who wish to earn MBAs. When such hypothetical Marxist MBA students want to discuss the Marxist critique of the capitalist system, they are told to shut up and do their assigned homework.

So, how big a problem is this, really?

The reason for the hyperbole on the left about the Afghan and especially Iraq liberations is their overwhelming success. 40 million people have been put on the road to freedom and self-determination for an historically low cost.

If such enterprises are not painted as failures, there is no reason not to go on to Burma, North Korea, Zimbabwe and other places where people are being tyrannized.

The painting has obviously now descended to an ugly level.

When Faux Outrage meets The Strawman, as it so clearly has in this baseless post, you really do have to wonder what the motivation is.

Is the author (one "AL") purposefully misreading Clarke's comments?

In their anger, did they hear "censor" when he said "censure"?

The simple question, whether Clarke or anyone else for that matter is actually calling for anything other than a completely normal and justifiable confrontation of those whose obvious misdeeds have been so brazenly perpetrated on the US and Iraqi public, is purposefully ignored.

To A.L., these potential crimes (and there are many, perpetrated by many) are "errors", and to confront them is a form of political suppression.

Give me a G-d damn break.

You're no better than anyone else who thinks its ok to behave in one way if you're With Us, but not if you're Against Us.

_ ... there is no reason not to go on to Burma, North Korea, Zimbabwe and other places where people are being tyrannized._

Didn't George Washington warn us against this kind of foreign entanglements? (His Farewell Address, 1796)

When I read this originally . I thought it was a reference to Professor Ayers, our unrepentant bomber from his Weatherman days that is a professor of education in Chicago and his lovely wife, B Dorhn who actually did kill people,but is now an acclaimed professor. These are the type of people that are accepted and and approved in academic circles. NO wonder that so many still think America is evil.

And here's a counter-example of a Right Wing ideology being forced onto public employees in California:

Teacher fired for refusing to sign loyalty oath

Cal State system ousts another instructor who objects on religious grounds to a pledge adopted by California in 1952 to root out communists.

I certainly think it is better for the civic health of the country if opponents and proponents of the war in Iraq can get to a point of mutual respect. I have been a proponent all the way through, and still believe it is much wiser for the US to stay in Iraq for tons of reasons. I also appreciate how someone could conclude that there is nothing in Arabia worth 4000 American lives.

But if O wins and his call is to pull out I am OK with that. I think it is a mistake, but I expect democracies to make mistakes in our long battle for freedom. I always have had this idea about politics that the important thing is not that we elect wise, intelligent men and women who will make good decisions to lead us forward. The best we do is a long and inefficient process, where over a series of elections opposing policies are enacted and a consensus builds. I have a lot of faith in the US to move to the right policies through that process. We have seen it happen on civil rights and tax rates and on our cold war policies. Maybe we will see it soon on energy policies and maybe on the battle with Islamic jihadists, too. Remember when I say soon my time sale is a decade or more.

"NO wonder that so many still think America is evil."

Sure, let's invade a country that didn't attack us, kill tens if not hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the process, lie about why we went in, talk about being on a Crusade and distributing Christian religious trinkets to civilians there, hold secret meetings in the White House about how to divide up Iraq's oil wealth, make a big deal about giving up golf out of respect for soldier's families but miss no opportunity to screw them over when they come home, and THEN...

....let's blame academics for it all!

The Genius!

Here's a newsflash for you: Academicians and scientists are among the most highly respected US citizens; without them, the world would probably hate us even more than it already does for turning Bush and his criminal enterprise loose on them. At least there's one segment of society left that people can correctly presume has a firm grasp on reality.

Or, let's reply like the typical Neocon: "I really don't care if what we did caused anyone to hate us more or not. They already hate us, they don't need any more justification for it. And to accuse us of this is typical of the "Blame America First" mentality that we hate!"

Buck Smith [#88]: Good for you!

Our country has survived for so long because of the constant criticism of those in power, and the ability to people to switch who is in power. There's an essential feedback process there, that is fed by Freedom of Speech and the Press.

Realizing this makes it all the more important to fight hard against anyone who attacks the system of Checks and Balances that makes our Constitution work. It's obviously an acquired taste, but criticism of the government is a Good Thing.

Truth and reconciliation commissions...

In America, they're called book publishers.

Or, for those that don't read: Oprah.

Beard: Didn't George Washington warn us against this kind of foreign entanglements?

I have a more Jeffersonian outlook.

Just think about it... a coupla divisions in Burma, a couple in Zimbabwe. A coupla corp in North Korea, and millions will be freed, and dictators the world round would be backpedaling. The left doesn't like the idea because why?

I have my theory, but I'd like to hear yours.

_#33 from Tyler Jones at 3:34 pm on Jun 07, 2008
Well, Brett, I'm not a Democrat, but I am a US citizen who wants the government to enforce laws. I don't think that's too much to ask.

But on your point, did Clinton commit potential war crimes, theft of government services and taxpayer dollars, and commit torture or rendition? Did he conspire to lie to the American public, to withhold information collected on our behalf and with our tax dollars? I really don't see the equivalence._

Funny you should ask. Let's take them one by one regarding Kosovo:

Did he conspire to lie to the American public, to withhold information collected on our behalf and with our tax dollars?

Yes, when he told the American people that the Serbian government was already engaged in a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Albanians of Kosovo to justify war. In fact, no such campaign had started when he spoke those words. The fact that once the US and NATO started bombing, the Serbs did begin a campaign of ethnic cleansing does not alter the fact that Clinton was lying at the time he said it to justify war. Once the war had started and the ethnic cleansing campaign began and large numbers of refugees arrived in Macedonia, the Clinton administration then claimed their lack of preparedness for that eventuality was because they had no idea the Serbs would force so many people out of Kosovo. That statement was a lie as well, because the director of the CIA had specificly briefed the president on Serb plans to initiate just such a masive ethnic cleasing campaign if the US attacked them.

...did Clinton commit... theft of government services and taxpayer dollars...?

Given that president Clinton refused to comply with the War Powers Act by specificly requesting authorization for the Kosovo war within 60 day or requesting a 30 day exstention to seek authorization, the entire Kosovo military operation could be seen as a "theft of government services" to engage in a private act of war against Serbia.

...did Clinton commit potential war crimes...?

Clinton authorized the destruction of civilian target in Serbia (for example, the central heating facility in Belgrade, which provided the only source of private residential heat to large parts of the city) with the intetion of inflicting suffering on the civilian population with the hopes that the suffering population would put presure on the Serbian regime to end the war. Clinton also authorized the bombing of an occupied and operational TV studio (thus deliberately targeting the staff) in violation of international law. After the war ended, the Clinton administration allowed 90% of the Serbian population to be driven from their homes (thus giving the lie to the argument before the war that the purpose of the war was to provide security to all the residents of Kosovo as only the Albanian residents were protected).

As to this question:

...did Clinton commit torture or rendition?

It was the Clinton administration that formalized the rendition process. Before the Clinton administration it was known as "extrodinary rendition" and could only be done with presidential authorization. Clinton made the process more routine, allowing for a large increase in the number of renditions conducted and removing the president from the decision process.

See how much fun could be had with this concept of trying administrations once out of office!

So-called "progressives" who advocate prosecuting the Bush administration have lost their grip on reality. It's hardly worth engaging them on the subject, because you're likely to find that it's like talking to a crazy person. They want to turn the U.S. into another Latin America, where the s.o.b.s in power throw the s.o.b.s who are out of power in jail, or put them up against a wall.

Such behavior is a classic hallmark of a banana republic.

_TJ:

Sure, let's invade a country that didn't attack us,

kill tens if not hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the process,

lie about why we went in,

talk about being on a Crusade and distributing Christian religious trinkets to civilians there,

hold secret meetings in the White House about how to divide up Iraq's oil wealth,

make a big deal about giving up golf out of respect for soldier's families but miss no opportunity to screw them over when they come home,_

Wherever do you get your notions of reality? I take it you don't think it has been a good thing to free 25 million Iraqis while disabling an international terrorist organization.

Just think about it... a coupla divisions in Burma, a couple in Zimbabwe. A coupla corp in North Korea, and millions will be freed, and dictators the world round would be backpedaling. The left doesn't like the idea because why? Charlie [#92]

And the rest of the world stands back and applauds while we do our good work, right?

I don't know who all has treaties with whom, but I do know that China would have strong opinions about our deciding to go in and fix things up in North Korea. In addition to having nuclear weapons and more than four times our population and being far closer to the conflict zone, we also depend on them to buy our national debt and keep our economy afloat. (And they depend on us to let WalMart keep buying their products, and so on. It's a complicated world.)

OK, that's one problem. Here's another.

However good our intentions, and however bad the guy we are displacing, it turns out that many people, in many countries, love their country. Even if they hate its current ruler. They want to see that ruler gone, but they sure don't want some large foreign power from halfway around the world to come tromping in, invading and occupying their country, and killing their countrymen. Even if the invaders kill their dictator while they are at it. He may be awful, but he's theirs.

This is the same attitude that thought that Baghdad would be Paris in 1944. Didn't work out.

These countries have serious bad guys leading them. The people would be better off without them. But an invasion from the outside is a huge problem. The question (and it's a terribly hard one) is how to empower the local people themselves, so they can retake their own country. But without tarring those leaders with being "tools of the CIA".

How much do you know about the people, cultures, and politics of Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and so on? Very likely, not enough.

The first step is to realize how hard the problems are, so you keep yourself from just charging into the quicksand. The second step is to start learning the background, so you have some basis for thinking about solutions.

Beard,

You might recognize these quotes from the old days when there were actual liberals on the left, not just "progressives."

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?
Robert Kennedy

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
John F. Kennedy

I spent a good deal of time in Korea. I saw a North Korean spy executed in Inchon and dozens of old women wade waist deep into the harbor in their good clothes to spit on his corpse.

I'm familiar with the situation in Burma where you really do have a junta imposed on a populace.

North Korea has become such an embarrassment/burden for China, I bet they'd be open to a solution.

Ask yourself, in the spirit of a true lover of freedom, why not?

I take it you don't think it has been a good thing to free 25 million Iraqis while disabling an international terrorist organization. Charlie [#95]

Hey, Charlie, be polite and respond to the points TJ is making. You may think you have an answer, but being snide degrades the whole dialog.

On to your argument.

First, do you think that the 25 million Iraqis consider themselves to be "free" now? I doubt it. Nobody is shedding tears for Saddam Hussein, as far as I know, but a lot of people are pointing out that daily life in Iraq is a lot worse now than it was when he was in power. They don't want him back, but they don't thank the USA for the mess we've made of their country. (They don't want us to leave, either, since the internal conflicts we've unleashed would only make things much worse.) We've definitely embraced the tar baby. [Incidentally, I'm getting some of the information above from a dinner conversation with an Iraqi a few weeks ago.]

Second, do you think that our strategies believe that we have "disabled" al Qaeda? (I presume that's the "international terrorist organization" you were referring to.) I seriously doubt that, too. Their Iraqi branch is getting some serious push-back from the locals, but largely because they have started killing Iraqi locals, which is not wise when you depend on the locals for cover. So their own idiocy is costing them seriously, much more than our invasion is. (In fact, if we hadn't invaded, they certainly would not have had an Iraqi branch at all.)

And third, while we're at it, do you think it was a good thing for us to eliminate the biggest threat that was facing Iran, unleashing their ambitions for greater power and influence?

Why is anyone surprised that these people are talking about blacklisting and hunting down people whom they disagree with?

For god's sake, these are the same people who are creating tribunals to CRIMINALIZE dissent. The "human rights" courts prosecuting Maclean's Magazine, the liberal politicians and mouthpieces calling for impeachment in the U.S., the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons who repeatedly condemn the justice system for DARING to hold trials for people accused of oppressing blacks instead of just firing/incarcerating them five minutes after the story breaks... they are this era's brownshirts.

Disagreeing with them is a crime.

"the world would probably hate us even more than it already does for turning Bush and his criminal enterprise loose on them."

Tyler, the world has hated us since we kicked the British out. Read

Walt Whitman's Notes in his book from 1865 "Memoranda During the War"

"There is certainly not one government in Europe but is now watching the war in this country, with the ardent prayer that the united States may be effectually split, crippled, and dismember'd by it. There is not one but would help toward that dismemberment, if it dared. I say such is the ardent wish to-day of England and of France, as governments, and of all the nations of Europe, as governments."

So, please, at least give up that old meme; they've always hated us and always will, except, you know, they want to move here and live like us.

I got forwarded to this site and am delighted to find it. Thanks especially for thoughtful posts at ## 46, 53, 67, 76, and 82. Thanks also for the amusing "troll" link and the reminder to keep a civil finger in my keyboard. Now for my screed:

It is unbelievably frustrating that anyone has succeeded in persuading even the most rabid Bush-hater into believing that Bush "lied" about the same WMD that everybody and his brother, including Pres. Clinton, had believed in for years. Saddam Hussein believed in them, for pity's sake. If the WMD weren't hustled over the border into Syria during the excruciating 3-month pre-invasion "rush to war," then, yes, it appears we may have been mistaken in believing they still existed. We also had other reasons to believe invasion was a good idea. As far as I can tell, events are rather bearing us out than otherwise concerning the wisdom of the decision to invade Iraq.

I understand many don't agree. But my complete inability to understand how anyone can believe any of this constitutes a lie, let alone a crime, makes me even more jittery than I normally would be at the proposals to establish "Truth and Reconciliation" tribunals for outgoing administrations and their supporters. The commenter above hit the nail on the head about how this threatens the system for the peaceful transfer of power.

Charlie [#97],

Robert Kennedy was talking about working to achieve racial equality in our own country. John Kennedy was talking about defending the people of West Berlin from the Soviet blockade.

Neither was talking about taking it on ourselves to invade a country that hadn't attacked us, just because they are ruled by someone evil.

Take another careful read of my message [#96], where I tried to address a number of the details of your suggestion. I'd be interested in knowing whether you can actually address my arguments.

I certainly think we should try to do something about evil where we see it. But we also have to make sure we don't make things worse rather than better. And, in my opinion, invading another country when they haven't attacked us first, is almost certain to make things worse rather than better. (This is one reason you don't get much push-back on Afghanistan, where the Taliban sheltered al Qaeda who attacked us, but Iraq has turned into a horrible mess.)

Beard,

I had/have no intention of responding to TJ until he starts making points with some resemblence to reality. And that's not being snide; that was just trying to put the brakes on someone who really has been degrading an otherwise promising comment thread.

First, do you think that the 25 million Iraqis consider themselves to be "free" now?

For the most part, yes. I read several Iraqi blogs. And I have a few Iraqi acquintances too. And nothing has happened in Iraq since we put Saddam on a short leash to compare to his gassing of the Kurds, his paving a highway outside of Basra over the bodies of Shias who rebeled against him or decimating the Marsh Arabs. In fact, the standard of living is well up and climbing. There has been a multifold increase in the number of news and opinion sources over the few state organs of the Saddam era.

do you think that our strategies believe that we have "disabled" al Qaeda?

According to the latest CIA report (I know, I know) Al Qaeda is greatly operationally degraded.

do you think it was a good thing for us to eliminate the biggest threat that was facing Iran, unleashing their ambitions for greater power and influence?

Do you mean that Saddam's Iraq was still an effective counterbalance to Iran's ambitions?

Taking that as your meaning, normally I wouldn't have been concerned but given that progressives have been maumauing against the liberation for four solid years, I'm not sure the political will is available to deal with Iran except in reaction to a gross provocation on their part. I liked the Bush doctrine better than sitting back and waiting for ugliness to go down.

"The US system does envision an occasion when you can be prosecuted for political reasons rather than formal violations of law -- the impeachment process"

IANAL, but I don't think that's technically accurate. I think there is a requirement for "high crimes and misdemeanors." It's understandable that some don't realize this, since so many believe Clinton was impeached for having an affair (it was actually for perjury and obstruction of justice).

No , it means that people who are guilty of lying Ameica into a war and were NOT punished for their crimes against humanity should not be able to live the rest of their lives carefree and rich. They must be punished by social scorn and be forced to live as outcasts for the rest of their lives.
You seem to hae a hard time understanding your crimes of enabling criminal behavior also.

#89 Tyler
bq _Sure, let's invade a country that didn't attack us, kill tens if not hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the process, lie about why we went in, talk about being on a Crusade and distributing Christian religious trinkets to civilians there, hold secret meetings in the White House about how to divide up Iraq's oil wealth, make a big deal about giving up golf out of respect for soldier's families but miss no opportunity to screw them over when they come home, and THEN...

....let's blame academics for it all!_

A little less hyperbole and liberal fantasies, please.
Ok you did not agree with the Congressional resolution for war with Iraq. That's Ok quite a few people did not. But we did not "kill tens if not hundreds of thousands of civilians" We were very precise in our efforts to kill the enemy not civilians. Now civilians did die since the enemy hid in the hospitals and mosques and among civilians and wore civilian dress. But the 60k number is pure fantasy. You may want to check your sources. This was one of the discredited numbers that could not be verified and even the Iraq government said it was a lie.

Bush never said we were on a Crusade, and the description of the war is irrevelant whether you call it a crusade or war. The Christian trinkets the soldier gave out, he has been disciplined. That is not governmental policy. Again a fantasy on secretive cabalistic meetings in the White House on how to divide the oil. If so, why do we have the Iraqi government control it now? we would not spend billions on the war effort , we just buy oil. We did not even get good contracts which would have been perfectly fine but we idiotically did not insist.

Academics are the most respected in the world. Maybe that is true. But I gave seen and read sufficient European ideas and rhetoric that are pure foolishness. The USA decided over 200 years ago that European ideas were something that we decided were not for us. The US defends Europe not the other way around. So the fact that they like our academics more than others does not impress me.

Our scientists are respected for what they do and discoveries not because of their political idealogy. Our scientists are not those that espouse " America is evil". No that is left to Rev. Wright and his KKK Amerika, Obama's pastor for 20 years.

Beard,

You agreed with my premise:

These countries have serious bad guys leading them. The people would be better off without them. [From #96]

You simply preferred to stand pat rather than undertake to free people, as I prefer. It seemed to me (and seems) that the best reply was an attempt to put you back in touch with your (likely) liberal (in the true sense of liberty-loving) sentiments of yore by reminding you that there were liberal stalwarts on the left.

Yes, Bobby was talking civil rights, but the quote applies perfectly well in the general sense.

Yes, JFK was springboarding off Berlin but was generalizing to facing the grim toll of Communism wherever, and (by my extension) all tyranny.

Yes, I am being a bit glib about marching on from Baghdad to Rangoon. But I stand by my point that the only understandable basis for the left hyperbole about the liberation of Iraq is in significant part to forestall any other such liberations.

Now you may comment to my question to you on this point in #92.

What is a WMD anyway?

The term technically covers chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons. But when most people hear "Weapons of Mass Destruction", they think of nuclear weapons. The other kinds are no joke, if you are among the ones exposed to them, but they certainly don't pose any kind of militarily significant threat to the United States.

The Bush administration clearly exploited people's tendency to think nuclear weapons when they hear WMD. They did have legitimate evidence of chemical weapons. And, in fact, what was found in Iraq after the war (according to the list in post [#65]) was almost entirely chemical weapons. There was also material that might be usable to build a "dirty bomb" (a radiological weapon), but nothing that could have become a nuclear weapon. (Also, follow the link in #65 to the BBC article about the nuclear materials. They were useless for anything but dirty bombs, and possibly not even them.)

However, the Bush administration strongly pushed the image of a nuclear attack on the United States:

"Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud." [G. W. Bush, 10-7-02]

That same speech includes false and misleading references to Saddam's nuclear program and what it might possibly be able to do, without any legitimate evidence.

Watching people support the war at the time (2002-03), it was clear that the mushroom cloud image was a compelling one, and it convinced people to support a war they would otherwise have rejected. In retrospect, they should have rejected it. Many people, I believe, feel that if they had known that the kind of WMD attack we were really facing was more like the Japanese subway attack with sarin, they wouldn't have committed all that blood and treasure.

A classic trick by all kinds of politicians is to say something that is literally true, but invites the listener to jump to the false conclusion you want. This is an example of that. "Saddam has WMDs!" (true, but it's a few chemicals) "Do you want to wait for a mushroom cloud over an American city?" (not a statement, so it can't be a lie, can it?)

That's how it's done. And here we are.

Charlie [#107],

My intent in [#96] was to answer your question in [#92]. That is, to explain why it is a bad idea for us to rampage around the world invading countries that have evil leaders. Another reason, not included before, is that it is so hard to know when to stop!

I presume that many people on the Left agree with me, so that would be their reason. There are a certain number of idiots on both Left and Right, who may have other reasons that make no sense, but they don't seem worth the airtime to discuss.

#108 Beard.

Very true but Bush specifically said he did not have nukes but was working to get them. That we should not wait until he does and possible has a city destroyed. A dirty bomb delivered by terrorists to a city would cause a lot of death and injuries. That is a serious risk. Not as bad as a airburst nuclear weapon.

I agree that the arguement for war did not advance until the WMD issue was argued. But the resolution had many reasons for the war, not just WMD and promoting a policy is not criminal even if it did play on fears of nuclear bombs. I knew that the WMD was an exxageration when it was argued.I worried that Bush would be severly criticized if none were found. He was. But WMD was found, just not as serious as feared. THe MSM ignored this news and continued with the narrative that no WMD ws found. It is not surprising that many believe there was no WMD.

#93, all of those assertions are meaningless without citing the source. For all I know, you made up everything in your post.

But regardless of whether they end up having any truth to them or not, what you seem to be suggesting is that two wrongs make a right, or that if someone gets away with committing a crime then everyone should be forgiven as well.

Of course this has nothing to do with Clarke's comments, the guilt of the Neocons, and whether their lies and conspiratorial actions constitute crimes, war or civil or criminal or otherwise.

Nor does it have any bearing on the false premise that underlies this thread that Clarke or anyone else is calling for anything like most of you hear are imagining.

Can we mark this down as another example of Right Wing paranoia?

#93, all of those assertions are meaningless without citing the source. For all I know, you made up everything in your post.

But regardless of whether they end up having any truth to them or not, what you seem to be suggesting is that two wrongs make a right, or that if someone gets away with committing a crime then everyone should be forgiven as well.

Of course this has nothing to do with Clarke's comments, the guilt of the Neocons, and whether their lies and conspiratorial actions constitute crimes, war or civil or criminal or otherwise.

Nor does it have any bearing on the false premise that underlies this thread that Clarke or anyone else is calling for anything like most of you here are imagining.

Can we mark this down as another example of Right Wing paranoia?

I remember that time very well. I had chemical and biological weapons almost exclusively in mind, those being the ones that had almost universally been assumed to be in Saddam Hussein's possession for many years. We knew, for instance, that he had actually used chemical weapons on the Kurds. Iraqi mobile bio-weapons labs were so commonly believed in that they had leaked out into the popular culture and become a staple of thrillers. If there were people who bought into the invasion primarily because they feared a mushroom cloud, I never ran into any of them and I can't help their ignorance.

the guilt of the Neocons, and whether their lies and conspiratorial actions constitute crimes, war or civil or criminal or otherwise.

Can we mark this down as another example of Right Wing paranoia?

Close. Paranoia? Yes.

That same speech includes false and misleading references to Saddam's nuclear program and what it might possibly be able to do, without any legitimate evidence

As Scott McClellan points out about the war in his book, a work this is widely praised by critics many of whom I'm sure haven't read it:

I do not believe he [Bush] or his White House deliberately or consciously sought to deceive the American people.

No critic of Bush can cite a single statement by him re Iraq WMD that he knew beforehand was false. And that is the definition of a lie.

Indeed, no critic can cite a single instance where there was no intelligence supporting claims made. That the Administration mixed good intelligence with questionable intelligence may have been bad policy (and who thinks this is the first Administration to do this?); but it is not a lie to do so.

Bush, like all presidents, received the finished intelligence product after it had gone through the various vettings and review.

No president has the time or ability to follow the intelligence or information that is received and checked by the various intelligence departments and agencies. They must rely on the career intelligence analysts along with his staff and Cabinet to check the information. Bush doesn't speak Arabic. He doesn't know about the capabilities of aluminum tubes. No president does.

There is no evidence whatsoever that intelligence was manipulated or falsified.

And there is absolutely no evidence, again, that Bush made statements about Iraq's WMD that he knew were false.

From the 2002 October NIE report given to Bush:

How quickly Iraq will obtain its first nuclear weapon depends on when it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material.

If Baghdad acquires sufficient fissile material from abroad it could make a nuclear weapon within several months to a year.

Several months to a year.

So, the President is told by the US intelligence community that Iraq could make a nuclear weapon within several months and when he warns us of that he's called a liar.

Amazing.

we can let these people back into polite society and give them jobs on university boards and corporate boards and just let them pretend that nothing ever happened when there are 4,000 Americans dead and 25,000 Americans grieviously[sic] wounded, and they'll carry those wounds and suffer all the rest of their lives.

What a histrionic, drama-queen, self-aggrandizing thing to wail (in soprano, no doubt).

Whoever said this doesn't know or care a bit about the armed forces. For one thing, there aren't 25,000 "grieviously" wounded troops. Something like 75 percent of the wounded returned to duty within 24 hours.

We've had about 750 amputees in both Iraq and Afghanistan, after seven years of war and thousands upon thousands of IEDs, VBIEDs, and suicide-bomber pedestrians. At least a dozen amputees have returned to active duty with prosthetic limbs.

Amputee going back to battle

Our troops aren't victims. They're proud to serve, and they suffer their injuries willingly. When they lose their limbs or become facially disfigured, they don't blubber and sob about how tragic it is. They know that with war comes death and injury.

Clearly Bush didn't lie us into the war; only a liar or moron would say that. And since you can't use the troops' deaths and wounds as the rationale for Red Chinese style public apologies and "reconciliation," what else is there?

Seriously: What are the grounds for making people pay? The fact that the war has been difficult?

Most Americans supported the war at first. They only turned against it when it got hard.

Those are the people who should apologize and be forced to undergo rehabilitation, if we're going to go down that road.

FWIW, I was not seriously advocating seditious libel for the 21st century (#32)

I think bringing policy disputes into the Court was wrong during the Clinton administration and its wrong now.

I think the False Statements Act, the one that makes it a crime for "The People" to lie to the government, but the government can lie to "The People," is offensive.

I think if we begin using civil war reconciliation techniques to resolve our domestic disputes, we will have a civil war.

_You simply preferred to stand pat rather than undertake to free people, as I prefer. _

Yes, I am being a bit glib about marching on from Baghdad to Rangoon.

Both from Charlie [#107].

Let me cut to the core moral and ethical issue here. What is our obligation to the people of Burma, Zimbabwe, and North Korea, who are being genuinely oppressed by genuinely evil dictators? (I have a 1998 essay in my files, in which I agonize about the problem of Iraq and Saddam Hussein, and the effective failure of the economic embargo.)

After the typhoon in Burma, our Navy went there with relief supplies. They were never given permission to land, so eventually they turned and sailed away. Should we have invaded Burma to deliver those relief supplies?

We do need to find ways to deal with these evil dictators. And I don't know how to do that effectively. But I do know that invading their countries and making war on them, when they have not actually attacked our country first, consistently turns into a disaster, both for them and for us.

So, no, I don't want to stand pat, but war is not the answer to this problem. And you are being more than a bit glib about what a piece of cake a nice little war will turn out to be. Perhaps in the future, we will gain the wisdom to know how to walk the right middle course to fix this kind of evil. But in the mean time, I will appeal to Hippocrates:

First, do no harm.

Naturally, Beard, you win the argument.

There is precious little sentiment in this country in favor of doing the heavy lifting necessary to free millions in the most egregiously beset countries while sending a chill through dozens of other dictatorships. Did it run aground beginning with JFK and the Bay of Pigs?

For me (clearly not for you), the liberation of Iraq has been an example of the good that can be accomplished with historically low casualities, civilian and military (I remember predicting in 2003 that the military phase would produce a division worth of casualties and the same for the occupation phase and considering myself an optimist, which I indeed was given the projections of many at the time).

I don't agree for a minute that it was the lack of WMD stockpiles that caused the left to revolt against the liberation. It was the ease with which the early phase was accomplished. That set up the prospect of further liberations, something the left cannot permit. The lack of WMDs became a convenient stick.

There are also softer, slower means of spreading freedom, such as trade, but I notice that progressives are increasingly opposed to that too. This, plus phenomena like all the lefties enamored of Chavez, lead me to suspect the real reason progressives oppose liberation strategies is that we'd be deposing their soul buddies.

Kenneth Pollack, Clinton Administration State Department official wrote:

In the late spring of 2002 I participated in a Washington meeting about Iraqi WMD. Those present included nearly twenty former inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), the force established in 1991 to oversee the elimination of WMD in Iraq. One of the senior people put a question to the group: Did anyone in the room doubt that Iraq was currently operating a secret centrifuge plant? No one did. Three people added that they believed Iraq was also operating a secret calutron plant (a facility for separating uranium isotopes).

And further:

Other nations' intelligence services were similarly aligned with U.S. views. Somewhat remarkably, given how adamantly Germany would oppose the war, the German Federal Intelligence Service held the bleakest view of all, arguing that Iraq might be able to build a nuclear weapon within three years. Israel, Russia, Britain, China, and even France held positions similar to that of the United States; France's President Jacques Chirac told Time magazine last February, "There is a problem—the probable possession of weapons of mass destruction by an uncontrollable country, Iraq. The international community is right ... in having decided Iraq should be disarmed." In sum, no one doubted that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Full article here: (link)

Anyone who claims that the Bush Administration lied about what we believed about Iraq WMD has no grounds to make those charges.

[Link fixed - David Blue.]

Beard, interesting - because in reality, if we practiced medicine in order to "do no harm" as Hippocrates said, we wouldn't have much of modern medicine. Because peopel do die in surgery; we do kill people in drug trials and a small number who prove to be harmed by drugs that help many others.

That's a kind of core issue for me; I blogged it a long time ago when I talked about my concern that we were being overtaken with a real revulsion for the 'dirty hands' involved in living real life.

We do harm by living; we get to choose what harm we do, however, and what it build for the future.

A.L.

First, do no harm.

Yes, but you do treat the disease and not just ignore the patient.

what happens if Iraq works out in some acceptable fashion? what happens if the schisms begin to diminish and AQ in Mesopatamia is defeated?

who owes who the apologies then? Or, Are Truth and Reconciliation Commissions fungible and then we have to turn it on Olbermann and the left?

_2) 1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium
5) Over 1,000 radioactive materials in powdered form meant for dispersal over populated areas:

Uhhh, this materials were known before the war, and monitored. And not part of the shadowy WMD links. And some were included even though they were medical. You know what else is radioactive? Fire alarms.

3) 1,500 gallons of chemical weapons agents:
FTA: "Boylan said the suspected lab was new, dating from some time after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003."

WMD was never real, it was a premise. The extent of these lies is the question.

[Link fixed - David Blue.]

"If there were people who bought into the invasion primarily because they feared a mushroom cloud, I never ran into any of them and I can't help their ignorance."

You seem to be missing the point. Whether or not anyone "believed" them or not is irrelevant. The point is whether this and other comments were lies. The answer to that is very likely to be yes. A crime can of course be one of intent, not only of action. You're just as guilty for trying to commit fraud as actually doing so.

And the possibility of lying about WMDs is only one among many potential crimes, I will point out. There are numerous other instances where intelligence was ginned up or ignored, as the most recent report and may others makes clear.

Demanding proof of this at this point, when the current government has done so much to destroy evidence and make it difficult if not impossible to obtain information at every juncture, is disingenuous to say the least. As is opposing investigations, which the country is clamoring for with a new Democratic government in charge in the fall.

And believe you me, I predict that the malfeasance that we already know about may turn out to be only the tip of the iceberg. Can't wait for the lid to come off, myself. But congrats to all of you for helping to keep it sealed until Bush is out of office. If I were him, I might think moving to Switzerland would be a good option.

AL said:

I blogged it a long time ago when I talked about my concern that we were being overtaken with a real revulsion for the 'dirty hands' involved in living real life.

The question of clean hands means a great deal to me also.

Right, A.L. [#122] and Charlie [#123],

This really is the core issue. It's an imperfect world. There are real evils. Suicide is not an option.

I don't hunt, but I eat meat, and I know that some animal must die to be my dinner. I don't condemn you for hunting and eating your kill. If someone hunts simply for the joy of shooting down frightened fleeing prey, and then leaves the corpses (or worse, wounded animals) to rot, yes I would condemn them.

Parents, not the government, get to decide how to raise their children. Parents are allowed not to vaccinate their children, but they have to send their children to school. There are heartbreaking cases where parents, motivated by strong faith in unlikely religions, withhold medical treatment and their children die. No one would think twice about overruling a parent who believed in human sacrifice of their children, no matter how sincere their faith. There's a line there, and we might disagree about exactly where it goes, but we can agree with the endpoints.

Should we shoot down an otherwise-innocent Burmese soldier who is patriotically attempting to defend his country against (what he believes to be) foreign invaders, so that we can deliver relief supplies to innocent victims of a typhoon? He's a tool of a group of evil dictators, but he's also a human being with a family and a love for his country.

It's all about finding ways to draw imperfect lines between grim alternatives. A.L. is right that we can't be squeaky-clean, I think. But some of the alternatives being proposed seem (to me) to be so far from any reasonable boundary that they have to be rejected. As I recall, Jim Rockford once seriously suggested preemptively nuking tens of millions of Iranians to make sure they didn't create a nuclear weapons program that might, someday, threaten the USA. That's way across the boundary.

We used to have a workable solution in the standard that says that we don't invade another country militarily unless they have attacked us first. If someone is being evil, but not attacking, then we have to organize the community, not just our own outrage, and then we can impose community standards on them. For all its imperfections, and even downright corruption, the UN is the relevant community for this purpose, on the international stage.

Those seem like imperfect but workable ways to draw lines for this purpose. Perhaps in the future, we will gain more wisdom on how to draw those lines, and more tools for intervening that will allow us to change a bad situation without making it worse.

I'm prepared to hear about better ways, but just saying it doesn't make it so.

Whether or not anyone "believed" them or not is irrelevant. The point is whether this and other comments were lies. The answer to that is very likely to be yes.

No, the question as the commentator above notes is whether Bush himself knew these were false. Also, the NIE concluded that Iraq was possible several months away from getting a nuclear bomb if they acquired the fissile materials. So, there was at least a plausible claim that the fear was there.

I think it's probably true - more than probable likely - that there were groups in the Administration that manipulated the intelligence. Probably those in the VP's Office of the Pentagon.

But as we all know (I hope), the President of the United States receives the finished intelligence product made by the various intelligence communities. He neither has the time or ability to go through the various disputes on intelligence.

He has to rely on his advisers and Cabinet.

When JFK was told about the missiles in Cuba, he didn't go to the CIA and go over the intelligence. He had to rely on the CIA and his advisers as to the veracity of the claims.

I've seen no evidence from anyone that Bush himself was involved in cooking the books or that he knew what he was saying was a lie.

Of course he's responsible; the buck stops et cetera.

Unfortunately, I think the earlier comments about the potential for civil war are something that should be taken seriously.

It's no surprise that the left has a history of facistic tendencies, and we all know that this danger exists. Just look at how the global warming alarmists demonize their opponents in what would otherwise be a civil discussion among scientists. Wouldn't many of them be in favor of jailing skeptics?

That the US is an armed society, thanks to the 2nd Amendment, mitigates the risk, since, as has been noted, most gun owners are probably more right than left in their political thinking. But the "winds" are not blowing in a good direction. Take, for example, what I think we can state as a fact: No new Adminstration, at least in the forseeable future, will retain any US attorneys from a prior Administration if that be from the other party.

The left has taught us well: Nets Ignored Clinton Firing 93 U.S. Attorneys,
Fret Over Bush's 8
. Who wouldn't learn this lesson? And what does such a future of politicized prosecutorial power hold with respect to the prospect of criminalizing political thought?

The seething of the left during the Clinton presidency worsened when they couldn't litigate Gore into power over the few votes by which Bush won Florida. My theory is that this anger positively boiled over when they saw Bush looking good in that flight suit after landing on the "Mission Accomplished" carrier. Their rage is still very much there, and what it lusts for has not been satisfied. If it ever is, we should fear the consequences.

I don't see what the problem is. "Personal responsibility" is supposed to be a bedrock principle of responsible thought, not "bad philosophy."

If you made grievous misjudgments (lack of planning for Iraq Phase IV operations), denigrated experts (Shinseki), promoted lies from shady sources (Niger uranium), weakened the nation in order to retaliate against those telling the truth (Plame/Wilson), concocted ludicrous legal theories to shield torturers to the ultimate detriment of the prestige of the United States (Yoo), scapegoated lower ranking enlisted while giving a pass to the architects of torture (Bush all the way down), you should be shunned and live forever in obliquy. That's "personal responsibility."

Of course, if you were a willing propagandist for all of these traitors, you might feel differently.

Setting aside history's list of oppressive socialists (Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Castro) who dis such things, is this not identical to the sort of blacklisting that American left-wingers usually decry when they talk about the McCarthy era?

It is amazing that no matter how many times one disproves the claims that the Administration lied about Niger/uranium (British intelligence stands by the claim) or that there wasn't post war planning (see Douglas Feith's cite for the material) that the "intelligence" is just ignored.

The people who are really cooking the intelligence books here are the Administration's critics who ignore all of the exculpatory material for their charges.

#130: What was unusual about Bush's firing of 8 US Attorneys is that the dismissals occurred mid-term. Replacing US Attorneys after a change of Administration is routine. Indeed, this comment is so stuck in the fantasies of the Bush Remnant I wonder if it's a troll. Most of America, not just the liberals, has come to realize that cutting a macho figure in warrior costume is not a sure sign of a competent president.

Charlie (whom I strongly suspect has been playing too many Avalon Hill games) is wrong on so many things I barely know where to start. I think I'll choose the idea that 25 million Iraqis are now "free". It's an ugly secret that even under dictatorships far worse than Saddam, many people lived just fine. The number of Iraqis living better now is probably quite small, while several million Westernized, emancipated women have have been forced back into chadors or worse. Nor is it an accident that rather than be "free", most of the Iraqi Christian population has fled. The consistent reporting of fantasy results (let's just drop a few divisions in North Korea) is the sign of a preteen mind.

But of course they are, Eric.

If they didn't, the entire case for giving them control of the foreign and defense policy apparatus evaporates.

After all, sticking to the facts as they were known at the time means explaining why they would not have taken action when the intelligence community worldwide (not just in the US, but in all our allied countries) said that Saddam was a threat.

Great thread.

Coupla additional points. There is one reason and one reason only that we are able to even have this discussion, particularly about how to respond to potential WMD, etc. That reason is because we have NOT been attacked since 9/11. Had we had, no one would even be questioning a balls to the wall repsonse to terror and WMD at all. And I tell you as an absolute that President Bush put one priority and one priority only above ALL else on September 12, 2001. Making sure it did not happen again for the rest of his watch... so we could all sit in comfort and bitch about him ad nauseum.

Now we all know that had he NOT demonstrated US resolve in the Middle East, had NOT wiretapped, had not "used fear" to get re-elected, etc, and we HAD been hit again, well, we ALL know the Left would at least say, "Gee, sorry about all those thousands (tens?) of Americans dead, but, hey, Dubya, ya tried. So we salute you. And thanks for protecting those civil liberties and all that we were so worried about. We'll let you get back to managing the digging of the trenches needed to bury those ten-thousand bodies, and the rebuilding of the city, but we certainly stand with you... you're our President!"

Yes, of course. As Richard Clarke proves even today, every step the administration takes to head off an attack is a monstrous affront, and the first eight months of that same adminsitration were nothing but incompetence, "missed signals", "passed bucks", and "ignoring the threats" (that Clinton of course held "meeting after meeting" about. Big help, that.)

The second point is the equally childish outlook of the left that intelligence and it's analysis MUST be perfect and clear, always. No grey areas, no suppositions, no best guesses, no doing your best at discerning the murky entrails of intent and capability.

"It's not possible that you got it wrong... so you MUST be up to something evil! Dammit, you have no right to mis-read it, oh, and you DAMN sure better protect me no matter what! So I can... live free, safe, and well-fed, and whine about how imperfect and troublesome the world is as I watch American Idol."

Our forefathers sacrificed their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.... for this??

Re truth and reconciliation commissions.

Since our next President gladly associates with unrepentant terrorists like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, my guess is that he would be against such ostracization.

Perhaps Olbermann will give a "Special Commentary" assiduously denouncing Mr. Obama.

With all of the theatrics involved.

Sir.

When the US was supporting (or does) dictatorships, all we hear is how horrible it is for our nation to support such oppressive regimes where the populace is so mistreated.

But when the US overthrows said dictatorships, suddenly the lives of the people weren't really so bad.

Whew.

Add a couple of kites and you get a Michael Moore scene.

Astonishing.

Obviously, one can argue that the costs for removing the regime has outweighed whatever benefits have occurred. Or that the benefits are insufficient (although citing a 3-year old article from a leftwing website doesn't convince me; I'll need something more contemporary and objective).

But to argue that it wasn't that bad is simply, shamelessly astonishing.

BDS does indeed lead to odd behavior.

"What was unusual about Bush's firing of 8 US Attorneys is that the dismissals occurred mid-term."

What was unusual about Clinton's demanding letters of resignation from 93 US attorneys upon taking office, and accepting them from a handful, was that he was being investigated at the time by that handful. The first time an incoming President had to resort to such actions to quash a criminal investigation into his own doings.

But the point of mentioning Clinton, is that Republicans had more than adequate basis to initiate prosecutions of Clinton administration officials once Bush took office, and yet they refrained.

I personally think they refrained as a result of successful blackmail, but refrain they did. If Democrats are the first to prosecute an outgoing administration, it won't be because Republicans never had a basis to do so. It will be because they chose not to do so. And Democrats chose to.

I don't think it would be a smart move.

"But on your point, did Clinton commit potential war crimes, theft of government services and taxpayer dollars, and commit torture or rendition?"

I was going to answer this one, but #93 beat me to it.

Wow, those ThinkProgress folks are a lovely bunch.

Look, I realize talk of T&RCs is all just so much posturing and ritualized threat display leading into the election, but it does illustrate one reality: the astonishingly poor judgment of some on the left. Okay, two realities: their viciousness and vindictiveness, also.

Criminalizing policy differences. Great idea, guys. Four quick observations:

1. If the Ds really attempted this in 2009, then you can be damn sure the Rs would retaliate in 2013 or whenever they got back. Tit for Tat. Assuming, that is, that administration N would even hand over power to N+1, knowing that N would be arraigned the next day. This is not a precedent you want to set. America's historical amnesia is a blessing.

2. It took me a millisecond to see this T&RC business as a catalyst for civil disorder and possible civil war. Did the T&RC supporters fail to see that, or did they see it and not care?

3. To risk destroying the peace and prosperity America enjoys, and replacing it with civil war, all for the sake of scoring a few pissy rhetorical points, shows criminally bad judgment. By what calculation does it make sense to risk losing something valuable to gain something worthless?

4. Do they really not see that the police, military, intelligence, and business -- as well as the civilian militia -- would be on the other side? Again, what kind of judgment does that show, to declare war on a better-armed opponent? Congratulations, you've turned Berkeley into the Gaza Strip.

(The trick, of course, is to recognize that the right's supporters want desperately to remain neutral and quiet. As much as they hate fifth columnists, America's military would rather hang from their elbows than drive their tanks down Main Street. So the left needs to subvert slowly and quietly, without awakening an overwhelming reaction. But to do that requires discipline and judgment, which again I doubt the lefties possess. Don't get me wrong -- I admit I'd get a brief adolescent frisson from seeing tanks roll through SFSU. But mature, serious citizens do not indulge this trifle for more than a few seconds.)

Lefties should take their own (inadvertently good) advice: just Move On. The Bush years were painful for you (painful for many righties, too), but they're over.

Y'know, I'm not sure Bush being shunned and being prevented from joining The Nation crowd on their annual cruise to Cuba is going to upset him that much.

Just a hunch, though.

Cleans Hands

I have had similar thoughts. But I am grounded in reality. I have animals and have owned horses for decades. I had a cat that was great hunter. She would leave 3-5 dead animals at my door a day. She brought live ones to teach the other cat how to hunt. She would eat the brains out of rabbits and leave the carcass. Wasteful but that was her nature. My young son got quite used to the sight of death. He learned that lesson early that animals live and die. He learned that humans are more important.

One year we had a bad problem with rats in the barn. They got so bad they would eat from the horse’s buckets and drown in the water buckets. The stalls had 4-5 rat holes each. We took rifles and shot some. There were two teenage girls that thought that was cruel. In discussion they thought that animal experimentation was horrible and it was better to use human prisoners for experimentation. They identified with the rats and not humans. Is that a good education? Why identify with the vermin that was causing horses to refuse to eat?

These disconnects and problems with identifying friends and enemies are echoed across the Democratic left. Multiculturism is good they say. Are cultures are equivalent?
Are they? The Muslim theocrats in Iran want to return to the barbarianism of the 7th century. Women are not allowed out without a male relative and covered from head to toe. Gays are hung. Female mutilation is OK. Are these practices as good as western values? I think not. Christian / Judaic values are superior and. Western civilization is superior to barbaric regimes and barbarians that live there.

African regimes devolve to dictatorships the most current example is Zimbabwe.
Rhodesia was the economic breadbasket of Africa. The civil servant system was the best. They was a high literacy rate, civilization flourished. Yet Jimmy Cater and Great Britain forced white minority rule to be subsumed in the “ enlightened” black thug Marxist regime of Robert Mugabe. Now inflation is over a million and starvation is rampant because the government stole the farms and burned the homes of the farm workers. Break up the white run farms and let the land die. That is better than prosperity right?
When will Jimmy Carter apologize for that and hang his head in shame? Surely that is a crime, right?

Jimmy Carter ran out the Shah of Iran and allowed the revolutionary Khomenei and mullahs to take power. Turned a strong ally to an enemy. We will hear an apology or admission of fault? Iran started Hezbolla and they bombed and killed over 200 members of our military in Beirut. The mullahs in Iran and their current president are our enemies. But does the left agree? No I do not think so. Terrorism really started because of the failure of strong action by the U.S. under Jimmy Carter and Brezinski his foreign advisor (now Obama’s advisor). Do we get an apology?

We will get an apology for the calumny and slander by John Kerry about our troops in Vietnam. That John Martha said the same about the Haitian incident. Will the Democrats every admit fault for the refusal to support S Vietnam for funding when the North Vietnam broke the peace treaty? Thousands were killed and more tens of thousands died on the seas in leaky boats trying to escape. How about an apology when we ran out on our Cambodians allies? Pol Pot slaughtered millions

History repeats itself. The liberal loony left of the Democratic Party again attempts to run out of war prematurely. Harry Reid said we had lost in Iraq. Funny thing happened, not true. The new strategy worked, we are winning. Al Qaeda websites show the losses in Iraq. Yet the left said we could never win, that we were just causing a bigger problem. Al Qaeda was the major problem in Iraq after we defeated Saddam’s regime. They took the opportunity to fight the U.S. Army in Iraq. But they could not defeat us so the preyed on the Iraqi people and tried to foment civil war. They almost succeeded with the bombing of Samarra mosque. Al Qaeda is almost eliminated from Iraq. That is a success.

Democrats and Obama have depended on America losing in Iraq. They tried their best to create that situation. Why? They cannot stand that Bush may have been right. The vitriol is so great by the Democrats, especially the loony left that they rather we lost and the enemy win. Is this responsible governing? This is why they focus on “ Bush lied, people died” a simplistic slogan for simple minds. It is the only thing they think they can get Bush on the supposed failure to find nuclear weapons that the Bush administration never said were there

Now reasonable people can disagree with the decision to invade Iraq but they should not lie about that the Congress did not authorize it. People can change their minds about the rightness or wrongness of that decision but our Constitutional government does not allow to criminalize policy or to impeach a President on a policy that he had a Congressional authorization. Regardless of the reason for war the simple fact is that we did invade and have a responsibility to fix what we broke. That means we do not run out on Iraq. Once Iraq can stabilize and succor their own then we have a new ally in the strategic center of the Middle East.

But mature, serious citizens do not indulge this trifle for more than a few seconds.

How about we make that the epitaph for this entire discussion?

Someone on the Other Side says something bone-headed. This is an irresistible excuse to explain, in great detail, why everyone on the Other Side is totally bone-headed at least, and probably traitorous. "Let me tell you what else those Other Side folks wanted to do! Isn't that even more outrageous!"

Then reasonable folks from the Other Side pitch in, pointing out the absurd things said by idiots on Your Side (since both sides have plenty of idiots), and pretty soon food is flying in all directions. Reasonable folks from Your Side try to calm things down, but by now it's too late.

I sometimes joke that indulging in these discussions is "bar fighting". Some of the more polarized posts in this thread make that label seem particularly apt.

Just a thought, what kind of [redacted - A.L.] keeps a notebook so that when he listens to conservative radio he can write down the "provocative" things that he hears?

[not smart, Smarty. We don't namecall in lieu of making arguments here; you need to stop or you'll be going.

-A.L.]

Richard Clarke seems to have morphed into the G. Gordon Liddy of Dems.

CLARKE: Well, there may be some other kind of remedy. There may be some sort of truth and reconciliation commission process that’s been tried in other countries, South Africa, Salvador and what not, where if you come forward and admit that you were in error or admit that you lied, admit that you did something, then you're forgiven. Otherwise, you are censured in some way.

Hey, maybe if 'we' ate a rat we'd be "forgiven" for liberating 28 mil and creating a petri dish in ME from where, hopefully, some sanity will come??

By the way, if someone want to complain about the Iraqi Gov't maybe they should have been watching the US Senate and the Cap and Trade Kabuki Dance, but I digres... ;-)

Andrew X-

So the idea of prosecuting Bush for going into Iraq with the sanction of Congress (my argument on that is detailed in post #53 and needs no repeat here) is nothing less than obscene, and it IS in fact prosecuting for political differences, in essence, one side using courtrooms and lawyers to win a political battle that their politicians and legislators lost. And that is something we have seen all too much of.

I agree that Congress dropped the ball - especially the Democratic side of Congress, although they didn't have nearly the kind control of the intel agencies that Bush did. That said, I've pointed out above the difference between Clinton's war in Bosnia and Bush's war in Iraq, and I don't think Clinton ever came close to doing some of the intel crap that Bush pulled, and that I link to in further detail below. It's a lie to say all of this boils down to mere differences in politics.

Yes, of course. As Richard Clarke proves even today, every step the administration takes to head off an attack is a monstrous affront, and the first eight months of that same adminsitration were nothing but incompetence, "missed signals", "passed bucks", and "ignoring the threats" (that Clinton of course held "meeting after meeting" about. Big help, that.)

Yes, of course. Because there is no such thing as a competent, focused, engaged approach to counter-terrorism that doesn't torture and trample civil liberties, right? How unreasonable of liberals to demand something other than malign neglect or gross overreactions from their government!

The second point is the equally childish outlook of the left that intelligence and it's analysis MUST be perfect and clear, always. No grey areas, no suppositions, no best guesses, no doing your best at discerning the murky entrails of intent and capability.

Actually, if this was just an issue of a simple, honest mistake, I doubt people would have so much of a problem with it. But we have numerous examples of intel being filtered to fit pre-formed conclusions, or, in Colin Powell's case, a virtual grab-bag of half-truths, explicitly strung together to argue for war.

Forget grey areas, this was a sales job, pure and simple. And THAT is a real problem, and one that Bush and company should be held accountable for - although the idea that this should be done via firing squads exists only in the fevered imaginations of AL and others on this thread.

[Formatting corrected. --NM]

Chris, let's go back to history; the Civil War - a 'good war' I think you'll agree. What did Lincoln have to do to make that war happen and keep the Union whole? World War I - a marginal war - but what did Wilson do? World War II - unambiguously a Good War - what did FDR do - you guessed it, they did sales jobs. When you show me that what Bush did was far more radical than was done then, we'll have a fruitful discussion. Until then, my response is 'so?'

A.L.

Beard # 144

You think what they said was bone headed. I agree. But I think they really do think that way. If we allow that type of thinking to go without rebuttal then they continue to indulge their bone headed thinking and get that imposed as policy. We Americans are not without personal resources. If they try to institue such fascist poolicies then they should reap the consequences.

Chris, the American people supported going into Iraq, by a large majority. That is why it is so significant that the vote was far greater than in 1991, when the UN was far more eager for Desert Storm (!) than the US Congress and people, and that is why it is so significant that the 2002 vote was held in October before an election. The electorate had every opportunity to punish their politicians for voting for the war. Instead, the Republicans triumphed. Many Democrats said they were "afraid" to vote against it, for fear of being called unpatriotic or whatever. I call BS.

That is breathtaking cowardice, and I am uninterested in any post facto regrets for it. These people are adults, and I DEMAND that they take responsibility for how they chose to vote, and not be (excuse me, but it really hacks me off) whiny little bitches about it after the fact. Voters agreed with Congress's vote because 9/11 was fresh in our memories (we did not need Bush to "remind" us of it), because they did not trust Democrats to confront the massively dysfucntional tyrannies and ideals of the Middle East that were now getting our people killed, and agreed that Saddam was a profound threat for a MULTITUDE of reasons, and that no progress would ever occur in the region as long as he sat on his throne of skulls. They were correct on all counts.

So now that the war (which the administration in FALL OF 2001 said would likely last longer than even two terms - 'War Won't be Short, Says Bush', front page Wapo headline soon after 9/11) drags on, and the number of soldiers killed begins to approach the "grim milestone" of one-fifth the number of Americans killed in the Battle of the Bulge OR in Okinawa, and the vidoe-game besotted public starts to grumble, those who made that 2002 for cowardly reasons choose to run for cover and point the finger at everyone else that they can. It is a disgusting spectacle.

As for "there is no such thing as a competent, focused, engaged approach to counter-terrorism that doesn't torture and trample civil liberties...." I repeat. Because Mr. Bush has been successful in that effort, we are able to discuss the matter with all sorts of hypothetical possibilities that could have brought it closer to utopian perfection. Could we have beaten Germany without bombing cities from the air? Golly, I'd feel better about it all if we did. And that's what's really important! It is seven years of NO ATTACKS that provide the hindsight of your argument, and I believe it to be somewhat immature on that basis.

Interesting that critics of the Administration link to NPR or Salon stories while the defenders link or mention original source documents like the NIE report or statements by Democrats over the years make the same claims based on their readings of the intelligence.

Something is amiss.

  1. 135- Andrew nailed it- I can just imagine Washington disappearing in a bright flash- I am quite sure forgiveness would be overflowing from the American people for not wanting to wage "aggressive war".

Consider it may not be possible to "absorb" a first blow from a WMD- particularly if it is a bio weapon. Extremely hard to launch a "just" war of retaliation if all your people are dead.

Got into a impassioned argument with my good friend-we rarely talk politics.
His level of hatred of Bush is so great it eats him. About the Iraq war, he wanted us out immediately. I said, what about the consequences? What will happen? His retort "I don't care what happens." That is what I find most troubling, the unwillingness to contemplate the future, instead of living in a sea of past wrongs, both real and imagined.

I really don't care if the "progressive" left wants to flagellate themselves over every perceived wrong ever committed (by Americans), the problem I have is they want to whip ME. I asked a committed (not in the asylum) "progressive" if he could name just ONE THING the US had ever done that he approved of, and he was stumped. This is a terrifying display of ignorance. Finally, after some discussion, he admitted that stopping the Nazi's might have been OK.


Also find it amazing that Bush can be both a complete bumbling fool, and at the same time brilliantly mislead both houses of Congress. And how did he EVER fly that fighter? Or are all his logbooks fake too?

Raven - Great minds and all.

Your conversation reminds me of a little trick I use. When arguing with.... you know the type... hint that they don't love their country and watch the fireworks. "How DARE you! Just because I hate Chimpy McHitlerBushton, doesn't mean I am not patriotic! Blah blah blah"

Then say - "Really? What do you love about it and its history? Specifically. What?"

And watch them squirm. Watch how forcing an answer out of them is like trying to get Pat Robertson to diss the bible. Their agony with that basic question is priceless. And note that many COULD actually come up with stuff, Apollo, Apple computers, The Internet, whatever.... but to even just mouth the words "I love XX about the US" is SOOOO unhip, soooo not cool, sooooo antithetical to their faith, sooo excruciating to utter the words, that it is virtually impossible for them to do it.

It's a sight to see, and a sickness within us that in the end breaks my heart.

Who did this to us?

  1. 134 Andrew J. Lazarus

Well, I dare not cross swords with a self-proclaimed polymath [elsewhere].

But I would point out that what I did say [#83] was "40 million people have been put on the road to freedom and self-determination," not that they are free (though by the coarse political definition, they are).

I would never expect someone who seems to live to cross swords on this subject to agree, but, no matter, the situation is most amenable to a test of time. Every year, I am confident the people of Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to prosper. You? What do you expect?

At the very least, the southern marshes and the Marsh Arabs are returning, the Shia are no longer being used for road beds and the Kurds are no longer being extermined en masse in gas attacks.

I have Chaldean friends and acquaintances, and what I learn from them tends not to support your statement.

Also, I have no idea what Avalon Hill is.

Beard,

I like the way you grappled in your response [#128].

You're quite a mensch, and I enjoyed discussing this with you. Sorry I couldn't keep up... social event.

Armed Liberal #148: "let's go back to history; the Civil War ... What did Lincoln have to do to make that war happen and keep the Union whole? World War I ... what did Wilson do? World War II ... what did FDR do - you guessed it, they did sales jobs."

It goes back much further than that.

THEMISTOCLES LIED, PEOPLE DIED.

If I remember correctly, when Persia attacked Greece, Themistocles correctly analyzed the situation before anyone else, and aggressively "sold" Athens on a robust defense. His "marketing," of course, led to victory at Salamis and contributed to Athens' even greater successes.

Ironically in light of this discussion, a few years later, Themistocles was exiled by his political rivals.

Conjecture: Democracies tend at first to underreact to major threats. It takes a vigorous salesman to convince them to stand up. After they finally do stand up, and after they have vanquished the threat, that salesman is treated badly. Themistocles: exiled. Lincoln: assassinated. Churchill: promptly sacked. Reagan & Thatcher: reviled by many.

Keep in mind that in 1993, the World Trade Center was attacked with explosive. The explosive was laced with cyanide which came from Iraq. The terrorists had passports stolen from Kuwait during Iraqi occupation.

There you go. WMD attack on the US by terrorists from Iraq. Clinton's response was to make the presence of cyanide classified.

That alone justified the US attack and overthrow of Saddam Husayne. It was not an aggressive war.

#154 Charlie: Avalon Hill is/was a wargame publisher. I believe they are now a division of Wizards of the Coast. (Checks.) Yes. Here you go.

#157 Don Meaker: Interesting. You got a link re: the finding of significant / intentional cyanide component? ISTR that cyanide in an explosive warhead has to be specially prepared so it doesn't polymerize into ineffectiveness when the bang happens. That C≡N chemical bond is pretty "tense".

Hmm, should I even have published that factoid?

#128 from Beard:

"We used to have a workable solution in the standard that says that we don't invade another country militarily unless they have attacked us first."

Who is "us"? America alone? Or America and its allies?

If it's America alone, why will America not soon be alone, as far as allies are concerned? And it may not be just alone, it may be hounded. Even the countries that are warmest to America have to be prudent and consider the future. If America doesn't make or honor security guarantees, then any alternative security guarantors have to be strongly considered, including those that are rivals and challengers to America, that are hostile to America, and that may have expectations about their new allies and clients taking an anti-American line. If Japan has to fundamentally reconsider its place between America and China, there will be major consequences.

If it's America and its allies and friends, who are they? And what rules do they play by?

The Islamic states, especially Saudi Arabia, are the greatest challenge here. Not only do they practice semi-deniable jihad against the kuffer nations while they expect to be treated as allies still in good standing, not only do they pose a major long term threat, but their diplomatic style includes the most amazing bribery and corruption combined with crude threats to use their money power to suppress investigations, and a habit of not saying in public what they will and won't do and what they require in private. This is mainly because, while they are eager in private to use American power against their rivals and to secure their own positions, they are publicly and to a great extent privately committed to solidarity with Muslims against non-Muslims, and with the Arabs to solidarity with brother Arabs against non-Arabs.

Allies like this are a hot-house for situations where whether to invade or not to invade is a difficult judgment call.

If you criminalize foreign policy disagreements, you had better not have any allies like those.

Given my perspective on Islam, and the performance of Turkey as an "ally" in the invasion of Iraq, I'm prepared to go with not treating Islamic countries as allies. I'm against the criminalization of policy differences anyway, but I can live with one of the key consequences.

Are those who want "the Bush regime" delegitimized and some of its decision made criminal matters ready to accept as a corollary writing off the Islamic world as ally material, and what will follow from that as various states look around for different security guarantors and make their own, perhaps nuclear, arrangements?

"We used to have a workable solution in the standard that says that we don't invade another country militarily unless they have attacked us first."

Scrupulously adhered to with Operation Torch in November of 1942. And it wasn't soon enough, to take that vengeance on Morocco for bombing Pearl Harbor.

(Just imagining those Moroccan airplanes arriving over Oahu on that peaceful Sunday morning still fills me with rage. Never trust those damn Moroccans.... Never, I say.)

Nort:
ISTR that cyanide in an explosive warhead has to be specially prepared so it doesn't polymerize into ineffectiveness when the bang happens.

I appreciate the tip. My efforts to negotiate with the prairie dogs have failed, and I'm about to go William Tecumseh Sherman on their disease-carrying Nazi asses.

This should not be interpreted as a paradigm for international relations. Likewise, nothing Richard Clarke says should be taken seriously by anyone except a person who is qualified to treat egomaniacal personality disorders.

(In a second breath after my post #161...) I doubt it. I think they are just being irresponsible.

I think they want to talk conveniently but inaccurately as though America could just "deter" adversaries without dropping a big box of hammers from time to time on the heads of those like Saddam Hussein who make it clear that soon they will not be deterred and it will be too late to stop them.

I think they will talk as if telling countries like Kuwait, tacitly, that "you're on your own" would have no consequences. (It would be politically convenient if that were so, if there were no costs to non-intervention, but that's not the gig.)

Mainly, I think they will continue to damn, same and attempt to criminalize domestic enemies for foreign policy differences that they won't accurately state. They will mis-state their enemies positions persuasively, they won't say plainly what their enemies cases are.

#25 from Kevin Donoghue:

"I find it very sad that after one generation of Americans did so much to establish the principles under which those who wage aggressive war can be put in the dock, another generation is reviving the doctrine that might is right."

That's not the Bush Doctrine. That's not the case that George W. Bush made, or the basis of the policy on which he acted.

The case George W. Bush made, while always grounded in and entwined with American interests, was and still is aggressively moralistic and idealistic. You may disagree with George W. Bush's expressed moral beliefs and the stated assumptions he relied on in deciding that they were a realistic basis for action, but just omitting and tacitly denying it all won't do in describing what George W. Bush and still faithful supporters of the war effort are about.

If you're not willing to set aside persuasive and / or emotive characterizations of your enemies' positions and just state them, you're not ready to begin the process that leads to any sort of "trial" or fair judgment on them. If you insist on shaming, driving out of polite society and criminalizing your domestic enemies anyway, that's what the image Armed Liberal leads off with is about.

AL-

Chris, let's go back to history; the Civil War - a 'good war' I think you'll agree. What did Lincoln have to do to make that war happen and keep the Union whole? World War I - a marginal war - but what did Wilson do? World War II - unambiguously a Good War - what did FDR do - you guessed it, they did sales jobs. When you show me that what Bush did was far more radical than was done then, we'll have a fruitful discussion. Until then, my response is 'so?'

Two things, AL. One is that, oddly enough, the US wasn't the aggressor in starting those wars. Did Lincoln or FDR maneuver politically and diplomatically to make it more likely that war would occur? Arguably, yes, but we still got hit first, and as a result, those presidents had a far greater range of options to pursue the war than Bush did. Did they finesse and spin to keep the public involved in the war? Sure, but the core argument for war - they attacked us first, and they threaten our very existence - was still legitimate. But in the Iraq war - as opposed to the war in Afghanistan - that's not the case. And when Bush's core cause for war is basically a purposeful fraud - which was never the case with the Civil War or WW2 - then we've got a real problem.

Second, the basic fact of the matter is that the public increasingly sees Iraq as, if not a losing war, than as one we aren't - and won't - win. If that weren't the case, then things would be entirely different - probably some liberals would still be sore about what Bush did leading up to the war, but Bush would have enough political strength that it wouldn't be an issue, and, as I've written before, guys like you and Joe Lieberman would be doing far better within the Democratic party than you currently are. And, much like Lincoln was ultimately forgiven by history for suspending habeas corpus for saving the Union, and FDR was forgiven for interning Japanese-Americans for saving the world, Bush's actions leading up to the war just wouldn't mean that much.

As it is, however, Bush misled us into war and we have a loss on our hands because of it.

THAT is where the problem lies, AL - and those two reasons make a world of difference when it comes to how we view Bush's actions.

Maximus # 160
Do you know a factoid is a non fact that sounds like a fact? It is not a little known fact as most use it incorrectly. So maybe you did give factoid or misinformation.

Actually here is the definition from American Heritage dictionary
"A piece of unverified or inaccurate information that is presented in the press as factual, often as part of a publicity effort, and that is then accepted as true because of frequent repetition: "What one misses finally is what might have emerged beyond both facts and factoids—a profound definition of the Marilyn Monroe phenomenon" (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt).
Usage Problem A brief, somewhat interesting fact"

So according to the definition it is a fact and a non fact. Now that is double speak.

Chris # 165

I may have misread your post. But did you say that Bush misled us into war? If so here is the PDF dated Oct 16 2002 AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY
FORCE AGAINST IRAQ RESOLUTION OF 2002

[RAH, the cutting and pasting of entire PDFs is not accepted here at WoC. Do it again, we'll consider it spamming. Contributions of original content and brief excerpts to make a point are welcome. --NM]

(Further revision...) I said: "If you're not willing to set aside persuasive and / or emotive characterizations of your enemies' positions and just state them..." I would now add, "assuming they were stated baldly and boldly enough to sum up."

When people argue by sneer and sarcasm, implication and allusion to cliches, and with copious use of devices such as ambiguous "scare quotes" they make it so hard to say plainly what they meant that it's reasonable to excuse yourself from giving a straight summary.

But Bush and the Bushies, especially Donald Rumsfeld, were generally very clear on what they intended to do to who, how, and on what justification their acts rested.

Sorry about the lack of paragraphs It just copied that way.

I am tired of people misrepresenting the actual resolution of war All except one person voted aye.

Chris at 165,

Chris Dodd, Democrat: “There is no question that Iraq possesses biological and chemical weapons and that [it] seeks to acquire additional weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons; that is not in debate.”

John Kerry, Democrat: “all U.S. intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons.” (This, BTW, was false.)

Dick Durbin, Democrat: [Saddam Hussein] “perhaps [has] nuclear weapons at his disposal.” (No intelligence agency nor administration official ever made that claim.)

There are lots more quotes from Democrats that go well beyond anything that came out of the administration.

Also, the Iraq war started with Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and resumed following numerous violations of United Nations resolutions. Iraq under Hussein was the aggressor.

Interesting discussion.

I would only add that regime change in Iraq was the long declared policy of the US. In addition to the UNSC authorization, Congress had adopted PL 105-338, The Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998. It passed the House by 360-38 and by unanimous consent in the Senate, before it was signed by Bill Clinton.

Also, as to # 87, Ms Gonaver, the teacher in question, was allowed to attach a personal statement to her loyalty oath indicating her pacifism (I believe she is a Quaker) and has been allowed to keep the job. See the FIRE website for more details:

link

[Please do not post bare URLs. Instructions for formatting are presented in the text above the comment entry fields. Thank you. I reformatted this, this time. --NM]

I'm really taken aback by the commentors who really believe that they could arrest the President for engaging in an "unjustified" war. I have a question for any of them who want to take a stab at it. I've asked it a few times before and have never once gotten an answer or even an attempt at an answer.

The first Gulf War ended with a cease-fire agreement in the form of a UN resolution to which Saddam Hussein agreed. It specified a whole range of things that had to be done (or, in the case of attacks on Coalition forces still in the area, could not be done) in order to be in compliance. We know that he did not comply with a number of the conditions of the cease-fire. For one, he launched several hundred attacks against Coalition aircraft patrolling the No Fly Zones. He failed to return captives taken from Kuwait. He failed to return an American POW taken in the war. He failed at every step with the weapons inspection conditions.

Now, the big rule of a cease-fire is that if one side breaks any condition of it, the aggrieved side can resume hostilities whenever they want. The UN resolution gave that ability to any nation that was a member of the Coalition.

Given that Saddam Hussein broke not just one but many conditions of the cease-fire, how was our resumption of hostilities against him "unjust" or illegal?

Remember also, that we gave Hussein something like six months to come into compliance. We were, in fact, willing to accept less than complete compliance on his WMD programs and were willing to ignore the other breaches of the cease-fire. So, how can this be considered criminal activity?

#165 - "But in the Iraq war - as opposed to the war in Afghanistan - that's not the case."

That is factually incorrect. Iraq did strike at us first. They shot at our warplanes quite regularly for about ten years, a violation of the above-mentioned cease-fire agreement.

Jimmie # 172

They can't. It is just "Bush lied peopled died" asimplictic slogan for simple minds.

The violation of the cease fire was the rationale that Bush used to argue he did not need a new authorization. Later decided it was better to get a new authorization.

Chris, the American people supported going into Iraq, by a large majority.

Yes, Andrew, they did - because they believed what Bush said about WMDs. Had they known, and arguably had Congress known, then I submit the votes you're so confident legitimize everything Bush did would have been vastly different. This is the whole point - the American people must trust their leaders when it comes to making decisions on confidential intelligence, and go along with what he says. When that trust is betrayed, then we have a real problem that extends beyond a mere difference of political opinion.

So now that the war (which the administration in FALL OF 2001 said would likely last longer than even two terms - 'War Won't be Short, Says Bush', front page Wapo headline soon after 9/11) drags on, and the number of soldiers killed begins to approach the "grim milestone" of one-fifth the number of Americans killed in the Battle of the Bulge OR in Okinawa, and the vidoe-game besotted public starts to grumble, those who made that 2002 for cowardly reasons choose to run for cover and point the finger at everyone else that they can. It is a disgusting spectacle.

For all your whining about lack of accountability, Andrew, it's worth pointing out that the whole reason Obama is now the Democratic nominee, and Clinton is not, is because he was right about the Iraq war where she wasn't. That is accountability.

As for comparing US casualties now to US casualties then, give me a break. There's a world of difference between a world-wide conflict in which the entire country was mobilized against an equally-powerful enemy, and a war that's been essentially fought on the cheap as far as actual manpower and country-wide sacrifice. (And where the financial bill has essentially been put on our Bank of China credit card.) Just because the Bay of Pigs had a miniscule body count when compared to WW2 battles doesn't mean it was well-executed, and just because WW2 battles had horrendous body counts doesn't mean they were badly fought.

And it's kind of pathetic the amount of contempt you seem to have for your fellow countrymen, Andrew - you can dismiss them as "video-game besotted" if you like, but I believe they're smart enough to know when a battle merely takes perseverance and faith, and when one's simply being run into the ground, management-wise.

As for "there is no such thing as a competent, focused, engaged approach to counter-terrorism that doesn't torture and trample civil liberties...." I repeat. Because Mr. Bush has been successful in that effort, we are able to discuss the matter with all sorts of hypothetical possibilities that could have brought it closer to utopian perfection. Could we have beaten Germany without bombing cities from the air? Golly, I'd feel better about it all if we did. And that's what's really important! It is seven years of NO ATTACKS that provide the hindsight of your argument, and I believe it to be somewhat immature on that basis.

Again, I repeat what I was saying, Andrew - believe it or not, Americans are capable of telling the difference between a good and a bad response to terrorism. The fact that we haven't been attacked again by Al Qeada is far from the open-and-shut "it's all because of Bush" case that you make it out to be - some of it's probably attributable to the fact that AQ came up with a fairly novel way of turning our infrastructure against itself, some it it's probably attributable to the fact that AQ got more than a little lucky, and some of it's probably due to Bush's prosecution of Afghanistan - which was actually quite well done, most Democrats just wanted to see more of it. The idea that we have to swallow all the rest of it - Iraq, torture, illegal wiretaps - in the name of security is basically a crap argument, and I for one will not just shut up and kiss Bush's ass because the country has not been attacked again.

#139: AFAICT, your idea US Attorneys were already investigating Clinton at his first inauguration is false. All I can find with Google is worry about one USA who was investigating Dan Rostenkowski, and since Rosty went to jail, it doesn't seem to have hurt the prosecution much. Moreover,
Ronald Reagan replaced every sitting U.S. Attorney when he appointed his first Attorney General.
If you have some sort of data showing this is not correct, by all means, let’s see it.

#143: Al Qaeda is almost eliminated from Iraq. That is a success.
Hunh? Al Qaeda wasn't even in Iraq when we started, and now the fact that they blundered their relationships with the locals counts as success? Wow. Let me put it to you: what exactly is the victory condition here? George Bush says it's political progress in Iraq, which still isn't working out well. The fact we have things down to a few suicide bombings a week is better than it was before, but it still isn't victory.

#152 and #153: Gosh, I guess since we might disappear with terrorist attacks, that gives us the right to invade anyone we want who might be a threat! Is that a variation of the story you try on the girl next door: "C'mon, we might die in a terrorist attack tomorrow; give it to me today!" Anyway, things I like about the USA: The Rule of Law. The Bill of Rights. Elected government. America was, I am told, the first nation—and this was under the Articles of Confederation—to plan expansion with new entities having the same right as the old instead of being colonies. The willingness of the Yankees to fight the Civil War to preserve the nation. The slow but ongoing emancipation and enfranchisement of non-property-owners, blacks, women, etc.

#154: Prosper. Prosper? The Kurds, I will admit, are doing much better. Most of Afghanistan is as poor as it was before and President Karzai is nothing more than the Mayor of Kabul. Iraq? Would you like to estimate the civilian dead? And the idea that we can just taken on North Korea like we did Iraq (as if we didn't already have a war 50 years ago along those lines) comes from someone who thinks anything is possible if he just blows right on his Avalon Hill dice.

#157: Not so. 9/11 "truther" material in reverse.

#165: Right on.

I thought Bush was off to a good start in Iraq when he forced the inspectors back in. Right up until the minute we invaded I thought he was trying to have Saddam's WMD (if any, and I expected at least battlefield-level CW) destroyed. When the "tips" we passed along to the inspectors for the Iranian agents we ourselves were paying (the Chalabi chorus) turned out to be utterly false and we invaded anyway I realized that Bush wanted a War in Iraq. Whether for Oedipal reasons, whether to split the Democratic Party, whether to install Ahmad Chalabi because he promised a pro-Israel Iraq (!), or whatever combination of these and other reasons is hard to say. But it's easy to see that WMD and an Iraqi threat to the United States was not on the agenda and it's hardly a surprise that the intelligence to support that threat was over-hyped or even doubted at the time.

I should add that (the other) Andrew is somewhat disingenuous in writing
'War Won't be Short, Says Bush'
That's a pre-Iraq reference to the War on Terror (not a phrase I especially like anyway), and Bush's boneheaded decision to fight this war in Sadr City and Fallujah has made it longer and more difficult than it was before.

#175: Right on, again.

Um, that logic may well hold for WW2 (you can certainly argue things like Lend-Lease, but we were pretty bluntly attacked there.) You can say that the US was attacked in the Civil War, though as it was also the attacker, it's a bit more of a stretch. But seriously, how can you make that argument with a straight face with respect to WW1? That was an elective war if ever there was one. Some US civilians were killed on a ship in hostile waters, the government ginned up public support for a military intervention, and a lot of US soldiers were killed (in numbers that make modern losses look positively bloodless.)

Furthermore, the aftermath was handled about as badly as it was possible to do so. The US's position was essentially ignored in the aftermath, and the political climate that resulted from the war was instrumental in the rise of BOTH of the murderous despotic philosophies of the 20th century. The only positive accomplishment that the US could point to was the establishment of a loosely-knit international body which was promptly ignored by every belligerent everywhere.

It's probably not helpful to bring up Nuremberg. The problem with that sort of proceeding is that, well, you really need to lose a war first. Given that it's us that would have to lose that war, I don't really see the enthusiasm for starting it...

Charlie-

Dick Durbin, Democrat: [Saddam Hussein] “perhaps [has] nuclear weapons at his disposal.” (No intelligence agency nor administration official ever made that claim.)

Vice President Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003: "He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

So yeah, what you just said was a lie.

It's also ludicrous to compare a handful of out-of-context quotes from Democrats - who, I agree, should have been more skeptical about the war - to the full-court press that the Bush admin engaged in.

Also, the Iraq war started with Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and resumed following numerous violations of United Nations resolutions. Iraq under Hussein was the aggressor.

Oddly enough, if it really were the continuation of the same basic war, then the Use of Force resolution that RAH quotes so obsessively above wouldn't be so important... or even that necessary.

Make no mistake, going back to Iraq in 2003 was a substantively different and far more severe conflict than the 10-odd years that had come before. And the question was not "is it legal", it was "is it wise, prudent, and necessary?" Under the (false) threat of WMDs, the American public said "yes" - had the Bush admin been honest about the actual information involved, they might have said something else entirely.

And, as I've said before, I doubt legal action against Bush is prudent, or even possible. But Clarke, Olbermann et al are hardly being unhinged for suggesting that some form of accountability is important for those who misled us into this thing.

#166 RAH: The meanings of "factoid" are multiple. The OED and my recollection say that Norman Mailer was first in print with the term, in 1973, in his book Marilyn : "Factoids...that is, facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper, creations which are not so much lies as a product to manipulate emotion in the Silent Majority."

I meant it in the sense "I think this is a fact, but I'm not sure, so I am not claiming it is a fact; rather, I ask someone to check it." I used the term somewhat ironically.

This is not the meaning your dictionary gives, and I stand appropriately corrected.

The meanings your dictionary and the OED give are relevant to other parts of this thread, perhaps; I encourage you to stay focused on the major topics of the thread, not my (mis)use of a funny word. I regret any derailment on my part.

Avatar-

But seriously, how can you make that argument with a straight face with respect to WW1?

I didn't make that argument w/r/t WW1, mostly for the reasons you suggest. And I generally don't hold Wilson as a particularly great president, or hold WW1 up as a model war, so it's something of a moot point, isn't it?

Chris,

You keep harping on the WMD. I posted the entire war authorizarion act and it talked about biological and chemical WMD which was found. There was over a dozen other reasons listed for war. WMD was only one arguement. This was has been stated over and over again. Read the 2002 authorization.

Obama being the presumptive Democratic nominee does not mean that he is right. Obama was a junior state senator. He had nothing to do with the US gov't at the time. However he did state that he agreed with Bush on interviews at the time.

Obama got more delegates becasue he won most of the caucases which actually comprise of less voters than the primaries. Clinton won most of the remaining primaries since Super Tuesday and in last 2 months by large amounts in mostly restricted Democratic primaries. So him winning is no evidence that his position on Iraq is the reason. In fact, PA WVA, KY, Indiana, Ohio PR, SD, TN went to Clinton mostly in 2:1 ratios indicated a strong buyer remorse among Democratic voters.

Obama won because of good organization and attention to the caucas states where a small group made the decision rather than entire state electorate. That gave him the 139 delegate lead. Then with the party deciding they wanted to assuage their collective white guilt and not wishing to PO the 90 % black voter demographic. They went for Obama. That is no evidence that the entire American electorate agrees with his foreign policy. There is quite a large number dismayed at his naivete.

Your last paragraph made no sense The reason AQ has failed to suceed in an attack on US is becasue they were lucky? The enemy failed because they are lucky? What type of backward reasoning is that?

RAH, just so you know, no matter how justified you felt doing it, posting the entire PDF here was a no-go. I left the link intact.

By the way, everyone, I'd like to say "Great thread!" Thank you. Carry on.

Maximus # 180

I was not trying to give you a hard time. I just decided to do a light hearted correction and then found out it could mean a fact or non fact and found that amusing. Thanks for the Mailer reference.

Sometimes being off topic helps relieves the incessant arguing.

#179 - It wasn't necessary. Bush Administration officials made that case quite convincingly and succinctly. Other officials, especially the Secretary of State felt it more politic if the President went back and asked for the authorization. They felt the same about the UN, which is why we went back for not one but two UNSC resolutions (and got only one, unanimously).

Also, on WMDs, it is worth reading UNSC resolution 1441. Among the particular stipulations (the "Whereas" clauses), was a specific stipulation that Saddam Hussein was in possession of illegal WMDs according to the several resolutions that had come before. This was not a supposition. It was a very particular statement. Go back and read it if you don't believe me.

What that means is that UNSC Res 1441 stated, without equivocation, that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs. Not only did China and Russa say this but also revolving members of the UNSC, which at that time included Syria. Are we to believe that not only did George Bush, who I've been told is a brain cell death away from being a simian, not only fooled all of Congress and the vast majority of the American people, but the government of every member of the UN Security Council?

At some point, your argument simply collapses under the weight of its own ridiculousness.

Chris says:

Make no mistake, going back to Iraq in 2003 was a substantively different and far more severe conflict than the 10-odd years that had come before.

We didn't "go back", Chris, though the footprint shrank and then ballooned. We were there that whole time; and our forces were fired upon not hundreds but thousands of times according to the 2002 document, during that period. Even French forces were attacked during that period, if I remember right; but France seemed to just make a swallowing noise.

Hostilities never ceased, though there was a nominal armistice; and the violations of that armistice were apparently 100% by Saddam. Go figure.

As far as severity goes, I'm not sure if we had combat engineers bulldozer-burying entire Iraqi battalions in their own trenches in '03. Perhaps you can check that for us.

AL,

Great topic -- I touch on it briefly on my Bi-partisan posts at my Blog.

However, in the interests of History, Democrats were firm believers in Wilsonianism...in 1998 [Care to read the Iraqi Freedom Act passed in Congress?]. When I was a Liberal Democrat in 1990, I remember the protests around the country....because President George HW Bush would not use the military to bring Democracy in the ME.

Currently, the modern Democratic party supports the status quo of Dictators and Theorcrats in the reigon.

However, Democrats find it easier to criminilize those that disagree with them. I am open minded. How? When I was overseas, I defended my country and a President I did not vote for in 1993 (I switched parties mid 92). I worry if Democrats get elected, that AL you will be right, the modern Liberal Democrat will follow the route laid out by Mugabe.

A simple experiment, say 3 good policies of the last two [ President George W. Bush and President Clinton]Presidents. I can, because I love my country no matter who is in charge. Modern democrats cannot do this. I have yet to be proven wrong by this experiment.

And the other thing is, Chris, as Jimmie starts to point out, even granting that Iraq '03 et seq was a bad idea -- everybody misled us into it -- and I will add: including Saddam.

RAH-

You keep harping on the WMD. I posted the entire war authorizarion act and it talked about biological and chemical WMD which was found. There was over a dozen other reasons listed for war. WMD was only one arguement. This was has been stated over and over again. Read the 2002 authorization.

I've read the authorization, thanks - and I defy anyone to read through that document and come to the conclusion that WMDs were not the core reason behind the war, given both the number of times they're mentioned and the relative prominence of those mentions. Are there other arguments in there? Sure, but only under the "kitchen sink" principle - throw every complaint you've got into a declaration of war. WMDs were by far the most prominent administration talking point in the lead-up to the war, and this really shouldn't be all that big a deal - Woodward's mostly admiring book flat out said that WMDs were seized on as a justification for war that everyone could agree on, IIRC.

Obama being the presumptive Democratic nominee does not mean that he is right. Obama was a junior state senator. He had nothing to do with the US gov't at the time. However he did state that he agreed with Bush on interviews at the time.

This is a lie - Obama was a prominent critic of the war, and addressed more than one large, anti-war rally in the run-up to the war.

And no, Obama being the nominee doesn't mean he was right - but it was an important reason he was able to gain traction early on in the campaign against Clinton, a woman whose political prominence, fund raising prowess and general momentum would probably have otherwise rendered her invulnerable.

And you're right, I should have structured that last sentence better. What I meant to say was that the catastrophic "success" 9/11 attacks, from Al Qeada's standpoint, were likely part luck on their part, and part because they had one clever idea that worked spectacularly well from their POV. Neither of these reasons, however, suggest an organization that is necessarily an implacable and ongoing major threat to the US. Certainly what I've read about the organization since 9/11 suggests that they've got tens of thousands of fanatics behind them, but a relatively small number of technically sophisticated, "clean" profile operatives who are capable of carrying out really dangerous attacks on US soil.

Its easy to tabulate the losses, and nearly impossible to ledger the losses that have been spared. We know what happened in the 20th century. We can hardly imagine the terrors of the 20th century avoided if good, decent, and brave men had stood up early enough. The defense of one's nation and civilization is a serious business. All men must make serious choices. And live with them.

Maximus, Thanks for the modification and leaving the link. I did not know and was getting aggravated on the constant refrain that it was all about WMD that was voted on.

Chris,

I think it is really the fringe Code pinks, Moveon people that are really upset about the failure to find WMD to justify the war. I thought at the time that that was a poor argument to use in case they were not found. That concern was validated.

It really does not matter if AQ was in Iraq originally or not despite tenuous links they had with Saddam's people. The war of Iraq was not because of AQ. But we were/are prosecuting a war against AQ and it certainly was easier if they came to Iraq to fight us where we had all the military goodies and approval to shoot the AQ. It would have been really difficult to go to all the countries of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen Egypt to attack the AQ people and cells in those countries.

Iraq turned out to be a flytrap situation to our advantage. We were there; they came to Iraq and got killed. Afghanistan actually had not fared as well. With NATO doing the majority until 2007 the British was making agreements that the Taliban, which had been pushed out, could occupy towns and control territory. The Taliban/AQ traveled with impunity throughout Helmand province and many others. It is only when we turned our attention back with more troops in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008 that we have made decent progress. Also the simple fact we are making cross border Pakistan raids and have developed good intelligence on the people in AQ/Taliban and the local villagers. Knowing who is exactly who helps a lot when setting up ambushes and double crosses such has happened lately in Pakistan.

The AQ/ Taliban though have had success ambushing our supplies convoys through the Khyber Pass since Pakistan has stopped security. We even have to ship through Russia now for supplies.

Afghanistan will probably be a failed state, unlike Iraq, which will probably succeed in becoming a viable state. We have lost valuable cooperation with Pakistan since Musharaff lost the election and Bhutto got killed. Sharif currently in charge is sympathetic and sided with the Taliban in the past, which was why he was exiled.

We only have a few months to make a dent in the Taliban/ AQ cells in the Northwest Territories since it unlikely the next President will make much effort. After Iraq much of the pursuit of AQ international will be police work, though we have been surprising successful on the financial front and getting support from Indonesia. But we won't be sending troops into the largest Muslim country of Indonesia. But they have been helpful in rooting them out. The defeat of AQ in Iraq has been psychologically damaging to the romance of AQ among the young fundamentalists. Nothing like losing to discourage new recruits. If you are interested here is the link on the jihadist revolt against Bin Laden.
http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=702bf6d5-a37a-4e3e-a491-fd72bf6a9da1

And the other thing is, Chris, as Jimmie starts to point out, even granting that Iraq '03 et seq was a bad idea -- everybody misled us into it -- and I will add: including Saddam.

Nortius, "everybody" didn't talk obsessively about Saddam having nukes when there was virtually no evidence of such - that was pretty much all Cheney and the Bush administration's doing. Nor was "everybody" behind us forcing WMD inspectors out of Iraq and going ahead with a full-scale invasion. Yes, Saddam was a bad guy, and wasn't as open as he could have been about the state of his WMD program. But the Bush admin - and only the Bush admin - is to blame for getting us into this war in the exact manner and circumstances that we did.

Chris, #190 - "I've read the authorization, thanks - and I defy anyone to read through that document and come to the conclusion that WMDs were not the core reason behind the war, given both the number of times they're mentioned and the relative prominence of those mentions. Are there other arguments in there? Sure, but only under the "kitchen sink" principle - throw every complaint you've got into a declaration of war."

Okey dokey, I'll bite.

Though I've not read the authorization recently, I seem to recall that the humanitarian reasons were listed first. I know that they were the first reason given by Congress in 1998. I also know they were the first things mentioned by the President when he spoke before the UN.

Their prominence is greater than the WMD rationale.

But, aside from that, let me ask you a question. Given the composition of the nations in the UN, which of these do you think is a more compelling argument?

1) Saddam Hussein has committed genocide twice and is an unrepentant tyrant who runs hellish prisons and rape rooms.

2) You demanded that Saddam Hussein comply with over a dozen conditions related to his WMD programs. He has complied with none of them. If you can't enforce your own justified demands, what good are you?

It seems to me that condemning a man for genocide and tyranny isn't a particularly good argument in a room with people who were complicit with genocide themselves and who represented currently-ruling tyrants. The WMD angle made sense in that venue. But if you read any of President Bush's speeches to that point, the humanitarian reasons were always first and foremost among the bill of particulars.

Chris:

No, that's your memory of what they were doing. The media played at most two "mushroom cloud" quotes, if I recall correctly, over and over and over for a few news cycles in the course of perhaps two weeks. You say that's what moved the public. I can't prove you are wrong.

But I know for sure that the administration did not keep saying "nukes" -- you say that they used "WMDs" as code and everyone knew that they meant nukes.

I don't know how you can prove or even demonstrate that thesis. So all you can do is hold forth on it. And all I can do is say I am far from sure that you are right.

I'm not accusing you of anything except human nature. The matter is complicated by the likelihood that anyone, including me, is subject to the same limitations.

Chris:

Regarding the US forcing inspectors out... Well, it's kind of interesting how the story has drifted, at least according to Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting....

A smattering of quotes:

"The U.N. orders its weapons inspectors to leave Iraq after the chief inspector reports Baghdad is not fully cooperating with them."

-- Sheila MacVicar, ABC World News This Morning, 12/16/98

"To bolster its claim, Iraq let reporters see one laboratory U.N. inspectors once visited before they were kicked out four years ago."

--John McWethy, ABC World News Tonight, 8/12/02

...

"The chief U.N. weapons inspector ordered his monitors to leave Baghdad today after saying that Iraq had once again reneged on its promise to cooperate--a report that renewed the threat of U.S. and British airstrikes."

--AP, 12/16/98

"Information on Iraq's programs has been spotty since Saddam expelled U.N. weapons inspectors in 1998."

--AP, 9/7/02

...and the beat goes on.

So, who we gonna believe about that? Your opinion or the lying elastically-accurate Mainstream Media?

Edit: My point here is that in 1998, the story was that the UN pulled their people because of Saddam playing too many games with them. In 2002 the story had mutated into "Saddam kicked them out". Now you tell me the story is something like "The US pulled them out with an eye to fire up the war machine".

I don't know what the hell actually happened. How can I believe you any more than I can believe ABC or the AP?

You know the funny thing is that we have a lot more evidence of Iran working on a nuclear weapon program. They keep telling everyone about the centrifuges processing fissile material.But that doesn't scare people into yelling we should bomb Iran. The reason is that people were scared of the possibility of Saddam getting nukes in the future, that was posited by Bush even when he carefully said there were none at the time. But becasue people do feel rightly or wrongly they were lied to, they are not urging a bombing raid.

So while criminalizing Bush administration for promoting a policy that all the Congress and people voted for is foolish and not legal. It does have the effect of preventing Bush urging military action against Iran.

Edit: My point here is that in 1998, the story was that the UN pulled their people because of Saddam playing too many games with them. In 2002 the story had mutated into "Saddam kicked them out". Now you tell me the story is something like "The US pulled them out with an eye to fire up the war machine".

I don't know what the hell actually happened. How can I believe you any more than I can believe ABC or the AP?

Nortius, if you're honestly this ignorant about what happened in the run-up to the war - but still feel that you're able to argue about the war, and competent to police the discussion of others about the war - then I really don't know what else to say, except that I think I'm wasting my time here.

Please understand that I don't mean ignorant as an insult, but as a purely descriptive adjective. Look, in late 2002, under pressure from the Bush administration, UN weapons inspectors returned to Iraq after having been gone from Iraq since 1998. The inspectors resumed their inspections, searching Iraq for biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, right up until mid-March, 2003, when they left due to Bush's ultimatum to Saddam to leave Iraq within 48 hours.

Nortius, this is not a question of "who to believe," or untrustworthy media, or competing narratives. This is all part of the public record, of clear and unambiguous history. This has nothing to do with whether anybody was right or wrong - whether Bush was right to effectively push the inspectors out, or whether the inspectors were really effective when they got back in 2002 - this is merely the plain and simple facts of the matter that really aren't open to interpretation.

And the fact that we're still having to cover this stuff, on a site that supposedly prides itself on how deeply interested and concerned it is about the Iraq war and the Iraqi people, says volumes about the actual state of debate we face on this issue. If we literally aren't arguing the same facts about the war, then the idea that we can ever come to a conclusion about what those facts really mean seems impossible.

Though I've not read the authorization recently, I seem to recall that the humanitarian reasons were listed first.

You would be wrong, RAH, and it's hilarious that you linked to the authorization, and are trying to lecture me on it, but haven't actually bothered to, y'know, review it yourself recently. The first thing the authorization does is to talk about the US ending Iraq's "war of aggression" against Iraq. This is followed by five paragraphs talking about WMDs before we get to even one paragraph that talks about humanitarian concerns. WMDs are also mentioned frequently throughout the rest of the document - they are by far more prominent than any other rationale.

It's also a lie that Bush's speeches featured humanitarian concerns more prominently - this speech is generally seen as being fairly definitive of Bush's rhetoric before the invasion, and sure as hell mentions WMD right off the bat.

Once more, it's frustrating that y'all feel compelled to argue this stuff, but don't even have your facts straight on the issue.

Chris: Mea culpa. The policing I do here is more like picking up cigarette butts than anything else. I completely gapped out on the correct context. Apologies.

All I can say is I shot my mouth off on this and you tagged me. Rightly.

And maybe I have early-onset Alzheimer's and should stick to picking up dogends. I am appropriately mortified.

However, Bush's speech at the UN in 2002, certainly the obvious presentation of the case to the world at large (what other forum could possibly be seen as such?) does in fact fit Nortius's description: Bush at UN, October 2002

There is one element to this argument not mentioned here, and mentioned little elsewhere. I remember discussing it with a brother of mine, on the other side of the issue, who said late into summer of 2003, "Well, if the WMD aren't there, I'm sure the CIA will just conveniently 'find' them anyway!"

I'm a rabid anti-conspiricist (CIA! Booga booga booga!!) but he made a damn good point. Bush lied? A lie that he KNEW was gonna get blown? That he and that Gorgon monster Cheney did not even bother to gather up some evidence to have some of their Halliburton Sith Lords put in place to keep this ENTIRE years long issue from ever happening at all?

Remember, Bush and his team are evil genuises.... I mean.... utter incompetents.... wait.... no, today it's evil genuises. Sorry, I lose track.

Given the charges that have been levelled at BushCo by his enemies, the very idea that they could NOT "cover their bases" in the WMD issue is absurd. (Certainly if one believes even a tenth of all that other crap.)

Yet they apperently couldn't be bothered. They, who lie, cheat, deceive, do damn near anything to pursue their own interests, blah blah blah, just happened to forget that this "lie" was doomed to blatant exposure. Oops.

Or, maybe the entire "Bush lied" charge is unmitigated bulls--t. That's a possibility too.

Which one would Occam choose?

Chris:

If you're going to accuse Charlie of lying, as you did in #179, you should be a bit more careful about the facts yoursel. When Dick Cheney said on Meet the Press "we believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons", it was quite clearly a simple verbal misstatement. Anyone who bothers to read the transcript knows that he meant to say "reconstituted nuclear weapons program", as he said more than once elsewhere in the same interview. The fact that Tim Russert did not respond with astonishment shows that he understood Cheney to mean programs, not weapons, and it is deeply shameful that so many on the left continue to base accusations of administration lying on the oral equivalent of a typographical error. See here and here for the analyses that should have kept you from writing what you wrote.

Hey Nort - we all step in it on occasion - see me & Nuremburg upthread. You get to kick yourself once and then, as they say, move on.

A.L.

Chris # 199

It was not I that said humanitarian was the primary argument that was Jimmie. Also your recollection about the UN inspectors is correct. It is that Bush very carefully said that Saddam did not have nukes but was working on them. It was Saddam intransigence in coming clean and his obstruction of the inspectors. Saddam seemed to think he was playing Bush like he was Clinton and did not need to show he was complying with the terms of the cease-fire. Even Saddam seemed to be a victim of disinformation as his people were giving reports to him about progress on a systems that was going anywhere. That is from documents founds after the invasion.

The big problem is definitions of WMD. In my mind Nukes are WMD and not bio weapons or chemical weapons. Those can be used in wide area dispersment but they are not as deadly in open air. Saddam definitely had binary agents and chemical agents. He had used them in the past on his own people. It was quite reasonable to assume he would create more as needed. But it bothers me to call chem and bio weapons WMD, just not a good description. Most Americans think that WMD is nukes and since WMD was a strong argument it was the most convincing selling point. But WMD is nukes, bio and chem. weapons, not just nukes.

I think we had sufficient cause to invade and topple Saddam. But once we did and broke it we had to fix it up. That was significantly more difficult due to a lot of factors.

Folks, I'd love to rope this back into the topic at hand and away from the generalized wiki on the history of the Iraq war that we seem to be building.

Let's stipulate for the moment that there is meaningful disagreement about the runup to the war. While I realize that settling the facts on that runup would allow us to judge the actions of those who led it, let's also recognize that we're unlikely to do so here.

It might be fun to cerate a series of posts with the best links I can find to specific nodes in that history and let me chew on them a bit...maybe an exercise for next week.

But the issue here is this: what does it mean to talk about 'national committees of truth and reconciliation' in the context of the kind of deep policy disagreements we're having here.

A.L.

However, Democrats find it easier to criminilize those that disagree with them.
Projection strikes again. The entire Special Prosecutor saga of the Clinton Administration was an attempt to criminalize Clinton's impudence in defeating a Republican incumbent. Remember after all that investigating, the only crime the GOP was able to come up with was perjury about a sex act that hadn't yet taken place at the beginning of the investigation.

This quote will also come as a surprise to Don Siegelman. Indeed the entire US Attorney firing scandal fits in with a Rovian narrative of tilting the playing field.

I would have to agree that lying to the American people in order to get support for a war whose genuine reasons are insufficient may not be "criminal", although it would be nice to see the truth come out. There may have been (indeed, I believe there have been) overtly criminal acts committed in the conduct of this war, and my suspicion is that Clarke is talking only about these actual crimes. Assume, for the sake of argument, that our treatment of detainees violates the ICAT or the Geneva Convention: that's a crime and those who authorized it should be held accountable. Assume, similarly, that the telephone companies (minus Qwest, whose CEO then found himself on trial) have been giving the government access to any phone call anywhere that they could dragnet without a ghost of a warrant. That's a crime. Et cetera.

#206 from Armed Liberal:

"But the issue here is this: what does it mean to talk about 'national committees of truth and reconciliation' in the context of the kind of deep policy disagreements we're having here."

Many things, which I may get to later. I have in mind the example of Ancient Rome, and what happens if everyone who exercises supreme political power is subject to vengeful political humiliation once they hand over power. It's not only the final fate of a republic that that points to, but a lot of bad things on the way. There would be no way to avoid precautionary proscriptions in some form or other. (If I am going to give up power, and as a loyal servant of a republic I mean to, then everyone who would haul me before their 'national committees of truth and reconciliation' when I do has to be politically crippled (at least) by my 'national committees of truth and reconciliation' first. If not worse than that. Put enough pressure on people, and to save themselves from humiliation and worse, they'll do it.

But my first point was simple. 'National committees of truth and reconciliation' over foreign policy and war-fighting differences mean - a lot of the time - a "cover your backside" foreign policy beyond anything we've ever seen. It means in parts of the world where the nature of the people is such that totally clear and safe calls are unavailable that America simply has to forfeit and leave the direction of events to others. It means a Carter-like foreign policy (that is: "America cannot do a damn thing") permanently, not because of one man - that's an easy problem to fix - but because of systemic corruption.

As Saddam Hussein should have taught us when in effect he framed himself for WMD possession, the parts of the world where the nature of the people means we can't always have clear, easy, safe calls based on perfect information include the Muslim world, the Arab world, and probably anything relation to oil.

I would add: paranoid Russians are a problem too. And the touchy Indians. And the Chinese, going through what I think of as their 21st Century "mature legalist" phase. America would not be able to deal with any kind of wild card.

Let us keep in mind vast truth spoken during the Bill Clinton trials..

"You can indict a ham sandwich."

Another problem, which the Americans already are experiencing: there is no way, in this atmosphere, for businesses and perhaps even individuals to get guaranteed, permanent security against either 'national committees of truth and reconciliation' or lawsuits in politicized courts. The corrosive effect of this is sure to be terrible.

If businesses, such as telecoms, come to the aid of the government once, because it's a national emergency, and if they believe they will be covered because they came to their nation's aid in a crisis and you can't punish people for that, and if they are put at risk, if they are not covered ... then you only get to do that once.

If the people are forced to treat the government as a treacherous alien force that in time of trouble does not unite the people and harness their self-sacrificing efforts for the general good but that calls for trust and then betrays it, as one lot of politicians replaces another and hounds those who helped them, that's BAD.

What happens then is, people - and institutions, and networks of institutions - are likely to "shut up shop", disengage from the nation and the state, and act the way paranoid Leftists think they do, as private empires with no expectation of any loyalty down, no loyalty up, and no willingness to be the next lot of suckers.

That doesn't have only a latent effect that will be felt the next time there's a great crisis. If in effect you chop the top off the pyramid of loyalties that ultimately serve the state, you make client-patron relations the highest practical good, immediately and all the time.

There is no "America". "America" won't save you from partisan vengeance being exacted on you by its on formal institutions, and, it will leave you staked out for the tort law dogs to eat. What matters is your real protectors, who will be the Republicans, or the Democrats, or some other faction or family such as the Kennedys. Keep their sheltering wings over you, do whatever it takes to make them win, and you're OK. Fail to do so, and nothing you've done for the state or the nation will help you at all.

So what then is the nation, or the state? It is a myth and an implement of power to be fought over, and that is all.

I know some of this goes on anyway. But opening up companies and individuals who got a wild dose of self-sacrificing, risk-tolerant spirit in a national crisis to looting by lawsuit and to political "truth and justice" and "accountability" is bound to take things to a whole different level.

How can you have truth and reconciliation when the basic presumptions of truth are wrong?

This is typical smearing that liberal lefties do to vilify a policy.

They should not get any more consideration for their absurd arguments. If they want to arrest Bush and Co. they have to get through the Secret Service cordon. The rest of people can blast them legally or physically if they are so foolish to take this stand.

I mean if these idiots attempt to do a citizen arrest for "war crimes" they are likely to get roughed up. Tolerance for this idiocy is getting low.

The problem with the liberal fringe is that they think they are winning the war of words. The MSM is an echo chamber for them and the Democratic Party has appeased them since Deaniacs took over the party.

Once Hillary decided to revolt against the Codepink and MoveOn people vote numbers went up. This was in the Democratic primaries. Obama's contempt for those that love God and guns showed that a large number of Reagan democrats are getting fed up.

The denigration and a vilification of Hillary by the leftist’s portion of the Democratic Party is creating a backlash. A good portion of these people may jump to McCain. These types of tactics to criminalize differences of opinions feed that feeling that these idiots are dangerous and need to be slapped down.

If Obama wants a real chance to get elected then this type of verbal war needs to be shut down. Olberman is an Obama supporter and Clarke is not helping.

There was a reason that the Bush administration stopped all talk of going after Clinton people once they won. It would have tied them up in recriminations and they never would have a chance to try to promote their own programs. Obama tries to transcend the partisan bickering and Truth and Reconciliation tribunals would just entrench the partisan warfare.

So much meat in these comments.

I recall, pretty clearly, the Hans Blix testimony at the UN in Feb, 2003 -- the deadline for Saddam to prove he had no WMDs.

Blix DID want more time for more inspections.
Blix did NOT ever claim that Saddam had proven to have destroyed all his previously known WMDs.

Where was the burden of proof? The Left wants to say it is up to the US to prove he had them, and in the deranged version that Bush LIED about them -- meaning that Bush knew Saddam didn't have them. (It's clear to me the Bush believed Saddam had WMDs, but was wrong. Wrong is not lying. Only BDS sufferers think that wrong = lying.)

According to the UN resolutions ending the Iraq War in 1991 after Iraq invaded Kuwait, the burden of proof is on Saddam. He was on parole, and violating it in some 16 UN SC resolutions. If violating a UN SC resolution is not violation of international law, there is no effective international law (a position I believe is

Bush has been spectacularly weak at pushing the issue of burden of proof (altho perhaps he might be doing this because he doesn't want that precedent with Iran).

The goal of Saddam was to "allow" inspections that "would never" (wink wink) find any WMDs -- even tho all of his neighbors and the West would believe he still had them. (IMO)

Thus, just as Saddam won Desert Storm (thru surviving w/o unconditional surrender or losing power), he would win the inspection whack-a-site sometimes cooperate, somtimes not.

All the while, his Oil-for-Food bribery to France, Russia, and folks at the UN would continue, with them pushing for ever looser sanctions.

I have no doubt that, without the invasion, Saddam would have survived, prospered, and had sanctions loosened.

Remember many of the anti-war folk had previously been screaming about how sanctions were killing so many Iraqi children -- always the fault of the West, never the dictator.

"But I do know that invading their countries and making war on them, when they have not actually attacked our country first, consistently turns into a disaster, both for them and for us."
Well, I don't recall any Korean attack on the US, but the US/UN invasion/ liberation of S. Korea seems pretty good, right now.
Especially when compared to the N. Korean alternative.

In Vietnam, Nixon won the war (1973 Paris Peace Accords) before the majority Dem US Congress (a) insisted on a "no enforcement by US troops" law forbidding Nixon/ Ford from sending troops (1974), and (b) reduced funding for our imperfec ally, S. Vietnam (1975) -- allowing the N. Viet commies to violate their signed treaty and attack and win, quickly, against the corrupt, cowardly (many officers), incompetent S. Viet forces with no support from the USA. Similarly the Chinese support Khmer Rouge were able to overrun Cambodia and murder hundreds of thousands.

The Killing Fields are the worst human caused tragedy that have occurred in my life -- I wish the US anti-war (Vietnam) really WERE held accountable for these despicable yet predictable results of their policies. I'm a bit ashamed to recall my first US presidential vote, for Carter -- because I didn't like Ford pardoning Nixon AND didn't like the fotos of Ford with a football between his legs like a college center.
Carter has never been held accountable for dumping the Shah, and its torturing secret police (SAVAK), which was replaced by even worse mullahs.

D. Feith's book (thru reviews) seems to argue that the Rumsfeld idea was to go in, take out Saddam and the WMDs, and turn everything over to the Iraqis quick, with Gen. Gardner. But he lost the policy battle with Powell's State dept., wanting to do the far harder & longer "nation building", but under US "little dictator" Bremer ... anybody but Iraqi exile Chalabi!

I'm really annoyed so much silly hot air is discussed in "why" we went into Iraq, and so much less in what our choices were starting after the statue fell.

We are going to continue Losing the Peace if we can only accept and support allies that have perfectly Clean Hands -- I call it Unreal Perfection. Much of this (admittedly stimulating, even addicting?) comment thread is sterile on this crucial point -- what are the right policies to follow AFTER an invasion?

1) Faster elections of local leaders with local security responsibility and budget spending authority (whether thru ration cards or other methods)
2) Creation of a Resource Fund, oil or diamonds or whatever, which will pay out dividends directly to the people -- more money/ power to them, less cash & corruption of the politicians
3) Full 100% internet based transparency on all gov't contracts...

Am I totally Off Topic yet?
Well the point is this -- all this criminalizing dissent is also sucking policy discussion time away from forward moving policies.

I, for one, would like to live in World Without Dictators. When I compare Bush's action in Iraq with the UN's mostly inaction in Sudan, Bush looks a lot better.

Davis Blue is totally correct in his post #210.

As was posted before this is a prescription for civil war. Many of us will not tolerate this behavior. If the levers of law are corrupted and we can not get adress from our representatives, then people have no choice but rely on they own loyal networks and declare others as enemies and all that implies.

AL asks: what does it mean to talk about 'national committees of truth and reconciliation' in the context of the kind of deep policy disagreements we're having here.

Since Clarke explicitly mentions South Africa and El Salvador, surely the most reasonable interpretation is that he is thinking of the kind of processes adopted there? I don't know much about either case but my undertanding is that the rationale in South Africa was something like this: lots of people committed crimes during the apartheid era, but it just wasn't feasable to put them all behind bars. So instead an amnesty was granted to those who testified before the committee and came clean about what they had done.

AL, please be clear that this was not about the persecution of journalists who defended apartheid. It was not about "policy disagreements" - that's a red herring. It was about people who tortured and sometimes killed opponents of the regime. We're talking about real crimes here, not thought-crime. There was an injustice involved, but it was not at all the kind of injustice you seem to think. Quite the opposite. It was the victims of apartheid who were short-changed. The thugs who propped up the system got off very lightly indeed. So you've got the wrong photo up there. You should have a picture of Bishop Tutu questioning the guys who killed Steve Biko.

David Blue - Excellent, extraordinary post (#210). I may do a cut and paste.

What you are talking about, loyalty to the nation and higher ideals stripped away by recriminations and glory-hungry lawyers, causing us to rely on family, friends, and other known entities, whom we must then be loyal back to NO MATTER WHAT....

Gee, sound familiar? Is that not the failing Arab world described, the one at the very heart of ALL that we are talking about here? Similar too in the Balkans, that dewey meadow of peace, stabilty, and economic progress.

Yes, let's bring that here, by all means. 220 years of success just seems to have gotten mighty boring. Let's try something else.

I don't recall RAH saving Bill Clinton from overzealous prosecution with his militia network. Looks like we've struck a nerve.

All of this talk about inspectors shows we need some reminders:

(1) Saddam stopped cooperating with the 1998 inspections because he said that the teams included spies who were conducting espionage in addition to their official duties and he was probably correct.

(2) The 2003 inspections stopped when the teams had to leave in advance of our attack. At that point, they were calling our Chalabi-provided tips "garbage". I guess Bush didn't want us to hear much more of that.

Three more bad effects of truth and reconciliation. I hope giving these briefly and after other considerations doesn't create the impression I think these are lesser problems, it's just that they're such classics they don't need much spelling out.

1. The devastating effect when denouncing people for treason or related crimes against the state becomes profitable. Anyone who habitually reads history won't need to be told how this game plays out.

2. The corrupting effect on those who do achieve rehabilitation by acknowledging that they lied when they did not and denouncing others for "crimes" of which they are not guilty.

3. The corrupting effect on those who run the shaming process, or who have it on tap at need. Truth becomes something they can ignore, and manufacture later to suit them, by extorting from those in need of rehabilitation confirmation of whatever story they told earlier because it was politically convenient. And while they fortify their lies by breaking other men's integrity, they can wallow in public uprightness and magnanimity.

But Kevin, then WHO are the people who "tortured and sometimes killed opponents of the regime" that Clarke and company are talking about, about whom he says they cannot “let these people back into polite society"?

Who? NOT the president, Vice, SecDef, SecState? You know, the ones who have appeared in rallies on a quabillion signs amd puppets in jail clothes and the like?

Who, then, are we talking about here? And as David Blue so elequently noted, if we are NOT talking about them, how about lower levels? Like say, Oh, the telcoms, who visciously and disgracfully bugged people because.... the administration asked them too in the midst of a COMMONLY ACCEPTED ideal that it was the right thing to do at the time. Were that last sentence untrue, Congress would have stopped it cold. They didn't. Some tried, and failed. Because THEY didn't want to get strung up for harming the war effort, especially if there was another attack.

Actually, a perfect way to look at this is as follows: We are talking about a strong movement to roll back much of what Bush put in place after 2001. If Obama campaigns on it, he might win. And if candidates for Congress do the same, they might win.

And in 2010, there MIGHT be a devastating attack of some kind. Maybe even candidates with a 2002 outlook might now get back to Congress....

Where they can then set about, to use Mr. Clarke's words, seeing that all those elected in 2008 cannot be "let back into polite society". If not indicted for treason, at least forced to publicly grovel before us all and whimper apologies for those wrongs that they are speaking this very day. Then, maybe, just maybe, we will allow them to earn a living, sell pencils on the corner or whatever.

That scenario is EXACTLY what Clarke and Olberman speak of today. Par for the course for their ilk, they are too damn blinkered to see what the ramifications of what they do will be, long after their personal Satan is gone from Washington.

*#112 from Tyler Jones at 10:35 pm on Jun 07, 2008
#93, all of those assertions are meaningless without citing the source. For all I know, you made up everything in your post.*

I'm sorry for leaving out the links. I made the assumtion that as someone so concerned with questions of executive authority and the legality of war you would be familure with the Kosovo case. Appartenly your concers are more partisan than legal if you were completely unaware of what went on with Kosovo in 1999.

If you would like a quick primer on the issue of war crimes by NATO in Kosovo you can read Humanitarian Hypocrisy by Professor Robert Hayden.

As to the legality of the Kosovo war, I can't link to either the US or the UN resolutions authorizing the use of force in Kosovo because niether of them exist. The Clinton administration never asked for authorization, they just started bombing. If you would like, you can read a discusion about the issues of the legality of Kosovo and Iraq here which includes this specific statement by Bruce Ackerman:

"The first victim has been the War Powers Resolution passed by Congress during the Vietnam War. This statute gave President Clinton sixty days to persuade Congress to authorize hostilities in Kosovo. The House refused to authorize the war—thereby undermining its claim to legality on May 25th, the sixtieth day of the bombing campaign."

As to rendition, even the ACLU admits that "The current policy traces its roots to the administration of former President Bill Clinton."

But regardless of whether they end up having any truth to them or not, what you seem to be suggesting is that two wrongs make a right, or that if someone gets away with committing a crime then everyone should be forgiven as well.

I never made any such argument. You asked if Clinton had done any of a long list of things. I simply pointed out to you that, in fact, the argument could be made that he had. You are free to do with that information what you wish. But, if you are so concerned about the conduct of this administration, then you should also be beating the drum for trials of the previous administration as well.

*Of course this has nothing to do with Clarke's comments, the guilt of the Neocons, and whether their lies and conspiratorial actions constitute crimes, war or civil or criminal or otherwise.

Nor does it have any bearing on the false premise that underlies this thread that Clarke or anyone else is calling for anything like most of you here are imagining.

Can we mark this down as another example of Right Wing paranoia?*

I think we can mark this down as another example of "Left Wing" projection. Over and over again the left has called the current administration criminal for engaging in activities that the Cliton administration also engaged in, often in much more blatant ways. But for some reason when Cliton did it, they had no real issues with the conduct.

RAH, Andrew X, thank you.

Lazarus,

The impeachment trial of Clinton was a tit for tat of the impeachment effort of Nixon on obstruction of justice and perjury charges. Clinton just decided to fight it. I think he was correct in that decision, though I think he was guilty of the charges. But the Senate did not choose to remove the President. That attempt of revenge by Republicans generated a lot of sound and fury from the lunatic liberal fringe to impeach Bush. It was bad road to go down with Clinton and we are reaping the consequences.

Democrats started the criminalization during Reagan years going after administration and Cabinet Members. I remember Transportation Secretary Donovan in 1987 being the first cabinet member indicted up on criminal charges. He resigned to fight the charges. He was acquitted and said; “ Now where can I get my reputation back.”
“In a terse statement from his office at the Schiavone Construction Company in Secaucus, N.J., Mr. Donovan said:
''Mr. Silverman and the Federal grand jury have completed their investigation of yet another baseless complaint against me and, once again, have concluded unanimously that an action against me is unwarranted.” link

The desire for revenge of the Democrats trying to destroy the Reagan administration was replicated by the Republicans during the Clinton presidency. Bush wisely tried to stop that habit and refused to retroactively go after the Clintons for their perceived and real sins. I have long memories al all the times that the typical Democratic narrative is that Reagan was a dummy and stupid and I heard it again about Bush.

The partisan warfare actually stopped for a couple of years after 9/11 but Democrats are angry that they were allowed themselves to be co-opted and they started to fight back in 2004. They lost that election but disgust by Republicans of the greed and corruption by their representatives allowed Democrats to win big in 2006. Since then it has been a ceaseless drumbeat against the war, against Bush and the MoveOn, Soro’s organization s fueling the angst.

[Bare link, corrected. Please use the format described in the text above the comment entry field; long URLs "break" Movable Type's layout and make things hard to read. --NM]

" National Truth and Reconciliation Committee " Sounds a lot like it is time for a cigarette and a blindfold. I see the " Fairness Doctrine" about to raise it's ugly head. Fair for me or fair for thee? The left has gotten truly Orwellian in the nature of it's speech.

And can anyone tell me how to prove a negative? I am getting the impression some feel Bush KNEW there were NO WMD in Iraq, and the corollary, that Iraq having WMD was the ONLY reason for the invasion.

I would also ask if they realize it is a totally moot point now, as the nature of the war is changed. The left seems unbelievably fixated on arguing fault in the past, and oblivious as to the question of the future.

Here is the question. Do we withdraw from Iraq, allowing Islamic fanatics to kill and torture millions at will, (review what happened after the fall of South Vietnam) or do we persist in trying to stabilize the country, with the inevitable loss of more US troops.

To vote for immediate removal of US troops from Iraq is to vote for the mass slaughter and torture of innocent Iraqis who are hoping for a better future. This is reality. We should at least have the guts to admit it.

And AL, just one more thing, I have not seen any classical liberals in the Democratic party for a long time. JFK today would be dismissed as a capitalist war-monger. The manta today on the left is "ask what your country can give to you".

[Raven, apologies; setting off text with dashes here doesn't underline, it gets treated as an overstrike. I corrected the text to more closely match what I think was your intent. --NM]

Yo...Steve, if your argument holds water, then I guess we need to get Bill Clinton on the Mall and make him apologize for Somalia, Rwanda and Iraq. You know the Iraq pre-invasion where 500,000 children died while we tightened sanctions?

How about Albright? Isn't she the one that said that it was ok these children died because we didn't have to go to war where many more would die?

Where are the apologies from these folks? Where are the pillories?

Isn't that the "logic" you wish to perpetrate? Surely you don't want these atrocities to go unnoticed and the perpetrators go unrepentant into public or private life?

But, hey, keep pushing that communist/fascist apologia/re-education schtick.

Armed Liberal...there is a difference between a small "l" liberal and the big "L". Frankly, the big "L"iberals haven't really been about liberty or liberality in a long time.

#214 from Kevin Donoghue:

"Since Clarke explicitly mentions South Africa and El Salvador, surely the most reasonable interpretation is that he is thinking of the kind of processes adopted there?"

I remember F.W. De Klerk being humiliated by South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Yes he had a bad career of complicity in apartheid. If he had not, he never would have gotten into a position to eliminate it, and bloodlessly create a new nation.

No, he did not want to talk about it. His good name was the most valuable thing he had left, since he had destroyed the system that let a white man like him have supreme power in South Africa, and he was sweaty-desperate not to be shamed in public.

Also, he could not afford to be shamed, since he had made the transition to being a democratic leader. He could not be more than an opposition leader, or more a figurehead, an example of what a loyal opposition leader should be, but he could do a good job in that role, including "his" people in a process where they could no longer have real power and contributing to a united nation, as long as nobody picked at any scabs.

He made a bad spectacle on the stand.

Through this operation of the Truth and Justice Commission, the ANC effectively did away with any idea of two equal and great founders of the new nation, and any aspiration for equally respectable and nation-wide parties, such as we are used to. Instead, there was the good, Black, glorified and vindicated leader, like a father who steps back and lets an adopted political son take over the nation's party, and on the other hand there was the shameful past, let off with a caution but with no possible standing. I don't think that was a good thing.

But on the whole, in South Africa's special circumstances, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a Good Thing. Compared to culturally normal African modes of managing the transfer of power (such as: that is the place the incoming government normally executes the members of the outgoing government) the Truth and Reconciliation was a magnificent thing, and a superior model for others to follow.

Is it alleged that the end of "the Bush regime" will be equivalent to the end of "the apartheid regime" with the special problems that that created, in building a real democracy where before there had been only white minority rule?

Also, Keith Olbermann and Richard Clarke can't appeal to the consensus that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission relied on that apartheid had been a bad thing, yet they have less tolerance for other views and counter-charges.

To avoid "victor's justice" the Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard complaints from all sides.

Where is the avoidance of 'victor's justice' in the ideas Armed Liberal based this thread on? Where is the willingness to hear the complaints of all sides?

And where is there a commitment expressed to take into account that there is no consensus on this "truth" about the "lies" of the Bush regime that people would be made to "admit to" as a price of being admitted back into polite society and keeping any job above the status of janitor?

Power Line has a post, A fully partisan, less than fully honest report (link) which I think illustrates reasonable, justifiable Republican concerns about "victor's justice" in investigating and defining the past.

"Moreover, some Democrats stated, incorrectly, that there was no dissent. For example, Chris Dodd stated: “There is no question that Iraq possesses biological and chemical weapons and that [it] seeks to acquire additional weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons; that is not in debate.” And John Kerry stated, falsely, that “all U.S. intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons.” Finally, Dick Durbin stated that Saddam Hussein “perhaps [has] nuclear weapons at his disposal.” Durbin's statement (but not those of Dodd and Kerry) preceded the publication of the NIE. However, no intelligence agency ever assessed that Iraq had nuclear weapons, and no administration official ever made that claim."
"In my view, it was reasonable for both the administration and congressional Democrats to not refer to dissenting views, since both believed the majority view, not the dissents. But if there is now some standard under which the views of dissenters within the bureaucracy must be publicized regardless of whether one credits them, the Democrats violated that standard. And Senators Dodd and Kerry affirmatively misrepresented that there was no debate, something the administration did not do."
"Ironically, moreover, the Democrats blame some administration officials for failing to refer to the alternative views contained in the WMD NIE even though that dissent had not yet been published when they made the statements in question. By contrast except for Durbin's patently unsubstantiated comment, all of the unequivocal statements by Senate Democrats cited above, and many more, were made following publication of the NIE."
"In short, administration officials are expected to read minds, while Senate Dems grant themselves the freedom to ignore published dissents."
A fully partisan, less than fully honest report (link) which I think illustrates reasonable, justifiable Republican concerns about "victor's justice" in investigating and defining the past.
Truly amazing. Two of the Republicans on the Special Committee support the report, but nevertheless it is "fully partisan". But for pro-Bush action, if faux-Democrat Lieberman signs on, then it's bipartisan.

Congress doesn't run its own Intelligence Agencies. The incorrect statements of Democrats come from the intel the Bush Administration provided them, long after it had been massaged and manipulated.

I notice no one wants to talk about possible crimes (not thought-crimes) of the Bush Administration.

#216 Lazarus,

For someone who claims to be so smart, you seem to be stuck fighting the battles of 5 and 10 years ago.

Saddam has been deposed, plucked from a spider hole, tried and hung.

It is hard to detect that you have much in the way of concern for the well-being of the people of the world. So, why don't you enlighten us what you'd like to see as the outcome, starting from this point--not '98 or '03, for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

AJ - I'll set aside the "possible crimes" accusation and answer the "why does no one want to talk about it" question.

Because, as I said, you can indict a ham sandwich. Even assume that what I would call "bureaucratic crimes" were committed here, there is no way, no place, no time, no universe in which you can pursue that without it becoming an immense political bloodbath that in the end, likely solves nothing and leaves horrendous bitterness all around.

We saw that with Clinton. (I was never a big fan of impeachment. Just didn't feel it necessary.)

I said to a friend yapping about impeaching Bush, "y'know, if you did, I can guarantee you something. If a Democrat suceeds him, he or she will be impeached if there is ever a GOP majority in the House. What for? I dunno. Doesn't matter. They'll find something that meets THEIR criteria and make it stick. Every Repub will vote for, every Dem will vote against (same but converse with Bush), and we will achieve squat."

This is not carte blanche for any President to commit crimes, though admitedly it sounds rather like it. But as long as President A can fire every single US attorney, and Party A cares not a wit, President B can fire 8 of them and Party A thunders and demonizes him to shake the earth, as long as that dynamic applies to.... every..... single.... solitary.... issue... to come down the pike, including and particualrily ones of national security and dealing with genuine foreign murderous fascist enemies....

As long as that is the case.... THAT is why we are, to say the least reluctant, to go the criminal route regarding our President, especially now, with 6 months left. Nothing good would come of it. Nothing.

I'd love to think the GOP will be much wiser about this in three years or so. I'd love think that. I really would.

But I ain't bettin' dime one.

Dave Blue: That suggests courts of reconciliation don’t in fact reconcile warring parties, they are intended to declare victory and humiliate and shame the losing party so that they will not pose a threat to the regime. In short, oxymoronic.

These courts are intended to stop or reduce the threat of violence and a circle of retaliation. Is the US in civil war, or is the blogging sphere riddled with drama queens? Is politics to be war by another name?

The closest I know of a shaming exercise in American history was the censure of Andrew Jackson, to which I believe he responded something to the effect of "F### you, you ####'n ########; if you don’t have the guts to impeach me, go do something useful for once."

RE: the above. I am not "admitting" to ANY "crimes" on the part of the Bush administration. I say only that, in an administration, if you look hard enough for "crimes", you can probably find them. Doesn't matter one whit who the Prez is, it only matters which party controls what by how much.

And that is very very bad for us all.

In this South African based melodrama, who plays the part of Stephen Biko (or Biko’s family)? My vote: Josh Marshall. No voice for the Iraq War was as persuasive and nobody would benefit more from a shaming exercise that offered distractions.

#179 Chris ,

Perhaps this will help open your heart to the idea of actually helping your fellow man.

J. K. Rowling speaking at Harvard two days ago:

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working in the research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to think independently of their government. Visitors to our office included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had been forced to leave behind.

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just given him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.

Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard and read. …

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s minds, imagine themselves into other people’s places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.

And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.

I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

What is more, those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy. …

But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

*************

Me? I say export the American Revolution. Let the people of the world live free of the kinds of horrors described above, of the kind I saw traveling the Third World.

Nice post David Blue # 225.

I had read John’s post in Power line but did not connect with Clarke’s outrageous suggestion. I just lumped that with the fantasy history that Democrats and liberals have espousing for the last 2 years. I just thought it was part and parcel of the attempts to rewrite history to show Bush in a bad light. All part of the narrative to help Obama in the fall with
"See Bush lied, he lied to get us into war. We Democrats are not at fault. No sirree, not us, we did not vote on that authorization. WE did not think there was WMD and regime change was good idea."

Remember Obama's judgment is so great because he was against the Iraq invasion. He was just a snot nosed junior state senator from Illinois. He is so smart because he knew we would fail. Now that real facts on the ground prove his judgment is faulty? But lets not talk about that; it is all that Bush lied about WMD 6 years ago. Lets fight an argument that was done and settled ages ago. Now the whole situation has changed. But they will not address or even acknowledge that. No, that would mean looking at the real world, not their liberal fantasy world.
Now it will be amusing on how they extricate themselves from their dependence that we would fail in Iraq.

200+ comments, a damn high level of civility and genuine substance overall.

Thank you all...

A.L.

Well you did get an Instalanche. Instapundit has another link.
Text to display

Well that attempt to set up a link did not work. My apologies to the moderator.

Was this the one you meant? If so, no big deal. :)

There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for concluding "Democrats (or Liberals) all believe X", where X is some awful extrapolation from a not-very-swift remark made by one person (or even a few of them).

Likewise, "The only reason Democrats (or Liberals) could possibly say Y is because their real motivation is Z", where Z is something like "They all hate America" or "They are all eager for Islamic fundamentalist domination of the world."

You should take it as axiomatic that people on the Left are no less heterogeneous in their beliefs and motivations than people on the Right. They are no less smart and no less well-read, although the two sides often read different things.

It's also helpful to civil discourse, whether you believe it or not, to act as though you believe that people on the Left actually love their country and want the best for it in the future. They may see things sufficiently differently that it is hard for you to comprehend how they could possibly feel that way, given what they say, but in fact, the vast majority of them do. So all this paragraph is asking is the "white lie" level of courtesy.

In case you are focused too much on the mote in your brother's eye, the Right has people like Ann Coulter to live down. So have a little humility before getting too certain about how traitorous the Left must be.

Beard, I just scanned the entire thread for the stem "traitor". I found one thing written by metrico, #131, and two things written by you, #s 144 and 239.

I don't think these are the "droids you're looking for".

Your overall point about heterogeneity is valid. Many people categorize and many people generalize. It's a tricky thing, and can lead to rather existential questions such as "Can any collection of people ever properly be said to possess any distinctive property, or to take actions, hold beliefs, be guilty, or otherwise have qualities more properly ascribed to individuals?"

But I'm not sure this is the thread for that, either. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's not.

PS: Bonus Hint, for the sake of illumination:

Robespierre was not a "traitor" to the French Republic. He was a different sort of problem altogether.

I agree that we should have war crimes tribunals for anyone who ordered any form of attack on Iraq after 1992. Let's begin the process in an orderly fashion, chronologically.

So let's talk about Pres. Clinton's war crimes first, the lies he told about the intel, and then once we have punished him, we can move on to President Bush.

You guys do remember he bombed Iraq in 1998, including suspected WMD sites. Or was Bush telling Clinton lies in 1998?

#229 from PD Shaw:

"Dave Blue: That suggests courts of reconciliation don’t in fact reconcile warring parties, they are intended to declare victory and humiliate and shame the losing party so that they will not pose a threat to the regime. In short, oxymoronic."

But in the special circumstances of the fall of apartheid, inevitable in the main. How could it be otherwise when the killers and conspirators of the racist victims confronted the victims or the surviving kin of the victims in a court dedicated to getting the truth out in the open so that people could be reconciled? For one side, the plain truth was in fact vindication, and the only but major flaw in the proceeding was the lack of legitimate retributive justice. For the other side, the plain truth about what they had done was in fact bad. (link) The truth is not morally neutral. And one side had in fact won, and necessarily declared its victory.

The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a Good Thing. I have a quibble or two, but that is the main truth - in the circumstances of post-apartheid South Africa.

Actually, I think there should have been more of declaring victory and shaming the losing party in post-Communist Russia and Europe, exactly so that the temporarily inconvenienced top dogs of Communism didn't wind up being the top dogs of the new system too, to the detriment of democracy.

#229 from PD Shaw:

"These courts are intended to stop or reduce the threat of violence and a circle of retaliation."

Right. And that's a worthy, nation-building motive.

#229 from PD Shaw:

"Is the US in civil war, or is the blogging sphere riddled with drama queens?"

Thinking, thinking ... :)

#229 from PD Shaw:

"Is politics to be war by another name?"

I think there's a real problem there that goes back to Ronald Reagan and the reaction to Ronald Reagan. And to the politicization of the courts, and to a particular decision that Ronald Reagan was reacting to.

I think the main reason to think the Americans won't go fully down this route is that Americans are go-getters who demand forward-looking government and positive achievement. Do-nothings like the members of the late, unlamented two-house Republican federal legislative majority get punished.

As long as the American public continues to demand that the incoming politicians focus their efforts on building a record of achievements worth running on, fear of the voters will be a healthy corrective.

Beard, I just scanned the entire thread for the stem "traitor". I found one thing written by metrico, #131, and two things written by you, #s 144 and 239.

Nortius, you missed this pearl of wisdom from #79:

"It is far past time for consequences for treasonous and malicious political acts, its just that it's the left that is guilty of the murder of more than 100M. I look forward to seeing them hanging high!"

What's more, you're still basically dodging the gist of Beard's post. When I scan this thread, this is the kind of stuff I see:

#60: "They hate and attempt to stop any and all rational debate..."

#64: "The Left is a disease."

#130: "It's no surprise that the left has a history of facistic tendencies, and we all know that this danger exists."

#141: "The trick, of course, is to recognize that the right's supporters want desperately to remain neutral and quiet. As much as they hate fifth columnists, America's military would rather hang from their elbows than drive their tanks down Main Street. So the left needs to subvert slowly and quietly, without awakening an overwhelming reaction."

And, of course, Charlie's beautifully condescending lecture via J. K. Rowling about how my heart is not "open to the idea of helping my fellow man."

In fact, I'll go one step further than Beard - not only is this thread full of "liberals/the left are all evil people who want to destroy America/freedom/rational debate", but that's the only thing many people on this thread are interested in saying, ad nauseum, regardless of what anybody else says.

Look, I've pointed out, way the hell back in #147, that the Bush admin specifically set up their own intelligence groups to talk up the thread of WMDs, and how much garbage they tried to put in Colin Powell's speech in front of the UN. I've pointed out, at Armed Liberal's request, the major differences between what Bush has done and what Lincoln and FDR did, and at AJL has done a pretty good job of pointing out how Bush's effective removal of weapons inspectors pretty much undercut the idea that we had to invade because of WMDs.

But none of these points have been followed up on - at best, we've seen long digressions where we have to go deep into the weeds chasing after the idea (which should be utterly uncontroversial) that WMDs were at the heart of the administration's case for war.

And y'all are patting yourselves on the back over how gosh-darn civil you're being while slandering Democrats.

So kudos for that, really.

And while you're patting yourself on the back, Chris, for not being like unto the Pharisees and whited sepulchres across the aisle, you might want to withdraw your accusation in #179 that Charlie lied, since your only bit of evidence is entirely fraudulent, as I noted in #203.

Chris, it would appear that, strictly, the entire recap of the war is deep in the weeds as far as this entry is concerned; AL has said as much. I don't know what to do about that -- or your objections to thread conduct -- at this point. If you want, we can close the thread with you having the last word about how we-all are patting ourselves on the back. How's that?

AL can re-open the thread if he feels like it.

Edit: Oops! Looks Like Dr. Weevil slipped in just under the wire. Bummer.

"Can any collection of people ever properly be said to possess any distinctive property, or to take actions, hold beliefs, be guilty, or otherwise have qualities more properly ascribed to individuals?" [N.M. #240]

Nice statement of the question! As you point out, this enormous, deep, philosophical question goes way beyond the scope of this thread.

However, anyone involved in politics, military action, anti-terrorism, or any other activity that involves thinking about how groups of individuals respond to various sorts of provocations had better understand that this question exists. And not only is it relevant, but it's at the very core of their enterprise.

The "population as individual" metaphor leads some people to believe idiotic statements like "Islam is implacably hostile to the West", that can in turn lead to truly disastrous policy. (Before some of you argue with me on this, go back, read the question NM asked, and think hard about what it has to do with this issue. Then go ahead and argue, once you can address the question.)

Like "Islam" and "The West", "The Right" and "The Left" are huge populations of disparate individuals, with a wide range of situations, knowledge, beliefs, and options for action. Some individuals may be wise, or stupid, or evil, or inspired, or charismatic, or whatever. But to ascribe those qualities to the whole population, and to make plans for action on that basis, is foolish and dangerous.

We are in a dangerous situation, facing genuine threats. Having the wrong model of what the problem is, what the dangers are, and what responses our actions will have, is going to get us all killed.

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