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August 16, 2005

Comments

Well, the pro-Bush crowd shows no signs of backing off of sliming her. Maybe you should put in some calls to convince them she isn't worth the time...

On a serious note, do you really think that those statements of hers really make her anger at Bush less newsworthy? Is the media going to start ignoring her because she didn't think we should have invade Afghanistan? Not one whit. Also, I don't think it is going to lessen the impact of the media frenzy around her. THAT is why the right is being driven mad with this. She is still effective.

I mean, look at the nuttiness going on-

Driving trucks through the white crosses
Shooting off shotguns to scare protesters
Calling her names

The foaming at the mouth is part of the draw for me.

Sebastian: I do not support Cindy Sheehan's views. (Not all of them. Some of them, of course I agree with.) But I completely support her right to ask Bush for an explanation. I am going to a vigil tomorrow night, and that's why. Not in support of her views on the war, pulling out the troops, let alone e.g. Israel.

Similarly, I would support Rosa Parks' right to be seated on a bus whether or not I agreed with her on anything else.

So why is the "we should invade Afghanistan" right not up in arms that almost four years on, the planners and financiers of the 9/11 attack are still free to plan more attacks?

If, as claimed, the invasion of Afghanistan was to extract and eliminate the Al Queda leadership and their Taliban cronies, why wasn't that job finished? I think Cindy Sheehan asks a fair question: if Afghanistan is left a shambles because the warheads had a hard-on for Saddam, did her son die for anything at all? Was his sacrifice wasted?

I was going to mention this on a previous thread but got sidetracked. A number of commenters have asked why on earth Bush should bother addressing Sheehan at all -- that is, her primary question of the "noble cause" -- irrespective of her policy suggestions. I'd like to note the following things:

1) Support for the war in Iraq is failing, and failing fast.

2) This is a golden, tailormade opportunity, handed to Bush on a platter, to remind the American people of what's at stake and to elucidate what, precisely, the noble cause we're trying to accomplish is. You couldn't ask for a better (unscripted) opportunity.

3) The Bush Administration has never previously been shy about taking such opportunities -- scripted or unscripted, forced or unforced -- and spinning them into photo ops and PR coups.

The fact that the Bush Administration hasn't done so this time, then, suggests that there is something more here than the Administration is letting on: to wit, that they don't actually have a meaningful answer to Sheehan's question.

Food for thought, at any rate.

And if then she continues to serve as a rallying point for the left, the agenda becomes clearer.

Just as the fact that criticism of Sheehan serves as a rallying point for, among others, violent anti-free speech reactionaries who threaten to murder those Americans with whom they disagree on politics or foreign policy has clarified other agendas in recent days as well. Does the fact that you agree with those people in their criticisms of Sheehan mean that you accept their violent, lawless, extremist tactics as well, or can we assume that you can agree with them on some things without agreeing with them on others?

I mount my hobby horse once again to cry out, can we please pay some attention to Afghanistan?

Things are not very good there. Even if you discount the U.N. report, it's pretty obvious that much of the economy is based on drugs, warlords run most of that country, and the Taliban is regrouping.

It is interesting to watch Sebastian make exactly the same error of judgement that us liberals make so often. On this one, the Bushies political judgement is more on the ball, though reprehensible. Trying to make the arguments against her based upon policy would be futile.

As a matter of policy, I even agree with Sebastian on this one, but it doesn't matter. Cindy Sheehan's appeal to the public at large isn't intellectual; it's emotional. She is the perfect weapon against Bush precisely because she has the same strengths he usually does.

I wish that the body politic made decisions based upon a rational evaluation of the issues, but they don't. Bush has been the master of this, but is up against someone who has a better tug on the emotions this time. They have to destroy the public's empathy for Cindy Sheehan, not best her in a policy debate. People are likely to forgive her for being wrong on the issues.

I mount my hobby horse once again to cry out, can we please pay some attention to Afghanistan?

Amen, brotha. Amen.

"They have to destroy the public's empathy for Cindy Sheehan, not best her in a policy debate."

This is spot on. Policy debates are not this admin's forte and they tend to completely skip them when possible. Instead, they compete in the media world of he-said she-said.

Sebastian -- this post is slimy.

Its all about why we should diss hSheehan and therefore can conveniently ignore and sweep under the rug the urgent point that she is making.

Which point you dodge just like Bush --- what is the noble cause for which we are asking our soldiers to die?

Its sleazy to play dodge ball on this.

"She is part of the "we shouldn't have invaded Afghanistan left" and merely needs to be identified as such."

Yes, this is a rather significant identification--rather like finally identifying the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker the other month.

I mean, I keep hearing about the "we shouldn't have invaded Afghanistan left", but as far as I can recall, this is the first one that *has* been identified. Prior to this, I was pretty sure it was just a right-wing Yeti.

After all, the poll numbers were very clear: support for the invasion of Afghanistan was overwhelming, throughout the country, with virtually no difference by party or ideology. Yeah, there were a few people opposed to the invasion, but most of them lived in Kandahar. In America, for once, there was as close to unanimity as a democracy can (or probably should) display.

But, here she is. You have finally found a member of this rare species. Would you like to mount the head on your wall now?

"And if then she continues to serve as a rallying point for the left, the agenda becomes clearer."

Felixrayman's comment is on the mark here: this is nothing but a guilt-by-association slur. After all, you are "part of the criticize Sheehan right" so your "agenda becomes clear".

Start that game, and you could win your own link in the kitten-parade.

Smearing the mother of a killed soldier is not only awful, it is also counterproductive. You can look at what she says--it discredits her without anything else needed

Fine, whatever, nobody cares about what she says. This is about how she's been treated, by our spineless President and the rest of the right-wing goon squad.

Hey Sebastian - good news on the military recruitment front.

"Now Jake Tapper of ABC News reports that the armed forces are so eager for bodies they will flout "don't ask, don't tell" and hang on to gay soldiers who tell, even if they tell the press." - Frank Rich, NYT

So, now then - WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE?

The reaction here against this post and (in part) SH seems incommensurate to me. Seems like a standardly wrong conservative opinion to me, something to be debated, not disparaged.

Mr. Holsclaw--

perhaps this might be common ground between us:

when I consider what is in the best interest of this woman, I wish that she could get away, rest, and start rebuilding her life.

People don't make good decisions when they are grieving, distraught, and desperate. The quality of decision-making has never been improved by the proximity of TV news cameras.

Focusing *just* on her own, private, tragedy, I wish she would take better care of herself.

I reread Sophocles' Antigone a few weeks ago, and now I find unsettling parallels. It does not have a happy ending.

Top Ten reasons why the Right thinks it is ok to dismiss anything Cindy Sheehan might say:

10) Ms. Sheehan is getting a divorce
9) Casey Sheehan would want us to
8) Casey Sheehan's second cousins want us to
7) Ms. Sheehan has an agenda
6) Ms. Sheehan is a media whore
5) Ms. Sheehan is anti-semitic
4) Ms. Sheehan is a tool of the Devil a.k.a. Michael Moore
3) Ms. Sheehan is a grieving mother being exploited by the Devil a.k.a. Michael Moore
2) The President has already answered her questions and he ain't gonna answer them again for nobody
1) She is disturbing the President's vacation

It sounds to me like the bungled war in Iraq has had the effect of turning some people retroactively against the war in Afghanistan, which was the clearest case of justifiable use of miltary force in my lifetime. If the political effect of Iraq is to increase the number of people who feel that way, that's another cost of the war. Or, to approach it historically: "Vietnam Syndrome" refers to something real. Do we blame that syndrome on the people who ultimately reacted to Vietnam as they did, by turning against the idea of armed intervention -- or do we blame it on the people who brought us the Vietnam war in the first place?

Like Hilzoy, I am going to a vigil tomorrow. I am going because Ms. Sheehan's question needs to shoved into the face of every politician, Democrat or Republican, who still supports the initial invasion. Bush especially needs to be held accountable for providing an honest substantive answer he since conned the public into supporting the war on a fradulent salepitch, and has since given no explanation for the invasion but slogans.
With deep regret I believe we have to stay in Iraq. I continue to believe we had to invade Afganistan. Even though I live in the most liberal part of a liberal state my views are not unusual.
In his introductory post Charles acknowledged that Bush was not straightforward with the public about his reasons for wanting to invade Iraq. Now, as a result of Bush's incompetence and his administration's misreading of Middle Eastern politics, Iraq has become the Republic of FUBAR and we have failed at every stated and unstated goal. He doesn't just owe Ms. Sheehan an answer . He owes an answer to all of us. I am grateful to Ms. Sheehan for for her stand.

This:

"She is part of the "we shouldn't have invaded Afghanistan left" and merely needs to be identified as such. And if then she continues to serve as a rallying point for the left, the agenda becomes clearer."

is one of the most contemptible things ever written by SH.

Apparently the death of her son is now irrelevant, because she holds a minority view on the Afghanistan invasion.

not content with that vile slur, SH goes on to slur everyone who supports her as having some mysterious agenda apparently linked to her anti-Afghan war views.

Well, since i support her vigil, her desire to have her question answered (the noble cause one, in case anyone had any doubts), and her willingness to honor the memory of her son in a way which leads to horrendous treatment by little punks like SH, it appears i need to make the following points clear about my own agenda:

1. invade afghanistan -- good.
2. allow same to be reconquered by narco-Taliban -- bad.
3. invade iraq -- unclear; depends on implementation.
4. utterly mismanage occupation -- really bad.

What, SH, did you mean by the word "merely"?

What agenda are you referring to?

What is becoming clearer? [certainly not your writing.]

You, SH, have become just another American-hater. Congratulations on joining Rush Limbaugh.

If you have a shred of humanity left, try this little thought experiment: Would you written an equivalent post if Rosa Parks had been a radical black nationalist? Is the measure of an act of defiance based on the character of the person?

Since you clearly believe the answer to that question is yes, I think Max Power raises a legitimate question -- why haven't you signed up for a tour of duty in the Army? You're bright, amoral and committed to pulling victory from the jaws of defeat in Iraq. You clearly have a lot to offer; in fact, you sound like officer material to me.

Given the viciousness with which you attack Ms. Sheehan, you must believe that there is nothing more important facing america today than the war in iraq. There's plenty of squishy liberals graduating from law school who can take over for you; don't you feel any pull of duty?

This comment is not aimed at Sebastian, who is a rational person.

In Cindy Sheehan and her inarticulate grief, George W. Bush has found his equal, his foil, and the answer to "Bring It On!", the three most murderous, dumbass, dishonorable words ever uttered by a President of the United States.

Colin Powell should have given Bush the back of his hand, literally. Bush should have tasted a little blood in his mouth that day, the self-righteous f---. He's eminently hateable.

And I'm not interested in any way ever hearing that Sebastian has signed on to the meat grinder in Iraq. If he does, I hope they ask and he tells and they drum him out to spare him the experience and us the grief.

"Top Ten reasons why the Right thinks it is ok to dismiss anything Cindy Sheehan might say:"

Blue,
I'm not dismissing 'anything' she might have to say. I'm particularly dismissive of her request to receive a justification of a 'noble cause' in Iraq if her belief is that Afghanistan was not a 'noble cause'. It means her definition is ridiculous and even the best answer in the world won't be enough for her.

"Similarly, I would support Rosa Parks' right to be seated on a bus whether or not I agreed with her on anything else."

Hilzoy,
Maybe, but what demand of Sheehan's are you supporting that is separable from her demand that she get a "noble cause" explanation that is not rationally possible when her idea of noble cause excludes the possibility of invading Afghanistan? What 'right' are you supporting? Her right to speak? It isn't even remotely in question. Her right to meet a second time with the president? Who precisely does that right extend to?

"Just as the fact that criticism of Sheehan serves as a rallying point for, among others, violent anti-free speech reactionaries who threaten to murder those Americans with whom they disagree on politics or foreign policy has clarified other agendas in recent days as well. Does the fact that you agree with those people in their criticisms of Sheehan mean that you accept their violent, lawless, extremist tactics as well, or can we assume that you can agree with them on some things without agreeing with them on others?"

Felixrayman, what precisely are you agreeing with? Her argument is that we should immediately withdraw the troops because it is unjust to fight, with a definition of 'unjust' that doesn't allow for Afghanistan. Her policy prescription is awful and her moral argument is also awful. What precisely are you agreeing with? Is it really that hard to find a sympathetic anti-war public figure who has even remotely rational views?

She isn't speaking out for a useful Iraq policy. Are you all so desperate for a spokesman that you will put up with this?

I am strongly pro-life on abortion. But I absolutely would not rally around clinic-bomber Eric Rudolph as a spokesman for pro-life views just because we happen to share an important understanding. Hell, I wouldn't even give money to defend him against completely illegitimate RICO charges. And I wouldn't defend him on any case that didn't have class implications for all other anti-abortion protestors. His views--especially on abortion--are too tightly tied to his deeply wrong views.

Sheehan is protesting about inappropriate use of force--with a definition that wouldn't allow clear cases like Afghanistan. You can't just pretend that the second part doesn't exist. She is effectively protesting as a pacifist.

If you wanted to rally around a mother who lost her son and said "I lost my son in Iraq, and Bush you need to explain to me why you are screwing up so much. Why aren't there more troops, better battle armor, and why isn't there better rebuilding?" I would be right there with you. But you aren't. You are supporting a woman whose effective stance is "all war is wrong" and you are supporting her on the topic of appropriate use of force.

You are supporting her precisely where she is hopelessly and dangerously wrong. It isn't tarring anyone to point that out. And it definitely isn't tarring her to point that out.

And Francis, "Given the viciousness with which you attack Ms. Sheehan..." please point to the vicious attack. Is it now vicious to point out someone's own views when they are publically expressed during a television interview?

"If you have a shred of humanity left..."

Clearly you have avoided having a shred of rationality in this discussion.

Apparently a large number of our very frequent leftish commentors think that quoting someone's very own words on the very topic she seeks publicity is a "vicious" attack. At this level of discourse I should have banned each and every one of you for your horrific attacks on me every single day.

This comment is not aimed at Sebastian, who is a rational person.

In Cindy Sheehan and her inarticulate grief, George W. Bush has found his equal, his foil, and the answer to "Bring It On!", the three most murderous, dumbass, dishonorable words ever uttered by a President of the United States.

Colin Powell should have given Bush the back of his hand, literally. Bush should have tasted a little blood in his mouth that day, the self-righteous f---. He's eminently hateable.

And I'm not interested in any way ever hearing that Sebastian has signed on to the meat grinder in Iraq. If he does, I hope they ask and he tells and they drum him out to spare him the experience and us the grief.

Disregard Sebastian's post. After all, he is just one of the "invade Iraq at all costs right" and as such his opinions carry little weight.

People. Sebastian's decisions in re military service are his business. For the record, I should say that if I were a gay man of the right age to serve, and were already out of the closet in a publicly discoverable way, like blogging under my own name, I would probably not try no matter what my views on the war. I would think: it's more likely than not that the net effect of this will not be my going to Iraq to join the fight, but something more like my believing this 'let's forget about Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, which will in fact be applied intermittently and inconsistently, just long enough that my life will be well and truly screwed up when I am drummed out of the military. So I will screw up my life for no reason at all, and with no benefit to Iraq.

I have no clue whether that bears any remote resemblance to anything Seb might actually think, nor do I think it's any of our business at all.

That said: the reason I wrote that I was going to a vigil was just this: I take it Sebastian and the other conservative commenters know that I supported the war in Afghanistan, did not support the invasion of Iraq, did support sending more troops at the outset if we had to invade at all, and am now completely torn about whether we should stay, on the grounds that it is completely unclear to me whether our presence is helpful or harmful. I agree with a recent comment of Edward's to the effect that it's contemptible to say that we have no responsibility for how things turn out in Iraq; my only question now is whether we have screwed things up to the point that the best thing we could do for the Iraqis is to make some sort of (orderly) withdrawal. I don't know the answer to that question.

But: given all this, it is (I hope) clear that I do not agree with Cindy Sheehan's views as a whole. Parts I do -- e.g., I bet she agrees with me that the war in Iraq was a big mistake -- and parts I don't (Afghanistan.) But that is not, not, not why I will be at the vigil. I will be there because of what I take her to be doing -- asking a question to which I think she, and the rest of us deserve an answer.

In this sense, her foreign policy views are, to me, exactly analogous to Rosa Parks' political views. They are not relevant.

And the reason I say this is: I stand before you, a data point to use in your interpretation of support for Cindy Sheehan. In my case, at least, it's not true that you can infer from my support of her that I support any 'agenda' other than Bush explaining himself.

Because, to me, this is a question any President should be able to answer. "To defeat the Japanese who attacked us, and the Nazis who threaten all Europe with inhumanity." "To keep the union whole and undivided." "To drive the Iraqis out of a country they invaded." Heck, "To prevent Communism from spreading throughout Asia" was an answer, just one that referred to a set of consequences that did not, in fact, ensue. I don't think Bush has given an adequate answer to that question, at least not one that meet the criteria I laid out in a comment here. (Feasible, and such that we actually seem to have tried to achieve it.)

So that, and not any adherence to an agenda, is what you can infer from my participation.

SH, your postulate makes absolutely no logical sense. Your rage is blinding you.

SH: crossposted, but I hope I answered your question.

Charles Winder: I think that most of the people reading this blog are of age, and thus able to decide for themselves what to disregard.

On reflection (yes bloggers can do that) the last sentence of my post was both incorrect and intemperate. Accusing people of hidden motives isn't helpful.

But neither can I believe that supporting Sheehan is particularly helpful to getting accountability out of Bush (in the public sphere or otherwise). Her views are too extremist and the extremist views are not separable from the reason why she is a focal point.

I think that Afghanistan is better off now than when it was under control of the Taliban. I read IraqTheModel and agree with them that a country in transition where there is hope is better than a country where there is none. I think that South Korea is better off than North Korea. I observe that the Bahais have their temple in Israel, rather than in Iran, and that the Druze are free to live how they want to in Israel. I would guess that life in Panama or Grenada is better than in Cuba, especially if you are a poet or a librarian. It seems to me that the part of Germany that the (imperialistic) Americans controlled was a better place to live than East Germany.

I really do think our cause is noble. There really are bad countries with evil leaders in this world. Maybe the US has imperfect leaders, but I side with them against the Zarqawis and Husseins of this world. I dont think that the US should cede power to those types. Yet some people who consider themselves liberal, have come right and said that they want US to lose. Hilzoy doubted that those people exist, but the fact of the matter is that they are there. It is clearly demonstrated in comments on a previous post and although they may few, because of their over-representation the media, including blogs, they have more influence on the general public and may actually persuade us that Iraq is not worth it, southern Thailand is not worth it, parts of the Phillipines is not worth it, etc. Let the bad guys win and the blood will be on their hands but not on ours. I feel the other way; I think that the US and Israel have track records that clearly are better than their enemies, and should be given the benefit of the doubt. And shouldn't the benefit of the doubt be given to Our Side, and Our Way of Life?

I think so, and I don't think it is slimy to say so, and it don't think it is slimy to criticize those who are against us. You are free to have your say, we people who support our country can have ours.

PS - Please consider putting IraqTheModel on the blogroll. Maybe Von could do this in his section if everybody else is opposed to adding it to the Iraq blogs.

SH: "the extremist views are not separable from the reason why she is a focal point"

I can't see how you can assert this, as (unless I'm mistaken) her minority viewpoint on Afghanistan has only just now come to light, and as far as I know she's a) not pushing that as a plank and b) doesn't have other far-anything opinions. Next you'll insist that Natalee Whatshername is a focal point for her extremist views, or Bush is.

Maybe the US has imperfect leaders, but I side with them against the Zarqawis and Husseins of this world.

The same people (literally) that run the war in Iraq today cooperated with Hussein yesterday. Did you side with them then, and was that cause noble?

DaveC: I didn't mean to doubt that they exist -- I mean, there's Ward Churchill after all, who demonstrates, if I had had any doubt, that almost any opinion, no matter how perverse, is held by someone. I did mean to doubt that they are anything like a significant proportion of liberals.

SH: for what it's worth, my sense is that she's a focal point because people think the question does need an answer. I've been talking to other people who are going, and none of them particularly care about her political views. It's the question. Of course, I could just be talking to an unrepresentative sample, etc., but then again, I could not.

Here's a bet: if Bush does give an answer, laying out what the benchmarks of success are, how we intend to achieve them, and what he takes the likelihood of success to be, and if this is seen by, oh, let's say a majority of Americans as a plausible, convincing answer, her support dries up, regardless of whether or not she personally finds it satisfactory. (And this answer should not be vague stuff like "we will stay the course, and by doing so we will win." It should involve answers to the questions: what is winning, and how, exactly, will we get from where we are to winning.)

I think he should give this answer in any case. That's why I'm going. If he gives it, I bet Cindy Sheehan says: that's not good enough for me, but her support melts away.

I also bet he doesn't do this. I further speculate that that's because of two things: first, to him it would be weakness, though he's deeply wrong about that, and second, he has no such answer. But I am very willing to be proved wrong. I mean: I would love to be proved wrong.

I don't see how Bush talks to her now without appearing to have caved. A few days ago this was a golden opportunity, now time has Midasized it.

Sebastian, I'll put it in context for you. Cindy Sheehan is only significant in that she is part of a shift in the public debate.

Up until now, the debate has been a slow waking up from the euphoria of finally having invaded and won. It's been a debate on relatively safe terrain, whether or not the war is going as well as the President said. Just now, in mid 2005, it's shifted an altogether different tone. Now it has become... why are we still there?

The tipping point in public opinion is that chance of winning the war is no longer seen as likely, or even possible. We've fought the "surprise" insurgency for two years. We raided homes. We shot on sight. We razed Fallujah. We took the gloves off in Abu Grhaib. We stayed the course. And winning got no closer. During that time, albeit with the occasional bump or shake, the prospect of victory in Iraq consistently receded.

Now we read in the Washington Post on the weekend that White House officials themselevs are "lowering expectations" for success in Iraq, and the NYT prints an Op/Ed saying that the war is over, "Someone please tell the President."

That's a sharp change. It's a smell-the-coffee moment for war supporters, and war opponents. It's a critical moment.

So, Sebastian, if you believe what you written publicly, if you believe that the war is not lost and that it must not be lost, when others start to falter, then is it not to be expected that you show the courage of your convictions, and volunteer to serve in the President's mission?

And if you demonstrate through continued inaction that it's not important enough to you, now of all times, now that previously lax restrictions on gays in the military are emphatically no longer operative ... well, wouldn't that be for all of us a true guide to the true depth of your convictions?

r: yeah. -- I love the word 'midasized'.

Max P: Like I said earlier, in Sebastian's place I would not choose to serve, and what he does in his place is, I think, not our business.

hilzoy - what I lack in content, I try to make up in part by poetic packaging.

"Midasized" gets "about" 112 google hits, and I'm not now going to read them all to see if any are scoopive bon mots.

Sebastian: But neither can I believe that supporting Sheehan is particularly helpful to getting accountability out of Bush (in the public sphere or otherwise).

Well, no, of course not. The time to get accountability out of Bush was November 2004. You didn't seem especially enthusiastic about the idea then: you wanted Bush back in power and safely unaccountable till 2009. (Quite possibly beyond accountability even then, depending who forms the next administration.) That was your choice then, and you may have changed your mind since: fair enough, but facts are facts.

Nothing, apparently, can make Bush accountable. His party controls both houses: no one will vote for an investigation of the President's liability in lying the country into war with Iraq. The only way that could change would be (I would think) if there was a real, widespread change in public opinion that made even senior Republicans realize that Bush needs to be brought to account.

Perhaps Cindy Sheehan can help bring about that change in public opinion. But it seems that, as when Amnesty International criticized the American gulags, the right generally will swing round to attack the individual or organization who is making a sufficiently public criticism of the Bush administration to be heard.

In short, if you've changed your mind since November 2004 and now want Bush to be made accountable, then support people who are trying to make him accountable. But if you feel that Bush should never be made accountable, then carry on right as you're doing.

PS I don't think the US should have invaded Afghanistan. I don't think that bombing a country to get your own way is a "noble cause", when peaceful negotiation has not been given a reasonable try because the majority of the country are baying for blood. But I do think that the US invasion of Afghanistan could have become a noble cause, if the Bush administration hadn't decided to abandon it in favor of attacking Iraq. Things could have been made better for the people of Afghanistan. It wouldn't have been all that expensive, compared to the Iraq invasion. Instead, after the Taliban were kicked out, Afghanistan has been returned to the even-worse state it was in before the Taliban took over... and, the Taliban is regrouping.

The Taliban refused to hand over Bin Laden *unconditionally*, but were offering to hand him over to a neutral country if enough incriminating material was provided.

I supported the invasion of Afghanistan hesitantly. I felt that is was important to get Bin Laden and convict him for his crimes and Bush said that the US would not leave them this time, but would help build up the country, so the nett effect for the Afghani's would be worth it IMHO.

Now we find that Bin Laden is not of interest anymore (Bush invaded A COUNTRY to get him and than decided he was not worth the trouble???) and never really was. Which undercuts my main reason to support the invasion of Afghanistan.

After the bombing Bush never allocated enough men and resources to build a better Afghanistan. Kabul is relatively well off, the other bits of the country are given to war lords, most of them with abysmall records. The women are not better of in warlord country, the criminal leaders are not brought to justice and the Taliban are regrouping.

Chances of improving the situation in Afghanistan are still present, I think, but on the current course that is not going to happen - so my second rationale for supporting the invasion in Afghanistan is crumbling fast.

Sheehan is becoming a symbol for the lack of good reasons to support the war against Iraq. She makes Bush look weak and shallow by not adressing her or her points. I feel that if he really believed that there were good enough reasons, it would not be too hard to go a grieving mother and tell her that he understood her grief, and understood that she did not support the war which must make it even harder, but that he felt it was important and it was his responsibility, not hers.

So far he has given a lot of reasons but most have been proven to be irrelevant or not true. The remaining one (liberating the Iraqi's from an awfull regime) came up late and is so badly executed that it becomes slightly unbelievable that it really played a role. Not to mention the fact that if building democracy and spreading freedom was so important, why didn't he do all that in Afghanistan?

You can look at what she says--it discredits her without anything else needed:

because she holds unpopular foreign policy views, Casey Sheehan's mother is wrong to demand answers about her son's death.

You are supporting her precisely where she is hopelessly and dangerously wrong

Cindy Sheehan isn't a Senator or Congresswoman or a member of the Executive branch, and she doesn't sit on any advisory board. she does not make or implement policy.

but, the people who do have been more than "dangerously" wrong, they've been criminally, fatally, repeatedly wrong.

Mr. Holsclaw--

I note that you have withdrawn the last line of your post. I hereby withdraw my earlier objections to your post. With the first part, I found nothing objectionable (it was, as you point out, mostly direct quotation). It was only the veiled imputation of dishonorable motives that I took objection to.

SH Wrote:

Blue, I'm not dismissing 'anything' she might have to say. I'm particularly dismissive of her request to receive a justification of a 'noble cause' in Iraq if her belief is that Afghanistan was not a 'noble cause'. It means her definition is ridiculous and even the best answer in the world won't be enough for her.

I think you guys on the Right are missing the point. Ms. Sheehan has asked a question that a good many of her fellow Americans are also asking.

The issue is now Bush's answer to Ms. Sheehan's questions. You (as in the collective Right "you") keep trying to retroactively dismiss Ms. Sheehan's original question, but no matter how many divorces she gets, how many times you invoke the name Michael Moore, it is still a valid question.

Millions of Americans want to know why Iraq has made us safer; how we are going to get out of Iraq; what Iraq will look like when we leave, why our soldiers keep dying 2 years, 5 months after the invasion; when is the Iraqi army going to be ready to defend its country, etc., etc. Bush and his cronies keep repeating the same canned answers to those questions and a lot of Americans just don't believe them anymore.

Bush works for all Americans not just those with a little R's by their names. He needs to act like the leader of the whole country and answer our questions.

There were some anti-Afghan war people, but mainly on the far left. I was one. I was initially against the war in Afghanistan, though I changed my mind when the residents of Kabul were clearly overjoyed at the overthrow of the Taliban, even though their liberators were the same people who had trashed the city during the 90's. I was against the war because I thought the bombing would cause a huge famine, as the NGO's were warning at the time. But the Taliban collapsed before winter and the famine was "small"--Jonathan Steele wrote a good piece on this in the May 20, 2002 Guardian and the best estimate for famine deaths is probably in the 10,000-20,000 range. Set against that was the fact that Taliban policies would have kept the average death rate in Afghanistan very high, and then there was all that talk of a Marshal Plan for Afghanistan and I admitted to a friend that I had argued with that I was wrong.

Most of us antiwar fanatics were always in favor of tracking down and killing Al Qaeda members, but figured that fighting terrorism was more a problem for the police and maybe some shadowy special forces missions. Bush's incompetence proved us accidentally right on that point, given the fact that invading Afghanistan didn't lead to the capture of bin Laden.

So I still think I was wrong to oppose the Aghan War, but not as wrong as I thought in January 2002. The cynicism I originally felt about our supposed resolution to finally help Afghanistan rebuild seems fully justified.

Cindy Sheehan's personal views aren't very relevant, though I probably agree with most of them. In a sensible world Bush would have been humiliated and resigned for the good of the country when Abu Ghraib came out, or when the WMD's failed to turn up, or when the Downing Street memo came out, but he's managed to sail on by these little revelations without any sign of discomfort If it takes Sheehan to make some people realize that Bush is a liar, it's disheartening for what it says about the country.

Bush works for all Americans not just those with a little R's by their names.

he should, but i don't think he actually does.

Wow, late to the party. But Francis, Max Power, etc.? Harsh enough? Sebastian's critique of Cindy Sheehan (which, of course, I strongly disagreed with prior to the retraction) is by far one of the more temperate critiques I've read. Save the bile for the nitwits who are calling her an anti-Semite without evidence, okay?

And I'm with Hilzoy: Sebastian's decision to serve or not to serve is his own. I supported invading Afghanistan. I wanted Bin Ladin captured and put on public trial for his crimes (death would only have served to make him a martyr). But I certainly had no interest in signing up.

"After the bombing Bush never allocated enough men and resources to build a better Afghanistan."

This could bring me to my least favorite example of the near worthlessness of (scare quotes intentional) "international support" but that would be a complete threadjack.

Sebastian: This could bring me to my least favorite example of the near worthlessness of (scare quotes intentional) "international support" but that would be a complete threadjack.

Particularly as it's an equally good example of the complete worthlessness of the Bush administration, isn't it?

SH: This post was unworthy of you. One might summarize its content as follows: "Smearing the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq is awful. I will now proceed to do so."

Why should questioning the reasoning behind the war in Afghanistan be considered a discrediting remark? Is the war in Afghanistan really such a noble and successful endeavor that questioning it discredits the person asking the questions? Regardless of the merits of the war--I think they're pretty questionable myself--it is not a holy crusade ordered by God. In the US the right to question the government's actions is traditional, protected by law, and indeed considered a patriotic duty. You can do better than to insult someone for performing their right and duty of dissenting.

"Particularly as it's an equally good example of the complete worthlessness of the Bush administration, isn't it?"

Not really. Or at least not equally. Afghanistan is the case where we allegedly have international help. That is model which we are supposed to follow. It illustrates that even when you engage the international structure, you don't get the help that is alleged to be so important.

"In the US the right to question the government's actions is traditional, protected by law, and indeed considered a patriotic duty. You can do better than to insult someone for performing their right and duty of dissenting."

Her right to speech is not being challenged. The foolishness of her words is being called out, which is precisely how free speech works. There is nothing magical about mere utterances. If I say that "abortions are generally wrong" and propose policies, you don't just say "free speech good". She is speaking, which is not being threatened at all. She is making policy preferences known. The policies suggested are awful. She is "asking a question" about "noble cause" when her definition of "noble cause" does not include one of clearest cases for military action in decades--certainly clearer than intervening in Bosnia for instance. That is worth pointing out.

I note that you don't just respond "Sebastian has free speech rights, good for him." You try to engage in argument about the substance of my speech. That is precisely what I am doing with Sheehan's speech. Criticizing the content of free speech is not a threat to free speech--it is the essence of free speech and how it operates in a free society.

Sebastian: She is "asking a question" about "noble cause" when her definition of "noble cause" does not include one of clearest cases for military action in decades--certainly clearer than intervening in Bosnia for instance.

The question is not what Cindy Sheehan's definition of "noble cause" might be, Sebastian, and you know it.

The question Cindy Sheehan is asking, that President Bush doesn't want to answer, is "What is the noble cause that soldiers dying in Iraq are dying for?"

The question you might want to ask yourself is not "What are Cindy Sheehan's politics?" but "Why doesn't Bush want to explain what the 'noble cause' of the Iraq war is?"

"The question is not what Cindy Sheehan's definition of "noble cause" might be, Sebastian, and you know it."

On the contrary, much has been made of Bush's inability to give her a convincing answer. This has been called 'disrespectful' and worse. This shows that no answer would possibly be good enough for her because she does not share a generally recognizeably sense of noble cause. If I asked my company to engage in some regularly understood phrase like "best practices" but I meant "don't ever try to make a profit, try to intentionally damage the environment and Jews are ruling the US government" I wouldn't really be talking about "best practices" and someone would be perfectly correct to call me on it.

Sheehan is tougher and more honest than Bush....and this drives the right-wingers nuts.

The noble cause in Iraq is easily articulable and has been articulated. What you want to argue with is Bush's follow-through on the cause or the realistic or unrealistic nature of the cause. You want to argue that Bush has committed to a noble but foolish cause. That isn't what Sheehan is arguing at all.

If they lied about Iraq....why would they have been honest about Afghanistan...this is where many Americans are at.

This shows that no answer would possibly be good enough for her because she does not share a generally recognizeably sense of noble cause.

There are many other Americans asking the same questions as Cindy Sheehan who do have the ability to recognize a noble cause. Why hasn't the President tried to answer her questions for our benefit?

Sebastian: The noble cause in Iraq is easily articulable and has been articulated.

And yet, Bush is unable to say what it is.

This shows that no answer would possibly be good enough for her because she does not share a generally recognizeably sense of noble cause.

Tut-tut, Sebastian; I thought you were saying it was a mistake to slime Cindy Sheehan. So it is. Don't try.

If you claim that there is a "noble cause" for which the US is currently fighting and killing in Iraq, which is "easily articulable and has been articulated" (by Bush, presumably) then what is it? No platitudes, please: for what noble cause did the US invade Iraq, and for what noble cause is the US still occupying Iraq?

good morning, all.

i stand by the harshness of my criticism until i see an explanation for the word "merely" contained in the penultimate sentence of the post, which has not been withdrawn.

and i stand by the question why, if our cause is so noble, our recruitment gaps growing and our defeat so perilously near, it is that smart thoughtful well-spoken conservatives who support the war, such as (but not limited to) the author of the post have not signed up.

This is NOT a chickenhawk accusation. SH has as much right to support the war as I do to oppose it.

But i'm curious why more we haven't seen more Pat Tillmans in this neck of the woods.

Are our conservatives unfit? too old? do they believe (unlike Tillman) that their marginal contribution to the war effort by enlisting would be so minuscule as to not justify the personal sacrifice? or are their concerns that defeat in iraq could lead to WWIV overstated?

The question is not what Cindy Sheehan's definition of "noble cause" might be, Sebastian, and you know it.

The question Cindy Sheehan is asking, that President Bush doesn't want to answer, is "What is the noble cause that soldiers dying in Iraq are dying for?"

That's just partisan rhetoric. Bush has stated numerous times what he thinks the noble cause is - that Sheehan doesnt like Bush's answer is the whole point. Sebastian uses Sheehans own words as evidence of what kind of definition Sheehan likely would be using when listening to any explaination by Bush regarding the noble cause. Sebastian concludes (rightfully IMO) that short of embracing Sheehan's entire position, any explaination Bush offered (again), would be totally inadequate to Sheehan.

bains,

What is the answer? I have heard the President make many claims about why we are in Iraq and I still don't know what his answer to the 'Noble Cause' quesiton is.

What is the answer? I have heard the President make many claims about why we are in Iraq and I still don't know what his answer to the 'Noble Cause' quesiton is.

Nor have I -- but then I have a hard time listening to Bush and tend to turn off the TV not too long after he starts speaking... But I believe I have heard him and his subordinates say things like, (most recently Condi Rice was saying this yesterday) We are in Iraq to allow a democratic process to begin -- but not heard anybody say specifically, It is noble and worthy that our children should die in order to allow a democratic process to begin in Iraq.

Cindy Sheehan asking Bush to articulate his reasons for sending her son into harm's way is a proxy for the large number of Americans who do not find it worthy that American youth should die in order to allow a democratic process to begin in Iraq. That's why her personal pacifism is besides the point -- Bush answering her (as he refuses to consider doing) would be answering all Americans asking the question -- some of them would find his explanation satisfactory, some would not -- that's how democratic leadership works. Bush is no leader and no democrat.

Well, there's always the ever-popular "so that the gathering storm does not become a mushroom cloud". Or maybe "for freedom", which now doesn't seem to be in the cards for Iraqi women, and perhaps not for anyone. We have only increased the power of the nearest state with serious connections to terrorism, namely Iran, while diverting attention from al Qaeda, so I guess that's not the reason. Please, if anyone knows what the reason is, a reason which looks likely to result from the war in Iraq, and which even begins to justify the cost, let me know. I'm quite serious.

It occurs to me that might be a big part of the argument in favor of a fixed, stable rationale for a war -- the leap from "X is good" to "We should send our children to die for X" is huge enough that you don't want to have to keep making it anew every time X changes.

But I completely support her right to ask Bush for an explanation.

Judging from her increasingly lengthy body of work, Hil, seeking an explanation from Bush is pretty low on her list of priorities. Had she stuck with being a grieving mom seeking an audience with the president, she would've been on higher ground. Now that she's shown herself to be a left-wing political loony, she might as well resign herself to her campsite. As I wrote at Tacitus, if the Left really wanted to support her, they'd pass around the hat and give her as much couch time as necessary with a good shrink.

Yeah, a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty...

It's been my experience that when someone says they did X for "a bunch of reasons", they either don't know why they did X, or don't want to admit to why they did X. At the moment, I think the former is more likely -- I don't think Bush ever had a coherent, articulated reason for waging this war. Lots of sales pitch, no noble purpose.

"If I say that "abortions are generally wrong" and propose policies, you don't just say "free speech good"."

No, I'd probably say something like "I don't agree because of X, Y, and Z." However, I wouldn't say that your views on abortion discredit you or mean that you shouldn't be taken seriously as a human being or partner in the public debate on that or any other issue. If I understood your post correctly, you feel that because Ms Sheehan does not believe that the war in Afghanistan is a "noble cause" her opinions can be disregarded. Of course, it is your right to say that if you believe it to be so, but I don't think that the argument is up to your usual standard.

"And why do we send in invading armies to march into Afghanistan when we're looking for a select group of people in that country?"

This question, voiced by Ms Sheehan, to her discredit according to SH, seems to me to be a good one. If it is ok to invade another country because it is harboring people who have committed crimes in your country and might commit further crimes if they are not stopped, doesn't that mean that Iran would have had the right to invade the US in the 1970s? The US was harboring the Shah, who had committed a number of unpleasant crimes against various Iranis. If he hadn't been fatally ill, he probably would have been organizing measures to destabilize the regime that followed his, possibly including terrorist acts. So, what's the difference?

"However, I wouldn't say that your views on abortion discredit you or mean that you shouldn't be taken seriously as a human being or partner in the public debate on that or any other issue. If I understood your post correctly, you feel that because Ms Sheehan does not believe that the war in Afghanistan is a "noble cause" her opinions can be disregarded. Of course, it is your right to say that if you believe it to be so, but I don't think that the argument is up to your usual standard."

I'm not saying that she shouldn't be taken seriously as a human being. I'm saying that she is asking a question which under her definitions is unanswerable. And that is why she won't be getting a sufficient answer. When your definition of "noble cause" cannot allow for the invasion of Afghanistan you aren't asking a question in the discussion sense, you are asking a question in a rhetorical sense. You are hiding behind what sounds like a normal demand, but your definition means that no answer is helpful.

And I find this whole "right to speak" issue deeply unuseful. The right to free speech is not at issue here. We all know she has the right to speak. We all know I have the right to speak. Noting that fact contributes nothing. I am not arguing that she should be silenced. I am arguing that her clear and publically expressed views ought to be revealed because they deal directly with her only topic of noteriety.

Sheesh, it isn't like she said these things 25 years ago. She said them in an interview about why she is protesting Bush. She is protesting Bush because she believes that he doesn't use force properly--with a definition of proper force which is not in line with the general understanding. And if pointing out her definition of "noble cause"--a phrase which is intimately tied to her protest--is a smear, discussion without smear is apparently impossible.

Wow. This thread is a nice reminder of why I don't come here anymore

Removing the last sentence was a classy call -- hat tip to you. This leaves the focus on this point.

Her views are too extremist and the extremist views are not separable from the reason why she is a focal point.

This is where you are wrong -- her extremist views have nothing to do with her basic cause. Her basic cause is that of bereaved mother questioning the wisdom of the war. She resonates not because of her personal views, but because so many sympathisze with her basic question.

Attacking her views in order to sidestep her basic cause is just another version of ad hominem.

Charles Bird claims: seeking an explanation from Bush is pretty low on her list of priorities.

She's keeping a vigil outside Crawford, where Bush is currently vacationing. Should Bush want to give her that face-to-face explanation she's asked for - the one Sebastian claims is so easy to articulate, though he hasn't managed to do it himself - all he has to do is head down the drive and ask her in.

I'd say she's proven her committment to getting an explanation from Bush. Bush, however, has proved that articulating the "noble cause" that her son died for is lower on his list of priorities than having an undisturbed vacation.

Sebastian: I'm saying that she is asking a question which under her definitions is unanswerable.

And yet, you claim it's easily articulated. But, as several others have pointed out, Bush has never yet articulated it.

You keep harking back to Afghanistan. But Cindy Sheehan asked about Iraq. You claim it's easy to articulate the noble cause for which the US invaded/occupied Iraq. But you don't specify what it is - just that you don't think Cindy Sheehan would agree with it.

Try answering Cindy Sheehan's question, Sebastian: What is the noble cause for which the US invaded/occupied Iraq?

Her basic cause is that of bereaved mother questioning the wisdom of the war.

Is she talking about war in general or a specific war?

Stan: Is she talking about war in general or a specific war?

She's talking about the war in Iraq - you remember that? Her son was killed there. Her specific question to Bush, which he declines to answer either privately or publicly: What is the noble cause for which her son, and other soldiers, died?

(Sebastian claims there's an easily articulated answer, but won't say what it is.)

where Bush is currently vacationing. Should Bush want to give her that face-to-face explanation she's asked for - the one Sebastian claims is so easy to articulate, though he hasn't managed to do it himself - all he has to do is head down the drive and ask her in.

Did these two not meet?

Jes,

She's talking about the war in Iraq - you remember that? Her son was killed there.

That was a rhetorical question. The point is that if a peacenik is against *all* wars then there is no point to argue with him/her about a specific one. By same measure, if she's against the war in Afghanistan, there's pretty much no sense in discussing the war in Iraq with her.

Bush, however, has proved that articulating the "noble cause" that her son died for is lower on his list of priorities than having an undisturbed vacation.

The nice thing about being president (or at least, about being this president), is that you don't have to explain yourself to people -- it is Ms. Sheehan who should be called on to explain herself to Bush if anything.

I wonder if everyone has seen the latest news from Ohio, with another pair of KIA parents looking for leadership from Bush.

Stan: Did these two not meet?

Is there some rule somewhere that says that commoners only get to meet their President once?

The point is that if a peacenik is against *all* wars then there is no point to argue with him/her about a specific one.

Cindy Sheehan asked a very specific question about a specific war. You can (and many right-wingers do) jeer at her politics, trash her personal beliefs, and claim she isn't worthy of attention. But the question still stands there, unanswered, and many other people who have lost kindred or friends in Iraq also want an answer to it:

What is the noble cause for which the US invaded/occupied Iraq? What noble cause are these soldiers dying for?
Sebastian claims he can answer it, but doesn't: Von claims he can answer it, but all he had was generalized platitudes: you claim that because she's a peacenik there's no point answering it: and Bush is on vacation, and doesn't want to be disturbed.

But the question still exists.

Jes,

What is the noble cause for which the US invaded/occupied Iraq? What noble cause are these soldiers dying for?

There's been a million of these threads arguing for/against the war.

Stan,

There's been a million of these threads arguing for/against the war.

If I were to read all of those threads what would I understand the noble cause to be?

That was a rhetorical question. The point is that if a peacenik is against *all* wars then there is no point to argue with him/her about a specific one. By same measure, if she's against the war in Afghanistan, there's pretty much no sense in discussing the war in Iraq with her.

It is like arguing about 9th month abortions with Peter Singer. If someone believes that infanticide could be morally defensible for infants with a difficult but treatable disease like hemophilia you don't bother arguing with him about the morality of aborting fetuses in the 9th month. It is a waste of everyone's time because you don't share a close enough moral framework to make the discussion useful.

"You claim it's easy to articulate the noble cause for which the US invaded/occupied Iraq. But you don't specify what it is - just that you don't think Cindy Sheehan would agree with it."

Good heavens. You have been reading here a while right? I'm not good at pithy, but: Iraq was invaded because it is a crucial front in the war on terrorism for the following reasons-- A) Saddam was the prime exemplar of the 'fact' that the US is unwilling to seriously fight its enemies. B) He had a long history of hiding nuclear and chemical weapons production. C) He had a long history of dealing with terrorists groups--including Al Qaeda (see the late 1990s). D) It is generally considered (though it may be incorrect) that a large part of the radicalization of Islamists occurs because of the repressive nature of Middle East regimes. E) Iraq was the repressive Middle East regime with the longest sustained fight against the UN and the US and thus appeared to be the easiest starting place for regime change. F) As a long term strategy (i.e. noble cause) the repressiveness of regimes in the Middle East (and thus the terrorism we believe is associated with them) will be best served by a long term project to decrease repression and increase democratic principles in the region. This is not solved by insta-elections, but by a long term commitment to reshaping governments. G) Despotic governments like Saddam's rarely vanish on their own, and we can't afford to wait 50 years to start the process (see by way of example North Korea).

The problem most of you have with this is NOT the nobility of the cause, but questions (some serious some not) about the feasability of the cause.

If I were to read all of those threads what would I understand the noble cause to be?

Hey, if you guys want yet another thread pro/con the war in Iraq, just say so. Why pretend that Sheehan is this fresh new thinker with fresh new questions?

Thank you Sebastian.

I appreciate your answer to the question.

"The point is that if a peacenik is against *all* wars then there is no point to argue with him/her about a specific one. By same measure, if she's against the war in Afghanistan, there's pretty much no sense in discussing the war in Iraq with her."

So someone who is against the war in Afghanistan is automatically against all wars? I admit that supporting the war in Iraq but not the war in Afghanistan would require some fairly serious logical twisting, but I don't see any problem with supporting, say, US intervention in WWII or the American Revolution but not supporting either of Bush's wars.

"A) Saddam was the prime exemplar of the 'fact' that the US is unwilling to seriously fight its enemies."

Kindergarten logic. We had to fight, he double dog dared us...

"B) He had a long history of hiding nuclear and chemical weapons production."

No WMD were ever found, despite extensive efforts by the Bush administration.

"C) He had a long history of dealing with terrorists groups--including Al Qaeda (see the late 1990s)."

Again I've never seen any convincing evidence of this--and if any existed I would have expected Bush to publicize it VERY widely. Logically, Saddam Hussein working with al Qaeda makes as little sense as the IRA working with the Church of England, anyway. Hussein was a secular Sunni, al Qaeda made up of fundamentalist Shia.

"D) It is generally considered (though it may be incorrect) that a large part of the radicalization of Islamists occurs because of the repressive nature of Middle East regimes."

The WTC attackers were from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and (I think) Oman. None were from Iraq.

"E) Iraq was the repressive Middle East regime with the longest sustained fight against the UN and the US and thus appeared to be the easiest starting place for regime change."

UN inspectors left Iraq because they were ordered out by the US, not because Hussein refused to cooperate.

"F) As a long term strategy (i.e. noble cause) the repressiveness of regimes in the Middle East (and thus the terrorism we believe is associated with them) will be best served by a long term project to decrease repression and increase democratic principles in the region. This is not solved by insta-elections, but by a long term commitment to reshaping governments."

So why aren't we invading Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, both of which have more history as breeding and/or training grounds for terrorists? Why didn't we invade Iraq in the 1980s when Hussein was gassing Kurds? And why aren't we spending any money actually rebuilding Iraq or, especially, Afghanistan?

"G) Despotic governments like Saddam's rarely vanish on their own, and we can't afford to wait 50 years to start the process (see by way of example North Korea)."

Why not invade Saudi Arabia? For that matter, why is it any of our business what form of government another country uses? If Bush went nonlinear and became a true dictator (ie canceled elections, declared marshal law, shot anyone who objected, illegalized the Democratic party...that sort of thing) would you welcome a UN invasion to restore democracy? Would you believe in the free and fair nature of elections set up by such an invasion force?

I admit that supporting the war in Iraq but not the war in Afghanistan would require some fairly serious logical twisting,

Good. Then we are on the same page.

but I don't see any problem with supporting, say, US intervention in WWII or the American Revolution but not supporting either of Bush's wars.

And who's arguing with that?

"And who's arguing with that?"

It was my impression that SH was arguing that since Sheehan questioned the war in Afghanistan she must be a pacifist who would never support any war. Therefore, I wanted to point out that one can disapprove of both of Bush's wars yet still approve of US involvement in other wars, ie WWII or the Revolution. My apologies if I misrepresented Sebastian's argument.

It was my impression that SH was arguing that since Sheehan questioned the war in Afghanistan she must be a pacifist who would never support any war.

That's not my impression, but I could be wrong. What lead to yours?

Perhaps is was Sebastian's 1:05 AM post, when he wrote:

Sheehan is protesting about inappropriate use of force--with a definition that wouldn't allow clear cases like Afghanistan. You can't just pretend that the second part doesn't exist. She is effectively protesting as a pacifist.

The "clear cases like Afghanistan" seems to me to imply "any war".

"The point is that if a peacenik is against *all* wars then there is no point to argue with him/her about a specific one. By same measure, if she's against the war in Afghanistan, there's pretty much no sense in discussing the war in Iraq with her."

This quote. Although SH does not come out and say he thinks she is a peacenik who is against all wars, he implies it. And his overall tone suggests to me that he thinks that the war in Afghanistan is so well justified that only a crazed radical pacifist could possibly be against it. For example, this quote:

"Sheehan is protesting about inappropriate use of force--with a definition that wouldn't allow clear cases like Afghanistan. You can't just pretend that the second part doesn't exist. She is effectively protesting as a pacifist."

Again, if I misrepresented Sebastian's position I apologize.

Dainne:Kindergarten logic. We had to fight, he double dog dared us...

Actually, he defied UN resolutions. He fired at our planes. He gave money to terrorists. He applauded the destruction of the WTC.

That's not the actions of someone in kindegarten. But your critique of SH might be considered one.

Dianne: No WMD were ever found, despite extensive efforts by the Bush administration.

Unrelated to SH's comment. All major secret services in the world believed he was hiding WMD.

Dianne:Again I've never seen any convincing evidence of this--and if any existed I would have expected Bush to publicize it VERY widely. Logically, Saddam Hussein working with al Qaeda makes as little sense as the IRA working with the Church of England, anyway. Hussein was a secular Sunni, al Qaeda made up of fundamentalist Shia.

It seems you should discuss this issue with Richard Clark:

Clarke told the Washington Post in a Jan. 23, 1999, story U.S. intelligence officials had obtained a soil sample from the El Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, which was hit with Tomahawk cruise missiles in retaliation for bin Laden's role in the Aug. 7, 1998, embassy bombings in Africa.

The sample contained a precursor of VX nerve gas, which Clarke said when mixed with bleach and water, would have become fully active VX nerve gas.

Clarke told the Post the U.S. did not know how much of the substance was produced at El Shifa or what happened to it.

"But he said that intelligence exists linking bin Laden to El Shifa's current and past operators, the Iraqi nerve gas experts and the National Islamic Front in Sudan," the paper reported.

From the horses ass, sorry I mean mouth:

In his book, Clarke describes how the Clinton CIA determined in 1996 that Sudan's Shifa chemical plant, which was allegedly bankrolled by bin Laden, was producing the chemical EMPTA.

"EMPTA is a compound that had been used as a prime ingredient in Iraqi nerve gas," writes Clarke. "It has no other known use, nor had any other nation employed EMPTA to our knowledge for any purpose."


All major secret services in the world believed he was hiding WMD.

please name these 'secret services' and tell us where they got their intelligence.

"Kindergarten logic. We had to fight, he double dog dared us..."

Welcome to the logic in the Middle East. Saddam won in the First Gulf War because he faced down the US and maintained power. He fed the myth that the US didn't have the stomach to fight when bloodied--a myth that led bin Laden to believe he could strike in New York and sit back safely in Afghanistan.

"No WMD were ever found, despite extensive efforts by the Bush administration."

I suspect you are unaware of the little embarassment the UN inspectors had at the end of the first Gulf War? The "Saddam was maybe one year away from a nuclear bomb" one?

"Again I've never seen any convincing evidence of this--and if any existed I would have expected Bush to publicize it VERY widely. Logically, Saddam Hussein working with al Qaeda makes as little sense as the IRA working with the Church of England, anyway. Hussein was a secular Sunni, al Qaeda made up of fundamentalist Shia."

I don't know what to say about this. The 1990s contacts were well established in the Clinton years. Stalin and Churchill fought on the same side of WWII.

Your response to D is non-responsive and fails to note that Al Qaeda is a trans-national group.

"UN inspectors left Iraq because they were ordered out by the US, not because Hussein refused to cooperate."

This is a huge misrepresentation of the facts. The UN inspectors had been confined to their hotels for months. In response to that fact, Clinton bombed Iraq and got the inspectors out of the way. They were not admitted back for years. Also it ignores the pre-Gulf War I history of evading inspections.

"So why aren't we invading Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, both of which have more history as breeding and/or training grounds for terrorists? Why didn't we invade Iraq in the 1980s when Hussein was gassing Kurds? And why aren't we spending any money actually rebuilding Iraq or, especially, Afghanistan?"

There is a multi-part question.

Why not when Hussein was gassing Kurds? The UN said no to an invasion of Iraq. Genocide doesn't really bother the UN much. Bush I listened to the UN. He thought that maintaining a coalition was more important. We learned throughout the 1990s that maintaining a paper coalition didn't resolve any substantive goals--especially with France and Russia (and later Germany) constantly undermining sanctions.

"So why aren't we invading Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, both of which have more history as breeding and/or training grounds for terrorists?" Because Pakistan at least tries to cooperate, and Saudi Arabia is the self-proclaimed "Defender of Mecca and Medina"--contrary to popular belief in some circles we aren't trying to pick a fight with all Muslims.

"And why aren't we spending any money actually rebuilding Iraq or, especially, Afghanistan?"

Any money is a bit of an exaggeration. We aren't spending it near optimum effectiveness I'll agree. Which is an implementation argument not a 'noble goal' argument. Furthermore, in Afghanistan, the minimal international contribution exposes the current worth of going to the international community for such things.

"For that matter, why is it any of our business what form of government another country uses?"

Normally it wouldn't be (at least a matter of armed conflict), if dictators in the Middle East could control police their crazies properly. See also the hypothesis that repression breeds fanaticism.

"If Bush went nonlinear and became a true dictator (ie canceled elections, declared marshal law, shot anyone who objected, illegalized the Democratic party...that sort of thing) would you welcome a UN invasion to restore democracy? Would you believe in the free and fair nature of elections set up by such an invasion force?"

Are we unable to restore democracy ourselves? Well then sure help would be wanted.


Normally it wouldn't be (at least a matter of armed conflict), if dictators in the Middle East could control police their crazies properly. See also the hypothesis that repression breeds fanaticism.

Is it worth pointing out that Saddam Hussein was controlling his crazies properly?

a myth that led bin Laden to believe he could strike in New York and sit back safely in Afghanistan.

Perhaps the more effective way to combat this myth would have been, not to have allowed bin Laden to sit back safely in Afghanistan, as we did. Just sayin'.

"Welcome to the logic in the Middle East."

I'd like to be able to say that that's ridiculous, no sane adult would act that way and even if he/she did, no one else would follow him or her. Then I think of the "freedom fries" episode and my belief that, for all our government's failings, it is quite sane and rational compared to the governments of the Middle East. So I think I'll have to grant you the possibility.

"...a myth that led bin Laden to believe he could strike in New York and sit back safely in Afghanistan."

Well, he was right, wasn't he? He hasn't been killed or captured and indeed Bush seems to have forgotten him. A lot of other people were hurt and killed because of bin Laden, but he appears to have gotten away with it. So, if anything, I'd say the way the war has been handled has shown bin Laden that he can get away with it, rather than the reverse. The US may have the intestinal fortitude to invade another country (as long as it is a relatively helpless country), but it doesn't have the attention span to carry out its goals if they take more than a news cycle to complete.

Jeremy,

How does a specific reference to Afghanistan (as even you quote - "clear cases like Afghanistan") somehow convert to "any"???

StanLS, it is the word "like" that is doing all the work here, and the phrase "clear cases like" -- Sebastian is using the specific case of Afghanistan to establish a class of "clear cases" which he believes Afghanistan to exemplify. Learn to read.

Jeremy,

Ah. So Afghanistan is not a clear case for you either? Got it.

Sebastian Holsclaw: Why not when Hussein was gassing Kurds? The UN said no to an invasion of Iraq. Genocide doesn't really bother the UN much. Bush I listened to the UN. He thought that maintaining a coalition was more important. We learned throughout the 1990s that maintaining a paper coalition didn't resolve any substantive goals--especially with France and Russia (and later Germany) constantly undermining sanctions.

What gas attack are you talking about here? The most infamous, Halabja, took place in early 1988, when George H.W. Bush was still Vice President. Are you saying he was working to get a U.N. resolution to invade Iraq around that time, or are you referring to an incident during the Gulf War, three years later? Last I checked, the U.S. tried to divert international attention from Saddam's attacks on the Kurds by spreading the blame to Iran. The line about Saddam "gassing his own people" didn't come about until he got on our bad side.

Many apologies, I confused the gas attacks with putting down the post Gulf-War I uprising. My bad.

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