Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Michael Berg, Joel Achenbach and Moral Equivalency

Michael Berg, father of the be-headed American Nick Berg, has been all over the media condemning the killing of al Zarqawi as simply the "revenge" of George W. Bush. He has equated the revenge of Bush with the revenge of Zarqawi. Leaving aside, for the moment, whether the killing of Zarqawi actually had anything to do with revenge (for I think our national policy is driven more often by loftier considerations) let’s take what Berg says at face value. Is there really no difference between the revenge of the just and the unjust? Only if your thinking has been so corrupted by the sophisticated sophistries of the West that you no longer recognize the difference between the just and the unjust.

Hugh Hewitt brought this blog post from Joel Achenbach (the most popular blogger at The Washington Post to our attention yesterday, wherein Achenbach seems to make the point that there is a moral equivalence between the killings of Zarqawi and the killing of Zarqawi by American bombers. But Achenbach actually takes it a step further--at least his words do. He seems to say (as you may remember that Bill Mahr did stupidly say some months back) that the killings of Zarqawi and other insurgents at least have the virtue of being more manly because they are more personal. That is, Zarqawi actually got his hands bloody while American bombers just punch a button. I find it very difficult to believe that Achenbach (or Mahr, for that matter) actually believes what he implies here. But it is symptomatic of the perverse attempt to appear above the fray and devastatingly clever that has captured the popular imagination in this post-modern era. Frankly, I’m not afraid to say that I find it disgusting. And, what’s more, it’s also pathetic.

I’ve been re-reading Leo Strauss’ great work What is Political Philosophy in recent days and this great quote more or less sums up what this kind of stupid commentary really is:

"His ’ethical neutrality’ is so far from being nihilism or a road to nihilism that it is not more than an alibi for thoughtlessness and vulgarity: by saying that democracy and truth are values, he says in effect that one does not have to think about the reasons why these things are good, and that he may bow as well as anyone else to the values that are adopted and respected by his society. Social science positivism [what’s really driving the thinking of these folks]fosters not so much nihilism as conformism and philistinism.

Touche.

Discussions - 47 Comments

Or, as my friend Paul Eidelberg put it in a column today, "The Rabbis have taught us that `Whoever is merciful to the cruel, will ultimately be cruel to the merciful." (In the same article he quotes "U. S. Admiral Bull Halsey, a rational and responsible man, [who] said, `Hit hard, hit fast, hit often.’"

Paul is discussing conditions in Israel, but the quote seems to me relevant here, too.

Doesn’t it irritate you when the parents of beheaded children act more like Jesus than like a good American? I think we should have a manual, or perhaps a summer camp for such folks. We could send those whiny widows of 9/11 there, too -- the ones that Man Coulter doesn’t like. We should teach them how to respond the correct way to these predictable, though unfortunate calamities: beheadings, kidnappings, reverse-collateral damagings, like good Americans. The heck with this forgiveness stuff. This "vengeance is mine..." stuff. Save that for little things like insults from political enemies. What a jerk that Michael Berg is.

In answer to your question: no, it doesn’t.

Yes, Fung, Michael Berg is "irritating" in the extreme. I would not trust such a weak and morally confused man to tell me the time of day. He is a disgrace to America, and so are you, for defending him.

Your reference to Jesus is idiotic. Christ’s kingdom is "not of this world," as the man himself said. In this world, we kill those who are sufficiently evil, and dangerously so, to merit death. Those who won’t admit this are parasitic upon us, the grownups, who are responsible for civilization. People like you and Michael Berg are, morally speaking, parasites.

The quote from the rabbi, cited in Comment 1, is appropriate and insightful.

Fung,


More like Jesus? Forgivneness, yes; love your enemies as yourself, yes. Characterize your country as "vengeful" for killing an enemy combatant (and a leader of the enemy at that), no.

David -- Thank you for clearing that up.

I agree, those paradoxical, country-song-style words are inspiring, and they inspired me to share some with you, courtesy of Nick Lowe:

Cruel to be kind in the right measure
Cruel to be kind it’s a very good sign
Cruel to be kind means that I love you
Baby, got to be cruel, you got to be cruel to be kind

Well I do my best to understand dear
But you still mystify and I want to know why
I pick myself up off the ground to have you knock me back down
Again and again and when I ask you to explain
You say, you’ve got to be...

CHORUS

Just for you, Davey, from your favorite parasite.

There’s nothing like a musical interlude to brighten up my day.

I always quote those lyrics--the first sentence--when teaching Machiavelli, esp. "in the right measure."

Mr. Frisk - Not conceding your description of those people as "parasites" but I am curious if you think that such "parasites" are themselves "sufficiently evil."


Fung, here’s the point. Kindness has its place, mainly in personal relations. In war, it is usually dangerous. The more people there are who "think" like you, the more danger we are in. I repeat, sir, you are morally a parasite. It is degrading even to read your posts. But someone has to respond to you, lest weak young minds be led astray.

See, now, Professor Lawler knows how to get the most out of a tune.

David...you’ll have to work at it a little bit hardy. Fung is still playful...he hasn’t had his ’fit’ yet (i.e., spewing hateful bilge, embittered diatribes, etc.). You haven’t gotten under his skin.

Perhaps you should call him a mush-brained psychotard traitor...or maybe he’s just on good drugs at the moment.

But don’t let him fool you...all that Jesus stuff works for him if it undermines the country, and more particularly, G.W. Bush. When it suits him, he’s pure Machiavelli...particularly when dealing with "bubbas" like ourselves.

Craig,

You didn’t read carefully enough. I said people who are sufficiently evil should be killed. I should think it was clear that I meant Zarqawi. I said people like Michael Berg and Fung are, in an important sense, parasites. I certainly did not say that parasites should be killed. The appropriate mode for them is contempt.

Dain,

I don’t expect to get under Fung’s skin. You cannot easily get under the skin of a moral idiot, at least without knowing him personally.
I agree with you that he aims to demoralize conservatives and engages in psychological warfare. For that reason, it is important to discredit his spewings. For the kids, you might say.

I read your post carefully, but it still left me with a question (no one expects you to cover everything in one little post), which is why I asked it. My next question is why do you NOT think that the "parasites" are "sufficiently evil" and should be killed? I mean, hey, if they’re parasites, why not, right?


People who live on the public trough year after year without working are sometimes called parasites, too. It is a metaphor, Craig. I’m not saying that Michael Berg and his ilk deserve to be treated like literal parasites, nor is this the normal understanding of the term when used in political discourse.

How many years of schooling do you have, anyway? I’m really not of a mind to pitch my next post to a sixth-grade level. If you can’t understand what I’m saying, why comment at all?

"he hasn’t had his ’fit’ yet (i.e., spewing hateful bilge, embittered diatribes, etc.)."

Did anyone notice the irony?

Mr. Frisk, I have to hand it to you. When you get frustrated by someone who just doesn’t get it and keeps asking questions, you are able to rein yourself in, be patient, and keep the tone dignified, diplomatic and civil. And your absolute refusal to engage in personal attacks is almost saintly, considering what you put up with. It’s exemplary, to say the least. You are truly a Claremont Statesman of the first order.

I do, still, wonder what you mean by "moral parasite." Is it that these other people suck all of the morality from you, and give nothing back in return?

Also, the way you talk - metaphorically, OF COURSE - about parasites like Fung, and presumably myself, it sounds as though they represent a danger to the civilization that you maintain and protect. So, again, why do you think that they shouldn’t be killed? Why not act to protect your civilization from the danger within?

Back on topic for just a moment:

Bill Mahr did stupidly say some months back that the killings of Zarqawi and other insurgents at least have the virtue of being more manly because they are more personal.

Obviously Mahr had not seen any of the videos of the beheadings. Had he done so, he would NOT have referred to the killings of Zarqawi as manly. I made the mistake of watching the video of the Nick Berg beheading. I do not recommend it to anyone. I have seen thousands of autopsy and gruesome crime scene photos of dead bodies throughout my carreer. None compares to the beheading videos. Sawing off the head of a defenseless man is NOT MANLY!

Michael Berg, father of the be-headed American Nick Berg, has been all over the media ...

Laura Ingram played a clip of an interview of Michael Berg this morning. I believe, though I could be wrong, the interviewer was Hugh Hewitt. The interviewer asked what Berg would have done if he were president on 9-11. Berg said he would go to bin Laden and ask what bin Laden wanted to leave us alone. The interviewer asked "what if he said all Americans must leave the middle east?" Berg said he would accommodate bin Laden.

I’m done. Back off topic.

Is there any right way to respond to seeing a video of your son getting his head sawed off, other than revenge? I think everyone saw it...and I assume that it was a tramatic event for the father. So let the man recoup however he wants...and pay no attention to his ramblings. If Berg wants to play hollier than though so be it...If he wants his son’s last words to be father forgive them for they know not what they do...that is ok by me. If he believes that the war is driven on a personal level by fathers loosing sons he might even be right. On a subjective level both sides see the cause of revenge as just...and both sides have lost sons unjustly. Zarquawi deserved to die, but his death doesn’t bring back Nick’s head or that of his father.

Given the fact that the justice available in such cases as these doesn’t return what is lost...Nick Berg’s father is perfectly within his rights to question why revenge(or justice) is a value.

Inserting revenge and justice into the quote by Strauss in place of democracy and truth gives us "by saying that revenge and justice are values, he says in effect that one does not have to think about the reasons why these things are good, and that he may bow as well as anyone else to the values that are adopted and respected by his society."

I would suppose that mr. Berg is simply engaging in a sort of philosophical grieving...that entails questioning societal conceptions of justice and the human nature response of revenge... That doesn’t make him a parasite or a traitor, but it certainly doesn’t mean that the opposite of societal conceptions of justice or revenge equals the good...

Is it even possible for someone who believes his cause to be unjust to seek revenge?(I don’t think so...see Nick Berg’s father) Must all revenge proceed from the belief that an injustice was commited against? I would suppose so. Does this mean that all revenge is just revenge?(maybe)

In what sense would it make sense to speak of the revenge of the unjust, if all revenge proceeds from a belief in justice? The grounds of what constitutes justice would have to be discernable to seperate just and unjust revenge...and revenge is not a quality that often co-exists with any such soul searching or objective discernment of fact. In point of fact anyone who dug too far into reason might risk pricing himself out of revenge by the calming effect of rationalization.

I don’t think grounds for justice could be found exclusively in the character of the agent taking revenge but rather in the chosen target of the revenge. The Marines in Haditha clearly felt justified in taking revenge...they had lost one of their own to pop shots comming from a village. But they made a mistake. It can’t be in the feeling of wrongfull loss that the grounds for just revenge lies but rather in getting the right target. This is why Zarquawi is just revenge...it is also why whoever said that revenge is a dish best served cold is right. Cold revenge is more just than hot revenge...but hot revenge is more natural.

I think Mr. Berg’s projection of guilt tells us loads about why Nick was exposed to this cruelty. The boy was obviously socialized in some never-never land of idealist mush, and so he goes off to "do well by doing good" and gets snuffed. No surprise...Nature (which includes Man) is mighty cruel to individuals who ignore empirical reality and proceed on their own (clueless) agendas -- like rabbits ignoring hawks...just plain stupid.

I’m sorry Mr. Berg lost his son, and I’m sorry Nick lost his life, but if anyone is to blame it’s Mr. Berg and his dumb ideas. I think that’s why he projects on Bush and Co...just too painful to face the truth.

David,

The phrase "lest weak young minds be led astray" may be a slur on children; even kids playing a game of cops n’ robbers are not so morally retarded as to assume that the cops and the robbers are moral equals. Just as if we said your troll’s invocation of the Hallmark Jesus was infantile, it would be a slur on infants.

Besides, I thought the mixing of politics and religion was a violation of the Sacred and Precious Wall of Separation. Doesn’t such a violation cause leftists to self-combust in a cloud of organic bio-degradable dust, and usher them to the Pearly Gates of St. Peter Singer, awaiting an audence with the Diety, Darwin? No? Speaking of dust, if Bergen-Belsen were built today, the Left’s main concern would be that it meet Holy Air-Quality Standards. But I digress.

Mr. Berg assumes that there is something he could do to appease bin Laden and thereby bring peace. But suppose bin Laden told him that he wished to continue flying planes into buildings?

In other words, Zarquawi didn’t chop off Nicholas Berg’s head to achieve a goal. Chopping off heads IS the goal.

Equivalize that.

Equivalize! What a great word, Noel. Somewhere between equalize, equivocate, and trivialize, so that it means, "to assert the moral equivalence of actions, in a trivial and childish manner." I’m writing it in my dictionary, and know that I’ll have plenty of chances to use it.

I was more proud of my use of the word "that", Carl.

But I think "equivalize" is already in the dictionary. It appears shortly after "deheading".

Davey-

I am glad to hear that good Christians like you refer to the teachings of Jesus only after you have died. Frankly, that explains a great deal of paradoxical and un-Christian behavior, that I would have called hypocritical until your excellent instruction showed me otherwise. You are truly a moral authority and a living standard of ethics and integrity.

Dain - "Psychotard traitor"!!! You outdo yourself!

John Lewis - I agree with you. There is absolutely no standard of reference for the parent of a beheaded child. While Dain and Davey have it all figured out, I find their positions disgusting. That is why I poked fun at them in the first place -- to suggest that some blogger has anything useful to add to the experience of Michael Berg, or Cyndy Sheehan, or any actual victim of their fun, adventurous war, is ridiculous.

I have said elsewhere that Zarquawi deserved to die, and I am glad that he is taken out of the picture. But, it seems to me that one of important differences between the U.S. and its morally non-euivalent enemies is our reluctance to enjoy death. We don’t idealize dancing in the streets, and displaying the heads of our victims, and dragging bodies through the streets to celbrate our victories. There may be a tendency to engage in such behavior, but generally moderating influences prevail. But, on this blog, those moderating influences are called traitors.

Dain - "Psychotard traitor"!!! You outdo yourself! -- I’m gratified...I work so hard to capture that which is the essence of FMG.

John Lewis - I agree with you. There is absolutely no standard of reference for the parent of a beheaded child. While Dain and Davey have it all figured out, I find their positions disgusting. That is why I poked fun at them in the first place -- to suggest that some blogger has anything useful to add to the experience of Michael Berg, or Cyndy Sheehan, or any actual victim of their fun, adventurous war, is ridiculous.

Au contraire, monsieur! It is people like you who’ve pushed Michael Berg and Cyndy Sheehan into the public realm...your trusted allies in the MSM, to be exact. The real question isn’t whether I have anything useful to add to their experiences, but rather why their opinions should 1) be shoved in my face, and 2) influence public opinion. As far as I know, grieving doesn’t qualify one as a pundit, and using such people to seize moral authority is deeply cynical and disgusting. So, I find YOUR position disgusting.

But, it seems to me that one of important differences between the U.S. and its morally non-euivalent enemies is our reluctance to enjoy death. We don’t idealize dancing in the streets, and displaying the heads of our victims, and dragging bodies through the streets to celbrate our victories. There may be a tendency to engage in such behavior, but generally moderating influences prevail. But, on this blog, those moderating influences are called traitors.

You’re so full of it. Your posts, and those of your troll buddies, weren’t meant to "moderate" glee at the death on an enemy -- those posts are sour grapes. You just can’t stand any good news coming out of Iraq because you (rightly) understand that such news invalidates your irrational worldview. So spare us the spin...we know damned good and well where you’re coming from...traitor.

Want to tell me what I have done to push anyone into, or out of, the MSM (having mentioned that, isn’t it miraculous that we have caught wind of this news in the first place? How did they get it past the powerful liberal censors?)?

And one piece of good news (which I HAVE acknowledged as good news) does not invalidate a worldview. We would need a heckuva lot more good news than this to do that!

Having entered into this (Iraq) war unjustly, I find it difficult to jump and leap about any news other than a plan to pull out that doesn’t leave our allies (if we have any left) completely vulnerable. I would also (or will, when it happens) throw a party when the corruption of the Bush Administration has been exposed, investigated, and punished.

Now, if there was some good news about the war against terror, or against the Taliban in Afghanistan, or the hunt for Bin Laden, then I might celebrate a bit more intensely.

Now, if there was some good news about the war against terror, or against the Taliban in Afghanistan, or the hunt for Bin Laden, then I might celebrate a bit more intensely

Well, since Zawahiri bemoans the loss, I’d say killing the butcher of Iraq was pretty good news from the War on Terror front. You should remember that Zarqawi was a terrorist before we invaded Iraq -- he ran Saddam’s Ansar al-Islam terrorist training camp in northern Ira...you know, those pesky terrorist connections that
by themselves are sufficient to justify our invasion. The fact that your MSM buddies have convinced the weak-minded that our invasion was ill-advised doesn’t make it so.

As for whether you personally pushed Sheehan and co. into the media spotlight, tell me with a straight face that you didn’t applaud the circus thus created. Don’t add liar to your list of sins...oh, probably too late. Sorry.

"You should remember that Zarqawi was a terrorist before we invaded Iraq -- he ran Saddam’s Ansar al-Islam terrorist training camp in northern Ira...you know, those pesky terrorist connections that by themselves are sufficient to justify our invasion. "

That’s right -- That is why he was included in the famous deck of cards of most wanted terrorists when we invaded. Oh, wait -- he was NOT included! Why was that? Because he wan’t deemed a threat until after we had invaded Iraq, and after chaos ensued, and after Iraq became the Wild West with the U,S.A. presiding. That is -- after the "mission was accomplised."

Did I applaud Cindy Sheehan? Absolutely! She confronted Bush, and he backed down, and she also provided another litmus test for the Bush supporters. They love to start wars, but they don’t like to deal with the human tragedy that follows. Kind of like this argument about a father whose son was beheaded, but fails to respond the way you all want him to. You don’t like that, because it forces you and the other war mongers to confront the human cost of the wars that you find so profitable and exciting.

If only they would scream about revenge, and hate, and more killing! That would be so cool, and then we could get more and more of the country behind the war machine! It could go on, and on, and on, and on...... Then General Motors could show a profit without having to make a quality automobile, and the NSA could keep justifying the erosion of individual and civil rights, and Dick Cheney could keep bringing home those dividends, and Exxon (who also hates to confront its own messes) could keep making billions per quarter while the rest of us take second and third jobs in order to pay for our medicine.

If only the sheep would all keep their eyes where you and your buddies want them to.......

Ah, now there’s the Fung I know (and don’t love)! Frothing at the mouth...absolutely rabid...a true Lefty. Keeping the mask up must be very difficult, huh?

As for your diatribe, I’m not even sure we knew about Zarqawi before the invasion...but he was an Al Qaeda operative, and he was running a Saddam-sponsored terrorist camp. Funny how you ignore the essentials...can’t let facts get in the way, after all.

And, as I thought, you wholly approve of people using their private grief to undermine "W"...of course, I knew that, but I wanted you to admit to it. So, if you trot these people out to bitch and moan about decisions their sons made, don’t be surprised when people accuse them of using blood as their mana. They are disgusting, and they are projecting (something you should understand all too well, psychoprof)...blaming everyone but the enemy (and themselves). I’m sure Sheehan’s son is spinning in the grave...no dignity, no scruples, no respect for her son’s beliefs. A spectacle being milked by cheese-eating, Volvo-driving moral pygmies who couldn’t find their own asses with both hands in broad daylight.

Sure good to have you back, Fungus.

We would like to use your answer to this for the new "dain Fact-of-the-Month" feature for the fanzine.

So you never eat cheese?

("cheese-eating"??? I think, for that insult to be effective, you’re supposed to point out some TYPE of cheese. Brie is the standard one usually used against liberals.)

You realize, troll, that by sniping in this fashion you confirm 1) that I get under your skin, and 2) I do it very effectively. Where there’s smoke there’s fire...so keep it up. Like a destroyer looking for submarine debris after a salvo of depth charges, I’ll look for your sniping...the detritus of my success.

Aside from your insults, there is very little of substance to respond to. What you and your buddies don’t seem to get is that the bush invasion of Iraq was unnecessary, unjustified, and therefore, this particular enemy was fabricated by bush. That does NOT apply to the terrorists that existed prior to our invasion of Iraq, but it DOES apply to the ones that have ascended due to our invasion.

Since the war is unjust, and unpolular, the bushies have to spin it, and they do, and they have-- refusing to let the press report on the real human cost, since that makes the spin more difficult. That is why it is necessary to be certain that the real human cost is perceived by the rest of us, who have never ONCE been asked to make the tiniest sacrifice! Just keep shopping, investing, watching TV, maybe buy a little duct tape.... But bush has advised this country, since 9/11 to go on acting as though there was no tragedy, no human loss.

So, you tell me which is more disgusting: Allowing cowards like bush and rumsfeld to erase the human loss from our experience, or insisting that people know that real humans are losing very valuable lives -- and for nothing more valid than Cheney’s and Exxon’s quarterly reports.

In what twisted world does one inhabit when one asserts that it is unjust to rid the world of tyrant?

Dale - Please don’t play the naif. There are tyrants abundo around the globe. A Democratic government can legitimately "rid the world" of tyrants in a Democracy with the will of the people who are accurately and adequately informed. The American people do not currently support attacking North Korea, Cuba, the Peoples’ Republic of China, and many other countries, even though they are ruled by tyrants. And, we would not have supported (in fact, many of us did NOT support) attacking Iraq in order to rid the world of Saddam, if we had been accurately and adequately informed. Instead, we were misled about the various, sequential reasons for attacking that country. Remember how those reasons were presented, then replace by others when the first ones were shown to be false?

You know this argument, and you know your question to be ridiculous. Why waste our time?

Yes, Fung, so you claim to be reasonable. So, let’s talk about facts.

What do you have to say about UN Resolution 1441? How about Congressional approval for the invasion? How about Clinton’s call for regime change in 1998? Any comment? The war was utterly legal.

How about the assertion by the weapon’s inspectors that Saddam had every intention of reconstituting his weapons program once UN sanctions eased. Here’s the CIA’s report on those findings. The gist is that Saddam’s primary goal was ending the sanctions regime...in order to revive his WMD programs. Any comments?

And then of course there is the Oil-for-Food scandal, in which we find that Saddam had corrupted the whole sanctions regime...which the help of European companies and governments. Here’s the report of the Independent Inquiry Committee (handpicked by the UN itself). Tables 7 and 8 are pretty interesting...a list of companies, their nationalities, and the amount of kickback payments made to Saddam. And comment...particularly on how Bush would have ever gotten UN approval for the invasion given that Saddam had the Euros in his back pocket?

And how about some comment on Salman Pak and other terrorist training camps in Iraq? Do you concede that these existed? If so, why don’t you think Iraq is part of the War on Terror.

There’s a lot more I could say, but I want to give you a chance to be rational. Take a couple of steps back from the "black helicopter, MoveOn.org.crap" disinformation and let’s talk about the context of this war. And please, shut up about Exxon and Haliburton. There’s no evidence that the Iraqi oil fields benefit Cheney or any other American...just stick with facts.

Dain, I am reading it, and I’ll read more. Sor far, what I see is that Saddam took lifting or circumventing sanctions as his highest priority, and that once they were lifted, he intended to go back to his old programs.

So, I am not done, but what I read so far tells me that the sanctions were effective, else he would not have had their termination as his highest priority.

I also read no evidence that he had EFFECTIVELY restarted his old WMD programs. Only that he was heard to have expressed that intention.

I’ll keep reading, though.

Your pal, Fung.

That’s all I ask...but, you have to realize that the sanctions regime was crumbling, and what was in place was corrupt. Also remember that Osama said that his main reason for attacking us was the presence of U.S. troops on Saudi soil (holy land). To move them (and hopefully diffuse global jihadism), Saddam absolutely had to go...our troops just couldn’t sit there year after year vainly waiting for him to go on extended vacation anymore.

Saddam was a very evil man, and he clearly wanted chemical and biological weapons (the report suggests that he had more-or-less given up on nukes). Since he was trafficking with terrorists, maybe not Al Qaeda, but clearly he knew and condoned terrorist activities. And he was the low-hanging fruit...how could we possibly invade Syria or Iran? It was a logical decision
if you were really trying to change the picture in the Middle East. Maybe Bush was naive...perhaps...but I don’t think he was a liar or a scumbad looking to trade blood for oil. I just don’t buy it...it’s crazy stuff.

I personally think Bush is paying for the sins of his father. Saddam shouldn’t never have been left in power...the son is having to clean up after his father. Just a personal point of view (don’t explode!).

Forgive the errors...rushing to make it for dinner.

Okay, I have read all that I can stand, and all that I have time for at present, though I assure you that I took it seriously.

Main reaction is this. The Oil-for-food (OFF) program was, as you have said, quite effectively distorted and used by Saddam and many companies for profit. It lacked serious and effective oversight, and was headed for failure. On the other hand, Saddam’s profits from the entire program pale in comparison to the losses for which Lay and Skilling are responsible. This does nothing to make Saddam look les evil, but it DOES speak to the necessity of war as justified by Saddam’s corruption of OFF.

As for the CIA report, I am left with little doubt that Saddam INTENDED to revive all of the programs that justified the Persian Gulf War, and that probably WOULD have justified, as you suggest, an attack on Bagdhad by Bush 1st.

Still, it seems that there was no longer ANY evidence of successful realization of those goals, and thus, I continue to believe that containment should have been continued. I might even consider moving our bases onto Iraqui soil, and off of Saudi Arabia, as a nod to the Saudis and as a way to tighten the wall around Saddam.

Salman Pak apparently existed, though its status as a terrorist training camp is no more clear than is its status as an anti-terrorist training camp http://www.apfn.net/messageboard/6-19-03/discussion.cgi.56.html

So, I am left with complete agreement with you regarding Saddam’s character. But, I continue to disagree regarding a justification for war.

I HAVE to get back to my family and my students! Thanks for the information. I will revisit it, soon.

Honestly, this is the kind of conversation I prefer. I appreciate your reading these materials.

I think what it comes down to is 1) how fast the sanctions regime was collapsing, and 2) how soon Saddam would have reconstituted his WMD programs...particularly chemical and biological.

Moreover, Saddam was hip-deep in sponsoring terrorism. The link between Saddam and Al Qaeda is tenuous (so far), but Bush made it clear early on that the war was against terrorism writ large. And logic suggests that the convergence of WMD and sponsorship of terrorism is of real concern for Americans...in Iraq, they applauded 9/11...there was actually a state celebration! There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam would have sponsored terrorism against Americans (as he did in the 1990s) had he had the means...and those means were at hand given the state of the sanctions regime.

I think it is also important to note that all the major security agencies thought that Hussein had stockpiles of WMD. They were wrong (evidently), but that doesn’t mean that Bush lied.

On one hand, I am more open to your argument than I was. And that is difficult to write. And at the same time, I am no statesperson or military expert, but I believe that we would currently enjoy more international credibility and support among our allies if bush had been honest about the tenuous nature of his evidence. It seems (and it seemed then to me) that there was time to gather more evidence, and that our timing had as much to do with preservation of face as it had to do with a real, imminent threat.

When I watched Powell at the UN, I was literally embarrassed for him. Even then, I felt that he lacked conviction, and that he was going through the motions like a good soldier, but that no one could deny the huge lacunae in his "evidence."

I hope you are right about bush. I would rather think that he is merely a terrible president than that there is a conspiracy to take our government away.

I think I prefer this mode, too, though it feels a bit foreign....I’ll reserve the right to revert to sarcasm and witty entendre in the future.

Dear Dain and Fung, congratulatiosn to both of you for the civility of your exchange starting around comment #37 near the end of the chain. Commendable. Repeatable? Hope so. Thanks.

Paul, Fung and I actually have some things in common. Neither of us belong to the radical fringe, and so neither of us is beyond the reach of reasoned debate. But sometimes it’s FUN to blast away...even the most reasonable of us has an animus/id to attend to :)

Paul- I agree. Dain and I have explicitly agreed on a number of things. Repeatable? I expect so. A new norm? I doubt it. but, thanks for the recognition!

Just out of curiosity, did you actually read the Achenbach blog entry? In no way, shape, or form does that entry discuss moral equivalence between the killings of Zarqawi and the killing of Zarqawi by American bombers, or say that the killings of Zarqawi and other insurgents have the virtue of being more manly because they are more personal. It's simply absurd of you to imply that the entry contains those ideas.

Achenbach's post addresses the fact that stand-off bombings often are based on unreliable intelligence, and are aimed at foes who are often unseen. It was a fairly unremarkable observation about fairly non-debatable aspects of modern warfare. What on earth were you thinking when you tried to conflate Achenbach's blog post with Berg's completely personal arguments?

Sheesh! Feel free to criticize anyone you want for anything you want, in any manner you wish to do so. But try to make sure that they've actually said something similar to the things that you're criticizing.

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