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November 19, 2006

Comments

Andrew Cusack

"If the Middle East becomes a region of free states,..."

If the Middle East becomes a region of free states, they will be free to support jihadi efforts against the United States.

"...it will have been the right thing to do and the option most consistent with American values"

What American values would those be? Invading other countries, killing everyone, butting into other people's business, and wasting the lives of American soldiers who joined the military to defend their homes and families and instead find they're being used as experimental playthings by a few leftist academics who want to try out a few tricks in the Middle East?

The 'American values' we do export are the ones we shouldn't export (commercialism, materialism, immodesty, arrogance, bad television and films, Wal-Mart, etc.) The ones we should export are usually the ones which are almost impossible to export, and which are increasingly harder to find at home anyhow. (Self-reliance, respecting boundaries, the importance of community, politeness and civility, the can-do culture).

"(unlike the stability fetishists' preference for sticking with Mubarak, the House of Saud and the other thugs and autocrats)."

So given the choice a relatively peaceful between stability and order in the Middle East and a chaotic unending violence, I'll vote for stability. Especially when American lives are on the line.

"But, second, it also makes sense from a cynical realpolitik perspective: Promoting liberty and democracy, even if they ultimately fail, is still a good way of messing with the thugs' heads."

It's also a good way of giving the thugs power by allowing them to be elected in free, fair, and democratic elections. The promotion of democracy in the Middle East will lead to a marked decline in liberty, not an increase.

Mrs. Peperium

Andrew, I agree with you completely up until the final bit. I believe Steyn was addressing part of your complaint with the Presiden't usage, or misuse of, of the word sovereign:

"The Bush Doctrine is beginning to accumulate way too many opt-outs. For example, a couple of weeks back, U.S. forces in Baghdad captured a death squad commander of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army only to be forced to release him on the orders of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. When I had the honor of discussing the war with the president recently, he was at pains to emphasize that Iraq was "sovereign." That may be. But, at a time when a gazillion free-lance militias are running around the joint ignoring the sovereign government, it seems a mite pedantic to insist that the sole militia in the country that has to obey every last memo from Prime Minister Maliki is the U.S. armed forces. Muqtada al-Sadr is an emblem not of democracy's flowering but of the arid soil in which it's expected to grow..."

There's more to say but not the time right now...

stephenesque

"instead find they're being used as experimental playthings by a few leftist academics who want to try out a few tricks in the Middle East?"

Already blaming the Iraq debacle on leftists? How does that work?

Mrs. Peperium

Nah. I was thinking more about how First Lady Clinton used Marines to pass canapes at the White House parties...

stephenesque

One day the Army will be in charge of Army things, and not blundering oafs such as Donald "Duck" Bumsfelt.

Mrs. Peperium

I'm no expert and hardly qualified to speak on such matters, but history might just be kinder to Donald than most people think.

Misspent

"The Army" is a big beast. To say that someday the Army will be in charge of the Army is ignoring the fact that today the Army is in charge of the Army. These are big bureaucratic animals and someone as nimble and agile as Donald Rumsfeld can't "run" them any more than anyone other than "the Army" as one solid entity can run it.

If you want to cast blame around, I'm feeling in a bitter mood so I am going to come right out and say something here that is high on the list of blasphemy on this website. Second only to saying something about the Pope. Mark Steyn is wrong. WRONG. Flat. Out. Wrong.

WE are to blame for not having the constitutional fortitude to get our hands dirty enough to do the job we want. Our hearts and minds are bigger than our guts. Mark Steyn is wrong. America is not alone. One must make a stand to be alone and we are assuredly in the process of sitting down. The Lilliputians have snared the giant and his bonds will not break.

Mrs. Peperium

Misspent, I think you and I are on the same team. I certainly agree with you. Mark's complaint is that the Republicans have fallen apart over acrimony and bitterness and can't hold it together when we need them to do so so desperately. More later. I need to give the Card's wife an art class...

Misspent

I can't blame Bush or the Republicans for giving up (which I think they have about 70%). How can you when you are confronted daily with defeatism that has been going on when the facts of the ground have not merited it. Now that the facts have caught up with the cries of failure to a large degree (and to an even larger degree BECAUSE OF AND ENABLED BY such cries) what can they do to stem the tide? I think the biggest mistake the Bush Administration has made was going radio silent on the issue as they have frequently over the past two years, letting the defeatists claim the public square. Since the defeatists have always counted the establishment in their corner, what can the White House do to change things? Throwing Rumsfeld under the bus didn't do it. Calling Syria and Iran to the table to discuss what is going on when both of those countries know perfectly well what is going on since I suspect they each have a big hand in the problems there when the discussion won't involve telling them to knock it off or we knock them off won't work either. WE DO NOT HAVE THE GUTS. We are only a few years behind the Europeans and just because lots of us still care doesn't mean anything since we are shunned and told to sit down and shut up and mind our manners. The rightful owners of the government are now in charge, thank you very much, and we had best mind our betters. Bush will give them what they want. He often has.

I was talking to POPS and asked him what country has a perfect record in fighting modern wars? The US media. They won in Vietnam and they will win in Iraq. And we will let them as we did before.

There, now I sound like a raving maniac. Where are the black helicopters!! I better watch some videos of kittens playing with cups.

Misspent

Sorry, I am really snappy tonight. I had to sit through a really bad lecture today that really ticked me off because the professor is useless (it ticked off my Marxist, Communist, and standard TNR liberal friends, so I am not alone). And I have to read about 100 pages of Arendt tonight and my book smells REALLY bad for some reason (I just bought it so it is not my fault), plus I have about 1000 pages to read about ethnic conflict in Europe over Thanksgiving before hunkering down to write my three major term papers in the next few weeks. CHRISTMAS, FASTER PLEASE!!

Mrs. Peperium

Eh, you're not a raving loon. The only war the Left wants to win is against America. Will they win? Nah. But they're a lot like the jihadis who say it's a victory for them when we drop bombs on their heads... In some ways you've just got to admire their capacity for denial.

More on this to come. Get some rest.

stephenesque

The Army has never been in charge of its own affairs as never will be as long as politicians rule the roost. If you listen to pretty much any military commander they all complain of the same thing: political interference in getting the job done properly.

Old Dominion Tory

Sorry to barge in late on this one. As much as it is comforting to say that the Army should be in charge of Army things, in the American system, it just isn't right.
First and foremost, it runs against the grain of American constitutional history and practice. We have maintained civil control of the military and, on balance, I think the system has worked quite well.
Another trouble with saying that the Army should be responsible for Army stuff is that the parameters of authority are left undefined. Certainly, I don't want the President or the Secretary of Defense making tactical decisions ("Move that battalion HERE, Colonel!"). Just the same, I don't want generals and admirals dictating U.S. grand strategy to the President, laying out the conditions under which they'll go to war, or demanding a certain level of funding from Congress.
Admittedly, there are many instances of politicians making a hash of things by meddling in military affairs or causing trouble by getting too far down in the details of a campaign. U.S. military history, however, also is replete with examples of generals and admirals making spectacularly wrong decisions and sticking by some exceptionally foolhardy thinking.
Getting the civil-military relationship right always will be a challenge. I recommend, therefore, curling up with Eliot Cohen's Supreme Command, Eric Larrabee's Commander-in-Chief, David Bercuson's and Holger Herwig's One Christmas in Washington, and Lawrence Freedman's Kennedy's Wars before making any sweeping statements about it.

Mrs. Peperium

Thank you Old Dominion.

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