Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A Grim Reckoning

Ralph Peters throws in the towel on Iraq: "Iraq is failing. No honest observer can conclude otherwise. Even six months ago, there was hope. Now the chances for a democratic, unified Iraq are dwindling fast. The country’s prime minister has thrown in his lot with al-Sadr, our mortal enemy. He has his eye on the future, and he’s betting that we won’t last."

Discussions - 47 Comments

If this is so, then what exactly do we do now? The fact that the administration is perceived as not being able to answer that question may be the biggest reason swing voters are going to swing the results Democratic, probably big-time, this time.

"if this is so, then what exactly do we do now?"

I think there are two options.

1) We "stay the course" meaning doing what we have done, which is our military being the de facto government and numerous and always shifting alliances trying to blow up enough of our troops that we will go home and leave Iraq in a civil war situation. We of course are looking for some stability and central government to form at some point in all this.

2) Partition the country, as Buckley and others have suggested. Here the question is would this be any better, as the three resultant countries may be too willing to wage war against each other.

I look for us to stick with number 1 while Bush is in office, and switch to number 2 sometime in 2009-10 if 1 has not produced anything by then...

It’s not as if the Democrats have a plan; voting for them is voting for "anything else at all."

You’re forgetting option number 3: lob a few nukes at Iraq. Problem solved, and a nice little reminder to Iran and North Korea of what will happen to them if they don’t straighten up. Of course it would have been better to do this while Saddam was still in power.

Remember, Maliki’s life, and that of his family ride on him making the right bet, that is, whether America will find something it hasn’t found since Nixon, staying power, or whether islam, and all the horrors thereof, will prove itself possessed of greater will-power, greater desire for victory. Maliki made the right choice. Bush has allowed the American people to wallow in self-indulgence. He NEVER identified the true nature of our enemy, never placed the war in its historical context, and incorrectly named the war, "the war on terror."

I don’t share Peters’ pessimism, Peters blows too hot or cold for my taste, the man oscillates wildly in his opinions, and his symposium performance over at was nothing short of a meltdown, a true "jump the shark moment." So I don’t agree that Iraq is "lost." But there needs to be some changes, and those changes need to be made now. We need to get serious, as a nation we need to stop acting like a pack of narcissistic pussies, {for want of a better descriptive}.

We need to start killing off our enemies, get after ’em.

Let us hope that the Baker-Hamilton "study group" has wise and realistic advice for an administration that, as Sec Powell told the president, "owns" Iraq. It is very important to our country that we not fail in Iraq. Given the current state of things in Iraq and in American public opinion, a combination of Baker-Hamilton and some Democratic ownership of policy may be a better thing than many Republicans seem to fear. That is, after all, part of the democratic faith: that power nurtures responsibility. Divided government has served us well before.


Regarding your last comment. Recent studies have shown that American men have lost something like 15% of testorone or something like that. I believe the same is true for Europe. I wonder if such loss in testorone is a reason why Europe and America have become softer in tone.

The study said being fat decreased it, while smoking increased it. As American men have stopped smoking and gotten fatter it has gone down. It also has something to do with environment they think. I wonder if we could recreate that environment in the mideast, they seem to have too much testorone (ever seen pictures of the Islamic festival where they cut themselves to pieces with knives?!?!?)

Well, IF this is so, our options are either Christopher’s second option or the one I will set forth below. But do note that even Peters’ thinks the Iraqi’s might have one last chance. And do ponder what signs would be necessary to KNOW that it is so, that Christopher’s first option has to be abandoned. I do not think Maliki’s Sadr bet is evidence that we KNOW it is so, for the simple reason that we can remain a major player there that can put all sorts of pressure on him short of advocating some kind of democracy-contradicting coup.

But again, IF we do arrive at point where it seems all best guesstimates are that this is so, a worthy option besides Christopher’s partition is to actively back a strongman, or a strong junta, likely emerging out of the army. Obviously, we would want to be sure that, on a Turkish model, or on Fareed Zakaria’s of "liberal authoritarian regimes," that the ruling guy/guys were committed to secularism, and some form of constitutionalism. Constitutional Monarchy for Iraq! will become our slogan. We would either want to insist that such constitutionalism include forty-year-or-so guarantees of special Kurdish confederal rights, or we would want to insist upon a separate Kurdish state altogether. Confederalist schemes that envision equal regional independence for the Kurds, the central Sunnis, and the southern Shites appear unworkable to me.

Or, we could just leave altogether, and let a war of all against all sort things out. That option seems more reactive, however, than in out interest.

I vote for partition...and I vote we buddy up with the Kurds and tell the rest of them to go to Hell. We build a democratic Kurdistan as a demonstration project, and we defend it against all comers (including Turkey). If we ever do this, we must also take a strip of the Sunni desert to provide a land bridge to Jordan. Kurdistan will be landlocked, and we need a corridor to provide military aid, oil pipelines, etc.

As usual I am not done, because I have to say that I am truly disturbed by all the sloppy ("I think/talk in short-hand like the man on the street") talk from conservative pundits/intellectuals about how we’re on the verge of "losing" Iraq, and that it "is a mess," and that we’re "going to lose." Look, we may lose the second-order goal of democratization, and thus our troops may depart from Iraq withot ticker-tape parades of gratitude, but that would NOT mean we "lost" the war. The PRIMARY objective was the removal of Hussein’s regime, and that objective HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED. Either that was a justifiable and good reason, given the larger context at the time, for going to war, or it wasn’t. Democratization for its own sake cannot justify a war. The failure of the secondary goal, while deeply disturbing one a number of levels, does not mean the primary objective wasn’t achieved. We should be grateful to President Bush and the armed forces that we now know Saddam was bluffing on WMD, that we have only two nuclear proliferaters instaed of three, and that the Iranians cannot use Saddam’s assumed weaponary as an excuse for theirs.

Conservatives who at one time supported the Iraq war, tell me something--did General Meade LOSE the battle of Gettysburg because he did not prusue Lee’s army?--did the U.S. LOSE WWI because Hitler rose to power in fifteen brief years, forcing us to fight again? Was it WRONG and FUTILE of us to have defended the South Koreans, because the situation remains unresolved after fifty years, and could still go up in radioactive smoke?

To say, "Oh, we’re losing in Iraq," is essentially to say, "The only time we win in fighting is when we’ve succesfully transformed our enemies’ regime into a liberal democracy." That is, it is essentially to concede all the key planks of liberal perfectionist isolationism/internationalism.

This ain’t strategic semantics, this ain’t a pep-talk, this is using words accurately. We may "lose Iraq" insofar as we lose it to non-democrats, and lose our secondary objective, but we will not have lost our war, nor our good reason for undertaking it.

What? Is Ralph Peters the "most trusted man" in our time? Is this a replay of LBJ’s Cronkite reversal? Haven’t we heard this kind of despair from lots of other folks who formerly wore the uniform, with lots of medals pinned to it?

Two question, here: 1st, how many high ranking public figures were completely surprised when the Soviet Union crumbled, just like Reagan said it would? Secondly, aren’t our troops still stationed in Korea, acting a presence of U.S. power between the the last vestiges of totalitarian evil and the hope of democracy in the free world?

Defeat is not an option, folks. It is merely a temporary setback. And history will one day record those defeatist names, like Ralph Peters, Howard Dean and John Kerry et al, in a forgotten hall of shame.

Comment 3 by Ed the Roman

It’s not as if the Democrats have a plan; voting for them is voting for "anything else at all."

Sorry, what was the Republican plan?Last I heard it was "stay the course" and "we never said ’stay the course’". Anything else at all IS a plan. Personally, I’m with Biden and the three-partition scheme; it seems the lesser of several evils.

Here’s an idea:

Why don’t we train and equip the Iraqi military to deal with the insurgency by itself and protect the borders between Iraq and Iran and Iraq and Syria? Now why didn’t the Bush administration think of that? Oh, wait. They did.

Carl is dead right to note the perfectionist strain in the criticism of our efforts in Iraq. Only the United States has historically defined victory as the successful transformation of warlike societies. The suggestion that because we haven’t remedied the pernicious effects of 1,300 plus years of islam within 36 months, that somehow it’s all "FAILURE," is to set the bar so high as to be well nigh unattainable.

In short, let us not make the perfect, the enemy of the good, the unattainable, the foe of the worthwhile.

Our removal of Saddam was worth the effort, our prevention of him and his regime acquiring nuclear weapons, {which we now know from the NY Times today, they were within a year of so acquiring} was also a good thing, and served to advance American national security interests. However, we tried to FURTHER LEVERAGE our victory in Iraq, and seek a regional transformation by the establishment of the FIRST genuine democracy within islam. That attempt to further leverage our earlier accomplishments has met with less than the success we hoped for. But that doesn’t mean in any way that it’s a "failure." In war, often one has to fight for knowledge, one has to recon in strength, sustain losses, to learn important details about the true nature, disposition and intentions of your enemies. All of America, indeed, much of the world, has acquired a deeper, more penetrating knowledge of the implacable nature of our enemy, about the true essence of islam. That knowledge will utterly undo the dictatorship of political correctness that has heretofore governed our conduct towards islam, towards the world, and especially in our war efforts.

In the future, when we have to resort to much greater force, when the casualties we inflict will be beyond computation, we will be able to say, in total honesty, that we sought a way of transforming our enemy through minimal casualties, that we tried to change them without having "to go Roman," that we sought to avoid inflicting upon them the brutal tutorial we previously inflicted upon Germany, Japan and Italy.

And that will be something, that will enable us to abide with composure the judgement of history, as well as the judgement of our own conscience. We have poured ourselves out, in political and diplomatic effort, in vast treasure, and most importantly, in blood, in the tears of American families. We have tried to lift those in Iraq beyond the realm of savagery, we have tried to offer islam a gift, a light, a way out of their carnage, their conspiracy theories, their envy and psychological disorders, we tried to get them past the blood, their lust for blood, their love affair with violence, their misogyny, their utterly misguided devotion to the seventh century. So far, it hasn’t worked out very well.

But let’s be blunt, let us speak openly, entre nous, if you will.

Diplomacy is a fraud, it hasn’t worked, it isn’t working, and absent new and significant military ventures, it isn’t likely even to get a hearing throughout islam.

Going Roman, something we’ve done before, in our own Civil War, and especially in the Second World War, is something we haven’t the taste for anymore. We lack the political will, or to be more specific, our establishment lacks the moral and cultural confidence to resort to those military measures that our illustrious forefathers availed themselves of. So absent something much greater than a 9/11, although the American people would support a far greater ferocity towards our enemies, the establishment will have nothing to do with such policies.

Which leaves a pusillanimous defeat, ...... or...... seeing the thing through in Iraq.

We’re either going to demonstrate that Vietnam was an aberration, that South Vietnam would still be standing today, free and prosperous, like South Korea, but for the unique vexations caused by the Watergate scandal, we’re either going to demonstrate that we are a genuine superpower, or, we’re going to show the world that there isn’t any American superpower. We’re either going to rise to the challenge, and define our future, or we’re going to demonstrate that we’re a nation of frauds, and allow others, our enemies such as islam, or unfriends, such as China, to define our future.

I know what course I would chart, I know what course I would hold, I haven’t any doubt about what needs to be done, and I didn’t need 9/11 to serve as some sort of wake-up-call.

What about the rest of you?

anon, in a blazing display of manly bravado, shared his wisdom by telling us this: "... as a nation we need to stop acting like a pack of narcissistic pussies, {for want of a better descriptive}.
We need to start killing off our enemies, get after ’em."

So tell us, keyboard rambo, are ya’ll signed up yet for the killing brigade? No? Since there’s no place in the Great War against the Scary People for "narcissistic pussies," I trust you’ll be signing up, pronto.


It’s too late now. But with Carl as Bush’s speechwriter Rs could have won this year.

Yea Tom, I did try to sign up. I tried the Marine Corps first, then the Army, then the National Guard. And I’ve got my Congressman working to get me in, despite the regulations that otherwise bar me enlisting.

The fact that some misguided sort would try to brand me with the chickenhawk tarbrush isn’t a surprise.

But what does surprise is why Tom Paine would deride me for using a pseudonym, when he avails himself of the same. Additionally, why did Tom take such umbrage at my comments, did they strike a little too close to home for him, did it make him a little too uncomfortable, did it carry with it a little too much truth, a little too much brutal truth for him to handle, so he lashed out, branding me a "cretin."

Brand me what you will, but I’m trying to steer America back to those policies and paths that led to our greatness, and led to our victories.

And lastly, there is something distinctly effeminate, something distinctly unseemly in a man who primarily resorts to mockery, sarcasm and trivialization. That’s what women do, that’s how women argue, that’s how women try to maneuver and manipulate {there are exceptions of course, Thatcher comes to mind ...}. But the very fact that Paine resorted to mockery only VALIDATES the saliency of my original comments. Perhaps we should send Paine a copy of Harvey Mansfield’s new book on manliness. Men engage on the merits, men have no problem with the cut and thrust of honest debate, but since the sixties, we’ve seen this new type of American "male," whose preference is mockery, who relies upon prevailing fads and fashions to channel discussion and dialogue.

It’s all rather squalid.

Why doesn’t Ralph Peters support the troops? Why does he hate Amerika? He just doesn’t get it, does he?

My suggestion is to Swift-Boat this guy. Find an email written by a neighbor of a friend that proves he was once treated by Dr. John Dean in Vermont after excessive exposure to Bernie Sanders. Then, accuse him of flip-flopping. People respond well to that. Accuse him of being a traitor, and a deep thinker, and a supporter of terrorists. Then, ignore everything he has to say. Better yet, ridicule his message. And next time you support an unjust war, you can say that there has never been any evidence that it wouldn’t be a walk in the park.

Fung, I don’t know nor care what Peters gets, or doesn’t get. All I know is that he supported the removal of Saddam, he supported the efforts to democratize Iraq, he supported the whole idea of seeking to establish a representative government in the busom of islam, and now, he’s gotten "nervous in the service."

That demonstrates an unserious mind. Serious people don’t embark on war, then after a few thousand paltry casualties, {and yes, the numbers are paltry, when compared to what we’ve experienced before, and when compared to what we are hoping to establish, and when attributed to a nation of 300 million peoples, and the greatest Superpower that has ever existed on the face of the earth}, look for the exit.

Peters needs will power and determination. Often in war, victory comes to the side that simply refuses to countenance defeat. Unfortunately, America has become a society that can’t quite stomach the idea of victory, of vanquishing an enemy, of conquering a foe, for such a thing entails a verdict cast upon a society, made up of "the other," and "the other" is usually not Caucasian, thus enjoys the presumption of innocence, the presumption of a pristine social order, that we should respect, instead of abolishing.

Anon, That is what I was saying: He’s a flip-flopper. First, he’s for something, and then he’s all down in the dumps.

And you made another good point about the paltry numbers. I have a student whose husband was killed in action this past month. I think I’ll call her, and tell her about the paltry numbers to make her feel better. Can I give her your email address, just in case it doesn’t work?

Fung, that’s why I used the term "paltry," because I knew that it would be seized upon as indicative of some sort of callousness towards those that have borne the hardest brunt of a national war effort. Towards those that have lost family members, the loss is like a lightening bolt, but towards a nation of some 300 millions, those numbers are as nothing.

During the Presidency of Bill Clinton, America’s military lost more men every year through ordinary wastage, ordinary accidents, than America has lost per annum in the midst of this war effort. That’s why I selected a descriptive such as "paltry." Your response is more evidence of what I deem the increased pussyification of the United States. The losses we’ve endured, {even using the term "endured" is a stretch} are comparable to the ordinary wastage of a SINGLE DAY’S losses during the Great War. At Tarawa beachhead, our entire first wave was wiped out, likewise our second invasion wave. The Third wave only found lodgement on the shores of Tarawa by taking cover behind the floating bodies of the first and second wave. We aren’t enduring losses in battle, we’re sustaining losses through the odd IED, through the usage of car bombings. To my knowledge, not a single American squad, let alone a platoon has been rendered combat ineffective through enemy action. The dirtballs we’re up against haven’t even managed to wipe out an entire American infantry squad. Yet there are creatures who are crying out "failure" at the top of their lungs.

Anyone who takes umbrage at my usage of the word "paltry" has just demonstrated a want of historical perspective, and that want of perspective, that want of knowledge about warfare, ought to estop such creatures from opening their mouths on strategy.

So yes, America’s "losses" are as nothing, thus paltry. But individual families have known what it is to "take up their cross." In the United States, hardly a family can’t recall some family member who lost their life in action. My father’s brother, his only brother, was lost in action during Operation Overlord. But whereas before Americans understood that this was the price that had to be paid for the assertion of American interest, for the maintenance of American national security, today we have creatures who believe that American peace and prosperity can best be maintained by prayer vigils, or candle lit walks through various parks in urban America. It’s fantasy land, it’s all fantasy land. If you can’t handle the cost of what it means to be an American, perhaps you should look for some out of the way locale in which to dwell, where muslims won’t search you out, won’t look to lay cold steel against your unprotected throat.

It’s not America’s military looking to pusillanimously cut and run, it’s America’s left, it’s America’s elite, America’s establishment, it’s the growing strand of American pussies. As I’ve mentioned on another thread. That’s graphic, but utter truth. Albeit, it’s a truth of another age, another time, a more robust time, a more manly age, {as Mansfield might observe}.

All I know is that he supported the removal of Saddam, he supported the efforts to democratize Iraq, he supported the whole idea of seeking to establish a representative government in the busom of islam, and now, he’s gotten "nervous in the service."


"This should take days, weeks certainly not months" - Rummy

"We will be greeted with flowers and candy" - another White House idiot

We were told that we had to invade or else the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud (Condi)

We were shown pictures of the mobile wepons labs (which weren’t)

This adventure in Iraq has been one lie or screwup, (doesn’t matter to the voters), after another.

America has discovered that the "grown ups" were really little kids playing dressup in their mommy and daddy’s clothes.

And if Iraq losses are paltry, so were those of 9/11.

But their always devastating to the loved ones.

We were told that we had to invade or else the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud (Condi)


I’m sure you didn’t mean to point out the truth of Ms Rice’s comment, but here it is, from your very own New York Times, 11-2-06:

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

Read it and weep BDS sufferers

Anon-- Maybe it’t time to check into a clinic near you. When people start using catechismic language like yours, and sounding more like they belong in a Conan the Barbarian movie than they do in 2006 USA, then I stop playing and instead recommend they get some help.

Seriously. Check in with someone.

Fung, again with the mockery. Your inability to engage on the merits about what should be done, or left undone regarding Iraq, is painfully apparent.

And as for Conan, well, maybe he should be deployed in this war. Couldn’t hurt.

But moving beyond a response to your comments, I used the word paltry on purpose to see what would happen, you {one of the Left} responded as expected. Congratulations! You of the Left are predictable, and you haven’t a clue what to do about Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. And Drudge reports tonight that SIX MORE ARAB countries are looking to go nuclear. The ENTIRE apparatus for international control of nuclear weaponry is collapsing all around you, and you happen to live in the foremost superpower on the face of the earth, which also happens to be the most hated and envied society on the face of the earth. Other than make in poor taste gibes about the situation, what do you propose as a course of action for the United States? Every decent person who hopes to live in peace is looking to the leader of the free world right now, what do you suggest that the United States do? You of the Left are morally and intellectually incapable of responding to the challenge of our times. Moreover, you lack an imagination of what lurks in our future. You speak of the UN and the IAEA as if it were some magical amulet that can act like a charm against the horrors to come. The world BARELY escaped a nuclear exchange during the Cold War, do you really think that societies inspired by the Koran and governed by Shariaa are going to find the ability to stop themselves from using nuclear weapons? Because most rational people, even Conan for that matter, are convinced that if they get nukes, we will ALL see a nuclear exchange in our lifetimes.

Dear Carl (of comments #9 & 11): Was the primary reason for the invasion of Iraw the removal of Saddam’s regime? If so, then wasn’t that shortsighted? (I know, of course, that it was a stated aim of American policy from/during the Clinton administration.) That is, isn’t a primarily negative goal imprudent in the highest, without a statement of (and plans for) a replacement regime? Can you really say that the war was successful in its primary goal, since Saddam was ousted? That seems short-sighted and politically imprudent to me. (BTW: similar sorts of short-sightedness abound; Pierre Manent talks about some European ones in the antepenultimate chapter of A World beyond Politics?) If any prudent war-aim has to include more (than toppling Saddam, discovering and destroying WMD, etcetera), what was the replacement goal? Wasn’t it ’democratization,’ according to the Administration? Was that prudent? Whether it was/is or wasn’t/isn’t, what means for implementing the positive replacement were envisaged and prepared? How would you grade or assess these plans, the preparedness of the Bush Administration and the military for stage/phase two (and three ... )? How would you grade or assess the execution of such plans? Et cetera? (I know that the first casualty of war is the war-plan, so you can add the requisite qualification: How have they adapted as facts on the ground dictate and/or seem to require? In asking that question, I really aim at getting at the worldview and institutional structure-and-dynamics of the administration’s set-up-and-personnel, not daily or weekly or monthly tactical agility. The kind of thing that Charles Kessler critiques, President Bush’s MBA management style: I decide, but don’t ask me to explain.)

Let me add a different set of queries. Speaking most generally, a viable post-Saddam Iraq has to have, essentially, three things, I believe: 1) stable security and internal order, which requires effective and controllable police and armed forces. Security and order requires 2) a stable and effective government. The Bush Administration wanted more than that, though, they want(ed) democratic goverment. That requires institutions and a democratic political culture in the populace and requisite mores among political elites; (it probably also required/requires some sort of federalism). As you well know, representative government is an intricate contrivance. Finally, a stable and modern Iraq requires civil society. In connection with the latter, we’ve learned that civil society, and in particular the Iraqi infrastructure, was terribly injured (including by neglect) by Saddam and his henchmen. (Moreover, as you well know, tribal society does not comport easily with ’civil society’. It’s arguable that this is the greatest obstacle to democratization in Iraq and the Arab Muslim Middle East as such.) So, all in all, a viable democratic Iraq requires the sword and the shield, by firmly in the hand of legitimate representative governments; that in turn requires the mores and institutions of self-government; and finally they need at least the elements of the infrastructure of a modern economy and society. Against all that we have the current ’situation.’ To lay all that out, is to indicate the preposterousness of Iraqi-regime transformation in a thoroughgoing sense, isn’t it? At the very least the Administration 1) needs competent, willing Iraqi partners (e.g., their Washingtons, etc.) or it needs much more forcefulness and a (fairly open-ended commitment) to stay there for as long as real change takes.

In short, I guess I disagree with your initial distinction between primary and secondary. It seems to me that ends and means have to be more fully articulated and coordinated for me to declare that ousting Saddam counts as a win. (As an aside: Do you want to argue that WWI was simply "won," when the Treaty of Versailles laid the predicate for some necessary mischief both in the former Austrio-Hungarian Empire and especially in Germany? Yes, WWI was won by the Allies; but the peace that was established included such things as Lenin’s Russia, interjecting the principle of nationalism into the state system, and humiliating a proud but prostrate Germany: all of which was bound to generate conflict and eventually war. The term "victory" in WWI needs to be appropriately qualified, I think. But discussing WWI and its aftermath isn’t my purpose.) As you know, I don’t believe in "the myth of the solution" (Bertrand de Jouvenel) in politics; but as Pierre Manent constantly argues (I refer to Manent because Carl knows Manent’s work very well; he’s a common point of reference for both of us) "political thinking" takes such complications of ends and means into consideration; it is the architectonic form of thinking, the god of this lower world, because it weaves together interests and morality, the desirable and the feasible, ends and means. Because of manifest and arguable defects in this regard, I tend not to give the Administration the marks you give them because of their success in the invasion and toppling phase of operation Iraqi freedom.

None of the foregoing, though, implies, much less argues for immediate or near-term withdrawal. Nor is it to be lacking in great admiration for our armed forces and the many civilians who have done so much to help Iraq and Iraqis rebuild and build their country. It is to try to get clear about 1) the administration’s mindset and thinking (as expressed in stirring rhetoric and daily briefing; 2) what’s required to bring about thoroughgoing change in the country; and 3) the effectiveness and shortfalls of the administration’s efforts. It deliberately ignores contemporary American political realities and dynamics.

Anon, I wish you could read yourself as others read you. You have just described a HUGE mess, and a dangerous one, and then you glossed right over the fact that it is the GWB Administration that has landed us here. And then you have the gall to suggest that the Dems and the Left, who have been forced into the back seat for the past six years, are to blame because they don’t have any idea what to do!

As for societies based on the Koran, as far as I know, so far, the only society to use nukes to settle their differences was one based on the Bible, while the target was a society based on the Buddha.

Finally, I wasn’t mocking. I was being serious.

"Yea Tom, I did try to sign up. I tried the Marine Corps first, then the Army, then the National Guard. And I’ve got my Congressman working to get me in, despite the regulations that otherwise bar me enlisting."

I hear ya, "anon"!!! I bet you’re on the phone harrassing your congressman so much to get you on the next plane over to Iraq that it’s all you can do to get in a ludicrous blog comment every once in a while! I can’t believe anyone would try to besmirch your noble, honorable, and glorious reputation with the chickenhawk smear, "anon." Why, everybody knows what a brave and valiant soul you are..."anon".

As for societies based on the Koran, as far as I know, so far, the only society to use nukes to settle their differences was one based on the Bible, while the target was a society based on the Buddha.

Wow, Fung, there are so many bizarre assertions packed into this sentence that I don’t know what’s strangest. Is it the astonishing statement (coming from you, anyway) that American society is based on the Bible? Is it the claim that Japan in the 1940s was Buddhist, rather than state-sponsored Shinto? Or is it perhaps the implication that the United States simply abandoned negotiations and dropped an atomic bomb--as if Japan’s many atrocities and depredations (including repeated use of chemical and biological weapons against the Chinese) had nothing to do with it? In any case, I think most people of reasonable sense understand that possession of nuclear weapons by Iran is a cause for concern in a sense that U.S. possession of such weapons is not. In fact, your outrage a couple of weeks back that Bush wasn’t doing enough about North Korea suggests that, at least then, you were one of those people.

Thanks, Paul, for a great response.

My post #11 is a plea for accurate non-defeatist language about Iraq--for if it becomes commonly said that Iraq "was lost" etc., then conservatives and moderates for a non-isolationist and non-UN-beholden U.S. foreign policy will have tough going in the future. We really did win a victory, military, strategic, and moral, by removing Hussein. IMO, no outcome in Iraq short of communist-level genocide will be a worse one than to have left Saddam in power--to bluff, to develop WMD, to "oil-for-food," and to threaten the Saudis, the Iranians, the gulf, the Jews, the Euros, and us. That simply has got to be acknowledged in any discussion of our failures with occupation and democratization.

I suppose the attack upon this point is to say, "you forgot to calculate what a bad occupation would do to U.S. public opinion, not to mention Europe’s, and how this would cramp our ability to act when we need to down the line." There’s no denying that the failure of the occupation combined with the potent simplicity of the "no WMD, therefore Bush lied" meme, has helped produce more than enough Fungs to outwiegh the "9-11 Republicans." While a solid bulk of the Dems would still be irreponsible even with a succesful occupation, we’d be seeing foreign-policy wise, a whole lot more Liebermann Democrats, and a much less poisonous polarization. Wouldn’t such conditions be worth still having Saddam in power?

Again, I don’t think so...but I can see why some people do. However, and this is key, Bush felt he had to act when he did, and for strong WMD-based reasons. And in such a situation, and with his MBA style, he let neo-con happy-talk about certain post-invasion plans make him more complacent than he should have been, as he focused on the invasion itself.

So, place yourself back in that situation...the president is determined to take out Saddam’s regime soon, but you know, for all the reasons you spelled out, how hard democratization will be, even how hard simple security will be. How do yo advise your president? The options, as I see it, were these. 1) Decapitate the regime. That is, assasinate Hussein, half of that "deck-of cards", through a month of bombings, commando-raids, etc. Then threaten whatever Baathists who remain in power to behave or else we do it again. Problems--can you really get Saddam? --does the regime utterly collapse, into anarchy, or into Isalmofascist control? 2) Invade and rule the nation like we did Japan for two decades. Our colony Iraq. Viceroy Bremer. Problem--impossible to sell to the American electorate. 3) Invade and appoint a strongman. Chalabi or some reformed-Baathist general. But the American politics on this again are at best dicey, and W. Europe will denounce us to the skies. 4) Invade and do the smart Seatonian/Manentian/Ernest Gellnerian thing, weaving between an authoritarian and liberal regime, and weaving this government out of Iraqi elements. Problem--Seatonian/Manentian analysts think its likely that the Iraqis are incapable of sustaining such a govt., given their situation. That is, 4) might really be 5)"Mr. President, we have to risk Iraq developing and then passing on major WMD, because none of our options for the secondary situation are good." I think if I’m the president at that point, I reply, "Not an acceptable risk, advisor Seaton, so we’ll have to make the best of 4)"

But instead, we invaded and did the Bremerian/Rumsfeldian/confused-bureacracy/faith-in-universal-longing-for-democracy thing.

Paul, you surely know that not invading would have entailed inextricable "secondary" aspects just as surely as invading. Would the American center-right have forgiven Bush for not taking a chance on democracy? For not taking a chance to shake up the Middle-East with what seemed likely to be the support of a comparatively united American populace. And, worse, for taking a (probably minute) chance of an Iraq-aided WMD terrorist attack?


Those plans were from 1991. There is no evidence, to this day, that Iraq had re-established their old weapons program. Which was the reason, the first reason, for the 2003 invasion.

So no, that is not new evidence. That is old news. No one ever claimed that Iraq never had a WMD program a long time ago. The claim was that they STILL had an active WMD program, in 2003. The UN said they couldn’t find evidence. The UN was correct.

What about Democratic Sen. Joe Biden’s plan for Iraq?

The one he sent to the White House three times, and was ignored three times, this year.

John- Thanks for the reminder on Japan and Shinto, although there were a heckuva lot more Buddhists in Japan in the 40’s thatn there were Christians. Certainly, we could not claim that Japan was Christian society, while we CAN claim that it was and is heavily Buddhist. But, you are right, of course about Shinto.

As for the rest, I never claimed that Iran is not to be feared if they obtain Nukes. Certainly they are, and I believe that that should be prevented. Korea is also to be feared.

But, I hope that you will conced my point, which is that the only society so far to drop nukes on another, is ours. So, there is every evidence that countries that are fundamentally Christian societies are NOT to be trusted with nukes.

Fear and respect other societies and their abilities to nuke others, but leave out the silly religion business.

If there is any correlation at all between nuking other countries and religion, then it points exactly the opposite way that "anon" suggested.

Again, Fung, I think you miss the point. Dropping nukes in 1945 saved lives, theirs and ours. You definitely need to read about the history of Iwo Jima and, particularly, Okinawa. The military was prepared to invade, and then...Okinawa. American casualty estimates ranged from 500K to a million, and triple that for the Japanese.

Let’s be honest, Truman (a Democrat!) dropped the bomb for two very good reasons: 1) to save Japan from the USSR (Stalin was fixin’ to invade the north), and 2) to terrorize the fanatical Japanese military to surrender (and even then, it almost didn’t work). Yea, we incinerated thousands of civilians, but we did it within just war end the war, not to commit genocide.

I dislike total war...I dislike the fact that Sherman and Lincoln "invented" it in the modern era, and I dislike having to use the bomb. But at least in that later case, it was appropriate and necessary. The act was not done in bloodlust, but in compassion for our fighting men and, yes, for our enemy.

Another important factor in Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb was the rising chorus of demands on the part of Americans at home to get the war over with. As early as 1944, after the success of D-Day, there were calls to "bring the boys home," and those calls grew much more difficult for politicians to resist after Germany’s surrender in May 1945. That summer MacArthur watched as some of his best units were decimated, not by combat, but by men being shipped home. He warned that if the trend continued he would have to postpone the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands until 1946, and Truman was convinced that the American people wouldn’t be patient enough to wait that long (forget the "Greatest Generation" stuff--Americans were as good at whining then as they are now). So the atomic bombing really seemed like the only alternative to making some sort of compromise peace that would have left the military clique in charge in Japan.

John and Dain, strong arguments...I may be forced to give up my "Truman should have done a demonstration bombing" line. Dain, I don’t know my p’s and q’s on Sherman, but even though his total war in the South has always disturbed me, are your implied charges of "unnecessary" and "done in bloodlust" really just?

I don’t really want to get into that on this thread. NLT is full of Lincolnphiles, and I just get tired of slapping them around.

So, when we are talking about dropping nukes, we are really talking about saving lives. It’s a humanitarian thing.

Well, if we extend this reasoning, then we can expect countries that are "based on the Koran" to NEVER drop a Nuke on an enemy, because they really want to kill us, and you have just demonstrated that Nukes SAVE lives.

I am relieved. It’s kind of a win/win situation, isnt’ it? That is, if WE nuke another country, then it is for the good of the world, and lives are saved. If THEY nuke a country, ----- well, they won’t will they, because they will see how many lives were saved, and they will learn from our example, and do everything they can to avoid helping us, the way Truman helped the Japanese.

Thanks, all of you. I will sleep better tonight.

First of all, to compare the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to modern nuclear weapons is really to compare apples to oranges. Today’s weapons make "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" look like firecrackers.

Second, Fung, there is a big difference between the Islamic Republic of Iran and a country like, say, Pakistan, in which Islam is the dominant religion, but the state itself is secular. America certainly isn’t a Christian nation in the same way that Iran is an Islamic one. Frankly, I don’t think a truly Christian nation is even possible, for reasons Rousseau laid out in The Social Contract, but for the sake of argument, if it were possible I would be as frightened about certain apocalyptic Christian sects possessing nuclear weapons as I am of Ahmadinejad having them. Both would, I think, be tempted to "immanentize the eschaton."

Response to comment 33:

CMPC-2004-000167 talks about a project that started in early 2001 by the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) to use components from the previously destroyed TAMUZ (also known as OZIRAQ) Nuclear Reactor to build a Nuclear Simulator Reactor. The TAMUZ Nuclear Reactor was destroyed by an Israeli air attack in 1981. In September 2002, after almost a year and a half since the start of this Nuclear Project and when it became very clear to the Iraqi Regime that the UN inspectors were coming back to Iraq, a decision was made to stop this Nuclear Activity project. What is interesting in this document that the IAEC was warned by the Monitoring Directory within the IAEC that this Nuclear Project is prohibited by the UN resolutions however the IAEC went on with it until September 2002 only when the UN inspectors were on the verge of coming back to Iraq. (Emphasis added).

I repeat, read it and weep BDS sufferers.

The claim was that they STILL had an active WMD program, in 2003. The UN said they couldn’t find evidence. The UN was correct.

Mmhmm the UN was correct. IT couldn’t find WMD, but everyone else could. Got your reading glasses on Marko?

Mustard gas in 1999 and 2000; anthrax in 1999 and 2000; Hussein Kamal buries WMD in 1995, Uday Saddam learns it’s still out there in 2002; Georges Sada says Saddam had WMD until 2002; enough WMD to kill 80,000 people, al Qaeda Iraqis seized in Jordan, 2004; 155mm shell, loaded with enough WMD to kill thousands lands at our feet; Lt. Gen. James Clapper corroborates Georges Sada

John- I really have no argument with what you are saying. Once again, you are coming to the defense of a relatively radical blogger (in this case, "Anon," and deflecting and parsing my response to him. Your argument is reasonable. Anon’s was not. I suspect that if Anon had "his?" way, we WOULD have a Christian country, led by fundamentalists, and making many of the same mistakes that fundamentalist Islamic societies make. I don’t believe that is the case if you had your way.

One will note the complete absence in this Anon’s comments of any evidence that would remotely support Fung’s theocrat charge.

Carl- I was responding to the combined sexism and hatred of women of Anon’s comment 19, his bizarro language that is usually reserved for episodes of "Pinky & the Brain," or for low rent, would-be cult leaders, and his Koran comment. Right or wrong, Anon can probably respond himself, without your assistance. You guys sure are a sensitive bunch, these days! And please, don’t take that to mean that I am calling you effeminate, as Anon might. On the left, you can be both sensitive AND manly. That’s one reason we have fewer of our theocrat leaders exposed for their "unfortunate" tendencies to pursue the very values that they publicly abhor. We’re much more in touch with our feelings, and don’t need to act out our latent leanings in the backrooms of massage parlors.

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