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July 07, 2006

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...if they bothered to ask whether we have actually done all we can do without sacrificing our principles as a nation

indeed.

it's remarkable how quickly so-called 'small government' types have grown to love big, intrusive government (remember when "i'm from the government and i'm here to help" was Reagan's big laugh?). and how little did it take to get all those former isolationists (excluding good ol Pat Buchanan) into full "nation building" mode ?

it's enough to make you wonder if maybe they're using TWoT as an excuse to do things they want to do but wouldn't have a chance of trying in a pre-9/11 world.

it was a mystery to me why anyone thought that he was doing a good job. It still is.

"We haven't been hit." I think that's what it boils down to. "He's keeping us safe."

I expect a fresh profusion of orange alerts and foiled "plots" between now and November. And Bush's approval ratings on "keeping the nation safe from terror" will increase accordingly, maybe enough for the Republicans to hold on to both houses.

I expect a fresh profusion of orange alerts and foiled "plots" between now and November.

Indeed.

"I know I'd have a lot more respect for the people who seem to be willing to toss aside our civil liberties, our moral standing in the world, our adherence to the Geneva Conventions and our own history of respect for the laws of war for the sake of winning the war on terror if they bothered to ask whether we have actually done all we can do without sacrificing our principles as a nation."

Exactly!

It has really bewildered me why a large consensus of people are willing to sacrifice the essentials of what the United States stands for. I was recently arguing this general principal with an extended family member. Their basic response was that “we have no other options.” I felt like beating my head against a wall. We have SO many options that we have blatantly failed to do, as Hilzoy points out.

Sure, we have had some success in deterring terrorist attacks in the USA post-9/11, but for how long will this last? There are so many problems that have been identified with little measure to correct them.

Why so much negligence on correcting problems? Why so much negligence on behalf of those who take this administration’s word as being absolutely true? I really think it is negligence and/or apathy. I think too many Americans are uninformed, lazy, or don’t want to be bothered by hard questions, corrective measures, and sacrifice. Do people (besides all who read this blog) really not care one way or the other? Because if they did care: Is it really that hard to successfully a) improve homeland security, b) fight the war on terror, c) demand that these actions be done, and most importantly d) do so while upholding/respecting the laws which make the United States, The United States?

Hilzoy has is right again: #2a: The War on Terror, “pursue it with the determination and focus we brought to, say, World War II”

The great thing about the Holland Tunnel story is that it shows the administration is protecting us from terrorists (terrorists working with Zarqawi -- even better!) while allowing Republicans like Peter King to once again accuse the treasonous media of helping the terrorists by reporting it. Ideally there would be a Democrat-bashing angle as well, but I'm sure they're working on it.

"It has really bewildered me why a large consensus of people are willing to sacrifice the essentials of what the United States stands for."

That's always been the case. When was it not so?

Cue a variety of Franklin quotes, as in "if you can keep it" and "those who would trade."

And check any point of history; in the last century alone, look at the Palmer Raids and surrounding hysteria about immigrants and anarchists and communists, or look at Korematu, and then, of course, what's known as "McCarthyism," which is a misnomer, because of Tailgunner Joe had never lived, we'd still have had Nixon and McCarran and the other red-baiters leading the charge (which isn't to say that there wasn't a real communist threat, because there was, but it wasn't what these guys said it was).

The percentage of citizens who have understood and appreciated civil liberties and the Constitution in U.S. history has always been low.

The biggest mistake conservatives made, in their mind, in the last 20 years was winning the Cold War (to the extent they think they won the war). This removed the existential communist threat that allowed them to win 5 of 6 presidential elections, beginning in 1968, losing only when a two term president had to resign in disgrace.

With the threat gone, Democrats won the next two (and should have won the next three) elections. Now the current threat from **insert currently approved right-wing description of the enemy here** has them back on top and riding high (at least in terms of who controls the gov't, if not the current polls).

The advantage of this threat is, of course, that there is no identifiable end point, and so we cannot "win" in the way we won when the Soviet Union collapsed. It can always be waved in front of the people to show them that they are under threat of being attacked, that the Democrats would expose them and the country to danger, and only the Republicans can save them.

From this vantage point, there is no incentive for the people currently in power in this country to "win" the current "war." That would, most likely, leave them out of control, without the ability to use the power of the United States of America to further their personal ends and reward their friends. Better they pretend to pursue "the enemy," and use the faux pursuit as cover for their true objectives.

And so we get announcements like the arrest of the seven "terrorists" in Florida, the "disruption" of the plot to bomb NYC tunnels by arresting a man in Lebanon, the entire Jose Padilla farce, and of course the inevitable Orange alert in the next couple months. Each a reminder to the people of the ever lurking danger that requires massively intrusive domestic government surveillance and vast executive power to "protect" us.

From this viewpoint, Iraq is the masterstroke: simultaneously appearing to take the war to the enemy (to fight them there so we don't have to fight them here), and yet, increasing by several orders of magnitude the number of people willing to take up arms against us; all to our great detriment and sorrow, not to mention that of the Iraqis.

That they miscalculated the difficulty in Iraq, and the public's current disenchantment with them because of it, will make them try that much harder to hold on to their current position, by any means necessary.

"The percentage of citizens who have understood and appreciated civil liberties and the Constitution in U.S. history has always been low."

Talking to myself, perhaps, I'd like to particularly highlight how awful the Sedition Act of 1918 was, and the Schenck v. U.S. decision (setting aside Holmes' "clear and present danger" test, which really didn't come into action as regards Schenk's actions, it seems to me), and how we didn't really have a decent SCOTUS decision on this until as recently as Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969.

Most of our civil liberties are of relatively recent origin, alas, and they're always in danger of being swept away by the passions of the moment. (Which is why it's a good thing we have, despite the efforts of the current President, separation of powers, and a Constitution ruled on by the judiciary, and aren't a pure democracy of mob rule.)

"That's always been the case. When was it not so?"

Well, I have no living-recollection besides now. You'd think general awarness this day in age would be higher- but that is an assumption, and we all know what they say about assumptions.


"The percentage of citizens who have understood and appreciated civil liberties and the Constitution in U.S. history has always been low."

Sadly true and needs to be addressed. It is amazing, that even amongst college graduates from top-tier schools there is a very small number of people who do understand and appreciate.

The vast majority of people are more than willing to throw out principles if they believe that they will get a better result in so doing. Principles are a great thing, but they're so nebulous it's difficult for them to stand up to the rigors of the real world. It's always easier to point to a particular end as justification for steamrollering your principles.

It has, as Gary said, always been true that some people have been willing to toss the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is also true, as I have said somewhere, that the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our form of government do not stick up for themselves, and thus periodically require our help.I wish it weren't one of those times, but it is.

A poster ("Rick B", I believe) on another blog got it pretty much right:
"It appears that bin Laden has won. He has attacked America and caused our leaders to remove all vestiges of legitimacy for our positions and methods in the eyes of the world."

If we allow the desecration of the constitution to be added to the foreign policy disaster, Osama surely will have won.

I think it has pretty obvious to anyone who really examined the real world that this adminsitration has done a horrible job at handling this whole situation. And it started by using the term War on Terror". That in itself showed a disregard for what was really taking place.

During the campaign in 2000, Bush was asked about what he thought of terrorists such as al Qaeda and he responded that they are motivated by jealousy of us. When I heard that, I knew we were in trouble if he was elected.


Unfortunately, the mistaken and unbacked by any factual information that I know of, assertion that the Republicans are stronger on security has allowed Bush to have only one positive rating in his presidency. It is perception that rules the roost, not reality.

Well, Well What do We Have Here...

I am not a reporter of any kind but it took me less than a few minutes of "elbow grease" to find the dreaded WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction). I seemed to have "out-scooped" the entire Democratic Party, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and several other liberal biased reporting outlets out there. Of course I had help, Powerline Blog pointed me to a website operated by the DoD (Department of Defense) by called "Foreign Military Studies Office Joint Reserve Intelligence Center" (http://70.168.46.200/default.aspx). This location contains a treasure trove of document summaries of translated Iraqi documents created during the Saddam reign of terror. The website has the following paragragh as it's purpose for existence:

At the request of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the US Army Foreign Military Studies Office has created this portal to provide the general public with access to unclassified documents and media captured during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Of the many documents present I would want to direct the gentle reader to one summary in particular released recently. This pdf document labeled with the cryptic number of CMPC-2003-00011084-HT-DHM2A.pdf

This document was written in 1999 and it outlines the process by which the "Director of the Criminal Department, Na`man `Ali Muhammad" would hide "non-conventional
weapons and other chemical agents" from "the International Inspection Committee" and thereby hiding them from not only the United Nations but 100 % of the Democrats in this country. Please read the letter:

He added that the following procedures were implemented on the fifth month of this year [TC: May 1999] in order to prevent disclosure of the locations:

1- Relocate all IIS "I[raqi] I[ntelligence] S[ervice]" documents
2- Relocate all IIS chemical materials and equipment
3- Designate a group of employees from the Ministry of Health to replace the IIS employees
4- Relocate some of the officers and employees, whose job descriptions are not compatible with the Ministry of Health to Al-Rashidiah, and implement other appropriate concealment procedures. [TC: no further information].

He continues to state that present situation of the Directorate could be extended for an unspecified period of time. This situation could frequently reoccur, which has a direct negative impact on the performance and duties of the Directorate, with regards to providing essential levels of security. Consequently, the location of the site could be discovered. In addition the Ministry of Health may not be able to afford releasing its employees for a long period of time. Also, the presence of the Ministry of Health employees, and their integration with our employees, is a security breach. The close location of the directorate to other public locations, such as Al-Thaurah and Hay Al- Sinak, makes it a non-secure location. He added that the location is within the range of the enemy’s coordinates, and that special attention should be given to the collaborators who are present within these areas. The following alternate locations were suggested:

1- The Technical Research Center located on Palestine Street (previous Olympic
Committee), since part of its Criminology Research Department was transferred to the Criminology Department.

2- Scientific Research Center, since it contains some laboratories that can be used for the work of the Criminology Department.

Now if I could look up Palestine Street (previous Olympic Committee) in Mapquest...

"He has attacked America and caused our leaders to remove all vestiges of legitimacy for our positions and methods in the eyes of the world.""

All?

Not all. We still have kittens.

thereby hiding them from not only the United Nations but 100 % of the Democrats in this country

can you show me these WMDs. or, are they hidden from you, too ?

All seems a bit extreme. Since there are still nations standing with the United States, it also seems to fly in the face of the facts.

It seems damning enough to me to note that the Bush administration has mismanaged the war and may well have made the country less safe than it was on September 12, 2001. Hyperbole is hardly necessary to make a case against this president.

Andrew, perhaps you can explain for me how the conclusions of this study, or Hilzoy's post about it, are inconsistent with the fact that some nations are still standing with the US? Because I'm just not seeing what one has to do with the other.

Catsy, I interpreted Andrew's comment as, like Gary's, a response to BroD's exaggeration.

You know what worries me? The fact that all over the world, noble-minded young men are being shown videos of suffering Iraqi and Palestinian children with missing arms and horrible wounds. These young men are being told that the West is completely at fault - that Islamic terrorists are merely doing what must be done to avenge these deaths. Honor killings, if you will. The community Imams have little knowledge and no influence in the matter. (One imagines Native Americans being inflamed by a charismatic warrior to go out and massacre the settlers. Thus it has always been with young men.)
Who are the people telling them this? Who are the people using these young men to promote their own warped views of the world? (You would agree that Osama bin Ladin and others like him are warped?) They are using the internet, blogs and chat rooms to connect and to spread this sickness and terrorism. (Imagine what Hitler or Stalin could have done with the internet!)
Okay, we'll just get out of the Middle East, shall we? Will that solve the problem? When did appeasment ever work? (Wish it did.) I'm afraid it's too late for that now. Do we really understand what we're up against?
Please read this and tell me we are not in a nasty war for some time to come. We need to pull together - left and right.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/others/islamism-fascism-terrorism.html

Catsy,

My apologies, I was referring to "He has attacked America and caused our leaders to remove all vestiges of legitimacy for our positions and methods in the eyes of the world."

The 'All' I referenced was the above 'all vestiges of legitimacy'.

I am generally in concurrence with Hilzoy's post.

Ah. In that case I apologize for my own misapprehension.

Still, while a bit of hyperbole, it's not too terribly far off the mark. The damage done by Bush to America's credibility and moral authority in the world will take generations to undo, absent a dramatic repudiation of Bushism by a future administration and Congress.

I don't think it's fair to criticize any one blogger for covering or not covering a particular story, but when an entire half of the political spectrum is silent, I think that is revealing.

I agree. In this particular case, they're ignoring it because it's a "set piece" with predetermined results, as predictable as sunrise. I saw it earlier, noted the source (FP mag and Center for American Progress), ran through the methodology and questionaire, and then checked the list of those polled. Since the list of "foreign policy experts" was almost exclusively administration critics, there was no doubt at all what the results would be--the collective opinions of those hand-picked to be surveyed. This "survey" was designed to reach exactly the conclusions it reached. Given how it was constructed, it could hardly have reached any other.

Bec: We need to pull together - left and right.

It's odd you should direct this comment here - or were you commenting elsewhere last weekend?

Since the list of "foreign policy experts" was almost exclusively administration critics

There are two possible explanations for that fact. I know the one you're thinking of. Can you think of what the other one might be?

Tully: I opened the list of people polled, saw Lawrence Eagleburger's name, and thought: just a bunch of leftards.

That would be the same Lawrence Eagleburger who was criticizing the admin and lobbying against the war before it began, back in 2002, hilzoy? How could anyone have doubted?

Nope, not biting on the "they're not Michael Moore so they must be valid" yak. Every name I recognized on that list at a brief glance is a known and vocal critic of the administration, and I did not say anywhere anything about "leftards." Please confine any assignation of ad hominems on my part to those I actually utter.

When known partisan groups with dedicated agendas get to pick the "experts" they're "polling" and said "experts" opinions are already publicly known, it's not a valid poll for anything. It's (to be very kind) Not Scottish. It's propaganda in a prom dress. It merely "measures" the already-known opinions of a group of people who were probably picked for their already-known opinions.

And yes, if the Heritage Foundation coupled up with National Review to survey "experts" on, say, the social effects of gay marriage, and they got to pick the "experts," I'd be making the same criticisms regardless of their results. You can "prove" anything like that, but it doesn't mean a thing, which is why it's being ignored by all but those who REALLY want it to mean something.

Josh, there are many more than two possible explanations for that. Not buying false dichotomies*. Now, if you want to claim there are only 116 "foreign policy experts" in the world to be surveyed, go right ahead. If you want to start delineating possible explanations and assigning probabilities, have at.

[*--"There are only two kinds of people in the world. Those who dichotomize and those who don't."]

It's odd you should direct this comment here - or were you commenting elsewhere last weekend?
Sorry, hilzoy. I thought that was a rather "tongue in cheek" post. Did I misunderstand? I thought my two cents fit this one better. But then maybe I'm too much a literalist for this blog.

A bipartisan majority (84 percent) of the index’s experts say the United States is not winning the war on terror.
Well, duh. They would have said the same at the beginning of WWII, I'd say, and they would have been correct.

"Why I will Not Vote For Bush #2c: Nuclear Nonproliferation “At present rates, securing Russia's vulnerable nuclear material would take 13 more years (SB p. 4).”
"The United States and Russia reached a last-minute agreement saving a program to secure or destroy Soviet nuclear warheads, chemical weapons and killer germs, U.S. officials said yesterday, breaking a long logjam and averting a rupture weeks before President Bush travels to St. Petersburg. 6/20/06 Nuclear Security Advisory Council
http://www.ransac.org/6202006100706AM.html

Winning a war takes time. It's also serious business. http://www.gao.gov/docsearch/featured/terrorism.html
(Example) http://www.gao.gov/htext/d05852.html

Bec: I saw, and am very glad about, the deal on loose nukes. I am still completely unclear why the fact that it took us nearly 5 years after 9/11 to so much as sign a deal to secure the most obvious source of fissionable material for terrorists is not an incredible indictment of this administration. The hangups were such things as: whether US workers in Russia would be held liable in cases where they were convicted of negligence. Which is to say: details that you'd think any sort of serious leadership at the top would have gotten resolved.

Bec, three and a half years after the beginning of American involvement in World War II, US and Allied forces were in Germany, having successfully invaded through Sicily and Normandy. Italy surrendered right about the 3.5 year mark, fascist forces having been utterly defeated. Do you feel that we are in a comparable position in Iraq?

I'll make it easier. Three and a half years after North Korea invaded the south, there was an armistice in place and prisoners were being repatriated. Do you feel that we are in a comparable position in Iraq?

Or we can get domestic. Three and a half years after the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter, Sherman had taken Atlanta and was marching to the sea.

As nearly as I can tell, when the vast majority of the "winner's" forces are going to force preservation and even their strongholds are under regular attack, we're in the realm of World War I and the Vietnam War - quagmires.

Clearly if you want a fair and balanced report on something you need to select equal numbers of Bush administration critics and Bush administration supporters (which for many subjects at this point means Bush administration members).

"Every name I recognized on that list at a brief glance is a known and vocal critic of the administration, and I did not say anywhere anything about 'leftards.'"

My suggestion, then, is that you make an alternative list of 100 foreign policy experts who are supporters of the administration's foreign policy, who should have been polled.

But let's make it easy. Start with 50 of these well-known experts.

I'll be right here.

Oh, and: "When known partisan groups with dedicated agendas...."

You're aware that one of Foreign Policy's two founders is Samuel Huntington?

Would you say that these are particularly partisan resumes?

"And yes, if the Heritage Foundation coupled up with National Review...."

You're directly stating that Foreign Policy is analogous to National Review.

Now, if it were The Nation that had conducted the survey, you'd be correct.

But how do you justify analogizing FP to National Review? Since when was Foreign Policy founded as a journal of liberal thought? Please explain the history by which this analogy is correct, if you would be so kind.

It's odd you should direct this comment here - or were you commenting elsewhere last weekend?>

Sorry, hilzoy.

Yes, Hilzoy, posting under her little-known pseudonym, "Jesurgislac."

"[T]hree and a half years after the beginning of American involvement in World War II, US and Allied forces were in Germany, having successfully invaded through Sicily and Normandy. Italy surrendered right about the 3.5 year mark, fascist forces having been utterly defeated. Do you feel that we are in a comparable position in Iraq?"

Wouldn't a more reasonable comparison be where we were 3 1/2 years after the beginning of the Cold War, since like the Cold War this war will be unconventional in scope? I don't recall off hand, but I believe things were looking relatively grim for the West in 1950 as well.

Which is not to make excuses for the situation in Iraq or the performance of the Bush administration. I just think WWII and Korea are not the appropriate cognates for this war.

Josh, there are many more than two possible explanations for that. Not buying false dichotomies*.

Oy. Make it as many explanations as you want; doesn't change my point one bit. If you think I was making a false dichotomy, you missed what I was getting at.

Now, if you want to claim there are only 116 "foreign policy experts" in the world to be surveyed, go right ahead. If you want to start delineating possible explanations and assigning probabilities, have at.

On this one, what Gary said.

Gary, maybe I'm confusing them with their publisher. Seriously, in answer to your two questions and one assignation of intent, in order, yes, somewhat, and yes I am. And yes, I know quite a bit about Huntington, and I read the resumes of the staff. Since FP went from an academic quarterly journal to a monthly general-sales mag it's increasingly moved towards reflecting the politics of its publisher. Tossing in the straw man of how or why a journal was founded, as compared to what it is actually doing at the moment, is also a so-what, when that journal is now in different hands.

You're also entirely leaving out the Center for American Progress, the co-sponsor/co-author, out of your inquiry. Or were you going to argue they're an impartial agent as well?

None of which changes or addresses my point, it's just peripheral sniping. That point is that when you get to select which "experts" you "survey" and their opinions are already known to you, then the results of the "opinion survey" are pre-determined by your conscious choice of "experts." It's not a valid study of anything, and slapping stats and graphs and quantification on it doesn't make it so. The answers were determined by the choice of experts. There was nothing nothing new there to uncover.

Most importantly, the sample is not even remotely random and therefore does not represent any broad sampling of representative thought in the field, but only that of those selected. Which opinions you already knew while selecting them. So what was the point in the first place? The folks at FP certainly know the difference between valid research and polling, and "set pieces." As do the folks at CAP. Yet they chose to do a set piece with no real validity. Why?

And Gary, thanks for figuring out whose comment it was. I knew it wasn't mine, and thus, not having any idea what non-I had originally meant, didn't reply; but I was too lazy to figure out who non-I actually was.

Bruce

WWII started in 1939. 6 years. I’m not sure why you started counting when we arrived on the scene.

Korea? Gosh, do you think the Islamofascists will honor a demarcation line? That’d be great!

Shall we get domestic? I think that would be even more accurate. Um, did the Confederate spies have access to worldwide terrorist networks using cell phones and the internet back then?

Hmm. I dunno. Maybe these comparisons don’t quite work somehow.

Bec: I saw, and am very glad about, the deal on loose nukes. I am still completely unclear why the fact that it took us nearly 5 years after 9/11 to so much as sign a deal to secure the most obvious source of fissionable material for terrorists is not an incredible indictment of this administration. The hangups were such things as: whether US workers in Russia would be held liable in cases where they were convicted of negligence. Which is to say: details that you'd think any sort of serious leadership at the top would have gotten resolved.

hilzoy - I'd guess there were many factors at play. Some of them might even have been Russia - never easy to deal with!
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05239/561105.stm

Gosh, do you think the Islamofascists will honor a demarcation line?

since they won't, how are we supposed to win this 'war' ?

Bec: I thought that was a rather "tongue in cheek" post. Did I misunderstand? I thought my two cents fit this one better. But then maybe I'm too much a literalist for this blog.

Sorry, Bec, maybe I should have been more explicit. You're calling on "left and right to pull together". Last weekend, right-wing blogs viciously attacked the New York Times because it had published in its Travel section a puff piece which included some details about the home of Donald Rumsfeld. On Monday morning, a left-wing blogger checked with the NYT and confirmed that Rumsfeld's permission had been obtained, and as far as I can tell, not a single one of those right-wing bloggers who hysterically attacked the NYT so much as issued an update to say that they'd in fact been mistaken - let alone an apology for being such assholes as to threaten the reporter who compiled that puff piece.

So, if you want "left and right to pull together", my link to Hilzoy's post was intended to suggest, you need to begin by figuring out how right-wing bloggers can be persuaded to become more sane, less assholic, and turn into the kind of sane, ordinary bloggers who could "pull together" with left-wing bloggers.

Directing a wish that "left and right should pull together" to a blogger on the sane side of the blogosphere is futile: you don't want Hilzoy to find a way of "pulling together" with Powerline (at least I hope you don't) you want right-wing bloggers to realize they should quit following Powerline like frightened ducks and start trying to figure out how they can pull together with Hilzoy and bloggers like her.

I understand you, Jesurgislac. I wasn't speaking of the extreme right. I used to be left myself until other slightly right moderates voiced concern that they were being fried by the ultra left whenever they made a venture out. I was on a semi-moderate lefty blog and saw reasonable people treated like dirt. That's what I'm addressing. Can the moderates (left and right) come together on this war?

cleek,
Gosh, do you think the Islamofascists will honor a demarcation line?

since they won't, how are we supposed to win this 'war'?

That's exactly what I'm worried about! This carping at each other seems self-defeating and immature to me. We're in it now (whatever "it" is), and we need all our wits about us.

That's all I'm saying.

To be more accurate, many would say we have been in it - we just didn't know it.

"You're also entirely leaving out the Center for American Progress, the co-sponsor/co-author, out of your inquiry. Or were you going to argue they're an impartial agent as well?"

No, I would not, but I'm reasonably sure they didn't slip little notes to the surveyed experts suggesting a line of response, and I'm also unaware of any specific reason to believe said experts were selected with an eye to picking those who would be critical of the administration's foreign policy for partisan reasons.

I'm also unclear that the Carnegie Endowment is some sort of wacky fringe leftists organization.

As for Eagleburger, say what you like about him, but I hardly think you can find grounds for maintaining that he finds the administration's approach to Iraq and the "War On Terror" problematic because he's partisan, can you?

And since he's obviously not, what you're left with saying is that it's no fair to ask his opinion, because he's already stated it.

Which makes no sense whatever, does it?

He disagrees with the administration because he thinks they've pursued bad policy. And he's as bedrock a Republican foreign policy guy as you can find. (Not to mention that, for instance, Brent Scowcroft has voiced similar opinions, and is believed to share those opinions with one George H. W. Bush.)

"Yet they chose to do a set piece with no real validity."

You've repeated variants of this enough times that I'm sure you've convinced yourself, but you may have overlooked the fact that you've submitted not a single bit of evidence that this speculation of yours is true. Absent that, it's pure, at best, hypothesis. (An unkinder view might be that it is fantasy, but that would depend on the actual truth of how they went about selecting the polled experts; I suppose we could try e-mailing FP, or phoning them on Monday, and seeing if we can get an answer, if you like.)

But setting all that aside: do please submit your alternative list of foreign policy experts who were ignored and should have been polled instead.

You say there are an equal number of excluded voices. Very well: name them, please.

Bec, you might get better responses to your attempts to cite if you actually posted working links, rather than broken non-working links.

It's fairly annoying that you expect other people to do it for you. (I'm also unclear why you think a year-old press release is news; got a link to a report on how things are going a year later?)

Speaking of Russian nuclear dangers, I have an idea! Let's send them lots of nuclear waste, given how great they've been at nuclear security!

What could go wrong?

Bec: I used to be left myself until other slightly right moderates voiced concern that they were being fried by the ultra left whenever they made a venture out.

This kind of vague smear is rarely convincing. In my experience, a moderate right-winger posting to a lefty blog is much more likely to be treated with reasonable respect than any kind of left-winger posting to any right-wing blog. But that's just my experience (though I could back it up with actual examples). It's further my experience that right-wingers seem to complain of being mistreated when what actually happened was that their default positions were not treated with the respect they get in right-wing circles. And it's a simple fact that the vast majority of those on the right supported Bush's war in Iraq and most of them never seem to have come around to admitting that not only were they wrong to do so, they were wrong for exactly the reasons that their left-wing critics said they were wrong at the time. It's a problem in the blogosphere, I think - overwhelmingly (and I speak of trends - I'm certain we both could pick out specific exceptions) the right-wing blogosphere has been consistently wrong, and been shown up to be wrong, in every position they took in the "War on Terror". Mainly because they've supported Bush, and that meant supporting not only the war on Iraq, but also torture, kidnapping, illegal rendition, breach of the Geneva Conventions, illegal surveillance, leaking a covert CIA agent's cover identity, etc. They claimed these things were necessary, or weren't really happening, or didn't matter much if they were: they've turned out (as left-wingers were saying all along) to be worse than useless.

Now, it would take a courageous and principled person to stand up and admit "I was thoroughly wrong. I was thoroughly wrong for exactly the reasons my political opponents said I was thoroughly wrong, and now I see that although I mocked them at the time, they were right, I was wrong."

How many of the right-wing bloggers have that kind of principled courage? Offhand, I can think of two and a half. How many do you know of?

And for those who are still refusing to admit they were wrong all along - well, as I said: it's hardly appropriate to insist that others "pull together" with those people. And for those who have realized they were wrong, but who are unwilling to admit that the wrongness did not begin the day they were willing to admit it - who are still trying to claim that making war on Iraq was a grand idea, rather than a catastrophic error, or that a gulag in Guantanamo Bay was a good idea badly carried out, or that the torture of prisoners is the result of a "few bad apples" rather than systemic rot from the roots outward - well, they should expect to be fried.

And Gary, thanks for figuring out whose comment it was. I knew it wasn't mine, and thus, not having any idea what non-I had originally meant, didn't reply; but I was too lazy to figure out who non-I actually was.

(Embarrassed giggle)
hilzoy and Jesurgislac, my apologies to you both. I was busy rereading the post that you (hilzoy) wrote, which Jesurgislac had mentioned and I got your names confused. (I'm new here and your names are still like Greek to me (a somewhat dyslexic-blog brain)

Pardon, Gary? Please quit straw-manning and devolving off into irrelevancies. I stated my point, and you offer only snark and snipe about my tone. If you wish to claim that FP and CAP impartially and randomly picked a group of foreign policy experts representative of ALL foreign policy experts (and I'd love to see how that's defined), go right ahead.

I will agree to withdraw the single word "partisan" from my one statement. Which would eradicate roughly 99% of whatever point you're trying to make, and leaves my point untouched. There is no need for me to prove anything outside that core point, and demanding that I do so is less than impressive. Diversionary distraction.

Let me state it one more time--when the "experts" being "surveyed" have already publicly stated their opinions, there is no validity to such a survey. The people choosing the "experts" know this. Anyone who has ever designed a true opinion poll knows this, and I've profesiionally helped design dozens, maybe hundreds, of political opinion polls. This poll is being presented as somehow being definitively representative of a broad spectrum of thought. It is not. It is a quantification of the thoughts of those picked, which thoughts were already on the public record and already known to those doing the picking, and whom were screened and chosen by the criteria of those picking them. As such, it means absolutely nothing. It has NO validity as what it is being presented to be. It is, in a word, fluff.

You don't like my comparitive example. Fine. You can snipe at the edges and lob implicatory ad hominems all you like--you are still not addressing that core point, and it's the only point that matters.

Bec: One party believes that its path to power requires divisiveness. It succeeded with this in 2000, 2002, and 2004. It's planning to run on the same platform in 2006, and is quite upfront about this. I'm always ready to deal, but unless there's a 'partner for peace,' all you're talking about is posturing.

Oh dear. I posted my apology before I read "the blast." Sigh. I was afraid of this. I understand your distrust. I've been a lefty since Kennedy. The "vague smear" is based totally on a recent, real occurance. I never thought I'd leave that "lefty mindset." Last year, you could have knocked me down with a feather if you had told me I'd lean right. I'm not the only one, either. Believe it or not. The blog I was on was full of rants about just getting out of Iraq and leaving the people there to fend for themselves. When I tried to (moderately) counter this, they wouldn't budge. It was tow the party line or get out. A couple of moderate right bloggers asked for dialog and both were banned. Of course it was the owner-blogger's right to ban them. A blog isn't public property. The owner claimed (rightly) they she had worked hard to get a following and didn't want to have to do the heavy lifting for "pea brains." The gallery crowed with glee. One of the moderates had even admitted he had been against the Iraq war from the beginning. And so was I!
Since then, I've been able to earnestly express my doubts and questions (on both sides) on several moderate right blogs and they've been informative and open. Perhaps the lefty blog I was on was more rigid than some, even though it professes to be moderate - and sometimes it was.

It's fairly annoying that you expect other people to do it for you.

Gary, my humble apologies for not providing the links properly. How would I find out how to do that? It's always seemed like a big secret and I've always wondered. The other blogs I've been on seemed not to have that capability. I've only been blogging for a year.

(I'm also unclear why you think a year-old press release is news; got a link to a report on how things are going a year later?)
I had thought we were discussing what some of the difficulties might have been in the past and that article mentioned a very legitimate one. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

I have no idea why I happened to be drawn to your blog, here. Sorry if I've annoyed you. I guess I just wanted to get an honest view of what should be done in this war we're in from someone on the left before I leave for good.

CharleyCarp -
Perhaps you're right. I really don't know. I just really want consensus in a way that can include more folks. It's so much easier to "belong" to a group. It's lonely out here, as many moderates will tell you.

Bec: An attempt at an actual substantive reply:

A lot depends on what 'coming together' means. If it means hoping we win, that those who predict defeat are wrong, etc., then I think that most people on this board have been there for a long time.

If it means honestly debating what the best way of doing that would be, ditto.

If it means something else -- agreeing on some specific platform, for instance -- then clearly I (speaking for myself) would have to know more before trying to come together on its basis.

I also agree with CharleyCarp. One side's political leaders have been calling their opponents defeatists and traitors, consistently. The other side's have not. That seems to me to matter a lot more than who treats other people well on blogs. (For what it's worth, my experience has been like Jes' in this regard, but I don't take myself to be a representative sample, nor (for that matter) an unrepresentative sample of anything really important.

A lot of us have been willing to come together and talk honestly about this for quite some time. It hasn't gotten us very far, except with one another, but I at least don't feel inclined to stop trying.

And Bec: here's a guide to making links.

Gary always writes like that. It's part of his charm. Don't take it personally.

Sorry to ask a non-substantial question, but why 'Bec'? I can only think it is short for Quebec, but I had a glorious weekend of outdoor fun, so I'm not thinking too straight. And I am definitely not ready for the last week of classes here.

Gary, I'm very surprised to see you make such a vulnerable argument... Tully, you are correct that the methodology in question leads to a (more or less) guaranteed outcome, and you have here a rare opportunity to flat-out win an argument with Mr. Farber.

I think we can all agree that in order for there to be any scientifickal legitimarrifficness to this sort of thing the rules for deciding who's a foreign policy expert need to be empirical and they need to be decided before there's any picking. If you want to win the argument on merits and show that there is an avoidable confirmation bias in this case (as opposed to the unavoidable bias that might conceivably exist if expertise in foreign policy was organically associated with thinking that Bush was a dangerous whackjob) you still have a chance. Now all you have to do is come up with a set of rules that picks foreign policy experts based on expertise but doesn't unavoidably tend to pick people who have a previously stated bias for or against Operation Iraqi Liberation.

Me personally I wouldn't have any idea how to go about that, so (being a BDS-driven moonbat) I'd just blindly grant more credence to a survey by Foreign Policy than to one by, say, Foreign Affairs, or Policy Review. ;-)

I do kind of wonder BTW -- do you (Tully) consider Arnaud de Borchgrave's presence to be a "token" meant to lend the whole exercise a bit of undeserved legitimacy, or additional evidence of the fact that this is not a credible list of experts in foreign policy? Or do you prefer some other explanation altogether?

Bec, would you be willing to link to this semi-moderate lefty blog where slightly right moderates were being fried by the ultra left whenever they made a venture out? I suspect I'm not the only one who would appreciate knowing what blog you're talking about. Thanks...

"I stated my point, and you offer only snark and snipe about my tone."

[puzzledly] What did I say about your tone?

"If you wish to claim that FP and CAP impartially and randomly picked a group of foreign policy experts representative of ALL foreign policy experts (and I'd love to see how that's defined), go right ahead."

I have no idea how they picked their list. You claim you do. You've repeated that claim absolutely and authoritatively over and over. I assume if you have evidence, you can provide it.

"You can snipe at the edges and lob implicatory ad hominems all you like"

Excuse me? Please quote my "ad hominems."

Bec: "Gary, my humble apologies for not providing the links properly. How would I find out how to do that?"

I generally point here. Scroll to "link to." There are, of course, eighty zillion guides to HMTL on the web. Google "HTML."

"The blog I was on...."

Naming it might be helpful.

I'd note, since you're apparently new here (which I'd not realized, or I'd have been gentler; sorry), that Jes is pretty much on the extreme left wing of the regulars here; actually, she probably defines the extreme left wing, although, to be sure, there are certainly people Out There more left than she is; just not much around here.

"It was tow the party line or get out."

I believe you mean "toe," unless you have a party line that you're pulling.

"I've only been blogging for a year."

I'm guessing you probably mean "commenting on blogs" or "reading them," not "doing a blog of my own" or "blogging."

Anyway, sorry for jumping on you about not embedding your links. I have a long-built-up exasperaton over that, particularly since I give a pointer or instruction here just about every few days, and have done so for years; but, obviously, since you're new, you couldn't know.

"...an honest view of what should be done in this war we're in from someone on the left before I leave for good."

Leave for good?

"It's lonely out here, as many moderates will tell you."

I'm a moderate. Why, everyone to the left of me is leftyish and everyone to the right of me is rightish, so clearly I'm a moderate! I define the Sensible Center!

Everyone who disagrees is wrong. And immoderate.

I pick on everyone's usage, too!

Hilzoy: "...I think that most people on this board have been there for a long time."

Board? ObWi is a BBS system now? Tsk.

Back on the question of intolerance, I see plenty all around, along with tolerance and reasonablity; I don't find it to be particularly a left or right phenomenon, any more than being an a--hole is.

Bec: What needs to be done for the war? That's simple, but essentially impossible - we need to reestablish the rule of law and the appointment of competent officials. Unfortunately, the Republican Party's leadership is fighting both, so we're stuck trying to dislodge them with elections. I am more skeptical than some (and less skeptical than others) that this can work, but it beats assassination and coups, I think. A well-led drive within the Republican Party to remove the officials responsible for the failures and criminal behavior and replace them with good ones who understand law, strategy, and the basics of management would be ideal, but I see precisely no sign of it happening.

The key problem is at the top. Bush and Cheney are not competent to prosecute a war, nor capable of admitting this and yielding practical control of the military venture to people who are. Which means we're going to get more failure - wasted lives, pain, property, wealth.

I'd like to have reason to think less drastic solutions could work, but I don't.

Hilzoy (and Gary), thanks for the link information. I thought it might be that, only I was too chicken to try it and then look like an even bigger idiot. That happened to me once when I wrote an Amazon book review once. I made italics for a book title and it came out with the entire coding exposed - done correctly. I had to ask them to remove it for me. I’ve been gun shy ever since. (You really have to point it out that often, Gary? I suppose it’s nice to know I’m not the only one)
And thank you for the correction on the “toe the line.” I looked up the origin of the idiom. Pretty interesting. I don’t know how that one got by me for all these years.

Thank you, too, for doing your best to answer my vague question, hilzoy. I was happy to see the answers you gave on your first two points. Your second point is what interests me most – “Honestly debating the best way of winning.” As far as your third qualification, based on whether there was a platform I was advocating, I’d say no. I haven’t gotten that far. I’m simply drifting in the new and unfamiliar territory of the Moderates. I’m barely sorting out what that is as far as I’m concerned; whereas, you, Gary, seem to know exactly where you stand. You certainly have lots of energy, too! You make me think of a mental bull in a china shop. And I can see you’re a really critical guy. I’ll try to be a fast learner and not annoy you. I’m the gentle type who will run over and try to see if anyone is hurt. (You would have been hell as a prof) Yes I was a commenter and reader, not a blogger and I’ve learned more in a couple of hours from you than my whole year at… (sorry, I’m not naming said blog). Sorry radish. I left on good terms and feel funny about it.

Oh, liberal japonicus - Bec is a family nickname. Your name makes me think of one of my favorites of the Russian “jeepers creepers” type expressions - Japonsky bog.

I agree with CharleyCarp, too, that the right has been labeling leftists as traitors. My dad is conservative and he truly believes this. But it isn’t political with him. He represents many on the right. He’s a proud WWII vet and he feels it’s our turn to protect the nation and hopes we won’t let the country down. (We’ve fought over politics – nicely – ever since I can remember. And of course he’d never accuse me of being a traitor – just those Leftists). I detest the Malkins and the Limbaughs and all those others who use this war to stir things up for their own power and ego. I am especially angry because I felt my parents were vulnerable to it. I still feel “Left” about immigration issues, flag burning, gay rights and more. I detest what’s gone in Guantanamo.
It’s just the war I’m unsure about. What was the left doing during Stalin’s reign? We aren’t making the same excuses, or putting our heads in the sand again, are we?
(God, I keep feeling Gary over my shoulder. I dunno, Gary. I’m probably not your cup of tea. I’m a mushy-headed intuitive type.)

Thank you for your opinions, too, Bruce. “Simple – but impossible,” you say? You see, this is where I feel like an apostate. I really wonder if this administration might do the better job after all. I honestly can’t say I believe 100% anymore that the Bush administration was entirely wrong in deciding to wage war against a very scary group in the way they did. I agree they've made horrendous mistakes but I’ve been reading milblogs quite a bit lately and other sources, too, trying to take my lefty blinders off and asking is there something here I’m missing?

Well, I’m exhausted from the introduction but I will try to come back again and hang out. I appreciate the kind dialog. Even yours, Gary. (Thanks for the heads up, hilzoy.) This would never have taken place at the blog-that-shall-be-nameless, which I was on before. (The two that were banned were social liberals but approved of the war. One was military. Both have their own blogs.)

Bec, please name the blog. It'll really help put your experience in context. It doesn't sound like you owe them anything.

I would never describe myself as 'left' and agree with conservatives on a great many issues. So long as the government employs Mr. Rove, though -- his mission is not geared towards working for me, but against me -- I cannot take seriously any invitation by the Administration to come together on the war, or anything else. OK, maybe that's a little stronger than my actual view, but I have not seen in 5 years any genuine interest in compromise from the Administration. It's always 'my way or the highway.' That's fine for the people who support the policy, but not a very good way to get people who don't agree with you to 'come together' on anything.

My support/cooperation can be earned, and cannot be obtained with threats. Or whining.

I strongly suspect I'm not alone in this.

On Iraq, I do not believe that our continued involvement there is contributing to our security, and I believe that the problems in Iraq are Iraqi problems that can only be solved by Iraqis. I think the various factions will work themselves to an armed stalemate of some kind, and then move forward.

Bec, I admit that I can't prove "impossible". But this administration has had a freer hand than any in my lifetime (I'm coming up on 41), having unparalleled submission in Congress and (until very recently) the courts and at crucial moments very strong popular support. Usually, what the president does falls short in some significant way from what the president wanted, whether it's a budget or treaty terms or whatever - in my lifetime, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton all mostly had to see what they could make do with, apart from relatively rare moments where they could ask for stuff and count on getting it. But for several years - certainly from fall 2001 through the 2004 elections - Bush Jr. was basically exempt from that. What he asked for, he got.

So I feel on firmer ground in criticizing the problems with what's going on now than I would in many cases. Bush's war plans do not suffer from requests denied, only from requests not made. Which means that shortages in manpower, resources, review for legality and morality in policy, and all the rest are there either because his people wanted them or they didn't care enough to pay attention to the need. Add to this Bush's famously demonstrated resistance to admitting error or change, and we get a situation in which I can see prospects for policy change short of personnel change only via the sort of experience Saul of Tarsus had on the road to Damascus. And betting on that seems unwise to me.

We need people who care about outcomes and processes. We don't have them, and there's no sign that we will ever have them so long as it's Bush's and Cheney's show.

"That happened to me once when I wrote an Amazon book review once. I made italics for a book title and it came out with the entire coding exposed - done correctly."

There are blogs and sites that disable HMTL from comments; I find it very annoying.

"...whereas, you, Gary, seem to know exactly where you stand."

Nah. On jillions of subjects and issues, I don't. It's just that mostly I try to largely restrain myself from speaking up about topics unless I think I have some small grasp of the issue.

Thus I only address particular topics on my own blog, or elsewhere, more than not. Plenty of topics I merely point out information I consider interesting, and leave people to come to their own conclusions, and plenty of other topics (gardening, say, or plumbing, or the linguistics of Mayan, or number theory, or details of biochemistry, or whathaveyou) I simply don't address at all.

"And I can see you’re a really critical guy. I’ll try to be a fast learner and not annoy you."

I actually try to not jump on people who are undeserving, although I do have an innate (family-derived) tendency towards sarcasm, I'm afraid, as well as some impatience at times; if I'm unnecessarily rough, I try to apologize if I realize it; feel free to let me know if I cross a line.

Otherwise, I try to be Firm But Fair. Blunt, but not nasty. But I'm also often bad about not cushioning flat statements in ways that might make them go down more easily. Sometimes that's my bad.

"What was the left doing during Stalin’s reign?"

A long and complicated answer would be the only fair one. Staying in many factions, would be a start, and some anti-communist, and some not.

"I honestly can’t say I believe 100% anymore that the Bush administration was entirely wrong in deciding to wage war against a very scary group in the way they did."

Depends upon how you consider "a very scary group." War against al Qaeda? Great idea. War against the Taliban? Excellent. Not following through remotely as we should have in Afghanistan (as I've been blogging sporadically about for nearly five years)? Not so great.

Iraq? I continue to believe that there were valid reasons for reasonable people to have disagreed in 2003 on how good or horrible an idea this was, but I do tend to strongly think that hindsight, at the least, has proven that given how this Administration carried it out, at the least, it wasn't a great idea. How it will ultimately turn out, I continue, unlike a fair number of folks, to be unsure. But I find it difficult to see a good case for being sure that alternatives wouldn't have been a much better idea.

The larger issue of dealing with extremist Islamist interest in violence and war against us? Obviously that's a criticial issue, and again I don't think it's a particularly simple one, easily summarizable in bumper stickers (whether "left" or "right.")

There's not that much of a party line around this blog, although it's not easy to find people who are strong admirers of President Bush by now (some on the right were somewhat a few years ago, but enthusiasm, shall we say, has lessened).

The site has become grossly over-balanced towards the left, given its original purpose (which only a smattering of us who were here when it started in 2003 remember) of more or less balancing right and left and offering at least semi-respectful dialogue, but I've been agitating, even though I'm distinctly more liberal/vaguely lefty than not, in my own eclectic way, that the site needs to get more conservatives and libertarians as bloggers again, for a long time now (maybe the subject of Hilzoy's mystery announcment a few hours ago will help, although I continue to say that the Other Side would need at least three highly articulate and thoughtful good writers to counter the awesomeness that is Hilzoy).

But stick around, and welcome, Bec. ObWi has a lot of regulars, a few of whom feud and have grudges, but most of whom are nice, and we also have fun, as well as enjoying taking each others' heads off for Clear WrongThink and being entirely stupid, to boot.

(Seriously, when people start majorly losing their tempers at each other, as does happen at times, that's a good sign it's time to take a break for a while, but at least there are rules, and a general ethic of trying to avoid personal abuse, that help keep things from getting too nuclear wasteland and Mad Max.)

Plus: sporadic silliness! Kittens! Song lists! Only infrequent loyalty oaths and Two-Minute Hates! Very little torture!

(Note: I don't speak for this blog in any way, shape, means, or form; I am just another commenter here, albeit one of those who has been around here [and many other blogs] amongst the longest.)

Bec: hilzoy and Jesurgislac, my apologies to you both. I was busy rereading the post that you (hilzoy) wrote, which Jesurgislac had mentioned and I got your names confused. (I'm new here and your names are still like Greek to me (a somewhat dyslexic-blog brain)

No apology necessary to me: I figured you had somehow crosswired Hilzoy and me, and I would always consider it a compliment to be mistaken for Hilzoy. :-) (Besides, my handle frequently has a confusing effect even on experienced bloggers.)

Gary - thanks for the welcome! How can I resist? I'll try to inform myself better about "the flow" here in future instead of jumping out and bleating at you as I did at the beginning. The "very scary group" that I'm worried about refers to the first link I provided (incorrectly!) way back. I don't know if you've read it. Or maybe it's old news to you. (It wasn't to me.)
Islamic fascism (Hope this works)

Bec, please name the blog. It'll really help put your experience in context. It doesn't sound like you owe them anything.
CharlyCarp - I promise I'll think about it.

Bruce, I agreed with the views you stated 100% until a couple of months ago. I still don't know what happened to me. Maybe I'll be able to sort it out here with you guys. It was like some sort of weird religious conversion, or something. (I'm not religious, by the way) I actually don't mind listening to Bush now. Help!
Thanks for sharing your views. Talk to you soon.
PS I love the kittens.

"The "very scary group" that I'm worried about refers to the first link I provided (incorrectly!) way back. I don't know if you've read it."

I hadn't, but I've skimmed through the four parts now. At a quick glance, it at least loosely seems more or less reasonable.

"Or maybe it's old news to you."

Sure. I've been following Middle East issues since approximately June, 1967 (when I was 8 years old). I was born and raised in NYC (although I've lived elsewhere, as well, including the last five years in Boulder, Colorado), and was living in NYC when the first attack on the WTC happened. I've had a link to Paul Berman's original "Liberalism And Terror" article on the left sidebar of my blog, along with links to notable statements from bin Laden, since I started blogging in December, 2001.
A link to a recent interview with him is still on my front page, posed only a few days ago.

I don't think you'll find many people here arguing that Islamist terrorism isn't a threat, though. (Whether "Islamofascism" is an apropos term might be subject to some debate, and certainly most of us would question the notion that Islamist terrorism is an existential threat to the U.S., but that such terrorism isn't a real problem, save, perhaps, in the eyes of a few outliers [around here].)

As Hilzoy was just saying, as she's said a million times, one of her primary objections to President Bush is that he's done such an awful job at fighting terrorism and protecting the U.S., compared to what he should have been doing. I pretty much agree.

Talking a lot of trash, and hitting Iraq and tying down our military (while letting the Taliban fester in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as I've been continuing to blog) aren't remotely evidence of doing a good job of fighting terrorism. Imagine what more we could have done if a) resources hadn't been diverted from Afghanistan/Pakistan; b) our military hadn't been so tied down in Iraq; c) if the nearly a trillion dollars we'll have wound up spending on Iraq were devoted instead to actually protecting us and fighting al Qaeda.

Though it's made bin Laden very happy, to be sure.

Bec: As one who prefers life to death and success to failure, I'd love reasons to think better of the situation than I do. Unfortunately, each fresh bit of info I get makes the situation look worse, not better. If you've got stuff to add, please do!

Though it's made bin Laden very happy, to be sure.
I spent a long drive the other evening listening to the full audio transcript of the 2004 congressional panel on Al Qaeda. Other than being doubly impressed by Patrick Fitzgerald, I was struck by the fact that the rhetoric and responses of our country reallly [i]have[/i] delivered Al Qaeda's stated goals right to Bin Laden with a big red bow on top.

Triggering disproportionate responses to mobilize the Islamic populace, inspiring unrelated spin-off groups to take up the banner, etc etc. It's almost as if decision makers aren't paying attention to the men and woment [i]in our government[/i] who are doing the hard work of figuring out what's really going on.

Ugh, please ignore the reflexive faux-HTML. I just finished a longish post on another site that forces me to use alternate markup syntax...

At a quick glance, it at least loosely seems more or less reasonable.

Yeah, but the ending (spoiler alert!) was kind of a let-down. If you want to scare yourself why not go straight for the quality stuff and rent a copy of The Shining. Now that's teh scary.

When you start looking for scary "fascist" people you will find them. They are under every rock and around every corner and they have been since about Roman times. If you prefer a sprinkling of moral and ethnic ambiguity with your scary fascist people all you have to do is read Blowback alongside Clash of Civvies. Or, if you've already decided that you prefer your scary fascist people to be wealthy, white, and powerful rather than poor, brown and disenfranchised, you could always read this totally different book which happens to also be called Blowback (oh and look, that even ties back into George Kennan and the "who's a foreign policy expert" question).

Or if you like wealthy white bad guys but prefer more obvious drama you could go with The Boys From Brazil, or better yet Marathon Man. If you don't care about ethnicity and prefer purely factual scariness all you have to do is start researching the global water supply or the US prison population. Those start out a little slow but by the time they're over you'll think Jaws was Bambi.

The point being, why settle for some prepackaged off-the-shelf government-issue bogeyman when it's hardly any trouble -- and much more satisfying -- to find the one that's just right for you...

Morning!
Gary, essentially everything you mentioned I would have considered as preaching to the choir that was me only a little while ago. My kids, who were in high school at the time of 9/11, seemed to know more about bin Laden than most of the news media. When we went into Iraq, we all wailed in dismay: "But that's exactly what he wants us to do!" Believe me, I was with you then. The only thing I hadn't realized was the strong Nazi connection. (I should have been reading your blog) I had been under the impression that the terrorists were either fundamentalist true believer wackos or were thugs who were using the ftb bandwagon, so to speak. But combining it with Nazi fascism? That seems a recipe for a very long-range, long-term threat to the free world. Not just in the Middle East, but in Africa and parts of Asia as well. Governments can be set up using this formula. This had more in common with Saddam than I had realized. Berman's analysis, which I only read for the first time a month ago seems right on target. I intend to study your blog, Gary, when time allows.

Unfortunately, each fresh bit of info I get makes the situation look worse, not better. If you've got stuff to add, please do!
Jeff, I don't think it's either one, yet. In fact, I'll take the quote provided by one of Andrew's links today:
The war is not over, and good strategy is still very much needed. Cobra II offers an instructive lesson on the consequences of inadequate strategic planning. If its message is heeded, Americans may yet look back on this conflict and recall the words of Georges Clemenceau, France's leader during World War I: "War is a series of catastrophes that results in a victory." Cobra II

And this is where the Bush administration comes in. I have this vague hope that they are learning from their mistakes. Bush's relationships with other world leaders seem more solid than before and this is vital. (They actually seem to like and respect him - with a few exceptions, of course!) If I look backward, I hate much of what he's done. If I look forward, I wonder if some of what he did wasn't necessary in a way we didn't understand at the time. (I voted for Kerry in 2004 - I simply can't imagine what would have resulted.)
As for Iraq, I've been reading more blogs like this one lately:
Iraqi Bloggers Central

Thanks again for your comments. I intend to "study hard" in the coming days.


Radish, I have little interest in winning such arguments--I want to make my point about the "legitimacy" of the study cited. I have done so. If Gary wants to ramble around the briar bushes and avoiding the point, he is free to do so. It doesn't change my point, it doesn't address my point, it just beats around the edges with lousy logic and faint implications. He apparently wants to ignore the point by shooting the messanger.

Gary, one more time: The point is that the study has no legitimacy, being not valid as represented for the reasons cited. It is methodologically invalid from the start.

I have no idea how they picked their list. You claim you do. You've repeated that claim absolutely and authoritatively over and over. I assume if you have evidence, you can provide it.

Yep. The methodology statement is at CAP. FP did NOT list methodology, or note the problems with same. That's a major strike against them out of the gate--essentially they just published a one-page press release for CAP, putting their imprimatur of respectability on it.

From that methodology statement, which you could have found and can still find, if you bother to go looking. (It's in a filing cabinet in the basement, the one with the sign on it saying "Beware of the Leopard"--yes, that's snide humor):

Participants in the survey were selected by the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy for their expertise in terrorism and U.S. national security. No one currently working in an official U.S. government capacity was invited to participate.

Is that clear enough, Gary? CAP and FP hand-picked the participants using their own subjective and non-delineated criteria, and (take note) pointedly excluded anyone currently working in foreign policy for the government. There's an argument to be made for doing that--they didn't bother to make it. But to continue....

The nonscientific survey was administered online...

Nonscientific. That's another word for "methodologically invalid except for being a quantification of the subjectively weighted and re-stated opinions of those we selected who answered our email." I could fisk a lot more out of the statement, but there's no point once you see that the participants were hand-picked by FP and CAP, and that they admit themselves that it's a nonscientific survey. So how do they represent it? Direct from the executive summary:

The Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy magazine teamed up to ask over 100 of America's most esteemed terrorism and national security experts for their assessment. This survey seeks for the first time to mine the highest echelons of the U.S. national security establishment across the ideological spectrum for their insights on the war on terrorism.

The highest echelons of those they decided were representative and "esteemed" for their own undisclosed reasons, who aren't currently actually involved in national security, with their ideology being self-declared by their own perceptions, and claiming to quantitatively present said "insights" as meaningful statistical data. Uh huh.

They also claim to be presenting results that "cross party boundaries," but party affiliation is not asked for in the survey.

Game, set, match. It's demonstrable fluff, dishonestly represented as what it is not.

"But combining it with Nazi fascism? That seems a recipe for a very long-range, long-term threat to the free world."

Well, it's easily possible to overdo the similarities and connections, too. Sure, it's important to know the history of the connections back through early 20th-century anti-Semitism, and the connecting of the interests of the Arab Islamist/anti-imperialist/anti-Semites with the Germans, and their ideological overlaps and the adoption by Qutb of some fascist notions -- knowing all that is quite important -- and most important of all is understanding that while there are variants, there is a semi-coherent worldview of Islamists that is totalizing, and has little or nothing to do with the usual liberal explanations for insurgency and rebellion, such as poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of political freedom, etc, and that this worldview/ideology can be not just sufficient motivation for large numbers of society to seek to base a society around it and to fight unto the death and to seek to commit mass murder and war for it, but on the other hand, the equation that Islamism = fasicsm/Nazism is simplistic, and it would also be a mistake, of course, to confuse strong Islamic beliefs with Islamism (which you're not doing here; I'm just mentioning because some people do seem to equate them, and to be convinced that All Muslims Are Essentially Islamists, which is simply crazy).

Tully: "The methodology statement is at CAP."

Possibly you could trouble yourself to provide a link?

Participants in the survey were selected by the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy for their expertise in terrorism and U.S. national security. No one currently working in an official U.S. government capacity was invited to participate.

Is that clear enough, Gary?

Well, no. It pretty much says nothing, other than that they're not currently officially working for the government. I wouldn't call that "clear" at all.

Beyond that, they don't claim that it's a random survey, as a survey of public opinion is commonly intended to be, so noting that doesn't lend any new insights to it.

"who aren't currently actually involved in national security"

They don't actually say that; they say the participants aren't currently officially working for the government.

What's "dishonest" about any of this, I don't know.

I take it you don't actually have a list of 100 alternative experts who weren't invited to participate, but who should have been. Or a list of 50. Or a list of 20.

Okay. I guess we're done.

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