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September 25, 2006

Comments

Blaming Clinton for leaving Somalia is right on. So is blaming Reagan for leaving Beirut. All leaders make mistakes, especially in hindsight.

You may be unaware of who the above are, Jes - if so, you probably don't want to.

Limbaugh, Lowry, and Charen are all notorious right-wingers. I'm not personally familar with any of them, but Limbaugh occasionally makes international news (you don't want to know what as), Lowry wrote a book called Paying the Price for the Clinton Years, and Charen wrote a book called How Liberals Got Everything Wrong, or some such.

He also seemed to be having a little trouble fielding the specifics of Slart's original stance, not being aware of his reflexive skepticism, so I attempted to explain.

I'm sure Glenn's run into that brand of strictly one-sided "reflexive skepticism" before, actually. It's not that uncommon.

Well, rilkefan, then my question would be is formal logic a sufficient bulwark in these times? Though this is obviously a meta question, so TiO is open for business

No so much "reflexive skepticism" as maybe "faux naïveté" (though that's perhaps too derogatory). Glenn is understandably unfamiliar with Slart's traditional stance of "I've been completely isolated from politics for the past decade or two. Who is this Grover Norquist you speak of? Jack Abramoff? Never heard of him. You expect me to know about an interview Clinton had on Fox that's been all over the blogs?" and so on. Still, it can sometimes be useful to sharpen one's arguments by backing up a bit and making sure one's foundation is firm, as long as you don't let it distract you too much.

Contextually, Clinton was beset by social evolution obstructionists early in the 1990s, as some of us recall; remember the defense secretary conundrum about Not to ask Not to tell. Clinton was a moderate in his party. And those neoGingrichians' polemics were designed to resuscitate neoGingrichian values incorporating as the antiGingrichian, Clinton. Maybe Clinton was. But the Somalia exit was Act Two in a play entered by Bush-I. Somalia has a sad and difficult history.

I listened, too, to a musing by an ex career intell official, McGovern, on Pacifica Radio a few days ago; his comments drifted to yet an earlier Democratic Party president, Carter. McGovern's depiction was human intelligence funding was decreased in the Carter years; so Clinton was hamstrung for information.

Politically I can see why the jingoist right wants to retar Clinton now, as the Democratic party is affording a paucity of targets.

It has been ages since I read Glenn Greenwald, but welcome his rejoinders above. At his best, his writing is exemplary for thoroughness, and innovative insight. I hope his book is doing well curently.

Somewhat of a parallel of the retar Clinton motif in the Wallace proto-interview, recently was the Face the Nation dissembling of Sen. McCain when asked by Harris and Schieffer no end of pointed softball questions about what Kinds of Torture are going to be legalized, and retroactively so, and please tell us again whether it is true the courts will have no right to determine any cases...all the conservative semantic characterizations of the new draft law which is still in hearings this week. An excellent discussion is taking place on the Yale blog of the constitutional law profs there.

hilzoy, I appreciate your contributing to the refreshening of the history of the Somalia exit. As I read the McCain comments, linked transcript above, I had a vision of the exit moment, and wondered if any of that treatment before the final trophy scene between militaries, would have been a Legal Torture, Serious, but Not Severe, according to the 'Compromise' esposed by Warner Graham McCain last Friday.

When the 911 Commission was accepting final comments I wrote to Gorelick and Benveniste, also reminding them that after the first World Trade bombing mastermind was jailed, the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald of continuing fame, was in the news, as were some intell agency pundits, decrying the administration's waning focus on civil disruption threats, beset by morals prosecutions. It is such a worn social caste theater which comprises our public political dialog.

Also on the same approximate topic was last week's defense department IG self exculpation in the matter of the Phillippot revelations which barely made it to the 911 Commission prepublication; essentially, the Able Danger project was deemphasized in the final 911 Commission report because one of the prime sources of information about it came forward too late to configure a balanced investigation by the 911 Commission. Already the DoD IG document is receiving criticism for 'cherry picking' the least damning evidence; I saw the 9MB pdf somewhere on the web. For next time I have a moment to embark on a new citizen interest project.

It is a pity Clinton the law prof had to emerge testy from behind the bullseye on Fox, but it sure was time he halted some of the flak. Maybe history telling will be clearer because he replied so vigorously.

Just to nip this whole thing Slarti started in the frickin' bud, here's a pile of links where right wingers are blaming Clinton for precisely the things Greenwald is claiming.

Of course, it was trivial to find this with Google, but I'm assuming that is just too hard for those who feel that Glenn's broad brush is too broad.

You'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind to not see this. Makes me wonder if Slarti is intent on proving the adage that ignorance is a condition but stupidity is a strategy.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110002091
http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110008538
http://www.slate.com/?id=2060941
http://newsbusters.org/node/2919
http://wizbangblog.com/2006/06/18/murtha-recommends-a-somaliastyle-pullout-from-iraq.php
http://www.rightwingnews.com/archives/week_2006_06_18.PHP#005913
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/MonaCharen/2005/11/18/the_cut_and_run_party
http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/107249.php
http://www.blackfive.net/main/2006/06/murtha_jumps_th.html
http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=Yjk5MWI5OTlhZmY3ZTllY2E3YjFkYWRjOGYyM2IxZjM=
http://sayanythingblog.com/entry/murtha_we_should_change_directions_in_iraq_like_cl/
http://morningcoffee.wordpress.com/2006/06/15/somalia-and-iraq-why-cut-n-run-will-not-work/
http://nobleeagle.blogspot.com/2006/08/message-for-cut-and-run-crowd.html
http://www.lesjones.com/posts/002808.shtml
http://www.therant.us/staff/phyrillas/09122006.htm

"Just to nip this whole thing Slarti started in the frickin' bud"

It was already nipped as of 3:49 PM at least.

What a waste. 90+ comments, and the bulk of them pointless tail-chasing on whether or not Glenn was sufficiently rigorous for Slarti.

Obviously not.

So what? Who cares? He wasn't making a case that this particular attack existed, he was rebutting it. Since he's not writing a book, and he's not working for Slarti, and he doesn't have all the time in the world, he's not going to source every word he writes.

Instead, he's going to act like a reasonable human and only source the parts he considers important -- which wasn't the existance or prevalance of the attack (which I would think he's fairly justified in feeling his blog readers are well aware of), but in the rebuttal.

Slarti's skeptical. Who cares, besides Slarti? Not me. I haven't been living under a rock, and happened to watch the interview -- I'm quite aware of what the right-wing party line is.

Of course, having said "right-wing party line", I realize that some could come to the conlusion that I believe everyone who ever self-identified as conservative fully believes that Clinton emboldened Al-Qaeda with his mistakes in Somalia.

Do I care? No, not really. I could spend a few hours writing several pages of dense text to make sure I was as precise as popular, so that even the most ignorant and easily confused person on earth could understand me -- and someone would STILL get it wrong. Either out of a true mistake, or as part of a willful decision to avoid the point.

Not to interrupt this lovely and amusing attempt to crucify Glenn for the horrible sin of not being clear enough for Slarti.

It's obviously much more important than Hilzoy's post, or Clinton's decisions in Somalia, or anything else pertinent. We wouldn't have spent all this time on it otherwise.

I agree it's an absurd amount of time and attention devoted to rebutting a statement that was risible to begin with.

What interests me is why the risible statement was made in the first place. Why say something that is so quickly and easily disproven?

Was it only to 'jack the thread? Could be; that sort of thing happens frequently hereabouts, and Slarti is by no means the only one who does it.

But I wonder if there's not something more going on. Are Bush supporters, and/or former Bush supporters, trying to convince themselves their retrofitted memories are valid ones? Are they flailing about, trying to minimize awareness (their own and everyone else's awareness) of how thoroughly discredited Bush Doctrine is? And if so, why?

Playing false memory games doesn't change what is. Muddying the waters so they can minimize Bush's failures doesn't change the fact of those failures. It won't, for example, transform the Iraq War into something winnable; it won't stuff the terrorist genie back in the bottle - it certainly won't suddenly strike the rest of the world with the same convenient amnesia the Right has embraced and make our enemies or even our allies more biddable, more inclined to follow Bush into his next disastrous adventure.

So what's the point, anyway?

It's obviously much more important than Hilzoy's post, or Clinton's decisions in Somalia, or anything else pertinent. We wouldn't have spent all this time on it otherwise.

an kind-hearted optimist might conclude that Hlizoy's point (and by extension, Greenwald's) is just so far beyond question that the only way to make this post interesting is to get bogged down in semantics and nitpicking.

an kind-hearted optimist might conclude that Hlizoy's point (and by extension, Greenwald's) is just so far beyond question that the only way to make this post interesting is to get bogged down in semantics and nitpicking.

Sorry, I've been on the internet too long to buy that. Any optimism I might have had left was slowly and painfully burned out of me over the last 5 years or so.

"Not to interrupt this lovely and amusing attempt to crucify Glenn for the horrible sin of not being clear enough for Slarti."

Some people are so used to listening to themselves or those who agree with them 100% that they forget what skepticism is. Greenwald's a fine blogger, but he's known to be slightly fast&loose with the generalizations when he leaves his (very) strong suit of the law for politics. Slart wanted evidence for a particular point, it took people a while to figure out he wanted what he was asking for, and when he got it he was satisfied. The end effect being that Greenwald's point was strengthened.

"The purpose of my post was to rebut THAT assertion -- that Clinton was to blame for our withdrawal from Somalia and therefore cast a perception of U.S. weakness." Glenn Greenwald.

Oh my. Nice attempt at spin. But plainly desperate. Imagine if only Clinton had been POTUS maybe then he could have prevented the withdrawal of AMERICAN TROOPS. ROTFLMAO.

It is noteworthy that Clinton claimed in said interview that al Qaeda wasn't even in Somalia at the time. Now why do you think he did that?

The plain fact of the matter is that Clinton did not try to kill bin Laden (until his legal difficulties consumed him and he then played Wag the Dog) because he felt constrained by the law.

He regarded bin Laden as a mere target for law enforcement. For all of his brilliance he did not recognize bin Laden's Declaration of War as a Declaration of War.

Bush has had to put up with ten times the pressure Clinton had to cope with and he's done it with ten times the grace.


thanks Terry, you've saved us the trouble of Googling.

It is noteworthy that Clinton claimed in said interview that al Qaeda wasn't even in Somalia at the time. Now why do you think he did that?

Clinton said that

There is not a living soul in the world who thought that Usama bin Laden had anything to do with Black Hawk down or was paying any attention to it or even knew Al Qaeda was a growing concern in October of '93.

A growing concern != AQ wasn't even in Somalia at the time

It is also highly unlikely that Aideed would have been part of Al Qaeda at that time because he had his own power base of the Habr Gidr clan. If you have any information that would tie Aideed to AQ, I would love to see it, but until then, this is one of those statements that is dishonest on its face, removing the credibility of the rest of the comment.

All leaders make mistakes, especially in hindsight.

Bingo!

Slart wanted evidence for a particular point, it took people a while to figure out he wanted what he was asking for, and when he got it he was satisfied.

Double bingo!

Not evidence, mind you, so much as some indication of what he was referring to.

Slart wanted evidence for a particular point, it took people a while to figure out he wanted what he was asking for, and when he got it he was satisfied.

Double bingo!

Not evidence, mind you, so much as some indication of what he was referring to.

May I then suggest that referring to 'bipartisan historical revisionism' is not the best way to get this answer?

Here is what Lowry said:

"...Paying the Price for the Clinton Years. His hasty retreat after the "Black Hawk Down" battle created an image of American weakness that was noted by Islamic terrorists at the time and that the United States is still working to undo to this day."

So clearly, there are right-wingers making this argument, just as I said there were,

No! Bin Laden himself made the argument. Lowry just took him at face value.


Describe the situation when your men took down the American forces in Somalia.

After our victory in Afghanistan and the defeat of the oppressors who had killed millions of Muslims, the legend about the invincibility of the superpowers vanished. Our boys no longer viewed America as a superpower. So, when they left Afghanistan, they went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war. They had thought that the Americans were like the Russians, so they trained and prepared. They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier. America had entered with 30,000 soldiers in addition to thousands of soldiers from different countries in the world. ... As I said, our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled, and America had to stop all its bragging and all that noise it was making in the press after the Gulf War in which it destroyed the infrastructure and the milk and dairy industry that was vital for the infants and the children and the civilians and blew up dams which were necessary for the crops people grew to feed their families. Proud of this destruction, America assumed the titles of world leader and master of the new world order. After a few blows, it forgot all about those titles and rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers. America stopped calling itself world leader and master of the new world order, and its politicians realized that those titles were too big for them and that they were unworthy of them. I was in Sudan when this happened. I was very happy to learn of that great defeat that America suffered, so was every Muslim. ...

That's not a right winger analysis of what happened in Somalia. That's bin Laden explaining why he thinks his terrorist strategy will be effective.

It's not some right wing meme that got put out there. Bin Laden is explaining why he doesn't fear America and why he thinks he can achieve victory. He's already got one victory under his belt.

(Side note: Same strategy is being implemented in Iraq. The insurgents and AQ don't think they can win, but they do think they can wait America out. If America was united in its resolve they might be defeated sooner rather than later or not at all.)

Bin Laden is the one who claims to have learned from the Somalia debacle that the U.S. was a paper tiger. Don't blame the right wingers for believing him.

And that seems to be the chasm between the left and the right these days. Bin Laden and other terrorist consistently talk about killing us. The difference is how seriously we take their threats. Many on the left appear to think it is just rhetoric and many on the right think that they are death threats.

I wonder what this blog will be like under control of the caliphate when the women are silenced and the homosexuals are sentenced to death.

You can disagree with me, but please don't fault me for thinking they mean what they say.

Sharia... it's not just for the oppressed anymore. It's for everyone.

So clearly, there are right-wingers making this argument, just as I said there were, and they are influential opinion-makers (and there are tons of more examples just like that). How many right-wing commentators made this argument had nothing to do with my post, but now that it's clear that it was made by substantial opnion-makers, what's the response?

My short answer - Clinton was Commander in Chief and is responsible for the Somalia debacle which, by his own words, emboldened Osama.

Here is a longer answer: At the risk of drawing Slarti's ire, I suspect that somewhere in this glorious commentariat I could find someone (or several someones) who think that Bush led us into Iraq with an inadequate plan and too few troops, started a war he can't win, has lost public support, and now needs to bring the troops home. (Am I OK so far, or is my premise hopeless?)

Now, suppose Bush responds to this public sentiment/political pressure/miltary reality by announcing that he will bring the troops home in six monts time.

Would Bush's critics than say, well, it was not Bush's fault that we retreated from Iraq, it was his political opponents that forced him to?

I am guessing they would say that Bush screwed up the operation and suffered some consequences (although most of the consequences were inflicted elsewhere.)

So (here comes the dramatic logical leap), why not say something similar about Clinton? He had allowed the mission creep from humanitarian assistance to nation-building without creatig public support; his Defense Secretary had refused (in September) to send tanks to armor up the troops; he was in the process of withdrawing our troops anyway (as he said in the speech, we were down from 28,000 to less than 5,000; he did not commit to "victory" or even "Mission Accomplished" in the speech cited so glowingly by Greenwald, but only talked about saving face by bailing out later; so why not blame him for the totality of the debacle?

He was Commander in Chief, implausible as that may have been - if there was a compelling case to have been made for US troops to die in Somalia, he should have been making it.

As an aside, I can't wait to read the Kerry speech supporting the extended stay, if only to get an answer to the question, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?".

Other notes - Dole, with Majority Leader Mitchell, led the *support* for Clinton's extended stay in the Senate fight - Greenwald's characterization of Dole as "Cut and Run" is either dishonest or ignorant.

And I have by no means exhausted the list, but - Biden was emphatically cut and run. Since he ran for President in 1988 and was (I bet) on the Foreign Relations Committee, I guess he was still a bit of a hitter, but I can't really place him as either a Southerner or a conservative.

Bin Laden is the one who claims to have learned from the Somalia debacle that the U.S. was a paper tiger. Don't blame the right wingers for believing him.

So, Bin Laden says this is a clash of civilizations, should we not blame right wingers for believing him? This seems like a pretty sad comment on the level of [some?] right wingers.

Would Bush's critics than say, well, it was not Bush's fault that we retreated from Iraq, it was his political opponents that forced him to?

Because the domestic political situation under Bush and Clinton was exactly the same, or so close as makes no difference?

Because Bush got us into Iraq in the first place, and, by going in with a plan that generals who participated in executing it, not just little liberal me, say was "dismal" (see next post), helped to ensure failure, unlike Clinton, who inherited Somalia?

Frankly, if I ever hear anyone accusing Bush of cutting and running, I'll say they are being inaccurate too.

And I love the idea that of all the horrible things about him, we should assume that bin Laned lacks dishonesty. That, and he never, ever says things for strategic effect.

liberal japonicus

Regarding your post- September 25, 2006 at 10:38 PM

Clinton said that

"There is not a living soul in the world who thought that Usama bin Laden had anything to do with Black Hawk down or was paying any attention to it or even knew Al Qaeda was a growing concern in October of '93.'

A growing concern != AQ wasn't even in Somalia at the time

lj, You said about me

..."this is one of those statements that is dishonest on its face, removing the credibility of the rest of the comment."'

Terry Gain says it's not wise to quote a known perjurer in an attempt to prove someone else is lying. For your benefit -and the benefit of cleek here's an excerpt from Jim Geraghty's post at NRO
----
"Not a living soul in the world... except for President Clinton's own Justice Department. The U.S. Justice Department's indictment of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda's military commander, Mohammed Atef, on Nov. 4, 1998, for conspiring to kill Americans:

* ...Third, al Qaeda opposed the involvement of the United States armed forces in the Gulf War in 1991 and in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in 1992 and 1993, which were viewed by al Qaeda as pretextual preparations for an American occupation of Islamic countries....

* ...At various times from at least as early as 1989, the defendant USAMA BIN LADEN, and others known and unknown, provided training camps and guesthouses in various areas, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, Somalia and Kenya for the use of al Qaeda and its affiliated groups.

The Fatwah Against American Troops in Somalia
At various times from in or about 1992 until in or about 1993, the defendant USAMA BIN LADEN, working together with members of the fatwah committee of al Qaeda, disseminated fatwahs to other members and associates of al Qaeda that the United States forces stationed in the Horn of Africa, including Somalia, should be attacked;

The Establishment of Training Camps for Somalia
In or about late 1992 and 1993, the defendant MUHAMMAD ATEF traveled to Somalia on several occasions for the purpose of determining how best to cause violence to the United States and United Nations military forces stationed there and reported back to the defendant USAMA BIN LADEN and other al Qaeda members at USAMA BIN LADENS's facilities located in Khartoum, the Sudan;

Beginning in or about early spring 1993, al Qaeda members, including the defendants MUHAMMAD ATEF, SAIF AL ADEL, ABDULLAH AHMED ABDULLAH, a/k/a/ "Abu Mohamed el Masry," ... along with "Abu Ubaidah al Banshiri," a co-conspirator not named herein as a defendant, provided military training and assistance to Somali tribes opposed to the United Nations' intervention in Somalia;

The Attacks on the United States Forces in Somalia
w. On October 3 and 4, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, persons who had been trained by al Qaeda (and by trainers trained by al Qaeda) participated in an attack on United States military personnel serving in Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope, which attack resulted in the killing of 18 United States Army personnel, namely, Donovan L. Briley, Daniel D. Busch, James M. Cavaco, William D. Cleveland, Thomas J. Field, Earl Fillmore, Raymond Frank, Gary I. Gordon, James C. Joyce, Richard W. Kowalski, James Martin, Timothy Martin, Dominick M. Pilla, Matthew L. Rierson, Lorenzo M. Ruiz, Randall D. Shughart, James E. Smith, and Clifton Wolcott.

This was determined in 1998.
------

Moral of the story. If you want to know the truth don't go to liberal blogs. Their partisanship knows no bounds.

So I'm reading along, la di da, and someone cites some dude: "Terry Gain says foo." Seems kinda confused about time-ordering too, but ok, why ask why. And then who does it turn out to be by?

I just popped back to correct my misspelling of bin Laden. However, Terry Gain: what does the fact that Clinton's Justice Department knew in 1998 that bin Laden had been doing stuff in 1993 show about the accuracy of a statement about what people knew in 1993?

lj, You said about me

..."this is one of those statements that is dishonest on its face, removing the credibility of the rest of the comment."'

I think you need to re-read that. Your statement said that Clinton claimed AQ was not in Somalia. I quoted the actual statement made by Clinton, which says nothing of the sort. That is what I meant by 'dishonest on its face'. I would be unsurprised if you sincerely believe that when Clinton says no one knew about AQ cells in Somalia, you think he is claiming that AQ didn't exist. However, what you claim is not what Clinton said, which undermines any credibility in the following statements.

Sorry, Rilke... Should have slugged through the 100+ comments.

Hal, masochism is never a categorical imperative. Or maybe it is, what do I know.

While I'm giving up on this thread, here's something different at Andrew Sullivan's blog.

"Bin Laden is the one who claims to have learned from the Somalia debacle that the U.S. was a paper tiger. Don't blame the right wingers for believing him."

So, Bin Laden says this is a clash of civilizations, should we not blame right wingers for believing him?

Huh? Bin Laden's first statement about the lesson he learned from Somalia is a statement about his own opinions and learning process. Maybe he is lying - maybe Somalia really convinced him that fighting America was hopeless - but all right-wingers are doing is taking his own (plausible) statements about his own experiences and beliefs at face value.

However, when Bin Laden declares that we are in the midst of a war of civilizations, that is more than a statement of his own beliefs - it is also a statement about the state of the world.

So, while it may be true that *he* believes it is a war of civilizations, that hardly settles the question of whether it "really" is - obviously, other opinions are also valid.

But on the question of what Osama really learned from Somaila, I am not sure how valid other opinions might be - based on his words and deeds, I would say that the prospect of fighting the US did not daunt him. Anyway, his story seems to be consistent and plausible, and he is describing his own state of mind.

I would also say he took the wrong lesson - my take on Somalia was that the US won't fight when its strategic interests are not at stake; his take was that we would not fight at all.


...unlike Clinton, who inherited Somalia?

Weak. Clinton was in charge when the UN changed the mission. Anyway, if he didn't want the job, he didn't have to run - Bush 41 pretended to be interested in keeping the job.

And here is a Comedy Classic - try to guess the vicious right-wing news outlet that published this Somalia timeline:

Oct 7, 1993: Clinton's response: withdraw troops

President Clinton decides to cut his losses. He sends substantial combat troops as short term reinforcements, but declares that American troops are to be fully withdrawn from Somalia by March 31. The hunt for Aidid is abandoned, and US representatives are sent to resume negotiations with the warlord. Two weeks later, in a letter to President Clinton, General Garrison accepts full responsibility for what happened in the battle.

And on Oct 14, the negotiations are successful in gaining the return of a US prisoner.

But we didn't back down!

Oh, yes, that hit piece appeared on PBS.

Tom: the original claim was: Some conservatives have said that Clinton cut and ran from Somalia; but this is false. In fact, many conservatives urged him to cut and run immediately, but he didn't.

It was not: no one other than conservatives ever said that he cut and ran, nor: he didn't eventually leave Somalia.

All I was after in this post was an accurate picture of the actual history, in which Clinton was under a lot of pressure to leave a lot more quickly than he did, much (though not all) of that pressure from Republicans.

The same Republicans, I might add, who didn't respond to the Beirut bombing.

my point is that believing Bin Laden is not an optimal strategy. While one should factor in the beliefs that someone has in judging the truth value of the statement, the argument is being made that because Bin Laden said it, and so the right wing is simply taking at face value the threat that he poses (or posed if his kidneys seized up on him). Unfortunately, this canard has played out before on the right, taking Soviet proclamations of ability (the B Team analysis) over actual analysis of abilities and threats.

Slarti: Not evidence, mind you, so much as some indication of what he was referring to.

Perhaps that's what you should have asked for, then, isn't it?

Morat: What a waste. 90+ comments, and the bulk of them pointless tail-chasing on whether or not Glenn was sufficiently rigorous for Slarti.

Slarti's very, very good at that. I'm glad it's just a hobby for him.

Perhaps that's what you should have asked for, then, isn't it?

Perhaps I should have. Perhaps I even did, and in a way that's much less presumptive than, you know, assuming he's saying something absolutely ridiculous, and asserting that's what he's really saying.

Slarti: Perhaps I even did

Except, you didn't. Maybe you think you did, but your first three comments on this thread were no such thing (your fourth didn't either, but did finally explain that, to you, "what he's referring to is unclear", since you can't use Google and therefore couldn't find any of the references Hal piled up for you.

Tom: the original claim was: Some conservatives have said that Clinton cut and ran from Somalia; but this is false. In fact, many conservatives urged him to cut and run immediately, but he didn't.

It was not: no one other than conservatives ever said that he cut and ran, nor: he didn't eventually leave Somalia.

That would be a defensible position; do you suppose that nuance came through in Greenwald's post, as for example, here:

After the U.S. troops were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, numerous conservative senators and representatives -- mostly Republican along with some conservative Southern Democrats -- demanded that Clinton withdraw all American troops immediately...

Or, even though your own post is titled "Historical Accuracy", are you OK with the factthat Greenwald slid right past the fact that folks on theleft also called for a withdrawal?

Second, may I request a ruling on a specific point I raised? IN his blog psot, Greenwald specifically offered an excerpt of a Dole speech as an example of the Cut and Run crowd.

However, Dole co-led the fight in suport of Clinton (as he also did in Bosnia/Kosovo), and a longer excerpt supports that.

So, my question - in a post titled "HostoricalAccuracy", do you think you should criticize Greenwald for mis-stating Dole's position?

Jesurgislac, your objections are noted and filed accordingly.

Thanks, Slarti. Next time perhaps when you don't understand something, you'll ask for an explanation rather than making a series of cryptic comments about your lack of understanding.

Yes, I am a shiny-eyed optimist.

are you OK with the factthat Greenwald slid right past the fact that folks on the left also called for a withdrawal?

Tom, isn't it important to note that the people who are citing Clinton's pulling out as encouraging OBL are not from the left, so the people who are being hypocritical aren't the ones on the left?

Also, you might want note that Dole campaigned against Clinton on precisely those issues. While he held his tongue when Clinton was dispatching those forces, after it was done, when he was campaigning against Clinton, he played a different tune. In his 1995 Foreign Policy article he argues that

After the disaster in Mogadishu on October 3-4, 1993, some observers concluded the American public will no longer tolerate casualties. In fact, the "Somalia syndrome" stems from the shock of seeing American bodies dragged through the dust when the American people thought that Operation Restore Hope was about feeding the hungry--not about nation-building or enforcing U.N. arrest warrants. American lives should not be risked--and lost--in places like Somalia, Haiti, and Rwanda with marginal or no American interests at stake.

and this

[The Clinton] administration has displayed a basic discomfort with American military power—unless that power is exercised pursuant to United Nations authorization. In Haiti, the 1823 Monroe Doctrine has been replaced with the [Morton] Halperin Doctrine—unilateral action only after multilateral approval. An unfortunate precedent has been set in seeking prior United Nations support for what an American president proclaimed was in America’s interests—interests that should not be second-guessed, modified, or subject to the approval of international organizations.

This excerpt, while not directly bearing on your comments, might be interesting to some

America does not need the same defense posture in 1995 that it had in 1985. But just because American defense spending is a bargain does not mean that defending America is free. U.S. defense spending has been cut too far, too fast. The current administration initially planned to cut $60 billion in defense--but then added plans to slash $127 billion over 5 years. Despite these deep cuts--and a recent conversion to supporting higher levels of defense spending--the Clinton administration's thirst to commit U.S. military forces abroad has not declined. As a result, for the first time since the "hollow Army" of the 1970s, three American divisions were not ready for combat in late 1994 Soldiers who expect and deserve 12 months in between overseas tours are given half that. My old unit from World War II, for example, the 10th Mountain Division, has spent three straight Christmases overseas: deployed to Somalia in December 1992 (only weeks after cleaning up from Hurricane Andrew), and deployed again in September 1994 to Haiti--just six short months after returning from their tragic encounter in Somalia.

This is a ironic article from the national review, which also notes that Senator Dole sponsored an amendment, though I'm not positive that it was Bosnia or Somalia that was the focus.

This is another interesting post, giving some details about the origins of the effort in Somalia and the efforts to make Clinton leave.

Given that the Republican led Senate made such efforts and Dole was the Majority Leader, I'm not all that convinced that accuracy is what you are demanding.

Also, you might want note that Dole campaigned against Clinton on precisely those issues. While he held his tongue when Clinton was dispatching those forces, after it was done, when he was campaigning against Clinton, he played a different tune.

Now I'm stumped - your view is that Dole can never, ever criticize the way Clinton handled Somalia without emboldening terrorists? FWIW, Dole is saying in 1995 the same thing that I said above - "my take on Somalia was that the US won't fight when its strategic interests are not at stake; [Osama's] take was that we would not fight at all."

And that still does not answer the question of whether you think Greenwald owes his readers a correction on his Dole characterization.

Tom, isn't it important to note that the people who are citing Clinton's pulling out as encouraging OBL are not from the left, so the people who are being hypocritical aren't the ones on the left?

I think as a matter of accuracy (especially important in an article decrying historical revisionism) one might aim for an *accurate* deptiction of the pressures on Clinton.

And I certainly reject the charge of "hypocrisy" - Clinton had mismanaged the situation prior to the events in October and offered a weak response (end offensive military action, end the hunt for Aideed, re-open negotiations with him - yeah, that's showing 'em).

Now, one might argue (correctly, I suppose) that Clinton's weak response was stronger than the Cut and Run alternative. But are you inclined to make the case that Clinton's response was actualy strong enough to impress terrorists with our toughness and resolve?

If not, than we are arguing Weak v. Weaker as responses to a situation mismanaged by Clinton to the point where no stong response was plausibly on the table. Where is the hypocrisy in criticizing that?

end offensive military action, end the hunt for Aideed, re-open negotiations with him - yeah, that's showing 'em

Some cleric somewhere in some country some other country invaded recently, damn, can't put my finger on it.

Slarti,

"Perhaps I should have. Perhaps I even did..."

The contrary is, of course, probable.

Now I'm stumped - your view is that Dole can never, ever criticize the way Clinton handled Somalia without emboldening terrorists?

No, I'm not really sure how you could pull that out from what I said. I'm just wondering why we jettison the question of trying to pin OBL on Clinton and shift to the question of historical accuracy, which is served by noting that Dole was not always in support of Clinton, which is what you seem to suggest, even though he is now retired from the Senate, so his role in this smear is minimal.

The big question is whether Clinton's actions are responsible for the rise of OBL, which is what Wallace was suggesting. It's great that you want to write a nuanced history of American involvement in Somalia, but the main meme is that, well, it's Clinton's fault. To note that it was the Senate majority leader, though grudgingly supporting Clinton (they certainly don't make Republicans like that), who presumably has some role in determining party rhetoric, even ignoring the famed Republican on message, is a bit more enlightening to me. Of course, you demand that Glenn doesn't use Dole, because the words Glenn quoted are contradicted by his uncited support for Clinton.

The question of accuracy is in how accurate are the claims are that Clinton's actions gave rise to OBL. Demanding a nuanced discussion of how pressures shaped US foreign policy pre 9/11, when the initial impulse arose from a smear and a gross historical inaccuracy is a bit tree-y rather than forest-y What got us to this point is a complete mistake in focus that can be compared to faulting a doctor for not asking whether the patient had a happy childhood as a prerequisite for setting a broken leg. Or maybe Glenn should have given senator by senator breakdown of who voted for what when, but the last I saw, Dole was hawking viagra, so I don't know if that would necessarily be illuminating. You demand that hilzoy provide a nuanced portrayal of Dole when the question of how Somalia is being portrayed today to attempt to shift blame is the revisionism in question. Soon, you'll be complaining that the gravediggers didn't get enough lines in Hamlet.

But are you inclined to make the case that Clinton's response was actualy strong enough to impress terrorists with our toughness and resolve?

are "terrorists" ever impressed with "toughness and resolve" ? has that impression ever been enough to make them stop terrorizing ?

because, it seems to me that a terrorist's view of toughness is to simply avoid the tough spots altogether and go for the soft parts.

Regarding Clinton in Somalia and St. Reagan in Beirut, Clinton inherited Somalia from GHWBush, but Reagan inserted the US Marines into Beirut on his own motion. That is one difference that the GWBush synchophants wish to ignore.

And that is aside from the fact that Clinton's Republican opposition did, indeed, call for a withdrawal from Somalia virtually immediately after the Black Hawk Down incident, which Clinton resisted.

Of course, you demand that Glenn doesn't use Dole, because the words Glenn quoted are contradicted by his uncited support for Clinton.

(a) A longer Dole excerpt was presented above - your thoughts?

(b) Dole's "uncited" support - sorry, I figured a permalink to the Times archive would not be of much value, and I have seen on many occasions your independent prowess as a researcher. However:

President Clinton and Senate leaders struggled today to beat back a proposal that would require United States troops to pull out of Somalia earlier than the timetable the President has set.

It was a day of lengthy closed-door meetings, deal-making, competing compromises and hints that the White House might speed up the removal of the forces from Somalia.

The arguments heard in the Senate created some of the oddest alliances on Capitol Hill in recent memory. Two of Mr. Clinton's strongest critics, Bob Dole, the Republican leader, and Sam Nunn, Democrat of Georgia, sided with the President to turn back a effort by Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, one of the most partisan Democrats in Washington. Clinton Deadline May Shift

Mr. Dole and Senator George J. Mitchell of Maine, the majority leader, worked to win support for a proposal that would essentially grant formal approval to the limited mission Mr. Clinton spelled out last week. The two leaders predicted tonight that they and Mr. Byrd would come to a compromise on Thursday.

Hope that helps. Your current view on whether Greenwald has correctly placed Dole in the 1993 deabte is what? And your view on whether we should expect a correction from Greenwald is what?

The big question is whether Clinton's actions are responsible for the rise of OBL, which is what Wallace was suggesting.

Really? Clinton's actions in toto, or in Somalia specifically, which seems to be the point of this discussion? I for one have little doubt Osama would have risen regardless of what we did in Somalia.

Would it help to prepeat Wallace's question that launched Clinton's Somalia tirade?

WALLACE: ...There's a new book out, I suspect you've already read, called "The Looming Tower." And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, bin Laden said, "I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of U.S. troops." Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the Cole.

CLINTON: OK, let's just go through that.

WALLACE: Let me — let me — may I just finish the question, sir?

And after the attack, the book says that bin Laden separated his leaders, spread them around, because he expected an attack, and there was no response.

I understand that hindsight is always 20/20. ...

CLINTON: No, let's talk about it.

WALLACE: ... but the question is, why didn't you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?

Somalia is mentioned as emboldening Osama but it is the embassy and Cole bombings that, per Wallace's question, demanded a more vigorous response.

If you can find anyone arguing that a tougher response in Somalia would have prevented embassies/Cole/9-11, I can't wait to see it. I think Somalia gets mentioned only as a pattern of weakness.

(And slightly off-topic - did our high altitude bombing of Kosovo signal strength and resolve to the terrorists? I would guess not, but I bet views differ.)

I'm just wondering why we jettison the question of trying to pin OBL on Clinton and shift to the question of historical accuracy...

My guess is that historical accuracy is important here because Greenwald is arguing that revisionists are blaming Clinton for our failure in Somalia and a subsequent emboldening of Osama, while the facts are different - per Greenwald/Clinton, Clinton was prepared to Stand Tall in Somalia but he was undermined by conservative critics.

I, and others, are arguing that the facts support the "revisionist" argument.

Since (perhaps over-optimistically) I think the facts are on my side, I am in favor of accuracy here.

Ooops - re my comment above that "If you can find anyone arguing that a tougher response in Somalia would have prevented embassies/Cole/9-11, I can't wait to see it. I think Somalia gets mentioned only as a pattern of weakness.", I don't want to re-open the whole Slarti excursion. Let me just note this from the Lowry column linked above:

[Clinton's] hasty retreat after the "Black Hawk Down" battle created an image of American weakness that was noted by Islamic terrorists at the time and that the United States is still working to undo to this day.

That is a much more modest claim that "Somalia created Osama", and I endorse it.

I WAS a conservative critic of Clinton, and spent the nineties surrounded by other conservative critics of Clinton, volunteered in local campaigns and worked with organizations like the American Life League and the Family Research Council. I published a freakin' magazine for conservative teenagers out of my basement for years, and helped publicize the launch of TownHall.com.

I can say without hesitation that we, the rank and file of the conservative movement, were utterly opposed to Clinton's ineffectual adventures in Somalia, and regarded it as evidence that his liberal naivete was combined with a profound disrespect for the armed forces. Our commentators, our legislators, and our opinion leaders reinforced it. When people compromised with Clinton, as in Somalia above, it was because the liberal media gave him a free ride and the Republicans in Congress weren't strong enough to stand up to him.

Funny how times change. Ultimately, revisionists win because the majority of the population isn't equipped to deal with people willing to tell bald-faced lies about national events that happened a decade ago.

I think most will agree that "St. Reagan's" resonponse was extemely weak in hindsight as was Clinton's. As someone who met Clinton and immediately disliked him, I don't fault him too much for having a weak response at the time. Hindsight? Sure he screwed up big time as did many others. Fighting a shadow is difficult. Even today we argue over the best way to accomplish this.

This "right winger" believes Clintons actions in Somalia emboldened bin Laden based on bin Ladens own words. But at the same time, I am not sure what any President could have done that would have been more effective. (If only many on the left could grant this to Bush.) The only one who gets any credit for a strong response to terrorism is Bush II. Of course, he had 9/11 to work with. You can argue that Bush IIsat on his butt for 9 months, but I don't think that is a serious argument. Given the 2000 election, transition of a new gov't and so on.

lj,

my point is that believing Bin Laden is not an optimal strategy. While one should factor in the beliefs that someone has in judging the truth value of the statement, the argument is being made that because Bin Laden said it, and so the right wing is simply taking at face value the threat that he poses (or posed if his kidneys seized up on him). Unfortunately, this canard has played out before on the right, taking Soviet proclamations of ability (the B Team analysis) over actual analysis of abilities and threats.

And that's an acceptable position in my opinion. It's just not mine. If someone says, "I want to kill you." it would be absurd for me to respond, "I don't think you can do it."

Better safe than sorry, no?

You can argue that Bush IIsat on his butt for 9 months, but I don't think that is a serious argument. Given the 2000 election, transition of a new gov't and so on.

at what point did Bush II become responsible for anything ? got a date ?

If someone says, "I want to kill you." it would be absurd for me to respond, "I don't think you can do it."

that's not what happened here. OBL didn't pick out one person and issue a personal threat - he said he wants to destroy the most powerful country the world has ever seen. it's absurd to think he can actually do it, and it's absurd to treat him as if he can.

Better safe than sorry, no?

not in this case

Nice to see things haven't changed while I was gone.

Just a note on the whole 'right-winger' thing that Greenwald likes to sling about. I cannot speak for Slart, but as a nominal right-winger, I tend to find it annoying when people like Greenwald throw out accusations like that because, well, they're not true. And comments like 'well, if it doesn't apply to you, then it wasn't meant for you' don't fly, any more than if I were to accuse 'left-wingers' of doing something. The fact I could point to some lefties would not change the fact that the accusation does not apply to many lefties, and I suspect that the excuses given for Greenwald on this thread would not be accepted for my hypothetical.

So I find it unsurprising that Slart asked just who Greenwald was referring to, because imprecise terms like that sound a lot more like a smear than an argument.

A few stray thoughts.

The problem is that it all began as Operation Provide Relief, then went to Operation Provide Hope, then to Operation Gothic Serpent, then to Operation What the F*ck Do We Do Now, interspersed with ominous noises of nation-building from the president for a nation that did not directly benefit American interests.

As I saw it, the problem is that we were being led along, thinking initially that we were there to feed the hungry, then the mission creeped to providing additional security so that supply lines wouldn't get hijacked, then again morphing to doing snatch-and-grabs and Special Forces attacks on politico-military leaders. It was Bill Clinton who first made noises about nation-building, and Black Hawk Down gave us a glimpse as to what it could cost to make this make this come about.

This was the kind of situation where you either had to ramp up significantly, use overwhelming force and rebuild a backward dysfunctional nation--which would take significant manpower and expenditures--or bail.

This wasn't long after the Powell Doctrine splashed onto the scene. It was also wasn't long after getting out of a recession. We had monstrous budget deficits and Clinton had just raised taxes. Now, if someone had made the argument that, given these circumstances, it was truly in our national interest to expend significantly larger resources and risk American lives to build a new Somali nation, I would have listened. Alas, I didn't hear that good argument.

We didn't have a crystal ball and could not know that our departure would embolden an extremist like bin Laden. Bowden's book was written in 1999 and he made reference to RPGs and other weaponry coming from Sudan, where bin Laden happened to be residing back in 1993. So as it turned out, bin Laden saw how we responded when our own were killed.

The Somalia operation also showed the basic ineptness of Les Aspin, and the BHD debacle revealed his poor planning and inadequate management skills. He was way over his head. He resigned not long after our Rangers were killed, and what's-his-name took his place (northeastern Republican blueblood, forgot his name). Oh yeah, Bill Cohen.

It is also important to note that, yes, many Republicans were in favor of withdrawing, not just because the mission evolved to an uncomfortable place, but because they distrusted Bill Clinton and the way he ran things. Not without good reason, in my opinion, since he lied to us in 1992 about the U.S. having the worst economy in 50 years. So there he was, mere months after getting inaugurated, and he's talking about venturing into Africa and rebuilding some destitute nation.

Importantly, Bill Clinton had Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, especially in the House, where Republicans were basically resigned to near-permanent minority status, or at least it felt that way. Back then, Newt Gringrich was just an annoying back-benching loudmouth, with only Jim Wright's pelt to his name. If Bill Clinton didn't have the support of Congress, then it was his own party that pulled the plug on him. Fellow Democrats could have empowered Clinton and financed a bigger operation, but they didn't. Greenwald did not mention any wavering by fellow Democrats at the time, which is misleading on his part. The Democrats ruled the roost in 1993, and if they had supported their president, Clinton would've got what he asked. Plain and simple, Democrats in Congress did not have the political will to back their president, and the president ultimately did not have the political will to stand up to it.

I know many on this thread have said that, in this day and age, Democrats can make a lot of noise but don't have the power to change things, particularly about Iraq. Well, same goes back in '93 for the Republicans except, back then, Clinton was the chickenhawk. We were powerless, except for politicians making lots of noise in DC and hearing a lot of bitching and moaning on Rush Limbaugh. This was well before the Internet came into serious play and three years before FoxNews was born, so there was a lot of sitting around with thumbs up asses on the right side of the aisle.

So while it's nice for Glenn to cull a few quotes from Republicans, doesn't mean he is painting an accurate picture of what was happening. But what the heck, he's in the War Room, so it's no surprise that he'll answer partisanship with partisanship. It is also not accurate to make cut-and-run comparisons between 1993 Somalia and 2006 Iraq, which looks like a "Republicans did it, too" argument. Not terribly convincing.

Looking back on Chris Wallace's question, this is what set Clinton off:

When we announced that you were going to be on "Fox News Sunday," I got a lot of e-mail from viewers. And I've got to say, I was surprised. Most of them wanted me to ask you this question: Why didn't you do more to put bin Laden and Al Qaeda out of business when you were president?

There's a new book out, I suspect you've already read, called "The Looming Tower." And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, bin Laden said, "I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of U.S. troops." Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the Cole.

Not to mention Khobar Towers. I note that Greenwald conveniently did not excerpt the whole paragraph and the reference to the Looming Tower. As I see it, Clinton shouldn't have been tirading about rightwingers. Rather, he was taking exception to the Looming Tower book (which was written by a liberal) and trying to shift the blame from that book to those mean and nasty Republicans. Or perhaps it was Wallace's brief synopsis of the book that Clinton took issue with. Can't tell for sure.

To me, that's why it looked like Bill Clinton, master politician that he is, planned this assault on Wallace. What better place to do it than right in the belly of the FoxNews beast. Shades of GHWB and his dust-up with Dan Rather. It's unfortunate that it was Chris Wallace who took Clinton's brunt because Mike's spawn strikes me as a fair journalist. Clinton should've been up against Brit Hume, a guy that the Moveon.org crowd really doesn't like.

True confession time. I sock-puppeted Rick Ellison.

'fess up, Charles: it was in your autocomplete buffer, wasn't it?

Hey, if someone says he's going to take the country over with his orbital mind-control lasers unless we pay a trillion dollars, we should pay the trillion dollars. Better safe than sorry, no?

It's possible to view people as a threat without assuming they're actually capable of doing everything they might like to do.

Bril, you lost all credibility with me with this troll line: "I wonder what this blog will be like under control of the caliphate when the women are silenced and the homosexuals are sentenced to death."

Andrew, I agree that Greenwald has used an overbroad brush before, but I don't see the sweeping accusations in this case. Where are you seeing a general accusation of all right-wingers? All he's saying is that the people he's criticizing are right-wingers, which is surely true.

Suppose someone wrote "Members of Communist Bucket Bangers Against Chimpy gathered in Lafayette Square today to denounce the president. The left-wingers remained until midnight and then drifted away ineffectually." Horrors! They used the phrase "the left-wingers" to refer to a group I don't belong to and don't want to be associated with. But in context the phrase is clearly referring to the people from the previous sentence, so I'd have no problem with it.

KC,

I can only read the excerpt hilzoy has posted, so it may be more clear in Greenwald's complete post; the military blocks BlogSpot servers, so I don't read his site. What I see is 'the right-wing plan,' which strikes me as kind of silly. Maybe there's a clear antecedent that isn't shown in the excerpt, but that first sentence seems to be pretty broad. As Slart alluded to in his posts, despite our nominal membership in the right wing, nobody calls us to ask our opinions, nor disseminates talking points for us to shill.

nor disseminates talking points for us to shill.

Hey! Speak for yourself.

I've got kids to feed.

Sorry, I wasn't as faithful in clicking the links in this thread as I usually am because of the Slarti-nature of the discussion. But the point is from the words you quote

The arguments heard in the Senate created some of the oddest alliances on Capitol Hill in recent memory. Two of Mr. Clinton's strongest critics, Bob Dole, the Republican leader, and Sam Nunn, Democrat of Georgia, sided with the President to turn back a effort by Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, one of the most partisan Democrats in Washington. Clinton Deadline May Shift

Mr. Dole and Senator George J. Mitchell of Maine, the majority leader, worked to win support for a proposal that would essentially grant formal approval to the limited mission Mr. Clinton spelled out last week.

It should also be taken into account that GH Bush essentially did this without input from the incoming Clinton admin. From the link that I gave earlier

Rejected by the voters, George Bush the elder still had an ace up his sleeve: until 20 January, 1993, he could do as he pleased. Faced with the options of doing a) nothing b) sending US ground forces to Bosnia or c) assisting the UN in a peacekeeping mission to Somalia, the president chose the latter. It was a decision that would have a profound impact on the presidencies of his successor and his son.

The decision made itself; to have done nothing would have been to confirm the Democrat's allegations about Bush's failed presidency, to have intervened in Bosnia would have required Congressional support and a definitive plan of action, and most importantly, an exit strategy, none of which Bush had. Therefore, in light of his most successful action as president, the UN sponsored 1991 Gulf War, the outgoing president announced a mission of American benevolence, to feed the starving of Africa.

Of course, having called for a more pro-active US foreign policy throughout the campaign, there was little Clinton could say in opposition to the plans. Bush called the President-Elect to "update him on the continuing situation in Somalia", and promised to "stay in touch with the President-Elect on this issue." [1] This was no mutual formulation of policy however. "It's a process of information exchange rather than consultation", [2] said a Clinton official. The State Department was blunter: "they're not consulted". [3] No one was interested in the Clinton team's ideas or approval.

If this isn't taken into account when discussing the majority leader's positioning, then we continue to run the risk of historical inaccuracy.

Historical revisionism is not simply a question of whether something accurate or not. Revisionism is altering the balance by overemphasizing some facts at the expense of others. The connection in Wallace's question is immistakable. [situation in Somalia]>>[why didn't you get Bin laden?]

Furthermore, the shift from whether there was a Republican effort to withdraw to the question of Dole's honor fails to actually read what GG said

Republican senators attempted to force an immediate withdrawal and then ultimately compromised on a compelled withdrawal in six months. As but one example, from a Senate floor speech by Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, on Oct. 6, 1993: "The United States has no interest in the civil war in Somalia and as this young soldier told me, if the Somalis are now healthy enough to be fighting us, then it is absolutely time that we go home ... It is time for the Senate of the United States to get on with the debate, to get on with the vote, and to get the American troops home." Sen. Robert Dole, in a Senate speech, on Oct. 5, 1993: "I think it is clear to say from the meeting we had earlier with -- I do not know how many Members were there -- 45, 50 Senators and half the House of Representatives, that the administration is going to be under great pressure to bring the actions in Somalia to a close."

I see no invocation of what Dole wanted, I only see the use of his quote to verify the extent of the pressure on Clinton. I said that Dole was the majority leader, but he was the minority leader, but the main point is that the quotes describe the nature of the pressure on Clinton which does not jibe with the notion that pull out of Somalia brought on the rise of OBL and should therefore be blamed on Clinton.

This should also be seen as the 'hey both sides do it' kind of argumentation that Slart pulls up in his very first comment on this thread. Again, Slart is just being Slart, but when confronted with an accusation, the go to club in the bag is this one.

As for the notion that Lowry has some sort of nuanced view, well, I don't have that book, but I can't imagine that they are any different from his Townhall columns where he says

He [Bush] could have learned [from Clinton] how to retreat, how to apologize, how to slap wrists and how to temporize. He could have learned, in short, everything that would need to be reversed in U.S. terror policy within months of his taking office.link

What should be different is America's response. The kind of sweaty-palmed cut-and-run sentiment now gripping the Democratic Party over the question of Iraq was personified in the Oval Office 10 years ago by a panicked President Clinton. His hasty retreat after the "Black Hawk Down" battle created an image of American weakness that was noted by Islamic terrorists at the time and that the United States is still working to undo to this day.

and

The Clinton administration had chosen in early 1993 to expand the limited humanitarian mission in Somalia it inherited from the first Bush administration into a grander effort to rebuild the strategically marginal country. Madeleine Albright hailed it as an "unprecedented enterprise aimed at nothing less than the restoration of an entire country." These ringing statements were empty since Clinton wasn't willing to pay any price to back them up. The first major blow sent him reeling.

Clinton briefly faked resolve publicly, vowing that "you may be sure that we will do whatever's necessary ... to complete our mission." About a week later he was saying, contradicting his administration's own policy to that point, "It is not our job to rebuild Somalia's society." In a letter to Congress, the White House promptly began rewriting history: "The U.S. military mission is not now nor was it ever one of 'nation-building.'"

Are these the kinds of claims that are 'much more modest'?

On preview, I see some other points, (and sockpuppeting? WTF?) but I have class 1st period tomorrow, so I've got to get some sleep.

Andrew: I cut the following:

"But that is pure historical revisionism; it is just completely false. And being subjected to that accusation this weekend by Fox News' Chris Wallace appears -- understandably -- to have been what principally triggered Clinton's anger in responding to those accusations during his interview. Wallace asked Clinton about "how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, bin Laden said, 'I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of U.S. troops.'" In response, Clinton said: "They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 the next day after we were involved in 'Black Hawk down,' and I refused to do it and stayed six months and had an orderly transfer to the United Nations."

If anything, Clinton understated his own defense. After the U.S. troops were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, numerous conservative senators and representatives -- mostly Republican along with some conservative Southern Democrats ..." etc.

I was trying to get at the heart of the argument, and the part about Clinton's interview didn't seem to me to be that heart. However, in context (this being the second para. of the piece), it's clear that his main target was Wallace.

Andrew,

I believe the comment about "if you are not who he is talking about, it shouldn't bother you" is a reference back to Slart's insistence that President Bush's constant "some" who believe the dumbest things isn't meant to be a shot at liberals and if we don't hold the views he is discussing, we shouldn't be offended.

I think the point is well made.

at what point did Bush II become responsible for anything ? got a date ?

He was responsible as soon as he took office. I only said he has done more to fight it. And given 9/11 he should.

Again, if you could possibly give Bush the same leeway you give Clinton then you would acknowledge there wasn't alot that Bush could have done in his first 9 months. I can see the headlines now:

Bush in office less than 2 months orders killing of innocent women and children

"In attempt to kill alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden President Bush lobbed 20 tomahawk cruise missiles into Afghanistan killing scores of innocent women and children...."

Even if Bush had started an operation the day he took office it might not have been implemented until after 9/11.

If someone says, "I thwant to kill you." it would be absurd for me to respond, "I don't think you can do it."

that's not what happened here. OBL didn't pick out one person and issue a personal threat - he said he wants to destroy the most powerful country the world has ever seen. it's absurd to think he can actually do it, and it's absurd to treat him as if he can.

Who gives a flyin' flip if he can destory the most powerful country in the world. Btw, whatever happened to the Soviet Union?

It's hard to take your comment serious as I see visions of 9/11 victims jumping out of windows. Thousands dead. Planes being blown up over the oceans killing 1000's.

Scarey that OBL makes more sense than you do.

Who gives a flyin' flip if he can destory the most powerful country in the world.

um... ?

It's hard to take your comment serious as I see visions of 9/11 victims jumping out of windows. Thousands dead.

i'm really not sure you understood at all what i was saying.

Scarey that OBL makes more sense than you do.

i was thinking the same thing

Yeah, but Michael Moore is fat

I want to back up Jeff Eaton's comment above and (briefly) offer once again the following anecdote: about a week after the 1992 election, a number of the people I knew in Orange County (including some high school classmates of mine) were openly praying that Somalia would "turn into another Vietnam" so that "it would f*** Clinton over". And yes, both of those are verbatim quotes.

That's Orange County, for you.

I'm guessing this is not Orange County, Florida that you're talking about.

I'm guessing this is not Orange County, Florida that you're talking about

probably not Orange Co., NC, either (home of Chapel Hill)

No, the real Orange County :)

"i'm really not sure you understood at all what i was saying."

Well, I think I do and your point still isn't relevant. It sounds like the same logic that was recently used about the London bombers. The threat wasn't "imminent".

As someone who often flies, my response at the time was, "Who cares if it was imminent or not? If their intent is serious then the problem is serious."

The relevance to Americans who might be killed in the 1000's that bin Laden can't defeat America in its entirety is miniscule. (Meaning we probably shouldn't nuke the problem.) So he can only manage to kill a few thousand every couple of years.

What number would you put on American deaths per year to justify that we should take bin Laden and his ilk seriuously even though they can't destroy America?

Sorry, I should have said your point isn't relevant to me.

bril: As someone who often flies, my response at the time was, "Who cares if it was imminent or not? If their intent is serious then the problem is serious."

You can't be serious, bril. According to report, some of the suspects arrested didn't even have passports, and no airline tickets had been bought. Furthermore, the reported method they were supposed to be planning to use reads like something out of a MacGyver episode.

It's conceivable that at least some of them were seriously planning some kind of terrorist action. But it seems unlikely to me that a court would convict them of the most serious offense they are charged with without hard evidence of definite intent - and without airline tickets, there is no such evidence.

It's also conceivable, if the evidence comes from a torture victim in Pakistan, that there never was a serious conspiracy, but (given the timing of the arrests) the US decided they wanted the UK authorities to pretend there was.

As someone who often flies, I'd rather the British authorities didn't end up making arrests of possible terrorists too early to be able to convict them (if there was a criminal conspiracy to commit terrorism, which has not yet been proved).

Andrew: So I find it unsurprising that Slart asked just who Greenwald was referring to

I'd find it very surprising if Slart had done that (which he didn't). That kind of clear, straightforward question would have been most unlike Slart's usual behavior, and most unlike his behavior in this thread.

Slart's point seemed pretty clear to me. But then, we approach the matter 180 degrees off from the ObWings commentariat, so I suppose it's not necessarily surprising it was unclear when viewed from the other side.

Jes,

"the US decided they wanted the UK authorities to pretend there was. "

If only it was true that those British lackey's were all in the palm of the American hand. I think the Brits are pretty good at standing up for themselves. However you may disagree with that if you like.

Feel free to believe that it was mostly made up. I for one would rather exercise caution with those who are planning to kill their fellow citizens.

Obviously, there could be a benefit to waiting before taking action, but I don't know that we have access to all the details in this instance. And of course waiting to take action could led to another 9/11 or British Subway bombing or Spanish train bombing. Some people may be willing to live on the edge or atleast have others live on the edge. I would rather not.

I feel confident that if a victim knew someone was planning on raping them they would prefer the police to do as much as possible as soon as possible. I don't see why its so difficult for some here to extend that logic to a few thousand victims.

As I said above there could be a benefit to waiting, but that's a risky game to play.

But then, we approach the matter 180 degrees off from the ObWings commentariat

Really? Based on recent commentary, I would have guessed 270 degrees, moving steadily toward 360. =)

Well, I think I do and your point still isn't relevant. It sounds like the same logic that was recently used about the London bombers. The threat wasn't "imminent".

no, you don't understand.

bin Laden says he wants to defeat America (in so many words). but since there's no way he can do that we shouldn't take that particular threat seriously. which is why statements like:

    I wonder what this blog will be like under control of the caliphate when the women are silenced and the homosexuals are sentenced to death.

...are totally absurd. neither bin Laden, his followers, nor his interpretation of Islam will ever take over the US. we will never be "under control of the caliphate".

now, obviously, alQ can do great damage around the world, and alQ can kill a lot of people. and that's a threat worth taking seriously and worth responding to, in an appropriate way. but again, they can't kill enough people, nor do enough damage to actually destroy the US (or any other functioning country, for that matter).

so to recap: when he says he will destroy the US, we should laugh at him - because that's an impossible goal. and at the same time we should find him and kill him because he's already proved that he can still be dangerous, even if he is deluded.

Andrew wrote: But then, we approach the matter 180 degrees off from the ObWings commentariat,

just so i'm clear, this isn't the same Andrew who has front-page posting privileges here... right ?

It is...why do you ask?

It is...why do you ask?

well, in this thread, you've described yourself as a "right-winger" at least twice. yet, over here, you're a self-described "lefty".

Feel free to believe that it was mostly made up. I for one would rather exercise caution with those who are planning to kill their fellow citizens.

There's a difference between "caution" and "reckless abandonment of morals and civil liberties in pursuit of a phantom born of one's own paranoia" that I think could bear some examination here.

If only it was true that those British lackey's were all in the palm of the American hand. I think the Brits are pretty good at standing up for themselves. However you may disagree with that if you like.

As a Brit, I only wish I did think it impossible that it was decided to tell the police that they had to arrest the alleged terrorists now based on strong pressure from the US. But I don't think it's impossible. It's not so long since Tony Blair lied the UK into war with Iraq because he thought it would be better to go along with what the US wanted rather than stand firm on international law. It's not so long since the UK legal system was changed to make it easier for the US to get people accused of terrorism out of the UK justice system and into the US justice system. Once the police were officially notified that the danger was imminent, they had no real choice but to arrest the 24 suspects. Of the 24, I think 13 were finally charged, and of those 13, only 8 on serious charges.

I for one would rather exercise caution with those who are planning to kill their fellow citizens.

I for one would rather the police exercise caution rather than rushing to arrest those who have been accused of planning to kill people, ahead of any real evidence that they were planning to do so. For two reasons. One is, I don't approve of the police arresting people and holding them for weeks without any real evidence that they were actually guilty of something. Especially not in my own country, because it could be me next, thank you. Two is, if they really were planning to kill people, I don't want the police to rush in early and spoil their chances of conviction.

Obviously, there could be a benefit to waiting before taking action, but I don't know that we have access to all the details in this instance.

No one has disputed, so far, that the practical details of the plot as presented were impossible, nor that airline tickets had not been bought for or by any of the suspects. You may be content to assume that arrests of terrorist suspects on dubious evidence means there must be some better evidence that the public aren't allowed to know about: but, we've learned to be more skeptical and less trusting in the past thirty years.

Some people may be willing to live on the edge or atleast have others live on the edge. I would rather not.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." You may be willing to lose your rights for the sake of physical safety: I would rather not. I have lived for decades in a country where you take for granted that an unattended item of luggage could be a bomb; where, in a bad time, any journey can be delayed for hours because someone called in a bomb threat and the police had to clear the station to check it out; where only the chance of minutes kept the Prime Minister from being killed by a terrorist attack in 1984. What's your direct experience of living with a terrorist threat, Bril? When you were eight did your parents warn you to keep an eye out for unattended luggage on the subway because there might be a bomb in it? Mine did. (It fascinated me: I don't remember being scared in the slightest, just spending the entire time we were in London looking out for unattended luggage. I didn't see any. It was the 1970s and everyone was travelling with their luggage hugged to them.)

I feel confident that if a victim knew someone was planning on raping them they would prefer the police to do as much as possible as soon as possible. I don't see why its so difficult for some here to extend that logic to a few thousand victims.

I feel confident that if someone you didn't know rang up the police and said "Bril's planning on raping me" you would rather not be promptly arrested and detained for weeks, purely on the basis of an anonymous accusation. I don't see why it's so difficult for you to extend that logic to other people.

cleek,

I should have been more clear in that thread. I am left-handed, so I being facetious in noting that I am, in one sense of the term, a lefty. Politically, I emphasize the individual over the collective. In the past, that has placed me on the 'right,' although it's difficult to see why looking at actual right-wing politicians.

ah...

another of life's great mysteries solved.

damn the ambiguous English language.

See, I understood it right from the get-go.

Odd.

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.

Not a lot of open threads up. Not declaredly so, anyway.

To steal from Terry Pratchett, I'm ambisinister (:

I'm ambi-valent.

Both oxidizing and reducing, I guess, depending on the situation.

i'm ambi-dextrose.

you can call me D-Glucose, or you can call me Dextrose. i'm sweet either way.

kinda

Props, cleek.

There's something interesting to be said about quantum electrodynamics and dextrose, but I'll not bore you, and I probably can't find my notes anyway.

I'm ambiEnt: sometimes mobile and sentient; other times stationary and vegetative.

Speaking of Terry Pratchett (not that I'm a fan, but there seem to be a lot hanging out in places I hang out), he's going to be at Politics & Prose October 17. I wouldn't have thought it their usual sort of thing, but apparently it's one of their "children's events".

With ambi- affixed to a word
There's no doubt that both sides will be heard.
Ambidextrous? Both hands.
And ambiv'lence? Both stands.
Getting dizzy? Be glad there's no third!

(Not mine, alas: composed by the rather splendid Doug Aldridge.)

Slarti: See, I understood it right from the get-go.

For which I am unambiguously grateful.

Let's recap:

1. At some point, Clinton withdrew US forces from Somalia.

2. Bin Laden took the reluctance of American presidents to incur American casualties in foreign affairs of dubious benefit to US interests as a sign of American weakness.

3. Bin Laden took this understanding and turned it into an underpants gnome strategy:
a. Attack World Trade Center Towers;
b. ???
c. Worldwide Islamic caliphate established.

4. This strategy has, in one way, backfired. Bin Laden is in deep hiding and US troops are wandering around Afghanistan. But OBL is probably ahead on points given the US occupation of Iraq. That's a twofer: the most secular regime in the Middle East was overthrown and a new generation is being radicalized.

5. For purely political purposes, various right-wing thugs have recently taken to quoting Bin Laden in order to blame Clinton, even though they or other similar right-wing thugs wanted to expedite our withdrawal from Somalia at the time the issue was being debated.

Conclusion:

Many presidents make mistakes in foreign policy. However, before we accuse them of acting in error, even in hindsight, we should have some idea of what should have been done differently.

Many right-wing thugs are hypocrites. In other news, water is still wet.

Developing foreign policy on the basis of doing the opposite of what our enemy says he wants us to do is really stupid, because it allows our enemy, not us, to decide what is our national interest.

Right-wing and left-wing thugs will opportunistically seize on statements made by our enemies to show that US leaders are dumb, evil, etc. That conduct is what makes them thugs.

Given the way Greenwald gets treated around the conservative blogsphere (see Volokh, Patterico, QandO, others), it's not surprising that he's quicker to see right-wing thugs than left wing-thugs.

"Of the 24, I think 13 were finally charged, and of those 13, only 8 on serious charges."

LOL! Only 8 on serious charges. Well then I guess that really is no big deal. 8 planes getting blown up with an average 200 to 300 people per plane. That's less than 3000 people. I see your frustration now with those others getting caught in the sweep.

"I feel confident that if someone you didn't know rang up the police and said "Bril's planning on raping me" you would rather not be promptly arrested and detained for weeks, purely on the basis of an anonymous accusation. I don't see why it's so difficult for you to extend that logic to other people. "

I can extend the logic quite easily. But if you don't ask some serious questions during the process you put yourself in needless peril. And if the police don't follow up on the call they are negligent.

Do I associate with other rapists? Do I talk about raping? Do I have the tools that a rapist might need in order to accomplish his or her objective?

Btw, do you believe Islamic terrorists even exist? And if so are they a threat?

Do I associate with other rapists? Do I talk about raping? Do I have the tools that a rapist might need in order to accomplish his or her objective?

According to the evidence we have, yes. Sorry, but you're not allowed to see it.

Bril, are you going to answer either of my questions, or are you just going to LOL! around all day? To summarise:

What's your direct experience of living with a terrorist threat?

And (though I admit I didn't originally formulate this as a question)

Are you okay with being arrested and detained for weeks, because someone said you were going to rape someone - and neither you nor your lawyer are allowed to know who said it or exactly what was said or the conditions under which this accusation was obtained? Follow the logic.

bril,
I think there is a possibility, however dim, for a teaching moment here. Look at this

Well then I guess that really is no big deal. 8 planes getting blown up with an average 200 to 300 people per plane.

Now, setting aside that the fact that the group was already under police surveillance, which makes it less possible that they could have done this, setting aside that the plan itself was unrealistic, and set aside whether it is appropriate to validate every crazy plan with arrest and trial, can you see that taking the kind of steps that you feel are necessary is counter productive? Effective terrorism prevention needs an open society to both prevent terrorists organization from capitalizing on resentments and slights and refilling their ranks as well as having people in a state of awareness about problems.

I believe Islamic terrorists exist. I also believe that white power type terrorists exist and I think both threats should be dealt with law enforcement techniques, not with societal lock downs.

There is an urge to mock you and try to shout you down, and I hope I am not falling prey to that. I do believe that if you sit down and think of the questions of scale, the answer, that Islamic terrorism is not the threat you think it is, will become apparent. It is as if you were a huge multinational gumball maker, and you spent immense time, effort and social capital to make sure that everyone who shoplifted your products was punished to the full extent of the law, to the point of increasing the penalties in order to prevent it. The cost your company would incur for mistaken prosecutions, over zealous enforcement, and general ill will would far outweigh the financial loss you experience from shoplifting. Contemplating these economies of scale, sadly, doesn't get suspended when we talk about the loss of human life.

Well then I guess that really is no big deal. 8 planes getting blown up with an average 200 to 300 people per plane.

First, 8 people, not 8 planes. There's a rather serious difference.

Second, what part of "Their methods couldn't have blown up the plane if they tried" did you not understand?

Bril, some of us who think it's laughable for you to believe that Osama and his gang have the ability to destroy the United States or bring us all under the rule of the caliphate do believe that one thing that could destroy the United States is the reaction to terrorism driven by the fear you and others feel (no doubt understandably).

When you call for the country to take steps down the road that leads to authoritarism -- steps that we did not take when faced with the threat of the Axis Powers in World War II or even the nuclear weapons of the Soviet Union -- then we see that reaction as something much more likely to end America as we (and you) know it than any terrorist plot. The steps from here to an American dictatorship, while there may be many of them, are a lot clearer than the steps from here to imposition of sharia law in this country.

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