« Slaughter the Fatted Calf! | Main | [I Know When] Somebody's Lying »

August 16, 2007

Comments

I know you've been away, so I don't know if you've had an opportunity to read Wayne Barrett's Rudy's Five Big Lies, which is absolute must reading for every American voter, which I link to here, along with a magnificent Rudy quote that has subsequently shown up in a lot more places.

In any case, I'd very much like to read your reaction to both.

"There is no 'shield' that is effective against all these methods, especially against a terrorist who is willing to die. There just isn't."

Tsk. You're usually more imaginative. There are a variety of possibilities: orbital mind-control satellites is the most obvious.

Or enlisting a massive force of millions of animist spirits to guard everywhere.

Or a Manhattan-style Project -- people love it when we propose those -- to invent a time machine so that whenever a terrorist attack isn't foiled, we simply go back in time to stop it.

Or building intelligent robots to guard every suspicious person on Earth.

Or we use a magic scythe to turn every potential Slayer into a true Slayer, and they'll protect us all from the terrorists.

The possibilities are simply legion. You Democrats are just loser-defeatists, stuck in the past, unwilling to consider these sorts of "new ideas" we Republicans find obvious.

Oh, whoops, just noticed your link to the Barrett piece. My apologies.

future-CNN: "Giuliani's critics say his foreign policy proposals are unrealistic. Giuliani says his critics are too busy fellating the terrorists to even read his proposals. We'll hear reactions from both sides, after the break."

I must protest your unfairness to oatmeal with raisins.

Hmm, I think TWOGO (the Terrorists' War on Global Order) may be funnier than TWOU or TWU (the Terrorists' War on Us). Anyway, it makes clear that the terrorists must be chaotic evil.

Anyway, it makes clear that the terrorists must be chaotic evil.

I'd disagree with that. They're after the new caliphate, sharia for all, etc. So that would make them lawful evil: the goal of lawful order reached via indiscriminate (evil) means.

Hey. That sounds familiar.

I keep wanting to ask all these people: do they know what a caliphate is? E.g., when the last caliphate was abolished, and where, prior to its abolition, it was? Or do they think it's something out of myth?

I wrote a brief post yesterday making fun of Mark Steyn repeating a line he deeply admired, "Scratch a liberal, find a dhimmi."

Setting aside a brief digression into the topic of whose God is the "real" God, a fellow commented this on my post:

At present, a significant number of liberals have in fact been excusing Muslim demands for special treatment. I read blogs from left right and center, and there are very few liberal blogs I've seen who seem to consider Political Islam much of a real problem. Maybe I'm not reading the right ones? The ones I read consider Bush to be a greater danger than Moqtada al-Sadr.
Open question to all: What would your (serious preferred, but not required) response be?

One thing I noticed: Giuliani says, "Ultimately, the most important thing we can do to help Africa is to increase trade with the continent. U.S. government aid is important, but aid not linked to reform perpetuates bad policies and poverty. It is better to give people a hand up than a handout."

Is he willing to make a firm campaign commitment to end farm subsidies then, and to not mandate that U.S. aid to stop hunger in Africa use American food instead of local crops? Although I think there are other important things that can be done for Africa, I do think that trade is a very important one and straightforward general-purpose aid not a high priority (others here may disagree). But the only way that trade will mean anything is if we're willing to actually open up our industries and markets to Africa, and to end our vast agricultural subsidy programs; pressuring our European allies to do the same wouldn't be bad either. Otherwise it's useless.

@ Gary: I think the obvious answer is that while we neither like nor trust Bush or Sadr, only one of them controls the executive branch of the U.S. government.

Bush is the near threat, while Sadr is a far threat.

Bush is more likely to harm people I know and care about (including me). Harm might run from impoverishment to imprisonment- it's a roll of the dice.

Of people with whom I feel directly connected, Sadr probably threatens only the US Military and hopefully they will soon be removed to safety.

I don't know about specifically liberal blogs, but there is a whole strand of article writers on the Guardian 'Comment is Free' who are very anti political Islam. But in the UK, such liberals tend to be opposed to any religion having any political influence and thus are also very hostile to Bush and the Christian Right (and indeed to having bishops in the Hosue of Lords). It's quite difficult to produce an argument against why political Islam is wrong but the Methodist roots of the Labour party are OK without ending up implicitly in the right-wing territory of 'they're brown and uncivilised'.

Iirc the last caliphate was abolished by Mustafa Kemal (aka Atatürk) after WW1. More of a formality (like the official end of the Holy Roman Empire). It just allowed to restart from a clean slate and limited to a nation state (=>Austria, modern Turkey), not a diffuse entity with few remaining connections to reality.

Concerning Sadr vs. Bush: Call me again, when Sadr has acquired nuclear-tipped ICBMs, strategic bombers and a military budget somewhere in the TOP 100. Even then Bush could be the winner in the danger contest.

In Giuliani’s defense, I’m sure this is a mishmash of ideas from his foreign policy team. Like most candidates, Giuliani himself has little to no actual foreign policy experience. Sit these people down in a room for a couple of days and this essay is the end result:

Charles Hill
Norman Podhoretz
Bob Kasten
Steve Rosen
Martin Kramer
S. Enders Wimbush
Peter Berkowitz
Kim R. Holmes

Charles Hill, a month after 9/11:

The Cold War experience is important in a psychological sense and in a sense of an example of how much will power had to do with our eventual success there. And that's the kind of thing we'll need in the war against terrorism. We're going to hear again and again and again from within our own population "Now you've done enough, don't do any more," and we can't stop. We just have to listen to them but keep going. Because if we don't keep going, this affliction will really destroy civilization.

the State Department is a blighted and wounded institution, mainly self-inflicted wounds

Some generations get a war. Not every generation, maybe every third or fourth generation gets a war. But when you get one, it will define you. It will be what you are ever after remembered for.

At present, a significant number of liberals have in fact been excusing Muslim demands for special treatment.

To what demands does this refer? "Special treatment" is a term with some use (misuse) with respect to rights for gay people, in which formulation the right to be treated in a decent and non-discriminatory manner = special treatment. Is this what is meant? Or is it simply that in some societies, the idea of an established religion is less anathema than others. Speaking for all of liberalism, I'll put it this way: we'd prefer separation of religion and state power, but don't have the ability (or, really, the will) to impose this separation on other people's societies.

I read blogs from left right and center, and there are very few liberal blogs I've seen who seem to consider Political Islam much of a real problem.

It's not my problem, to be sure. But taking the broader view, I think it's fair to say that liberals usually think that Political Religion is a problem, but one that cannot be 'solved' by outsiders. It's a question of how much time a person is going to spend railing against the ebbing of the tide. There's certainly no mileage in commanding the tide not to ebb.

Maybe I'm not reading the right ones? The ones I read consider Bush to be a greater danger than Moqtada al-Sadr.

Danger to whom? I'm not afraid of Sadr. Members of AQM should be very afraid of him, since there is no one who has suffered more at their hands than ordinary urban Shi'ites. Would I vote for him if I was an Iraqi? No. Do I think his ascendancy into a coalition of factional leaders is the end of civilization? No.

I'll wonder back why so many conservatives seem so docile about what seems to me to be a deeply and unquestionably immoral policy: virtually no one in Washington believes* that the Iraq policy is actually going to "work," and the current policy, and the one the Administration will follow it with, are in substantial part about (a) political advantage in the US and (b) the vanity of the President and his inner circle. How on earth can either be worth the life of a single one of the many fine people wearing the uniform of our country's armed forces?


* This is ex recto as they say, but I think fairly close to true. I'm talking about the policy elites, not run of the mill supporters, of whom I am sure there are many who genuinely believe in the possibilities of the policy. The goal of the surge is to buy time. The reason to buy time for Iraq has to do with Iraqi politics, and it is clearly evident, and has been for months, that more time isn't the solution. The reason to buy time for the Administration has a different purpose altogether, and is arguably succeeding. The latter, not the former, is (imo) what drives high level claims of success.

"I read blogs from left right and center, and there are very few liberal blogs I've seen who seem to consider Political Islam much of a real problem. "

I think it very much depends what "political Islam" means. I am on record as being happy that the Islamist party won in Turkey, because it seems to me to be a basically moderate party, because Turkey needs to cling to Kemalist nationalism like it needs a hole in the head, and because I think that one of the very best things that could happen in the ME is the development of homegrown legitimate moderate versions of Islam. So I am not just not worried, but happy, about that.

On the other hand, I was not happy at all when Hamas won in the PA. Just call me a walking bundle of contradictions, I guess ;)

"The ones I read consider Bush to be a greater danger than Moqtada al-Sadr." -- As CharleyCarp said, a danger to whom? And since we're asking, exactly how much power would al-Sadr have had we not invaded?

Fwiw, I am also not at all sure that Sadr is the right person to put in this sentence. Not that I like the guy or anything, but as I understand it SCIRI, or whatever they just changed their acronym to, are no roses either.

One of Giuliani's points is a sort of mysterious thing about changing the State Department and our diplomats. On reflection, he may have a point:

"A U.S. diplomat accused of having said "the only good Arab is a dead Arab" in a voice mail left with an Arab-American group has retired from the government, the State Department said on Thursday. (...)

Syring is alleged to have made the comments in a series of e-mails and voice mails to officials the Arab American Institute, including its president James Zogby, when Israel was at war with Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas in July 2006.

"The only good Lebanese is a dead Lebanese. The only good Arab is a dead Arab. Long live the IDF. Death to Lebanon and death to the Arabs," Syring said in a voice mail recorded at the institute on July 17, 2006. IDF stands for Israel Defense Forces -- the Israeli military.

"F*ck the Arabs and F*ck James Zogby and his wicked Hizbollah brothers. They will burn in hellfire on this earth and in the hereafter," he wrote in an e-mail to Zogby and another institute employee on the same day."

This is a diplomat?? Someone who is supposed to be representing our interests abroad?

Oops, forgot to say: h/t TPM.

"ugly little raisins in a bowl of oatmeal..."

Is there a Koufax Award for Most Memorable or Evocative Phrase?

Sadr can't put us on a no-fly list, can't get us locked up as enemy combatants, can't legally eavesdrop on our calls, can't gut the budget for veterans' medical care ....

As for Giulani, I did think this bit is spot on: "But too often, their governments act shortsightedly, undermining their long-term interest in international norms for the sake of near-term gains." Of course, he and I probably don't agree on who that should refer to.

Giuliani, little twitchy guy that he is, always reminds me of a frightened rabbit--which incidently sheds a lttle light on the origin of those "raisins" in his oatmeal . . .

that would make them lawful evil

Oh, I'd agree with that, Model 62. But in that case they're not warring on global order. They're trying to set up their own global order. Rudy's fantasy terrorists are different: they're just in it for the chaos, and they cackle madly while making speeches to their henchmen about how evil they are, maybe shooting a henchman from time to time to instill discipline.

"But too often, their governments act shortsightedly, undermining their long-term interest in international norms for the sake of near-term gains."

their governments ?

wow. i didn't know that we here in the US have transcended basic human nature! i guess that's good to know.

i didn't know that we here in the US have transcended basic human nature! i guess that's good to know.

That's the exceptionalism in American Exceptionalism.

Yow, Hilzoy. I guess the Bolton-Cheneyites have been successful in smuggling their moles into the State Department. And the guy stayed in his job for more than a year after that!

I guess the Bolton-Cheneyites have been successful in smuggling their moles into the State Department.

As JMM notes, Syring worked in the Foreign Service for 20 years and, disturbingly, out of the US Embassy in Lebanon back in 1994.

(This letter to the editor [in response to this article] is also quite revealing (scroll to bottom).

Okay, maybe he was a long-term sleeper agent, or maybe he's just one of the many people who went permanently insane after 9/11. Surely his diplomatic career would have hit a few bumps if he'd been saying that sort of thing in the 1990s.

If I'm not mistaken, diplomat Syring is on Giuliani's short list for the Secretary of State position.

Word is [someone's word via Washington Monthly or Josh Marshall; I hope the guy who exposed this story brings a snorkel with him when he meets Giuliani's boys at the Starbucks down by the wharf along the East River (Hey, what's with the cement truck, fellas?) for that chat] that Rudy ordered, against the advice of his "security people", that his emergency command bunker be placed in the World Trade Center pre-9/11 because it was within easy walking distance .......... for his girlfriend ...... I mean, His Honor, the Mayor, the titular, if you know what I mean, cigar lover.

What folks don't know is that on the morning of 9/11, the sorry figure of tough guy could be seen sneaky-Peting from the billowing clouds of the pulverized Towers, buck naked, though coated, like a gristly piece of breaded veal, head-to-toe with an EPA-and-Wall-Street-Journal-editorial-page-approved thick pelt of pulverized glass, aluminum, asbestos, bond traders, Saudi malcontents, and airline snack peanuts, a humidor under one arm and and his other hand firmly clenching his joy stick, for the long walk (almost as long as this paragraph) back to his mayorial digs to kiss the wife, shower, and grab his bullhorn and his hardhat for the limo ride (an aide briefing him: ("The Towers are coming down, sir!" to which Giuliani shot back; "Hey, tell me about it, ya bastid!") back to the scene to supervise the proceedings.

However, given the rancid choice of Giuliani and Huckabee for President, I would choose the former, because I just can't face repeating the words "President Huckabee" for four years, which sounds like the name of a guy dragooned into heading up a committee in Mayberry devoted to deciding who is going to bring the potato salad to the Women's Auxiliary's annual pickle competition.

Somehow, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and ...... Huckabee!? ...., their mugs carved in stone in whichever Dakota it is, doesn't do it for me.

John Edwards had the best response. Rudy's foreign policy vision is "George Bush without the thinking."

Pinging John Thullen.

Look at your email. Let's talk.

Open question to all: What would your (serious preferred, but not required) response be?

CharlieCarp already gave my serious answer:

I think it's fair to say that liberals usually think that Political Religion is a problem, but one that cannot be 'solved' by outsiders.

It took the west, by which I mean Europe, hundreds of years of bloody war to sort this out. The solutions we came up with are pretty good, but not perfect. They may or may not be a good fit for other folks.

We're not going to waltz into the Middle East or anywhere else and get folks to do things our way because we say so, whether we motivate that with a carrot, a stick, or both.

We need to ensure our national security and advocate for our own interests. Above and beyond that, we can try to be helpful. But we don't have all the answers for the Muslim world, or any other world. We don't even have all the answers for our own.

a technological and intelligence shield that is effective against all delivery methods

9/11 was 19 guys hands-on, with box cutters. Maybe it was 100 people all in. Apparently the budget was half a million bucks.

The first WTC bombing in '93 was a few guys in Brooklyn with a rented Ryder truck.

Oklahoma City was, apparently, a couple of guys with a rented truck and some fertilizer, along with the support of a small circle of white supremacist types.

Rudy can build a 100 foot fence around the entire perimeter of the US, patrol the skies with a fleet of military satellites operating on shoot-on-sight rules of engagement, and nuke every nation that doesn't bow before him just for good measure. We'll still be vulnerable to acts of political violence.

IMO, Rudy's kind of rhetoric really is insane, because it refuses to recognize the real world. But, you know what? Folks will eat it up.

Thanks -

Thanks, everyone, for your responses to my query (I didn't mean to "hijack" the thread; if anyone sees it that way, my apologies).

I've posted a pointer here in case Russell ever returns (the fellow who posted the comment on my blog), but since he was a cruise-by, and people are forbidden by law either to post comments to my blog at all, or at minimum not more than once a year, I won't count on it. But you never know, and I was very interested in the responses, so thanks again!

As for Syring, my first question was as to what his rank was; but the further details seem to establish that he was indeed a junior/mid-range FSO, so it is indeed an impressive thing to marvel at.

One likes to hope it's just a matter of any large organization having a few crazies, but I've not read much or any inside stuff in recent years about how Rice and Powell ran/run State internally, so I have little clue as to the internal state of State.

But Patrick Syring will doubtless be our next special envoy to Iran. That, or to negotiate Palestinian-Israeli peace.

Greg Djeredjian has an awesome post on this. "Scathing" doesn't begin to describe it. And, as I wrote at his place, I am very mad at him for thinking of the phrase "the Bush 43 Thermidor" first. (Not that I haven't had several years to think of it myself, and failed.)

The ones I read consider Bush to be a greater danger than Moqtada al-Sadr.

In addition to the previous entries, al-Sadr provides for the population under his control, not the ones who profit from their wretchedness.

I don't get the anger against al-Sadr, other than as yet another bogey-man. He had reasonable concerns about the invasion, wants to protect his people from the violence brought about from the violence, yet he's the devil and Gerry Adams is a saint.

"al-Sadr provides for the population under his control"

Albeit I've seen no one allege that he does so fairly or without prejudice, nor that he refrains from engaging in violence, torture, and murder of his own "population."

I'd suggest not getting too carried away with defenses of Sadr, who seems little different than any other brownshirt, with his variant being a religious one. Then there's that whole "death squad" thing. It tends to upset some people.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad