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Catfish and Cod
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
(Catch of the day)
In the United States, it is the day before Thanksgiving. In the Middle East, it is (or was a day or two ago, depending on country) Eid al-Fitr.
So Happy Thanksgiving and Eid Mubarak, everybody!

Sunday, November 23, 2003
A rebuttal to "ranting lefties": II.
(Link path: comments to Healing Iraq)

You have to realize, many of the londond protester all ready realize that there will be no democracy for Iraq.

A major disconnect between the pro-war and anti-war camps is that the pro-war people believe that (1) the Administration is sincere about its announcements that Iraq will be democratized and (2) believe that democratizing Iraq is possible.

The anti-war people believe that (1) the Administration is lying and that (2) democratizing Iraq is impossible. (Or at least, that the U.S. cannot do it.)

The assumption that the Administration is lying is supposedly based solely on its record of lying about other matters:

There were reasons why the Bush admin. had so many lies to invade Iraq.

But it would make equal sense to assume the Administration is lying about, say, opposing gay marriage. What is really happening is that the anti-war camp believes that the Administration does not believe in Iraqi democracy. This assumption, in turn, is based on the historical practices of the United States. Previous Administrations have indeed supported dictatorships despite U.S. democracy rhetoric. However, Bush has indicated that this policy is over by (1) acknowledging and apologizing for the previous policy and (2) announcing a new policy of democracy proliferation.

WMD, Saddam Hussein, Democracy...those are not and will not be the reasons...Iraq is a strategic pawn in my nation's quest to position itself in the Middle East.

The Left believes sincerely that the Right operates solely on 19th-century realpolitik. Once this assumption is made, it follows directly that all claims as to other reasons must be insincere. Thus, the Left blinds itself to the possibility that such arguments, even if insincere, might be to the Left's advantage.

If a democratic Iraq were to get in the way of our new power and influence it would be a disaster...

The unspoken assumption is that "our power and influence" are for our own benefit only, i.e., for our economic benefit. George Bestern does not appear to have thought of the possibility that "our power and influence" now depend on Iraq being a democracy. This is due to the belated realization by the Right that installing a dictator is counterproductive to our power and influence. In other words, the Right has now realized that puppet regimes are not worth their cost because the puppet dictator will inevitably turn on you, or else fall to a regime that will hate you for supporting the puppet. Chile, Argentina, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan -- all of these were interfered with, and the results were uniformly bad for the U.S. The Right has now decided that such tactics do not work, and so have changed strategies.

Too bad the Left hasn't realized it yet. They still assume that Cold War policies are active, which leads them to make erroneous and foolish statements like this:

so understand and be careful...Iraq will never be democratic...that is for Public Relations reasons...sorry

Iraq will be democratic -- especially if Bush is thrown out, because a Democratic administration will be even more committed to an Iraqi democracy than the Republicans -- precisely because the PR campaign won't work if it's a sham. It has to be real. And so it will be.
Part of a real plan to end the war on terror.
(Link path: comments to Healing Iraq)

"Lil, as you say, there's no doubt this war will outlast us all. The reason: because muslim soldiers will never quit until we show them they cannot win. I believe that has been done already, and America, Britain and company will do it again.
Derek | 11.22.03 - 11:59 pm | #"

I do not believe that will ever happen Derek, at least not without a bona fide Reformation in Islam. "showing" them they cannot win means nothing. They are only too happy to die for Allah and take the rest of us with them.

These religious wars have gone on since the inception of Islam. Islam is unique among religions in that it advocates war against the "other" as the way to a better place in Paradise. Muslims have a mandate in the Qu'ran to conquer the world for Islam. The Qu'ran is considered immutable. They will NOT quit—ever! Unless, perchance, there is an Islamic reformation and a renaissance along with an age of enlightenment to pull them out of the 7th century.

Let us hope it happens before some Islamofascist gets the bomb and destroys the planet!

Well, that's the idea. An Islamic Reformation/Renaissance will happen more quickly in a country with freedom of speech, expression, etc., and in a rich country. Italy was the center of the European Renaissance until political forces (including the Church) decided to clamp down on it. The Renaissance subsequently decamped to Holland, which was not coincidentally the richest, most tolerant, greatest free-speech defending, most progress-driven European country of the time.

If we can make Iraq into the Arab Holland, we run a much greater chance of truly ending all this.

A rebuttal to "ranting lefties".
(Link path: comments to Healing Iraq)

To paraphrase the old candy bar commercial: sometimes you feel like a fisk, sometimes you don't. Many people would fisk a self-proclaimed "ranting lefty" such as posts below, but I think she deserves an honest counter-argument. I hope there are those of her persuasion who would entertain a civil discussion on the merits.

You obviously are not listening to the messege of the "ranting lefties" of which I am proudly one. WE DO NOT SUPPOT SADDAM. WE DO NOT SUPPORT OSAMA BIN LADIN. WE DO NOT SUPPORT TERRORISTS.

I believe that you yourself do not support any of the terrorists, and I appreciate that sentiment. But I am afraid, dear lady, that there are people self-identified with the "ranting lefties" movement that do indeed support the terrorists. Investigate the higher-ups of the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition, who are contiguous with the higher-ups of the Workers World Party. Review the history and record of that group. Then decide whether or not the anti-war supporters should eject these people from the coalition, despite their effective organizational skills.

Frankly, I would like to have an effective opposition to the war. But I can't support the current anti-war movement because A.N.S.W.E.R. and those of similar ideological bent are currently able to control its actions.

We feel that this war...this occupation...was poorly executed from the biginning.

I can't disagree. It was done at the wrong time, the arguments in favor of it were poorly enunciated, the spin was not applied properly, the diplomacy was bungled, the planning failed to take into account the proper scenarios, blunders have been made, the leadership has been less effective than it could have been, inefficiencies are popping up all over, and profit-taking is rampant.

Continues to be poorly executed and will continue to be a quagmire.

But for how long? I think the real test of the system will be when the Iraqi government takes charge in June. In the long run it does not matter how effective the U.S. Army is against the terrorists trying to destabilize Iraq. How effective will the Iraqi government be? Remember that there are steps that can be taken by a sovereign Iraq that cannot be taken by the CPA because of its status as occupier under the Geneva Conventions.

The Iraqi people are the ones suffering, suffering, suffering.

Statistics show that the Iraqi people are, at worst, no better off than before the war. Iraqis are dying at a much lower rate due to the disruption of the Ba'athist murder/intimidation machine. Food distribution, electricity, water, etc. are at approximately prewar levels. And, of course, freedoms are much improved at present. While the situation is far from ideal, or even standard Western conditions, all indications are that the suffering of the Iraqi people will continue to be relieved, barring a reinstitution of dictatorial rule. Polls consistently indicate that the Iraqi people believe their suffering is coming to an end.

Unfortunately, it is a common assumption on the far Left that the West (and particularly America) has learned nothing from two centuries' experience in occupation and related matters, and that the Americans will take away everything valuable to the Iraqi people (or fail to deliver it, in the case of food, medical supplies, electricity, Internet service, etc.) and grind them under our bootheel. While I cannot be sure, that is the connotation I sense from your statement. Please correct me if I am wrong.

The USA is paying through the nose for this and it will destroy us too!

I cannot disagree that we are paying through the nose for this, and the outlays disturb me with respect to the U.S. budget. However, your assumption that the occupation will assuredly backfire and "destroy us too" appears to be insufficiently thought out. In the short term, the occupation of Iraq does indeed increase danger, as actions taken by the U.S. demand reaction from terrorist elements. However, the terrorists will strike whether we act or not; the only question is when. In the long term, the occupation may reduce overall danger by reducing the number of terrorist recruits. Ba'athists aside, if Iraq becomes free, prosperous, and successful, the number of Iraqi recruits to al-Qaeda will drop precipitously. That is the proper goal of our occupation. (Whether that goal is being properly executed by the Bush administration is an open question, which I would be pleased to debate. I have serious doubts.)


I don't think Bush is motivated by religion as much as Osama is. Ashcroft does; witness his insistence on being literally anointed to perform his tasks. But just because Bush is more religiously minded than, for instance, you, does not imply that he is motivated solely by religious ideology.

That aside, I don't like the trend towards dismissing Bush as "stupid" and feeling free to ignore or decry anything he says. It's precisely identical to how Republicans treated Bill Clinton. It wasn't deserved in Clinton's case, and so I think it likely that it's not deserved in Bush's either. I think he may well be intellectually lazy (gentleman's C, remember?) and willing to let others do his thinking for him (Cheney? Powell? Rumsfeld?) but that doesn't mean he can't think when he so chooses.

He has unleashed a terrorist backlash that will never stop.

Never is a very long time. And Bush is not to blame for 9/11, much less the Cole, the bombings in Dar es Salaam and Mombasa, or the attacks in Saudi Arabia in 1996, or....

I think you get the point. The terrorists didn't choose to attack the West because of Bush. Now, it may be argued that Bush has worsened the terrorist attacks. But your assessment "never stop" implies that what Bush has done cannot be undone by any future policies. I'm afraid I can't agree. We can repair the damage, and we should.

Never, no matter how many people you kill, torutre, publicly behead, rape or humiliate because it is a never ending viscious circle of hate, hate, hate.

Ah, yes, the "violence never solved anything" argument. Well, I have much to say on this subject, which I will save. Suffice it to say that you are correct as far as you go; destruction will only lead to further destruction. But the attacks on terrorists are only meant to hold them back, prevent current attack plans, etc. They are no more meant to win than containment was meant to beat the Soviet Union. No one (except a few loons) ever imagined that the Cold War would be won by victorious American tanks rolling into Moscow. The real way to win a war is to convince the enemy not to fight. In the Cold War, we convinced the Soviets that their economy could not be sustained but ours could. In this war, we must convince the Arab world that tolerance, human rights, democracy, and coexistence with the West are better than jihad and terror. Producing an example of what we (and many Arabs!) think the Arab world should look like in Iraq is a critical step towards convincing them.

The reason for going to war was fraught with lies, twisted facts and completely unrealistic expectations.


Why should I or any other person who could see through this veil of crap fall in line with this terrible, overly aggressive way of handling world affairs.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. George Bush's administration is indeed overly aggressive and corrupt to boot, but I'll take him any day of the week and twice on Sunday over Osama, Saddam, or even the A.N.S.W.E.R. crew. Now, if you have a better alternative (Tony Blair would be good, or several of the Democratic presidential candidates), I'll take it.

George Bush is as dangerous as any despot leader...

No, he's not, because unlike a despot, Bush rules a democracy with many checks on his power and millions of people ready to stop him from doing truly outrageous things. One of the many reasons the West is worth defending is that we can stop megalomaniacs from doing truly crazy things. In a despotism you can't; you are executed if you try.

and very certainly not as smart.

Another good thing about the West is that Bush doesn't have to be smarter than Saddam because your smarts count for nothing if you are misinformed. In Saddam's Iraq, people lied to Saddam all the time because no one could risk being the bearer of bad news -- you would be tortured if you tried. So everyone told him that his army was plenty ready to take on the Americans... and he quite foolishly decided to fight it out. By all accounts, he was completely shocked by the poor performance of his army. We were not, because our people can tell the truth without being killed for it.

I am dreadfully sorry for what you the Iraqi people are going through but would 1 more year of weapons inspections hurt you.

Um, yes, they would hurt far worse than all this.

Are you happier now.

According to polls, yes they are.

Do you like being a terrorist battleground where terrible misunderstandings are being fought out at you expense.

No, they don't, but it's still better than being ruled by Saddam.

Killing, killing is not the answer you fools.

I'm afraid we don't get a choice here. The terrorists decided that some killing would be necessary. Believe you me, I don't think it is the complete answer. But that doesn't mean it can't be any part of the answer either. Most people on the left seem to think this is a binary "yes/no" question: "Can we solve this through force? Yes or no." It's NOT. Sometimes targeted force is necessary.

Let me posit a question. Say you have a gun in your hand and you see a terrorist in your backyard. He is about to push a button labeled "DETONATE NUKE" on a big bomb. You have enough time to kill him and save Portland from a nuclear holocaust. Do you shoot? Or do you let Portland be destroyed, since if you kill the terrorist, someone will try again later with more bombs?

Yes, I know that killing people doesn't solve the problem. What it does do is buy time so that other things can solve it.

It is the problem and now it may be to late to turn back. The world is dead meat and I am pissed as hell.

The world is NOT dead meat unless defeatists like you assume it is. I am still ready to save the world and unlike you, I still think it can be done. Bush has messed things up but not so badly that they can't be fixed, and he has also managed to do a number of good things. (Inadvertently, but I'll take what I can get.) But if you start by assuming that we're all screwed then we are certain to fail and go down in flames.

I am pissed as hell too, and you know why? You're not supporting the terrorists, you're just ready to sit down and give up. Thanks, I think I'll keep working for a better world.


I make no apologies for my opposition to George Bush's policies. And I also make no apologies about my opposition to you and all you stand for, either.