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September 23, 2005

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morals are expensive.

I really hate to defend Dubya, but the Saudi's have been treating women like cattle for a good long time. If what Bush is doing is wrong then every administration since WWII is probably guilty of the same thing.

There is a need to make crappy choices when you are a leader and this is an example of one of them.

Opps the last sentence should be:

You are right there is a need...

No other previous president make the promises W did in his last inaugural address. I know the buck never actually stops on his desk but recall what he said:

For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

Each time he turns a blind eye toward the tyranny, then, he's helping to strengthen it.

Moreover, and more to the point, he stated:

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it.

If he can't be held to his own promises, why listen to the man at all?


The difference is that not every president since WWII has declared and led an international War on Terrorism, with particular focus on Islamic terrorism, of which Saudi Arabi is an enormous contributing factor. If it's all carrots and no sticks from us, what message does that send to them? If the President isn't willing to offer any sticks to one of the main instigators of what he says we're fighting, what message does that send to us?

Errm, you probably know this, but the URL http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/ isn't working this morning (although I can see the posts via googling and going to "archive", which is strange.

Thanks USA...not sure who did what, but it's back up now.

The difference is that not every president since WWII has declared and led an international War on Terrorism

In my mind, your point gives Dubya more leeway than his predecessors. Clinton, Bush 41, Reagan, etc. didn't need Saudi help as much as Bush 43 does.

Also, we don't know what help the Saudi's are giving us behind the scenes. What politicians (American, Saudi, or otherwise) say in public isn't always what they say in private.

... what message does that send to us?

frankly, everybody who was willing to listen got that message years ago. he just keeps repeating it, cause "you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda" .

we don't know what help the Saudi's are giving us behind the scenes

However, Kevin Drum notes that in public that they are slowly edging away from us.

Until they were attacked by Al Qaeda themselves, the Saudis gave us nothing but grief, and a well-trained torrent of anti-American, anti-Western graduates of their propaganda factories. Now, they want our help to root out Al Qaeda in their country so they can go back to being a corrupt family that doesn't care about anyone else in the world as long as someone buys their oil.

The Saud family is a far greater threat to America than Saddam ever could have been.

I might take a different view of this if Saudi Arabia were, say, moving heaven and earth to root out al Qaeda.

Are you SERIOUS? Are you really serious??

Five years ago if you had asked me what were two things 'everyone' would agree were wrong, I would have said torture and slavery.

I've never posted here before because, well, you seem to be doing just fine without me.

But this post and the cavalier attitude in the thread actually stunned me.

Now, it may be the method the US has chosen to reduce ‘trafficking’ -- withholding funds -- is ineffective, counterproductive, etc., etc.

But do I think that preventing slavery is more important than preventing terrorism?

Yeah, I do.

Ruth: I can't speak for anyone else on this thread, but here's what I was thinking. On the one hand, sanctions on Saudi Arabia would do something, but probably not much, about slavery. It's not as though SA can't afford our sanctions, after all: they'd probably just pay up, get a little annoyed, and be on their merry way. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia really doing everything in its power to curb terrorism would be huge, since 'everything in its power' would include cutting off a lot of its funding, and keeping people connected to the Saudi royal family from giving al Qaeda cover.

Moreover, I don't think of terrorism as being just about protecting us. Terrorists prey on failed states and their people, for instance. Having groups of people wandering around devoted to fanaticism and murder, with large sums of money and powerful protection, is just really not a good thing, according to me.

To place what I said in context, here are two other calls I'd make. On the one hand, I do not support giving Sudan a pass on Darfur because they are cooperating with us on terrorism. On the other, I do support a verifiable deal with North Korea involving e.g. energy supplies from us or South Korea in exchange for verifiably stopping their nuclear program and giving up their existing nuclear weapons. I support this even though it means supporting the North Korean government in certain ways, and I think that the condition of most people under that government is not appreciably better than the condition of Saudi slaves. I don't like giving any assistance at all to the NK government, but I like the idea of a crazy dictator who is, apparently, willing to sell nuclear (and other) weapons to the highest bidder actually getting nuclear weapons even less.

None of this is about liking, or even less than vehemently opposing, whatever it is I'm trading off. It's about making choices between evils. What really bothered me about what the administration just did was not that they thought such choices were necessary -- I think they are -- but that they gave up the admittedly weak measure available to them on slavery for nothing.

What really bothered me about what the administration just did was not that they thought such choices were necessary -- I think they are -- but that they gave up the admittedly weak measure available to them on slavery for nothing.

I play a lot of board-games -- Settlers, Puerto Rico, that sort of thing -- and one of the things I keep forgetting but which is vital to winning is this: you're never out of the game until you give up. There's always something you can do, some position you can exploit, some resource you can leverage, some personal appeal to greed or honor, something, anything, to keep yourself in the game. But you can only do this if you're willing to deal with the weak hands, to stick to it in bad positions and try to keep yourself around; if you just start folding at every opportunity, you're gonna get hosed.

IMO, the defining characteristic of the Bush Administration on matters both foreign and domestic is this: they play superbly from positions of strength, but they play terribly from positions of weakness. I'm not even sure that "weakness" is in their lexicon, tbh. Now we as a country are terrifically strong in certain areas (e.g. military) but not so strong in others (e.g. diplomacy), much like anyone else, but rather than trying to strengthen our weaknesses the Bush Administration tried to play everything to our strengths, regardless of its context.

Reality, unfortunately, doesn't work like that: not all conflicts are amenable to military solutions; not all politics is reducible to the passions of the GOP base; not all economics can be run through whatever-the-hell lens the Administration is using.

The upshot is that the Administration won most of its major battles, however defined, for the first few years because it was able to transform the conflicts into the paradigms of our strength. Trouble is, that transformation has caused horrific problems (viz Iraq, the deficit, and so forth) and the Bush Administration simply doesn't know how to deal with them because the problems themselves arise out of the inherent weaknesses of our new position. This recent deal is, I think, a manifestation of that fact (as is the North Korea deal to some extent): since they don't know how to play the game properly, they're kinda not playing it at all.

Which, needless to say, is bad for us, bad for the country, and bad for the world.

The upshot is that the Administration won most of its major battles, however defined, for the first few years because it was able to transform the conflicts into the paradigms of our strength.

and that's the root of the whole "reality-based" idea: tranform the problem into something that can be solved by what you're already good at - or at least make it sound that way. then, you go and do what you would've done in any situation - you can always blame the failure on your political opponents, and take credit for any postive outcome, even a purely coincidental one. if anyone tries to call you out on your mis-representation of the problem, accuse them of not wanting to fix the problem at all.

Somewhat related. I would like to recommend HRW's report "Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division" as a topic worthy of discussion.

The US took the high road on Uzbekistan. That worked out well, didn't it?

2shoes: I've been writing about it, off and on while, um, working, and will post about it later, unless someone else does first. But thanks.

The Dead Iraqi Porn Show turns Billmon

It is vague and inchoate, but I have a terror of the domestic consequences of losing a major war and subsequent economic decline. I have been a hawk partly because of this fear of what the Volokhs and Trevinos and Delays would do without a relatively safe outlet, because the alternative, the actual uninhibited preference was always nuclear.

Course I grew up in the age of "Better dead than red". That was not a joke, not an exaggeration. They meant it all the way, to a smoking cinder Earth. Better a million dead Iraqis, better 10 million dead Americans, than revanchist Dixie backed into a corner with their finger on the button. Nobody, nobody is taking the situation seriously enough.

Nixon & Reagan were middle class Californians. LBJ knew his people, and knew millions dead in Vietnam was the only plausible path to the Civil Rights and the Great Society, and still not enough, there would be future horrors.

There was no price too large to pay to keep Dixie, true pure Dixie, from gaining total control of the government in 2000. America would like to forget, to think kindly of their Southern neighbors. They are devils, people who would destroy a nation to keep their slaves, who would destroy the world to keep their backyard-buried gold. Full-scale civil war, with millions dead was preferable to Bush gaining power.

The marchers are a joke. If the administration felt at all threatened they would be dead on the streets of DC today. This is so very far from Nixon's Republican party. The suicidal left may actually get us out of Iraq. Then God have mercy on us all, a world of woe.

(crossposted from BOPNews)

Ban my ass. Suits my misanthropic mood.

slave trade in prostitutes, child sex workers and forced laborers

This is a right-winger's idea of spreading freedom and liberty threw out the Middle East?

No wonder our own allies believe we are a sick and decadent culture.

Bush really is full of sh!t. And so are his followers.

The website has become a stomach-churning showcase for the pornography of war -- close-up shots of Iraqi insurgents and civilians with heads blown off, or with intestines spilling from open wounds. Sometimes photographs of mangled body parts are displayed: Part of the game is for users to guess what appendage or organ is on display . . .
A series of photos showing two men slumped over in a pickup truck, with nothing visible above their shoulders except a red mass of brain matter and bone, is described as "an Iraqi driver and passenger that tried to run a checkpoint during the first part of OIF." The post goes on to say that "the bad thing about shooting them is that we have to clean it up." Another post, labeled "dead shopkeeper in Iraq," does not explain how the subject of the photo ended up with a large bullet hole in his back but offers the quip "I guess he had some unsatisfied customers."

The Nation
The Porn of War
September 22, 2005

What about Hussein's sons?..They are souless killers!

You want to let these souless killers rule over Iraq?

hilzoy: I've been writing about it, off and on while, um, working...

<aside to the audience> Schnapps. </aside>

Re : Moral Clarity Strikes Again

I agree with the first poster on this thread.

This type of corruption is rife in Saudi Arabia. Do I condone it? No, absolutely not - but for GW to be try and make any kind of impact on this traffic he would have to be Superman with a huge retinue of enforcement officers.

Any changes with respect to the exploitation of kids etc will have to come from within the kingdom, through the efforts of concerned citizens and politicians.

Worldwide this type of trafficking is a moral plague. You would think the UN could be more active in this area ... but the UN being the UN ... I'm not holding my breath.

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