Monday, October 18, 2004
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A long, winding, and long-winded response
My previous post on my probability of voting for John Kerry generated a lot of feedback – and most of it was civil and respectful, a pleasant surprise given the tenor of the current political season.
It would be impossible to respond specifically to all of the arguments made by all the commenters and e-mailers, so I'm going to distill them into a few short bullet points:
Let's respond to these in reverse order. The last point I find really unpersuasive for three reasons. First, a President Kerry would be unable to implement any major domestic policy proposal without the consent of Congress, and there is no chance that Kerry will be able to command disciplined majorities in both houses. Which means Kerry will have to deal with the Republicans. And here, Kerry's weak Senatorial record is actually an argument in his favor, because I'm happy to have some gridlock in DC for a while (a related point: Daniel Patrick Moynihan's observation that it's impossible to enact major policy without a rough 2/3 consensus makes it highly unlikely that George W. Bush will be able to get Social Security privatization through, should he become president. So while I'd like to see that -- provided the transition costs could be funded -- it's an underwhelning reason to vote for Bush). Second, the details of the latest
The critique of Kerry's foreign policy team gives me greater pause. I do wonder whether people like Susan Rice would wind up being the Douglas Feiths of a Kerry administration, having to be "consistently bailed out of trouble by career diplomats," as my secret correspondent phrased it.
However, I have two rejoinders to this objection. The first is that the people who spark objections are second-tier appointments. The people at the top -- Richard Holbrooke, William Perry, and Robert Rubin in particular -- tend to command greater respect (though not love) among policy cognoscenti. But I can't guarantee that Holbrooke would be named Secretary of State if Kerry wins, and so that is disturbing.
Second, at least Kerry's second-tier people would actually talk to the career staff. One of the biggest problems with the Bush administration has been the tendency for people like Feith and Wolfowitz to simply ignore expert advice. Indeed, Feith in particular went so far as to create his own little intelligence shop to bypass DIA. Again, I'll take a group of medocrities who actually listen to their staffs than supposedly brilliant men like Feith who simply block out any information that contradicts their assumptions.
The critique of Kerry's own record of decision-making gives me the greatest pause. Kerry was on the wrong side of the nuclear freeze debate in the early eighties on the wrong side of the first Gulf War debate in the early nineties, and on the wrong side of the "lift-and-strike" optiuon put forward by Bob Dole on Bosnia in 1995. This Washington Post story by Dale Russakoff and Jim VandeHei from last week makes me feel even less sanguine. Key part:
The more I contemplate this argument, the more disconcerting I find it. It doesn't help that whenever I bring up John Kerry's name to Democrats based either in Massachusetts or DC, I don't feel a lot of love in the room. Their attitude towards Kerry is reminiscent of the disgust many of them felt towards Al Gore after the 2000 election.
The only response I can find to this argument -- and it's not a great one -- is that the John Kerry of 2004 has learned a little bit from his past mistakes. This is the essential thesis of Thomas Oliphant's much-cited essay on Kerry from this summer -- that because Kerry has screwed up, and because he knows he has screwed up and been forced to face the political ramifications, he is unlikely to adhere to a disastrous policy choice for very long.
Still, I find that this is the hardest point to rebut -- so I invite Kerry supporters to do so in the comments.
The final argument boils down to whether I'm misjudging the outcome of Bush's foreign policies. Which really boils down to Iraq.
Why did Bush invade Iraq? Three reasons are generally given. The first is the WMD issue. The second is the neocon argument -- to which I'm sympathetic -- that the Middle East was the region of the globe that seemed most hostile to liberal democracy, and it was also the region responsible for the growth in global terrorism, and that these two facts were not coincidental. If Iraq could be transformed into something approximating a democracy, it would put pressure on all the other regimes in the region to quit diverting domestic attention towards the Israeli/Palestinian issue and promote genuine reform. The third argument comes from Greg Djerejian's must-read post on why he's voting for Bush -- it's a quote from former Bush administration official Richard Haass in The New Yorker about why Iraq was invaded:
OK, to date, has Operation Iraq Freedom achieved any of these three goals? On WMD, yes, although I'm not sure anyone wants to trumpet that as a resounding success for the administration. On democratization, the jury is definitely out, and I hope I'm wrong about this, but it's very, very difficult to claim that current situation is a hospitable one for creating the kind of model state necessary for the grand neoconservative argument to work. As Djerejian acknowledges:
The third argument rests on perception -- does the Arab world now recognize that the U.S. is not a paper tiger? And this is where I firmly disagree with Greg. The mere existence of an insurgency able to explode bombs in the Green Zone eighteen months after the end of "major hostilities" makes the United States look weak. The escalating number of U.S. casualties makes the United States look vulnerable. The failure to properly police Iraq's borders makes the United States look incompetent. And as for what Abu Ghraib makes the United States look.... let's not go there.
What's so frustrating about this is the evidence that had things gone well, the U.S. would have reaped significant policy dividends. The invasion did help compel Libya into abandoning its WMD programme, and there's evidence it could have swayed Iran to do the same. However, as the occupation has proven more and more difficult, the desired bandwagon effect stopped with Libya.
For the Bush administration to have achgieved its policy goals in the region, it wasn't necessary that things go perfectly, but it did require that the U.S. respond as quickly as possible to adverse circumstances with an unstinting flow of men and materiel. Instead, there was apparently no real plan for the post-war phase (click here for more) and there has been a profound reluctance to increase troop levels or increase the supply of necessary materials.
Any international relations expert will tell you that the perception of resolve is a source of power. But it's far from the only source, and any measure of power that relies solely on perception is fragile to changes in the situation on the ground. At the present moment, I think Bush's perception is off and he can't and won't be comvinced otherwise -- this showed up in his poor foreign policy performances in the debates. Indeed, Bush's ability to articulate and persuade others of the rightness of his own foreign policy positions is shockingly bad. In the end, all he an say is "trust me." Well, I don't trust him anymore.
Kerry, for all of his flaws, has at least acknowledges that the U.S. is going to have to expand the size of its military to meet the current demands of U.S. foreign policy. Bush does not -- and the effects on America's armed forces will be deletrrious for the long run.
Some commenters have suggested that Bush secretly recognizes that mistakes have been made, and there will be changes after the election. I'm glad they're confident of that -- this David Sanger story in Sunday's NYT makes it clear that even insiders aren't sure about this:
So where am I now? I'm unpersuaded by arguments saying that Bush's foreign policy has been a greater success than commonly thought, and I'm not convinced that he would ever be able to recognize the need for policy change.
However, the responses to the previous post have fed my doubts about Kerry's bad foreign policy instincts -- enough to slightly lower my probability of voting for Kerry to 70%. So it's now up to Kerry's supporters to make their case -- how can I trust that John Kerry gets the post-9/11 world? How can I be sure that Kerry's policymaking process will be sufficiently good so as to overwhelm Kerry's instinctual miscues?
UPDATE: David Adesnik and Megan McArdle are also deliberating and asking questions (Megan has a lot of questioning posts up -- do check all of them out). Stuart Benjamin makes the libertarian case for Kerry.posted by Dan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM
you just... can't.posted by: georgio on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Because he is a man, with a plan, a canal, Panama ?posted by: fingerowner on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Daniel Drezner wrote:
Let's respond to these in reverse order. The last point I find really unpersuasive three reasons. First, a President Kerry would be unable to implement any major domestic policy proposal without the consent of Congress, and there is no chance that Kerry will be able to command disciplined majorities in both houses. Which means Kerry will have to deal with the Republicans. And here, Kerry's weak Senatorial record is actually an argument in his favor, because I'm happy to have some gridlock in DC for a while.
That is just so false for three reasons.
First of all, divided government does not equal gridlock nor does it automatically lead to less spending. As we saw when Democrats controlled the Senate during the first half of Bush’s term non-defense/homeland security discretionary spending went from about a 4-5 percent increase to about 15 percent. Since Republicans regained control of the Senate the rate of growth has been declining. More importantly when there is political pressure from the public to “get something done” as there was with a Medicare prescription drug benefit, we’ve seen how Senate Democrats were able to successfully used the threat of a filibuster to bid up the Medicare prescription drug benefit from about $300 Billion to the current $534 Billion monstrosity.
Second, over forty percent of the federal budget is tied up in entitlement programs which are on auto-pilot. Bush is the only major party candidate running who favors Social Security reform to reduce the program’s unfunded liability. If there were gridlock, it means we’d go another four years without reform which means that more baby boomers would be locked into their benefits and likely to resist any “cuts.” The best time to reform the program is before they begin retiring not after. More importantly we had divided government in the 1980s the last time we tried to “fix” Social Security and the result was no personal retirement accounts and a huge increase in payroll taxes (which is about the only proposal that Kerry hasn’t disavowed).
Finally despite your assurances (more like “wishful thinking”), there is no guarantee that there will not be a Democrat-controlled Senate after either this or the 2006 election. Nor for that matter with only about couple vote majority in the Senate, would it be difficult for a Democrat President to pick off the four or five more liberal Republican Senators to get his agenda through there. As far as the House goes, past experience has shown that when the executive branch teams up with one of the two legislative Houses, they are more likely to prevail than the other way around.
Bottom line, a Kerry presidency would only serve to guarantee that we would not get any sort of meaningful Social Security reform (particularly since a Kerry victory while demagoguing the issue would make other politicians reluctant to touch the third rail) before the Baby Boomers retire and it would not necessarily guarantee “gridlock” on other issues either, particularly if there is a Democrat controlled Senate again.
Bravo. I admire you're willingness to think out loud like this. No cheap shots, no stupidity. Why don't more authors write like this?posted by: Kevini on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Not to beat a dead horse here (and Dan, I really like this series of posts!), but I don't think you should call it a "P-value."
It is (and you sometimes do get it right) a probability, plain and simple.
I guess you could call it a p-value, in that you sometimes use the term "P(x)" to indicate the probability of event X (your voting for Kerry, in this instance).
But P-value is really a term of art: it's what you calculate when you're doing Fisherian statistical hypothesis testing. It's a specific kind of probability, and not the kind you're using here.
Sorry to get all pedantic.
Here is a better explanation, from the ever-excellent Mahalanobis.posted by: Bayes_Rule on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Why should you trust Kerry? Well, you can certainly read, say, Matt Bai's article and make up your own mind, but I should also just mention two names:
Joe Biden and Dick Holbrooke.
And, for my own bugaboo, on the issue of nuclear nonproliferation, I think Kerry is unquestionably superior to Bush who has let the issue languish while off on his Iraqi misadventure which, as you say, has diminished the aura of American power around the world.posted by: Aaron on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I'd just add a few random thoughts:
1. It's unsurprising that people are guessing as to where Bush goes next. People guessed up to March 2003 whether we'd really go to war in Iraq. But thus far, since 9/11, we have not seen Bush depart from the basic strategy he's outlined for the War on Terror, i.e., a strategy premised upon marginalizing, disrupting and if necessary removing regimes that are part of the problem.
2. It's true that Bush rarely admits mistakes - we all know if he admitted one in the debate we'd have heard nothing else for the rest of the month - but he has shown the willingness to change tactics, as has been done a few times in Iraq. The willingness of wartime leaders to do public penance is overrated.
3. As for Kerry, he went out of his way in the debates not to endorse anything resembling liberty or democracy in the Arab world and not to say anything good about Israel or bad about the UN. The Bai piece showed his concern for working with the existing Arab despots. It is simply inconceivable that Kerry would do anything that brought down the opprobrium of the defenders of the status quo.
4. As for the army, Congress has been taking care of making sure it gets bigger.posted by: Crank on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Dan, I think you've left out the biggest threat Kerry poses to us; he has no idea how to prevent terrorists from hitting us again.
Kerry like to wail and moan about how only five percent of containers being shipped into the U.S. being inspected. Assuming that's true, he's right, that's a concern.
However, as any NFL fan will tell you; no matter how defensive you get, no matter how much money you spend on defense, the offense is always going to find a way to slip through. It will always be possible... nay, LIKELY, that determined, committed poeple will always find a way to get through whatever security cracks exist. And who, I ask is more committed than the ideologically driven bloodthirsty idiots we find ourselves faced with today? The only way to really deal with the problem is the elemination of the offense.
Not very possible in football... essential in national security.
The only way to really put a stop to this is to put a stop to THEM... not just by putting up increasingly defensive postures, but by puttinga good offense into play. Thta's the real best hope. Killing or capturing our enemy before they strike, while showing the remainder of the world that freedom is spreading, (A free people being less likelyto adopt radical casues like Usama BinLaden's) is the only way to deal with this issue. John Kerry simply doesn't get this simple and profound equation. George W. Bush meanwhile, has made it his policy.
Make no mistake; There's a bit of a mess going on in the middle east right now. But I ask you to consider; when is the last time you ever saw any kind of a major re-construction project where there was not a serious mess for a while?
We're re-building a society... one the Iraqi people have repeatedly and flatly stated that they WANT rebuilt... as did those in Afghanistan.
All this goes right by John Kerry.posted by: Bithead on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
To what degree do the foreign policy challenges of the past reflect those of the present which Kerry will have to answer? American attitudes toward the use of force were much different in 1990 than they were in 2003, thanks to a series of low-cost successful interventions.
My main argument is that, unless you are a serious hawk who wants to invade Iran, our biggest challenges in the War on Terror now lie in the nation-building realm, traditional Democratic turf. Bush and Kerry would at this point be very similar in pursuing al-Qaeda via intelligence and the like.posted by: Brian Ulrich on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Study of the Bush regime and inner-circle reminds of the Nazi regime of the mid-1930s. All are mediocre Middle Class mentalities, which do not so much reason, as express common beliefs from among their own set. Substitute Iron Will for Confidence, and you will begin to understand. Homeland Security was designed to be a new Gestapo, but fell far short of expectations. All the inner-circle gravitate around an unskilled leader, who seems to cast a mystical spell over the children. lglposted by: lgl on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
On foreign policy, Bush and his tight circle of
Meanwhile the Bush-ites have ignored and even
In contrast, Kerry has a broader view of what it
We can also expect Kerry to quickly stop the
On domestic policy, we can expect more emphasis
Bottom line: since Bush has not admitted to any
People like to say the Administration went in "without a plan to win the peace," which is absurd.
The strategy is ongoing. Some of it is dependent on not announcing what the strategy is. Hello?
Part of it is this: the Iraqis must quickly become able to defend and police their own country. For this to happen, they require training. Real-life training.
Sure we've left a few isolated pockets of resistance. And now, as is evident from the headlines, these terrorist slimeholes are being cleaned out by the Iraqi military, with some backup from the coalition.
It is the same technique employed by cats, bringing home dead prey for their kittens to play with. Then bringing home injuried prey for the kittens to learn to kill. Then they work their way up to hunting on their own.
We can't just kill everybody and leave and hand over the sheriff's badge. This new army needs some combat experience before we can leave.
On a related matter, for Kerry to leave the Korean nuclear deception and the Iranian nuke program on Bush's doorstep is disingenuous. The Iranian snowball started rolling downhill a long time ago, thanks to the allies Kerry is so fond of. And Iran became what it is today thanks to Jimmy Carter, who Kerry wants to emulate.
And the Korean disaster was put in place by Bill Clinton, with the able assistance of... who else? Jimmy Carter.
Kerry and the antiwar crowd want to go back to these policies of trusting dictators who have a record of betrayal, and bending over for our so-called allies who have stabbed us in the back.
Daniel, how can you overlook Kerry's obsession with going to the UN for protection, when it is now clear that the UN was in Saddam's pocket, even as today they refuse to act in Sudan or Iran because of similar reasons?
I guess you can ignore it if you decide it's not important. But Kerry thinks we really can go back to 9/10, and that the next day won't really be so bad.
posted by: Korla Pundit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
“The critique of Kerry's own record of decision-making gives me the greatest pause. Kerry was on the wrong side of the nuclear freeze debate in the early eighties on the wrong side of the first Gulf War debate in the early nineties, and on the wrong side of the "lift-and-strike" option put forward by Bob Dole on Bosnia in 1995.”
With respect, the “wrong side” arguments are not arguments about his decision making process – but instead are arguments about the resulting decisions. Kerry may (or may not) have been wrong, but all of these positions are consistent with a pre 9/11 worldview with respect to the limits of military force as a political instrument. Greg D is correct in stating that 9/11 changed people’s thinking – including, I strongly suspect due to his decision-making process, John Kerry’s.
It seems your disquiet with respect to Kerry is primarily with respect to his decision-making process vs. Bush’s decision-making process. You are correct in you implied argument that they are fundamentally different. In fact, the difference is a significant distinction made in personality “typing” tests like the Meyers-Briggs type indicator.
As to the decision-making process itself, the arguments against Kerry essentially come down to a charge that he has no set of “core values” that guide his decision-making. “Jarring changes in direction”, “flip-flopping” and like charges, as well as the lack of “… love in the room…”, both point to a man whose decisions appear to be made as a result of calculation rather than “faith-based” conviction (or the “confidence created” reality you refer to later in the post) that truly is the hallmark of the GWB presidency. On the other hand, the arguments against Bush is that he refuses to account for new data to the point of being fundamentally incapable of recognizing, much less admitting, error.
In pop psychology terms (Meyers/Briggs Type indicator), Kerry appears to be a “perceiver” who constantly seeks additional data and resists “final” decisions. Bush, OTOH, is a “judger” who makes a decision and resists changing that decision even in the face of compelling evidence that he may be in error. In short, Kerry “adjusts” to new data, and Bush “resists” new data.
This seems to be the major difference in the decision making style of the two men. So, the question regarding decision-making becomes - are you more comfortable with someone who may err on the side of indecisiveness or someone who may err on the side of wrongheadedness?
I know where I stand. Give me more data!
To me, this election boils down to the demonstrated
More important, Bush has shown that any mistakes
This is obviously not an argument "for" a candidate, just
Korla Pundit writes: "People like to say the Administration went in 'without a plan to win the peace,' which is absurd."
In March 2003, days before the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, American war planners and intelligence officials met at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to review the Bush administration's plans to oust Saddam Hussein and implant democracy in Iraq.posted by: Russil Wvong on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
The Russakoff - VandeHei criticism of Kerry - that he bogs down in indecision by listening to too many advisors - is one that was routinely levelled at Bill Clinton. Yet policy was immeasurably smarter and more carefully thought through under Clinton than in the current administration. Isn't it time to stop making a fetish of decisiveness? Government has a rhythm that forces decisions out of even the chronically indecisive and there is no evident benefit from shortcutting the consensus building process that gets us to decisions that have been analyzed with some reasonable care.posted by: Dan Ryan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"And the Korean disaster was put in place by Bill Clinton, with the able assistance of... who else? Jimmy Carter."
As I've said any number of times on this blog, this simply is not true. When Clinton left office, NK's nuclear material was sealed and monitored. Now, it's almost certainly in nuclear weapons.
Whose fault is that?posted by: Aaron on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Since you seem to already agree that Bush is doing it wrong (and are just unconvinced that Kerry is going to do it right), I think a good way of answering this question is to look at Kerry's vote in favor of the (second) Iraq war. There are two possible explainations for it:
The other important thing to note here is the whole "money where your mouth is" issue. Kerry has been saying he'll be as tough as Bush, but he just wants allies and the international community and all of them to play a role too. Ok, now let's assume Kerry CAN at least draw out some more support from the rest of the world (a fair assumption, at least compared to Bush). Now Kerry has to prove he'll DO something with the extra support he's been promised. Saying "I've got a commitment from Germany for 2000 troops to...stay in Berlin" sounds really stupid. The point is that in order to ASK the world for support, he has to being asking them to DO something, and since Kerry HAS to make good on his overriding campaign theme of working with the world, that implies that there will be an overarching goal they are working towards. What will it be? I'm not sure, but I'd imagine, judging from Kerry's campaign rhetoric it would be something along the lines of containing Iran/NK and/or counterproliferation efforts, two of the most important issues in the world today. Other actions I think are likely include more support (even if not actual troop presence) in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Regardless of whether Kerry is someone who has good instincts or not, the end result, while most certainly not perfect, is worth taking a look at. I think in the end, it presents a better picture and future for America than four more years of the same.posted by: David Schraub on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
>Kerry, on the other hand, will probably respond too much--he'll blow back and forth as first Republicans and then Democrats attack him.
If you think he will flap in the breeze from simple domestic political attacks, how do you think he would respond to terrorist and military atttacks?
Like Clinton did in Somalia, Kerry will pull back from any military engagement at the first sign of trouble. Which sends the clear message to our enemies: "If you attack us, we will run away, so go ahead and attack us."
The Blackhawk Down event became the handbook of the Taliban and the Iraqi holdouts. We still have the reputation of running away, with no stomach for casualties. We need to reverse that image.
You can change tactics, you can change details, but you can't change your core values, or abandon your mission, at the first sign of trouble, and expect to survive.
That's why it's called a "commitment." We don't need a wishy-washy Charley Brown as commander in chief.posted by: Korla Pundit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
>As I've said any number of times on this blog, this simply is not true. When Clinton left office, NK's nuclear material was sealed and monitored. Now, it's almost certainly in nuclear weapons.
Well, that is just a lie.
We found out that they had TWO programs in place, not just the one we knew about and had monitored. They had already completed TWO nuclear bombs before Bush even took the oath! But you still blame him.
And worse, you want to make another deal with Kim Jung Il.
Talk about not learning from your mistakes!posted by: Korla Pundit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
1. You missed one of the most important reasons for the invasion of Iraq. It is revealed by simply looking at a map - Iraq is the only country that borders our 3 biggest problems in the ME (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia). 100,000+ US troops in Iraq is a better diplomatic tool against these states than any words Kerry can muster.
2. Terrorism on a large scale requires two things that are vulnerable to attack: state sponsorship and money. Choke off those two, and the problem is managable. Chasing terrorists around the world is pointless and futile - people are replacable. With all due respect, it doesn't matter what happens to OBL - if you cut off his money and his state support, he will be ineffective and we can catch him at our leisure.posted by: Ben on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
This thread should have ended after lgl's comment.
He brought up the Nazis, and according to Godwin's law, his side automatically loses.
;-)posted by: David R. Block on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
enough to slightly lower my probability of voting for Kerry to 70%. So it's now up to Kerry's supporters to make their case
Why? Sounds like Bush supporters still have to work on getting that value below 50 %. Or will you only vote for Kerry, if Kerry supporters can persuade you to raise the value to 100 %? And otherwise it's Bush by default?
But since you asked - and given all the pros and cons you already went through - I think it's down to actuals versus hypotheticals. All your concerns about Bush are actual concerns based on Bush's actual mistakes in his handling of a post-9/11 presidency. All your concerns about Kerry are hypothetical concerns about how Kerry will handle his own post-9/11 presidency, but they are based on his (allegedly not so good) pre-9/11 voting record in the Senate.
Remember, in 2000 Bush ran on a Republican platform that had isolationist elements. And what exactly did Bush do in the early 90s and the early 80s, when you say that Kerry voted the wrong way on the Cold War and the first Gulf War? When you look at past records, don't you actually have to look at both?
For me personally a major aspect is that Bush refuses to do much about homeland security. He said in the debates that it costs too much and he repeated again and again that we are already spending the equivalent of about 1/4 of the latest corporate giveaway on homeland security. Of course, he didn't draw that comparison, but just hoped that the number of 40 billion dollars would suitable impress his audience as "big enough".
Mark Buehner in the previous thread and Bithead here are reciting the talking point that Kerry is playing defense because he wants to improve homeland security. Bush and his administration have repeatedly made the point that the terrorists "only have to succeed once" in order to wreak havoc again. (It seems lost on them that the terrorists might actually succeed many, many times if we continue to leave so many areas badly protected and that even imperfect defenses might prevent MOST of those otherwise successful MULTIPLE attacks. Given that 9/11 was really four attacks, that does seem quite likely, doesn't it?)
I'm very worried by the lack of a public discussion about what SHOULD happen, if another attack occurs. You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to conclude that many members of the current Bush administration would welcome the opportunity to further curtail civil liberties. If we really all assume that it's just a matter of when, not whether another attack occurs, then is it far-fetched to think that some people might actually want to see it happen sooner rather than later so that they can finally implement their favorite policies?
So what will they do, and why aren't they telling? Will they expel all Muslims? Close the borders? End immigration? I don't think free trade will survive long under those circumstances either. Will we invade a few more countries, chosen not for their connection to the terrorists, but for other, inexplicable reasons? If there is a nuclear attack on America, will we strike back, probably indiscrimately, with our own nuclear weapons?
Frankly, I don't think humanity can afford the danger of George Bush still being in office if and when another terrorist attack occurs in America.
Kerry vs. Bush:
If you like Scalia and Thomas then vote for Bush. If you like SDOC, go with Kerry. Scalia said that Thomas doesn't believe that case law should be considered as settled when making decisions.
Iran and Syria. What are the chances that Bush will invade one of those two states in the next 4 years? Well, if we look at what he's said about pre-emptive strike and then compare with those two states... really good. Plus, there were sources in the admin who were willing to go on record as stating that it was in the works.
Kerry--won't. i'm not sure what sort of force-posture you'd like, but i'm faily certain that occupying two mid-east states at the same time is a bad, really bad, plan.
and the argument that 'we're drawing the terrorists to us so we fight them there rather than here' is, well, somehow hollow. Let's assume for a second that OBL and Co. have at least normal intelligence.
Our government officials are on TV and in print announcing that 'we're fighting there so we don't have to fight here.'
So, if I'm a reasonably bright terrorist I will, upon hearing this... run right to Iraq and fight Americans? These are folks with the brains and discipline to carry-out multi-year planning. Thus, not at all a reasonable theory on terrorist fighting.
I don't have a great plan, but I'm certain that 'invading mid-east countries' and then leaving only a shell-force that can't consistently project force outside of the capital (Afganistan or Iraq, whatever) is not the way to 'root out terrorists where they're from.'
Maybe Kerry doesn't have a great plan for that, but I'm with Matt Newman, Bush's probability of coming up with a good plan is approx. zero. Kerry's might only be .1 or so, but I'm pretty close to taking that.
>You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to conclude that many members of the current Bush administration would welcome the opportunity to further curtail civil liberties.
You don't have to be, but you are.
So, are you going to be yet another kook who implies your rights have been destroyed by the Patriot Act, and then can't detail one example of how your rights have been impacted?
Or does it fall again to the library books?
Why do you think it was okay to apply these very same laws to Mafia dons, but god forbit we should trample on the rights of Mohammed Atta Jr.posted by: Korla Pundit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Count me among a decided minority, but I happen to think a Kerry administration will fight international terrorism much more effectively than the Bush administration has: Kerry, more fundamentally than Bush, comprehends the "nature" of this struggle.
Bush has, of course, pilloried Kerry for being stuck in a pre-9/11 "mindset." But in fact, it is Bush who is stuck there--determined to re-fight the Cold War. Thus his focus on rogue states and their proxies, and his relative complacency once these rogue regimes have been toppled. It is Kerry who has argued for GREATER military force when it comes to destroying al-Qaeda, and it is Kerry who has emphasized a need to "broaden" the focus beyond terror-supporting states to terrorists’ networks spread around the globe.
Terrorists do not need rogue states to thrive. In fact, you might say that the most dangerous networks have sprouted from US allies in the Muslim world. Not a single top al-Qaeda leader (according to FBI, State Dept., and other US sources) is a citizen of a "state sponsor" of terrorism. Al-Qaeda's leadership principally comes from 10 or so nations THAT ARE US ALLIES in the Middle East and Asia. It needs a complicit, supportive population, and a single set of goals, namely, the eviction of non-Muslims from the Middle East, and the destabilization of Western-allied Muslim states. If Bush has an approach to dealing with this problem--that the source of the problem comes from supposedly "staunch" allies such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, and Yemen, I haven't seen it.
More than that, terror needs a globalized world: a world free of restrictions on international finance, a world in which customs regulations are few, and in which labor migration is encouraged. So money winds its way to terror networks and groups that can send materials and supplies around the globe, and can send members to countries to work and form terror cells unimpeded. We cannot give up globalization; nor should we. But where is the concerted effort to police terrorist transactions? Yes, yes, I hear plenty from the Bush administration on how much cooperation they are getting in cracking down on terrorist finance. But if you were to choose between a President who thinks if you topple a few regimes things will take care of themselves, and a President who understands that terrorists organizations can “lurk in the shadows” for decades, and need to be destroyed by a combination of military force and international effort, whom would you pick?posted by: Raj M. Desai on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
As someone trained to think in terms of indivdual (meaning single persons, not groups) actors, I find Bush's rhetoric refering to vague groups as "terrorists" and "axis-of-evil" a bit concerning. At least Kerry breaks down the relevent actors into smaller groups. (Although personally, I would break them down even further. I think of Al Quada as at least three separate parts; the rank-and-file recruits, the leadership, and the fiancial backers. I'd want to break it down further if I could, but I (and probally the US) don't know enough about them to do so) For example, Saddam Hussein and Al Quada aren't the same thing - but sometimes judging by Bush's rhetoric I wonder if Bush doesn't conflate the two. Bush himself describes himself as someone who relies on gut instinct sometimes, and even if he understands, logically, the two are distinct (although related) threats, I worry that subconsciously he melds the two together, distorting his instincts.
Sometimes I wonder if Bush fully understood that Iraq is made up of many people, with conflicting goals and ambitions. That realization of course does not imply that going to war in Iraq was wrong, but being aware of it might have given him more pause and a greater understanding of the kind of chaos that would be unleashed after an invasion. I'm not one to blame Bush for *all* the mistakes done in Iraq after the invasion; war always has unintended consequences. But if Bush were more naturally inclined to see multiple relevent actors instead of amphorous "enemies" perhaps some of the problems would have been handled better. The administration publicly predicted a relatively easy aftermath. Someone who thinks in terms of specific individual actors, or at least groups smaller than a state, or worse "terorists," would be much less likely to see Iraq as easy.
Of course it's possible that Bush deep down has a more sophisticated view of the world, but simply chooses to use rhethoric that is simplistic and overly optimistic. But then by doing that he is misrepresenting himself, making it harder for us in a democracy to make informed choices. Furthermore, if one of the primary goals of the war was to convince other actors of America's resolve, why did the administration publicly downplay the difficulty of establishing peace in Iraq prior to the war? We basically said "We're willing to use force against all who oppose us *when it is easy*. Since Saddam opposes us, and it'll be easy, we'll make war." When it turns out that winning the peace is hard, those we are trying to intimidate have to wonder whether we intend to use force in the future. If the administration had been more candid about how hard establishing peace could be, the intimidation value of the Iraq war would have been greater.
My guess is then the administration sincerely thought the war was going to be easy. In which case, they are simply out of touch with reality (Due to conflating individuals together into amphorous groups, or groupthink induced by strong loyalty norms inside the administration, or an absolutist religious worldview, or whatever.)posted by: wml on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Fielding a statement about how Democrats feel about Kerry. I was disappointed when he picked up the nomination too. But that was largely due to the opinion that he wasn't particularly electable (out of the group). Obviously anybody the Dems nominated would have been very competitive this year, but Kerry (who I really like on policy) isn't going to pick up the votes of Americans who vote on sound bites and physical appearance (almost a viable third party). So, thought of Kerry the president gets me enthusiastic and happy. Thought of Kerry the candidate is kind of a downer.
On foreign policy. What should the foreign policy priorities of the next four years be? I'd say
And what special scenarios might a president have to deal with?
What can you say about an incumbent whose supporters say "He'll be different in his next term!"posted by: thompson on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Dan, Dan, Dan. Stop the rationalizing and overthinking. After the president sets a direction it's all subordinates and hangers on. Always. They are good bad and indifferent. Always.
The very, very simple question is, who do you want setting the direction? This is just the old question, who would you rather have in the foxhole with you? Just answer that question. Then you will have all you need.posted by: John on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Like Clinton did in Somalia, Kerry will pull back from any military engagement at the first sign of trouble. Which sends the clear message to our enemies: "If you attack us, we will run away, so go ahead and attack us."
Richard Clarke on Clinton's post-"Black Hawk Down" NSC meeting:... Clinton was irate. Somalia was not his idea of how to spend his first year in office. He had inherited it and the military had let him down. He had followed the Pentagon's advice, not Howe's, in June and they had been wrong.... Clinton sat silently, red-faced, in the Cabinet Room listening to Warren Christopher, Les Aspin, and Colin Powell. I realized he was letting them have their time, but he had already decided something. He was done listening to them on Somalia.
When they had talked themselves out, Clinton stopped doodling and looked up. "Okay, here's what we're gonna do. We are not running away with our tail between our legs. I've already heard from Congress and that's what they all want to do, get out tomorrow. We're staying. We are also not gonna flatten Mogadishu to prove we are the big bad-ass superpower. Everybody in the world knows we could do that. We don't have to prove that to anybody.
"We are going to send in more troops, with tanks and aircraft and anything else they need. We are going to show force. And we are going to keep delivering the food. If anybody fucks with us, we will respond, massively. And we are going to get the U.N. to finally show up and take over. Tell Boutros he has six months to do that, not one day more. Then ... then we will leave."
* * * Six months later, the United States finally handed over the operation to the United Nations peacekeeping force.
* * * the United States had never intended to stay in Somalia. It had gone there for a limited time until the creaky U.N. peacekeeping bureaucracy could field a force. By its own limited definition of an objective, the U.S. had done what it set out to do.
Against All Enemies, pp. 88-89.posted by: Anderson on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
You chide Kerry for indecision.
>Thus his focus on rogue states and their proxies, and his relative complacency once these rogue regimes have been toppled. It is Kerry who has argued for GREATER military force when it comes to destroying al-Qaeda...
And where would Kerry direct this great military response if not states that harbor and support terrorists?
Should we bomb the Atlantic ocean?
Bush spelled it out. The states that are not helping us by rejecting terrorism are equally as guilty as the terrorists themselves. That means Iran, Syria, North Korea, etc.
Other countries realized they were on the wrong side of the gun and decided to either side with us, as did Pakistan, or at least surrender their WMD programs, like Libya.
So where is Kerry going to target Osama Bin Laden, since apparently in his book that is the sum total of the terrorist threat.
Where will he send the marines? The North Pole?
Specifics please?posted by: Korla Pundit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
It's true that "divided government" is too simplistic a prescription, but that doesn't mean that it's wrong. It's simply that the divide we need (to hold down spending) is GOP Congress, Dem President, rather than the reverse. Two points:
1) Politicians get popularity by Doing Stuff. And the "Stuff" they can do primarily involves spending (other people's money). Democrats tend to support that for ideological reasons (i.e., they think the government should be doing these things); Republicans tend to do so for pragmatic reasons (i.e., popularity).
2) The president gets significant credit for whatever gets done.
So if you have a Democratic Congress, then they want to, and do, pass programs, and a Republican president doesn't want to look uncaring by stopping it. Indeed, he can boost his popularity by claiming credit for it. So you get spending.
On the other hand, a Republican Congress wants to kill programs for ideological reasons, _and_ wants to deny a Democratic president the ability to claim successes, so it has an incentive to block new spending.posted by: David Nieporent on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Korla says that Pakistan decided to side with us.
While winking at A.Q. Khan's becoming a peddler of nuke tech?
With friends like that, who needs enemies?
Note to Dan: If you haven't read James Fallows's articles "Blind into Baghdad" and "Bush's Lost Year," you really should before even thinking of voting Bush. If you have, you might mention them and whether or not they impressed you (and why).posted by: Anderson on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
The third argument rests on perception -- does the Arab world now recognize that the U.S. is not a paper tiger? And this is where I firmly disagree with Greg. The mere existence of an insurgency able to explode bombs in the Green Zone eighteen months after the end of "major hostilities" makes the United States look weak. The escalating number of U.S. casualties makes the United States look vulnerable. The failure to properly police Iraq's borders makes the United States look incompetent. And as for what Abu Ghraib makes the United States look.... let's not go there.
Although the rest of Dan's post is quite good, I thought that this paragraph was just plain wrong.
I'd like for Dan to answer me one question: which makes the US look weaker, (a) suicide bombs exploding inside the Green Zone while our troops help Allawi plan free Iraqi elections, or (b) Saddam Hussein, inside the Green Zone, freely thumbing his nose at our 200,000 troops sitting in the desert in Saudi Arabia, three years after 9/11? Because option (b) is the option Kerry prefers ("wrong war, wrong time, etc.").posted by: Al on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Hey Professor...You've become that cartoon character of
The only part of your article I want to comment on is the Machiavelli
Meanwhile, Back in the 100 acre woods:
"You know", Pooh said as he sat on a log tapping his paw against his head.
I think the point is that there are no more "rogue" regimes that can, realistically, be toppled by US force anytime soon. If the implication is that Bush is basically saying: "Iran: you're next; Pakistan and Saudi Arabia: we're onto you," there is no one in any of those countries that believes that. So the question is not, "who would Kerry bomb," but "now that we've exhausted military options, what next?" And I see plenty of "nexts" for Kerry, but none for Bush.
And Al Qaeda (which, though not the sum total of the threat is still the major part of the threat) is a presence in 60 nations. So this "war" is not being fought in Iran, Syria, North Korea (you forgot Cuba--nope, not there either). It's being fought in Hamburg, Madrid, Marseilles, Jakarta, Rabat, Riyadh, etc., etc., etc.
Kerry and others did urge Bush to use force more aggressively to destroy al Qaeda remnants in the final days of the Afghan war. But Bush basically saw his job as done once the Taliban fell. And therein lies the difference.posted by: Raj M. Desai on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"The critique of Kerry's own record of decision-making gives me the greatest pause."
Will Kerry be decisive enough and aggressive enough to make tough decisions--to pull the trigger, to get people killed? If the CIA have a chance to assassinate bin Laden or other al-Qaeda operatives, for example, will he authorize them to do so? Or will Kerry be paralyzed by indecision?
I guess this is why Kerry's emphasized his Vietnam service. In particular, the Silver Star incident--there's a firefight going on, Kerry's boat is fired on by a rocket launcher, he orders his crew to beach the boat, he kills the guy with the rocket launcher--is pretty strong evidence that (a) he's decisive in a crisis and (b) he's willing to kill people.posted by: Russil Wvong on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I think Pooh may be on to something, at the very least, but the above exchange is terrific. I've concluded that Kerry isn't a leader based on his record in the senate. He is not much of a diplomat either, based on never having made amends to those who were maligned by his post-war comments, some of which he has stated were "over the top." As to his judgement? The convention told me too much to take comfort. "I'm a hero" isn't the way heroes are known to speak of themselves. So for me, John Kerry has climbed quite high enough on an already wavering ladder - for him to go one step up puts me and everyone else in harm's way.posted by: Curtis on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Somebody up there made a good point -- Kerry voted to give Bush the power to use the miltary at his discretion. IF what Bush said had been true (Saddam had WMDs), we may have needed to use force in Iraq. So Kerry voted Yes.
The moderate foreign affairs consensus, e.g., Walter Russell Mead, *get* the post-911 world. Kerry/Holbrooke values the opinion of the foreign affairs consensus. Therefore, Kerry gets the post-911 world.posted by: goethean on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
David Nieporent wrote:
It's true that "divided government" is too simplistic a prescription, but that doesn't mean that it's wrong. It's simply that the divide we need (to hold down spending) is GOP Congress, Dem President, rather than the reverse.
I disagree, a divided government or one that lead to gridlock would be unlikely to enact any sort of entitlement program reform (which is a far more important than discretionary spending) before the Baby Boom generation or worse any reform it enacted would resemble the Social Security reform of the 1980’s in which we increased the payroll tax rather than allowed younger workers to opt out (thereby stopping the digging of the hole we’re in) or implemented any sort of long-term structural reform.
Also there is no reason to assume that the Senate will continue to remain under Republican control and if should be as closely divided as it is, a Democrat President could be able to pick off the four or five liberal Republican Senators to implement some of this programs. Then it becomes a matter of a two against one and prior experience shows that the two are more likely to prevail than the one.
posted by: Thorley Winston on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
> He is not much of a diplomat either, based on
There is really very little that one can say that will make any difference whatsoever to people who viscerally and irrationally despise you. Those who hate Kerry based on his anti-war activities fall right into this group.posted by: goethean on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
(It seems lost on them that the terrorists might actually succeed many, many times if we continue to leave so many areas badly protected and that even imperfect defenses might prevent MOST of those otherwise successful MULTIPLE attacks. Given that 9/11 was really four attacks, that does seem quite likely, doesn't it?)
Given the lack of attacks after 9/11... the answer is "no". And, why? Because they're all focused on Iraq.
There, or here.... there seems preferable.
posted by: Bithead on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
If you think Iran is going to just give up its nukes without the mullahs being kicked out, you are dreaming. And the nukes will be denied them, one way or another.
That may mean war. It may mean covert support of an Iranian rebellion. But it will be something that requires backbone, and not UN committee hearings and social teas.
And North Korea will require serious facing down. Not begging and bribes. A real threat of military force.
Syria will have to be removed as well. And Kerry will have none of this.
There may be a lot of tough talk from the so-called Muslim world, but when the Taliban was toppled, against expectations that we would cower and retreat, a serious rift occurred in the terrorist realm. A lot of them were pissed at Al Qaeda for bringing us over there.
Because Bush showed we were willing to defy France, who promised Saddam we would not attack, there will be a lot more second thoughts about attacking us directly.
But that's not good enough. We have to get rid of these tyrants altogether, however long it takes. Just like it was a mistake to think WWII was Europe's problem, it was a mistake to trade the delusion of stability for the tolerance of fascism.
Kerry prefers the delusion of stability. With the occasional nuisance.posted by: Korla Pundit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Putin recently commented that, while he was not throwing support towards either American Presidential candidates, that if Kerry wins he feels it will most certainly make Islamic Fundamentalists feel validated, raising the probability of more terrorist attacks internationally. In other words a Bush win would deflat a terrorist's ego while a Kerry one would serve to only inflate it. Although this is not an esoteric comment, I think it is something to be considered, as to how the psychology of this whole election will play out in the minds and hearts of those who are trying to extinguish Western Civilization's influence.
Also, I feel more secure knowing how Bush has acted and reacted through the various crisises of the last three and a half years. The fact that our country has been free from other external attacks, is experiencing a resusitation of it's economy, and has released two Islamic countries of their dictatorships, as it tries to stabalize the aftermath of the US's involvement, is "progress" that is tangible and deserves positive notation.
Kerry's rhetoric, however, offers little comfort except to flood rallies and debate forums with a multitude of "Plans." His cry of, "I have a Plan," is far less convincing than Martin Luther King's famous line of, "I have a dream." Because a "plan" seduces one into thinking of something concrete rather than King's more visionary "dream" reference. And there has really been nothing solid about how a proposed Kerry Administration would actually function and implement it's ideas.
Furthermore, ideas and plans all depend on the originator's internal core beliefs, character and values. And this is what bothers me the most about Kerry. You can prop Kerry up front as the leader, but if he has serious voids of depth, or if he is merely a political suit looking to fill out a life long fantasy of being President, without the real credentials to do so, then, "Houston we have a problem." Kerry's controversial Vietnam tour of duty, his painful and, some would call foolhardy, participation in the Winter Soldier hearings, his lackluster Senate career, and his multiple switchbacks of thoughts and attitudes towards current issues in this political campaign only punctuate these concerns
This election, for me, is less about which party wins than which man is better suited to fulfill the next four years of service at a very critical time in our country's history. I am really not sure that either man will be able to do the job needed right now. But, with Bush's tenacious character, and his ability to act on issues decisively, despite all the politically correct and international pressures around a US President these days, this gives me hope that we can survive under his leadership. The given mistakes Bush has already made only gives him extra points of experience regarding what has and has not worked, which Kerry lacks, at the get go. And, just because Bush has not gotten down on his political knees to recount them all to the public, doesn't mean that he has not done the reflection needed to make appropriate corrections in the future. I personally think there is much more to Bush than the media and scrutinizing opposition party gives him credit for. Thusly, I feel that four more years of Bush will not necessarily mean four more years of the same. Instead, it might mean 4 more years of a revitalized, revised policy under a tested President.posted by: Jan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
One other point.
I'm surprised Dan did not respond to Greg Djerejian's "Substance Over Form, Please!" point, since it was specifically intended to rebut Dan's argument about Bush policy-making process.
I think I understand why Dan focuses so intently on process. After all, process is a lot of what Political Scientists study. So I assume that Dan thinks it quite important. But he has never quite explained WHY he thinks process is so important. And, frankly, my view approximates Greg's: process is important, but, unless it is fatally flawed, process is less important than having a clear vision of where you want the process to take us.
Korla is just tickling the heck out of me today, can't say why ... maybe the Electoral College math is depressing me too much?
If you think Iran is going to just give up its nukes without the mullahs being kicked out, you are dreaming. And the nukes will be denied them, one way or another.Okay, over the past four years ... what has Bush done re: Iran to show "backbone"? What has he done to make any "real threat of military force" re: NK? And what prospect do we have of "removing" Syria?
(What does it say, btw, that someone talks about "removing" Syria? Is Korla a wargamer, an aficianado of 007 movies, or what? How do we "remove" Syria? The way we've removed Iraq?)
We had an army that could've cowed Iraq, Iran, NK, and Syria ... provided it wasn't launched. And we launched it, as someone's observed, at the one member of the Axis of Evil (has a metal band taken that name yet?) not to have a working nuke program.
So on Korla's own reckoning, Bush has made America less safe. Kerry has damn little to choose from on his options, because Bush has sent our army to embrace the tar baby. So the utter gall of those who say "Kerry won't use force, so vote for Bush" is ASTONISHING. Kerry and what army? What choice other than "diplomacy and law enforcement" has Bush's folly left Kerry?
Barring the draft, of course.posted by: Anderson on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
As for the Afghan operations, I admit that they have been successful, but there is no reason to believe that a democratic administration would have done any differently in the aftermath of 9/11 /2001 .
It is also unreasonable to believe that a Kerry Administration would do worse than Bush's administration on the appointment of Supreme court
The present adminstration has repeatedly lied and mislead the public on many matters. Also, from
goethean -- That's your take on it. Unfortunately, it was also Kerry's. Some diplomat if he can't tackle the tough stuff!posted by: Curtis on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
RE: "If you think Iran is going to just give up its nukes without the mullahs being kicked out, you are dreaming. And the nukes will be denied them, one way or another... That may mean war. It may mean covert support of an Iranian rebellion. But it will be something that requires backbone, and not UN committee hearings and social teas."
Where are you getting your information on Iran? Support for nukes in Iran goes far beyond the 'mullahs' and includes nationalist stirrings that are understandably looking for ways to project power in an unstable part of the world. Point is, de-nuking them will not be a simple matter of surgical strikes or decapitation.
RE: "And North Korea will require serious facing down. Not begging and bribes. A real threat of military force."
I'd like to see the Bush Administration work out the scenarios where they can threaten military force while allaying the individual and shared concerns of China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. On second thought, I wouldn't want to see any of those scenarios come about and that's why I plan a reluctant but necessary vote for Kerry.
posted by: Mandalgobi on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Its like the people at a party who say they are undecided so they get all the attention. First Dan says he needs Bush-supporters to convince him to vote for Bush and he wants Kerry-supporters to do the opposite. Flash- make up your own mind dude. If you haven't yet been able to choose between the two despite the preponderance of evidence and arguments and records then I think my illegal-alien Mexican janitor has a greater right to vote than you do. At least he knows he prefers Bush because he'll allow guest workers from Mexico. Stop expecting everyone to fawn over you because your precious p-value hangs in the balance. Sheesh!posted by: caf on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I can follow your domestic politics argument.
I am amazed to see that so called conservatives are spending like there´s no tomorrow and like "deficits don´t matter".
Concerning foreign policy though...
Uhh, if American media reports (those available on the Internet) are right, President Bush can´t name any single mistake in the last four years?
I don´t know about you BUT I personally can think of a few mistakes I made in the last months?
(Sorry, I´m a Protestant. :)
Now - following you - Iraq.
1) The WMD issue which - I notice - you don´t follow.
2)The neocon issue
I´m sympathetic to that issue myself!
I sincerely believe there was a window of opportunity in 2003 in Iraq.
Iraq wasn´t/isn´t a third world country.
Instead we saw no-bid contracts to Bechtel and
OH, and forget Djerejian. :)
I just fail to see how that proves that you´re not a paper tiger?
In fact you´re pulling American troops out of South Korea because you need them in Iraq, NOT because you´ve got any concessions by North Korea.
Some commenters have suggested that Bush secretly recognizes that mistakes have been made, and there will be changes after the election.
Explain to me something.
Please explain to me why there would be "real" changes in the Bush administration assuming it will get reelected?
I mean if they get reelected it must mean a majority of Americans support their policies?
They win the election (in 2004) so YOU American voters obviously support their politics of the last four years.
Especially since they don´t have to think about reelection in 2008?
I´m really curious to know why a Bush/Cheney team should change their policies in their second term?
"We have to get rid of these tyrants altogether, however long it takes."
I would argue that the US ought first to (1) define its vital interests, and (2) identify the vital interests of these regimes, no matter how noxious they are. If it's possible to reach a compromise that will protect the vital interests of the US--in particular, by preventing nuclear proliferation, which Kerry and Bush both agree is the greatest threat to US security--then I would argue that the US ought to settle on a compromise instead of going to war.
The US military is already badly overstretched trying to deal with Iraq. I don't see how the US is realistically going to be able to go to war with Iran, or North Korea, or Syria in the near future. If the US had infinite resources, it wouldn't have to negotiate with these regimes. But in the real world, it doesn't have infinite resources.
The purpose of war isn't physical, it's psychological: it isn't to destroy the enemy, it's to force the enemy to do something he doesn't want to do. (See Liddell Hart's Strategy.) If you can do this through diplomacy rather than war--through persuasion, compromise, and/or threats--then it's far better to do so than to go to war, which always has unpredictable consequences.
From this perspective, overheated rhetoric about evil regimes is counterproductive. How can you negotiate with someone after calling them evil?posted by: Russil Wvong on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Korla -- the two claimed nuclear weapons that NK 'had' was simply a guess based on a small amount of unaccounted for material.
As for the two nuclear weapons programs, uranium enrichment is hard and takes a long time. It was not, dare I say it, an imminent threat. The plutonium was there and available. Clinton had it placed under lock and key.
Now, that plutonium is gone. That's what I blame Bush for.posted by: Aaron on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I write this post with a sense of resignation that yours is an outcome (a vote for Kerry) in search of a rationale, however specious. What I find so troubling about the Iraq debate in this country is that we have what I call the hip/glib/smug set condescending to the rest of us that Iraq is, according to them, an unqualified mistake. The intellectual depth of the analysis in support of this cocksure attitude is, if it were a mud puddle, one that you could wade through without getting your feet wet. Unfortunately, far too much pseudo-intellectual capital has been expended to support this "wrong war" canard and people have become entrenched.
While you dismiss the idea that Bush's Iraq decision is sounder than generally perceived, it is that part of his policy that will be looked back upon as the decision that changed the course of history...for the better. I will simply point out that the terrorists understand this and that there is an enormous disconnect between those in America that believe Iraq was a distraction from the WoT (much of this crowd scoffs at the notion of a "war" on terror anyway) and the frenzied belief of the terrorists who recognize that success in Iraq is a fatal blow to their deranged cause.
I am glad that you acknowledge the problems with Kerry's past, and I think that those problems are profoundly disturbing for a country in a time of war. Again, while many in this country perceive Kerry as a complex thinker, in my judgment his record reveals a geopolitical lightweight, dangerously naive in the area of foreign policy/national security. His "grand bargain" idea for a nuclearized Iran is frighteningly naive', yet many are more impressed with how Kerry pronounces "nuclear" rather than the substance of this dangerous idea. I therefore conclude that it strains the borders of credulity to decide upon John Kerry as Commander-in-Chief on the hope that he has learned his lessons from an abysmal foreign policy/national security resume'. Respectfully, such an approach to this important decision strikes me as reckless, particularly because Kerry has done precious little to give evidence of this "change" during the campaign. In fact, he has reinforced that the John Kerry of old is the John Kerry of today (nuclear freeze in 1984, abandonment of the nuclear bunker buster today as another example). Ironically, one could conclude that Kerry has not changed even in the absence of Kerry himself saying that he has not changed (as in the Matt Bai article). The truth is that Kerry has arrogantly tried to portray himself as one that has "got it" all along. The rest of us just needed 9/11 to catch up. This indicates a changed man? I think not.
Lastly, I differentiate between those that agree with Kerry's approach as he outlined it in Matt Bai's article (that's the real John Kerry) and those trying to figure out a way, any way, to justify a vote for John Kerry. I may disagree with former, but I respect that they are not engaged in a obfuscated analysis of a Kerry presidency as is the case with the latter; disagreeing with the "real" John Kerry but, for reasons that are incoherent, prepared to roll the dice with our national security nonetheless.posted by: jim on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I escaped the WTC that day, with the horror now indelibly etched within me.
As a 27-year military veteran who has witnessed first-hand the terror inflicted upon us, I am in complete solidarity with the families and friends of those who had no chance for survival.
The response to the global outpouring of sympathy and support for the United States has been squandered.
The effort to root out and destroy those responsible for the attack was short-circuited to focus on Iraq, a country (with a despicable despot, nonetheless), that had nothing to do with the events of 9/11.
To me, the choice is clear. Attack terrorism, or succumb to the fear and distortions of those who have no firm grasp on the concept of terrorism, but have clear, fixed positions on carrying out their own, twisted agenda.
We all should be patriots (in the true sense of the word), and those who post here are. That means questioning those who -- by all accounts -- have mislead the people of the United States and deceived the world.
Regards to all free-thinking Americans.
May truth and justice prevail. My grandsons -- and their future -- are too precious for our country to veer further from the path set by our founders.
Jebus, you're such an attention whore.posted by: you.sound.like.my.ex on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
One Canadian who doesn't think GWB is stupid and did think invading Iraq was smart, on why it's time to change management teams: http://tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2004/10/14/Election2004posted by: Tim Bray on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
While you are puzzling over who will be more effective at answering the challenge of international terrorism (I think it is Kerry, but others can give you the reasons), perhaps you should take a few moments to consider who will answer the challenge more justly and more legally. After that, I hope you will ask yourself whether the ends justify all means, including those which are unjust and/or illegal. I hope you will ask yourself how much you value the rule of law, relative to a temporary sense of safety. I hope you will answer that, even if you conclude that Bush is more effective against terrorism, the means he has employed are illegitimate, unjust, and illegal. I hope you will choose to support the rule of law, over an arguably more effective anti-terrorism program.posted by: smijer on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I was reading Kevin's apologetics to your indecision when I decided to read what you have to say about your own indecision. And here is what I see:
You have picked up a twig and have judged the nature of the forest by that twig.
So, with all due respect, and consideration for your educational efforts I suggest that you take yourself to a pub, drown your thoughts about politics with two liters, submit your resignation to the University, and go join the military where you can get in a tour de force of Iraq. After which I'm willing to wager you would've personally run against Bush if Kerry hadn't.
Let's make this simple. Senior members of Bush's
1) blown the cover of a CIA agent working to
2) revealed crucial national security secrets
3) released to the press the fact that we had
In all these cases, Bush has made no serious
So why should we even argue about character or
I'm 110% sure that President Kerry will treat
I don't think enough thought has been put into the idea that a Kerry win will make the Democrats have to take responsibility for the war on terror. I've heard a lot of pissing moaning about how the Democrats are pessmistic and hoping for failure. This is of course just the reality of opposition: they HAVE to be critical to get anywhere, and this supposed standard of "the non-criticism of lofty projects" is NEVER consistently applied (Kosovo anyone?). But if Kerry wins, Iraq and the WOT will be his to worry about. Democrats will be running the show and Republicans will be the critics. But since Republicans have already invested themselves in being the war party, supporting nation-building and democracy, we'll basically be left with a more unified nation on those issues than we could ever hope to be under George Bush.
I try to take seriously the character issues that critics of Kerry raise, but too much of them seem to stem from on the spot and hostile psychoanalysis rather than serious arguments. Would Kerry really back out of a necessary war? Would he really go soft on Syria? With someone like Biden at the helm? I just don't see it. From what I know of Kerry personally, the Republican college-dorm collage portrayal of his positions just doesn't match the man. He may have been on the wrong side of Iraq I and arms buildup (though I think both are overplayed), but he wasn't on those sides because he was a leftist. He was there largely because he was in the opposition. As President, that just won't be the case any longer, and it's very hard to so simply read from his Senatorial career fighting against Republican Presidents what he would do AS President.posted by: plunge on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
There is far more thought and wisdom behind a potential Kerry foreign policy than is reflected by either campaign's rhetoric.
See, for instance:
It's a realistic and more sophisticated view of the world than Kerry is often given credit for.
But perhaps that is why this election is so close and fascinating: it is a test of competing world views and associated hopes, fears and assumptions.
That observation should not imply a detached, academic indecision on my part. Far from naive, an internationalist view of the world is the more accurate and, yes, realistic. Comments above by Raj M. Desai are spot on.
There will always be a need for the realist view (nation-states competing in an anarchic world) of foreign policy so eloquently advocated in this thread. But a good realist view does not equal a good foreign policy or strategy; it does not automatically lead to policies that accomplish desired goals.
One has to wonder openly and often just how well the current administration (as demonstrated in their chosen policies and actions) understands the real nature of the threat posed by fundamentalist Islam. It is, afterall, not a war on terrorism but a struggle with a nascent fundamentalist Islam.
What happens if your p-value does not converge to 1 or 0 by election day? Do you take a random number generator to the polls?
Seriously, as a thought experiment, what would add or subtract from the p-value. Could you be making yourself vulnerable to an 'October Surprise' that in the long run turns out to be a minor issue? Suppose the military has a resounding victory / massive casualties in the week before the election. Should that event effect the p-value more than the same event in July?
Perhaps a better approach is to make a choice, then assign some p-value that the choice will change. The shorter the time before the choice must be made, the larger the perturbation must be effect the choice. A p-value of 0 means you have already sent in the ballet, a p-value of 0.499 means the slighest thing could tip your choice.
(And a p-value of > .5 means you are more likely to change your view than keep it - insert Kerry
Good luck getting your p-value closer to integral!
1. "I'll take a group of medocrities who actually listen to their staffs than supposedly brilliant men like Feith who simply block out any information that contradicts their assumptions"?
This begs the question of what would such a group of mediocrities DO after having duly listened to their staffs? Your faith in their ability to overcome the critical thinking deficiencies that would account for their being mediocre in the first place is puzzling. I'll take Feith over faith any day.
2. "[Kerry] is unlikely to adhere to a disastrous policy choice for very long."
I would say that he has demostrated that he is unlikely to adhere to ANY policy for very long if the political winds, either domestic or international, shift against him. In a Senator, that is deplorable, but manageable. In a President, however ...
3. "[I}t's very, very difficult to claim that [the] current situation is a hospitable one for creating the kind of model state necessary for the grand neoconservative argument to work."
I agree that it's difficult to do so at this time. But does that mean that it is easy to conclude that it isn't, after only 18 months?
4. "The mere existence of an insurgency able to explode bombs in the Green Zone eighteen months after the end of 'major hostilities' makes the United States look weak."
Afghanistan goes from Taliban rule to free elections in about 2 years, Saddam Hussein's regime is disposed of in under a month, and you believe that reports of perceptions of the U.S. as weak are credible?
5. "The escalating number of U.S. casualties makes the United States look vulnerable."
Only if Kerry's argument that this is the "wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" engaged in by a "trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought, and the extorted," and Kofi Annan's opinion that the war in Iraq is "illegal" win the day.
6. "The failure to properly police Iraq's borders makes the United States look incompetent."
Severely stretched, perhaps, but incompetent? It's not as if they're not trying to address a problem that a true incompetent would indeed fail to recognize, Dr. Drezner, a problem that would have been much easier to deal with had Turkish politics not interfered with the 4th Infantry's deployment from the north.
7. "And as for what Abu Ghraib makes the United States look [like].... let's not go there."
No, let's. I suspect that the manipulated subjects (can't quite call them fully enfranchised and informed citizens) of the Middle East's repressive regimes might harbor some degree of longing not only for the considerable relative uptick that the reprehensible abuses at Abu Ghraib represent in comparison to the situation in their own countries' prisons, but also for the slightest movement on behalf of their governments toward the kind of accountability that the U.S. has demostrated.
8. "[A]s the occupation has proven more and more difficult, the desired bandwagon effect stopped with Libya."
Were you expecting all of the Middle East "dominos" to fall by, say, Christmas or Ramadan this year?
9. "I think Bush's perception is off and he can't and won't be comvinced otherwise -- this showed up in his poor foreign policy performances in the debates. Indeed, Bush's ability to articulate and persuade others of the rightness of his own foreign policy positions is shockingly bad. In the end, all he an say is 'trust me.' Well, I don't trust him anymore."
If Bush is so bad at promoting his vision on Iraq and the war against terrorism, how come he's ahead of Kerry on these issues by double digits, despite his lack of debating finesse?
10. "Kerry, for all of his flaws, has at least acknowledge[d] that the U.S. is going to have to expand the size of its military to meet the current demands of U.S. foreign policy. Bush does not -- and the effects on America's armed forces will be delet[e]rious for the long run."
So, when Kerry promises that he'll be able to expand the military pronto, you believe him. But when he "exposes" Bush's much more ambitious super-secret, "January Suprise" plan to re-instate the draft, you don't. Interesting.
11. "[H]ow can I trust that John Kerry gets the post-9/11 world? How can I be sure that Kerry's policymaking process will be sufficiently good so as to overwhelm Kerry's instinctual miscues?"
The answer to both questions is that there is no way to be sure of either. It's about, as the title of this discussion thread states, p-value.
Given his 20 year track record on matters of national defense and geopolitical trends, as well as his rhetorical meanderings on these subjects throughout his campaign to date, I grant Kerry's resumption of his Senatorial duties a solid p-value of 1.0 (or 100%). I'd rather have a President who may leave something to be desired regarding listening to all sides than one who IS on all sides.posted by: Gabriel Pentelie on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Against the threats facing us from NK and Iran, Bush has rendered us fairly impotent against them. In North Korea, as with many things that went wrong with the reconstruction of Iraq, he simply did nothing while State and Defense argued with each other. When asked about NK developing bombs from the plutonium that was previously under lock and key, Bush just shrugged. In Iran The Idea of the US invading Iran is simply not credible to anyone anymore, certainly not to the Iranians (with what army?). With Al Qeda, it's clear from Clarke and Blair having to tell Bush he should attack Afghanistan before Iraq, that Stateless terrorist just isn't something he can't really rap his mind around.posted by: me on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
American Conservative colomnist endorses Badnarik
By Alan W. Bock: For those inclined to participate in the electoral circus—and given the choices presented by the two major parties, especially on the key issue of war and an increasingly imperial American foreign policy, one can understand an inclination simply to abstain—the question is what kind of vote will best send a message to the system about the importance of your core political values.
I would respectfully suggest that a vote for Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, and for Libertarians running for other offices, is the most efficacious way to do so.
While I often hear that Bush acting on instinct is perhaps a good thing because it takes less time than thinking things through, what did his instincts tell him on 9/11? Finish the book and then go fly around for a while?
According to Paul O'Neill, the war in Iraq was planned well before 9/11, and 9/11 simply provided the perfect excuse to go ahead with it. Rumsfeld preferred it over the war in Afghanistan because Iraq provided better targets.
George W. Bush said the Congress saw the same intelligence that he did, yet that is not so - the Congress got the vacuumed version - just as the folks who performed search and rescue and cleanup at the WTC were told the air was safe when in fact it was not until the negatives were cleaned from the reports before they were released to the public.
Give me the honest, thinking, smart guy any day over the conniving liar.posted by: JC on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
You claim 70% probability for Kerry, yet ask the Kerry side to convince you more. Doesn't this speak loudly to the weakness of your confession?
On Kerry's advisors-
According to Kerry's interview with Imus - he'd consider Albright as Secretary of State. That alone makes me worry about the advice he wants.
On Kerry expanding the military-
Apparently adding 40,000 troops without promising to fully fund them would result in squeezing out of critical equipment. Given Kerry's budget restriction (he's indicated he'd stick to it)and planned health care spending there is no way he could do this and fund it properly. Its a judgement call but I'd like to see more retired military arguing for expansion before I believe its actually militarily effective.
On supplying the military-
I think Kerry is weaker than Bush. He voted against the $87 billion. I'm not going to say he didn't know it was going to pass or that he didn't have an alternative funding proposal because that isn't true. However knowing the funding would go through he used his vote as a symbolic protest. I am terrified as President he will stiff the military at some point in symbolic protest against a failure of some kind. Based on his anti-war history perceived rightness does override his basic urge to support the troops. He'd make a great crusader but not a great CINC.
If professionals thought he'd look out for the troops they'd like him. Survey results indicate otherwise. And don't tell me the rumor mill keeps these guys more uninformed than we are about bad planning, etc., etc. A mid level officer in Iraq with semi-adequate connection probably knows more than Rumsfeld.
On Kerry's ability to learn from mistakes-
Does Kerry's ability to learn from mistakes come in useful? Yes. Unfortunately foreign enemies seems to mistake academic analysis and back and forth positioning to be weakness (Why did Saddam not come clean if he had nothing? Why did France tell Iraq they would veto and war wouldn't happen? Why didn't the Afghan govt hand over Bin Laden). Given the war is quite clearly a battle over will, Kerry's flexibility might inspire attempts to shake that will.
Bush's victory would set one very useful long run precedent. That deep down, no matter how liberal America is at the time, it can and will reward a President who starts a preemptive war that is not resolved before the next election if it eliminates a perceived threat. Its a precedent that should be set. If not any other threat to the US can imagine that a president might hesitate from reacting to any agressive action other than an actual attack because the public would automatically make him a one term President.
You may be voting because of mismanagement but that's no way you can be sure other countries won't see it as part of the pattern of American's post-Vietnam cultural weakness.
On how bad Kerry's foreign policy really is-
Kerry's statements on Iran and North Korea are frightening. You might resolve the issue in the short term by concessions but you'd also set the precedent of rewarding states who try for Nukes and stop for concessions. If that is the case why should any country never try at all?. In Iran's case they would be rewarded by access to Plutionium from their own power plant, a very sexy incentive. What if Taiwan wants nuclear power next? Or Indonesia? Or Sri Lanka? Or South Africa? Or Brazil?
On division of government being safer-
The best result for someone who wants divided government Bush but is foreign policy focused would be Bush = President, Republican Congress, Republican Senate with weak majority vulnerable to filibuster or Democrat Senate. Since this is the likely outcome in the Senate I say vote Bush.
Why is Kerry perceived as a good manager other than perceived intelligence?-
He ran a swift boat, gave great anti-war speeches, married rich, ran some Senate investigations and committees and was a prosecutor. His campaign refocused twice in this election. Once to beat Dean. Once to catch up in the polls against Bush. I don't see anything special there.
Bush was Gov of Texas, a successful businessman once and a failed one once. He ran one war well and one badly. I see a person who learns form mistakes and can be relied upon to make up for error.
Then again as a person in a professional occupation, I've always seen academic/technical/legal brilliance as totally unelated to managerial ability. High-level management is based on organization and working out who's opinions to trust rather than any academic brilliance.
Anyone think their college professors were gifted managers?
posted by: Researcher on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
So you're still worried about
What are Kerry's instincts ? Well he fought in a
Now for his standing with Dems. Let's state the
On how military service means good foreign policy:
The other thing about the silly Clarke book quote saying Clinton managed Somalia well. He may have impressed Clarke but he certainly didn't impress Bin Laden's crew who learnt an important lesson. Clinton supporters may insist they turned everything over to the UN with great skill but everyone agrees Bin Laden and the Taliban interpreted it as American weakness.
A question for the hawks about showing "resolve":
If a war is popular in the US, then fighting it
And wouldn't it be simpler to fight Al Qaeda,
This reminds me of the "suicide squad" in Life
I think you are confusing popular with pleasant and the short term with the long term. The first Gulf War was way more popular after the battles were won.
Politicans can be unpopular in between elections sometimes its necessary to lead in the right direction.
People can vote for long term gains at the expense of short term unpleasantness.
Those characteristics demonstrate the 'resolve' necessary to beat terror, 'cheat and retreat' rogue state tactics.
Astounded wrote, (Am I misreading the report? Is it really true there was a decent chance of striking a deal that would stop the nukes and we didn't seize on it?)
The latter is clear. We ignored the chance.
As to whether it could have worked, it's too soon to tell. Maybe the iranians were trying to sucker us into negotiating an agreement that they would then break, to buy time. Get us negotiating and it takes time to do the negotiations and then time to prove they're cheating. Maybe there was no chance. It makes sense to me the Bush regime thought there was no chance.
If you assume there was no chance, and if you also agree that it's intolerable for iran to have nukes, you're left with no alternative but war with iran. All that's left is to decide when and how to attack. When? Clearly, sometime after the US elections. How? It has to achieve a regime change, otherwise they'll just start over and they'll have a head start with however many physicists and technicians we fail to kill, and CDs full of data we don't find, etc. But any new regime strong enough to rule without us would have an incentive to double-cross us. So we'd need it to be a regime weak enough it needed our continuing support. We'd want that support to be in some form other than occupation troops.
I don't know how the details would work out, but we'd eventually produce some invasion plan that appeared to meet our needs and then we'd invade. Or if even the Bush administration can't convince themselves it would work, they might settle for bombing plus invasion by special forces who move in, destroy things, and move out before the iranian armed forces can react. A 3-year delay in iranian nukes, even a 2-year delay might be worth doing while we look for a better plan.
To me, something along these lines looks inevitable if Bush wins. The logic is inescapable. We can't let them have nukes. We can't negotiate because they'd just cheat. Unless we stop them from building nukes by sheer physical force they will build nukes. We will attack. It's all settled but the details.
Day-to-day issues involving the hunt for ObL are handled at the staff level. So is trying to prevent the next terrorist attack. Kerry may actually use more DoJ resources than Bush (whose AG spent time chasing prostitutes in NewOrleans), but mostly preventing the next attack will be a matter of luck.
but be honest. neither president is going to take resources away from the war on ObL.
[why is it that so many people believe that the president can control circumstances in iraq? we have barely 100,000 people in a country of about 25 million. no matter who is president, iraqis will largely shape their own future.]
no, the decision on which president to vote for is on the big issues: war with Iran, domestic budget, overall competence.
If you want to fight a war with Iran, vote Bush. If not, vote Kerry.
domestically, its not even close. 4 year of republican rule have demonstrated that they are just as greedy as democrats given the keys to the candy store. if you care at all about the tremendous tax shift onto the next generation, vote kerry. if not, vote bush.
on the issue of overall competence, i doubt that you are really undecided. if you think that the president has just been unlucky in a few spots but is otherwise competent, vote bush. if you think that he is dangerously narrow-minded and fundamentally incapable of responding to changing circumstances, vote kerry.
it seems to me that you want to fight iran, but are also concerned about the budget and overall competence. you'll just have to weigh the importance of those three factors against each other. best of luck
Francisposted by: fdl on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
-Supported a nuclear freeze in the Cold War
posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
In response to Researcher
Your reply suggests that a politician in a
How does this look to Al Qaeda ? These guys hit
Or compare to Vietnam where we showed resolve
You've got to accept the reality that a democracy
Regarding Kerry as a manager --
I don't think it's valid to use the nature of this campaign as a critique of Kerry's management style. This is probably the most divisive American election in a hundred years, with an incumbent who's approval ratings tend to rise with every mention the words "September 11." While it's true that a greater incumbent would be coasting to re-election, it's also true that a lesser challenger would have long since withered away into Mondale-esque oblivion. As it stands, Kerry has managed his campaign such that he stands at a statistical tie with a man who was (however briefly) the most popular president in our history.
More importantly, I think Kerry's ability to recognize mistakes is one of his better character traits. When the world is dangerous and old assumptions are no longer valid, then adapting tactics in order to ensure the success of a larger strategy is the one of the most important qualities for a leader to have.
It's not a flip-flop to alter course for a good reason -- it's the ability to see things as they are rather than how you want to see them.posted by: bitter mastermind on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Dear "WTC Survivor,"
You are a liar.
Just like your candidate and an increasing majority of your party.
The lot of you have no shame. You are now resorting to the desperate lies of the draft myth, the race card, and the "scare the seniors" dance. And you have the nerve to wear buttons that declare "Bush lied." Ha.
We have not "squandered" any so-called good will. A third of the world hates us for destroying Communism. Another third hates us because they hate Jews. These types have always hated us, and felt vindicated by 9/11. Read their damned newspapers from 9/12.
The other third still loves us. And that's the third that Kerry is busy insulting, calling them the "bribed and coerced," and referring to them as "puppets of Bush."
Is this your grand vision of bringing our allies together?
So, Daniel, what do you think of Kerry's chances of making nice with the allies he has insulted (ie, UK, Australia, Poland, Italy, etc)? And what are his chances of getting those that have betrayed us (France, Germany) to take this war seriously as a threat to all of us, especially now that they have explicitly stated that the chances are nil?
In other words, what shred of Kerry's "plan" has any basis in reality?posted by: Korla Pundit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Great post, Mr. Drezner.
Regarding you quote from Mr. Djerejian
.[W]hatever you make of Iraq, can anyone now deny that the U.S. takes the threat of terror with the utmost seriousness?
Taking focus off al Qaeda and putting our attention and resources into invading and occupying Iraq DOES NOT demonstrate "seriousness" about fighting terrorism.
I'm sympathetic to Bush's vision for remaking the Middle East, but it sure seems to have been garbage in reality.
I think President Bush is wonderful with "the vision thing," but shows a complete lack of competence at getting it done. (Post-Saddam plan: "be greeted as liberators"). Kerry may lack his vision, but I get the feeling he'd listen to experts and get things done competently. Rather like the first President Bush.
Me wrote, In Iran The Idea of the US invading Iran is simply not credible to anyone anymore, certainly not to the Iranians (with what army?).
If we accept that Bush has no intention of negotiating with iran, then it's better that the attack come at them completely unexpectedly.
If he can't accept iran with nukes and he can't negotiate, he must attack. The question then is how.
He might try surgical airstrikes. This is unlikely to work well enough, but he might think it will work well enough. And he might believe for some time afterward that it was enough.
More likely to my thinking is a punitive expedition. We leave iraq for six weeks to the newly-trained defense troops (who will outnumber us, though they won't be well-trained or equipped). We roll into iran destroying whatever we find but avoiding civilian casualties where possible. Capture or destroy whatever nuclear materials we find. When we get tired of that, go home. It does nothing for regime change in iran, and iranians will hate us afterward. But they'll be cautious about doing things that might get us to do it again. And as long as we have permanent bases in iraq we can do it again.
We can say it's impractical for Bush to attack iran. But what choice does he have? Let them have nukes? Negotiate with them and believe they have good faith? He has to find some way to invade iran. He hs no choice.
>Taking focus off al Qaeda
Another leftwing lie.
What is your evidence that we are not still focused on Al Qaeda?posted by: Korla Pundit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Mr. Drezner, who is the best man to win the war? Because we have to win. "Without victory there is no survival."
I have read some of the twisted and tortured logic on this site, and it is depressing. I am thankful that this kind of obnoxious accusatory debate did not paralyze our country during previous times of war like it is so determined to do today.
Ask yourself this Dan, do you really believe all the rubbish on this site that amounts to the proposition that George Bush has made virtually every conceivable mistake possible in conducting this unlike-any-other, treacherous war? After reading some of this moonbat stuff I realized that the only way the president could have been more wrong was if he had made more decisions. It's shameful.
I have been clear, I think that Kerry is a lightwieght, an appeaser, naive', has a character issue and cannot be depended upon in a time of war based upon his history and statements that are consistent with that history. In my view there are issues in Kerry's past that should disqualify him in the minds of the voters from being president. Yet, having said that, I can not imagine, were he to become president, ravaging the man for virtually anything that he did on the war on terror if he was genuine in his effort to protect this country, which I assume he would be. Bill Clinton made my skin crawl, but when he lobbed cruise missiles into Iraq he was the Commander-in-Chief and my president. With all due respect to those who claim Bush "squandered" the good will following 9/11 they should ask themselves if it is the president's fault, or might it be that he has lost the support of people of bad faith that place politics (and unbridled animus) over reason and fairness...NO MATTER WHAT?
I've been a political junkie for 30 years and I've never seen anything like this mindless "the-president-is-always-wrong-no-matter-what-he-does" reactionary nonsense. The depth of the discourse is unprecedented.
If for no other reason you should consider voting for Bush just to disassociate yourself from a crowd that has lost virtually any semblance of objectivity. We really are paying a price for what Zell Miller called the democrats' "manic obsession" with winning the White House.posted by: jim on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
You asked Kerry supporters to make their case, here is one attempt:
1) Check out the transcript of Joe Biden at the Council on Foreign Relations today. In my view, he has a realistic conception of what multilateral institutions can, and cannot achieve. But he also has a sense of how to make existing institutions/ alliances/ multilateral process with all their flaws, work for the US. To get serious with North Korea, we need to bring South Korea along, which means taking testing North Korea in a way that the Bush Administration has not been willing to.
Hope this increases, rather the reduces, your willingness to consider voting for Kerry.posted by: Brad on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
The attack on Iran is already under way.
If you think we are not already in secret talks with the reformists in Iran, you are not thinking.
We have already given Israel bunker busters, similar to how we armed them with Patriot missiles before the Iraq invasion.
We now have them surrounded by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We have given them a November (hint, hint!) deadline to agree to freezing their nuke program, which they have already refused.
We are pulling troops out of Germany and South Korea, where they are getting bored. Who knows where they may come in handy?
This war is coming. It will be done mostly by stealth. This administration has good military minds, if nothing else. Our weakest link is the constant badmouthing from the left.
Their antics border on treason.posted by: Korla Pundit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
On the Iran debate (off topic) there is another option: deterrence. I'm not thrilled about it, but the truth is that Iran is too large and too populous for the current US Army to successfully invade. That's the truth. Other military options like surgical bombings are what we did in the 1990's to Iraq. The bombings were not effective. Bombing would not stop the Iranians from building a bomb, and would accomplish very little. Even if the reactors were destroyed, the Iranians would never let anyone in to confirm it, so we would always wonder. And they would crow about defying the Great Satan. Why give them the chance?
Another option is to hit the Iranians where it hurts: their oil industry. We could blockade their oil exports through naval action and bombing pipelines. This would cripple thier economy and their government's revenue. Most of their government's money comes from the sale of oil, not from taxes. (This is what I think Jimmy Carter should have done in 1979.) The problem is about 12% of worldwide daily oil production (CIA factbook) is from Iran, and oil prices would go through the roof if we did this. So the rest of the world would be pissed, and we would suffer, too. Not as much as Iran, but I think their government would wait us out. Saddam did. So we'd cause a lot of suffering and accomplish nothing.
We could return to the old policy of deterrence. The policy in the Cold War was that any nuclear detonation in the US would trigger a full nuclear retaliatory strike. The idea of a terrorist nuke is nothing new- the cold warriors thought of it. Robert Heinlein wrote a story about one destroying New York. In 1948. The only strategy was to guarantee a massive response.
We would tell Iran, North Korea and whoever else (Pakistan?) that they can have nukes, but if any nuke goes off in America, we will immediately lauch a massive retaliatory strike against all of our enemies who have nuclear weapons. We will not try to find out who did it. We will simply retaliate immediately against all of them. This will have the effect, if we are believed, to
1. Maybe get them to rethink having nukes in the first place. Is the possibility of getting nuked worth it?
2. It will encourage them not to proliferate to agents they do not control. Why get nuked for someone else's attack?
3. It will allow us to retain the strategic initiative. We cannot be seen as backing down to these people, even if we are.
I think this is the only solution to the problem. The current 'proliferate and suffer military action' policy is not going to hold up. We can't make it stick, as much as I would like to. The 'go ahead and proliferate- nothing will happen to you' option of the 1990's isn't viable, for obvious reasons (I hope they are obvious.) These guys are gonna get the nukes if we do nothing but negotiate. They might even if we attack. So let's look at our options once they get them. I think the old deterrence policy should be brought out of the closet. Maybe containment, too?
So we'll be back to the old policy of MAD. Except it's more like AD. Because one detonation wouldn't destroy us, while the retaliatory strike would utterly annihalate our enemies, possibly forever. I'm not thrilled with threatening to kill hundreds of millions of people, but this is what we did for 40 years, and we never had to do it. The hard part will be getting the mullahs and Kim Jong Il to believe that we mean it. The Soviets believed us. Will these guys?posted by: John Lynch on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I think this says it all:
Please read. Kerry's time has come.posted by: Bolo on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
This is in response to jim.
You really have a warped sense of what is going on. You must watch fox news alot.
I am just going to respond to your comment.
The main problem with this current president is that he is so arrogant and so sure about the decisions he has made that there is no way possible that he would admit that he made a wrong decision or error in judgement. And he truely believes that he has made no wrong decisions or errors in judgement. That is a very scary proposition.
But in reality he has made many errors in judgement and there is undeniable evidence to support that. So I won't go into detail on that.
Bush believes that he made a decision and that Americans should support him because he says so. Everything he says is true and you can trust him. That is the definition as relating to Bush of arrogance.
That ideology will destroy this country, and it has already started in that direction. (Largest defecit in the history of this country) (Has not vetoed a single spending bill)(We are in a war against terrorism Hey how about a tax cut) It is like a disease that has no cure.
So to give a man another 4 years as our president who is this arrogant and who has failed the American people is just wrong.
That is why we can't re'elect GW.posted by: alanb on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Left wing lie! Left wing lie! Left wing lie! ... Left wing lie!
Eek! Eek! The left! The left!
Dan, it seems to me that you are using the names of Kerry's atual and potential advisers as a collective placeholder for his policymaking process. In other words, the answer to the question "what would Kerry's process be like?" is Richard Holbrooke and Joe Biden.
The first problem with this is obvious. Bush's advisers were used as a collective placeholder in the same way before he was elected, besides which we had a lot of talk about his father's influence. How predictive was all that?
The second problem is that Kerry's own history in the Senate and the history of the last two Democratic administrations do not support the prediction that process would be one of the strong points of a Kerry administration. One could argue about whether it would be worse than Bush's process -- all I'm saying is there is only hope and not much evidence that it would be much better.
Process, of course, is not everything. Eisenhower and the elder Bush had very orderly policymaking; everyone was consulted, precipitate action was rarely taken and large risks were generally not run. Yet the policy that resulted from this orderly process was often passive and reactive, and in each case produced one disastrous mistake (Suez for Eisenhower, the Gulf War's aftermath for Bush). By contrast Nixon's policymaking process was nightmarishly complex, routinely trampling on egos and careers and hardly ever taking a straight line to get from A to B. And yet Nixon, encumbered by his predecessors as no President since Lincoln had been and facing a Soviet Union at the height of its power, produced some outstandingly creative diplomacy. Clearly the reason he was able to do this is that he had very clear ideas of what he wanted to accomplish, and clear ideas as well as to how he wanted to do it. Not all of these ideas were good ones, but in our system a President who knows his own mind can be effective despite an imperfect process. I am not sure this insight comes naturally to academics, with all respect to Dan.
And so we come back to John Kerry who is, to paraphrase Senator Bentsen, no Richard Nixon. He strikes me instead as a fairly conventional 1970s-era McGovern liberal struggling to point in the direction the wind is blowing. Maybe someone like that could be effective waging war against terrorism, or against anything. It's not impossible. The odds, I would say, are strongly against it. As I've written here before I do expect Kerry to win this election, so I hope I'm wrong.posted by: Zathras on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Korla Pundit:"This war is coming. It will be done mostly by stealth. This administration has good military minds, if nothing else. Our weakest link is the constant badmouthing from the left."
This must be a joke. Good military minds?
What's your evidence for this? The two countries Bush has screwed up because he was too impotent to handle them properly?
First Bush goes into Afghanistan with too few troops, messes things up, arms warlords and asks them to play nice and lets Bin Laden, et al., get away.
Then he rushes us into Iraq - repeating the same mistakes. Not enough troops, not enough equipment. He didn't even bother to secure the WMD sites (e.g. see the news articles from last week about how any nuclear weapon production material that was in Iraq was taken out of the country after the start of the war - because Bush didn't secure it). Iraq is not on the right track; Bush's weakness has ensured that the "insurgents" (we talk about them like there are two or three, but the reality is that there are more every day) have gotten a strong foothold and aren't going away any time soon.
I voted for Bush, but I'm honest enough to admit that he and his people are terrible at running wars. He's 0 for 2. I don't want to give him the chance of going 0 for 3, which he would do in a second term.posted by: Cappy on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I have to agree with BOLO. Nice Post!!!
What a fantastic article.
A must read. It will shed some light on what direction this country needs to go.posted by: alanb on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
excuse me left wing lie!!!
You need to change your name to right wing wrong.
The deficit and Bush not vetoing a single spending bill are facts. It is Bush's record> Look it up.
And I suppose that you still believe that Sadam had WMD's and ties to 9/11 as well.posted by: alanb on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"Since President Bush seems to believe in small-scale solutions in his domestic policy (which he calls "ownership"), my hope is that President Bush will be reelected, and start doing more small scale promotion in his foreign policy in addition to his domestic policy."
Right. "Ownership" as in investment firms and mutual funds profiting vastly through commissions of investment accounts after Bush privatizes Social Security. Seniors are being sold out to Wall Street.
Nothing this president does is "small scale". The predominant traits of neocons is that they're freak hybrids between free spending big gov't liberals and tax-cutting cons. The only people who share this type of irresponsible philosophy is corporate America.
Only a complete moron would cut off revenue streams to the extent that this president has done in the middle of a war, something that is virtually unprecedented. Let's all just quit our jobs and go out and max our credit cards!
The fact that I supported Bush as a so-called conservative in 2000 makes me sick to my stomach. He is a fiscal liberal to the extreme. It's like someone fused the worst qualities of Reagan and Mondale into one president! I mistakenly assumed that a conservative would ensure that the newly balanced budgets and projected surplus would be better protected under a Bush administration. I had no idea I was asking the burglar to guard the key to the bank vault!
As a veteran of the Kosovo campaign, a war done right and with ZERO casualties, Bush crossed the line when he betrayed the victims of 9-11 by devoting 1000% the resources and manpower for his Iraq misadventure rather than destroying Al Qaeda in Afghanistan when it was cornered in the Tora Bora mountains. I was stationed in Korea at the time and I recall all the experts questioning the rationale of not finishing the job with US spec ops -- this is not hindsight, this was common sense! I was fuming.
1100 lives lost for this president's foolish nation-building liberal fantasies guarantees I will not vote for any more Republicans so long as these neocon lunatics control the party platform. In fact, I will vote in the primaries for the weakest candidates to help undermine them as I did this election year on my Florida ballot. I'll also oppose any and all their judicial appointments all the way down to the local level.
Zathras, you mention policy advisers as place holders. Bush's primary foreign policy adviser was Rice. Even Scowcroft said her grasp of the Middle East was "thin". They classified the speech she was to give publicly on Sept 11, because it had no reference to Al Qaeda. She is incompetent, a liar, a blame shifter, nothing is ever her fault, and Bush seems perfectly happy with her.posted by: hangman on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
You can't, and you needn't. I blanch at many of Kerry's foreign policy instincts- Carter redux is only barely too strong, and I voted for Reagan in 1980 because I thought the Democratic PARTY needed a wake-up call which electors only administer via a 2x4. Negative- in our present case, punitive: the acts of omission and commission were shall we say "optional" rather than enforced by circumstances- voting is the citizen's club and staff. Sending the Blackhorse Regiment to Iraq is only the latest of 'last straws.' The 'people shall judge' after the fact, when results are clear enough; and there is more than enough to judge this crew, never mind the utter absence of mea culpas or any practical equivalence.posted by: S. Grant on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
So we threaten that if a bomb goes off we'll
But seriously folks, I can outline a way that
With patient diplomacy, we could work towards
a) Israel gives the Palestinians a real viable
b) Syria, Iran, Iraq, Egypt sign non-aggression
c) All parties agree to keep Middle East a
d) US sweetens the deal with a few billion
Why would Israel sign on to this ? Firstly,
I'm sure everyone can poke holes in this and
Like Clinton did in Somalia, Kerry will pull back from any military engagement at the first sign of trouble.
Let's think ahead a bit and imagine we run into a bit of military trouble somewhere. Kerry can either continue or pull back. If he pulls back, the words of Bush from the election will be dusted off to show that he's weak. Would he want to give his enemies that opportunity? Is he so weak-minded that he would wilt at the first signs of problems? I think but can't guarantee he might tough things out in order to show that Bush and all those who doubted his toughness were wrong.
In fact, you might say that the most dangerous networks have sprouted from US allies in the Muslim world. Not a single top al-Qaeda leader (according to FBI, State Dept., and other US sources) is a citizen of a "state sponsor" of terrorism.
It's been a while since I saw Jihad in America, but wasn't there a terrorist meeting in Kansas City, MO? Didn't al Zawahiri attend a meeting at a mosque in Santa Clara, CA? Does that mean the U.S. is harboring terrorists and we should attack ourselves?
This is an ideological war that Bush is fighting through largely military means.
Now, certainly, if it's good propaganda you don't know that it's propaganda. However, has anyone seen any signs of pro-U.S. propaganda in the Muslim world? Are we trying to convince people in the Muslim world that a) we aren't a paper tiger but b) we want to be on friendly terms?
Have you seen the U.S. trying to strike at the religious justification for most Islamic terrorism? Yes, S.A. cracked down on "strange preachers" in their mosques, but they're still spreading Wahibbism around the world including here in the U.S.
And, there are indeed uncomfortable ties between the Bush family and the Saudis. No, that's not a Michael Moore statement, just google 'bandar bush'. Now, perhaps this is all some grand take-them-down-from-the-inside plan, or a long-term plan to make the Saudis reform, or something. But, frankly, I'm not willing to bet on it.
And, no comment would be complete without me mentioning that thousands of illegal aliens stream across our porous borders each day, and a good part of that is directly related to Bush himself.posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I'll also point out that there are many ways to be "macho" or at least show you aren't weak.
Punching someone in the face is one way. Using your connections to get them fired and to get the bank to foreclose their house and their car and then using your connections to have the car they live in towed sends a much stronger message.
I realize Bush isn't dumb, but at the same time he seems to prefer the quick, visible, physical solutions to problems.posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I mean c'mon, how can you expect me to take you seriously when you're peddling vacuous democrat talking points about whether Bush admits mistakes. With all due respect Alan, if your vote for president hinges upon the president making an act of contrition so that the democrats can have a sound bite to run from now until the election then please remember to vote early on November 3rd.posted by: jim on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Here's an alternative plan:
1. We refrain from ever equating terrorists states like Iran to Israel.
2. The president plainly announces that it is the policy of the United States that Iran will not be permitted to obtain a nuclear capability....whether verified or unverified.
3. The US gives Iran a deadline for allowing a internationally verified dismantlement of its nuclear program (if Iran ignores the deadline continue reading).
4. From bases in Iraq the US conducts surgical air strikes to take out as much of the Iranian nuclear program as possible before any of it is operational.
5. Concurrent with striking Iran's nuclear sites the US initiates a naval blockade of Iran.
6. Convinced by the no-turning-back nature of the US actions the pro-representative/sane government factions inside Iran (with support from us) are convinced that they can topple the mullahcracy without worrying about the US abandoning them to have their heads chopped off when we back out.
7. The mullahs are toppled and the US quickly moves to recognize the new government and conveys a message that we harbor no ill will against the Iran so long as they abandon all nuclear and terrorist ambitions.
I know that this kind of action gives all the doves on here the heeby geebies, but Iran would implode so quickly under this approach that it would shock you. Iran is ripe for progressive change. The mullah's grasp of power is tenuous at best.
Besides, what are our realistic choices. Carterite diplomacy? Iran cannot have the bomb folks...get that through your heads. The entire balance of power in the Middle East would change. Or are some of you still unsure of what Iran's true nuclear intentions are, like the M. Kerry?
Here's an interesting article:
[...stupid comments about, yes, unions deleted...]... Kerry is also proposing a frontal assault on what Rand Beers, the former Bush counterterrorism czar now serving as Kerry's national security adviser, terms "a way of indoctrination" for the next generation of potential terrorists. "We need an international effort to compete with radical madrassas," Kerry said in his Los Angeles speech. These schools are a particular problem in Pakistan, where, in Karachi alone, there are over 850 madrassas teaching an estimated 200,000 children. "One of the things that we will want to think about is an educational fund," Beers says. "The Arab Human Development report argues that educational openings represent the best way to create entrepreneurial opportunities for these Muslim youth"--and reduce the appeal of bin Laden's nihilistic entreaties. Nor does Kerry intend to shy away from a cardinal source of funding for the madrassas--Saudi Arabia. Biden in particular is prepared to confront the Saudis over their troublesome ideological adventures. "Our policy should be: Cease and desist, or we've got to figure out new relationships here," he says. "Am I going to invade your country? Hell no. Are we going to depose you? Hell no. But let me tell you: Are we going to supply the physical security for your continued existence? I don't know."
Now, go read about Bandar Bush. I addition, I'm sure there's some Dem talking point out there about how soft we've been on the Saudis aside from and much more fact-based and important than the bit about Richard Clark letting Saudis fly out after 9/11.posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Can we at least stop with the straw man already?
On deterrence again-
1. We did threaten to destroy the USSR and the PRC utterly with nuclear weapons if we were attacked. Anyone old enough to remember this knows what it was like. Was it insane? Well, maybe it was, but it never happened. And now we have much better realtions with Russia and China. So we won in that respect. And we did make the Russians believe us. Deterrence is not a 'hawk' solution. It is an ALTERNATIVE to war.
2. Does Iran want nuclear weapons because Israel has them? What has suddenly changed since the 1980's when Khomenei declared nukes 'unislamic?'
3. Palestine was offered a viable state in 2000. I mean, almost the wholde west bank and Gaza. What else do you want them to have? Tel Aviv and Haifa? They started the war instead. Not gonna convince anyone about this, but I think the last 10 years have shown that negotiation is pointless until something changes. And that something isn't going to be US policy, which has run the full gamut of positions in that time. It is up to Israel (I think the Palestinians are either unable or unwilling to negotiate- it doesn't matter which), and US pressure is much less important than most people realize. The Israelis are fully prepared to tell us to shove off if we try to force them to a concession they won't accept. They've already done it with the rest of the world.
4. What ideas other than deterrence are there once Iran has the bomb? Negotiations are not working, and did not work with North Korea.
5. The most important thing to remember is that the Iranian government is an enemy of the US, and not because of Israel. THEY ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS. Israel has never caused the deaths, directly or indirectly, of hundreds of Americans. Hezbollah, which is certainly supported by Iran, bombed our Embassy in Beirut in 1983 and killed 241 Marines. That is about 1/4 of what we have lost in Iraq, but it happened in one day. Not to mention the Iranian hostage crisis. Iran is not a country that is sitting on the fence that we might antagonize. Their government is an enemy. Israel is not the closest ally that we have, but they damn sure ain't the enemy. So let's stop the equivalence. It's like telling the British they shouldn't have a bomb. Or the French, for that matter.posted by: John Lynch on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Alanb, I was trying to be sarcastic. I'm with you. (But I did wonder if I was being obtuse. I guess I was.)posted by: left.wing.lie on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Um, Jeremy, Saddam has been replaced with Ayed Allawi at this point in time. But alas, for democrats all successes in the war on terror are either illusory or about to implode.
Don't you guys ever get tired of the same specious arguments: "we coulda been doing Korea if it wasn't for Iraq." "The Iranians have used the Iraq invasion as an opportunity to build their nukes". You came up with a new one though; "we need to conserve our troops in case we need to go to war with the Chinese in Taiwan", or something like that. I just hope all you guys that cling to the "we shoulda been doing NK or Iran instead of Iraq" canard when it serves your desire to attack the president are, as you say, willing to support a war in Iran or NK if all else fails...but, I doubt it.
I don't know which is the case; that you actually believe that the US military cannot walk and chew gum at the same time or that you are just committed to getting other people to believe such nonsense. I guess that the 30 years of US military planning so that the US can fight a two front war simulataneously just didn't pan out in your reality (actually some say it could be up to four). And no, Iraq and Afghanistan are not a two front war.
And where Jeremy do you get your information that the US is not enaged in activities to secure and recover Soviet nukes? Howard Dean? Michael Moore?Or is it coming from that "secrets" room that only democrats have access to where you guys know all sorts of unverifiable things like republican plans to reinstitute the draft and take social security away from the elderly.
And the looting? Did that have anything to do with the WMD capability that you guys have gleefully exclaimed the Iraqis didn't have? Just curious.
posted by: jim on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Yes Dan, Suskind's article was "overblown". Obviously you aren't a member of the "reality-based community". That's ok! Live in wingnut lala land. Bush couldn't even name three mistakes he had made in four years. He couldn't name THREE. INFALIABLE. Seriously, the fact that this isn't certian, just demonstrates your infatuation with your religion (wingnutism), which is fine. But don't pretend like your conflicted over rational considerations.posted by: Jor on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I’m sorry but I refuse to allow Daniel Drezner to hide from the charge of flirting with being being an Uncle Tom Jew. At least a third of John Kerry’s supporters are hostile toward Israel. Subtle, and not so subtle anti-Semitism pervades the campaign. Ignoring reality will not let it go away. George Soros is a self hating Jew and the odds are so is Professor Drezner. Everybody knows that I’m right. It’s time to face the facts.posted by: David Thomson on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
“Why would Israel sign on to this ? Firstly,
I'm sure everyone can poke holes in this and
Posted by Richard Cownie at October 19, 2004 12:43 AM”
Yup, here is an excellent example of how many of John Kerry’s supporters are ready to filth on Israel. What will Dan Drezner say about this? Probably nothing. He and numerous other American Jews have already become Uncle Toms.posted by: David Thomson on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
The third argument rests on perception -- does the Arab world now recognize that the U.S. is not a paper tiger? And this is where I firmly disagree with Greg. The mere existence of an insurgency able to explode bombs in the Green Zone eighteen months after the end of "major hostilities" makes the United States look weak. The escalating number of U.S. casualties makes the United States look vulnerable. The failure to properly police Iraq's borders makes the United States look incompetent.
1: Which makes the US look more like a "paper tiger"? The current situation, and Bush winning re-election?
Or the US surrendering by electing John Kerry and rejecting Bush? Forget for a second what you hope Kerry will do if elected. Consider instead what the rest of the world expects him to do. Do you think they expect him to fight as hard as Bush will fight? No? Then a Kerry victory will be perceived exactly as I described it.
2: Is Israel "weak" because the Palestinians can still hit it with terrorist attacks?
3: What Arab country has "properly patrolled" and air-tight borders?
For that matter, is the US "weak" because we don't "properly patrol" our border with Mexico?posted by: Greg D on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
David Thompson are you really as stupid as your posts indicate? Are you saying 3/4 of American Jews hate themselves? I know, The Washington Times is a liberal smear organization. Maybe you should stop drinking the kool-aid and try to join the "reality-based community" sometime.posted by: Jor on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"I’m sorry but I refuse to allow Daniel Drezner to hide from the charge of flirting with being being an Uncle Tom Jew. At least a third of John Kerry’s supporters are hostile toward Israel. Subtle, and not so subtle anti-Semitism pervades the campaign. Ignoring reality will not let it go away. George Soros is a self hating Jew and the odds are so is Professor Drezner. Everybody knows that I’m right. It’s time to face the facts"
I see Bush isn't the only recovering alcoholic.
Well this might be news to you but the Jew-hating lobby group AIPAC rated Kerry as "100% pro-Israel voting record" for 20 years in the Senate. (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 18, 2004)
Try reading this article written by the anti-Semite self-hating JTA published yesterday: http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=14625&intcategoryid=3
An endorsement for Hitler if I ever read one!
I love how you claim there are so many nazis within the liberal ranks, yet it's the evengelical Christian right-wing republicans like David Duke who look with fondness towards a white-washed society and eschew Jews for crucifying the Messiah.
Quite frankly, if it were up to me we'd cut off the $3 bil in aid to Israel, the $1 bil to the Palestinians, and then let God sort you out. America has enough problems of its own to be concerned with two kids who just can't get along.posted by: Independent Centrist on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
“David Thompson are you really as stupid as your posts indicate? Are you saying 3/4 of American Jews hate themselves? I know, The Washington Times is a liberal smear organization. Maybe you should stop drinking the kool-aid and try to join the "reality-based community" sometime. “
Many American Jews are similar to the proverbial frog who unknowingly is being slowly boiled alive. They pretend that a subtle form of anti-Semitism is not rampant within the John Kerry campaign. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. The radical Left despises Israel---and at last one third of Kerry’s supporters are extreme leftists. These people believe that Israel is victimizing the Palestinians. Israel is supposedly an apartheid nation threatening the world. How often is Israel blamed by the left for enraging the Islamic nihilists?
Oh by the way, where was the anger when Al Sharpton gave a major speech at the Democratic convention? What about Jessie “Hymie Town” Jackson? No, the evidence is substantial. Dan Drezner and many American Jews are flirting with Uncle Tomism. Admittedly, a non-Jew like myself should perhaps keep a lower profile. But I’ve chosen to do otherwise. The important thing is that I’m right.posted by: David Thomson on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? A major threat to the US, not to say the world, was decisively turned back, not by bellicosity and testosterone, but by deep deliberation, reasoned discourse, and a judicious application of the idea that everyone, even our most dangerous enemies, have interests that can be appealed to.
See my article contrasting JFK's deliberation process and Bush's at:
and then tell me who is more likely to follow a deliberative style like this, "faith-based" Bush or "reality-based" Kerry?
Unfortunately, in this age of Bush, we've all drunk the Kool-Aid of the uninformed philosophy that Jihadists and Bin-Ladenism are nihilisitic, apocalyptic cults that desire only death and "hate us for our freedoms". Having just come back from London and other foreign capitals, its amazing how the conversation about the "hearts and minds" of the Islamists seems so much more deeply informed than here - as an example, I'd guess that many more European analysts have read Bin Laden's "Letter to America" than the Americans it was addressed to.
Why is this important? Becuase it explodes the myths that are central to the Bush anti-terror doctrine, namely that the Islamists have no aims but death and have no interests that can be appealed to. Of course, in the current atmosphere of pain, grievance, and revenge left by 9/11 and the brutal insurgency in Iraq, it's hard for Americans to accept that any approach but "kill 'em all and let Allah sort 'em out" can get results. It's anathema to state reality, as Anonymous has done in "Imperial Hubris" and as Kerry tried to dance around in his NY Times "nuisance" remarks, but ultimately, as John Wayne as Bush's approach may make us feel, the only real solution will turn out to be appeal to interests, in tactics such as real engagement in solving the Palestine problem and a real acknowledgement that the US does not have imperial designs, both of which Kerry is prepared to do and Bush seems incapable of.posted by: rick freedman on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
“Well this might be news to you but the Jew-hating lobby group AIPAC rated Kerry as "100% pro-Israel voting record" for 20 years in the Senate. (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 18, 2004)”
So what? That was yesterday. Let’s focus on today’s realities. John Kerry currently is running a campaign premised on a lot of anti-Israel themes. A huge number of his supporters are members of the radical left. End of story.
“Quite frankly, if it were up to me we'd cut off the $3 bil in aid to Israel, the $1 bil to the Palestinians, and then let God sort you out. America has enough problems of its own to be concerned with two kids who just can't get along”
It is outright disgraceful that you describe the Israelis as mere “kids.” No, they are the victims of anti-Semitic terrorism. This is why American Jews should be enraged by Uncle Toms like Dan Drezner. He is very well aware of what it means when the far leftist supporters of John Kerry demand further “agreements” between the Palestinians and the Israelis. This is just another way of saying that the Israelis should be filthed on.posted by: David Thomson on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
David Thompson, So, apparently 3/4 of American Jews are Uncle Toms. And you, a non-jew, have some how magically found a way to claim Kerry is an anti-semite. Why don't you just outright admit you're an evangelical apocalyptical christian who needs Israel to be palestinian-free so the messiah can return. Just say it. Why lie? Why pretend to reason. Stop fronting.
On a related note, just stop, stop pretending like you're rational, you aren't. You are completely divorced from the facts. Half the country supports Kerry, if 1/3 of those supporters are "radical leftisits", that means 1/6th of the country is radical-leftisit. Why do you continually make crap up? Why?posted by: Jor on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
''How did they do it? How did eight or nine neoconservatives who believed that war in Iraq was the answer to international terrorism get their way? How did they redirect the government and rearrange longstanding American priorities and policies with so much ease? How did they overcome the bureaucracy, intimidate the press, mislead the Congress and dominate the military? Is our democracy that fragile?''
Prof. Drezner, democracy starts at home. How about you start playing grown-up and holding your fellow neo-nut parishners accountable for the crap they have wrought. I know personal-responsiblity is only for the poor and one of those evil-liberal values, but give it a shot!posted by: Jor on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
... But what I still remember was Dick Cheney's response to criticism of Rumsfeld at the time. "Get off his case," he harrumphed. Even after such a blow to the very core of the meaning of America, Cheney was contemptuous of holding anyone in his circle accountable. It says it all, doesn't it?
All I can say is, I'm glad republicans support family values like torture. Let's go Bush/Cheney/Torture '04! The pro-torture ticket by the pro-torture party. Perhaps one day Prof drezner will be able to reconcile his neo-nut religion's practice from their dogma and join us in the "reality-based community".posted by: Jor on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Although Preist Drezner (of the Neo-nut denomination) had the temerity to link to the Knight Rider story, he didn't really do it justice.
Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners' parlance as Phase 4-C. He was uncomfortable with his material - and for good reason.
The slide said: "To Be Provided."
What I want to know is when is Prof drezner going to admit he is a god-less, evil liberal who doesn't believe in personal responsiblity or acountability?posted by: Jor on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
The third argument rests on perception -- does the Arab world now recognize that the U.S. is not a paper tiger? And this is where I firmly disagree with Greg. The mere existence of an insurgency able to explode bombs in the Green Zone eighteen months after the end of "major hostilities" makes the United States look weak...
I believe you overstate the case here. But let's stipulate that the jury is still out on whether the U.S. has the strength and resolve to combat Islamist terrorism. If so, the election will itself be a critical determinant. Because the rhetoric used by Kerry and his supporters, this election will be viewed by many of our allies and certainly by our enemies as a referendum on the Bush Doctrine - that those terrorists and the nations supporting them are our enemy and we intend to hunt them down.
The defeat of Bush and his replacement with someone who has repeatedly questioned called the Iraq war wrong, who has repeatedly insisted that the ineffectual UN be given more influence over this war and indeed all attempts at dealing with the Islamists, and who denigrated the nations fighting on our side as bribed and coerced, cannot help but send a message not unlike that sent by Spain in the wake of the Madrid bombing: that we really have no stomache for this fight and would be willing to achieve a pretend victory and just go home. That is one way that a Kerry win could actually increase the chance of further attacks on our soil.
Had Kerry insisted that the war was right but was being fought incompetently, and gotten similar messages from his supporters, this would not be a problem...posted by: russ on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I hope this gets read, so far down the comments list... here's what I think:
First, on the issue of trust, because that's what it really boils down to... It seems your mind is relatively made up on whether or not you think Bush is more trustworthy based on his actions, but it also seems you haven't factored Kerry's actions into the level of trustworthiness you assign him. Taken seperately, I can sorta see where you're coming from. Compared to each other, though... IMHO Kerry doesn't provide me with a clear or consistant view of what he does or why he does it, such that I doubt any conclusion I might make about his future actions. His Senate record, his stance on affirmative action over the years, his straddling on abortion, his on-again, off-again committment to projecting American power in the world, all these things lead me to wonder just what might happen. If we are attacked again, if Iran decides to snub the world and make a dash for nuclear capability, what might Kerry do? I have some inkling, some idea of attempts at coalition building and negotiation, some idea that force will be on the table in some form or other, but in the end I don't know. I have absolutely no certainty whatsoever.... I'm basically just guessing.
This is the wrong answer when selecting a president.
Which leads me to the second point I'd like to make - which one is more likely:
A president with a strong process and no clear vision will successfully implement the wrong policy, with bad results?
I wonder what the result would have been, had Lincoln been possessed of less vision, less resolve, and more willingness to face reality?posted by: Tony on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
The case for Kerry cannot be made without first smashing the myth that everything has changed since 9/11 and all its associated “truths”. The subtext of this phenomenon is that we can throw thousands of years of accumulated knowledge out the window, that lessons of the past are no longer relevant for us and that former conventional wisdom is to be recklessly inverted into a mindless cult of the offensive. It is a proclamation of a “Brave New World”, an argument towards barbarism, a return to an almost animal-like, prehistoric existence in which we franticly lash out at the shadows of our enemies, relishing the temporary comfort that any blind action gives, while unknowingly letting mastery of the strategic situation slip from our midst. In short, as the invasion of Iraq shows; we are not winning anything, we are panicking, and in doing so digging a deeper hole from which to climb out.
What the failures of pre-9/11 conventional wisdom do show is the inherent weaknesses in groupthink processes that manufacture conventional wisdom in the first place. Instead of subverting these processes, we have instead chosen to reinforce them by reflexively repixelating an imagined pre-9/11 conventional wisdom of restraint into a blind ideology of offensive action. While providing our shaken ranks with a chimera of martial glory and firm resolve, the undeniable truth of the matter is that conflicts—whether of a diplomatic or military type--involve both offense and defense – often, but not always, in equal measures, and one of the surest rules of war is that strategic flexibility--not rigid dogma--is the surest route to victory.
Eighty years ago, in response to their cataclysmic loss of Alsace-Lorraine to the Prussians in 1870, the French military establishment—tragically misreading the causes of their original defeat—also endeavored to construct a cult of the offense. L’attaque a l’outrace (very roughly: Always be Attacking) and De l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace (Audacity, more audacity, always audacity) were the rallying cries generated by their chief ideology, Colonel de GrandMaison, who not only spoke of rejecting a pre-1870 mindset, but also came up with such gems as:
In the offensive, imprudence is the best of assurances, . . . Let us go even to excess, and that perhaps will not be far enough, . . . For the attack only two things are necessary: to know where the enemy is and to decide what to do. What the enemy intends to do is of no consequence to us.
It took the ruinous offensives of 1915--where human waves of Allied infantry were thrown headlong into German artillery and machineguns only to be ground up like sausage--to finally open eyes; similar to the way the current debacle in Iraq is starting to nudge awake some sleepy heads in Washington. One of the only French military minds at the time to resist groupthink mentality, Colonel Philippe Petain (years later to become the notorious Marshall Petain), patiently studied previous examples such as the American Civil War, the Boer War, and the Russo-Japanese War (which featured the large-scale introduction of the machine gun) and correctly concluded that “firepower kills and the idea of a “perpetual offense” was doomed to failure. After helping stabilize the situation at Verdun, Petain went on to take overall command of the French Army and radically revamped French strategic as well as tactical thinking, introducing more rational slogans such as "Cannons conquer, infantry occupy". Later it was felt that Petain had swung too far towards the defensive. His value to us lies, not in his specific decisions made at the time, but in his exemplary determination to destroy groupthink inspired conventional wisdom, and in applying rational—i.e. reality based—analysis to a dangerous geopolitical situation. Because of his rationalist breakthrough, France emerged victorious from the nightmare of WW1 because she was able--through flexibility and a vigorous analysis of multiple options--to apply both the offensive and defensive aspects of military action to her best advantage, not to mention a little help she received from her friends across the Atlantic.
This is the mentality the US foreign policy strategists need to adopt. By clinging to the cult of the offensive we are obscuring the true failure of pre-9/11 conventional wisdom - namely, the idea that authoritarian, dictatorial, pro-American regimes in the Islamic world provided for the future security of the United States better than would potentially hostile but democratic regimes. Offensive military action will certainly be necessary, as it was in Afghanistan, but history shows that when America faces a real threat, there is bipartisan support for getting the job done.
Can anyone really argue that George W. Bush’s administration, with its reliance on faith-based foreign policy development and its refusal to ever change course is the panacea for America’s current challenges?
With vital minds like General Anthony Zinni and Wesley Clark replacing the ossified orthodoxies of Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz, we cannot help be headed in a better direction. If John Kerry takes a little more time, requests a little more information before taking a decision, all the better. From a great power’s point of view, avoiding catastrophic errors of judgment is much more valuable than panicked expediency.
“With vital minds like General Anthony Zinni and Wesley Clark replacing the ossified orthodoxies of Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz”
Hey, this the same General Anthony Zinni who “Discussing the Iraq war with the Washington Post last week, former General Anthony Zinni took the path chosen by so many anti-Semites: he blamed it on the Jews.”
“Why don't you just outright admit you're an evangelical apocalyptical christian who needs Israel to be palestinian-free so the messiah can return. “
Palestinian-free? This is the charge of the radical left against Israel. Isn’t this interesting?
Take a look at where we are. We do not have the military resources to do anything, not even establish security in Iraq. Yet Bush promises no change. Why? It is obvious we need a larger army yet Bush has no plans to built a large enough army to win the war. Why?
It is obvious to me. The GWOT is not a top priority of the Bush admin. It is secondary to tax cuts. I keep seeing these bumper stickers that Freedom is not Free, yet I see no one supporting Bush willing to make any sacrifice to pay for Freeedom.
What is wrong with this picture?
I'll ask any of you people making these grand arguments for Bush to show me one fact that disproves my argument that the tax cuts are more important to Bush than the GWOT.posted by: spencer on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I believe that campaigning and governing should be completely separate evaluations.
Kerry is a lousy campaign personality, but a very capable legislator. Dan, the fact that both yourself and a considerable number of voters have concerns over Kerry's ability to govern just because of his campaign's flaws is what I find disconcerting.
In contrast, Bush is not a shining example of good government, yet he is a very popular campaigner. I'm dismayed to see the former buoyed by the latter.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
What disturbs me the most about the Bush Administration, and the neocons in particular, is the prevailing illusion (delusions?) of control.
International politics is an extraordinarily messy environment. Messy environments are rife with surprises and unintended consequences, yet the Bush foreign policy seems predicated on the assumption that the United States can use its "imperial" power to control outcomes. The remarks of an administration official you quoted from Sunday's NYT Magazine--"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality"--is a wonderfully succinct statement of this view.
Iraq should have punctured this illusion. It has revealed the stark limits of American hard power and reminded us, at a terrible and ever-growing cost, of the extraordinary difficulty of establishing political order and guiding political development, especially in hostile and "alien" environments. The notion that a handful of senior officials in the United States can accurately diagnose the problem, devise the correct solution, and then successfully implement that solution--ramming it through unilaterally if necessary--should now seem frighteningly naive.
So long as George W. Bush remains our president, however, this approach will continue to define US foreign policy. Where next--Iran? North Korea? Whose kids, moms, and dads will fight those wars, and how will we win those peaces--especially if we're still in Iraq (and how else could it be)? Who will be protecting us from the next global surprise or unintended consequence when our forces are stretched so thin?
Football is a poor metaphor for international relations, because in football, there is only one ball, and only one team holds it at a time. In this environment, a good offense makes good defense almost by definition, because the other team can't score without the ball.
At the risk of sounding quaint, chess seems the more appropriate metaphor to me. In chess, defense and offense occur simultaneously, and overly aggressive moves often leave you dangerously exposed to counterattack.
This, in my opinion, is where we find ourselves now. By destroying the Iraqi regime, we've delivered a symbolic (and morally valiant) blow, but we've also left ourselves stretched dangerously thin and invigorated the very enemy--radical Islamism--we are trying to defeat.
In my view, the Election Day decision is a simple one: Do we want to keep a president who delights in the illusion of control, or do we want a new president who can establish clear goals while also acknowledging the extraordinarily complex (but unignorable) process of international politics?
I've got two kids, and I know I'll breathe a huge sigh of relief for their sake if John Kerry wins this election.posted by: Jay Ulfelder on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I just found this article via The Corner:
(CNSNews.com) - Relying on the traditional support of Jewish voters, the Kerry-Edwards campaign may not welcome news from the Middle East on how the parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict view the election.
Yasser Arafat''s Palestinian Authority on Monday gave its first public indication of which candidate it would like to see in the White House next year.”
And what about this in the same piece:
“On the other hand, it cited comments by (John) Kerry in February and April 2004 showing that he "strongly supported Israel''s right to build" the barrier.
The NJDC made no mention of another Kerry quote on the fence, last October, when he told an Arab American audience the fence was "provocative," "counterproductive" and a "barrier to peace."”
1)A senate record or campaign promises are poor indicators for what a President will do once in power, especially on foreign policy. The responsibilities and incentives are just different. Remember Bush ridiculing the very idea that the U.S. would be involved in activities such as nation-building?
2) Hence, we have great uncertainty about how Kerry will act as commander in chief but we do know quite clearly how Bush has. My #1 reason NOT to vote for Bush is that I do not trust his decision-making process to the extent that I am fearful that it will lead to catastrophic consequences. I know Vietnam comparisons are quite misleading but reading about Lyndon Johnson's presidency does remind us again of the dangers of an insulated and hard-headed President.
Even if Kerry has "learned his lesson", do you really think that the majority (or if not, at least close) of his supporters -- those who fervently believe that Michael Moore speaks "Truth to Power" -- have also learned these lessons? Is it possible that they would meekly fade into the background after propelling Kerry into the White House on the wings of their absolute hatred of George Bush? Beldar has an open letter to you.posted by: Wolverine on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Thank you for looking fairly and frankly at all the facts and making your decision with your head. My fear is that people vote with their hearts, and in this election year, that's not something we can afford.posted by: birdie on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Dan, I'm surprised that so many people take at face value Bush's supposed conversion to promoting democracy abroad. That's not what he campaigned on in 2000. I suppose that 9/11 may have changed his worldview, but then why has he only promoted democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq? Can anyone really say he's prmoted democracy in Venezuela or Lieberia or Haiti or Sao Tome & Principe? (I'm willing to give this administration a pass on Pakistan because we have little choice.)
Can you make the argument that this administration has done anything to help the newest democracies stay democratic-- which gets much more bang for the buck than trying to impose new democracies? IMO we're taking it for granted that democracies which came into being during the 90s will stay democratic. This is especially important in the former Soviet Union republics.
Promoting democracy is just the last viable pretext this administration can think of for invading Iraq. It's the administration's theory of the moment, which it will ignore or change when it's inconvenient.
Not that I'm so enamoured of Kerry's POV, either. While Bush seems to think it's easy to impose democracy and that it will then work on its own, Kerry seems too cautious on that point. But I do think he'll get along better with leaders from other democracies.
If you review the relationship the US has had with Pakistan and compare it to our relationship with India (the world's largest democracy), you see a pattern of US presidents preferring Pakistan's dictators because democratic leaders have to be a little more cautious to make a commitment. A dictator can usually do any one thing s/he wants. Democratic leaders are more likely to delegate to their subordinates many small tasks. That's the real difference between the Kerry and Bush styles. Bush focuses on one thing at a time-- now supposedly destroying states which sponsor terror. Kerry will undoubtedly do that more cautiously, but I think he'll be better at hitting terrorism in other ways like going after individuals. Kerry can walk and chew gum at the same time.posted by: James Withrow on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Re: "filth"ing on Israel
OK, some people have criticized me for suggesting
Please explain to me what kind of Israel you want
a) Still a democracy with nukes, but presumably
b) An apartheid state with nukes ?
c) Some other non-democratic government ?
I am honestly curious how you think this could
Mr. Drezner, my two cents: it's obvious that you want to vote for Bush but know you shouldn't. So please just choose between your id and your superego and have done with it. It's unfair and unbecoming to pump your readers for a rational solution to an irrational problem.
I say this very sympathetically. There are a lot of people out there who are wrestling with the same dilemma, and I don't think there is an easy answer to it. But we can't help you with this decision; you're just going to have to figure it out on your own.
Good luck.posted by: Joshua on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"So what? That was yesterday. Let’s focus on today’s realities. John Kerry currently is running a campaign premised on a lot of anti-Israel themes. A huge number of his supporters are members of the radical left. End of story."
Uh, planet Earth to Thomson...you know what is yesterday? That endorsement for John Kerry by the self-hating anti-Semite neo-nazi Jewish Telegraphical Agency published Oct 18 2004, based on his AIPAC 100% 19 year support for Israel. The very reason why 80% of Jewish-Americans will still vote for Kerry despite Bush being wrapped around Sharon's pinky finger.
Come back to reality...you and the Bushies are way out there in some distant orbit planning trips to Mars.
And yes it's true that Israelis and Palestinians are bratty kids kicking dirt in their lousy scrap of arid desert sandbox. Time to let Darwin's Law take effect.posted by: Independent Centrist on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Why is the probability you'll vote for Kerry not higher? Once again we have further proof of the incompetence of this Administration in Iraq from Jay Garner, Bremer's predecessor in Iraq, quoted in today's NY TIMES in an extensive piece by Michael Gordon.
posted by: Josh on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I wanna comment on this 'overextended' US forces issue. Its true that we are somewhat overextended at the moment, but the idea that a draft is the next step is simply and totally absurd.
In 1990 we had 18 active duty army divisions and 10 reserve divisions.
As I read your posting, you are saying that you are still undecided between Kerry and Bush, even after giving Kerry every benefit of the doubt on every issue and giving Bush no benefit of the doubt on any issue. This leads me to two conclusions: Bush should get your vote based on the facts, but Kerry will get your vote, based on your emeotional leanings.posted by: Gary Imhoff on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"Palestinian-free? This is the charge of the radical left against Israel. Isn’t this interesting?"
Aside from the fact that you would support ethnic cleansing the Palestinians, branding them with swastikas, and turning them in soap and lampshades...
How about you have some loyalty to your country rather than licking the boots of some foreign leader? Only a traitorous American would be more concerned with the affairs of a foreign nation rather than the very deep issues affecting his own country. Only a traitor would seek to expend American lives and resources forwarding the agenda of a foreign power.
I suggest you renounce your American citizenship (if that's what you claim you are) and pledge allegiance to the Israeli flag. America needs patriots, not sellouts like yourself.posted by: Independent Centrist on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority on Monday gave its first public indication of which candidate it would like to see in the White House next year.”
Last time I checked, Arafat isn't voting in this election.
While we're pointing out such "endorsements", let's consider ex-KGB, Soviet nostalgic, former commie, and current power-grabbing despot Vladimir Putin support of Bush.
Let's see...the vast majority of democratic nations in the world back Kerry, and the once leader of the Soviet spy agency backs Bush. What a coincidence! They're both very good at walking over Constitutions, supressing civil liberties, punishing democratic dissent, and using violence to forward their agendas.posted by: Independent Centrist on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"Please explain to me what kind of Israel you want to see 20 or 25 years from now when the current Israel-controlled territories will have more Arabs than Jews:"
You are assuming that Israel currently has a model democracy. Israeli Palestinians have long been considered an under class and never afforded the same rights or judicial proceedings given to Israeli Jews. Think pre Civil Rights movement in the US between whites and blacks.
Now, if the neocons had any brains whatsoever in those chickenhawk skulls of theirs, they'd have pushed for a Palestinian state immediately, and covertly allowed Iran to obtain nuclear weapons while forbidding an Israeli strike. Once both sides are nuclear powers, we could step out of the sandbox and let events take their natural course. In the event of a limited nuclear exchange -- limited thanks to the nations having rather short-range ballistic missile capability -- much of the troublesome hotspots in the Middle East would be reduced to glass parking lots. In a "humanitarian" move to stabilize the region, the US could move in (once the fallout clears a bit) and seize the region's energy reserves for itself.
Of course, neocons being the disenfranchised liberals that they are, just had to entertain ridiculous notions of a Mid-East utopia filled with Wal-Marts and Exxons.posted by: Independent Centrist on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
All of the anti-Kerry arguments here say essentially the same thing... "Kerry fundamentally doesn't get the terrorist threat and he takes too long to make up his mind." Yet, not one shred of damning evidence has been proffered that supports the claim he doesn't get the threat.
Historically, EVERY attempt by any world power (Britain, France for example) to force it's own system of government on ANY country in the Middle East has met with disaster. Every one of these imperial follies failed. And, what was the common thread? They all tried to do it at the point of a gun. Forcing our vision of democracy on a country that may very well NOT BE READY FOR DEMOCRACY OF ANY KIND will not succeed.
Reagan is typically introduced as an example of strong foreign policy because he "won the Cold War". Supporters like to compare Reagan with Bush. The disconnect with this argument is simply absurd... the Cold War was not won by invading Russia and it was not won overnight. Reagan happened to be the lucky president who reaped the glory of decades of US foreign policy. In other words, we won the Cold War through long-term sustained targeted efforts. To assume that by forcing democracy on Iraq it will have a domino effect in the region is at best optimistic, at worst, fatal. I argue that a population that has repelled dozens of invaders (who came with the intention of civilizing Iraq) throughout history will NEVER submit to a democracy NOT OF THEIR OWN MAKING.
While people argue that Kerry doesn't get it, they also provide no supporting evidence to bolster their support for Bush in this regard. A look at the daily headlines should cause any Bush supporter to seriously question his/her logic.
Due to Kerry's inquisitive nature, I find it absolutely absurd to even suggest he "doesn't get" the threat of terrorism. I believe Kerry understands implicitly that force alone WILL NEVER, EVER reduce the threat to a point when we, as a people, can live without the daily fear of attack. We should be so lucky that the actions of our current administration do not put us in the same position as Israel - a country that has actually learned to cope with the almost daily bloodshed of never-ending terror.
Terror cannot and will not be defeated through force alone by the United States alone. We cannot 'win' without the staunch support of our oldest allies and without recognizing that the real battle is not against the people who use terror as a tactic but against the poverty and abject despair that breeds young terrorists.
I have heard nothing from Bush (or his administration) that even hints he "gets" this bigger picture. Bush carry's a big dumb stick and as we have seen over the past year, violence only begets more violence.posted by: pburton on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Mark said, We need more divisions, not a draft.
How many more divisions do you think we need? Kerry has suggested creating two more divisions. Do you think that's enough? What if we need to respond to a threat somewhere else in the world? Not another war-of-choice like iran, a real threat that we didn't initiate. Do you think two (2) divisions more will be enough? I doubt Kerry thinks so either, but that's what he can reasonably hope to add without a draft.
I'm at a loss as to why the Bush administration hasnt addressed this,
My best guess is that anything they say will bite them either before or after the election. Like, "Read my lips, no new draft."
but Kerry is certainly taking (unfair) political advantage of the situation by suggesting we have topped out our non-draft capabilities. That is absurd. If we cant support 150,000 troops in an expedition, we better pack up and call it a day as far as projecting power in the world.
Good point. I say we can support 300,000 troops in an expedition, six months building up supplies and getting ready, six weeks fighting, and 3 months cleaning up and going home. Provided they don't have to do it again too soon. And particularly we can do it if somebody else pays for it.
But we have trouble supporting 150,000 troops for a 2-year occupation. Particularly when so many support functions that used to be done by soldiers at fixed cost now are contracted out to companies that try to maximise their profit.
[...] We just need to decide if this war is to continue to be predicated on no-one outside of the current military and their families needing to make sacrifices.
Ask the public to make sacrifices? Before the election? What if they asked what our purpose is in fighting the current war against iraq?
When the sacrifices are all made by the military, that's easier. They *volunteered* to make sacrifices. Probably a majority of them will vote for Bush after and during their sacrifices. But you can't expect that attitude from the general voting public.
Kerry has won my vote ...
1. My profession is related to civil-military involvement in post-conflict operations -- the Somalias, Haitis, Bosnias, Albanias, Afghanistans, and Iraqs of the world. (Many of which I have served significant time in.) The level of incompetent arrogance in these environments under this Administration is terrifying -- and will have long-term consequence. While the Afghan elections went well, there is a long way to go (one election does not a democracy make ...) before this is a society from which we (the western world) can back away from. If anything, we should be upping our investments there. For the FY03 budget, the Administration -- seeming to remember its "no nation building" campaigning of Governor Bush -- did not put a penny into reconstruction assistance. Congress -- including people like John Kerry -- had to work to get the money back in the budget. Failures in these environments (including not dealing with the Sudans) helps maintain festering cesspools for terrorists to breed and prosper. Failures for the post-conflict environments -- most notably Iraq -- have bogged us down to a much greater extent than if there had been less faith-based and more reality-based decision-making in the White House. No one has (accurately) accused John Kerry of letting faith put blinders on him as so clearly seems to be the case with "W".
2. We might have the best military in the world, but it is now overstretched -- and even exhausted. In 2000, George Bush (Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, etc ...) accused the Clinton Administration of "overstretching the military". We are at war -- 9/11 does create a changed environment -- but what do we call the situation today. The military has been mismanged. If we need to fight another preemptive war (Iran anyone?), we will be hard-pressed to fight any form of sustained conflict.
3. The Administration, when it comes done to it, has utterly failed to make effective use of all tools of American power in the fight against terrorists. Effective use of diplomacy might have gotten more effective / larger-scale non-US actions in Afghanistan. The Administration's focus on Iraq (a situation which it created) has taken attention (and resources) away from other battlefields. If we pressure countries to send several hundred troops to Iraq (against their public opinion), does it lessen the chance that we could get them to send thousands to Afghanistan?
4. How about public diplomacy? From calling this a "crusade", to an unwillingness to deal with General Boynkin's inappropriate (and almost certainly illegal) religious speeches, to Abu Ghraib, the Administration has been handing bin Laden / et al recruiting poster material. There are people we must kill (or imprison for life), what we must do is work (for generations it is likely) to minimize their pool of supporters and potential recruits so that when we kill a terrorist we actually weaken the terrorist network into the future. This Administration is consistantly failing in this regard.
5. Terrorism is critical but "National Security" is a many faceted problem, especially in our globalized / netted world.
5a. How well are we doing economically? ($21,000 growth in national debt per family anyone in three years? How about the first set of job losses under a President since Hoover? Yes, a whammy with 9/11, but anyone who cannot admit that the fundamentalist wing of the Republican party is creating a fiscal structure that undermines the strength of our great nation is relying too much on faith-based reasoning rather than sound thought.
5b. Education? Links to the rest of the world? Environmental statistics (rising asthma, for example)? Health care? (I have an under six-month old infant and unable to get a flu shot, have parents in their 70s who have stood in line and failed to get flu shots, etc ... By the way, the flu vaccine failure will likely kill more Americans than 9/11. Does the Administration deserve responsbility for any failures?)
5c. And so on ........
6. A particular arena of specialty -- lessons learned. A key step in learning, admitting a mistake or problem. Whether in the debates or otherwise, anyone willing to provide evidence that President Bush and/or Vice-President Cheney are willing to do this? The "lessons learned" coming out of the system at the moment are too often thinly based on reality and seem politically (sometimes bureaucratic politics) driven. The tone is set at the top -- this top does not encourage true accountability -- which is critical to learning. Our conflict against terrorists / terror is a war fought in a coalition, interagency, interorganizational context with a continually evolving and adapting set of partners and players as the conflict evolves. This evolutionary context is key. We will have to adapt and change to successfully prosecute this war -- to adapt / change requires a healthy learning process. "W" is not leading a learning organization.
7. Related, I am tired of the 'lies' and mistruths coming from my President and his Cabinet. To be honest, the degree to which George Bush and Dick Cheney are willing to distort and, sadly even lie, has distressed me greatly. For example, George Bush chose to yet again in the last debate distort the "Global
Despite all the cries for accountability in the public school system & elsewhere, the Bush Administration seems intent in its belief that there is no one who has a right to question any of its actions or decisions.
Our last Democrat President managed to: lead the nation to balanced budgets; despite all the 2000 campaign complaints, leave behind a military capable of taking out the Taliban in Afghanistan and the amazing drive to Baghdad; and so on.
I disagree that Kerry will be driven by Moore -- that is not the circle of his advisors. It seems crazy to believe that Kerry will somehow embrace bin Laden as a negotiating partner (as some seem driven to suggest). It seems clear that Kerry will have a better positioning for dealing with "nation-building" both internally (making the Defense Department, State, etc really talk to each other and work together) and externally (whether with the UN -- wouldn't we like them running elections in Iraq right now; or with allies) than we have seen under "W". Kerry is far more likely to take a far-more inclusive approach to national security which is far more likely to lead to a secure and prosperous America for us, our children, and our grandchildren.posted by: A traditional -- troubled -- conservative on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"This leads me to two conclusions: Bush should get your vote based on the facts, but Kerry will get your vote, based on your emeotional leanings."
This just tickles me. While liberals usually do traditionally vote often on emotional issues, which is precisely why the dems are not historically known for party cohesiveness, this election they are united in their disgust of Bush and his complete disregard for reality and facts on the ground.
On the flip side, the GOP platform has been hijacked by evangelical right-wing cults who believe in nothing short of faith-based leadership -- reality be damned. This is why Bush governs from within a bubble...he simply despises opposing facts that don't jibe with his "gut" instincts. His followers? They're convinced Bush is annointed by God to lead America and recite their mantras while dutifully following every marching order of Falwell and Robertson. After all, facts are for "the reality based community", not the religious right who absurdly manufacture their own reality.
Faith requires belief in the absence of facts...how convenient!
Usually I stand aside and throw my votes behind the political trends that will assure a balance of power in America...I disdain both you extremist non-thinking partisans. However this time I must say that the GOP has truly lost it with their dopey adoption of neoconservatism. Reality is Goldwater-Reagan conservatism. Not this nation-building fiscal liberalist Wilsonian imperialism.posted by: Independent Centrist on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
We can't afford a President whose Inner Peacenik gets first refusal of tough decisions. The President has to be able to pull the trigger when the time comes, and Kerry's record throughout his career shows he will never do it. Taking tough action against terrorists is so against his natural grain it would be foolish to trust him with the job.posted by: The Sanity Inspector on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
With a century of responses above, I seriously doubt these points haven't been made, but:
1. The President is a stronger initial actor, without doubt. Spengler over at www.atimes.com (Asia Times Online) has written a brilliant defense of the first-strike policy, tracing its roots as far back as the 5th century BC. It is a compelling, if provocative, argument for the basic Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz doctrine.
2. The Senator, though, is capable of reflection, and not just willing, but eager, to hear multiple perspectives before branching out on a course of action.
Simply put, this election boils down to one of personalities, not ideologies: which do you feel is safer for you and your children, the President's clarity of purpose, or the Senator's sober analysis?
I suggest that what makes our country so powerful and simultaneously so compassionate, and what may explain our bitter political divide, is that these are two virtually equal qualities held by distinctly different aspects of our population. Yet they both comprise a basic part of our national psyche and our identity vis-a-vis the rest of the world.
In life as in football -- we'll hit you as hard as we can, then offer you our hand to pick you back up.
Well, I for one believe that we've demonstrated, quite blatantly, the one half of our national character, and I do not see the need to apologize for that. Rather, I applaud the President and the current administration for their aggression and their vision to move forward globally from the retreats of the Clinton administration.
While the current administration is to be commended for placing us in this position, the notion that a Kerry administration makes our resolve weaker is, frankly, insulting, and demonstrates a profound lack of understanding about global politics. Did the election of a Labour PM in the UK make that country weaker? To the contrary -- PM Blair's worldwide popularity gave him the mandate to push Britain's global interests, and made him a profoundly powerful ally for us in the current struggle.
To put it bluntly, we are not Spain. We have demonstrated unequivocally that, as a nation, we can, and will, act when necessary. Cross us, and you will get hurt.
Yet it has become painfully clear that the current administration, despite its rhetoric to the contrary, does not have the capability to demonstrate the other, vital, part of our national character -- our humanity. This is just as vital to maintaining our position of global dominance as our ability and willingness to defend ourselves. Iraq and Darfur alone have demonstrated the current administration's myopia on this topic. We cannot win the war on terror, whatever one's opinion of that appellation, alone. We will need Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, Indonesia, the UK, France, Germany, Russia, India, China, and just about every other major player on Earth, to help us. We cannot be the cops of the world by ourselves.
That having been said, I am not so naive as to believe the myth on the left side of our political compass that suggests that the global community will flock to President Kerry's side. This is patently untrue, for his policies will likely reflect much of the current administration's. Yet I retain my earlier statement. We need allies. And if we are unlikely to attract allies via our policies, that is all the more reason to attract them via our personality.
We are a divided democracy, not a plutocracy or an autocracy. This debate has always been couched in terms of individuals, but that sorely misses the point. Our opponents know that they are not at war with an administration; they are at war with a nation. And our nation has demonstrated, without question, that we are fearsome enemies.
But we need to demonstrate to the world that we are both strong leaders *and* strong allies. We must demonstrate that we can be aggressive and forthright, but that we can also be receptive and wise. Most importantly of all, we need to demonstrate to all the peoples of the world that we are worthy of their respect, as well as their fear.
We cannot leave this task half-done. We must show the world our yang as well as our yin. We must show that we are friend as well as foe.
This, then, is the TRUE meaning of "You're either with us, or you're against us." We need to give the world a reason to be with us.
This is why we must elect John Kerry.posted by: Evil Schmoo on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
The case for Kerry cannot be made without first smashing the myth that everything has changed since 9/11 and all its associated “truths”.
Well, this is really the crux of the matter.
If Dan believes that it is not true that 9/11 changed everything, he should vote for Kerry. After all, Kerry himself said (in the Matt Bai article) that 9/11 "didn't change me much at all".
On the other hand, if Dan believes that 9/11 did change everything, he should vote for Bush, since, in that case, it is clear that Kerry just doesn't get it.
Which do you believe, Dan?posted by: Al on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Ooh, that's priceless!posted by: Korla Pundit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"Simply put, this election boils down to one of personalities, not ideologies: which do you feel is safer for you and your children, the President's clarity of purpose, or the Senator's sober analysis?"
I guess the question is, is it wise as a voter to rely on what a candidate claims he would have done in retrospect, rather than what he actually did during his 20 years as a senator.
"You are assuming that Israel currently has a model democracy. Israeli Palestinians have long been considered an under class and never afforded the same rights or judicial proceedings given to Israeli Jews. Think pre Civil Rights movement in the US between whites and blacks."
This is a supporter of John Kerry. Do I need to add anything else?posted by: David Thomson on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"How many more divisions do you think we need? Kerry has suggested creating two more divisions. Do you think that's enough? What if we need to respond to a threat somewhere else in the world? Not another war-of-choice like iran, a real threat that we didn't initiate. Do you think two (2) divisions more will be enough? I doubt Kerry thinks so either, but that's what he can reasonably hope to add without a draft."
I recently left the active duty miltary. I served in the Kosovo campaign, on the Korean peninsula, in Japan, as well as CONUS of course. I fulfilled more than my obligation but declined to continue a career due to my deep disagreement with the policies of this administration. I opposed Iraq since shortly after 9-11 when it was already clear to me by the mobilization efforts of the military to prepare for desert warfare, that Bush intended to invade Iraq regardless of a mandate or not.
I don't believe 2 more divisions is enough. BUT it is a start and a means to help relieve our overburdened military. I would support a return to perhaps 80% Cold War strength levels, albeit with a new emphasis on Spec Ops, urban and anti-terrorism warfare training, and light to medium mechanized infantry and armor.
The tax cuts for the wealthy have to go. Since the poor and the middle-class assume the vast majority of the responsibility to fight the wars on the ground and who take the full brunt of the casualties, I consider it the patriotic duty of the wealthy and corporate America to do their part and contribute the financial revenue required to support a new build up in the armed forces to fight the war.
It is a disgrace that Congress passes a $130 billion giveaway to corporate America when we are in dire need of rebuilding the military of the 1980s. The Cold War is over, but the new war requires the same sacrifices.posted by: Independent Centrist on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Throughout you make mention of "experts" and how important it is to heed what they have to say. All of the "experts" prior to the invasion of Iraq believed that Iraq was in possession of WMDs. Bush accepted their expertise and is now routinely castigated for having done so. Turns out the "experts" were wrong. The experts are often wrong. George Washington died largely because of treatment provided by the best medical experts available at the time. Authority remains the weakest form of argument.posted by: Frank on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
This is only about the second or third time I have ever commented on anyones blog. I always come to read what the blogger has to say not the commenters.
"We can't afford a President whose Inner Peacenik gets first refusal of tough decisions. The President has to be able to pull the trigger when the time comes, and Kerry's record throughout his career shows he will never do it."
Spoken like a true chickenhawk hypocrite.
When the chips were down, one man volunteered to enter the line of fire. One man actually pulled a trigger and has killed the enemy in combat. One man was injured.
The other man? He enthusiastically supported the same war but chose not to volunteer to go fight in it. McCain flew missions over Vietnam, Bush flew a trainer jet to defend Texas from the Viet Cong.
Bush never had the balls to pull the trigger. He never had the courage to even do so from the seat of a war plane, let alone in combat on the ground. Bush, a peacenik and moral coward, has proven time and again in life that he is unwilling to make any sacrifices. He'll challenge terrorists to "bring it on" to our troops...he'll look pretty in a flight suit and declare mission accomplished. But in the end, only the bravest of men can face death on the battlefield and persevere, and Bush just never measured up when he had the chance.
Bush never could pull the trigger. He's too small a man to ever do so.posted by: Independent Centrist on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Gary wrote, As I read your posting, you are saying that you are still undecided between Kerry and Bush, even after giving Kerry every benefit of the doubt on every issue and giving Bush no benefit of the doubt on any issue.
I sure didn't read it that way.
First, Drezner has given Bush the benefit of the doubt about the economy. If he held Bush responsible for our economy it would be hard to vote for him.
Second, look at Bush's claims for free trade, and contrast them with Bush's various actions -- the steel thing and so on. For a free-trade economist to accept Bush after that, he must give him the benefit of a whole lot of doubt.
Third, look at Bush's economic statistics. There's a consistent pattern here, these statistics are lying, misleading statistics. To suppose that this is an accident an economist must give Bush the benefit of even more doubt.
Then there's the war. There are people who claim that technically Bush didn't lie his way into this war, that if you listened very carefully to the fine print you'd see that he wasn't really saying what you heard. To my way of thinking this defense is not a defense at all. But surely no one could disagree that Bush *misled* us into war. To vote for Bush after that requires gobs and gobs of benefit-of-the-doubt.
Then there are the leaks. The Plame leak. The NSA leak to iran, supposedly through Chalabi. The leak about the al qaeda internet expert. Etc. Apparently Bush has done nothing about any of them except to make sure legal results are delayed until after the election. I could imagine a 30% chance of voting for a president who tolerated that, but on top of everything else? It takes a few more gobs of benefit-of-the-doubt and a big dollop of suspension-of-disbelief.
Sixth, there are the neocons. Neocons are not something you can be wishy-washy about. Either you believe them and agree with them, or you don't. If you believe them, we are right now in an undeclared war with the entire muslim world, and we have to win -- there is no alternative to victory. We must invade as many arab nations as possible and intimidate the rest; we must find some way to get them to surrender and then turn them into secular free-enterprise democracies; the only possible acceptable alternative is to nuke them. If you agree with that then there is no way to accept Kerry as president. Kerry is not a neocon and he isn't going to follow their plan. That's what the code words mean about "He's still living in a pre-9/11 world". They mean Kerry doesn't seriously intend to defeat every muslim nation or nuke them if conventional defeats are too hard. It seems to me this is not something you can be neutral about. You can't say "Let's wait and see how things turn out and then decide whether they're right.". If they are right we have to get to work, we have a limited time before we'll have to start nuking. And if they're wrong we have to get them away from the government as quick as possible. Bush believes the neocons, Kerry does not. Choose now. And yet somehow Drezner *does* give Bush the benefit of the doubt, he hasn't chosen one way or the other.
Unless you give Bush a whole lot of benefit-of-the-doubt, then there's no question. You'll look at Kerry and establish that he isn't Bush. Then you look again and establish that he doesn't look like a crazy person. That's enough. Kerry clearly isn't Bush. And I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he isn't crazy. He isn't a neocon. And he's the only one who can get Bush out of office. That's all the benefit-of-the-doubt that Kerry needs.
"Here's an alternative plan..." (Jim, outlining his plans for "surgical strikes", naval blockade etc. to force Iran to toe the line)
Whenever I hear nice, neat plans involving the use of force to compel other states to behave in a certain way I'm reminded of Goering's insistence that bombing London would force Britain out of the war, or Nixon/Kissinger's belief that bombing the North would bring Hanoi to the bargaining table.
All either of them accomplished was stiffening the resolve of their enemies.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration seems, like Jim, to have learned nothing from such histories. You can't count on people behaving the way YOU think they ought to behave. Real solutions require a more (pardon my French)nuanced approach. Real diplomacy is never as neat and simple as a Tom Clancy novel...
Dan, you are basing your biggest objection to Kerry on fears about who his advisers may or may not turn out to be. But consider something else; how has Bush dealt with advisers who have failed him? His administration failed to anticipate the 9/11 attacks, failed to finish the job in Afghanistan (and I'm not talking about getting Osama, I'm talking about putting a massive rebuilding effort in place), failed to plan for post-invasion Iraq, but Condi, Rummy, Wolfowitz et al stil have their jobs!
Such failures on the part of subordinates should have consequences. Bush's ego is so fragile that not only can he not admit to making a mistake, he refuses to make anyone under him pay for failure lest he be associated with an error. No-one in the Bush administration has ever suffered any consequences for their mistakes, unless you count those whose "mistake' was to offer an alternative point of view...
Is that the kind of leadership you want for four more years!? On the other hand, just looking at how he's run his campaign it's clear that Kerry listens to the people around him, considers the alternatives and makes adjustments when they're needed; both in policy and personell. That's not "flip-flopping", it's pragmatism. Something we could use a lot more of these days.posted by: A Hermit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I know a lot of people who say they are "conservative" or even "republican," and who say they aren't going to vote for Bush, and their reasons are all somewhat mushy. Mostly they blame Bush for this and that detail going wrong in Iraq, while ignoring the overall positive movement there.
Yeah, some vases got looted. But the world's at war! It's a goddamn vase! In all relative terms, who cares?
They voted last weekend in Afghanistan. For the first time in their 5000 year history! Doesn't that trump a friggin' vase?!
The real issue is these "disenchanted" hawks want to convince themselves that the war isn't actually real, that the danger is past, and it was all just an isolated incident of 19 men with boxcutters.
It's not difficult to convince yourself, considering we have been protected from further attacks in the three years since. Protected by the military action now under constant criticism from a man who wants to command it, and who once denounced it as marauders. Protected by the Patriot Act and the Justice Department labeled as a new Gestapo by people who can't highlight one actual right that was taken from them.
You start to feel like you were always safe the whole time. The danger must have been a bunch of hype. Never mind that hole in the skyline. We've already forgotten what it used to look like any way.
But before you glibly dismiss the importance of having a commander in chief who takes that position seriously, and who has made it his life's mission to defeat the terrorists and to breed democracy in the worst hellholes on Earth, remind yourself of how this all started.
Get some tapes of the 9/11 newscasts. Get some video of the towers coming down, of the news conferences where mayors and police commissioners came to tears. Watch it for a few hours, if you have the balls. Get reacquainted with the feeling of not knowing when the other shoe would drop.
Remember what it was like to wonderi1how we would ever prevent somebody from bringing a nuke into the middle of the city and detonating it?
And remember why we can't go back to Kerry's way of thinking. Begging hat in hand to the UN, joining the International Criminal Court, signing the AntiAmerican Kyoto treaty, holding Arab summits... these are not things that are going to save us from terrorists.
This is the main difference in this election. This is what we're voting about. Everything else can wait.
So you can vote to briefly live in the deluded fantasy that we're safe and we can all go back to being the world's biggest masochist and take the blame for all the universe's ills from an ungrateful world. And when Iran reveals it has a nuke, and North Korea has nukes on missiles that can reach California, then Kerry will have to hold his tea parties in a bunker.
Or we can remind ourselves that this is war for survival against the worst fascist sadism we have ever gone against, and be willing to accept the hard reality that there will be unpleasant circumstances. Accept that not every element of this struggle will be roses and wine. But in the long run, the results are worth it.
These creeps want us dead. That is their "legitimate grievance." You can't negotiate with that. And would you even want to try if you thought you could?
Look, if you want to vote for Kerry, or if you're just yanking everybody's chain with a coy "please convince me" game, that's your business. But you should at least admit to yourself that it's not based on logic. It's based on an emotional reflex to want to go back to the hopeful days of the Millennium, when it was all about building bridges and love and peace and hope. La la la la la.
That way, you won't be too surprised when it all comes crashing down.
Good luck deciding.
Here's the Michael Gordon article from today's New York Times.
Military aides on the National Security Council prepared a confidential briefing for Ms. Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, that examined what previous nation-building efforts had required. ...
Ouch. Iraq is more urbanized than Bosnia and Kosovo, and so it might need more than 480,000 troops? I don't see how you get there from here.posted by: Russil Wvong on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"Throughout you make mention of "experts" and how important it is to heed what they have to say. All of the "experts" prior to the invasion of Iraq believed that Iraq was in possession of WMDs. Bush accepted their expertise and is now routinely castigated for having done so. Turns out the "experts" were wrong."
O'Neil and Clarke testified publicly that attempts to present evidence that suggested Iraq was not a threat and did not have WMD were met with opposition by the administration. These are facts.
Scott Ritter, chief weapons inspector at the time that oversaw UN efforts to enforce the sanctions on Iraq and rid it of WMD, testified since the beginning that Iraq had no WMD. This is a fact. And he was right. Did Bush listen? No. He was going to go to war regardless of any evidence against his case. I know this for a fact because the expeditionary units throughout the armed forces when I was in were gearing up for desert combat as early as December 2001. We were mobilizing the same way we mobilized for Kosovo...getting the logistical support in place and prepared for deployment.
Follow this link to when Scott Ritter's testimony that Iraq had no WMD was throwing a monkey wrench in Bush's case to convince the allies to back us for invasion:
Iraq would have been invaded no matter what, even if 9-11 never happened.posted by: Independent Centrist on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"Whenever I hear nice, neat plans involving the use of force to compel other states to behave in a certain way I'm reminded of Goering's insistence that bombing London would force Britain out of the war, or Nixon/Kissinger's belief that bombing the North would bring Hanoi to the bargaining table."
E. H. Carr has some biting comments about this kind of thinking:
Much that was said and written about international politics between 1919 and 1939 merited the stricture applied in another context by the economist Marshall, who compares "the nervous irresponsibility which conceives hasty utopian schemes" to the "bold facility of the weak player who will speedily solve the most difficult chess problem by taking on himself to move the black men as well as the white."
So what should you do instead? Historian Eric Bergerud describes Bismarck's approach:
Bismarck in particular never thought that events could be predicted with precision. When a policy was pursued a range of outcomes could be expected. The trick was to develop policy where the minimum outcome (today we might call it a worst case scenario) was acceptable. If a triumph ensued great. If it was something in between, don't die of surprise.posted by: Russil Wvong on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"Yeah, some vases got looted"
Gey serious Korla! Whole armories were looted. Nuclear materials were looted.
Bush's shortsightedness has made us all less safe.posted by: A Hermit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Just a question for anyone who has followed this more closely than I: a poster mentioned upthread the recently passed corporate tax bill. Does anyone know how Kerry or Edwards voted on it? Has either discussed it on the stump? Is either on record about specific provisions, like the tobacco farmer buyout or the extension of tax credits for manufacturers to companies that manufacture movies?
I know the projected cost of this Christmas tree is only around $130 billion, and it is not strictly speaking related to Dan's concern about Kerry's foreign policymaking process. But the bill originated as a fix for an export subsidy ruled a violation of WTO rules, which makes this a trade issue, sort of. I'm not criticizing Kerry's position; I just want to know if anyone knows what it is.posted by: Zathras on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
When the chips were down, one man volunteered to enter the line of fire.
Only after several deferments & the last deferment request was denied.
And his volunteering to do Swift Boat duty was with the expectation that the odds of seeing actual combat was slim; I'm sure he wasn't pleased with the modifications to their mission that put them in the line of fire.
And when these chips were down, only 1 man committed atrocities.
I observe that while many of the Bush-supporters on
I would have expected those who are most vehement
a) It isn't important to keep national security
b) It's in the long-term interest of the US to
c) Yes this is bad, but there's nothing Bush and
d) A Kerry administration would be just as leaky
e) It's all Clinton's fault
So what is it ? Do you accept that this is a
posted by: Richard Cownie on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"Previous big tax bills during the Bush administration were shaped by the president and were subject to intense partisan wrangling. This bill has no proud parents but slid through Congress by offering benefits for lots of businesses. The administration played little role in writing it, and in the final presidential debate Bush chose not to mention it, even after Sen. John Kerry denounced it as "$43 billion of giveaways."
"Just a question for anyone who has followed this more closely than I: a poster mentioned upthread the recently passed corporate tax bill. Does anyone know how Kerry or Edwards voted on it?"
It was passed by voice vote, which means there's no record of how individual Senators voted on it. Here's the Washington Post story.posted by: Russil Wvong on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Proving that "we can take it" is a lousy strategy. Proving that we can identify threats and focus on their elimination - *that* is the right policy.
And anyway, isn't Fallujah a perfect example of Bush showing we *can't* take it? We bomb from the air and create another Grozny rather than risk soldiers' lives. Doesn't this embolden the insurgency?
I don't buy the idea of Bush as clearly identifying the threats and then removing them at all costs.
Both Kerry and Edwards were absent. McCain wasn't there either, unfortunately. The 17 votes against came from three Republicans and 14 Democrats.
There was also a separate vote on the cloture motion where some people voted slightly differently:
Oh, and this whole pork barrel was called "Jumpstart Our Business Strength (JOBS) Act".
Beldarblog provides the most cogent reason for voting against Kerry. To quote:
"If John Kerry keeps his promises to "fight for this country" — if he keeps his promise not to cut and run in Iraq, for instance — then he's going to seriously piss off, indeed to completely alienate, somewhere between a quarter and half of the people who've voted for him, and probably a much larger percentage of his intelligensia, fundraisers, and activists. If we're not out of Iraq come next July, there's going to be a boom market in "Dean '08" bumper stickers. Because just like you're working on the assumption that when elected, Kerry will indeed take the fight to the enemy, they're working on the assumption that when elected, Kerry's going to get us out of the "wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time." You and the moonbats can't both be right about what Kerry will do. Can we agree on that much, surely? Can we agree that the straddle that might succeed in getting Kerry into the White House can't last once he's there?"
If the US loses in Iraq, and a Kerry victory almost guarantees it, then radical Islam will once again have a state sponsor. That would be a VERY BAD THING.posted by: pat on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
9/11 emphatically did not change the world. 9/11 perhaps changed some of us and our perception of the world. And 9/11 hopefully woke us up to the hubris of 90's triumphalism (read Fukuyama's End of History). But 9/11 did not change the world, unless you believe that we really do create reality by our thoughts and actions. Therein lie the philosophical (i.e., honest debate) differences.
China, Brazil and India are still rapidly developing and industrializing. Europe is still integrating and expanding. Russia is still proving it's aspirations to empire. The world still battles for energy and a great game is back on in Central Asia. Africa is still full of inspiring and tragic feats of the human spirit. The world is still round, there still might be life on Mars and John Stewart is still very, very funny.posted by: Mandalgobi on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I will pray for you. A life lived in fear is a life not worth living. That has to be a quote or paraphrase from someone...
Rgds.posted by: Mandalgobi on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
"Beldar asks his non-moonbat Democratic friends: Can John Kerry do what LBJ couldn't?"
"And anyway, isn't Fallujah a perfect example of Bush showing we *can't* take it? We bomb from the air and create another Grozny rather than risk soldiers' lives. Doesn't this embolden the insurgency?"
You either misundstand what happened in Grozny or what is happening in Fallujah. Killing tens of thousands of civilians and a few militants (Grozny) is quite the opposite from killing numerous militants and a handful of civilians (Fallujah). We are getting our intelligence about safe houses from somewhere in Fallujah, and that somewhere is Fallujan citizens ratting out foriegn fighters. Its the foriegn fighters physically preventing the homegrown militants from cutting a deal with Allawi, once they are killed or neutralized, a settlement may be possible without an invasion guaranteed to kill many hundreds of more civilians.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
It seems to me that the conventional wisdom on these boards (yours, BD, even oxblog) is that Bush gets the post 9/11 world. I couldn't disagree more.
There are several things that the United States and the world can do to win the conflict but the current administration has chosen *force* against an *old* enemy over all others. Lets take the most dangerous scenario: that terrorists get their hands on a dirty nuke. What has Bush done to reduce the possiblity of this scenario? Has the war with Iraq increased or decreased the chances of this happening? Then again, I'm surprised to hear how little Pakistan is mentioned when we talk about nukes in the hands of terrorits!
Lets talk about Pakistan for a while. It appears stable now but Bush and the State Dept have placed all their bets on Pervez Musharraf, hardly a poster boy for the Bush mantra of "freedom and liberty are on the march". What if Musharraf is assasinated? What if there is a coup led by a more fundamentalist army general? Pakistan has nukes, thousands of hardened Al Qaeda fighters and hundreds of religious madrassa's creating the next generation of terrorists. Yet there is no effort to engage Pakistan in a reasonable way-- to try and nudge Musharraf to start democratic reform, to get Pakistan and India to find a reasonable solution to Kashmir. I think Bush and the current officials in the State Dept just don't get (or don't want to consider this possibility) how dangerous Pakistan *could* become if things go wrong there.
When it comes to remaking the Middle East, the Neo-cons are convinced that a war against all troublesome Middle Eastern regimes is the way to go. I would say, that trying to get friendly Islamic countries (Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia) to initiate real democratic reform is a much easier and more effective first step in remaking the Middle East. The Iraq war has set that effort back by many many years. I still cannot believe that we hold Kerry's first Gulf War vote against him but give Bush and his advisors a pass over the mess they've created in the last two years.posted by: Manish Khettry on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
What are you looking at that even remotely suggest things are getting better in Iraq?
So we went back into a couple of cities without much resistence-- classic gurrilla strategy.posted by: spencer on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Bush Jris the Bizarro World's Jimmy Carter...the mumblings about human rights and all.posted by: NeoDude on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Daniel, I think you should consider the vice- pres. selections, too. As evidence of how careful John Edwards is of detail, simply view the video of Edwards tending his hair (Drudgereport).posted by: Curtis on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Dan, the most disappointing feature of your essay was that it gave no reason to support Kerry. Bush undoubtedly has made mistakes, and war is always a messy proposition. But it is clear that Kerry does not have the mentality nor the support within his party for a decision to remain in Iraq until the job is done, especially if it gets tougher. He will bolt the first chance he gets. THAT would be a major disaster from a foreign policy perspective. The result will be that a lot more Americans will die in the long term. And those circles opposing the US will have confirmed their view that the US may not be defeatable in combat, but is very defeatable if the Press and Media can be persuaded to oppose combat action. The Middle East will become even more of a hotbed for terrorism. The world will be a lot more dangerous place. Given that result, I find it inconceivable that you can even entertain supporting Kerry? RAZposted by: RAZ on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Kerry's criticism of Bush shows he does not understand the war on terror. Bush declared war on terror, not just Osama.
What Bush has done is made the terrorists unwelcome in the countries they usually use for refuge. Al Qaeda and other terrorists can no longer rest in Pakistan, Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. These are Muslim countries the terrorists got support from in the past. Bush won these victories without firing a shot.
This is why the terrorists are fighting so hard for Iraq and Afghanistan. They are losing places where they can train and hide. They are losing financial support and they are losing face among Muslims. Everyday more Muslims in the Middle East speak out against terrorism. That was not happening at the start of the war.
If Kerry gets into office, and we cut and run, the terrorists will have won. Bush has made too much progress in the war to throw it all away now. Kerry does not understand the fight.
We knew a great deal about Osama in the 90s. But Clinton evidently thought an all out war at that stage was unwarranted, so he just fired cruise missiles at Osama. That was not effective. Bush rejected that strategy and famously said "I'm not going to shoot a $2 million cruise missile at a $10 pup tent just to hit a camel in the butt." Bush was determined to be win the war regardless of cost.
Bush's strategy is the only way to establish national security.
There are lots of armchair quarterbacks around. The Democratic Party is full of people who want to grouse and complain about Bush and the invasion of Iraq. After all, this is an election year. But the truth is, Bush has been far more successful than most people give him credit for. When you understand the war from a global perspective, you stop complaining about the invasion of Iraq because you can see how central is it to the total war on terror.posted by: Ron Cram on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Bush declared a global war on terror. He has
So why, according to the State Department, were
The people fighting us in Iraq are mostly not
As for the effect of the WoT on other countries,
Meanwhile Afghanistan is resuming its place as
It's damn lucky for us that the War on Terror
Kerry and Bush are both poor candidates.
Bush appoints people who seek to unnecessarily impinge on civil liberties through the support of policies that have only a religious basis, like sodomy laws and the current "War on Drugs." He supports secret searches that are overseen by a rubber stamp court that has never refused the permission to search.
Kerry, on the other hand, supports grand approaches to problems that won't gain pragmatic or public support. And he too supports unnecessary government programs like the "war on Drugs". And he probably (being a democrat) supports nanny state ideals that piss me off.
On the other hand, Kerry will not advance his religious intolerance through his appointees, will pretty much maintain the status quo on the Supreme court, and will fail to advance anything too damaging through the Congress, because even in the Dems win the Senate, they won't win the House.
And things have to pass both houses of Congress to reach his desk.
And Kerry might just use his veto, something Bush has completely failed to do, no matter how bad the legislation to reach his desk.
posted by: flaime on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Tony wins the award for most clear-headed and civil Bush supporter in this thread.posted by: Lukas on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
When I read the comments about Kerry’s supposedly superior acumen about the war on terrorism all I hear is in my head is Dusty Springfield’s song “Hoping and wishing and thinking and praying”. There is no evidence that Kerry has repudiated his pacifist tendencies. One vote does not make a record. As I said before I don’t question Kerry’s patriotism, I question his judgment and nothing he has done in recent years has changed that opinion. I cite his North Korea stance as prima facie evidence of his failure to grow.
The war against Islamofascism is not a war against terror but against an anti-modernity ideology where the frustrations of the populace have been channeled into nihilistic actions. I am specifically thinking of Palestine. This war like the one against European fascism cannot be reasoned, discussed or an understanding reached. It is an existential war.
An article was published in Tech Central Station that I cannot find via Google that speaks of a Kantian world of reason and light vs. a Hobbsian world of brute force. The thrust of this article was that the West lives in a world of Kantian interactions that does not work in a world of ideologues of death cults. It becomes a Hobbesian world at that point. If anyone finds that article I would be greatly appreciative. I find it persuasive.
With that in mind there is another article by Spengler that talks about another existential war. I was going to post his latest article but someone already posted it.http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EF12Ak01.html
This is the key paragraph:
In all, one-quarter of military age Southern manhood died in the field, by far the greatest sacrifice ever offered up by a modern nation in war. General W T Sherman, the scourge of the South, explained why this would occur in advance. There existed 300,000 fanatics in the South who knew nothing but hunting, drinking, gambling and dueling, a class who benefited from slavery and would rather die than work for a living. To end the war, Sherman stated on numerous occasions these 300,000 had to be killed. Evidently Sherman was right. For all the wasteful slaughter of the last 18 months of the war, Southern commander Lee barely could persuade his men to surrender in April 1865. The Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, called for guerilla war to continue, and Lee's staff wanted to keep fighting. Lee barely avoided a drawn-out irregular war.
There is a class of people who hate modernity, women’s right, democracy and “Women, Whiskey & Sexy”. Same as the Nazi’s we have to kill enough of the true believers so that others will not be sucked into their mindset.
So in a Hobbesian world Bush “gets” it. He is attacking the root cause, state sanctioned terrorism that uses asymmetrical means. Not the symptoms like we have done since 1979 (law enforcement). Has it been perfect? No. But better a man who goes forward.with the right strategy and adjusts then a man who likes to “plan”. This election reminds me of the election of 1864, McClellan and Lincoln. As in that election the military is overwhelmingly voting for the man who “gets” it.
Regarding the troop level issue this is a problem that is working itself out. More and more trained Iraqis are coming on and we are taking and holding areas that were lawless. Less of our troops will be required in 18 months. What is going on in Iraq right now is their equivalent of TET. They are burning up their manpower at a horrific rate. We are bombing in Fallujah, taking over the suburbs and they can’t do squat. Two suicide bombers in the Green Zone is their equivalent of storming the American Embassy in Saigon. And you want to replace this team that is achieving this with “Hoping and Wishing and Thinking and Praying”?
As Ecclesiastics 3:3 says. “There is a time to kill and a time to heal”
It’s killing time.
Even if you forget what Kerry's done, look at what Kerry hasn't done in 20 years at Factcheck.org... those "56 bills" are quite the exaggeration.posted by: HH on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Admittedly, I’m late in coming to this discussion – but, I wanna put my two cents in anyway. . .
DAN, YOU ARE ASKING YOURSELF THE WRONG QUESTION! You are, after all, a REPUBLICAN foreign policy expert, and, by your own admission, you are leaning 70% toward voting for Kerry. That speaks volumes about your comfort level with Bush’s foreign policy, and/or the Bush administration’s way of reaching policy decisions. Thus, the critical question to ask yourself is: Why are you so uncomfortable with what Bush has done?
Hey Jeff Schaeper,
You seem to forget our own faith-based president's war on modernity.
Bush seems to be more concerned with protecting certain Christian cult’s beliefs than modernity.
And this is the country that Kerry wants to give nuclear fuel rods to see what they do with them? Reeeeaal smart move there. There have been many complaints as to our allies and as to why we need more. Let's look at the status of current allies versus the status of allies Kerry would want shall we?
U.K. - Much of the country admittedly doesn't support us but the government does. As to the population's dislike of the war, it's showing the natural tendency that has been present since before WWII.
Australia - A country that was settled by criminals that were considered the lowest common denominator of Britian at the time. It has turned out to be our most vociferous supporter and has not wavered, even after the Bali bombings. If anything, it's only become more resolved.
Poland and various ex-USSR non-muslim countries - Oddly enough, all these countries actually have felt the whip of true tyranny and see it once again, albeit in a different form, on the horizon. I suspect they would much rather face it now rather than when it arrived in their backyards.
Japan - They've never liked religious extremists and since their fate is intimately tied to ours they are backing us up.
S. Korea - Again, their fate is intimately tied to ours.
That gets most of the allies taken care of. Oh, I forgot Spain.
Spain - Backed us at first, but backed away with Madrid bombings. Also may have been because of proximity to France. See below for details on this Woooooonderful country.
Now, for the possible allies that Kerry would want and consider worthwhile. Russia, China, France, the UN, and maybe the Canadians, but doubtful. All of these countries had major ties to the Oil for Food scandal(except Canada) that is just now breaking wide open. Type duelfer report into google and read the Key Findings of the report to see what I mean. Also, with the school incident Putin has just recently stated that the terrorists would dislike to see Bush remain in power. Germany has tenuously offered support but only if they get the oil that they were getting illegally from S. Hussein. Can you say, extortion?
Besides which, Iran has already shot down his "plan" for them, and the Canadian online drug stores have already refused to sell to anyone in the US in bulk. That's two "plans" of kerry's that have sunk before he's even have reached office. He wants to bring 80,000 new troops into service. He wants the 40,000 normal troops, but he also wants to double the SF. That's another two divisions I believe. How exactly does he propose to do this without a draft? He also wants a One China policy. This means he wants to see Taiwan embraced in the oh so warm bosom that is China. He says that he wants this done peacefully but somehow I doubt that if Chinese troops just suddenly rolled in in force he would provide too much resistance.
On a second note, he was the ONLY Swifty officer to spend 4 months in Vietnam. Every single other one stayed quite a bit longer, was killed, or was seriously injured. If he were confident that his record is truly honorable, why does he not release both his medical and war records? Perhaps because then people would realize just how much of a liar he is and actually realize just how bad of an idea electing him would be.posted by: Jordan Wehde on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
He wants to bring 80,000 new troops into service. He wants the 40,000 normal troops, but he also wants to double the SF. That's another two divisions I believe. How exactly does he propose to do this without a draft?
I don't think he needs a draft for this, but he'll need to spend more money or shift money away from 1 military force (navy, air force, marines) to the other (army) to pay for it.
Even with the repeal of the Bush tax cuts (just the 35-39.6? or all of them) will enough money be found to pay just for this? Would he have to raise taxes beyond that?posted by: h0mi on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Kerry does not bring anything new to the table. In several posistions, Kerry is the conserivte (preseving the status quo) and bush is the one who wants to change things.
I still can't get over the fact Kerry would give MORE nuclear material to Iran and watch them as we did North Korea.
Bush might be a failure (i don't think so) but he is no where near done.
I don't think kerry is going to help the situation by any large amount, but I am not ready to punish bush yet.
If bush is still a screw up in 2008, i will punish them then.posted by: cubicle on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
The Bush administration's handling of the top brass, he [Kerry] said, has had "a chilling effect" on military advice -- a charge seconded by some top officers at the Pentagon.posted by: spy vs. spy on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Neo-dude - define modernity and how Bush has opposed it. If it is stem cells well I agree with him. Good people can disagree on that. Partial Birth Abortion? Talk about a cult of death. Be specific.posted by: Jeff Schaeper on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
I'm joining this thread late, but I'd like to hear from Bush supporters about one of my biggest concerns.
A segment of Bush's evangelical base believes in the Rapture -- the time when Christ will return and the elect will be caught up to be with Him. Many believe that the Rapture will be preceeded by a time of great trouble.
I worry that to people who believe that we're already in the time of great trouble, the desired outcome in situations like Iraq and Israel is total military and diplomatiac failure.
Biological warfare, chemical warfare, nuclear warfare. Civil war, race war, class war, world war. Widespread environmental disaster. All can be seen as desirable by people who will be lifted to heaven that much sooner.
I don't have a good read on what Bush himself believes, but he aggressively courts this base.
Bush supporters, what are your views on this issue? Does it concern you? If not, why not?
(I'm asking this question out of a sincere request for information, not to bash Bush, Bush supporters, or anyone's religious beliefs.)
That comment by Greg Djerejian (whomever he is - I admit I haven't read him) is so lame that it deserves Fisking.
I will go to my grave not knowing that. I can't answer it. I can't explain the strategic obsession with Iraq--why it rose to the top of people's priority list. I just can't explain why so many people thought this was so important to do.You know, timid people will ignore the elephant in the living room right up until it treads all over their delicate sensibilities and polite manners. Realists can answer a question as straightforward as Djerejian's with the word "Israel". Elaboration would also be possible, but "Israel" would appear regularly throughout any answer
But if there was a hidden reason, the one I heard most was that we needed to change the geopolitical momentum after 9/11. People wanted to show that we can dish it out as well as take it. We're not a pitiful helpless giant. We can play offense as well as defense.The sad thing about this is that any giant who reasons that way is, truly, a "pitiful" one. Parents know something about kids who lash out at weaker kids when they're themselves being bullied. It's not admiration they feel for them under the circumstances. Truly, this is pitiful commentary from Daniel when this stuff is quoted as "must read". Why - aren't there opinions even lamer than this out there for us to waste our time on if that is what we seek?
This crap about the "post 9/11" world is, also, alright for the kiddies and Bush voters to babble on about. Daniel, you can and should do better. The only thing that changed on 9/11 was that the reality of missed chances, intelligence and security failures, and hamfisted US foreign policy - all fomenting away nicely right throughout Clinton's watch - finally blew up in the face of an even more clueless administration. The world didn't change that day, but Uncle Sam should have woken up a little to reality.
If the USA wants to continue in a happy world of its own imaginings and dreams, oblivious to harsh reality, then it has the chance real soon now to vote four more years to the schoolyard bullies who brag that they and their empire of hubris are the reality of your dreams. Rove (presumably) is quite correct to say that we create our own reality. Thing is - that fact doesn't help you if you don't know much about the rest of the world around you, and don't understand what kind of reality it would be good for you to create. Children spin their dreams in sandpits and their castles in the air, with mom and dad to look out for them. America is presently spinning its dreams in a bear pit, while the adults are fast losing what was their great compassion and sympathy for the once great giant.
Truth is that the best of Americans today still represent what is most noble and admirable in western civilization. None of those Americans will vote for a weak man like George W Bush for President of the United States.posted by: Winston on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
This says it all . . .
The founder of the U.S. Christian Coalition said Tuesday he told President George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq that he should prepare Americans for the likelihood of casualties, but the president told him, "We're not going to have any casualties."
Worst president ever.
Why would you vote for him, Dan?
Just because Kerry believes in nuance and acting according to the situation, rather than acting consistently to the tune of false, inane, uninformed, and unintelligent beliefs?posted by: Advocate for God on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Re: the "trust" issue
alanb and Tony have addressed this a little, but I'd like to move the issue of "trust" a little closer to the center...just as you did by say that you simply don't trust Bush and his administration on certain things.
"Realists" and cynics will of course say that trust is an illusion and no basis for politics, but I think they are profoundly mistaken. A certain level of trust in one's fellow citizens, and particularly in leaders, is absolutely crucial for a complex society to function. Correspondingly, a loss of trust can be devastating, domestically and internationally.
Let me be clear; I'm not advocating a "moralilty-based" foreign policy, but rather the long-standing principle that "pacta sunt servanda": an actor in politics MUST have the trust of those s/he deals with that promises will be kept in some meaningful way.
If we look at the Bush administration, I believe this essential quality has been deeply deeply damaged, here and abroad, by Bush's own personal behavior. I'm not talking about campaign promises, which any reasonable listener takes with a grain of salt. Rather, it's the brazen willingness of this adminstration to say anything to get its way, then to deny saying _that very thing_ the next day that are so deeply disturbing.,
For example, I was listening to the British Commons' Question Hour on the redeployment of British troops in Iraq yesterday, and the bulk of the questions, from Labor and Conservative delegates alike, explicitly or implicitly contained the question, "Are we being gamed and misled by the Americans on this redeployment". Basically, neither party in England -- our closest ally in Iraq -- trusts either the American military's requests or particularly the Administration's motivations for causing such requests.
This is devastating!
Domestically, the long series of overt lies from the White House, from claiming that new air pollution rules are "tightening" when it's self-evident that they represent a concession to major polluters, to their contrafactual assertions about Kerry and his campaign, equally sow distrust. When a candidate, in person, says things that are clearly not ture at a public event like the debats, this deeply harms all of us. Not because lying is "morally bad", but because a lack of faith in our leadership undermines every aspect of civil society.
It is above all for this reason -- compounded by Bush's absolute inability to _admit_ to making erroneous decisions -- that I simply cannot vote for Bush, no matter his supposed "consistency" on foreign policy. I don't trust him...personally, as a leader, as a human being.
Kerry is a politician, not a saint. He makes campaign promises that are misleading, as does Bush...probably less, but let's call it a wash. But I simply don't see a record of untrustworthiness there: on the contrary, before speaking out against the war in Vietnam he went and fought it. He has taken on difficult and not-very-politically-rewarding issues, like BCCI and money laundering, and so forth. Is he perfect? No. Do I lend him the level of trust that I do for most politicians: that when push comes to shove, his actions match the convictions he has expressed? Yes.
"Onto the joyous topic of N.Korea. The reason we didn't attack NK is becasue they essentially are already holding the civvies in Seoul, SK hostage. They have enough conventional arty in place to kill hundreds of thousands as an estimate on the low side of the scale. Essentially we are waiting for the bastard in charge to croak or cave in to China's threat of cutting off it's subsidies which provide NK with about 80% of it's goods. Your precious Kerry wants to enter unilateral talks. This is the same damned type of thing that gave them the nukes in the first place."
You're right on the assumption of heavy civilian casualties in Seoul and Osan AB following the first few hours of a war with North Korea (Osan being 8 min by air from the DMZ), but you're wrong on everything else.
Bush could give a shit about the Korean civ casualties. That's what is known in the administration quite cynically as "collateral damage". Various estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths, let alone casualties, range anywhere from 10k optimistically, to 30k as a result of the invasion and subsequent occupation. Try reading today's news about Pat Robertson warning Bush on the Iraq casualties...this president doesn't care about OUR casualties -- you think he cares about anyone else? No.
Basically, if North Korea was sitting on the world's second largest energy reserves we'd be occupying Pyongyang instead of Baghdad. Why else would the ONLY government structure that was guarded during the invasion of Iraq happened to be the Oil Ministry? Duh.
I served in Korea. I can tell you for a fact that on two occasions Clinton was only a matter of hours of airstriking North Korea's nuclear facilities. War was avoided at the last minute by South Korean request and concessions from the North. That's far more than was done by this president.
Plus -- it simply just didn't jibe well with Bush's plans to invade Iraq.
So...while Kim was being ignored in favor of the Admnistration's quest to build a case on the 45-min nuclear strike capability of Saddam, Kim decided to raise the stakes by ramping up his nuke program.
So let's recap. Under Bush's watch we had:
Weapons inspectors at North Korean nuclear facilities to monitor 8000 fuel rods. We had cameras observing the sealed rods. Kim kicks out inspectors, turns off cameras, breaks seals, moves rods to new location, withdraws from NPT, begins reprocessing rods, and does all of this PUBLICLY.
What does Bush do? Not a damn thing. It just didn't jibe with his Iraq crusade for the world to be worried about a North Korean nuclear crisis. And there's no oil there.
Bush, the cynical bastard that he is, sold out our nation's security by allowing the crisis with North Korea to worsen not just for his Iraq crusade, but also to allow the nuclear threat to fester. Why? Because a long held dream of the neocons was to withdraw from the ABM treaty and give an excuse for reviving the Star Wars program.
So, Bush gets his war and occupation, but now the US is completely incapable of dealing with a 3rd front with operations going on in Afghanistan and Iraq and a woefully overextended military. What's this mean? We have no big stick to wave at Kim anymore...now we have a chopstick. North Korea is sitting on a handful of nukes and is reprocessing rods at the rate of 1 bomb every couple months. They have all the cards and Bush has zero collateral in dealing with the North except to meet their demands. BUT, he can't do that because of all macho posturing which said we don't deal with tinhorn dictators, and we surely can't lose face by rewarding bad behavior.
Result? Bush has NO CHOICE but to pursue 6-way talks as opposed to bilateral negotiations. Why? Because only North Korea's neighbors have any real collateral left in dealing with them and Bush has to look like he's doing something about it.
Think about it. This president talks up unilateral action and preemptive strikes in the Bush Doctrine. But when it comes to North Korea, he's suddenly Mr. Multilateral Diplomat. And this while North Korea embodies EVERY REASON his administration ever concocted in the ever evolving list of justifications for the Iraq war!
North Korea and US at war for over 50 years.
The list goes on and on. And why don't we do a damn thing about it? No energy reserves of course.
North Korea is perhaps a year from improving its missile tech to the point it will be able to hit Alaska and is currently building up its nuclear capability. This president has completely fumbled with his North Korea policy. In fact, his latest brilliant strategy to break Kim's will? Divert troops from the peninsula to send to Iraq during negotiations with the North, further underlining our impotence at this time.
Bush is a complete fucking idiot when it comes to North Korea. George is Kim's bitch.posted by: Independent Centrist on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
George W. just received the all-important Iran endorsement: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=694&ncid=696&e=1&u=/ap/20041019/ap_on_el_pr/iran_us_elections
I much appreiciate the focus on detail this series of posts, and others like Djerejian's, bring to the table. But for all this talk about "decision making process", I wonder if there's not a bit of a wonkish tendency to miss the forest for the trees that's weighing down the p-value. It's the same sort of tendency, I might add, that seems very often to lead to an overestimation of the supposed successes of the Clinton foreign policy team.
But on the cusp of THIS election, shouldn't it really be all about the big picture? i.e., whose fundamental worldview is better suited at this crucial point in history to advance the interests of the US...that of, say, Madeleine Albright or that of Paul Wolfowitz?posted by: Azazello on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Ok, I'm finally going to respond to some of Korla Pundit's posts/comments, against my better judgement...
Korla - I at first thought you to be joking with your comments a few days ago, I thought no one could really believe the absurd arguments you were posting. But it would seem you actually believe that mumbo jumbo about Bush leading our country towards the path to victory in the war on terror.
On this post: http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/001683.html#031540, you describe the Kerry campaign issues as lies and scare-mongering. Last I checked, that was entiredly in Bush's realm, with his scare-mongering that Kerry is going to do worse in the war on terror and we'll be hit again. Get a clue. Kerry, as evidenced by the first debate on foreign policy issues, actually has one, Bush doesn't in the slightest. Your next paragraph, you claim that a third of the world hates us for beating communism (WHAT?!, this is the first time I've ever heard that claim made even about 1% of the world, much less 33%) and another third for supporting Israel, and that they cheered on the the 9/11 attacks. Where do you read your news? Bizzaro world? We had overwhelming support and sympathy following 9/11, which Bush squandered with the Iraq debacle, as well as Rumsfeld's badmouthing of "old europe", not to mention numerous other instance of essentially flipping the bird to any country that disagrees with the Bush administration? How is that in our interests to repeatedly insult other countries, as opposed to trying to find solutions? And on another issue, what is with the hatred of France? Fine, we had disagreements and in certain instances quietly disregarding them and going on about our business was warranted, but instead we insult them and demonize them, just for having opposing viewpoints. Do you hate everyone that gets in your way?
In another post, http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/001683.html#031797, you say "Mostly they blame Bush for this and that detail going wrong in Iraq, while ignoring the overall positive movement there", no, we blame Bush for diverting us from the war on terror. Plain, simple, and no small detail. You also say "The real issue is these "disenchanted" hawks want to convince themselves that the war isn't actually real, that the danger is past, and it was all just an isolated incident of 19 men with boxcutters." No, the war on terror is real, and none of those terrorists with boxcutters came from Iraq. Most came from Saudi Arabia. But we like the Saudi's, they're friends with Bush, so we invade someone else. Then you rant and rave nonsense, and a few paragraphs later you say "And remember why we can't go back to Kerry's way of thinking. Begging hat in hand to the UN, joining the International Criminal Court, signing the AntiAmerican Kyoto treaty, holding Arab summits... these are not things that are going to save us from terrorists." Again, get a clue. Kerry's not going to beg anyone, what do we have to hde from the international criminal court if our troops aren't committing war crimes, if Kyoto sucks why didn't we try and work with the other countries for a better environmental plan - if we truly care about leaving the world in decent condition for our children, and what on earth is bad about trying to improve the lot of the common, decent arab person who hates us in the first place for giving them the sense of oppression so that they feel their only choice is to join Al Qaeda?
>"This is the main difference in this election. This is what we're voting about. Everything else can wait."
You're right, and Bush thinks that we're gullible enough to think Saddam was working with Bin Laden.
You also think that Bush is doing well with Iran, Syria, North Korea, and the Israeli-Palestinian problems. News flash for you Korla - Bush would rather not deal with those problems, neglecting them. And the result is they're getting worse, and we need a change.
>"These creeps want us dead. That is their "legitimate grievance." You can't negotiate with that. And would you even want to try if you thought you could?"
You're right, but not everyone in that part of the world hates us so. Al Qaeda is a hydra, with two heads coming up for every one we cut off. So we gotta keep hacking away at the heads, of course. But you don't even contemplate that we also need to attack the root of the problem, and Bush doesn't address this at all. Kerry does. We need a change.
>"La la la la la."
You have no understanding of Kerry's view whatsoever.
In summary, you aren't too in touch with reality, Korla. Whatever the state of things in Iraq, that's just one part of it. Bush has no concept of how to win the broader picture, the war on terror, that I have seen or heard of. Matt Bai's article in the New Yorker magazine on 10/11 clinched me thoughts that Kerry does understand. You just think that all Kerry supporters are as radical towards the democrat side as you are to the republican side. Get a grip. It's neo-conservative whackos like you that are leading the republican party and the country down a despicable path.
Now, for the rest of you Republicans out there, I'm sure your reasons are more justifiable than Korla's, and I respect your values and beliefs. I just respectfully disagree in the end, and will vote Kerry. Vote as you see fit. :o)posted by: Democrat Dan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
On domestic issues, I was wondering if anyone had any defense of Bush's position on Stem cell research. As a cell biologist, I'm well informed on the science side of things, and it rather ticked me off in August 2001 when Bush took his stance on the issue. It seems insane to me... refusing to allow development of more ES cell lines from early stage embryos that will be destroyed anyway. For those of you who don't know, these are blastocysts (just balls of a few hundred cells each with the POTENTIAL to develop into a human life), which were generated by fertility clinics. Most of these will be destroyed and not used. But Bush feels that allowing them to be destroyed for no reason is better than allowing them to be destroyed in the attempt to further scientific and medical knowledge, and hopefully one day developing better treatments for some terrible diseases. I don't get it.
Can someone please explain to me how that is respecting life more than using ES cells to save life?posted by: Democrat Dan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
>You have no understanding of Kerry's view whatsoever.
Gee, which one?posted by: Korla Pundit on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Is that all you can come up with? Some pitiful slogan?
...give me a break.posted by: Democrat Dan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Korla doesn't have the really best explanation but it's a pretty good one:
Either you believe that we face a deadly threat, or you don't. If the insane arabs are ready and able to kill us all, then we absolutely have to do whatever it takes to stop them, up to and including nuking them all. There is no alternative to Bush, Kerry doesn't get it. We absolutely have to elect Bush. Nobody else will have the guts to nuke 1.2 billion people.
Is Korla right about the neocons, is this really the way they think? I can't be completely sure, because they agree that it's OK to lie about such things in whatever good cause it is they do believe. But if this isn't what they really believe they must believe something that they think we'd like less than this.
There is no reason to think Bush would stop letting the neocons run foreign policy. And there's no reason to think Kerry would let the neocons keep running foreign policy. You could vote and get the result you don't want -- like people who voted for Johnson thinking Goldwater would get us into war, or people who voted for Nixon hoping he had a secret plan to end the war -- but the way to bet is that Kerry doesn't believe we have to conquer or kill the entire moslem world, and the neocons believe we do.
If you agree with the neocons then there is no adequate choice except Bush. If you don't agree with the neocons then there is no adequate choice except Kerry, no one else can stop them for the next 4 years.
If you don't know whether you agree with the neocons or not, then you'd better figure it out. If you choose wrong on that one, it doesn't matter how many other policy issues you candidate is right on. The right taxes or deficit etc won't matter if Kerry lets the terrorists kill us all. And it would likely hit the economy, foreign relations, civil unity etc more for Bush to unnecessarily nuke even as few as three countries than whichever of his policies you agree with could make up for.
The candidate who is wrong on this issue is the wrong one to vote for. One of the candidates is completely insane. Either the one who turned the government over to neocons or the one who won't.
>Either you believe that we face a deadly threat, or you don't.
Kerry isn't disputing that we face a deadly threat. So why are the two of you referring to Kerry as if he is?
>...including nuking them all.
You're not serious about being willing to use nuclear weapons?! Do you have any concept of what that would lead to?
>...because [the neocons] agree that it's OK to lie about such things in whatever good cause it is they do believe.
Exactly, which is why we have to get the neocons out of power, lest they do something like use nukes.
>...but the way to bet is that Kerry doesn't believe we have to conquer or kill the entire moslem world, and the neocons believe we do.
>If you agree with the neocons then there is no adequate choice except Bush. If you don't agree with the neocons then there is no adequate choice except Kerry, no one else can stop them for the next 4 years.
>The right taxes or deficit etc won't matter if Kerry lets the terrorists kill us all.
Also true, but you don't seriously think that Kerry will bring defeat, do you? I for one think we have a better chance with him than with the current president.
posted by: Democrat Dan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
J Thomas: The right taxes or deficit etc won't matter if Kerry lets the terrorists kill us all.
Bush let the terrorists kill us, J Thomas, not Kerry.
This statement simply proves you to be an ass. Kerry will do no such thing and you know it.
Bush isn't even fighting the terrorists. They are mostly in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which Bush is ignoring, not Iraq and they weren't in Iraq in any significant numbers until Bush illegally invaded.posted by: Advocate for God on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Not sure if anyone is still reading this thread, but I have been pondering Dan's question, "how can I trust that John Kerry gets the post-9/11 world?". The short answer, is that you can't. Kerry has attempted to thread the needle between diplomacy and hardline politics. This has resulted in ambiguity about what he would do on any given issue. What we do know is that Kerry wants to talk about things with other countries. Bush has rather consistently applied a harder-line, both with allies and fence-sitters. Kerry proposes to draw lines of different hues on many different issues.
Will softer lines on some issues bear fruit in a 9/11 world? We do not know. Why? Because we only know what has and has not worked under the Bush administration. We have an N of 1 in the post-9/11 world and meaningful diplomacy has been scarce. Therefore, we need to go on theory here. I would suggest that regardless oi your theoretical frame was one of Keohanian complex interdependence or a revisionist-spiked anarchy, talking more would have made a positive difference on the right issues. I think it is pretty clear from Kerry's record (look at Bush commercials in the swing states) that Kerry has taken a harderline post-9/11 as opposed to pre. But that line is not as hard, strait or narrow as Bush's.
The question then becomes one of trusting Kerry not to soften the right, not the wrong lines. Would he have gone into Afganistan. I think that answer is yes, with a very similar timeline. Would he have waited longer on Iraq, probably, yes. We now know that those instincts would not have endangered this country in the short term (but granted may have made for some difficult negotiations in the future on sanctions). Difficult negotiations were odious to the current administration, Kerry may or may not have dived in.
All executives have a very strong incentive to protect the country when it is threatened. Attacks and deaths are high profile signs of a problem, and they are quite difficult to cover up and paper over.
On the other hand, it is much more difficult, even in a democracy, to hold a leader accountable for over-hyping threats and taking a position that is overly-hawkish. In many senses, hawkish policies are self-fulfilling prophesies. If you don't put considerable resources into diplomacy (even with putative allies) you are not going to get positive results. However, counterfactual are hard to parse out and even harder to sell on the stump. However, what I worry about is that when the public is fearful, a whole range of policies designed to increase the security of the country will be passable. The
As for the second question, on Kerry's decision making process correcting his instincts, that is an easier case to make.
First, lets look at what might be wrong with the Bush decision making process. Bush seemingly tends to see issues as dichotomous and surround himself with a small, loyal circle of advisers. I would not be the first to suggest that the likely mistakes from this leadership style are unlikely to be repaired by the process. Small number of inputs, weighted by loyalty is likely to lead to false decisiveness. Simply, the sampling of information is unlikely to reflect the true uncertaintly in the world.
On the other hand, what we know of Kerry's leadership style and decision making process is that he does see shades of gray, and likes to include alot of information from various sources in his process. At the very least, more information is brought to bare on the problem and fine grain details can be compared. Decisions that include clear cut benefits will be seen as such, while those with more uncertaintly will also be reflected more accurately.
What these times call for (see below) is a decisive leader with an open process. Neither candidate is likely to give us exactly that. Although, it would seem to me that the chances of Kerry being decisive when it matters and greater than Bush opening up his decision making process when it matters. When times get tough, Bush is likely to close the circle, Kerry is likely to make a decision. Even if that decision is rushed, it will include more information than Bush used. In my book, that is likely to lead to better decisions.
An objection may be raised that when time is of the essence, a decisive leader trumps all. I would disagree, since even knowing how much time is available presumes information that may be biased in small group circles.
The pairing of leadership style and process would probably be ranked like this:
My ideas are based on two suppositions:
1b) Nuclear proliferation is not an easy problem. Related to above, but also including the tricky diplomacy of subverting sovereignty norms and collective action problems.
2)An open market for information will help to balance out any one person's mistakes. Not only are small decision-making units more prone to groupthink according to Janis, but they also (given some distribution of knowledge across many groups) are unlikely to have all the answer. Many mistakes in foreign policy, including the over-estimation of Soviet power in the latter stages of the cold war resulted, at least partially from closed decision making processes.
The structure of the US democratic system is set up to protect numerous sources of information, from the legislative branch to press and speech freedoms. By over-emphasizing a small decision making group, and weighting information based on loyalty rather than relevence, the president is ignoring a large amount of potentially useful information. Suboptimal policies, most likely systematically biased in one direction (hawkish) are likely.
I would also like to aver that Kerry ``getting it'', should lead to a related question. Given recent and past revelations about Bush's decision-making process. What if the world were to change again? Would Bush get it? Would Kerry?
Just some thoughts.posted by: Mike on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Mike: But that line is not as hard, strait or narrow as Bush's.
This seems to assume that a hard, straight, and narrow line is the appropriate response. It isn't and never has been in foreign policy. Not even Reagan practiced such a hard line, yet he is credited (wrongly in my opinion) with "winning the Cold War." Diplomacy is all about ambiguous lines and presidents operate at the diplomatic level - generals, not presidents, operate at the military level. Bush doesn't get that, which is why his Iraq policies have been such failures overall, while the military successes have been effective, when the administration has not intervened, as it did in calling off the military in Fallujah the first time around.
From today's Washington Post, we have this:
"Kerry's belief in working with allies runs so deep that he has maintained that the loss of American life can be better justified if it occurs in the course of a mission with international support. In 1994, discussing the possibility of U.S. troops being killed in Bosnia, he said, "If you mean dying in the course of the United Nations effort, yes, it is worth that. If you mean dying American troops unilaterally going in with some false presumption that we can affect the outcome, the answer is unequivocally no."
Why, then, did Kerry vote against the 1991 Gulf War, which obviously passed this "test"?
In 2000 people who suggested Bush would be an extremist were dismissed as extremists themselves. Every, myself included, felt there was little difference between Bush and Gore. Since then we have seen Bush take the federal government on the most conservative ride in the last 100 years, he has exercised terrible judgement on many fronts and refused to correct the course when the errors became apparent. what is it that has happened in the last 4 years that make you think the next 4 years with Bush would be any different? Do you really beleive ANY president in the post 9/11 world would just roll over and let this country be overrun by terrorists? Bush/Rove have done an excellent job of framing the issue and painting Kerry as a waffler and uncommitted to national security, but it's just paint. I have seen nothing to suggest Kerry would be any worse than Bush when it comes to security (in fact, I suspect he would be better simply because he would be more likely to entertain debate onn the issues). I've seen plenty of evidence that Bush is going to "stay the course" regardless of how ruinous the course becomes.posted by: Mike on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Vote for Kerry if only for the deep satisfaction of watching a smug asshole eat a Texas sized shit sandwich. It's the only way to assuage the frustration of the past four years.posted by: Just Karl on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Democrat Dan responded,
Kerry isn't disputing that we face a deadly threat. So why are the two of you referring to Kerry as if he is?
Sorry, I overstated that. In the short run we might face a terrorist attack that might perhaps kill a few tens of thousands of americans. Maybe worse, we could face a terrorist attack that might give us nagging long-term problems. For example, if the reservoirs that millions of people depend on get radioactive contamination -- not enough to really justify closing them down and creating whole new reservoirs farther away, but enough that every cancer victim in the area wonders whether it's because of the water ... that would be a nagging long-term problem.
The worst case anyone is willing to mention in public is terrorists with a nuke. This is not as bad as it looks, the worst I see (from back-of-the-envelope calculations) is, in one of our most densely-packed regions and a big bomb, maybe half a million quick casualties due to the bomb, and maybe a million more due to people doing stupid things while they try to evacuate, and perhaps a million with significantly reduced lifespan. The nation would easily survive.
But I'm talking about a deadly threat. As I understand it, from things they've published, the general neocon consensus is that there is more than this minor fnord run terrorist problem. The issue is islamism. The claim is that islamists are willing to suicide-bomb us, to die doing whatever they can to hurt us. They also intend to convert every majority-muslim nation into an islamist nation, perhaps all welded together into an islamist superpower that would make as many bombs as it could and nuke us with no concern that we'd nuke them back.
The claim is that we are already at war with all islamists. But it isn't enough to be at war with islamists, we must destroy the cultures that create islamists. We must reform them and convert them into secular free-trade democracies that are guaranteed never to attack the USA or israel. Or else we must kill them all.
If you believe this is not the neocon stand then you will probably disagree with my conclusions.
>...including nuking them all.
You're not serious about being willing to use nuclear weapons?! Do you have any concept of what that would lead to?
My understanding is that this is a neocon last resort. The nukes would only come if we fail to destroy the muslim cultures and replace them with secular materialist democracies.
>The right taxes or deficit etc won't matter if Kerry lets the terrorists kill us all.
Also true, but you don't seriously think that Kerry will bring defeat, do you? I for one think we have a better chance with him than with the current president.
If the neocons are right, our only chance to avoid genocide is to reform every muslim nation before it's too late. If we fail at that then they will kill us or we will kill them, preferably the latter. Some people argue that muslim nations might not want democracy or might not be suited for it. But from a neocon perspective that's irrelevant. Attempting to transform those societies is the humane choice. We must give it our very best try, hoping for success no matter how low the odds, because the alternative is to kill or be killed.
I personally believe they are wrong. And in voting for Kerry I'm betting my family's lives that they're wrong. If I voted for Bush I'd be betting my family's lives that they're right, and also that they're competent to wage the secret undeclared war and win it.
This seems to me so important that no other issues matter in comparison. If the neocons are right, then our nation's survival is at stake and our only chance is to depend on them to save us.
And if the neocons are wrong, then our nation's survival is still at stake. They are pulling us into an unnecessary global war and we could lose everything while they fight ghosts and shadows.
One other thing. If they believe that their secret war is America's only chance to survive, then it follows that they would feel justified to do whatever it takes to win that war. And so they would feel justified to do whatever it takes to stay in power.
J Thomas -
So the Professor has decided to vote for the man whose process of decision-making he judges as better even if he disagrees with the decisions being made? I think the professor is kidding but if he is not I give the professor an F for logic.
Having said that he is leaning 70% in favour of Kerry the professor now says it is up to Kerry's supporters to convince him. Again if the professor is not kiddingI give the professor a second F for logic.
The professor professes to be concerned with the nation's security and purports to understand the wisdom of liberating the middle east from tyrannical rule and helping the locals to establish democracies ( the success of which will ultimately be up to them.)
The professor nevertheless purports to believe that a man who doesn't believe in this war will do a better job of fighting it than a man who does believe in it.
The professor, if he is not having us on, needs to imagine his allegedly preferred candidate saying: " Well, we know this withdrawal of American troops may be perceived as a setback for America and Iraq but as I warned my pedecessor this was the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. My pedecessor however chose to ignore my warnings and the wisdom and wishes of the international community and we are seeing the results of that kind of arrogant attitude. I am confident that Iraq will soon enjoy better days. We are not turnng our back on the Iraqis. Their day will come and when it does we, the United States, and the international community will be with them. In the meantime the Iraqi people need peace and the removal of our unwelcome occupying presence will give them that... blah blah blah."
With the war foremost in his list of priorities the professor, inexplicably, says he is leaning towards a man with an impeccable record as an international pacifist,a man so clueless on issues of war and peace that he opposed the liberation of Kuwait even though that decision passed everyone's idea of a global test.
The professor is claiming to be more convinced by a man's recent rhetoric than his record. The professor is in short either joking or operating at the level of a journalist. Another F for the professor.
Fortunately the average American is not so easily fooled. (And I'm sure the professor knows as much.)
I don't wish to be unkind. I leave that to the left wing-nuts you can find posting at The Washington Monthly, some of whom I see posting here (and I note one claiming to have some special connection to God.) However the professor, if he is serious, has gone to school and left his brain at home.
The professor's supporters seem to think that mistakes made in the field, if indeed they are mistakes and I suspend judgment until I hear the other side , are the fault of the President as if it's his job to micro-manage the war.
" Hello White House, may I ask who is calling "
"Abizaid here. May I speak to the President.
" He's not here."
"Well where is he"
"Were not sure. They wouldn't say. Either he's gone back to Crawford or he's gone golfing or is otherwise just goofing off. Can I leave him a message ?"
"Yes , tell him we found a cache of weapons and we'd like to know what to do with it."
I have several questions for the Professor. Assume a candidate served a tour of duty which was one third of a normal tour. And assume that the tour was cut short because the candidate put in for and obtained two purple hearts for superficial injuries- something unheard of among soldiers. And suppose that the same candidate when he got back home claimed he had particpated in an illegal mission and then made flamboyant statements claiming that the fact the President of his country denied he was participating in such illegal missions changed his view of his country and that such was "seared, seared in his brain." And suppose it was all a lie ( to put it in the clearest context -he told a serious lie about his country, a lie which damaged the reputation of his country, in order to make a political point.)
And suppose when he came home from that war he accused his comrades of committing atrocities and even claimed that he himself had committed atrocities. And suppose he described his county's participation in that war as the "biggest nothing in history". And suppose 33 years later, auditioning for CIC, he describes his participation in that war as "defending his country" and suppose he never explains when on the road to Damascus or was it the road to Washington he discovered, pray tell, he was not participating in "the biggest nothing in history", he was in point of fact defending his country - defending his country as a young man, (the second most common quote of this campaign next to "I have a plan" - ah oui and if only Jacques goes along with it- which he doesn't.)
So professor taking into account some or all of the above how bright was it for the candidate, towards whom you are leaning, to make his brief one-third of normal- and controversial- tour of duty in Vietnam the centrepiece of his campaign. And what does that tell you about his decision making ability?
Professor isn't it even slightly annoying to have your intelligence insulted on a daily basis or are you so naive that you really believe that any of the French, Germans Russians or Chinese are coming to Iraq because Kerry will ask nicely.
And did you think it was smart or honourable when he decided that Mary Cheney's sexuality was fair game because he thought (wrongly, this guy makes more mis-calculations than Saddam) that it might cause some in Bush's allegedly lunatic fringe evangalical base not to support Bush.
And what impact does it have on your support for Kerry that he goes around lying that Bush is gong to bring in the draft and privatize social security? And does it not bother you professor that a vicious and mendacious propagandist was given a place of honour at the Democratic convention (and air head Paula Zahn asks Lynn Cheney why President Bush has not brought the country together.)
Professor, go to The Washington Monthly and The Belgavia Dispatch and read the threads and ask yourself what kind of country you want to live in?
Go to Chrenkoff daily and read the Mesopotamian's postings for the last week. Why do you want to send a message to the terrorists that America is wavering. Yes that's the message a Kerry victory will send around the world - a message clearly understood when not filtered by incessant MSM Kerry spin. And because I know you care about your country go to Stephen Green's website and read his recent postings and gain some insight into what you will be rewarding if the Democrats win.
-- "...(T)he satisfaction we take in (Saddam's) downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure." -- John Kerry, 9/20/04
-- "Iraq may not be the war on terror itself, but it is critical to the outcome of the war on terror, and therefore any advance in Iraq is an advance forward in that and I disagree with the Governor [Howard Dean]." -- John Kerry, 12/15/03
-- "...(W)e must have a great honest national debate on Iraq. The President claims it is the centerpiece of his war on terror. In fact, Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against our greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden and the terrorists." -- John Kerry 9/20/04
-- "If you don't believe ... Saddam Hussein is a threat with nuclear weapons, then you shouldn't vote for me." -- John Kerry, USA Today on 2/13/03
-- "If you think I would have gone to war the way George Bush did, don't vote for me." -- John Kerry, Jan 2004
-- "It would be naive to the point of grave danger not to believe that, left to his own devices, Saddam Hussein will provoke, misjudge, or stumble into a future, more dangerous confrontation with the civilized world....He has supported and harbored terrorist groups, particularly radical Palestinian groups such as Abu Nidal, and he has given money to families of suicide murderers in Israel. ...We should not go to war because these things are in his past, but we should be prepared to go to war because of what they tell us about the future." -- John Kerry 10/9/02
-- "Yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq? My answer is no - because a Commander-in-Chief's first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep America safe." -- John Kerry, 9/20/04
-- "I agree completely with this Administration’s goal of a regime change in Iraq - Saddam Hussein is a renegade and outlaw who turned his back on the tough conditions of his surrender put in place by the United Nations in 1991." -- John Kerry, 7/29/02
-- "It's the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." -- John Kerry, 9/06/04
-- "It's awfully hard to convey a sense of credibility to allies when you voted for the war and then you declared: Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time. You voted for the war, and then you voted against supporting the troops when they needed the equipment, the fuel, the spare parts and the ammunition and the body armor. You're not credible on Iraq because of the enormous inconsistencies that John Kerry and you have cited time after time after time during the course of the campaign. Whatever the political pressures of the moment requires, that's where you're at. But you've not been consistent, and there's no indication at all that John Kerry has the conviction to successfully carry through on the war on terror." -- Dick Cheney in his debate with John Edwards
-- "Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts said during last night's Democratic presidential debate that the threat of terrorism has been exaggerated. "I think there has been an exaggeration," Mr. Kerry said when asked whether President Bush has overstated the threat of terrorism. "They are misleading all Americans in a profound way." -- Washington Times on Jan 30, 2004
"Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts. The B-1 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, dropped 40 percent of the bombs in the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom. The B-2 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hussein’s command post in Iraq. The F-14A Tomcats, that Senator Kerry opposed, shot down Khadifi’s Libyan MIGs over the Gulf of Sidra. The modernized F-14D, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered missile strikes against Tora Bora. The Apache helicopter, that Senator Kerry opposed, took out those Republican Guard tanks in Kuwait in the Gulf War. The F-15 Eagles, that Senator Kerry opposed, flew cover over our Nation’s Capital and this very city after 9/11. I could go on and on and on: against the Patriot Missile that shot down Saddam Hussein’s scud missiles over Israel; against the Aegis air-defense cruiser; against the Strategic Defense Initiative; against the Trident missile; against, against, against. This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces? U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?" -- Democratic Senator Zell Miller at the Republican National Convention
-- "I'm an internationalist. I'd like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations." -- John Kerry, 1970
-- "We heard Senator Kerry say the other night that there ought to be some kind of global test before U.S. troops are deployed preemptively to protect the United States. That's part of a track record that goes back to the 1970s when he ran for Congress the first time and said troops should not be deployed without U.N. approval. Then, in the mid-'80s, he ran on the basis of cutting most of our major defense programs. In 1991, he voted against Desert Storm. It's a consistent pattern over time of always being on the wrong side of defense issues. A little tough talk in the midst of a campaign or as part of a presidential debate cannot obscure a record of 30 years of being on the wrong side of defense issues." -- Dick Cheney in his debate with John Edwards
-- "John Kerry said yesterday that he will treat the war on terror "primarily" as law-enforcement action..." -- Washington Times, April 19, 2004
-- "Even in this post-9/11 period, Senator Kerry doesn’t appear to understand how the world has changed. He talks about leading a "more sensitive war on terror," as though al-Qaida will be impressed with our softer side. He declared at the Democratic Convention that he will forcefully defend America after we have been attacked. My fellow Americans, we have already been attacked, and faced with an enemy who seeks the deadliest of weapons to use against us, we cannot wait for the next attack. We must do everything we can to prevent it and that includes the use of military force." -- Dick Cheney in his debate with John Edwards
Does this give you any idea why Kerry even with 80% of MSM working for him is going to lose. Fortunately the choice is clear. The average American is better than his betters, knows a phoney when he sees one, is not baffled by so-called nuance and understands that bullshit baffles brains.posted by: Terry Gain on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Never before have I felt so depressed at the choices. This is worse than 2000 with Gore and Bush since I didn't know then how incompentent Bush was and merely feared Gore. (Which judging from his actions of late was wise. I think he'd have been worse than Bush) It's even worse than that non-starter of Perot - Clinton - Dole.
I was upset at Bush *before* 911 for all sorts of silliness on his part. Even though I'm a Republican a lot of Kerry's ideas sound good, and the one thing he did establish in congress was the attempt to balance the budget. However I'm not sure I trust Kerry's pie in the sky ideas anymore than I trust Bush's. Further on important issues (Supreme Court judges, expanding reach of government in medicine, gun rights) I really, really don't trust Kerry.
Having said that though Bush handled Iraq so poorly and the evidence has come out that he lacks critical thinking and questioning skills (which isn't the same as being dumb) that I don't trust him. But I truly think Kerry wants to cut and run and only use American power when the rest of the world likes it. Further I don't trust Kerry in the least on free trade and while I think he talks a good talk on the economy (much better than Bush) I'm not sure things will improve. Most importantly, I think if Kerry cuts and run, that things will get *far* worse in the middle east. I also think his plans for Korea are scary.
So I'm voting for Bush, primarily because of the courts. I hate my vote, partially because of global warming, partially because of Rumsfeld and company, partially because of the politicization of science. But I simply fear Kerry and company more.
Why oh why couldn't we have better choices?posted by: Clark on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
‘It is better to fight terror in Iraq than here.’ This is a meaningless campaign slogan. Invading Iraq, which was not supporting anti-American terrorists, does nothing to prevent any terrorist from coming to the US.
Iraq invasion was not necessary. A clever leader would have kept Saddam at bay without the cost of an invasion and destabilization of the ME. As it was, Iraq was not a threat to the US. Iraq had no WMDs. Iraq had no WMD programs. They had nothing but hopes and intentions. Iran was Saddam’s enemy.
The occupation of Iraq is in serious trouble. Bush installed a Quisling government that doesn’t have the support of the people. Despite Bush’s protestations I suspect he will need to reinstate the draft which will cause no end of problems here. The Wall Street Journal yesterday said that the army missed its signup goals by 40% for reservists and 30% for active military (approximate numbers I just heard on a news cast).
The economy is headed downhill. The deficit is huge and growing. The trade deficit is huge and growing. Tax receipts are down. This is not a sustainable situation.
The war on terror is just wrong. You can’t have a war on terror. It’s like having a war on anger. Go out and execute all the angry people. That just makes more angry people. However, by building a more secure, fairer, wealthier, just world there is less reason for people to become terrorists. The invasion of Iraq has resulted in an increase in world wide terrorism.
This is the most secretive administration to date. Secrecy is poisonous to democracy. Fresh air, sunshine and openness are strong weapons against corruption and concentration of power.
The environment has been getting worse under Bush. Kerry had it right when he mentioned the Orwellian-named bills put forth by Bush. The Clean Air bill resulted in less restrictions on polluters. The Healthy Forests bill builds more roads in forests and allows for more extensive timber harvests than needed. And on and on.
Bush does not have an energy policy which will lead to us out of reliance on oil. This will take decades.
Bush et al have no plan for investing in America. They want to turn the clock back to the McKinley administration when rich actors were free to do as they wished unhindered by pesky laws and regulations.
Kerry has said he will invest in Americans. I think this is a strong point for him. You can’t force people to succeed but it sure helps when you give them the chance.
Kerry will be stronger in support of veterans.
On foreign policy, I think Kerry will return US policy to normalcy. Kerry will listen to information from all sides then make an informed decision rather than on ideology.
I think Kerry will have a better chance of getting us out of Iraq without a general war breaking out. It was wrong to go to Iraq and he was right to say so. Having said that, the goal of cleaning up the mess is not the same as the goal of taking over the country.
Kerry will name centrist judges to the Supreme Court rather than the right wing ideologues Bush is likely to name. This could have profound effects on our country for decades to come. This alone may be the best reason for voting for Kerry. Four, young, moderate judges named to the court now could profoundly affect the tone of our nation for the next fifty years. Kerry would not nominate anyone very right of center. A republican Senate would not confirm anyone very far left of center so this is an easy call.
re: discussions on this board
There is too much back and forth on useless stats such as ‘Kerry voted for taxes 98 times.’ Actually, Cheney voted for tax and fee increases 144 times but I don’t see the right wing beating him up over that. Cheney voted for the largest tax hike in peace time history (1982) but the right doesn’t beat up on him over that. It is good to look at a candidate’s record but we should focus on their skills and on their promises and on the issues.
Terry, let's pretend Bush is about to dump the neocons. I've seen no reason to believe it, but say he does that tomorrow.
I'm not ready to vote for him for president because he's already fooled me once.
So I'll vote for Kerry. Maybe Kerry will fool me too. I wouldn't like that, but he can do it -- once.
Voting for Bush again is just asking for it.
As a reformed leftist, who has practiced compassionate conservatism in my daily life for 30 years I say better to be a neo-con than an oldo-soc.
Kerry's faith in international institutions is juvenile and ironic given the oil for food scandal. The very people whom he would look to for guidance on his global test were paid to give America a failing mark. He is dangerously naive as his Iran policy indicates.
One may not be sure exactly what one is getting with any politician but with Kerry one doesn't have a clue. So which Kerry are you voting for?posted by: Terry Gain on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
No hard feelings whatsoever. Your remarks point to your being a Democrat with whom one can have a reasonable discussion.
Something I cannot, unfortunately, say about so many of the current leaders of the party (Kennedy/Gore/McAuliffe/Dean/Dashle/Pelosi/Carter/Jackson/Sharpton/etc.), whose inflammatory rhetoric ("Bush LIED!!!", "... he BETRAYED this country!", "digital brownshirts", etc.) the most vocal and visible of their rank-and-file supporters mimick so readily.
One of the reasons I want the Kerry/Edwards ticket to lose, and lose big, is because I think it would provide a wake-up call to the party and jolt them into the direction of such people as Bayh, Ford, Lieberman, and (it looks just about certain, thankfully) Obama. I want the Democrats to find their way back out of the Moore moors, as it were. It would be better for the country, I believe.
Regarding your point about the difficulty and overall uselessness of discerning the motivations of Kerry's vote for or against this or that bill or resolution, I agree in general but not in the specific.
A vote for or against an amendment to some comprehensive appropriations bill containing the usual mixture of good and bad policies is not the same as a vote for or against a war or appropriations thereof. Any Congressional representative who doesn't see the distinction doesn't only not deserve to hold their job, but certainly is not cut out to be a President.
Kerry's vote against the Gulf War, a war that clearly fit whatever "test" he now purports to wish to apply to future actions by the U.S., showed just such a lack of statesmanship. His much more recent decision to vote against the $87 billion in support of a war he voted in favor of just months before reinforces that. His rhetorical meanderings in trying to explain himself on these matters, his disconcerting ability to insult our current allies while claiming superior abilities to garner new ones, and his last minute adoption of bomb-throwing warnings about Bush's "secret plans" for a draft and Republican drive to disenfranchise a "million black voters", finally, are yet more reasons why I would much prefer that he not be in the Oval Office.posted by: Gabriel Pentelie on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Follow-up comment to you Gabriel... you say Kerry has an ability at the end to insult our allies on the war on terror. I'm not clear on how he's done this. Bush and Rumsfeld have done plenty of damage in this arena, particularly in trying to form their "coalition" prior to March '03. The other problems you address the last paragraph of your last post are also less of a problem to me.
"...and his last minute adoption of bomb-throwing warnings about Bush's "secret plans" for a draft and Republican drive to disenfranchise a "million black voters", finally, are yet more reasons why I would much prefer that he not be in the Oval Office."
is how you put it. Now those concerns are typical election year rhetoric that both sides are slinging. I don't see how you can be bothered by that from one candidate and not the other.
The real problem is that Kerry will try, as hard as he can, to AVOID making any hard decisions. Right now, in Iraq, he complains about too few troops; and yet most who want US troops home, NOW, will vote Kerry.
Of course, Iraq elections in January will come with either Kerry or Bush. The real question is Iran. There will come a time to give Iran an ultimatum -- disarm or face US military action.
The world, and the Iranian mullahs, will know that if a re-elected Bush gives that ultimatum, it will be followed by invasion if they don't comply. Nobody knows what Kerry would do if the mullahs don't comply. I DO know that this Kerry uncertainty increases the chances of the mullahs getting nukes.
What are the chances that Iran gets nukes in the next 4 years?
Democrat Dan/Terry Gain,
Your comments are very refreshing. It's nice to have disagreements without invective tossed freely like "Crossfire" and "Hannity & Colmes".
Dan, if you read my earlier post you know I will vote for Bush. He is not a cowboy as portrayed by the media and looney left. The one instance I will cite is when China at the beginning of his term forced down the Orion Survellience plane in international waters. Did he bluster and huff and puff and rattle his sabre? No, his administration worked the process, wrote a letter stating the U.S. was very very sorry for the dead Chinese pilot. (That second very was important to the Chinese for some reason). Then when the crew returned home there was no bands playing and him showing up being the Oprah in Chief hamming it up and biting his lower lip in sympathy. What a change from Clinton. That to me shows judgement and cool thinking.
Bush is comfortable in his own skin. He has made mistakes but who hasn't. He knows that he will be crucified by the MSM if he admits any mistake (remember the cocaine in his younger days) so he just hunkers down and does his job.
Also he does have a vision for Social Security and his ownership society. What did Kerry say in the last debate? He wouldn't change SS and when the crisis arrives (not before) he's going to have a commision to talk about it. What kind of judgement is that? All he can do is complain about the cost of the fix. Well there is a cost to keeping things steady state so how does he propose to fix it? Meet and talk about it. Before 9/11, Bush was trying to call attention to the impending crisis to SS by creating the Monihayn commision. Again a sense of vision.
Finally as a quick aside he cares for common people. He is funding the AIDS initiative that Clinton always talked about. Bob Geldof of "Live Aid" fame said ("Clinton talked the talk and did diddly squat, whereas Bush doesn't talk but does deliver," said Mr. Geldof, an Irish musician and activist who in 1985 staged the world's largest rock concert to combat starvation in Africa.)
When you stand in that booth on November 2nd and look at those two names I hope you think of these points before you make your choice.
Good Luckposted by: Jeff Schaeper on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Sorry for all the posts, I can't help myself!
Tom - Actually I'd say that it's looking rather likely that Iran will get nukes under either Bush or Kerry. But for threatening and invading Iran... I highly doubt that we'll invade either way. Afterall, North Korea got their nukes thanks to Bush's neglect, and there's been no invasion of them. But on this talk of who do we invade, I pray that the leadership of this country will find a solution that blocks the need for an invasion of any of these countries. But to once again site the neocons in the Bush administration, I doubt they'll do anything but neglect the problem until the time comes to invade.
I think you give Bush WAY too much credit on how he's handled foreign policy.posted by: Democrat Dan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Enough of this thread already. Prof Drezner,
How could anyone take seriously the opinion of someone whose opinion was so influenced by...watching the debates? I thought the deabtes were primarily for the uninformed. If that describes you, Mr. Drezner, then I wonder why so many people seem to care about how you will vote?posted by: Bob on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Dan, yes it was a hot week but the United States was in the right and we didn't beg, threaten or cajole. The Bush administration worked the process. Clinton was loved through out the world, so what. Did that stop the rise of the Islamofascists?
Regarding AIDS those are Bob's words and not mine and I'll let him speak for himself. Read the article.
The $5 trillion dollars were projections based on bubble economics and fraudulent bookkeeping by companies like Global Crossing, Enron, Worldcom and Tyco. That $5 trillion was evaporating by the end of the Clinton presidency which really bugged him because he couldn't say that if he had remained in charge the economy would have kept it's growth. Do I like all the tax cuts? No but I understand them and putting money back into productive peoples hands only makes the economy stronger in the long run. I am thinking about Soros Foundation and Eastern Europe Democracy, Gates Foundation and the cure for malaria, the McArthur Genius Grants and the Carnegie Foundation with building libraries and schools. These people have a passion and they deploy money more effectively to solve that problem. You can bring up counter examples of conspicuous spending like Trump but overall money in productive people hands is better for all of us. Better they have the money then sticking billions for a big dig for Boston. Who do you trust to use excess capital wisely? Bill Gates or Ted Kennedy? By the way the latest Nobel Prize winner called the Kerry tax hikes "stupid".
I know that government does do useful things and needs funds to accomplish them and I hate deficit spending but increasing taxes does not correspond to increased revenues the last boom notwithstanding. Again that boom was based on a fraud and speculation bubble. Finally the tax cuts did not include the $2 Trillion "Lock Box" but projections like anything else evaporate. Why people think that having the government hold your money for retirement is a safe bet is beyond me.
Regarding North Korea I have a separate post later.
Thanks for your points.posted by: Jeff Schaeper on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Bob - sounds like you have me confused with Dr. Drezner. I'm not him, I just have the same first name. As for my reference to the debates, no, you're right, I wasn't influenced by the debates, I watched them out of my obsession to follow in as much detail as I can to follow the campaigns, and what difference does it make what I reference in my arguments? Is my reference untrue simply because of its source? Give me a break, Bob.
Jeff - Ok, some valid points there. Yeah, the end result of the Chinese pilot incident was positive. My point is the overall cutting of ties to China with the Clinton-to-Bush transition. It seems to me that Bush's approach to foreign policy, at least at first, was to cut our losses and get out of any diplomatic process where the leaders could be branded as "evil." Bush views the world in black-and-white, us-and-them terms, and refused to compromise with any such country. I'm sure I'm exaggerating with this description, but generally that's what Bush did, and that's not being a uniter, that's being a divider, to turn a 2000 campaign slogan back on him. Clinton worked with other countries in the attempts for positive change. And in some measure, there was progress. Did he solve every woe in the world? No. But does that mean we should shut the door on further progress in those difficult areas?!
Your comments on economic policy do sound good, and Bush hasn't been as terrible a leader in this arena, true. Things could be much worse, and yes things were starting to slide downward already at the beginning of the Bush administration. And further, the president isn't the primary player in determining economic progress. But do I think that losing the biggest projected surplus and going to the biggest projected deficit could have been avoided? Absolutely. Fact: Bush has not vetoed a single spending bill yet as president. If democrats are the party of "tax and spend" then, to quote another blog posting around here somewhere, he's the president of the "spend and borrow" party. Also, jobs... while Kerry exaggerates the claim of net job loss during the Bush administration by excluding the job gains in government, Bush is still the first president since Hoover to have net job loss of any amount, no matter how you look at it. Now I won't pretend to understand the impact of these figures in great detail, but I don't think it's good. As for the tax cuts, well, I don't know - but the "spend and borrow" policy has to end. In the end though - I agree that Bush has neither screwed up enough on economic policy nor succeeded triumphantly enough to base a vote on the economy.
Looking forward to your response on N Korea.posted by: Democrat Dan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Rumsfeld's "old Europe" comment did indeed come before the Iraq War, but AFTER France and Germany had begun undermining our efforts to push for a second U.N. resolution that was designed to help Tony Blair placate his domestic opposition. In addition, he was responding to questions from the press, who kept posing questions along the lines of "What kind of coalition is it that doesn't include such major partners like France and Germany?" In my mind, real allies act the way we did to help Blair, not the way the French and Germans did to in order to undermine us. They could have registered their objections, which would have covered them politically, and (in the case of France) simply abstained from voting in the U.N. Security Council.
As it happens, Rumsfeld's point was proven by none other than Chirac when, in response to their supportive statements in favor of Bush's plans for Iraq, he admonished the pending entrants into the E.U. about speaking up in ways that might undermine their chances at a fair shake. Quoting from a BBC article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2775579.stm) at the time:
"It is not well-brought-up behaviour. They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet," [Chirac] said.
He warned the candidates that their position could be "dangerous" because the EU's decision to accept 10 new members in 2004 still had to be ratified by existing members.
He said Romania and Bulgaria - currently due to join the EU in 2007 - could not have chosen a better way to spoil their chances of joining the club."
Which allies would you prefer watching our back? Those who, through their words and actions, have sought to counterbalance the "dangers" of a U.S. "imperialistic hegemony", or those whose fresh memories of tyrannical regimes motivated them to side against Saddam Hussein despite the warnings they received from their prospective "superiors"?
Regarding your point about campaign rhetoric, I believe there is a difference between hitting hard on policy (Kerry would be wobbly terror warrior, he would raise taxes on small businesses, his healthcare plan would widen the scope of government, his promises of energy independence are just so much hot air, etc.) and hitting below the belt (Kerry would help the wheel-chair bound get up and walk again, Bush is responsible for the lack of flu shots, Republicans are planning to disenfranchise a million black voters, Bush will break Social Security promises to seniors by privatizing the system, Bush has a secret plan to bring back the draft, etc.)
Finally, you ask for examples of how Kerry has alienated current allies while promoting himself as a superior diplomat. Here:
"It's sad that a Senator with twenty years of experience does not appreciate Polish sacrifice... I don't think it's a question of ignorance. One thing has to be said very clearly: this Coalition is not just the United States, Great Britain and Australia, but there's also contribution of Polish, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Spanish soldiers who died in Iraq." --Polish President Kwasniewski, October 1, 2004.
Couple this with the (thankfully unsuccessful) efforts by Kerry's sister Diana, who is the head of Americans Overseas for Kerry, to convince Australian voters not to re-elect Bush's ally, Prime Minister Howard, stating that:""[W]e are endangering the Australians now by this wanton disregard for international law and multilateral channels."
Kerry's "skill" at diplomacy was also recently displayed when, on the heels of various comments he made about how much better he would be at bringing "real" allies on board, both Chirac and Schroder were forced to issue renewed warnings against any such expectations.
And last, but not least, how would you describe Kerry's questioning Alawi's credibility moments after the gentleman's speech before Congress (which Kerry did not attend)?
There are some things that simply cannot be dismissed as being part and parcel of campaigning dynamics. For a potential President who touts his "nuance" credentials, Kerry has shown a deplorable lack of ability to keep his rhetorical fusillades against Bush from also splattering the people with whom he would be dealing if elected. Perhaps, like Chirac, Kerry believes that the allies he has insulted should just take their lumps and be quiet.
posted by: Gabriel Pentelie on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Terry Gain wrote, One may not be sure exactly what one is getting with any politician but with Kerry one doesn't have a clue. So which Kerry are you voting for?
I'm voting for whichever Kerry is not Bush.
If I thought Nader or Badnarik could beat Bush I'd vote for them.
Bush has shown us what he can do, and now it's time to give somebody else a turn.
... how would you describe Kerry's questioning Alawi's credibility moments after the gentleman's speech before Congress (which Kerry did not attend)?
An appalling lack of hypocrisy.
No matter. If Kerry winds up president he can pull Allawi's strings as easily as Bush does. Allawi will bow and smile and go along with whatever Kerry says. What choice will he have?
You criticize Kerry for insulting world leaders that he would have to work with should he win the election. I think Bush is much worse off in this regard, if for nothing else than for all of the international treaty's that he ended in his first year or two in office. For one - the 1972 non-proliferation treaty. Now I'm just throwing this off the cuff and haven't double-checked, so if I'm wrong in this reference, then my apologies, but if my memory is correct and we walked out on that treaty... what message does that send to the countries that we're trying to keep from getting nukes? What was the justification for that? Please tell me, because I don't know what it is.
For Rumsfeld and Chirac, sure, it was an international argument and both sides took unfriendly positions. But, I think it's commonly accepted that in the whole, Rumsfeld has made Colin Powell's job as the country's top diplomat almost impossible at points, greatly diminishing the State department's credibility under Bush. I was wondering if you could justify that.
For Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland, sure, down-playing their contributions may not have been the best move on Kerry's, I'll grant that. But so what? Do Romania, Bulgaria and Poland's contributions amount to such a noticeable amount? Same with any influence those connected to Kerry may have tried to play in the recent Australian elections, that wasn't necessary. But so what to that as well - in election years such moves are almost expected. As for all of these countries involved in the Iraq coalition as well as those who refused to join, the vast majority of their populations viewed the Iraq invasion very negatively, and in democratic countries such as these, why is it so wrong of them to raise objections to such a war, if these leaders can't justify the war to their own people?
Well, as I've expressed, I think Kerry will be a more reliable terror warrior, as he won't be quite the blind crusader that Bush acts like. Small business taxes? I'm not quite the economist - so I'll leave that one alone - for all I know, that might indeed be a bad idea... I don't know. Healthcare? A more comprehensive healthcare system would be fine with me. And regardless of how optimistic one must be to believe that energy independence will be here four years from now, the harder the push towards accomplishing that, the better, in my opinion. For oil-dependence, it's just a matter of time until global oil production peaks, and with demand continuing to increase, the paltry gas prices we see today will be nothing. And current estimates are that oil production could peak anywhere from 2 to 15 years from now. So we better start planning on ways around that now.
Your "below the belt" qualms with Kerry - those are the ones that I claim are just part of the annoying campaign rhetoric. In as tight a year as this, both sides are engaging in these slings, and I think the American public in general is smart enough to see through them. If you want an example for the Bush administration doing this sort of thing - just look at the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Now I wasn't even born in 1971, but my opinion is that questioning his medals are a joke, who cares about whether he was in Cambodia for X-mas the one year or not, and his speaking out Vietnam was justified. Cheap slings. It happens, get over it.
His comments on Alawi - same response as J Thomas's - "An appalling lack of hypocrisy."
And in the end, it was Bush who can't defend to us, the American public, why we're in Iraq. Yes, we're there now, so we've got to win it. Nobody's disputing that. But the justification for 200 billion and putting our excellent troops in harms way isn't all that substantial.posted by: Democrat Dan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
The point I was making was to compare, for instance, Bush saying that Kerry is wobbly on terrorism to Kerry saying that Bush has a secret plan to re-institute the draft. The former is an exaggeration, the latter is a lie. So is Kerry's telling seniors that Bush plans to privatize Social Security. In addition, what is Edwards's statement about the wheel-chair bound being able to walk again if Kerry is elected if not a craven attempt to exploit the emotions of vulnerable people? And what is Kerry's statement about "1 million disenfranchised black voters" if not a despicable attempt to play the race card? And what of Edwards and Kerry playing the "Mary Cheney is a lesbian" card?
Note that all of the above are limited to actual words coming out of the candidates' mouths. If Michael Moore or the Swift Vets, or indeed bloggers want to rant and rave and throw epithets and unsubstantiated accusations around, fine. However, a different standard should be applied to current and potential Presidents and their running mates, I believe. By that standard, Bush wins hands down.posted by: Gabriel Pentelie on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Of the things that you mention though, it seems to me that they're just playing to the traditional republican weaknesses. But the lesbian comment, well, I just don't get the problem with that. What's wrong with calling an openly lesbian woman a lesbian. Unless of course Cheney is ashamed of his daughter, which I think says bad things about Cheney. The only argument for getting upset about Kerry's comment that I've heard is something along the lines of - I guess that would defend the Republicans getting upset over it a little, but that's hardly damning of Kerry...posted by: Democrat Dan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Sorry... I just re-read my post and noticed that because I put something in between >
What I meant to say was "...along the lines of... why did Kerry have to mention Mary Cheney's name in particular - it's not like Cheney had a choice in his daughter's sexuality ...I guess that would..."posted by: Democrat Dan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
You are absolutely right about the fact that our differences, both on broad policy issues and campaign rhetoric style, cannot be bridged. I've enjoyed our dialogue, nonetheless, especially since neither one of us has sunk to the level of insulting name-calling that seems to creep so easily into such discussions these days.
Let me make one last point about the Mary Cheney topic. There is no doubt in my mind that Kerry and Edwards were trying to score political points by reminding voters of Bush's less tolerant stance on gay marriage, rather than simply and innocently providing an example of a gay American. Otherwise, they could just as easily have mentioned Chrissy Gephardt, or even more appropriately Jim McGreevey, who during his resignation speech as New Jersey governor made a point about homosexuality not being a matter of choice.
Conversely, imagine the reaction from the Democrats (and the press) if it were Bush instead of Kerry who, during the last debate, had said something about Kerry's marrying up more than others. Kerry bringing it up was a fine example of self-deprecating humor. Bush bringing it up would have been crass.
Anyway, thanks for the civilized discussion. May the best man win in November!posted by: Gabriel Pentelie on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
Fair enough on the Mary Cheney issue, I suppose that because I dislike Kerry far less than I dislike Bush, I give Kerry more leeway on such potentially annoying comments, that other people might not allow him.
In any case, yes, let's hope this all is settled smoothly and without the supreme court this time, regardless of who wins.
Best of luck to you.posted by: Democrat Dan on 10.18.04 at 12:49 PM [permalink]
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