Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 18, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

ANTHILLS....Gerald Seib writes in the Wall Street Journal that maybe the anthill theory of foreign relations i.e., "the Middle East is stuck, so we might as well kick over an anthill and see what happens" has something going for it:

In its new national-security strategy released Thursday, the Bush White House put a happy gloss on what's happened in the last three years: "The people of Lebanon have rejected the heavy hand of foreign rule. The people of Egypt have experienced more open but still flawed elections. Saudi Arabia has taken some preliminary steps to give its citizens more of a voice in their government. Jordan has made progress in opening its political process. Kuwait and Morocco are pursuing agendas of political reform."

Some of that is political spin, of course but it isn't entirely wrong.

Nir Rosen, who's been reporting from the Middle East for some time, has a bit different take on this same set of facts:

Since the war, radical Islam has strengthened in Iraq. Hamas won in Palestine, and the Muslim Brotherhood gained strength in Egypt. Throughout the region, political, radical Islam, which might have been a spent force until a few years ago, is only strengthening. This is blowback, just like in the 1980s when a generation of Arab jihadists went to Afghanistan and gained skills.

We are now going to have a new generation of young fighters experienced in jihad from Iraq. Theyre going to lead the fight for the next 20 years. When I was in recently in Pakistan, near the Afghan border, I bought a magazine dedicated to the heroes of Fallujah. I was in Mogadishu this summer, and there was actually a store named after Fallujah, and guys walking around wearing Fallujah T-shirts. Throughout the Muslim world, people actually believe that America is the enemy of Islam and even if this might not be true, they have Abu Ghraib and the destruction of Iraq to point to. Weve also given reform and democracy a bad name. Suddenly, the dictatorships in the Arab world dont look so bad, in comparison to Iraq, and people are more suspicious of change.

Rosen, of course, has also made one of the more compelling arguments for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq even if he does overplay his hand in a few places. Still, the United States has never had much luck with anthill kicking, and the Bush administration's righteous indifference to facts on the ground has made it even worse than usual at this sport. We're going to spend a very long time digging ourselves out from the hole that Bush has put us in.

Kevin Drum 2:58 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (80)

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Comments

We're going to spend a very long time digging ourselves out from the whole that Bush has put us in

Betrayed by the spellchecker... after Bush leaves we will be in the HOLE with no W.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on March 18, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

It all depends on which cherrys you pick.

Posted by: Jrgen in Germany on March 18, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: We're going to spend a very long time digging ourselves out from the hole that Bush has put us in.

You forgot to mention that he's not near finished digging the hole. One of the reasons for that, of course, is The Wall Street Journal has much more widespread influence than does ForeignPolicy.com.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 18, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

So it has come to this.

With their overreaching and ahistorical ideas inspired by their colonial ambitions completely in shatters, the neocons are now justifying their idiocy by talking about anthills. What is next? Bee colonies? Hornets' nests?

Perhaps they should look up the word swamp.

Posted by: lib on March 18, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with the kicking over the anthilldoctrine is that the middle east isn't an anthill. It's more like a pressure cooker with the lid about ready to pop off (or something like that). The goal should be to gradually let of steam, not cause an explosion.

The Neocons, of course, lack the even the minimal subtlety of mind to tell the difference assuming that they care. It's just not as much fun to use diplomacy and good works to effect change. Killing people and breaking things is a lot more emotionally satisfying. And it has the added benefit of allowing vast sums of money to be channeled to you favorite political contributors.

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvark on March 18, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

We are now going to have a new generation of young fighters experienced in jihad from Iraq. Theyre going to lead the fight for the next 20 years.

It's worth mentioning that Osama bin Laden and many of his radical Islamist brethren got much of their training during the uprising in Afghanistan. No blowback there at all, right?

Posted by: Gregory on March 18, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

By the by, you just gotta love the imagery of the "anthill kicking" metaphor -- the giant, all-powerful US wreaking destruction on the insignificant individuals. It gives no thought to whether the "ants" -- who, after all, live there -- might prefer the anthill not kicked over in the first place.

The image also fails to take into account that some of these "ants" might take advantage of a distracted and incompetent President's fecklessness and fly a couple of hijacked airliners into the anthill kicker's buildings.

Posted by: Gregory on March 18, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

The hole Bush dug, aided and abetted by certain pro-war bloggers on the left.

Posted by: reef the dog on March 18, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kicking over an anthill sounds like such a small, manageable action--like making a snow angel. The little critters scurry about, and we can stomp on them freely. heh. But some ants are genuinely nasty.

The ideology of Bushco & the WSJ is wrong even at the level of metaphor.

Posted by: PTate in MN on March 18, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Why does Nir Rosen hate America?

Posted by: Pat on March 18, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Islamists should win elections so they can deal with potholes and garbage collection instead of belt bombs.

Posted by: Matt on March 18, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

All the neocon arhitects of the Iraq fiasco should be sent to re-education camps where they should be forced to continually recite this speech which was to so close to home that Australian Prime Minister used his mighty power to shut down the site that posted the parody.


During my recent trip to India, also horribly touched with extremist
violence, I was reminded by their soft spoken Prime Minister, Dr
Manmohan Singh, that the British had seriously erred by clinging too long
to their former colony. Despite widespread opposition to their presence,
British politicians continued to insist that their departure would lead to
chaos. Dr Singh said, 'But it would be our chaos, dont you see?' At that
moment I understood what he was saying.

There is tremendous pressure from the US for our troops to remain in Iraq,
and of course mutual loyalty is a vital component of the alliance. But the
longer the Coalition of the Willing remains, the more we are detested, and
the more blood is shed. The country is already tearing itself apart, so I am
asking you, could our departure really make it any worse?
Perhaps it is time for Iraqis to regain control of their future, and for the
coalition of the willing to be willing to leave the stage. When I say this, I
speak as a troubled private citizen, and not as the Prime Minister of
Australia.

Flying home from India, I started to ask myself what a leader like
Mahatma Gandhi would do, but I feared I would not be able to live up to
the answer, unless I have some wise advice form my longtime friends.
Please look into your hearts and let me know what you find.

Posted by: nut on March 18, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

What would have changed in Rosen's analysis if we were only occupying Afghanistan? Like that occupation wouldn't have energized the radical Islamists at all? Are we saying that no fighters and terrorists would be training in Iran and Pakistan to attack the infidel in that country?

Is his idea that we need to have tyrants suppressing Islam in the Middle East? I've heard that a lot. Is this the same as the "Our Thug" theory of foreign policy that supposedly served us so well during the Cold War? Heck, look how quiet Yugoslavia was under Tito. Or Iran under the Shah. Or how well various right-wing dictators squelched communist uprisings.

Or is his idea that if we just pull back to our own borders, it will all go away someday?

The man has some interesting opinions, and I've read some good stuff by him, but I'd also like to hear some perspective on international relations from someone who wasn't fourteen years old when the Cold War ended.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 18, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah tbrosz it is our oppressor theory in South
Africa
that served us so well, and the one that you like so much.

Posted by: lib on March 18, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Anthill kicking" ??

I guess a goofy Lib could go back 15 years and find lots to complain about after the Soviet Union broke up. Of look at all the problems created after the USA destroyed Japan's government during WWII. Or Germany's.

If you tried hard enough you Moonbats could whine about all the disruptions that happened after the Union army defeated the South in 1865.

You Lefties are goofy hand-wringers.

Posted by: FrequencyKenneth on March 18, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Like that occupation wouldn't have energized the radical Islamists at all? Are we saying that no fighters and terrorists would be training in Iran and Pakistan to attack the infidel in that country?

...Or is his idea that if we just pull back to our own borders, it will all go away someday?

Wow, tbrosz, nice series of straw men, there. What are you, getting a volume discount?

Posted by: Gregory on March 18, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum complains that the Bush administration is "indifferent to facts on the ground."

That's right, folks. Yuppie blogger Kevin Drum, blogging after a vigorous tennis game with his tennis partner, "Biff," says the Bush adminstration doesn't pay attention to facts "on the ground."

You gotta love these elitist armchair generals like Kein Drum.

Posted by: BigRiver on March 18, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

OT: re the Feingold Censure, Jane Hamsher at firedoglake points out just how extremely effective Feingold's move was -- in terms of both substance and political theater.

"I'll repeat -- Feingold's popularity among Democrats has soared from 22% before he introduced the resolution to 52% after the resolution. The nerve he tapped is way beyond political squabbling. This should not be some big mystery."

I said it was a masterful move on substantive and political levels. Jane links to a couple more comments -- that point out that it was principle, not grandstanding:

Glenn Greenwald:
The Feingold Censure Resolution is unmasking the hideous underbelly of almost every Washington institution as vividly as anything that can be recalled. Each of the rotted Beltway branches is playing so true to form that the distinct forms of corruption and dishonesty which characterize each of them are standing nakedly revealed. [Did I call this, or what?]As ugly of a sight as it is, it is highly instructive to watch it all unfold.

Digby:
Feingold stepped up and spoke for millions of Americans who see this administration's abuse of power as a very serious matter for which this president should be held to account. We are desperate for such leadership and we care nothing about the lack of political politesse with which it was raised. The president and his party are held in very low esteem by two thirds of the country. If not now, when?

Puppethead (from the comments):
The thing that pisses me off is how the Democrats are treating this as a political calculation. I want them to uphold our nation's Constitution and the rule of law. I don't care how many senate seats are lost over this, or whether or not anyone's re-election bid is jeopardized. I want accountability in my government.


posted by Jane Hamsher @ 3/17/2006

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 18, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Bugs Bunny complains that the Bush administration is "indifferent to facts on the ground."

That's right, folks. Aryan Nations gang member, blogging after a vigorous gang rape with his gang partner, "Biff," says the Bush adminstration doesn't pay attention to facts "on the ground."

You gotta love these elitist armchair generals like Mountain Dan
Posted by: BigRiver on March 18, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Don p. on March 18, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

But some ants are genuinely nasty.

That's for sure. And I had thought that army ants were the scariest of all...at least until I learned about the siafu.

Posted by: Irony Man on March 18, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

The anthill analogy calls to mind what a German general said after the Nazis invaded Russia:

"It is like an elephant attacking an anthill: Millions upon millions of ants will be killed, but in the end, they will overcome the elephant through shear numbers."

Muslims = 1/4 of Earth's population

United States = ?

Posted by: Derelict on March 18, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

They grow things bigger in Texas, don't they ?

Posted by: opit on March 18, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

You gotta love pro-war cowards like BigRiver.

BTW, what is it with Republicans and Iran. First Reagan sells them weapons, then Bush goes to beg them to help out in Iraq.

Posted by: b on March 18, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

FrequencyKenneth - you typed out rightwing talking points that are puerile, ignorant, unfounded in fact, and by this time quite tiresome. However, note how you have not been censored, edited, or banned.

Now, go to Redstate, FreeRepublic, or LGF, which are pretty much the ONLY rightwing blogs that allow comments, and see how quickly you get ejected from the discussion if you disagree in the slightest with the GOP spin on things.

Now go soak your head in a vat of acid.

No goofy handwringing here, fucker. Make my day.

Posted by: reef the dog on March 18, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

First Reagan sells them weapons, then Bush goes to beg them to help out in Iraq.

Your chronology misses the infamous agreement between some Repubs and Iranians to delay the release of the American hostages till after the 1980 American Presidential election. Not proven hundred percent, but I would guess that one can claim with about 98% confidence that this really happened.

Posted by: nut on March 18, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

"In its new national-security strategy released Thursday, the Bush White House put a happy gloss on what's happened in the last three years: "

Is it really a NEW strategy, or simply a strategy they just now pulled out of their asses because they never had a strategy - oh, I mean a strategery to begin with? Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld thought they could Shock and Awe their way into the control of the Iraqi oilfields. Now they are getting their "brilliant" military adventure handed back to them in the form of insurgency. Oh yeah, it's the welcoming of liberators. Sorry, forgot. And NOW when it's obvious to the whole world, and Bush is the butt of every joke around the globe, and the WH can't pull off 'the big win', they are saying that kicking anthills is the plan. Yeah, guys. Brilliant. That's what this is about - redefining winning so that Bush can stand up in front of his carefully controlled/attended events and declare that we are winning! Mission Accomplished!! Don't forget your codpiece.


Worst. President. Ever.

Posted by: jcricket on March 18, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory - I agree with you about the metaphor.

Having introduced a flippant metaphor, Kevin maintains flippancy throughout. "Much luck with anthill kicking", calling it a 'sport', refering to it as a hole. I don't mean to make a style critique; I think Kevin is reflecting nicely the flippancy of others.

Having lived in countries that experienced relatively 'mild' repression (Spain, Argentina) it's striking to what degree Americans see this as a parlor game.

While many Argentines readily accept that they have a historical habit of offing each other with or without US support, Chileans are just as ready to recognize that the US was highly complicit in the terror that was wrought upon their people. What played out in the United States as a parlor game among a few interested principles meant life and death for thousands in Chile.

So the 'anthill kicking' metaphor, to me, perfectly captures the way in which Americans perceive their role and influence in the world (like making snow angels as PTate said). Aside from those that are actually serving in theater, most Americans have only marginal wealth, safety, and pride at stake. For those living in theater the consequences are radical.

Posted by: Saam Barrager on March 18, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Democratic politicians just don't have the guts to call their opponent a demented worm, whether it's true or not. In fact, the more true it is the less likely they care to call them that, because they're facing a demented worm!

It's just sheer gutlessness. If your opponent is some idiot who wears a bag over his head on the House floor you can actually call him an idiot. It can't hurt and if you don't people will think you're even dumber.

Posted by: cld on March 18, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, no, tbrosz, we should go in, kill as many brownskins as possible, then give the remainder tax cuts. Isn't that the Republican way?

After all, your premise seems to be: either start a war or do nothing.

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 18, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

"d"emocratic politicians just don't have the guts to call their opponent a demented worm, whether it's true or not. In fact, the more true it is the less likely they care to call them that, because they're facing a demented worm!"

George Bush is a demented worm. So there!

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 18, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Don't any of you guys think it is time that we got out from behind our keyboards and stood up for what we seem to so ferverently believe? Why is it that this years protest against the war smaller than in the past? HOw come our elected officials allow the obvious corruption continue? It is nobodies fault but the american citizens for allowing this to continue. Burn an effigy! Protest daily! Do something other than "blogging about it"

Posted by: imbroglio on March 18, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK


SOMBREROFALLOUT: OT: re the Feingold Censure

Good compilation of some of the appropriate reactions to Feingold's measure, as well as to other reactions to it. What a shame it is that Kevin Drum is not included among those who have voiced strong support for Feingold, versus tortured and pointless analysis of his tactics and the truly disgraceful questioning of his motives and character. Oh, sure, should it occur that this event brings about a turning point for Democratic fortunes, Kevin will surely point to his tepid well wishes for Feingold's success, possibly even acknowledging an error in judgment of his tactics. What he won't acknowledge, though, then or now, is how his instinct is to always search for cover. Perhaps being a coward should not be condemned, for it human nature to prioritize survival. But the habit of cowardice, unadmitted, can only lead to dishonesty when one outline's one's motives. You end up with a lot of words, but nothing to show for them.

Here's an example of the sort of courage I wish we could see more often in real life.

Posted by: jayarbee on March 18, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

good one jayarbee

Posted by: imbroglio on March 18, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

For many Americans the invasion of Iraq is not a parlor game, regardless of their distance from the Middle East, but a tragedy brought about by George W. Bush and his gang of dreamers.

March 2002, a meeting between President Bush, national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, and three senators:

"Fuck Saddam," the president said. "We're taking him out."

We the people, including "pro-war bloggers on the left," were not consulted.

Posted by: Lucy on March 18, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

A early "Happy 3rd Anniversary of the Iraqi Quagmire" to everybody and to save time, A Happy 4th,5th,6th,7th,8th on and on!

Posted by: R.L. on March 18, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

It's pretty pointless to note it here, but fwiw: if we are not at war with Islam (and we're not), it's necessary to be able to say what is the Islam with which we are not at war.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 18, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding "anthill-kicking." Kevin, I'm going to assume you were going for hard-edged irony here, but even so, you're probably over the line. I wonder what our reaction would be if a writer for a Muslim publication referred to the destruction of the WTC as a "cockroach extermination" or used some other insect-like term to refer to the citizens affected by 9/11. Bet we'd feel insulted, even if the writer were going for hard-edged irony....

Posted by: erica on March 18, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Say, speaking of an anthill poised to be a can of worms, what to we make of this talk of Iran supplying IED components? TDS had its Bush-Pace contradictory speak, but also last week Richard Clarke gave incendiary quotations fueling the Iran connection. What gives? Certainly with the unguarded stockpiles, literally acres of weapons, they shouldn't need much help. Do we know what Clarke's source was?

Posted by: Cassandro on March 18, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

the Middle East is stuck, so we might as well kick over an anthill and see what happens

One thing the Bush administration has done for me is open my eyes to how many truly stupid people there are in this country. I swear I had no idea.

Posted by: Paul on March 18, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Checked over the responses to my comments. As usual, I don't see much of anything serious.

When discussing Rosen's premises, remember that the provocation for 9/11 wasn't the invasion of a country. It was about 5,000 Air Force personnel in Saudi Arabia supporting the No Fly Zones over Iraq.

That's all it took. That's how low the bar was. The idea that somehow we would all be safe if we hadn't invaded Iraq doesn't stand up.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 18, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz, still determined to ignore reality, writes: "What would have changed in Rosen's analysis if we were only occupying Afghanistan?"

Gee, tbrosz, I dunno. Maybe the fact that pretty much everyone supported us in Afghanistan? And regarded the attack as justified? That we wouldn't have been engaged in two quagmires and fighting a war on two fronts that we simply don't have the resources to fight? That we wouldn't have hundreds of thousands of tons of materiel scavenged from Iraq facing us? That we wouldn't have inflamed Iraqis to attack us? That we wouldn't have conclusively revealed the limits of our military might?

You still continue to pretend that the incursion into Iraq made no difference and yet you have not once ever bothered to even really think about these issues.

"Like that occupation wouldn't have energized the radical Islamists at all?"

Nice strawman argument. There is, of course, conclusive evidence that the additional incursion into Iraq did, in fact, "energize" the radical Islamists far more than did the war in Afghanistan. Are you still going to pretend that this is not true?

"Are we saying that no fighters and terrorists would be training in Iran and Pakistan to attack the infidel in that country?"

Another nice strawman. Of course, you're completely ignoring the fact that we are, in fact, facing tens of thousands of fighters with hundreds of thousands of tons of materiel that we would not have had to face had we not gone into Iraq. Care to actually address that fact, tbrosz? And, for the record, how does creating another failed state which is now proving to be a veritable breeding ground for would-be terrorists help us?

"Is his idea that we need to have tyrants suppressing Islam in the Middle East?"

And another strawman argument, since nobody here has said anything even remotely like that. Of course, the fact that the Bush administration is actively cultivating various tyrants in the Middle East leads me to wonder just where your head has been buried for the past several years.

"I've heard that a lot."

Have you really? Interesting that you can't identify even a single person here who has said anything even remotely like that.

"Is this the same as the "Our Thug" theory of foreign policy that supposedly served us so well during the Cold War?"

You mean the "our thug" theory of foreign policy that the Bush administration, like every other administration before it, is actively pursuing at this time? If you have a problem with that, I suggest you take it up with Bush.

"Or is his idea that if we just pull back to our own borders, it will all go away someday?"

And another nice strawman argument, tbrosz. Of course, you continue to ignore the fact that attacking another country has side effects -- side effects that you keep wishing away and ignoring.

Even for you, this was pathetic, tbrosz. Got anything substantive to say?

Posted by: PaulB on March 18, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz wrote: "Checked over the responses to my comments. As usual, I don't see much of anything serious."

If you had written something serious in the first place, you would have gotten a serious response. As it was, you wrote nothing but strawman arguments and jingoistic nonsense, pretty much par for the course from you on topics like these. Is it really that surprising that a post entirely devoid of substance, as yours was, doesn't exactly set the world on fire?

"The idea that somehow we would all be safe if we hadn't invaded Iraq doesn't stand up."

Oh garbage, since nobody here has even remotely claimed that. Another foolish strawman argument. Turn it around, tbrosz. The argument is that we are all safer as a result of the invasion on Iraq. We are simply pointing out that that argument is nonsense, and was nonsense when it was made several years ago.

Posted by: PaulB on March 18, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Just got back from the anti-war march in Hollywood, here are some pics.
The Hollywood Liberal

Posted by: Bob on March 18, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

There is, of course, conclusive evidence that the additional incursion into Iraq did, in fact, "energize" the radical Islamists far more than did the war in Afghanistan. Are you still going to pretend that this is not true?

I have seen no such "evidence." I'm talking al Qaeda and radical Islamists, not Baathist insurgents. Considering that it's an Article of Faith here that al Qaeda was the mortal enemy of Saddam's supposedly secular regime, the idea that overthrowing Saddam would somehow enrage them more than the destruction of the Islamist Taliban doesn't even make sense.

"Is his idea that we need to have tyrants suppressing Islam in the Middle East?"

And another strawman argument, since nobody here has said anything even remotely like that.

Rosen is pushing Sadr as the salvation of Iraq. How else am I supposed to interpret that? And yes, I have heard people here and elsewhere say that the old Iraqi regime was, at least, stable and prevented outbreaks of Islamic fervor in that nation.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 18, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

tbroz: tou have seen "no such evidence "because you choose not to see it. It is claer to both liberals and repubs that we are fueling the flames of the "radical islamists" and "al Queda"

Posted by: imbroglio1 on March 18, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

One thing the Bush administration has done for me is open my eyes to how many truly stupid people there are in this country. I swear I had no idea.

I know, it's something, isn't it? Really, who knew?

Posted by: Stefan on March 18, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz wouldn't know evidence even if it entered his ass in a rocket propelled IED.

Posted by: lib on March 18, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

the fool Flanders: I have seen no such "evidence." I'm talking al Qaeda and radical Islamists, not Baathist insurgents.

Despite, of course, the evidence of the fact that Al Qaeda and radical Islamists such as Sadr are now free to operate in Iraq, whereas they were not doing so before we invaded.

Considering that it's an Article of Faith here that al Qaeda was the mortal enemy of Saddam's supposedly secular regime, the idea that overthrowing Saddam would somehow enrage them more than the destruction of the Islamist Taliban doesn't even make sense.

It's not the fact that we overthrew Saddam, but the fact that we invaded and now occupy an Arab country, that we are sitting in Baghdad, a city dear to Muslim hearts, and are daily killing Muslim Arabs, that enrages them. But he knew that, didn't he?

Posted by: Stefan on March 18, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

In tbrosz's world nothing that contradicts his delusions makes any sense.

Posted by: nut on March 18, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Good one Jayarbee! At this point I am not sure if Mr. Drum stands for anything. Other than that, he seems to be a nice enough guy.

Posted by: ppk on March 18, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz wrote: "I have seen no such evidence."

No need to put the word in quotes, tbrosz. That you have failed to notice such evidence is hardly surprising, given your record on matters pertaining to Iraq.

"I'm talking al Qaeda and radical Islamists, not Baathist insurgents."

Are you? Then why did you not say so? And how are you defining such groups? And what specific nationalities, tribes, groups, sects, religious organizations, and ethnicities are you referring to?

And, for that matter, why are you not referring to Iraqi insurgents, when they, in fact, make up a large majority of the people we are currently fighting, and whom we would not be fighting had we not attacked Iraq?

This isn't exactly rocket science, tbrosz, and it's foolish of you to pretend that we are not facing more enemies and more weapons now than we would have been facing had we not attacked Iraq, which is, in fact, the point that many of us have made and continue to make -- a point that you continue to try to do everything in your power to avoid.

"Considering that it's an Article of Faith here that al Qaeda was the mortal enemy of Saddam's supposedly secular regime,"

Considering that you have, once again, erected another lame strawman argument that does not resemble what has been said here, forgive me if I am unimpressed.

"the idea that overthrowing Saddam would somehow enrage them more than the destruction of the Islamist Taliban doesn't even make sense."

And since nobody has said anything even remotely resembling this, either, I'm afraid that this is just another in the long line of fake arguments that you can now feel all smug and superior about having answered. When you're ready to actually deal with the substance of what we have said, please do let us know, won't you?

And, for the record, the fact that Arabic public opinion swung sharply against us when we invaded Iraq is not exactly a secret, tbrosz. Nor is it a secret that al Qaida money and recruits both increased, along with resentment and suspicion of the U.S. We had reason to attack Afghanistan; we had none to attack Iraq.

So yes, tbrosz, we are, in fact, facing more enemies and more weapons now than we would have had we remained in Afghanistan and not attacked Iraq. I'm sorry this has proven so difficult for you to handle. A shame that your little fantasy world has to come crashing down, but that's what reality does.

"Rosen is pushing Sadr as the salvation of Iraq."

Tsk, tsk...not only can you not think, now you cannot read. Maybe if you had those rose-colored glasses checked?

"How else am I supposed to interpret that?"

Gee, I dunno, tbrosz ... maybe actually read what he writes and respond to that instead of running it through that silly little partisan filter of yours first?

"And yes, I have heard people here and elsewhere say that the old Iraqi regime was, at least, stable and prevented outbreaks of Islamic fervor in that nation."

And this is relevant to anything under discussion ... how, exactly?

Geez, tbrosz, are you really so incapable of mustering an intelligent argument anymore? Are you really so incapable of thinking? This is pathetic.

Posted by: PaulB on March 18, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum:

Rosen, of course, has also made one of the more compelling arguments for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq even if he does overplay his hand in a few places.

WTF?

Say what?

Overplays his hand?

Damn you fucking intellectual liberals!

You overthink everything don't you?

[Aside: Want to insult me? Henceforward... call me a Kevin Drum liberal.]


Posted by: koreyel on March 18, 2006 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

I do find Tbroz very amusing..He must be some sort of sociopath to be able to keep track of all the lies and double speak this administration spews. Perhaps he thinks this is some sort of on line lob interview for Karl Roves job when he gets sent to prison.

ITMFA ;/

Posted by: imbroglio on March 18, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

I attribute Kevin's stance on issues like Feingold censure as a sign of frustration that not a single Republican has the guts to stand up to the incompetence, mendacity, immorality, lack of regard for the Constitution, and the blatant dishonesty of the Bush Rove regime. And given the current configuration of the three branches of the government, unless some Republican goes against the administration, nothing is going to change and our sad march on the path of transformation to a different sort of country than what we are supposed to be fighting the terrorists for will continue.

Posted by: lib on March 18, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

It gives no thought to whether the "ants" -- who, after all, live there -- might prefer the anthill not kicked over in the first place.

When hearing the cargo cultists talk about Iraq these days, I'm reminded of Lenin's words about making omelettes and Stalin's words on tragedies and statistics. Add in party infalliability, historical revisionism, talk about freedom while reducing human rights at home, and ineptness in economics, and I have to wonder just who really won the Cold War.

Maybe some Republicans looked into the abyss a little too long.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on March 18, 2006 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

You gotta love these elitist armchair generals like Kein Drum.
Posted by: BigRiver on March 18, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK


You gotta love these MBA Elitist armchair commanders in chief [and their Slide Rule Neo-Con Advisers such As Mcnamara Wolfowitz] like pretzel choker Duhbya Bush..

Posted by: Big River Little Drip on March 18, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

We would have had to put up with a major conflict with radical Islam in any case, and we will be damned lucky if it doesn't turn nuclear -- which was the best reason to stay out of Iraq: our highest priority by far must be coping with the danger of nuclear terrorism, and Saddam was only #3 or 4 on the priority list there.

But there's no doubt that the Three Stooges (Mr. B., Mr. C., and Mr. R.) managed to wholly unnecessarily pump a little more gasoline on the fire with their enthusiasm for torture.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 18, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of torture, the NYT has a story this evening about some godforsaken place called Camp Nama.

Posted by: Lucy on March 18, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I am not so sure we do dig our selves out of this hole. Global relations have changed and for better or worse, the U.S. not Osama is the bad guy now. We may overcome some of the negativity but I doubt people will look at this country the same again. Maybe in several generations when enough other world traumas have occurred and people have forgotten many of the details. Bush has ruined the nation's reputation, given a boost to terrorist recruiting and training, flatlined our military, and destroyed our finances. I think we need a new idea for what America should and could be in the world.

Posted by: Some Guy on March 18, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Checked over the responses to my comments. As usual, I don't see much of anything serious.

Since your comment was just a serious series of straw man, and you're too dishonest to acknowledge the fact being pointed out to you, it didn't merit a serious response, tbrosz, you lying hack.

Posted by: Gregory on March 18, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that somehow we would all be safe if we hadn't invaded Iraq doesn't stand up.

...yet, not content with his earlier performance, tbrosz offers up yet another straw man.

How about this, tbrosz: If we hadn't invaded Iraq, contrary to everything Bush said, we'd be no less safe, and in fact, we'd have avoided the clusterfuck that even you acknowledge with your loathsome Dolschtoss arguments.

You're really turning in a stunning performance of intellectual dishonesty, tbrosz. Thanks for admitting that you can't defend the Bush Administration's mendacity, incomepetence and corruption, and that Republicans are unlikely to be taken seriously (by anyone except cheerleaders like you) on national security for a generation.

And shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on March 18, 2006 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

According to Andrew Sullivan, NAMA stands for "Nasty Ass Military Area."

Doesn't it make you proud to be an American?

Posted by: PTate in MN on March 19, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

To be sure this sound theory. You best get justice for the Muslim by going to NYC and DC and kicking over a couple of ants nests. In the case of NYC you come back and stomp on them till they are flattened.
Now we know that the rotten ants nest in Washington will certainly be stomped on again we can prepare. A large DDoS attack that closely follows up any attack in real time will work wonders and send a message to GW Bush. We will protect your head as we stake you to the army ants nest and give you water as long as you give yrself up now.

Otherwise things will not go well for you.

Posted by: professor rat on March 19, 2006 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

I wish we, as a nation, would get shut of the idea that for the world to progress we have to DO something. It isnt up to us, or anybody. George the Bush claims the urge for freedom beats in every heart. For once, I agree with him. But if thats true, George, why cant we just get out of the way and let it happen?

All the process needs is time. Everybody wants freedom for himself, his religion, his social class, whatever. But the ONE indispensible requirement for the establishment of a free nation is that everyone has to sincerely believe he must protect the rights of those he disagrees with as zealously as he protects his own.

You cant force people to understand that simple truth. Right now, the middle East doesnt get it, but it will come to them in time. Meanwhile there is not a damn thing we can do directly to make it happen. Our bombs and our guns only make new hatreds to add to the old. They retard, rather than help.

Posted by: James of DC on March 19, 2006 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

I stopped commenting on these threads months ago. It just is painful to watch this utter idiocy and incompetence in charge. Of course there is also the moral dimension of this purely Leninist attempt of arbitrarily changing historical structures with force, but for me the most incomprehensible aspect is this mindblowing incompetence. If you can buy your media and your legislators, accountability seizes to matter. Any disaster becomes possible. Where are the forces of renewal - are we witnessing the end of the American Republic?

Posted by: jonathan on March 19, 2006 at 5:14 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you need to get out more.

If you'd care to read some commentary about what's really been going on in Iraq, I recommend the Belmont Club.

Iraq is a tremendous success story.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on March 19, 2006 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

"Iraq is a tremendous success story."

Depends on what your definition if 'is', is; I suppose.

Is Iraq a success? Not yet, it ain't.

We have to GET OUT, and leave a place that is reasonably stable and secure and not a training ground and chandlery for nuts who want to kill us.

Stop bitching so damn much, and say what we want more.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 19, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Norman, you need to get out more.

If you'd care to find out first-hand about what's really been going on in Iraq, I recommend flying over there and taking a stroll through Sadr City, or booking a weekend holiday in Fallujah -- all without bodyguards or a military escort, of course.

If you come back without your arms and legs blown off, and without having pissed yoruself with fear every time a mortar lands within 500 feet of you then, and only then, can you tell us how Iraq is a tremendous success story.

Posted by: Stefan on March 19, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

If civil war and anti-Americanism are your objectives, I guess you could say that Iraq is a tremendous success story.

Posted by: Lucy on March 19, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

If you'd care to read some commentary about what's really been going on in Iraq, I recommend the Belmont Club.

And if you'd care to hear some commentary about what's really been going on in Iraq, I recommend last Friday's "Talk of the Nation" from NPR, where they spent the show interviewing actual Iraqis.

First they spoke with Maysoon Al-Damluji, an intelligent and well-spoken female member of Parliament. Her views:

Women's Rights: in theory women have even more rights in a country that has always allowed women to be professionals, academics, military officers, and business owners. In reality the lack of any kind of law or security has set women's rights back a few hundred years: they can no longer walk the streets safely and are forced to spend a lot of time hiding indoors. If they do go out they require escorts and must cover up with at least a head dress for fear of rape or reprisal.

Security: There is none, neither is there any law or order. She herself has to travel with a retinue of bodyguards and in a convoy of vehicles to escape assassination, and has escaped two situations where car bombs went off within yards of her.

Her overall take: Iraqis are "fatalistic," yet plod on because they have no other choice.

They also spoke with Taha Ahmed Abdul, the CEO of the Iraqi Stock Exchange, where they use two-sided whiteboards to record buys and sells because electricity isn't regularly available -- and spin their wheels because what businesses can return dividends in a country with only sporadic electricity and availability of fuel?

John Burns, editor of the NYT has been reporting from war zones for thirty years, and he says that Iraq is "as bad as it gets." He said he's really wanted this to work out for them so they can return to a semblance of normalcy in their lives, and really allowed himself to hope before each election that things would turn around.

Unfortunately, he said there isn't much to be hopeful about, and doesn't see things getting better anytime soon.

Then of course, there's former Primer Minister Iyad Allawi:

"We are losing each day an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is," former interim PM Iyed Allawi told the BBC television on the eve of the third anniversary of the US-led war in Iraq.
Posted by: Windhorse on March 19, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, "Bush lied" because he thought that Saddam had WMD's when the tyrant actually did not. Well, Bush was hired to protect Americans so that they would not have to join hands and plunge from burning skyscrapers. Bush interpreted that responsibility to mean that you don't take chances on possibilities like that, especially given Saddam's record of using WMD's on his own Kurdish population.

Hmmm, Bush should have known that Saddam was spotlessly innocent of having any ties to or record of support of, al Qaida. I believe this proposition is certainly oversold. Democrats are furiously negative about recent document releases that tend to lend validity to this proposition. I myself, should America endure another 9/11, will demand a much-lower standard of evidence that a nation-state has sponsored or even morally encouraged a terrorist attack on the USA. By my standards, Saudi Arabia would have been a logical candidate for intervention in 2002. I believe that nation-states should demonstrate that they are actively discouraging international terrorism, particularly with WMD's.

Hmmmm, Iraq is a mess, it has cost us too much money, and the Iraqi people would be better off in general if we had just let Saddam stay in power. If DEMOCRATS had invaded Iraq (as many at least acquiesced in, since they once believed that what they president believed could well be true about the WMD thing) then the whole business would have been much more competently managed, because any average leftist on the street is much more intelligent than a bus load of Dick Cheneys and Donald Rumsfelds. If you don't believe that, look how Cheney handles a shotgun!

I guess if the Iraqis want Saddam back in power, it would be easy enough to acquit him or simply seize him from the small contingent of U.S. troops that escort the old boy to court every day.

Question: if you take selections from typical diatribes by Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein at trial, black out the name, and compare same to parts of statements made by Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi, can you really distinguish the author?

If al Qaida rises from the obscurity that Dubya has chased them into and smites the USA with a genuine, spectacular 9-11 style attack, maybe the Democrats think Americans will not notice the growing similarity in rhetoric between the donkey party and the enemy?

Well, maybe Americans won't. Democrats are not only getting good at believing a thousand impossible, untrue things before breakfast, they are getting good at spreading and recruiting for their delusions.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 20, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Michael L. Cook wrote: "Hmmm, 'Bush lied' because he thought that Saddam had WMD's when the tyrant actually did not."

No, Michael. Bush lied because he said things he knew to be untrue. I know this is difficult for you and your fellow travelers, but do try to keep up, won't you?

"Well, Bush was hired to protect Americans so that they would not have to join hands and plunge from burning skyscrapers."

Not only is this statement patently untrue, but if it were true, it is a clear indictment of Bush, since Americans did, in fact, "have to join hands and plunge from burning skyscrapers" on Bush's watch.

"Bush interpreted that responsibility to mean that you don't take chances on possibilities like that, especially given Saddam's record of using WMD's on his own Kurdish population."

So now you're a mindreader? Fascinating.... As for your statement, since we knew before we went to war that the threat had been grossly exaggerated and that Hussein had nothing with which to threaten us, I'm afraid that your little mindreading exercise is an exercise in futility.

"Hmmm, Bush should have known that Saddam was spotlessly innocent of having any ties to or record of support of, al Qaida."

Dear heart, since nobody has claimed this, forgive us if we don't take this seriously. To put it more accurately, Bush should have known, and in fact did know, that there were no substantive contacts or support between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

"I believe this proposition is certainly oversold."

Since it's a proposition of your own creation, that's hardly surprising.

"Democrats are furiously negative about recent document releases that tend to lend validity to this proposition."

ROFL... Oh my ... another idiot who has been fooled by the recent document dump.

"I myself, should America endure another 9/11, will demand a much-lower standard of evidence that a nation-state has sponsored or even morally encouraged a terrorist attack on the USA."

Considering how badly damaged we have been by the idiotic war in Iraq, personally, I will insist on a higher standard of evidence than that employed by the Bush administration.

"By my standards, Saudi Arabia would have been a logical candidate for intervention in 2002. I believe that nation-states should demonstrate that they are actively discouraging international terrorism, particularly with WMD's."

Good luck attacking the entire Middle East. We eagerly await your reports from the field.

"Hmmmm, Iraq is a mess, it has cost us too much money, and the Iraqi people would be better off in general if we had just let Saddam stay in power."

Not to mention a whole host of other benefits.

"If DEMOCRATS had invaded Iraq (as many at least acquiesced in, since they once believed that what they president believed could well be true about the WMD thing) then the whole business would have been much more competently managed,"

Possibly, although it would still have been an idiotic thing to do.

"because any average leftist on the street is much more intelligent than a bus load of Dick Cheneys and Donald Rumsfelds."

Based on the evidence to date, I have no problem with this assertion.

"I guess if the Iraqis want Saddam back in power, it would be easy enough to acquit him or simply seize him from the small contingent of U.S. troops that escort the old boy to court every day."

Nice non sequitur. Got a serious argument to make? No? I thought not.

"Question: if you take selections from typical diatribes by Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein at trial, black out the name, and compare same to parts of statements made by Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi, can you really distinguish the author?"

Why yes, moron, I can, with great ease. Alas that you cannot.

"If al Qaida rises from the obscurity that Dubya has chased them into"

Dear heart, al Qaeda "rose from obscurity" precisely because your idol miscalculated so badly. And I'm afraid that you don't really understand the word "obscurity." Perhaps you should get out more?

"and smites the USA with a genuine, spectacular 9-11 style attack, maybe the Democrats think Americans will not notice the growing similarity in rhetoric between the donkey party and the enemy?"

ROFL... Oh my ... I'll just let this idiotic statement speak for itself.

"Well, maybe Americans won't. Democrats are not only getting good at believing a thousand impossible, untrue things before breakfast, they are getting good at spreading and recruiting for their delusions."

ROFLMAO.... And this, as well.

This was priceless, Michael. Thanks for the entertainment.

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

A thorough riposte, PaulB. The passage of time has a way of cleaning up a lot debates. Global Warming, for example. The net annual carbon load going into the atmosphere is not going to decrease as the world's living standards continue to rise, no matter how guilty we are supposed to feel about it. Thus, if temperatures are found in the next decade or two to be receding towards the mean, that would indicate that carbon hasn't really been dominating all the myriad other factors that input climate.

A similar issue is the continuing appearance of the ozone hole over Antarctica, acting about like it always did, despite dramatic cuts of CFC inputs to the atmosphere. This is explained away by the claim that "residual" CFC's and rogue nations are still driving the phenomenon. Well, maybe, but maybe the whole thing always was a natural cyclical phenomenon that had nothing to do with any human activity.

Now, will time tell us that the Iraq invasion was a badly bungled mistake? I do a lot of pondering about how things will look after a WMD really comes out of hiding and gets used against us--probability 100%.

Will Bush be blamed for stirring up a hornet's nest and, basically, invading the wrong country? Maybe he should have invaded Iran or Syria instead of Iraq? Is that what Bush-haters are going to claim--they are so awesomely intelligent that they would have attacked the RIGHT enemy? Who would that be? What would you have done?

After the next 9/11, you guys better have your credible answers ready. If the nuke that blows up the Capitol dome comes from Pakistan via Syria, I want to hear all about how your patient "coalition building" diplomacy would have stopped same attack from taking place.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 20, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Michael L. Cook wrote: "A thorough riposte"

Thank you, but it wasn't a particularly difficult achievement. Your original post was long on rhetoric and partisanship and short on facts, as you well know.

"The passage of time has a way of cleaning up a lot debates."

Yup, but I was quite careful to note that we knew at the time we went to war that much of what the Bush administration claimed was false or overblown.

[non-sequitur on global warming deleted]

"Now, will time tell us that the Iraq invasion was a badly bungled mistake?"

That the invasion and occupation were badly bungled is beyond dispute. That much of the Bush administration's case had fallen apart before we invaded is also pretty much beyond dispute. Whether the invasion ultimately will prove to be a stabilizer, a destabilizer, or a complete wash is something that only time will tell.

"I do a lot of pondering about how things will look after a WMD really comes out of hiding and gets used against us--probability 100%."

That depends on your timeframe and on your definition of WMD. Using the Bush administration's definition of WMD, the anthrax attacks (perpetrator still uncaught) are examples of a WMD being used against us. Depending on your definition, the use of planes to bring down the World Trade Center towers is an example of a WMD being used against us. And if you have a timeframe of, say, another couple hundred years or so, well, anything can happen in that time.

If you truly do mean a weapon of mass destruction, e.g., a nuclear device on a major U.S. city, and you mean sometime in the next 10 years or so, then I'd have to disagree with your assessment of the probability.

"Will Bush be blamed for stirring up a hornet's nest and, basically, invading the wrong country? Maybe he should have invaded Iran or Syria instead of Iraq?"

Or neither of those countries? Or used other approaches? Since he didn't, I'm afraid that such an exercise is ultimately an exercise in futility. We're far better off working with the reality we do have rather than speculating on the reality we don't.

"Is that what Bush-haters are going to claim"

Gee, Michael, I dunno, since I don't know any "Bush-haters." Nice of you to once again show why you cannot be taken seriously, by the way.

"they are so awesomely intelligent that they would have attacked the RIGHT enemy? Who would that be? What would you have done?"

Well, to start with, I wouldn't have attacked Iraq since it wasn't a threat and since the costs and consequences of the attack pretty clearly outweighted the benefits, based on what we knew at the time and based on the events that have happened since. I'll settle for that for starters.

"After the next 9/11, you guys better have your credible answers ready."

Considering that the Republicans have been in charge of the White House and of Congress, I don't think that I need to have any "credible answers ready," Michael. I think they (and you) do.

"If the nuke that blows up the Capitol dome comes from Pakistan via Syria, I want to hear all about how your patient 'coalition building' diplomacy would have stopped same attack from taking place."

Considering that it's the Bush administration that's been in bed with the Pakistani government, Michael, I know where my criticism will be directed. Why will yours be directed differently?

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

In the real world, if there is another "9/11", the US will retaliate against the country or countries that provided sanctuary and support for those who carried it out. This would be in contrast to the current administration, which weakened the effort in Afghanistan to attack a country that has yet to be substantively linked to 9/11.

Posted by: Wombat on March 20, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

I supported the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq at the time. Since Bush was safely able to go to Pakistan and return, that nation may or may not be a problem, depending on how well plutonium is being accounted for.

The anthrax thing was an eye-opener. No doubt terrorists took note that one nut with an extremely small investment was able to produce such dramatic, expensive effects. Less than a decade until they do it to us, count on it.

But so many other things are equally worrisome. A kilogram of pure ricin is worse that a pound of plutonium (not quite enough for a bomb.) A genetically engineered disease may be the worst threat of all.

But, PaulB, why all the confidence in our invulnerability to a suitcase nuke? Are you really that confident in isotope detectors at the borders?

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 20, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Michael L. Cook wrote: "I supported the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq at the time."

That is rather obvious.

"Since Bush was safely able to go to Pakistan and return, that nation may or may not be a problem, depending on how well plutonium is being accounted for."

That has nothing to do with the substance of the discussion at hand, which is whether a) Pakistan has been the source of nuclear technology elsewhere in the world (it has), b) whether the Bush administration has done anything about this (it has not), c) whether Pakistan continues to be the source of nuclear technology elsewhere in the world (unknown), and d) whether it will be the ultimate source of a nuclear device used against the United States.

Should the latter scenario come to pass, my criticism and attention will be appropriately directed at a Republican Congress that underfunded port security and at a Bush administration that has been in bed with, and refused to do anything about, Pakistan. I repeat: why would your criticism be directed elsewhere?

"The anthrax thing was an eye-opener. No doubt terrorists took note that one nut with an extremely small investment was able to produce such dramatic, expensive effects. Less than a decade until they do it to us, count on it."

This is why I insisted you define your terms and your timeframe. It wouldn't surprise me at all to find, e.g., the subways of New York or Washington, D.C., subjected to some form of attack in the next 10 years or so. What that attack will be, how effective it will be, who will be responsible for it, whether it can be stopped in the planning phase -- these are all open questions that we can do nothing but speculate about. I'm certainly not going to place any bets on such things.

"But so many other things are equally worrisome."

Actually, I'm not even remotely worried about anthrax. Weaponizing it and using it effectively are both so bloody difficult that its only practical use is as a weapon of terror, in the classic sense of that word. The most effective damage from the anthrax attack was not from the few people that became ill or lost their lives but from the widespread fear that resulted.

"But, PaulB, why all the confidence in our invulnerability to a suitcase nuke? Are you really that confident in isotope detectors at the borders?"

Michael, I didn't say that we were invulnerable. I was very precise in my language: "I'd have to disagree with your assessment of the probability." Your assessment of the probability of a WMD attack was, and I quote, "100%". When it comes to a nuclear device in the next 10 years, I do not agree with that assessment.

In any case, here, too, I would have to point the finger at the Bush administration for doing too little about nuclear proliferation and for refusing to take seriously and fully fund the effort to round up nuclear material in the former Soviet Union.

What I find most interesting is that you seem to think that another 9/11 would somehow vindicate your point of view and that, if such a thing should come to pass, those of us on the left will have something to answer for. The mind boggles at the mindless partisanship that such a view requires.

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush administration has given good, moderate Moslems two presents in the hope that we will be tipped off before we get nuked. Those presents are Afghanistan and Iraq. I guess you will have to ask an average Moslem in those countries if they appreciate the gift or the thought behind it.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 20, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Sigh.... And the Bush administration has given quite a few Muslims two more reasons to distrust and dislike us, potentially leading to greater support for terrorist organizations, not to mention future attacks. Those reasons are Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly the latter. I guess you will have to ask the average Muslim in those countries and elsewhere whether they regard us as saviors and liberators or as occupiers and crusaders, and what they think the real reasons behind the U.S. wars are.

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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