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March 01, 2007

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"I hadn't remembered that every single one of the candidates now running for President ... voted against it. (Did I forget anyone?)"

Kucinich? Gravel?

Obama is not on the list, one way or the other, as he didn't join the Senate until 2005. He was against the Iraq war at the time, so presumably he would have been likely to vote with Chaffee and Levin.

If I'm not mistaken, didn't Feingold also vote against the Iraq AUMF? He has always insisted that the real fight has been against Al-Qaeda and that Iraq has been a distraction from that fight. For him to have voted on even the well thought out Levin amendment, he would have been conceding to the Bush administration's frame that Iraq took precedence over combating the people who actually attacked us.

The Xsociate beat me to it. There's no shame in voting against both resolutions, for people who believed that the administration was just whipping up a war of aggression that was a distraction and a drain from the effort to end terror attacks against us.

But let's face it; everyone in Washington understood the vote on the Authorization of Force as a vote for war, whether they admit that now or not.

Pat Lang and Zinni spoke on a panel at VMI a week after the resolution passed; Zinni was the only overtly anti-Iraq-war speaker.

After most of the questions had been asked, Lang said, "You people are sounding as if you think this can be stopped, but in Washington everyone thinks this is a done deal, now that Congress has signed on. If you want to stop it, you'd better get busy politically."

Didn't Kerry vote for the Levin amendment, and try to use that as a case for his not really having voted for the war?

And, if I remember correctly through the mists of three entire years ago, antiwar Democrats like me sneered and said he knew he was voting for war (per my above comment).

Republicans said it was more flip-flopping.

Everyone thought it was fairly typical Kerry, trying to nuance what had become a straightforward (and polarized) issue.

Even Kerry's supporters didn't make much of it, leaning instead on his newfound 'Band of Brothers' war-hero image and his supposed "electability" after the Dean debacle.

Nell - checking the tally on the Senate website, he did vote against it. He voted for the Durbin amendment - which would only allow an invasion to prevent an imminent Iraqi threat, not the one existing in October 2002 - along with Dodd (Clinton, Biden, and every Republican including Chafee voted against), but he did oppose the Levin amendment.

Thanks, Minipundit.

How can it be that there's even a chance of nominating Hillary Clinton?

As to mac's point on Obama's opposition to the war -- he was interviewed on November 25, 2002, and even though he remarked that the resolution seemed to be working (you'll recall that at that time the UN had reinstituted inspections, which began again in December), when asked specifically how he would have voted, he nevertheless said he agreed with Durbin, and that the authorization was an unprecedented grant of power to engage in preemptive war. Durbin not only voted against the resolution, and offered his own amendment which Levin cited favorably, but he also voted for Levin's amendment. On this issue, at least, there is a clear division between Obama and the other candidates. Though I still want Gore to come back.

X is surely right about Feingold. Consider the case of Bob Graham, one of the Democrats' leading foreign policy voices, whose view was that after taking out the Taliban our next priority should be Hezbollah. He also voted against the Levin Amendment - presumably because he simply didn't agree that Iraq should be a priority, UN approval or no.

How can it be that there's even a chance of nominating Hillary Clinton?

For the Demcoratic voters who supported the war, Clinton is a comforting candidate because they can tell themselves "It's not my fault; even someone really smart, like Hillary, voted for the war!"

Someone like Obama, on the other hand, who opposed the AUMF, is a kind of personified rebuke - "Hey: I could figure it out; why couldn't you?" - that makes people uncomfortable.

OT, but... this is really good (What Went Wrong?):


Anyone who argues for war plays with dangerous forces, so they must do it responsibly or not at all. Foolish wars have led countries to disaster. They have caused the deaths of millions. History and psychology tells us that war parties tend to be over-confident, paranoid and emotional. So the minimum you should expect from a responsible war supporter is that they are aware of this bias, and do their best to counterbalance it.

It's not enough to believe that you are right. You have to be actively open-minded, you have to listen to your critics, and encourage devil's advocates. You have to set up a robust information structure that makes it as difficult as possible for you to ignore reality. This is the only good way to prevent self-deception. It works. And we did not do it.

What we did was the opposite. At every level, from the lowliest blogger to the highest official, war supporters set up filters that protected them from facts they did not want to hear. We saw what we wanted to see, and if anyone saw differently, we called them left-wing moonbats who were rooting for the other side. We defined the entire mainstream media establishment as irrelevant, leaving more biased, less experienced "new" media as our primary source of facts. We ignored reasonable critics, and focused on the crazy ones, so that we could tell ourselves how incredibly smart we were.

"We defined the entire mainstream media establishment as irrelevant, leaving more biased, less experienced "new" media as our primary source of facts. We ignored reasonable critics, and focused on the crazy ones, so that we could tell ourselves how incredibly smart we were."

I read the post. The one thing I'd disagree with a little is the part about the mainstream press. Much if not most of the mainstream press in the US went along with the war propaganda. Rightwing bloggers were idiots, but leftwing bloggers can quite rightly pat themselves on the back for their ability to see the catastrophe that was looming. (More so than me--I thought catastrophe was likely, but not certain). Perhaps he's talking about the mainstream press in Europe, which might have been more sensible than most of what we have here in the US.

Another money quote:

" Some neo-conservative intellectuals believe that the plan was good, but that George W. Bush screwed it up. There might be something to this. With smarter people in charge, the odds might have been better. But this assumes that a smarter administration would have embraced their plan to invade Iraq in the first place. I don't think it would, and I think the blame belongs with the thinkers who pushed for war, as much as the officials who carried it out. "

Perhaps he's talking about the mainstream press in Europe, which might have been more sensible than most of what we have here in the US.

It was. Or at least the British, French, and German papers were.

Consider the case of Bob Graham, one of the Democrats' leading foreign policy voices, whose view was that after taking out the Taliban our next priority should be Hezbollah.

Would I be remiss to notice that this is just about as crazy as going after Iraq, and considerably more crazy than the Senators who went along with Iraq because the President was pushed it, rather than because they thought it was a big priority on its own.

What is the case for viewing Hezbollah as a major threat to the United States?

What is the case for viewing Hezbollah as a major threat to the United States?

I thought he made the case pretty clearly in the link, although you're free to agree or disagree, of course. I don't think it's nearly as crazy a case as Iraq, though.

The logical question would be, if Hezbollah is strictly a Lebanon nationalist group whose only target for terrorism is Israel, how come they have so many agents inside the US?

Have they? But the same could have been said about the IRA.

if Hezbollah is strictly a Lebanon nationalist group whose only target for terrorism is Israel, how come they have so many agents inside the US?

got a cite?

i looked a little, but all i could find were articles on Newsmax, Frontpage and other sites that make those two look like the New Yorker and The Economist.

"How can it be that there's even a chance of nominating Hillary Clinton?"

Beyond her being extremely smart, well-informed, active, a Democrat, a fighter, an experienced and effective politician, and having the position on the war most popular with the country (the invasion was a mistake, the AUMF vote was right on the available info and the political situation)? Plus the extra X and Bill thrown in for good measure?

I would actually believe that Hezbollah has agents in the US because there will be few countries that haven't (and the US in most other countries including allied ones) ;-)

i'm sure they have some agents here in the US, raising money or whatever, but i don't know about them attacking the US...

I've only posted one link in this thread. Everyone keeps asking questions that are squarely addressed in the link. :)

Everyone keeps asking questions that are squarely addressed in the link

i admit i missed that link of your's. and then i read it, but i didn't see any quantification of your "so many" agents inside the US.

did i miss that too ? (anything's probable, when it comes to me missing things)

Steve, other than Graham making statements to that effect, there is nothing in that article to substantiate that Hezbollah has agents doing anything other than raising money. In fact, the FBI is quoted as saying that is all they are doing.

Well, right, it's the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee making these claims. I'm hardly saying we should go to war based on his say-so, but I hope I'm not too off base in saying that he's not an automatically unreliable source. Just because we don't have access to the same classified information as him doesn't make him "crazy."

"Just because we don't have access to the same classified information as him doesn't make him "crazy.""

No, what would make us crazy would be supporting an attack on Hezbollah based on the information he gave us in that article.

Obviously, which is why I said exactly that in my last post. The one where I wrote I'M HARDLY SAYING WE SHOULD GO TO WAR BASED ON HIS SAY-SO.

However, people who take it as a given that Hezbollah is a threat only to Israel, and not to the U.S. should consider that a reliable Democratic source who knows more than us believes otherwise. That's all. After six years of Bush, have people lost all capability to say "okay, that's a data point," without fearing that Bushco is going to read their blog comment and take it as an authorization to go to war?

Maybe someone more familiar with Levin than I can comment on the Senator’s new hawkish stance. He seems to be advocating action against Syria, or at least wants to insure the military has a plan for that. Iran as well by this quote:

“I think we ought to take action on all fronts including Syria and any other source of weapons coming in, obviously Iran is the focus – but it shouldn’t be the sole focus.”

Via your favorite Red site – but they link the video so you can see the context for yourself...

I know counterfactuals are dangerous, but I believe everyone and their mother voted against the agreement because it was going to be more difficult/impossible to get the UN to try to force inspectors into Iraq without the threat of force outside of the UN. I think that view is very likely correct. Now that Bush screwed up lots of things after that point, is a different story.

After six years of Bush, have people lost all capability to say "okay, that's a data point," without fearing that Bushco is going to read their blog comment and take it as an authorization to go to war?"


First off, I didn't start distrusting politicians when Bush got elected, particularly not on matters of war and especially not on the subject of Hezbollah or any other official enemy. Graham is a Democrat. I couldn't care less.

Suppose Graham is sincere. Frankly, I'm not willing to grant this, but suppose it is. How do we know how solid this intelligence information is? A lot of people claimed the WMD evidence for Iraq was rock solid and maybe some of them even believed it.

So yeah, the data point is interesting. But if he can't talk about it, it's not worth much. And the thing is, I have trouble believing the Bush Administration wouldn't have been pushing the information that Hezbollah is a danger to us if they had something solid. Hezbollah is a pretty easy enemy to bash in American politics.

I think it's crazy talk to say that Levin called for attacks against Syria, but that's par for the course at RS.

I think Levin is a deep thinker who doesn't mind nuance and doesn't see the need to be all-or-nothing. I think, among other things, he's trying to chart a path towards a narrower mission for our troops in which we'll focus on al-Qaeda and counter-terrorism as opposed to policing the civil war. And I think he wants to focus more on fighting the people who are attacking us - as opposed to the people engaging in sectarian violence against each other - which means cutting off their supply of weapons. However, McConnell seemed to be playing the supply issue down rather than up - he said that the weapons we have to worry about are pretty much in Iraq already.

Carl Levin is one of those Dems I reflexively trust even when he tells me what I don't want to hear. He reviews the evidence, he comes to fact-based conclusions. I'm content to wait and see what he's really got in mind.

"How can it be that there's even a chance of nominating Hillary Clinton?"

I am still undecided. Bush will decide for me. If Bush throws us into WW whatever before the primaries, I go for HRC. If our current catastrophe does not escalate, I will look at the other two first. But I do not believe Edwards or Obama are war Presidents, and Bush has the option of keeping us at war for another decade.

If Bush throws us into WW whatever before the primaries, I go for HRC.

Rilkefan's response to my unnecessary and counterproductive outburst reminded me of how unwise it is for me to keep breaking my vow not to get into presidential primary threads.

So I'm not going to get into a discussion, no matter what your answer is, and you need not feel obliged to answer at all:

What do you see as HRC's superior qualifications to preside over a war as compared with Obama and Edwards?

Are there any candidates (including undeclared ones, like Clark or Gore) who you would prefer in a state of war to HRC?

Hmm, not that the Democratic Party primaries are any of my business, but if I had to choose a war president among the apparent contenders, HRC would be pretty much my last choice. We don't need to be in a war where the opposition Party hates hates hates the President. It can't be productive. Now if we end up in a war with HRC as president, I'll do my very best to make sure that to the small extent I can, such hate of her as travels in my circles gets minimized. But I wouldn't go out of my way to set up a situation in wartime where such a polarizing figure was the leader.

I doubt it would turn out that way, Seb. As you know, the far right has made a substantial point of noting that it's tantamount to treason to undermine the President in a time of war. I'm sure they'd adhere to those principles.

"As you know, the far right has made a substantial point of noting that it's tantamount to treason to undermine the President in a time of war. I'm sure they'd adhere to those principles."

In a real war, a war of necessity, the only kind I think HRC or any Democrat running is likely to get us involved in, the opposition party would be compelled to shut up.

rilkefan, Bob's scenario does not involve HRC getting us into a war, but inheriting one that Bush/Cheney get us into in the next 18 months or so.

"We don't need to be in a war where the opposition Party hates hates hates the President. It can't be productive" ...Seb

Was this irony? I think it partially describes the current situation, although with an approval rating now under 30%, almost everybody hates hates George W Bush.

The Republican Party will try to destroy any Democratic Presiden, in any circumstances, under any conditions, without reservations.

"What do you see as HRC's superior qualifications to preside over a war as compared with Obama and Edwards?"

She is more willing to blow stuff up and kill people. During an existential survival war, which Bush is fully capable of putting us into, these are useful qualities. Now if we are winding down or pulling out of a war, I prefer Obama or Edwards to heal the country and fix the mess.

"In a real war, a war of necessity, the only kind I think HRC or any Democrat running is likely to get us involved in"...rilkefan

Bush can simply remove the options, and I happen to think the word "inevitable" and "irrevocable" are favorite parts of their vocabulary. There are many blogs, tristero at Hullaballoo today, demanding Bush's immediate impeachement, and nearly everything else in Congress drooped except that effort. Bush/Cheney are unspeakably dangerous, as dangerous as any head of state in the twentieth century. They can get us into a shooting war with Russia and China, maybe even a full nuclear exchange. They are nuts, utterly incompetent and insane. Do not underestimate how screwed they can make the world and the country.

If George Bush nukes Iran, America may well be under existential threat, internationally, economically, militarily. There will be massive domestic violence. I can't predict the consequences of that move, but possibilities include China stopping trade, dumping dollars, and moving at Taiwan and North Korea getting frisky, Venezuela cutting off oil, and of course the ME exploding. Europe demanding, demanding, we hand over our war criminals.

HRC might just hand them over, and shoot the Reds that objected violently. Whatever. I do not see adequate ruthlessness in Obama or Edwards. I cannot imagine them killing massive amounts of people competently. I remember very few Presidents who weren't ruthless SOB's, but think a break, as Carter was a break, could be a good idea under milder conditions. If I could pray, I would pray that milder conditions prevail.

"Are there any candidates (including undeclared ones, like Clark or Gore) who you would prefer in a state of war to HRC?"

Possibly. I wouldn't worry as much about these two.

Nell, I hardly ever understand what bob is concerned with - but "WW whatever" would scramble all our calculations - for one, I would expect Clark to become the front-runner by acclamation, making the question moot. Aren't you more concerned with whether the next president will get us into an unnecessary conflict or will react badly to a 9/11-like attack?

"Do not underestimate how screwed they can make the world and the country."

I have to believe the old Republican establishment won't allow the admin to go that far off the rails again, and I think the public has wised up and would react too badly for Rove to countenance such an action. And I think the military might well not go along.

"And I think the military might well not go along."

The Air Force is the least rational and most compliant of the services, by design. The guy in the silo is not paid to think.

I am admittedly imagining a worst case scenario. The problem is that I feel unable to predict what the psycho-killer with his finger on the button will do.

"Aren't you more concerned with whether the next president will get us into an unnecessary conflict or will react badly to a 9/11-like attack?"

I am more comfortable with Obama or Edwards than HRC under those circumstances.

"I have to believe the old Republican establishment won't allow the admin to go that far off the rails again"

The old Republican establishment did its best, what did Bush call the ISG report? "A steaming pile of dung?" Something like that.

Have I heard that Baker is starting another effort on preventative war? They can't control Little Boots.

"The old Republican establishment did its best, what did Bush call the ISG report?"

That was a question of cleaning up spilt milk, not dynamiting the cow.

Cripes. Bush is at 29% in some polls.

I think Nixon bottomed out at 28%, and was an alcoholic brokedown paralyzed mess at that point, whose staff told the Pentagon to ignore.

Bush is apparently totally unfazed, as cocky and assertive and certain as ever. Screw us all, we are all wrong. Only Bush is right.

Somewhat OT, although relating to Hillary:

This story leading MSNBC should permanently put to rest the right wing talking point of liberal media bias. The concept that Hillary is seeking to avoid access to a paper she wrote as a college senior is the most pressing issue on any given day, when compared to the complete and total lack of interest over two campaigns and 6+ years as President in stories about Bush's possibly illegal activities at a similar age (e.g., drug use, the missing driver's license records, etc.) speaks volumes.

That was a question of cleaning up spilt milk, not dynamiting the cow.

Thanks for the laugh. I needed it.

Bob: "what did Bush call the ISG report?"

"A flaming turd" (as in something malicious pranksters leave on your doorstep, hoping you'll stomp on it to put the fire out)

rilkefan: Aren't you more concerned with whether the next president will get us into an unnecessary conflict or will react badly to a 9/11-like attack?

No. I consider it far more likely that Bush will get us into a war with Iran (& thus Russia and China and much of the Muslim world) than that a Democratic president, even HRC {shudder}, will get us into an unnecesary conflict.

A September 11-style attack? Doesn't matter who's president. All bets are off, and I'm a prime candidate in my community for being hustled off to a detention center.

Sebastian: We don't need to be in a war where the opposition Party hates hates hates the President. It can't be productive.

Well, quite. As you would know already, if you examined Bill Clinton's work against al-Qaeda, and his involvement in Kosovo, with the factor that the opposition Party not only hated hated hated the President, but was spending vast resources on trying desperately to find something, anything, with which to impeach him.

The primaries are no business of mine, but avoiding picking Hillary Rodham because of the hatred that was whipped up against her when she was married to the President strikes me as a mistake: whoever wins the next election will have a fever of hatred being whipped up against him or her, as irrational and unproductive as the hatred whipped up against Clinton, then Gore, and then Kerry. It was winning the election that caused the hatred, and will cause the hatred in 2009. Sebastian's right that it's unproductive, but the Republicans who didn't care in the 1990s won't care in the 21st century.

For the reasons above, I think it's highly unlikely we'll attack Iran. It's probably rather more likely that the Israelis will (one explanation for our actions is to head that off) in which case I should think who's president wouldn't much matter.

The hating - it burns.

BTD angry at Obama and Webb too. Can't say I understand his position- what they said seems ok to me given where they are - but it's the end of the week and my brain is shutting down.

the end of the week and my brain is shutting down.

Totally proper. I recommend a good bourbon.

All I had was cheap vodka and various juices. Still, any port -- or any vodka -- in a storm, neh?

"Totally proper. I recommend a good bourbon."

Ok, so this is a bit of an emergency for me. For a while I've trying various bourbons but keep coming back to Maker's Mark. Then recently I was given a bottle of 12-year-old Bowmore Islay scotch. Which I thought at first tasted like distilled asphalt, then came to like a great deal, then came to have mixed feelings about at the end of the bottle. At which point I went back to Maker's and found it not very exciting any more. (The above over the course of perhaps a month, not an evening.) So what do I drink now?

Any Islay will have a lot of peat in it - if you like it it is great, if you hate it you'll hate them all ;)

My current favorite is a 15 yo Springbank. Very smooth, yet not boring. Second place (depending on the mood, can be first too) is a Lagavulin, but that's an Islay again. Other favorites are Oban and Talisker (I like peat, I like the smokey taste).

Can't you get try-out sets, with smaller bottles? Spouse and I organize our own tastery every once-in-a-while.

"Can't you get try-out sets, with smaller bottles?"

My experience with the Bowmore suggests I need a lot of glasses to decide - maybe that will go away with experience - so a set sounds like a possibly good idea. I'll pass by the liquor store on the way to breakfast.

Seriously OT, but Rut Ro.

The clock is ticking on the need for something like the Levin Amendment for Iran.

FACT BASED REALITY:

DEMOCRATIC SENATORS, INCLUDING KERRY AND CLINTON ***BASED ON WHAT BUSH HAD JUST SAID IN A SPEECH ***VOTED TO:

***SHOW A UNITED FRONT TO SADAM ** IN ORDER TO ** INTIMIDATE** HIM INTO ALLOWING THE INSPECTORS **BACK IN**!!! IN THE MEAN TIME MR. BUSH WAS TO FORM A COALITION, like his dad had, THAT INCLUDED IRAQ'S NEIGHBORS **

AND ONLY IF:

1)SADAM did not allow the inspectors in and/OR IF HE DID HAVE a WEAPONS PROGRAM READY TO GO.

ONLY THEN WOULD WE GO IN AS A ***LAST RESORT***

**AND WHILE IT WAS MR BUSH WHO *************betrayed******** THAT VOTE
THAT VOTE IT WAS A-HOLES LIKE TIM RUSSERT WHO BEGAN TO CALL IT

I saw it all 20 hours a day of C-SPAN FOR 7 YEARS WHILE THE AND THE "TALKING MONKEYS"
HAVE BEEN REPEATEDLY MISCHARACTERIZING
***REALITY***

Such Monkeyts as Tim Russert began to call it "The" war" (name used for Vietnam)
and Kept erroneously repeating over and over and over again several times a month for years "But John Kerry voted for the war"

But John Kerry made the vote described above very clear very clear!!

THE DID NOT VOTE "FOR THE WAR"
THEY RESPONED AND BELIEVED THAT GW WOULD DO WHAT HE SAID:

INTIMIDATE SADAM INTO ALLOWING THE INSPECTORS BACK IN..AND GO TO WAR ***ONLY, ONLY, ONLY, ONLY AS A LAST RESORT **

INTIMIDATION IS A FORM OF DIPLOMACY.

AND THE ONLY MISTAKE THESE DEMOCRATS MADE WAS TO BELIEVE THAT GW WOULD DO WHAT HE SAID HE WOULD DO.

AND THOSE MY FRIENDS ARE THE FACTS!! because I saw it all live.

Dani


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