Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Steyn Article

Of course, this Mark Steyn article is all over the blogs and talk radio but if, for some reason, you’ve missed it, do read it now. The West is dying, he argues, because of suicide. A combination of lack of civilizational confidence and low reproduction rates is making us increasingly vulnerable to the plans of fanatics who reproduce in great numbers.

After you read it, you may want to think about what you can do to remedy the situation--and not just with words.

This all reminds me (and you will forgive the personal reflection) of a conversation I have always remembered with relish. During my first year of graduate school (when I was new to the group and the only female in the bunch) we were assembled for one of our weekly excursions to the local watering hole after a Charles Kesler class. During class we had been talking about one of the many ways in which the country had lost sight of its original purposes and had to be set back on track again. At the bar this fellow graduate student approached me and very publicly insisted that I deliver to the assembled masses the "female perspective" on solving the problem. Without missing a beat I said, "Well, John [not his real name], it’s really all very simple. The thing we women know is that in order to win long term we’ve simply got to outproduce them. So you should all get married soon and have lots of children." I was right, of course. But this didn’t do much to improve my social life at the time!

Discussions - 43 Comments

Not being a troll, genuinely asking - Why is it that when Pat Buchannan says this stuff about demography and the collapse of the West it receives a much cooler reception?

For the record, Steyn is obviously right. You cannot fight demography; the late Roman Empire in the West is the best example of this. Because of plague, over taxation, under population, and other long term chronic problems the Western Empire was doomed. These problems surfaced even before the terrible third century; in fact the first wave of plague followed Marcus Aurelius’ army back from the east.

The Dominate, Diocletian’s attempt to restore order and revive the military through Persian style despotism made matters worse. While he ended the constant violence of 235-285, the medicine was almost as bad as the disease. As Steyn observed of human nature in general, Diocletian worried about the wrong problem (the capacity of the growing sect of Christians to offend the gods) and implemented a destructive solution (killing Christians). His economic policies were also bad - he ramped up taxes to collect revenue which was falling short because of shrinking populations, and he instituted wage and price controls. This succeeded in further shrinking the population, which further impoverished the military and the government. The Agri deserti - land which simply had no one left to farm it, is estimated to have been near 20% in the century before the western border collapsed!

The "Invasions" can more accurately be thought of as armed migrations; the Germanic cousins of these 5th century mass migrants were already well established behind the Roman border both as laeti (dare we call them "guest farmers?") and as foederati (allied cavalry and light infantry). When the tribal swarms we call Goth, Visigoth, etc figured out that there was nothing stopping them from going into the western half of the empire and staying, the deluge began. Once begun, it was unstoppable.

No one man, no series of rulers, could have been blamed for Roman collapse in the West. Government policy aggravated the problem, but it did not create it nor did it consummate its ultimate end. The Roman peoples at the core of the Empire, for whatever series of reasons, stopped reproducing themselves in sufficient numbers to protect their border and run their Empire. Northern European Germanic peoples abhorred a warm Southern European vacuum - especially one which offered roads, baths, access to Mediterranean imports, and all the infrastructure and luxuries of civilization.

Observing Europe today is like watching the fifth century process of mass migrations in fast forward, upside down. A similar result is inevitable at this point. The Europeans can hardly engage in mass expulsions of the cheap labor they brought in because they are too decadent to reproduce themselves. They need their laeti just as the Roman masters of great estates did; a similar long term result will follow.

Oh, sweet, sweet Democracy!! Too bad Iraq’s running out of people to savor it...

Great article.

It should cause libetarians some pause.

Hayek predicted that the triumph of the free economy would cause the birth rate
to increase. He assumed a connection between economic and natural flourishing. He was a sort of libertarian sociobiologist. But after communism fell the birth rate continued to do so as well.

We have to ask why people who more wealthy, powerful, and free than people ever have been would quite consciously decide not to reproduce. That’s something the sociobiologists can’t explain. And it’s a fact that reminds us that libertarian sociobiology is finally an oxymoron.

As MS observes, we’re looking here at the true Achilles heel of a wholly secular liberal democracy.

Well mr.(small case deliberate) Gannon/Guckert I suppose you favor mr. al-Zarqawi’s brand of .....uh.democracy.
No?

But then your squeals are nothing more than neo-fascist leftist bilge. MoveOn troll.

Remember The Population Bomb, by Paul Ehrlich? Remember all the buzz and flutter about the dire circumstances?

Remember them as you buzz and flutter about The Population Implosion that Steyn predicts with equal confidence. My guess is that he and Ehrlich are equally mistaken in drawing straight-line graphs from the present far into the future.

Well I would have proposed to you right then and there, Ms. Ponzi, even if a bar ISN’T the most romantic of places for such a deed! Heh heh, only YOU would have the guts to say something like that to a room full of fellows! Anyway, I’m convinced. I’m gonna go out and have me some kids today! That way at least I’ll be able to say, "Hey, I did my part!"

This article is laughable:

"The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birthrate to sustain it." Can we look at the national deficit under Clinton and under GWB, please? Which is more difficult to sustain, Bush’s "defense of democracy" or a more liberal, Clintonian effort to pursue "secondary impulses?"

Second, why is that when liberals point out the failures of the war in Iraq, we are accused of "wanting us to fail," but this jerk is predicting the collapse of "Western" civilization, and no one seems to be calling him a traitor??!!

"So you’re nice to gays and the Inuit? Big deal. Anyone can be tolerant of fellows like that, but tolerance of intolerance gives an even more intense frisson of pleasure to the multiculti masochists." This is interesting, too. The Inuit are mentioned in the same article that predicts that the names of geographical places may persist, but our civilization will be overrun. Does this writer wear Chippewa shoes? Watch a Redskins game? Eat ice cream at Custard’s Last Stand? Drive through Mawa New Jersey?

The sheer ethnocentrism and myopia of this article are staggering: To turn a blind eye to the effects of "Western" manifest destiny, and then to blame our predicted downfall on those who criticize it. No wonder some of you lap this garbage up. Are you the same people who smoke cigarettes, then blame your cancer on liberals, who hate big business?

Another winner, Fung!! 2nd and 4th paragraphs are outstanding.

Without missing a beat I said, "Well, John [not his real name], it’s really all very simple. The thing we women know is that in order to win long term we’ve simply got to outproduce them. So you should all get married soon and have lots of children." I was right, of course.

Sounds like someone thinks pretty highly of herself! Do you really think that nice, Christian white people (the good guys!) are going to suddenly take heed and start trying to catch up in this "race" to make more babies to overtake the bad guys? This just seems absurd.

The problem with Steyn’s otherwise excellent demography articles is that he simply assumes that the Europeans will automatically invite non-European and esp. Muslim immigration to fill the low-wage worker slots needed to maintain their social welfare programs. A month-long car burning spree is one thing, but Europeans are only going to have so much tolerance for minority-group bullying in politics, or high crime rates, or a visible radical change in the composition of the population--even at the expense of their retirement hand-outs, I believe, elderly and middle-aged Europeans demand radical changes when the tipping-point comes. Steyn is forgetting politics and human nature, and getting deterministic, in his fascination with the trends revealed by demography charts.
Oh, and Mr. Fung, don’t blame the bearer of bad news. I just don’t think it is quite as catastrophic as Steyn thinks.

People, don’t let Fungus get under your skin. He’s a big West-hater from way back, and although he wouldn’t deny blacks or Hispanics the right to (at least be concerned about) their civilizational and genetic survival, that right he denies to white people...period. He’s exactly the kind of people Steyn is targeting, and for good reason. Such people will be the death of us (although I also think there’s plenty of blame to go around, such as the short-sighted greed of certain American economic actors).

Why even engage a man who would deny our basic birthright as animals, for crying out loud?

"...fungus... under your skin!" Stop it, Dain, you’re killing me!

Of course, you replicate exactly the dynamic I referred to. I hate "us" because I criticize "our" leaders. But Steyn can predict the downfall of our entire "race" and he is a hero.

The key to this paradox is, of course, our different ideas for solutions. I suggest that we might find ways to live in the world without creating new terrorists, by foresaking our role as biggest bully on the block. Steyn and Dain seem to advocate exclusion of people already feeling excluded, killing those who respond militantly, and then engaging in a relative population boom, as long as "our" partners have bona fide papers. This may be a problem, since many of us carry genes shared by "them." It may be difficult to select only pure White stock. In that case, Dain, you and your friends may have to go !&$% yourselves.

How did this become a racial thing? Steyn’s article explicitly states otherwise?

wm - You needn’t look far:

comment 11: "He’s a big West-hater from way back, and although he wouldn’t deny blacks or Hispanics the right to (at least be concerned about) their civilizational and genetic survival, that right he denies to white people...period."

Plus, I called Steyn ethnocentric. Even though he may explicitly state otherwise, the way some people say, "I don’t want to sound prejudiced, but...."

Fung makes my point for me.

The key to this paradox is, of course, our different ideas for solutions. I suggest that we might find ways to live in the world without creating new terrorists, by foresaking our role as biggest bully on the block. Steyn and Dain seem to advocate exclusion of people already feeling excluded, killing those who respond militantly, and then engaging in a relative population boom, as long as "our" partners have bona fide papers. This may be a problem, since many of us carry genes shared by "them." It may be difficult to select only pure White stock. In that case, Dain, you and your friends may have to go !&$% yourselves

I guarantee you, Fung holds no one else but white folks to this standard of "finding ways to live in the world" bs bs bs. If white people all disappeared tomorrow it wouldn’t be too soon for good ol’ Fung (excluding himself, if he happens to be white, of course).

Hey Fung, throw out ANY wealthy and powerful country in this world that lives up to your standard (and please, no Canada or Norway...they are tiny and of no consequence). Let’s hear it!

"Hey Fung, throw out ANY wealthy and powerful country in this world that lives up to your standard (and please, no Canada or Norway...they are tiny and of no consequence). Let’s hear it! "

Why should I do that? Aren’t we supposed to be a leader, and not a follower of other countries’ examples? Find another democracy that is 250 years old. Find another superpower. Why in the world, would I want to look to other countries for examples of what the U.S. should do?

Aside from that, your argument is precious. Give you examples, except for those that provide good examples? Please.

As I thought, you are just a complainer, Fung. You hold your own people to an unreasonable standard, the payoff being a sense of moral superiority. You do the same with white folks and the "West" in general. Pathetic.

Fung, the way you easily reach for an epithet like "bully" to describe America itself shows that you’re an America (or should that be "Amerika"?)-hater, and not just a critic of this or that leader or policy, as you like to paint yourself. In a weird way, though, your relative candor (only very thinly glazed over by your halfhearted attempts at doubletalk) is refreshing. I wish more of the Democratic elected politicians who basically share your contempt for this country would be so frank, as we’d have a lot fewer of them in public life by the end of the next election cycle. I can see the next great Democratic campaign slogan now: "America: Stop being the biggest bully on the block!" I’m sure that will be enough to rocket a Democrat back into the White House.

An unreasonable standard? A wealthy and powerful country? Do you want to justify your terms? Is a wealthy country one like ours, where we borrow from China and our great grandchildren to pay for our dirty little war? Or, do you mean a powerful country, like the USSR was, before it shot its wad in Afghanistan?

And why do you consider being a good neighbor unreasonalbe? Because you can’t imagine how it might be done? Well, blame your own lack of imagination, Bubba, don’t balme me. Go have a smirk-fest with the rest of your buddies in the Klan, and give the rest of us a break from your ill-concealed racism.

Please excuse my spelling errors. It is late, and Dain brings out the worst in me.

Iraqis have now held three free elections in the space of a year, Saddam is no longer filling up his mass graves, training thousands of terrorists, or raking off oil-for-food billions with the help of a corrupt UN to pump into weapons programs and palaces, Iraq has a decent shot at self-government for the first time in its history, and it’s a "dirty little war"? Only in the warped ideological fantasy world of dirty, twisted little leftists, where Amerika is always wrong and America-hating defeatism is always right. Sickening.

Dear "Tired"-

I wish that you and the rest of your crowd would realize that we can (and should) be critical at the same time that we love that which we criticize.

I know some parents, for instance, who would never acknowledge their kids’ faults, and needs for improvement. As a result, their kids in turn never see their own weaknesses, and never strive to improve.

I have a dog that I care for a great deal, but if it bites another dog, or a person, I will try to correct its behavior. I will do this as part of my caring for my dog.

I do the same for my own kids. In fact, their teachers know that I will defend my kids against their teachers tooth and nail when my kids are right, and I will also allow them to suffer the consequences when they screw up. Knowing this, their teachers take my intervention seriously, compared to the way they respond to the parents who assert that their kids are always right.

It is the same with my country. I love my country, and therefore, I am personally hurt when I see it headed for disaster, and acting like a bad citizen of the world.

And it is you love-it-or-leave-it- types who cause the rest of the world to ignore us when we have a valid point, because you won’t admit it when we screw up.

"Sickening?" I’ll tell you what is sickening. Some bubba willing to swallow the most recent excuse-du jour for committing our troops to suicide bombers, roadside explosives, and sniper bullets. And for committing our fiscal stability, and that of our children, as well. After a sequence of WMD’s, mushroom clouds, ties to Osama bin Laden (There would be a good idea for a war.... go after him!) terrorist training camps, and so on, now we are the world’s great democracy machine!

I’ll buy that justification when we follow it to its conclusion, and invade Cuba, then North Korea, China, Somalia, Sudan -- all those oil-rich countries. When we go after those monsters, those madmen, those killers, and fillers of mass graves, then I’ll buy your pack of lies. Until then, choke on your own sickness, but don’t blame it on me if you are so gullible as to swallow that bag of excrement.

Fung:

Do you commonly revile your kids with ugly names while correcting them? If not, then why are you so quick to adopt the language of America’s enemies and abuse her as a "bully"? I suspect Dain is right: You can’t seem to apply standards reasonably.

As for Iraq: The reason our troops must defeat bullets and bombs in Iraq is precisely because these troops ARE changing the rules in a democratic direction in that benighted part of the world (bringing majority rule to a country that has never had it before, for instance), and a savagely violent, tyrannical minority wants to stop the process. U.S. military action against Saddam was warranted, and so likewise might it be one day against Castro or Kim Jong-Il et al. In principle, there would be nothing wrong with toppling those regimes by force, just as there was nothing wrong about using force against Saddam. Moreover, growing evidence indicates that Saddam’s regime had been training Islamofascist terrorists by the thousands:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/550kmbzd.asp?pg=1

Fungus is just oozing, so don’t take it very seriously. Most of us on the Right have had the old bromide "why don’t you invade these other dictatorships" thrown in our faces often enough. Of course, there’s never any recognition on the part of these "Amerikans" about logistics, degree of difficulty, geopolitical realities, or any of the other realpolitic concerns. No, just the puerile whining and insistence of completely ludicrous standards.

I would also bring it to everyone’s attention Fung’s continued use of terms like "Bubba" and "Klan" and the "smirking chimp" imagery of the bigoted Left. This man HATES white people, he HATES Western civilization, and he HATES anyone who would defend either whites or the West. There is no denying this at this point, regardless of the number of crumbling masks he tries to put on. All of you should understand this when you deal with Fung...you are dealing with a hater.

If my kid acts like a bully, then I use that name, yes. And if Dain writes like a racist, then I use that name, as well. What he doesn’t seem to realize is that you can be a patriot without being a nationalist, and you can be white without being a racist. Hate? I hate racism, I hate stupidity, and I hate violence cloaked in either one. I am not usually sophisticated wnough to hate the racism, and not the racist. I’ve plenty of White friends and relatives about whom I care very deeply. But I don’t care for them because they are White, as you seem to, Dain. And, I don’t see people as a threat because they are not White, as you seem to.

When it comes down to it, we have two very different solutions to the world’s problems. Yours is exclusion and violence, and mine is conciliation and unification. Your problem is that you think that abhorrence of violence means weakness, and so you are surprised when people who hate war and racism and apartheid are not at the same time warm and fuzzy. That is a mistake that people like you have made for generations. Your buddies in the Confederacy made it about 150 years ago.

Interesting that you never seem to condemn violence, hatred or stupidity unless it involves white folks. Also interesting that you tend to conflate "whiteness" with "violence" etc., as if white folks invented the stuff or have a monopoly on it.

As for "conciliation and unification," I wonder how you get there while condoning blood-stained dictators like Saddam? I guess we can "peace" him to death. For a psychologist, you sure have a faulty view of human nature (which doesn’t surprise me at all).

Dain, this is one of the most screwy arguments yet, from you. I am critical of this war, which is being conducted by Americans (plus a dozen or so warriors from the coalition of the willing). Many of those Americans are Black, Hispanic, and White.

I have also suggested that, to be consistent with the new Party Line, we should attack North Korea, which is populated and armed, if I understand correctly, by Koreans. I suggest this because you and your global cop president are suggesting that the reason for our invasion of Iraq was to bring democracy to a land previously terrorized by an evil dictator.

If that is so, then there is a lot more work to do, and we should go attack North Korea. But we don’t, and we won’t, because the new Party Line is a lie.

You can call me all the names you want, but every time you call me a White-hater, the readers can hear the real meaning of your words. If I hate Whites, who do I love? Why don’t you just come out and use the "N" word, you bigotted Gump-for-Fascism?

The last thing I want to do is to wade into another Fung-Dain snipe-fest, but I was struck by this statement:

I have also suggested that, to be consistent with the new Party Line, we should attack North Korea, which is populated and armed, if I understand correctly, by Koreans. I suggest this because you and your global cop president are suggesting that the reason for our invasion of Iraq was to bring democracy to a land previously terrorized by an evil dictator.

How does it follow that, because in principle it is a good thing to eliminate bloodthirsty tyrants, we must eliminate every single one, without consideration of risk or cost? Don’t we have a responsibility to weigh the costs and benefits of any particular operation? Doesn’t the fact that North Korea is much stronger than Saddam’s Iraq matter?

John- Of course it matters!It also mattered before Bush and his "faulty intelligence" got us into the current situation in Iraq, and that is precisely the point.

If we had had the chance to accurately assess the costs and benefits of a war with Iraq, we would have agreed with most of the rest of the world that the costs would be profound, and the benefits could be achieved much more peacefully, slowly and carefully by adhering to the status quo. Not very sexy, or exciting, but sometimes patience and steadfast adherence to the program are the way to go.

But we did not have access to the real facts, and as that truth unravels, the original "reasons" for going to war are replaced with faux reasons. So, by bringing in Korea, I am not suggesting that Iraq is like Korea, but rather that Korea is like Iraq, and we should never have attacked in the first place.

This argument seems to have spun off topic, but it is especially relevant if we remember how the USSR go bogged down in Afghanistan, and soon toppled. It is hubris to suppose that such a process is impossible in the USA. Because I love and value my country, and my culture, I would like very much to avoid going the way of the British Empire, the Roman Empire, and the USSR, and I reject Steyn’s diagnosis and subsequent prognoses.

Fung, by your logic perhaps we should just disband the military...no danger of "going the way of Rome" without a military, hey hey! And, if you actually read the histories of those empires, it wasn’t overextension or anything like that that led to their "downfall." In Rome’s case it was running out of conquests, as well as the increasing unwillingness of their elites to shoulder civic burdens. In Britain’s case, being bled "white" (forgive the color reference) by WWI and WWII didn’t help much. The USSR was just a big clunky military state without the dynamic economy needed to pay for their empire...and military morale has been on the downswing for a very long time.

Geez, Fung, maybe we should give back the western U.S. and even Lousiana...smacks of empire, and we wouldn’t want that. In fact, maybe all us white folks should just pack our stuff and move back to Europe...sure would make you happy, now wouldn’t it?

And no, I don’t think of you as an "N fillintheblank" -- I honestly think you hate white people, period. Hell, maybe you hate all people, but whites just a little more. You got worms in your head...not my fault.

The "status quo" in Iraq as of 2002-03 was that Saddam was merrily shredding the sanctions regime, raking in piles of cash to fund his terrorist-training camps and WMD ambitions, firing reguarly--and in violation of the 1991 armistice--on US and British aircraft that were patrolling to protect the Kurds and Shi’ites from renewed mass murder, and manipulating the UN in an effort to fend off decisive action against himself. "Patience" wasn’t going to work on Saddam, and the idea that this downward-spiraling "status quo" could have been sustained--much less have led to progress--does not bear serious consideration.

Dain- Now, you are being ridiculous! Is there truly room in your head only for two possibilities: (1) use the military to bully other countries, and (2) disband the military? I can think af many more possibilities, including using the military intelligently, and responsibly, and as safely as possible. Kind of like Bill Clinton did. Didn’t Bush inherit a shiny new military with which to invade Iraq and Afghanistan?

Second, while your points about the Roman and British and Soviet empires sound well informed, they also sound like reiterations of my point. What is the substantive difference between my description and this: "a big clunky military state without the dynamic economy needed to pay for their empire...and military morale has been on the downswing for a very long time."?

As for Britain, your point seems to be that colonizing the world is safe unless some enemy declares war on us. So, except for that pesky Germany, Britain would have been successful. I agree! And, except for bin Laden, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, ..... we can safely pursue Bush’s global policy, too. Tell you what-- you get our potential enemies to agree to leave us alone, and I’ll agree that we can then safely invade countries for their resources.

Dear "tired"-

"The "status quo" in Iraq as of 2002-03 was that Saddam was merrily shredding the sanctions regime,..."

Shredding the regime? What does that mean?

"to fund his terrorist-training camps and WMD ambitions,.." What camps? The ones we lied about to try to manipulate the UN into supporting us? What WMD’s? The ones we lied about to try to manipulate the UN into supporting us? The UN that courted for support, then denigrated because they were smart enough to see through Bush’s lies?

" firing reguarly--and in violation of the 1991 armistice--on US and British aircraft".....

How many pilots were killed? Anywhere near 2000?

Know what I’m tired of? I’m tired of Death-loving Rightists overlooking boring, slow, intelligent solutions to problems in lieu of exciting, explosive-filled war that results in real families losing real sons and daughters to support dumb-ass Americans and their short attention spans. Play army with your X-box, and leave the global thinking to people with brains.

Fung...if you meant that empires inevitably fall, and that you would spare the U.S. that fate, then say that. On the other hand, I don’t agree that we’ve started an "empire," nor do I agree that we are losing at present. I hope you are never forced to invest in anything...you have no patience.

Terrorist training camps -- 2 at least that I know of. One was in northern Iraq near Kurdish country, the other was Salman Pak south of Bagdad. As for "shredding" the sanctions regime, have you forgotten the only real scandal that has come from this affair -- the UN’s oil for food scandal.

Your problem buddy is that you stopped reading the news some time ago. Why should we waste time on someone so ill informed (you really MUST branch out and read something besides the Lefty blogs)?

I posted a link in comment #24 above on Saddam’s terrorist-training camps, but here it is again:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/550kmbzd.asp?pg=1

For an update, see:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2006/01/algerian_terrorists_bin_laden.html

It appears that Saddam was training North African terrorists whose goals included assisting al-Qaeda with attacks in Europe.

Saddam’s gaming of the oil-for-food program to erode and undermine the "sanctions regime" (a fairly common term, btw) by bribing UN Security Council member states is well described in the Volcker and Duelfer reports.

And finally, let’s not forget: It was incumbent upon Saddam to show that he did not have banned weapons (far from doing so, he endlessly cheated), and the only reason that Saddam even let inspectors back in was that he was being confronted by a huge, mostly American military force whose presence he was confident could not be sustained. As Charles Duelfer put it in the cover letter to his report:

"Iraq was surrounded by a large and expensive, military force. Sustaining such a force for any length of time would be impossible. IT WAS NOT A STABLE SITUATION, and Saddam realized his position far too late."[CAPS ADDED]

So much for the idea that there was a stable "status quo" in place during which infinite "patience" would have been enough to wear down Saddam. Such patience, of course, would only have worn down the forces arrayed against him, and left him free--plus well-funded--to carry on with his weapons ambitions, his terrorist training, and all the rest.

I find it interesting that many of the same left-wingers who opposd the Gulf War called repeatedly for the ending of sanctions in the 1990s. Their argument was that it primarily hurt the Iraqi people, and not the regime. It turns out that they didn’t realize how correct they were; thanks to "Oil-for-Food" Saddam and his cronies weren’t suffering at all.

Dain - That is NOT what I am trying to say, and so I will not say it. Overextension and hubris are why empires fall. Neither one is inevitable.

Tired: I am tired of this debate. You pick your sources. I choose other ones than the Weekly Standard. Like Colin Powell.

John-there is nothing wrong with "adjusting" a sanctions program, just as we "adjust" (this is GWB’s new word) during wartime. Our sanctions program could well have been improved, and continued.

I find it hard to believe that there was any way to "adjust" the sanctions so that they would be effective, given that France, Germany, and Russia had secret sweetheart deals with Saddam. Any "adjustment" would have been a step toward their elimination.

Fung:

How convenient for you to become "tired"! You poor guy, you.

Since Colin Powell’s your dude, here’s an interesting quote from his righthand man, Lawrence Wilkerson. It comes from a screed against Bush, but in the midst of it, even Wilkerson has to make the following remarkable admission:

"I can’t tell you why the French, the Germans, the Brits, and us thought that most of the material [about Saddam’s illict weapons programs], if not all of it, that we presented at the UN on 5 February 2003 was the truth. I can’t. I’ve wrestled with it. [But] when you see a satellite photograph of all the signs of the chemical-weapons ASP—Ammunition Supply Point—with chemical weapons, and you match all those signs with your matrix on what should show a chemical ASP, and they’re there, you have to conclude that it’s a chemical ASP, especially when you see the next satellite photograph which shows the UN inspectors wheeling in their white vehicles with black markings on them to that same ASP, and everything is changed, everything is clean. . . . But George [Tenet] was convinced, John McLaughlin [Tenet’s deputy] was convinced, that what we were presented [for Powell’s UN speech] was accurate." [bracketed material added for clarity]

And if you don’t like The Weekly Standard on Saddam’s support for terrorism, how about none other than Senator Hillary Clinton? Here she is in October 2002:

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical- and biological-weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability, and his nuclear program. HE HAS ALSO GIVEN AID, COMFORT,AND SANCTUARY TO TERRORISTS, INCLUDING AL-QAEDA MEMBERS." [CAPS ADDED ]

Or Sen. Jay Rockefeller?

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. . . . We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."

Or Al Gore, from September 2002?

"We know that [Saddam] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."

I think you get the drift. There are more such quotes of Democrats speaking about Saddam’s weapons at the link below, each one with a linked source so readers can check them:

http://www.glennbeck.com/news/01302004.shtml

Oh, and here’s a choice one from a January 2001 Washington Post editorial (see Robert Kagan’s 25 Oct 2005 WashPost essay for more):

"Of all the booby traps left behind by the Clinton administration, none is more dangerous—or more urgent—than the situation in Iraq. Over the last year, Mr. Clinton and his team quietly avoided dealing with, or calling attention to, the almost complete unraveling of a decade’s efforts to isolate the regime of Saddam Hussein and prevent it from rebuilding its weapons of mass destruction. That leaves President Bush to confront a dismaying panorama in the Persian Gulf [where] intelligence photos . . . show the reconstruction of factories long suspected of producing chemical and biological weapons."

You don’t have to push very hard to discover that Fund is essentially irrational. I too grow tired of this debate.

Tired- so, what is your point? Bush selected the "facts" that he wanted to share -- selected OUT the facts that didn’t fit his scheme, and some of the people around him believed him? I didn’t say he was a BAD liar. A bad liar wouldn’t have been believed. A good one has support, help, and a kernel of truth. You believe him, too -- even AFTER we have found no WMDs! So, sometimes a good liar also needs a willing audience. Good for you.

Sorry, Fung, but your fallback "Bush lied" charge won’t wash.

The 2002 National Intelligence Estimate--which represented the consensus view of all 15 agencies in the US intelligence community--asserted with "high confidence" that:

"Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear, and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions."

Moreover, the intel agencies of France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia, and Israel all agreed with this assessment. George Tenet (a Clinton appointee) told Bush personally that the assessment was "a slam dunk."

All those Democratic officeholders whom I quoted had access to the same intelligence product that the Administration did, and Bush could obviously also not determine exactly which "facts" foreign intelligence agencies had, or how they decided to interpret them. Your claim that Bush monopolized and manipulated the underlying intelligence product is patent nonsense, Fung.

Are you really suggesting the George Bush hoodwinked, brainwashed, mind-controlled, or whatever the entire US intelligence community, at least six foreign intelligence agencies, and a slew of Democratic politicians? That Bush is master ventriloquist with supernatural powers who can make the likes of Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright, and Jay Rockefeller (to name a few) say what he wants them to say? If you really believe that, you’re even loonier that I think you are. (And just for the sake of argument, let’s stipulate that Bush DID make child’s play of manipulating all those major Democratic Party figures and making them say what he wanted them to say--that would mean they’re almost unimaginably gullible--and this pack of zombies wants our votes?)

Oh, and please don’t bother coming back at me with the "Bush cooked the intel" lie. Both the bipartisan Senate Select Intelligence Committee report of 2004 and the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report of 2005 examined in great detail the process by which the intel was gathered, processed, and passed up the line. Here are those reports’ respective conclusions:

The Senate Intelligence Committee:

"[We] did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence, or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq’s weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities."

And here’s the Robb-Silberman report:

"[We found] no evidence of political pressure to influence the intelligence community’s pre-war assessments of Iraq’s weapons programs. . . . [A]nalysts UNIVERSALLY asserted that in NO instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter ANY of their analytical judgments."[CAPS ADDED FOR EMPHASIS]

So here we have not one but two bipartisan reports concluding that the Bush Administration in no way tried to twist or tamper with any evidence or intel-community judgment regarding Saddam’s weapons activities. In short, the "Bush is a good liar" charge has been examined and found to be a load of crap, period. People who continue to make it can be rightfully regarded as either knowing liars, or ignorant fools.

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