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July 06, 2007

Comments

Speaking of centrists....where's the Moose? He was supposed to have gone to work for Joe....has he written anything lately?

Yah, I wonder how many CT voters now wish they'd voted Lamont?

The Moose is probably in an undisclosed bunker, plotting air strikes.

I am most definitely not a Lieberman supporter, but I really think you are putting words into his mouth and overstating your case.

And yes, I do agree that he gets far more air time than he deserves, and that he gives centrism a bad name.

A recent CS Monitor article addresses--and largely refutes--US claims of Iranian involvement in Iraq that Lieberman cites in his op-ed.

As for representing 'centrism', I agree with publius. Lieberman is an AEI-approved hawk who long ago tethered his political fortunes to forceful 'democratization' of the Middle East. If his increasingly illiberal views are actually representative of the political 'centre' in the US, I'd hate to see a corresponding example of the American far right.

I'm working under deadlines, so I'll just inartfully throw-out a few points about this odd editorial piece by Lieberman. First, if Iran is organizing, training and funding cells in Iraq to kill Americans, we are being "provoked" by Iran in a way that's obviously unlike the pre-war situation in Iraq (when Iraq hadn't provoked us at all, or at least in the way we were led to believe). A war with Iran under the foregoing circumstances isn't nearly as "preemptive" as the one we waged against Iraq. But that distinction doesn't make war appropriate or just.

Second, much of the information Lieberman alludes to is apparently from "captured extremist leaders" we've interrogated. I wonder if those "captured extremist leaders" were subjected to the cruel interrogation techniques supported by the Bush Administration and, if so, it makes me question the quality of any information we extracted from these captured extremist leaders.

Third, Lieberman argues that if we leave Iraq, Iran will take over Iraq with proxies. But the current Shia gov't in Iraq is already friendly with (and, as I understand it, largely ideologically consistent with) Iran. So what more would Iran do? As a 2005 Salon.com article notes in an article making the same point I'm making here, "The Iraq war is over, and the winner is. . . Iran."

Fourth, in fairness to Lieberman, he says we should give diplomacy every chance to work. Admittedly, he does talk tough in the op-ed article. But talking-tough is sometimes just posturing, and often can be a very effective negotiation tool. Maybe that's what Lieberman's trying to do here (of course, given Pres. Bush's track record of actually invading a country on false pretenses, you're quite right to be suspicious of anything he -- or Lieberman -- is saying about Iran now).

But, mattbastard, how can we trust the sources for that article? They all have Arab sounding names and may be al Qaeda plants.

Obviously, their names are not as trustworthy as, say, Bush or Cheney, or even Lieberman.

John, I appreciate where you're coming from, but I think the context is very important. Lieberman's saber-rattling has been consistent, over the top and often inaccurate. His source here is a military spokesman, and it's shaky intel. (If "interrogation" is code for torture, than it's all the more shaky.) Lieberman is not credible, and his assertions must be treated with skepticism. General Peter Pace was recently dismissed, and a key reason was probably his public squashing of the "Iran is to blame" storyline. Even if everything Lieberman said was accurate, it would still be disastrous to bomb Iran. Even if Iran magically simply ceased to exist, we'd still have a horrible mess in Iraq and elsewhere.

Lieberman and Kristol do hold "radical, immoral positions." I'd argue that anyone who wants to go to war is an idiot, and that the burden of proof for going to war is very, very high. Lieberman's pieties about diplomacy are sweet, but he's made it quite clear from his numerous statements he wants a military confrontation with Iran. He also still thinks Iraq is going swimmingly, as does Kristol (other than perhaps a few criticisms of execution). Lieberman hasn't made the case for war with Iran. Personally, I don't think he has any credibility on Iran or Iraq, and there's no Lieberman policy that will make either situation better.

Batocchio, I agree with just about evetrything you say, especially re Lieberman's (or this administration's credibility.) And if publius wanted to use this op-ed to question all that, fine.

Yes, Lieberman is a hawk of the first order, but the op-ed does not call for military action. HE may want it, and I agree that woudl be wrong, but that isn't what the op-ed calls for. That is the only point I was attempting to make.

When a person, from either side, gives reason to be attacked for their words, then by all means attack. But stay within the confines of what is said.

I agree with this post, but I think "world-historical" is a vast overstatement. Indeed, it may play into the self-conceptions of some liberal hawks, who see themselves as George Orwell reborn.

BBG: Nah, I think publius is just trying to make it easier for Jonah Goldberg to fit this into his "Hegel to Whole Foods" narrative. Expect a post on Lieberman containing a throwaway line about organic endives any day now.

Nations go to war to settle issues of power, and for no other reason, and certainly not to promote 'values'.

Setting aside childish propaganda, an independent Iran is an obstacle to US control of the region's immense energy reserves. It does not matter in the slightest what Iran actually is or is not doing in Iraq, or the nature of its internal political structure, any more than it mattered whether or not Iraq had WMD. Actually, I suppose I shouldn't say that: with an effective WMD threat, it would not have been invaded.

The fact that we haven't seen violence against Iran yet (I would have expected it before Iran took delivery of the TOR anti-aircraft system from the Russians, but whatever) means that US policy-makers are divided on the question of whether or not an attack will advance US interests. I doubt very much that they are being held back by any sort of moral compunctions.

The attack on Iraq has demonstrated that America has power to destroy, but it has so far not been able to compel obedience, in spite of the open and near-total abandonment or principle, and time is running out: the US military will begin to break by next spring. Israel's assault on Lebanon had a similar result. It may be emotionally gratifying to US nazis to do it, but there's no point to destroying Iran if the end result of it is nothing more than making a partial collapse of US influence in the region total.

Personally, I think the US was far better off doing nothing and being thought omnipotent than it is now, to have acted and revealed itself to be both bully and coward.

Perhaps now we are at last seeing momentum in the US to take policy out of the hands of violent idiots and into the hands of people who at least try to look forward and see consequences before acting. When all else fails, there is still reason.

john miller: But, mattbastard, how can we trust the sources for that article? They all have Arab sounding names and may be al Qaeda plants.

You're exactly right, jm. Damn liberal media - I should have cited some of Roggio or Yon's patriotic imperial cheerleading (blam! pow! ka-BOOM!) My apologies to all freedom lovers. ;-)

Thanks Publius!
If you hear: "the Lamont/Lieberman battle was a substantive political debate over substantive (indeed, world-historical) issues" around the water-cooler, then you might have found me.
Awesome.
I am so sick of the suggestion of Trotskyite tendencies of liberals I could urp.
C

When a person, from either side, gives reason to be attacked for their words, then by all means attack. But stay within the confines of what is said.

Posted by: john miller | July 06, 2007 at 04:40 PM

That's certainly a fair point. However, today I've read several other posts dissecting Lieberman that seriously question his accuracy in this op-ed and the credibility of his source(s), let alone Lieberman's own credibilty. I also think Lieberman has given ample reason for anyone to question how sincere he is on the "diplomacy" angle, as has Kristol, as have many of the neocons or other hawks. If we're being very precise about what Lieberman says in this specific op-ed, yes, I agree with your point and appreciate the desire to be fair and accurate, but I also can't take Lieberman's words in a vacuum. Publius can obviously speak for Publius, but I took the op-ed as more a launching point than the key focus of the post, which I took to be: "Centrism" as practiced by Lieberman and Nyhan can be false and wrong, and Lieberman holds militant, radical, non-centrist postions, in stark contrast to the image he, Republicans and most of the MSM promote of Lieberman. I think that's a fair, accurate characterization of Lieberman and the "centrism" issue deserves further discussion (I've written several posts on false equivalencies in political discussions). But I take your point, and again, Publius can obviously speak for Publius. ;-)

Expect a post on Lieberman containing a throwaway line about organic endives any day now.

Made me laugh!

But stay within the confines of what is said.

I guess I'd say yes and no on this. I mean, you need to be honest to a person's position. I exaggerate for rhetorical purposes at times, and I try to limit that, but it comes out.

But, I don't agree at all that this necessarily requires staying in the confines of what is said. In fact, one role for both real pundits and amateur-hours like myself is to look beyond the words. Words don't necessarily mean much on foreign policy these days.

For instance, even two days before the war, bush was still saying things like we hope diplomacy works when war was already decided on. same deal with Joe. This is an op-ed to strike Iran. The added language about giving diplomacy a chance are just thrown in rhetorically. But if you really believed that, you wouldn't start out with emotion-laden examples of Iran supposedly killing troops.

bottom line -- in this game, being honest requires looking past and often ignoring words

2 things I meant to add:

1 - I meant to italicize the first sentence.

2 - I meant to say that while I exaggerate for emphasis or style at times, I stay honest to what I feel the person's true position in.

I merely suggest that there was plenty to attack in the op-ed and it would probably have been more approrpiate to suggest that you see the op-ed as a prelude to suggestions for more extreme actions against Iran.

But yes, I do know that hyperbole is a tool.

fair point

FWIW, this crowd is notorious for trying to erect rhetorical misdirections and dodges for the very reasons exemplified by John Miller's response (not to single him out, because in a strictly legalistic sense his point is well made and I usually agree with him 100%).

Keep in mind, to this day, Michael Ledeen claims that he never supported the Iraq war - and that he doesn't support military action against Iran. In his defense, Ledeen can cite numerous texts where he makes those points. The counterargument, though, are the many texts in which Ledeen contradicts himself and his truer intentions are revealed (as an aside, he uses some of the most emotionally charged and bloodthirsty rhetoric even in his anti-war writings which is a curious way to support such a position).

Lieberman's half-hearted nod in the direction of "diplomacy" is in a similar vein. Especially because these faux-proponents of diplomacy mostly go about sabotaging any and all diplomatic efforts, as well as erecting near-insurmountable barriers to even commencing the diplomatic process in the first place.

Like, "We should negotiate with Iran, but only if Iran agrees to our central demands before the negotiating process even begins." Followed up by selective "leaks," bellicose rhetoric and open threats issued any time diplomacy looks to be gaining momentum.

Then, after the "diplomatic" efforts fail (due in large part to this same clique's machinations), they can say:

None of us wanted war with Iran, and we tried all we could, so now we must reluctantly unleash shock and awe. Faster, please.

See, ie, Iraq, War.

eric: Like, "We should negotiate with Iran, but only if Iran agrees to our central demands before the negotiating process even begins." Followed up by selective "leaks," bellicose rhetoric and open threats issued any time diplomacy looks to be gaining momentum.

Like, what examples of diplomacy on the issues discussed in Lieberman's article (which publius was too-too aghast to even discuss) are you referring to, eric?

Has Iran shown any inclination or made any substantive diplomatic moves to indicate it's willing to stop supporting terrorist insurgents in Iraq, or terrorist organizations in the mid-east?

What no one understands about Leiberman is that Connecticut used to be a big military base. Sakorsky Helecopters were made there as well as the manufacturing of guns, boats, and even a sub base. He would love to be able to bring back all of those jobs and military benefits of warmongering. That is also the reason why so many people love him there because they think he can bring back the glory days. He is going to do everything in his power to bring the glory days back to his home state.

"That is also the reason why so many people love him there because they think he can bring back the glory days"

Last election LIeberman had a large majority of 'centrist' voters(like the ones publius told to take a walk from the Democratic Party in his 'Glory Days' at Legal Fiction
- and they did, in droves!) -- including moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans, and moderate Independents... and none of the exit poles suggested they cared a whit about bringing
back the Glory Days of Connecticut Military Bases (are you confusing that with an MTV Bruce Springsteen retrospective?)...

ah.. what the hell:

Glory days well they'll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days...

(hoots, applause, fade out..)

No, actually, I've spoken to those that love the man in Connecticut. I was also raised there. Our first home was a converted barrick (they made them into townhouses). Leiberman and a lot of the people that love him remember those good old days when manufacturing jobs were aplenty, etc., all due to war. The facts are the facts...You think he just loves war to love war?

slightly related, this Steve Clemons piece about Iran may be of interest. I hope the new revelations about Iran's politics will also temper the enthusiasm of some of those in Congress who are advocating escalating the conflict. But I doubt it.

So here is what puzzles me morally about this Lieberman shindig:

We want to threaten Iran into doing our will. Lieberman says quite rightly that a demand backed by a credible threat is more effective than otherwise. But here is the thing about credible threats: you have to be willing to back them up for them to remain credible. That is, I imagine that making such a threat entails potentially entering a situation where we have to take action SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY CALLED OUR BLUFF. By and large, diplomatic poker (backing up a threat )is not by itself enough of a reason to go to war and kill innocent people.

And if you had reason to go to war anyway, then you should be going to war regardless of what the credibility of your threats is. That is, I take it that when the circumstances for war arise, that wars are not *optional*. We either have to do it or we have to not do it. And those reasons carry more force than just the desire to keep threats credible.

To stray from this abstract concern for a moment, (1) there is no decisive victory to be had in an engagement with Iran (2) any U.S. aggression is just going to play into the hands of Iranian hardliners. Just like they can't keep shaking their fists at us without making things work, we cannot keep shaking our fists at them. How this point consistently escapes war-minded adults is beyond me.

Like, what examples of diplomacy on the issues discussed in Lieberman's article (which publius was too-too aghast to even discuss) are you referring to, eric?

Well, luckily, the universe of Iran writings by Lieberman et al is not confined to this one op-ed. Along those lines, it is almost a mantra from the neocon set (espoused by the Bush administration), that we'll begin negotiating with Iran re: nuclear power once they stop enriching uranium. That used to be the pre-req for all negotiations, but recently there has been some movement on decoupling it from negotations re: Iraq issues.

This is similar to the stance on potential Syrian negotiations:

"Syria knows what it has to do in to stabilize Iraq and get into our good graces, so there's no point in holding negotiations."

Iran, like any other country, would be willing to move on a given issue if the benefits outweigh the costs. We shouldn't speculate about what Iran would or wouldn't be willing to do as a result of a bargain. We should actually partake in the bargaining process and find out what happens.

Also, right after the invasion of Iraq, the Iranians indicated an interest in coming to an agreement on a whole host of issues including, but not limited to, ending its support for Hamas and Hez.

One more thought, there is scant evidence that Iran supports "terrorist insurgents" in Iraq. Iran supports Shiite militias, whose leaders comprise the current Iraqi government that we, too, support.

To the extent that Iran supports terrorist Sunni insurgents like al-Qaeda in Iraq, yes, I think we could definitely come to an agreement whereby such support ended.

RLaing: It may be emotionally gratifying to US nazis to do it...

Uh, no. I'll give you "fascists" -- in fact, I think I was one of the first to use that particular epithet here -- but "nazis" is just not right.

Eric Martin: I used to refer to this as the "Brutus is an honorable man" tactic. Now I just call it SOP.

"You think he just loves war to love war?"

I don't think he loves war.

Besides Iraq and Iran, what other nations has he saber-rattled against? As recently as 2003 his stated views concerning North Korea's accelerated nuclear program was to castigate the Bush administration for their failure to continue the diplomatic negotiations the Clinton administration had initiated -- calling Bush's policy "unclear, inconsistent and counterproductively confrontational."

He didn't suggest bombing Pyongyang. He recommended diplomacy. That may be because you can negotiate with some nations, but not with others. And thought Korea diplomacy may be working (hard to tell for sure), the only thing that will make Iran ameniable to fruitful diplomatic interchange is first wacking them forcefully over the head with a big stick.

And, again, the exit poles dispute your assertion people voted for Lieberman so he could pork-barrel military contracts in the state. In the Conn. general election, only 35 percent said "it was the most important issue to their vote in the general election. And while Lamont won those voters, he lost those who said other issues were most important to their votes, from the economy to terrorism to health care."

None of the voters queried indicated they voted for him to get a helocopter factory in Hartford.

eric...
in the spirit of honest disagreement, concerning this:

"Also, right after the invasion of Iraq, the Iranians indicated an interest in coming to an agreement on a whole host of issues including, but not limited to, ending its support for Hamas and Hez."

all I can say is 'balony.'

Iran isn't going to stop supporting Hezbollah and Hamas unless we stop supporting Israel's right to exist.

And yeah, they will stop supporting terrorist Sunni insurgents like al-Qaeda in Iraq when we leave, so they can marginalize as many Sunnis as possible, and turn Iraq into Iran-2.

Eric: "by John Miller's response (not to single him out, because in a strictly legalistic sense his point is well made and I usually agree with him 100%)."

Obviously you are a person of great intelligence.

My whole point was that there was a better way to appropach this op=ed, including pointing out that this is the same type of rhetoric that preceded Iraq, and that Lieberman has a dangerous history in this regard.

At 6that point, discuss the various points made by others above.

As written it is fine for DK, but this is not DK.

You say baloney, but there is no doubt that they indicated such a willingness. Whether or not they would have followed through is less clear.

As for your contention that if we attacked Iran, then they might be willing to cooperate with us and make nice, well, you said it best: baloney.

They'll retaliate. Because they can and if attacked, should.

Fair point John.

Jay, see this:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/07/AR2007020702408.html

Eric, was this the article you wanted to link to?

Jay: also see here for a good summary. Links to various stories on this issue, and a copy of the Iranian negotiating proposal, here. (Be aware that if you either click on the image of the proposal or on the link at "full text", a pdf of the proposal will download itself whether you want it to or not.)

Exit polls; if there are exit "poles," I don't want to know.

"No, actually, I've spoken to those that love the man in Connecticut. I was also raised there."

I spent my summers there growing up, for eight years, myself. However, you seem to be unaware that "anecdote" is not the plural of "data," and that unless you've interviewed the majority of Lieberman's 564,095 voters, you're not qualified to discuss their preferences via your personal sample of a tiny fraction, amounting to what, only 1% (~5,000+ voters)? .01% (~500+ voters)? A bit less, maybe?

That you find your anecdotes to be convincing evidence of the views of the actual larger statistical universe suggests that your judgment be weighed accordingly.

Also, when asserting how expert your opinion of someone is, it's slightly useful to be able to spell his name.

Usual reminder to avoid non-working or broken links:

Here is a handy guide to HTML tags.

You can use "find" to go to "link something."

Here's how you link (you can copy this and paste it as necessary, if you can't remember):

Put words as necessary between > <

Put the actual URL to link to where it says "URL."

You're done.

Actually, Gary, I don't think that krwheaton suggested that it was anything but anecdote, and it does help explain how Lamont lost by a 10% margin. At any rate, I think you should reserve your spelling flames to those of us who have had the time and exposure to potentially appreciate your comments and thus potentially have a more balanced opinion of your contributions.

However, you seem to be unaware that "anecdote" is not the plural of "data" . . .

To get this pithy statement exactly backwards in a post with not one but two spelling corrections is, well . . . something. The correct form is, "The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data.'"

KR Wheatin has a plausible hypothesis, apart from proof.

There's an old DC saying that goes "Where you stand depends on where you sit.". So of course republicans who were hot to impeach Clinton while democrats called it pure partisan politics have their roles reversed this time around. Republicans who were outraged on occasions that democrats demanded 60 votes to close discussion are demanding that regularly now.

Somehow it turned out that most of the intense abolitionists came from states where slavery wasn't necessary, while most advocates of slavery came from states where it was.

While we all agree that excessive tobacco use is bad for you and excessive alcohol use is bad for you, somehow there are a lot of people who approve of tobacco in virginia and a lot of people who approve of wine in california.

So if the CT economy does better when the military is buying, it's predictable that connecticut natives will tend to support a strong military -- whether or not they support sending that military into wars. And it's predictable that they'll support a strong military out of the noblest of intentions, just as abolitionists and slaveowners had arguments for their stands that had nothing to do with how they made their livings.

So I'd think the interesting question here is whether they support a strong, well-equipped military, and whether they support actually using that military for pre-emptive wars. Why they want what they want will have to remain speculative.

unless you've interviewed the majority of Lieberman's 564,095 voters, you're not qualified to discuss their preferences via your personal sample of a tiny fraction, amounting to what, only 1% (~5,000+ voters)? .01% (~500+ voters)? A bit less, maybe?

A sample of 500 to represent 500,000+ can be quite valid if it actually represents the whole. It has a fair chance to do that if it is chosen randomly. It has some chance to do that when there are unknown selection biases, but there are of course no guarantees.

"At any rate, I think you should reserve your spelling flames to those of us who have had the time and exposure to potentially appreciate your comments and thus potentially have a more balanced opinion of your contributions."

It wasn't a "spelling flame"; I merely observed that getting someone's name wrong tends to undermine a assertion that one is qualified to speak as an expert on that person's opinions. That's a fact. You're free to not care, but it's a perfectly legitimate observation.

"So if the CT economy does better when the military is buying, it's predictable that connecticut natives will tend to support a strong military"

I didn't think it necessary to point out that this applies to the other 49 states, as well.

"A sample of 500 to represent 500,000+ can be quite valid if it actually represents the whole. It has a fair chance to do that if it is chosen randomly."

True. Entirely irrelevant, but true.

Oh, and thanks for the correction on my inadvertent reversal, Phil, which is to say, your second sentence.

"Actually, Gary, I don't think that krwheaton suggested that it was anything but anecdote,"

Sorry, I should have included this in my prior response to LJ, but in fact I responded specifically because this is the opposite of true.

krwheaton first asserted:

What no one understands about Leiberman is that Connecticut used to be a big military base. Sakorsky Helecopters were made there as well as the manufacturing of guns, boats, and even a sub base. He would love to be able to bring back all of those jobs and military benefits of warmongering. That is also the reason why so many people love him there because they think he can bring back the glory days. He is going to do everything in his power to bring the glory days back to his home state.
These are all imperative assertions of fact, not tempered by any ameliorating statements indicating an awareness of mere opinion.

It was followed by:

No, actually, I've spoken to those that love the man in Connecticut. I was also raised there. Our first home was a converted barrick (they made them into townhouses). Leiberman and a lot of the people that love him remember those good old days when manufacturing jobs were aplenty, etc., all due to war. The facts are the facts...You think he just loves war to love war?
"No, actually. [...] The facts are the facts...[.]"

That's doesn't support "I don't think that krwheaton suggested that it was anything but anecdote," does it, LJ?

The actual facts are that krwheaton repetitively insisted that krwheaton's version of "the facts" are "the facts."

There's no statement whatever by krwheaton even remotely suggesting that these "facts" are mere anecodotes.

So thanks for your thought, and reprimand to me, but it seems to be an observation that is factually erroneous.

And we got "Leiberman" in both comments, making clear that it wasn't a typo.

switch to decaf dude.

Sorry, about starting this mess. I'll keep my shut from now on. I've just been reading so many "why, oh why, does Lieberman always vote for more war?" arguments, that I thought I just had to put my two cents in.

As for being qualified to answer or promote my opinion, I would think that the "comments" section would give that suggestion that it was a "comment" made by a reader. Do we now have to have "credentials" to comment?

I still stand by what I suggested in that people that like Lieberman and vote for him are also those that think manufacturing jobs and the military base, etc., will come back to them. Connecticut cities like Bridgeport are just coming back from having lost much of its' industrial infrastructure.

Now I'm done.

krwheaton: don't go. Gary makes -- well, somewhat similar comments to everyone; it's not specific to you. If you stick around, it may come to seem endearing, at least when its deployed at someone else ;)

I merely observed that getting someone's name wrong tends to undermine a assertion that one is qualified to speak as an expert on that person's opinions. That's a fact.

Some people just aren't good at spelling. He also misspelled Sikorsky for example.

I've noticed that ear people tend to do that sort of thing where eye people don't. It doesn't make them stupid or uninformed, it's just a different way of thinking.

Thanks. I think I'll just finish watching the Live Earth concerts. Have you all changed out your lightbulbs yet? We changed ours out about 3 years ago. Peace.

Publius, what I've told you before, but what you apparently don't want to realize, is that the probable reason that Lamont did not win in the Nov. election is that the Dem. Senators did not support him. The reason being that they do not want to support an insurgent. Why? Because there may be other insurgents vying for their positions.

Dem Senators don't care about the Dem party and they don't care about issues. They care about maintaining their positions in the Senate. That should be obvious.

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