Tuesday, May 18, 2004
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The Weekly Standard takes on Don Rumsfeld
A bunch of interesting Weekly Standard articles this week.
Jeffrey Bell writes that the current Defense Secretary has been as deeply affected by Vietnam syndrome as the antiwar dobes -- and with far more deleterious consequences for the current campaign in Iraq:
In the same issue, Frederick Kagan blasts both the administration and Congress for playing shell games with overall Army troop strength. This example of short-run thinking is especially disturbing:
Finally, do check out Reuel Marc Gerecht's cogen argument that the scandals at Abu Ghraib will have no effect on the pace of democratization in the Middle East.posted by Dan on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM
Right on, righteous dude! The Weekly Standard has been increasingly critical of the "all is going well in Iraq" meme for some time. What people haven't realized is that unless we recruit more soldiers, the military preparedness is going to degrade. This is concrete evidence of that situation.
On the other hand, we really do have more troops to send to Iraq as the Weekly Standard has also advocated - if and only if we increase the real size of the military. I am sympathetic to the goal of attempting to reduce the ratio of support and logistical personnel to combat personnel, but that is a major long term refit question. In the short term the only real answer is to increase absolute numbers - how much? By about 300,000 within 1-2 years is my estimate.
Otherwise we are truly mortgaging the future to pay the debts of the present.posted by: Oldman on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
“Rumsfeld may never have fully believed in the president's democratic mission in Iraq. That may have made it a simple decision to choose, in Falluja and perhaps elsewhere, to put a cap on American casualties at the expense of achieving decisive victory over antidemocratic and anti-American forces.”
I have no problem with Donald Rumsfeld being squeezed out of the door. He may very well have outlived his usefulness. I just don’t want his exit to weaken the President. We must remember one important fact: the Democrats and their flunkies in the major media and “elite” intellectual institutions are out to destroy George W. Bush. They seem to hate him far more than the terrorists.
Do we need more troops in Iraq? More importantly, will the Democrats help to achieve this goal? Who are we kidding? Whatever happened to politics stopping at the water's edge? The Democrat Party is endangering all of us.
Lastly, Dan Drezner recently said some nice things about Eric Shinseki, the possible successor to the liberal Senator Daniel Inouye. Has he already forgotten the traitorous behavior of Richard Clarke? Why should the Bush administration trust another Democrat?posted by: David Thomson on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
How can you accuse the Democrats of anything, if your eyes see no wrong when they look to the Right?posted by: Scott Forbes on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
I am a proud Republican. I'm a Barry Goldwater Republican. I revere Ronald Reagan and his party of limited government. Sadly, that party is no longer. The current version of the Republican party is engaged in an outrageous spending binge and they're being steadied and encouraged by the Democrats... Ten years ago, in 1994, Republicans won control of both Houses of Congress. For one brief shining moment, we employed true fiscal restraint and eventually managed to balance the budget and even attain that which had seemed unattainable - a surplus! Now, at a time of national crisis, we have thrown caution to the wind and continue to spend, and spend, and spend - all the while cutting taxes. The perfect evidence of this is the number of Congressional earmarks found in the 13 annual appropriations bills. In 1994 there were 4,126 earmarks - this year there were 14,040 earmarks. Where are our priorities?
And the answer cannot be the president's crude and simple rhetorical tropes. What Bush doesn't seem to understand is that in any war, people need to be reminded constantly of what is going on, what is at stake, what our immediate, medium-term and ultimate objectives are. The president has said nothing cogent about Karbala; nothing apposite about al Sadr; nothing specific about what our strategy is in Falluja. Events transpire and are interpreted by critics and the anti-war media and by everyone on the planet but the president. All the president says is a broad and crude reiteration of valid but superfluous boilerplate. This is not war-leadership; it's the abdication of war-leadership. We are at a critical juncture. With some perspective, we have achieved much in Iraq, with relatively low casualties. But it will all go to hell if we lose our nerve now. It's long past time that people can be asked simply to trust the president. After the WMD intelligence debacle and the Abu Ghraib disgrace, he has run out of that capital. He has to tell us how we will win, what we are doing, how it all holds together, why the infrastructure repair is still in disarray, and how a political solution is possible. I'm not sure any more that this president has the skills or competence to pull it off. But I am sure that he has very little time to persuade us he can.posted by: apu on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
um apu, re: AuH20...posted by: bruces on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
The instantaneous society in quest of perfection: Everything must run like a swiss clock , a society that works like that is a society that cant make wars.Doesnt surprise that some of the Neocon ilk think that way. Left genes :)
posted by: lucklucky on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
AGAIN... Don Rumsfeld is not running Iraq. Paul Bremer and the state dept are running Iraq. The military is on a very short leash. What happened in Fallujah was a call made by the CPA endorsed by the President. One of our failings in Iraq is that, unlike Ike or McArthur in WW2, we dont have a supreme commander. We have a military command and a political command, and that is a bad policy. What ultimately happens is decisions get made in Washington.
Hmm, I don't see W squintin' at his laptop before turning in, catching the latest posting from Drezner, and going "Uh oh, better change my SecDef!" What's going on here, as so often happens,is a policy debate maquerading as a personnel dispute. And the policy that's under debate here is whether there are enough troops in Iraq to achieve the President's policy objectives.
Personally, I have no belief that the troop policy is going to change while this President is in charge. So I do not see the point of:
* Big story on Rummy's resignation, with speculation of whether this departure is a mortal blow to the administration, and whether this resignation means that Sy Hersh's latest big scoop is, by some coincidence, actually true;
* Endless Bushco infighting, as the new SecDef is sought after and found;
* Confirmation hearings circus(complete with the revelation that the nominee shopped at WalMart, bought a foreign car, and accidently had his house cleaned by an illegal alien.)
* An opportunity for every Iraq opponent to air their grievances before a wide audience, since the hearings would become an inquiry into Iraq.
If Bush had loudly fired Rummy when the prison scandal first broke, the good would have outweighed the bad,and it would have been a good move. Now,it just seems pointless.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
"If Bush had loudly fired Rummy when the prison scandal first broke, the good would have outweighed the bad,and it would have been a good move."
Couldnt disagree more. You cant placate mortal enemies, so thats a nonstarter, you cant placate those who really want Bush's head on a plate but will gladly take Rummy down, and for all the nervous kneed hawks you would quickly find that Iraq wouldnt suddenly reform overnight, so the next target would have to be chosen. This is a reaction of frustration and fear, not logic.
All this is extremely similar to what the Lincoln administration went through during the Civil War. There were many calls for Grant to be tossed, particularly before the 1864 election when Lincoln was in trouble. Some in Lincolns own party were the loudest culprits. Suddenly Atlanta falls, Lincoln gets reelected, Richmond falls, the war ends and Grant is universally admired as a military genius. A lot of the same people that were savaging him during the war decide to make him president.
Read the third sentence.posted by: fritz97 on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
Bremer may report to Rumsfeld, but that doesnt mean Rumsfeld gives him his marching orders.
"President Bush sent U.S. civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer back to Iraq with a stern message to "light a fire" under Iraq's governing council to accelerate the political transition, a U.S. official said.
Bremer made an unexpected trip to Washington for meetings Tuesday and Wednesday with Bush and his advisers to discuss the deteriorating security situation and slow-moving political transition in Iraq. He returned to Iraq Thursday.
"Ambassador Bremer, with my instructions, is going back to talk to the Governing Council to develop a strategy. And he'll report back after he's consulted with the very people that we want to assume more responsibility," Bush told reporters Thursday. "
Bremer is the presidential envoy, he answers to the president. He is a career state department diplomat. Granted, he gets on well with Rumsfeld, but without question the only explanation for why he replaced Jay Garner was to take the actual power out of the Pentagons hands and bring in a state department official to run the reconstruction. Rumsfeld is _not_ calling the shots. Bremer is calling the shots with the approval of the president.posted by: Mark Buehner on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
I am a liberal.
I hate terrorists.
I hate George W. Bush because everything he does only helps the terrorists.
Seriously, if you think that Bush's overall policy direction is helping us defeat terrorists I want to you to take your fingers out of your ears and your head out of your ass.
Read Against All Enemies, which is as close as we have to a narrative of the rise of Al Qaeda through the 1990's. You will see that while mistakes were made before the threat of Al Qaeda was recongnized, after the threat was real Clinton did put this high on his agenda. Bush and Rice, and most of all Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz ignored the issue. They were in an old mindset of state-based actors and traditional threats.
That is not why 9/11 happenend, but it certainly contributed to the overall failure to recognize the problem and address it. However far greater wrongs have been committed in the last 18 months. We have managed to turn a fully deterred Iraq into a bees nest of enemies and a recruting video for Al Qaeda. It is truly a remarkable acheivement how in less than 3 years Bush has managed to turn the entire world against the US.
Remember how the world's heart went out to the US in the aftermath of 9/11. I remember. I was overseas and I felt the love that people had towards America. Now I think about what the response would be today and I want to cry. How we have been able to abandon all moral leadership in the world is beyond me. I don't think this was by design, because I doubt Bush's team could plan something to work so smoothly.
What is the current justification for the war in Iraq? I think it is that we were freeing the Iraqi people and creating democracy in the Middle East. Well, the people want us to leave, we are not making the country more stable, we are far from democracy, and in the process we have managed to harm our moral leadership in the world (want proof...how about the delayed release of the State Department's Human Rights report).
Now are we as bad as Sadaam or any other Arab dictator? Hell no! But is that really the standard we want to set for ourselves? We need to be better than the other guy, not a little better, but a lot better, and we are failing at that job.
OK, so what about the end of mass graves in Iraq you ask? Good, I am glad, but I wonder about the cost. Not the cost in terms of Billions of dollars that our government doesn't have, or the deaths and casulaties of our troops, but the cost of our moral standing in the world. We are the enemy as we have been before, but the intensity is so much greater. If we started the dominos falling in the Middle East they are falling on us.
Right now we are less safe from terrorism than we were before we invaded Iraq. And call me selfish, but I don't think that our version of "freeing" the Iraqi people from Sadaam is worth it.
Face it, the global economy depends on security. We are not building security but undermining it. We need new leadership, and now. Getting rid of Rumsfeld is a start, but really what we need is to throw all these people out and try to start again. So much has been broken, but Bush still thinks you can fix it all with a hammer.
I really don't give a crap if all you war freaks disagree with me. I just want our country to know how deeply we have been screwed by Bush and his team. Only after we face that truth can we start to fix all the problems that have been created.posted by: Rich on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
Dan is linking to three WS articles on very different subjects. One is about the lessons Rumsfeld supposedly learned from Vietnam, and is an excuse for Jeff Bell to reuse old tropes about believing in our mission and not losing heart. The second is a nuts-and-bolts argument that some military bloggers have already made, involving the relation of the size and costs of the Iraq deployment to the Army's overall size, a subject for which Rumsfeld is directly responsible. The third is a largely speculative effort to understand the long term impact of Abu Ghraib on Arab opinion, and relates to Rumsfeld only indirectly.
My own view is that the first piece is valueless, the second quite right, and the third founded on what its author would like to believe. If it matters, I see Donald Rumsfeld as a man of exceptional ability who might have made historic contributions as Secretary of Defense under a strong President able to curb his tendency to overreach. It has been his fate to serve under weak Presidents, first the politically crippled Ford and now Bush.
There has arisen from this the problems one might expect to result from national policy being made by a subordinate official. Rumsfeld's Cabinet colleagues go along with his chosen course of action only as far as they have to, so those aspects of his Iraq policy that fall outside the military often lack a spokesman. He has no allies to speak of in Congress. When news from a place like Iraq is bad enough, he is liable to have his policy interfered with by the White House in ways that may or may not bear any relation to what he is trying to accomplish.
The truth is, of course, that Rumsfeld has been filling a vacuum since 9/11. He did something not altogether dissimilar during the Ford administration, when he took up the cause of foreign policy hardliners (including, ironically, leaders of the uniformed military) who had for years been systematically cut out of policymaking by Henry Kissinger. Then, the alternative to a policymaking stalemate caused by Rumsfeld would have been a national security policy dictated by Kissinger; now, the alternative to Rumsfeld's policy in Iraq and toward terrorism would likely be the passivity and reaction that is the hereditary default posture of members of the Bush family where substance is concerned. If there were no Rumsfeld in this administration one would have to be imported somehow, otherwise nothing would get done.
For a man like Rumsfeld, full of ideas, energy, and long-frustrated ambition the temptation to simply take over policy toward terrorism and the Middle East -- America's most urgent if not ultimately our most vital problems -- must have been overwhelming after 9/11, especially given the support of his longtime associate Dick Cheney. It might nevertheless have been wise to resist it.
Nothing in American history supports the idea that a successful foreign policy can be run from the Pentagon even in quiet times, which these are not. In setting and implementing policy Rumsfeld has, perhaps inevitably, chosen to use the tools and people he has direct control of: first his civilian subordinates in the Pentagon, then sympathetic subordinates in the uniformed military, then the heads of organizations (like Bremer's CPA) reporting to him. That this may have led to better results if he were actually President and thus able to give direction to other government agencies is a moot point; the fact of the matter now is national security policymaking under this administration has become badly distorted in a way that cannot continue.posted by: Zathras on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
Rich you make the standard liberal assumption - only people like yourself understand what is really going on and everyone else is an idiot. You see how well that worked for you in November of '02. Many see the war as necessary because we don't want to sit waiting in fear of the next attack. If we are going to lose our way of life anyway (terrorism, UN socialism) I'd rather go down fighting. Why make it easy for you? The world does depend on security but it is time for nations other than the US to truly begin making the sacrifices and hard decisions necessary to maintain it. The rest of the West have eradicated their militaries on the hard fact that they know we will be there to bear the brunt of any effort at defense. Thus all these socialists get to spend all their money on themselves and sneer at America while doing it. You just like all Socialists with your top-down revolution aims. We don't need you to tell us right from wrong. We don't need you dragging us into a liberal police state "for our own good". Have enought humanity to accept your fellow Americans for who they are. Make your arguments and if we aren't impressed then either try harder or be Amercian enough to respect the majority.posted by: Ptolemy on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
Hey Rich, if Bush is helping the terrorists out so much, why is terrorism at its lowest level in years around the globe?posted by: Mark Buehner on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
I'm a bit confused as to your overall line of reasoning here -- perhaps, you might clarify.
You've noted Rumsfeld's "tendency to overreach", Bush's argued inability to curb said tendencies, and the overall ineffective quality of any foreign and / or national security policy directed from the Pentagon.
You also discuss Rumsfeld's role in this administration as something of an inescapable circumstance -- vacuum filling -- without which, the policy of this administration would somehow revert to "passivity and reaction that is the hereditary default posture of members of the Bush family."
Aside from some rather sweeping generalizations as to genetically-determined, decision-making tendencies, the criticism here seems two fold. On one hand, Bush is ineffective because of a Rumsfeld-type actor which he is unable to control. On the other, Bush would be ineffective without a Rumsfeld-type actor to make the tough decisions.
I wonder how you might envision a properly functioning Bush Cabinet? It seems to me the dynamic you've discussed is arguably healthy -- one in which a President's Cabinet appointees handle the various tasks of office without heavy-handed micromanagement from the President with intervention only coming at moments of critical necessity.
Rusmfeld may be an active Secretary of Defense, and he may have been quite influential with regard to the present national security / foreign policy dynamic which we now find ourselves involved. But, I don't see how that influence is the necessary derivative of some side-stepping orchestration at the hands of Rumsfeld. Couldn't it also be that the President actually *agrees* with Rumsfeld's chosen course of action, and thus *allows* it to proceed?
Maybe, I'm missing something.posted by: Rus Steel on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
OK, the responses:
First is that as of November 2002 I supported President Bush and the decisions he was making. I got into a fight with a guy from Yemen in a bar in London over it. Not pretty. The thing is, now I know that he was right. We were doing the wrong thing then. I trusted President Bush and that was my mistake. If Iraq had WMD and links to Al Qaeda I would be singing a different tune today. But we were misled, and both justifications for war are actually fictions.
Second, I am not a socialist.
Third, Europe is ready to make tough choices for security. The tough choice is that an unpleasant dictator in Iraq is preferable to chaos after removing the dictator. I don't think that is an easy choice to make, but it was the argument being made against the US invasion.
Fourth, Terrorism is at its lowest level in years because of how it is being defined. All the terrorists are bombing civilians in Iraq, which is not being counted as terrorism because it is a war zone. Of course that is little solace to the citizens of Madrid. And I think you should also look at the raw hatred of America around the Arab world as an indicator of future terrorism. I don't think that is a pretty picture for the future security of the US.
Finally, about the standard liberal assumption nonsense. I am sick and tired of people saying that I am wrong because of a label. Listen, there are times that liberals are right, there are times that conservatives are right. There are times when war is the right answer, there are times when it is not. Right now I know that invading Iraq was the wrong choice. Just because I call myself a liberal does not mean that I am wrong.posted by: Rich on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
"if Bush is helping the terrorists out so much, why is terrorism at its lowest level in years around the globe?"
Because terror attacks in South America, especially Colombia, have declined significantly since 2001. See:
Given the very specific regional conflicts and the relatively low absolute numbers involved, the total number of attacks is close to meaningless. A single terror attack, like 9/11, can be more devastating than a hundred small attacks combined.
It's simply another right-wing propaganda lie to point at these numbers and claim success for Bush's devastating Middle East policies.
"Fourth, Terrorism is at its lowest level in years because of how it is being defined. All the terrorists are bombing civilians in Iraq, which is not being counted as terrorism because it is a war zone. Of course that is little solace to the citizens of Madrid. "
Thats not a bug, thats a feature. The Iraqi people, at the least, have a fighting chance now for freedom. Is it not better for the terrorists to be hunting and being hunted by our magnificent soldiers than free to pick targets of their choosing? Look at Madrid, that was clearly aimed at the Iraq sitaution. Its a horrible thing, but what would those selfsame terrorists have been doing if not trying to get Spain out of Iraq? Not home smoking hookas I'm betting. The answer is they would be choosing targets more damaging to the West. Maybe those same terrorists would have attacked the Olympics or god knows what. The bottom line is that we are making the terrorists react to us. That is of critical importance in war. The mistake is assuming there are all these nominally peaceful people sitting around in Syria or Jordan, and suddenly they just cant take it any more because of Iraq. BS. Those same bastards would be trying to hurt us in some other way. Better to make IRaq the battle ground than Birmingham or Baltimore. Its tough on the Iraqi people, but less tough than the hundreds of thousands of mass graves the old boss had to offer. At the very least we have offered them hope, which was dead before.
And the whole 'misled in war' thing is just crap. Everyone had the same intelligence. Thats just an excuse for the weak-kneed to run for cover. It was not knowing Husseins level of danger that was the intolerable threat. And as far as the Al Qaeda connection how about our friend Al-Zaqawi?posted by: Mark Buehner on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
I completely agree with your sentiments. I also supported the war in Iraq initially, although I thought it was begun at an odd time. We should have finished Afghanistan and stabilized it first, but if truly there was a serious threat coming out of Iraq, then we needed to take care of that, too.
We now know that we have been lied to. Even one member of the administration knows it:
Actually, we (as in the two of us and certainly many others) know, but the Bush faithful don't. They read the right-wing funny news (Fox News, Newsmax and worse) which keeps telling them, reassuringly, that weapons of mass destruction have actually been found in Iraq (the latest evidence being that Sarin bomb that actually injured two people!) and that links between Saddam and Al Qaeda have indeed been proven (i.e. Zarqawi and Ansar al-Islam), never mind that one could easily find much stronger links between Al Qaeda and some of our allies, such as the Saudi royal family.
Coming back to the question of this thread, whether Rumsfeld should go, well, if this is true, then the answer can only be "yes":
"The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America’s prospects in the war on terror."
But the Bush people are more interested in covering up their mistakes and indeed their moral corruption than in actually doing anything to protect us from terrorists or to stabilize Iraq or Afghanistan.
Many more mistakes can be made between now and November. We can't afford any more mistakes. Bush should either resign immediately or be impeached.
It's time that our government cares about America again and not just about its own re-election.
I would be more than happy with a McCain/Kerry administration, even in that order.
"Because terror attacks in South America, especially Colombia, have declined significantly since 2001. See:"
But in fact there were more attacks in Latin America in 2003 than in 2002, yet worldwide the number of attacks was down. In fact, there were less casualties in 2003 in _every region of the world_ than 2002. Explanation?posted by: mark Buehner on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
"But in fact there were more attacks in Latin America in 2003 than in 2002"
Yeah, 53 compared to 46. 7 more!
"yet worldwide the number of attacks was down."
Because the number in Asia (not including the Middle East) went down from 101 to 70. I just looked at the detailed list of attacks, and it seems that most of this decline can be attributed to fewer attacks in India, especially Kashmir. Do you seriously want to claim this as something that Bush's anti-terror policies achieved?
"In fact, there were less casualties in 2003 in _every region of the world_ than 2002. Explanation?"
Partly because the terrorists got drawn into Iraq after the start of the war and the fall of the Saddam regime. Conveniently, we don't count terror attacks on our troops as "international terror" (as Rich already pointed out).
"I just looked at the detailed list of attacks, and it seems that most of this decline can be attributed to fewer attacks in India, especially Kashmir. Do you seriously want to claim this as something that Bush's anti-terror policies achieved?"
Umm, yes. I believe it was Bush that read Musharaff the riot act and suddenly Kashmir has settled down. Not to mention that doubtless many of the bad guys hiked into Afghanistan and remain there, permanant parts of the landscape. Dont quote the numbers if you dont like em. Facts are stubborn things. Do you have any better reason for why terrorists all over the world seem to be taking some time off (or arent around any more to cause trouble)? But I thought the argument was Bush was being counterproductive. Its _crystal_ clear that the Iraq invasion hasnt sparked off a world wide terrorist frenzy you guys are claiming.
"Partly because the terrorists got drawn into Iraq after the start of the war and the fall of the Saddam regime. Conveniently, we don't count terror attacks on our troops as "international terror" "
EXACTLY. And as I said, thats a good thing. Our soldier kill or capture them. It seems your argument is hoping they will go away if we would just ignore them. Brilliant. Thats what got us 911.posted by: Mark Buehner on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
Richard Clarke is a Republican.
What a dumas.posted by: Barry Posner on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
About the shortage of terror attacks:
I think Mark is right about Musharaff and Kashmir. Of course Bush hasn't exactly been tough with Pakistan on that Nuclear weapons thing, but that isn't really important, right?
Terrrorists probably are directing some energy towards Iraq, which is making the difference in the world wide decline, but it is not like terrorism is gone. There have been the attacks in Madrid, in Morocco, in Istanbul, in Saudi Arabia. But overall, perhaps there were a few attacks in Iraq that would have happened somewhere else.
However, I don't buy the theory of "finite number" of terrorists. Just because we are killing terrorists in Iraq doesn't mean we are reducing the overall number of terrorists. Just today we probably killed a bunch of them in Western Iraq. However we also killed some other people (according to some reports) which is probably going to tip the anger of some idiot in Yemen or Saudi Arabia and turn that person into a crazed America hating terrorist.
Finally, what happens when we leave Iraq? If things were going well, and were perceived as going well in the Arab world, we would be just fine. But my issue is that things are going really, really bad. And we are going to leave behind a lot of anger. And that anger is going to be channeled into terrorism. We have created a fight that is going to haunt us for a long time.
If we just did Afganistan and did it right I would not have these issues with George Bush. But that is not what we did. I see the decline of terrorism as a temporary accounting phenomenon due to Iraq being classifed as a war zone. In the long term we will be plagued by more terrorism than if we did not invade Iraq, and terrorism that will be much worse.posted by: Rich on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
"I believe it was Bush that read Musharaff the riot act and suddenly Kashmir has settled down."
Settled down? I just counted 45 terror attacks in Kashmir in 2003. This compares to 8 in 2001. Wow, Bush really helped calm Kashmir down since he took office!
But, yes, Bush did ask Musharraf in 2002 to do something against terrorism in Kashmir. It is possible that this resulted in a small decline from the relatively high levels of terrorist activity in 2002. But 45 attacks in 2003 is still pretty high, don't you think? See also "Kashmir: the War Bush Forgot" - http://www.republicons.org/view_article.asp?RP_ARTICLE_ID=874
"Dont quote the numbers if you dont like em."
"Our soldier kill or capture them. It seems your argument is hoping they will go away if we would just ignore them. Brilliant. Thats what got us 911."
Ok, if you can make up a strawman for me, how about this strawman for you:
Your argument seems to suggest that there is a certain fixed number of terrorists in the World. By luring them all into Iraq we have them in one place and kill them.
Of course, this argument is completely flawed. New terrorists are being recruited as a result of our war in Iraq. Most of the terrorists we are fighting there now (and who are killing our troops as well as innocent Iraqis just as we try to kill the terrorists) probably weren't "terrorists" before the war. There are lots of misguided Muslims who have been brainwashed in Wahabist schools in Saudi Arabia into believing that we are pure evil. They are now being shown the Abu Ghraib pictures, and many of those who were on the fence of actually doing something about their feelings most certainly turned into terrorists as a result.
This kind of screwup simply should never have been allowed to happen. We are learning more and more about the background and how the Pentagon heard about the abuses in Abu Ghraib months ago, but just sat on it and hoped the problem would go away or could be covered up.
This is how terrorists are made. The only way out of this is to show the Arab world clearly and without doubt that this is not us, this is just our corrupt, lying, out-of-control leadership.
And yet there are still people defending it. How is this possible? Are you trying to help recruit more terrorists? You are acting as if you are.
Hey Rich, you beat me to it by two minutes. Sounds like we really think alike. :-)
But I'm afraid you are too optimistic with regards to Kashmir. Bush did address it in 2002, but - precisely because of the Iraq mess - it has since been pushed back again and mostly ignored even though it involves two countries who, as opposed to, say, Iraq, actually do have weapons of mass destruction.
"However, I don't buy the theory of "finite number" of terrorists. Just because we are killing terrorists in Iraq doesn't mean we are reducing the overall number of terrorists. "
They only way that sentence makes logical sense is if there are an infinite number of terrorists.
"New terrorists are being recruited as a result of our war in Iraq"
True, but that is far from the only effect. Heretofore terrorist neutral or friendly have been shocked into cracking down, we've seen that in Jordan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. Whats happened in Libya cant be ignored. Not to mention however many potential terrorists are wetting their pants and decide to stay home out of fear of US might. Your argument works both ways. So what decides who's right? How about the facts. There were less casualties due to terrorism in the Middle East in 2003 (760) than in 2002 (772). Same with Western Europe (6 to 2), Africa (12 to 11), Asia (1283 to 1110), Eurasia (615 to 5), LAtin AMerica (54 to 12). The only one that didnt go down was North AMerica, because 0 is as low as it gets. Why no bombs going off in America if we've riled the terrorists so badly? You're theory is fine but there is simply no evidence that we are creating terrorists faster than we are killing them. Where's the beef?posted by: Mark Buehner on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
"Why no bombs going off in America if we've riled the terrorists so badly?"
Last time it took them eight years to prepare the next successful attack in the US. If it takes until 2009 before another successful attack occurs, then I will concede that Bush kept us as safe as Clinton did. :-)
"Where's the beef?"
The first round of beef was served on March 11, 2004 in Madrid. Of course, those casualties are conveniently not included in those 2003 numbers you keep mentioning, that's true.
The really awkward part about this sort of thing is that now you can turn this into some kind of "so you are looking forward to every terror attack then" accusation.
No, I'm most certainly not. I'd love to be wrong on this.
You, on the other hand, would probably shamelessly use a terror attack on America before the election as a propaganda tool to help re-elect the guy who got us in this mess because he is "tough on terror". Because surely American voters will react to such an attack in exactly the opposite way as Spain's voters did. The sky-high approval ratings after 9/11 for any kind of action the President took strongly suggest that.
I wonder if the terrorists have thought this through, too - if they attack before the election, they will actually help George W. Bush's re-election chances. So if they do attack, could that be seen as an endorsement of his campaign? Do they perhaps indeed realize that Bush helps their cause? Do Kerry's hopes rest to no small extent on Bush's ability to prevent a terror attack before the election? (Isn't that a neat paradox?)
"Eurasia (615 to 5)"
that was Chechnya. Nothing to do with Bush policies either. (And the number in 2001 for Eurasia was 0.)
Besides, the number of terror attacks in the World has been on a pretty steady decline since at least 1987.
Casualty numbers mostly reflect very deadly individual events. 1999, for example, had a lot more incidents than 2003 (395 compared to 190), but more people were killed in 2003 because of a number of very deadly attacks in the Middle East and (the rest of) Asia.
Sorry, but that you keep quoting these numbers as evidence that Bush's policies are working is just ridiculous.
I'm not sure how you can argue that we have Bremer calling the shots. Granted we do have a split political and military command. This leads to crossed wires. For instance, apparently Bremer did pull the trigger on going after Sadr. But the US military committed less than full resources to it at first and consequently Sadr got away to be a big mouth on the run.
Also it's been well noted in the press that Bremer has been against the prisoner detention, mostly as a PR gripe. However that command was firmly under Rummy. We do have a split military and political command. Bremer didn't have any control over Abu Ghraib.
We have a schizophrenic administration of Iraq. It's been well publicized that under Jay Garner the Pentagon high command worked to keep the State Department out. Now the pendulum has gradually swung to the State Department, but the military is still acting in a separate chain of command.
I think that's a more accurate statement of the state of affairs.posted by: Oldman on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
Quoting an earlier exchange:
"However, I don't buy the theory of "finite number" of terrorists. Just because we are killing terrorists in Iraq doesn't mean we are reducing the overall number of terrorists. "
They only way that sentence makes logical sense is if there are an infinite number of terrorists.
That is not true. If you want to argue that our acitons in Iraq doesn't create more terrorists that is fine. I think you are horribly mistaken, but fine.
There is a finite number of terrorists. It is the population of the earth. Every person would become a terrorist given the right conditions. Our actions are tipping many more people into becoming terrorists.
And regarding the cooperation in fighting terror from other Arab nations I think there are a lot better ways to do this then by having more terrorism occur in their nations. In fact Richard Clarke makes the argument that 9/11 was the ideal opportunity to turn the tide against terrorism. Unfortunately this has been squandered and now most world leaders will not even appear next to President Bush.
Again, great job Mr. President. You could not have screwed things up more if you tried.posted by: Rich on 05.18.04 at 09:01 PM [permalink]
Mark B writes: "Not to mention however many potential terrorists are wetting their pants and decide to stay home out of fear of US might. "
How, exactly, is US might going to dissuade a suicide mission terrorist?
Furthermore, it won't do much to keep people from supporting terrorist networks in non-violent ways - contributing or transporting money, transporting people, conveying messages, smuggling, etc.
Again, I ask you people, if Bush is causing 'more' terrorism than there would have been had we not gone to Iraq, WHERE IS IT? We had Madrid, yeh but we had Bali before that. The statistics dont lie, there simply _has not been_ an outbreak of terrorism in the middle east or around the world any greater than we have been seeing in recent years before the Iraq invasion. It hasnt happened. Yes, maybe X more people have decided to become terrorists or militants because of Iraq. But we have killed Y number of terrorists and their native countries have capture or killed Z and we have spooked however many more (Jon H, not every terrorist is a suicide bomber. There have been less than a hundred suicide bombings in the last decade. For every suicidal terrorist there are many more that like being alive as much as we.) History shows it is American weakness and inaction that encourages attacks. OBL _stated_ as much. So the bottom line is you guys have to prove that we are creating more than we are neutralizing. Lets see the proof.
You guys have theories, but all the evidence points the opposite way. We have been waiting for the Arab street to explode for 20 years at least, just hasnt happened.
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