Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Bush is steadfast

Here is the full text of President Bush’s speech at Fort Bragg yesterday. I only heard parts of the speech, and read the Washington Post’s story on it. It seemed to me a good, sober speech in which he reminded us that the thing is worth doing and worth doing well. One of the things least appreciated in politics is constancy. Bush is constant. His dominating purpose--despite the criticism from some quarters--is victory. His unflinching mode is admirable and the people appreciate it. The MSM will, of course, continue to make stories our of poll numbers that have been slipping, but I don’t, especially not in the middle of the first summer of a second term. The speech was well received and served its purpose. The CNN poll immediately following the speech showed that 46% said they had a "very positive" reaction to what they heard, and 28% had a "somewhat positive" reaction. By the way, despite MSM drumbeat to the contrary, the Washington Post/ABC News poll, released just before the speech, showed that "a clear majority is willing to keep U.S. forces there for an extended time to stabilize the country."

Discussions - 17 Comments

Mr. Bush can’t do wrong for Mr. Schramm. No matter how many people die in Iraq.

I get the distinct impression that Bush can do no right, at least for you, "Ms. Lovera."

Now, just a point of information. How many thousands of bodies have we found in Saddam’s mass graves?

Mr. Bush can’t do wrong for Mr. Schramm. No matter how many people die in Iraq.

Yeah, and we should have quit World War II after losing all those servicemen at Pearl Harbor and the Philippines. Nothing’s worth those kind of losses.

Actually, Bush CAN, rarely, do right by me - I accept his opposition to therapeutic cloning and agree with him on that.

"Dain", (I am Mrs., thank you very much) I thought Bush went to Iraq because of the non-existent WMDs? Then, all of a sudden it became an issue of the poor Iraqis and their mass graves.

To Mr. Moser - not only Americans die in wars.

Peter, in one single post you appear to be propping up some unreasonable optimism by embracing a poll from two mainstream media sources, WashPost, ABC and CNN, and "pre-emptively" dismissing any other MSM polls that have results showing support for Bush and/or the war in Iraq (or the war on terror generally) as slipping. His "dominating purpose" (is that the same as purpose of dominating?) may be victory, but many of the same Americans whom No Left Turns considered to be wise and discerning last November are now seriously beginning to doubt the Bush administration’s ability to achieve victory in any mission successfully, be it stabilizing or "democratizing" Iraq, defeating terrorism, or even the more humble tasks of finding WMDs or Osama. And while we are throwing enormous military and financial resources into the quagmire that is Iraq, the Taliban, which actually has SERIOUS connections to terrorism and 9/11, seem to still have enough of a presence in Afghanistan to bring down a chopper with 17 of our soldiers. Indeed, his "unflinching mode" can also be seen as a "Just keep digging" mentality that can’t make crucial distinctions between progress and failure.

Anitta- The President did go to war, partially, because of weapons of mass destruction. And even though no actual nuclear warheads were found, I would ask you to clarify your definition of weapons of mass destruction. Are poisonous gases that are used to wipe out entire Muslim tribes not considered to be weapons of mass destruction? What is to say that those gases were not on the way to bigger and more destructive weapons, and the bodies found in those mass graves wouldn’t be American bodies? I’m sorry that mass graves and devastating blows to the natural rights aren’t enough to justify removing a dictator and preserving justice and humanity.

Anitta, the other reason we went to war with Iraq was its connection to international terrorism. As far as I know, that’s a pretty solid connection. Check out the website below.

Hussein and Terror

Wow Dain, who made that cool Website you linked to, your little brother? It tells us the same thing that every major news publication also told us before the war started; that Saddam rewarded Palestinian suicide bombers. But that’s NOT the reason for going to war that the American people were given. Elsie, Dain and every other supporter of this pointless war: We KNOW Saddam wasn’t a nice guy, ok?! But did Saddam have the ability to attack the United States? Could he have attacked us with missiles? Would his country have been able to actually challenge ours in a military contest? Was he an actual threat to us? Was he involved in September 11th? Were any Iraqis?

Even if, as Elsie (nice bovine-sounding name, by the way) suggests, "those gases were on the way to bigger and more destructive weapons," would Saddam have ever openly attacked the U.S.? Of course you will respond that we don’t know and had to be sure, blah blah blah, but then I ask you why we don’t also invade North Korea and Iran. Are we really going to use our all-volunteer military to smite every potential threat?

The Bush Administration has oh-so-cleverly turned this war into something that it was most definitely not in the beginning: a humanitarian mission, and now you all hop on board like that’s what it was about all along. Colin Powell’s UN speech didn’t make much mention of "spreading freedom." He DID talk about all of these nefarious labs and weapons that we were going to find. There weren’t any; at best this war is a waste of lives, money and time. At worst it’s going to aggravate our problems.

Now, wait a minute here. In his speech Bush referred to the 9/11 attacks no less than five times. We were attacked, 9/11, 9/1l, 9/11, etc. Yes, we were attacked, and the preponderance of evidence suggests that it was an Al Qaeda job. And Saddam and Iraq weren’t found to be connected to the attacks on 9/11 !!! Another interesting aspect of Bush’s speech was how he spoke synonymously about the insurgents in Iraq and terrorists. Well, if we give him the benefit of the doubt that by day the insurgents are shooting at U.S. troops and planting homemade bombs in the roadside and by night plotting the next attack on American civilians, then why in the world have we begun NEGOTIATING with them??? I thought that was definitely verboten for this administration, but apparently not. These guys really are just making it up as they go along, aren’t they? It’s madness that so many of our soldiers have died for this nonsense - a pack of lies.

The speech was good and solid as Peter said. I have only one problem with it: why now? It should not have taken Bush this long to give this kind of speech. He should probably be giving a speech like this every other month. He probably should have been doing this from the beginning. Silence from the White House on these matters leaves a void that is filled by crazy speculation from those opposed to war in any situation. Yeah, we get that war is bad. No one gets that more than the guys and gals who must risk all to fight them. Yet they support our efforts in huge numbers. Bush should have been doing more to support them.

Also, it would have been nice if Bush could have included a line in the speech that pointed out that the terrorists we’re fighting in Iraq and elsewhere are the real fascists of our time, not the American military at Gitmo or anywhere else.

To T. Moore: I get your points, and they are not unreasonable. Any series of actions or even one act--even strategy and, of course, tactics--may be soundly criticized by a reasonable observer. I remember my thoughts on how the invasion was conducted (we were overly concerned with killing as few of their army as possible), the decision on dispanding the Iraqi army, and our actions on Falluja, are all examples of doubt and even criticism. In other words, while I am not simply saying that Bush is always right (even a so-called cheerleader like me wouldn’t go that far!), I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt because his sensibilities are more worthy of trust than those of his opponents. I like his disposition. (I saw both John Kerry and Joe Biden on TV last night and will say no more.) I am actually aware (self-aware, if you like) that he could be completely wrong about all of this and we could soon be up the creek without a paddle: either be defeated or be in a quagmnire. Yup, both are always possible. They have been such from the start. The thing with steadfastness is that it is a bit spooky, even on first sight (that is, when you first realize that the fellow is going to push on); on second and third sight it may seem almost insane. I think I know this. And then--at a certain point--a point not yet reached, in my humble opinion, the realization sets in that the fellow who had been steadfast (or spooky or insane) got his way. He won. We are not there yet. But we have re-drawn the politics in Iraq, have deeply affected the politics of the region, and flushed out some erstwhile allies in other parts of the world, and in general re-oriented world politics into a mode that seems both in our interest and more just. It is a kind of new world order (to use an awful formulation), one that was forced on us as a result of 9/11. This is not what Bush came into office to do. Besides, there have been no attacks on American soil since 9/11. Even I didn’t expect that (and I don’t expect that hiatus to last, I’m sorry to say). Will we lose men and helicopters in Afghanistan and elsewhere? I regret that we will. And do such incidents mean that we are in a quagmire or that we have not pacified an area? No. Should such events foce on us a re-evaluation of our pruposes and means at every occurance? That would be politics as existentialism; nihilism would stand at the door. Such a door ought not be opened. If events force it open, the first crack will be a result of a lack of confidence or scepticism about our capacity to bear a burden, to take the pain. That crack is always possible when individual men act in the world, and it is certainly possible when a people act in the world. We are a free and an innovative people, we are a deliberative and often argumentative people. We can also be steadfast. Now we are, and I applaud it. Folks seem to think that the virtue of a cowboy is that he is strong and doesn’t mind the pain. But above all a cowboy is steadfast once his goal is set. And he doesn’t much like to talk about it. That sums up Bush, and that’s why I like him. This is not a good year to lose.

I don’t think it’s yet fully dawned on Americans just what a grinding, long-term struggle the war on terror is going to be.

In reality, it might more accurately be called "The War, Carried Out by both Westerners and More Forward-Thinking Muslims, to Drag the Muslim World Kicking and Screaming Into the Age of Modern, Basically Liberal-Democratic Politics Before the Rest of the World Is Forced to Turn Sizeable Swaths of It into a Glowing, Melted-Glass Parking Lot."

But that’s a huge mouthful, and impolitic to boot.

Whatever you call it, this is the work of generations. Before it’s over, it may make the Cold War look like a stroll in the park. Bouts of defeatism and war-weariness are to be expected (especially from the corrupt, brain-dead Democratic Party as it claws the walls on its way down). So are further attacks on American soil. We can win or we can lose, but we can’t escape the struggle. And we are up against some of the most ruthless and determined enemies you can imagine. These are brutally stark truths that many people and factions will go to great lengths to deny, obfuscate, or cavil against. We had best not listen to them.

Good philosoper, I couldn’t agree more. What the liberals lack is 1) an appreciation of the big picture, and 2) an appreciation of the uniqueness of the West. Essentially, they are spoiled children.

And I LIKE your more accurate title for the struggle we are in...particularly the "kicking and screaming" part. Very apt.

I don’t think it’s yet fully dawned on Americans just what a grinding, long-term struggle the war on terror is going to be.Uh, how many people got shot in Chicago last weekend? How many people are gonna die violent death on our nation’s highways, this coming holiday weekend? How many Americans are suffering, nay very soon to perish from a whole host of unavoidable causes wholly unrelated to the War of Terrorism?

What pain, due to WOT, are you expecting them to suffer, that is any different from that dealt with each and every day? Perhaps Bush could call for a massive military draft, strict rationing of oil and other goods, or the raising of income taxes to 80% like Franklin Roosevelt did in the 1940s. Were Americans to suffer these things do you think they’d get it then?

A "grinding, long-term struggle"? Please stop it, man, you’re making me suffer pain with silly hyperbole!

Mr. Lamb: Struggles against terrorism and irregular/asymmetric warfare are typically not won quickly and can have harsh psychological effects even when attacks are intermittent and relatively small in scale (consider the case of Israel). The use of the words "grinding" and "long-term" seem to me not hyperbolic at all.

Despite our best efforts, there is a defnite likelihood that we will eventually suffer attacks, quite possibly large in scale and maybe involving WMDs, on our soil. That will involve, both psychologically and practically, a level of pain that will be systemically quite different from the small-scale daily suffering caused by accidents, etc., which you cite.

I’m aware that about 14 times as many Americans died in traffic accidents in 2001 as died in the World Trade Center attack (43K to 3K), but to point that out as if to minimize 9/11 would seem quite misguided, would it not?

Can we really rule out the possibility of more--or even worse--9/11 type attacks? I wish I could say that we can.

I didn’t mean to imply that Americans have to be taught to feel the pain via a draft or 80% taxation, though conceivably at some point extreme circumstances could make one or both necessary. What I’m saying is that pain is probably coming even in spite of all our best efforts to stop it, so we had better be able to muster up morale like Israel has. This struggle is essentially a test of wills. If we don’t have the willpower, we’re sunk, period.

A flush beats two pair but usually someone is going to make you pay to draw at it, and then even if you miss it on fourth street, folding isn’t always the best choice if the pot is large enough.

"Indeed, his "unflinching mode" can also be seen as a "Just keep digging" mentality that can’t make crucial distinctions between progress and failure." Is president Bush on Tilt? Or is his unflinching mode a result of a knowledge that in the long run we will triumph? If so then Bush is simply playing his cards to the best of his outs. A Just Keep Digging mentality isn’t necessarily wrong even if the result is sometimes poor. A crucial distinction between progress and failure is almost always made at a snap shot in time.

The dumbest question you can ask a gambler is: "Why didn’t you quit when you were $200 ahead?" Because no one asks that question when he leaves up a grand. At issue is not where we are now, but where we can expect to be when the river card hits. The first Bush left the desert game up $50, and everyone now asks why he didn’t stay in until he was up more. In my book Bush is on a draw and the pot is laying him sufficient odds, if he misses the draw then people will criticize him, if he makes it they will praise him. In truth he neither deserves the full praise nor the full criticism, because none of his choices are made with full knowledge of what really will happen. A historian could reconstruct any given situation and come up with a more rational course of action, than the one that was actually taken. In this rational world people would fold trip aces because they knew that someone else would catch a runner runner straight. Sometimes pocket Aces would be folded pre-flop and 2-7 off suit would go all in pre-flop.

If Bush wins then his opponents will say that he got lucky and defied the odds, certainly it was a bad beat, likewise if he loses his supporters will say that he was unlucky and that he had enough outs...ext.

The real question is...will Bush be lucky if he wins or unlucky if he loses? Let’s be pessimistic and assume that he will be lucky if he wins... now lets consider another factor/concept that should be automatic for any poker players in the audience.

"Pot Odds" The concept of pot odds refers to how much one has to continue to put in the pot in order to stay in the hand. Lets assume the president and his allies have already invested $250 in the pot, and the terrorists have thrown in $250, so the pot stands at $500, lets assume the terrorists make it $100 to go and have a 60% chance of winning. Why is it rational for Bush who has a 40% chance of winning to invest more american money and lives? Well if there is now $600 in the pot, and $100 more will win it 40% of the time then the math says that it is a profitable move even if it requires some luck to actually win. 4 times out of 10 we will win $600 which amounts to $2400, and to do this 10 times will only cost us $1000, which means that it would be rational even if we would only win 20% of the time which would be $1200 for $1000. Assuming the most radical naysayers are correct and we only stand a 20% chance of winning, those who argue for staying the course would still be correct since it would still theoretically costs us $12 more to fold vs. continuing on each time we find ourselves in a similar situation.

-John Lewis is an american soldier and a semi-pro poker player. He holds a degree in philosophy and political science and is working on a masters in economics. He shows his hands only to drag pots or put people on Tilt, and he thoroughly enjoys both.

[Regarding comment 16] - Good God, man, how stupid, obnoxious, and offensive.

First, and worst, who the hell puts a little credentials blurb at the end of a freaking blog comment?!!?? Could you be any more pretentious?

Secondly, you make a ridiculous poker analogy and talk about how Bush is playing his hand. Problem is, war ain’t poker. In poker, the person playing is the primary or sole individual who will win or lose depending on their strategy (as long as you’re not betting the family’s "milk money," as virtue guru Bill Bennett might remind us). In war, the president is mostly putting his re-election chances or his presidential legacy at stake. Oh yeah, and the lives of thousands of other people! He is not putting his own LIFE on the line. To have some secret "steadfast" strategy and hold with it, while more than half of the folks standing behind him are yelling "fold!!" - including those who initially encouraged him to play the damn game - is just asinine. (whoops, I slipped back to poker, if only partially)

To augment your academic credentials with some real-world experience, you ought to be required to deliver your little poker analogy/justification to all of the parents of our troops who have been killed during this Iraq fiasco, immediately after they’ve been informed of the death. After you get slapped enough times, you might see the shortcomings in your theory.

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