Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 28, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE HAWKS REGROUP....Jacob Heilbrunn surveys the scene in liberal hawk circles these days:

A host of pundits and young national security experts associated with the [Democratic] party are calling for a return to the Cold War precepts of President Truman to wage a war against terror that New Republic Editor Peter Beinart, in the title of his provocative new book, calls "The Good Fight."

....These Democrats want to be seen as anything but the squishes who have led the party to defeat in the past.

Indeed they do. But here's the funny thing about that. I read The Good Fight a couple of weeks ago, and Beinart is pretty clear that he now believes he was wrong about a whole host of things back in 2003. He was wrong about WMD, wrong about containment, wrong about the need for international legitimacy, etc. etc. If he had it to do over again, he wouldn't have supported the war.

What's more, his prescription for how liberals should approach foreign policy going forward is distinctly non-martial. He believes we need a sort of modern-day Marshall plan for the Middle East; a willingness to work with international institutions even if that sometimes restrains our actions; an acceptance that we should abide by the same restrictions that we demand of others; greater patience in foreign affairs; and a rededication to social justice both at home and abroad.

In other words, I think he could give the keynote address at YearlyKos and not really say much of anything the audience would disagree with. If Beinart really is the standard bearer for a new incarnation of liberal hawkishness, then we're almost all liberal hawks now.

There's a little more to it, of course, and Beinart remains critical of liberals who have gotten so disgusted with George Bush's approach to terrorism that they've decided the whole war on terror is just a sham. Still, it's an interesting transformation, and many of the differences that remain within liberal circles strike me as more rhetorical than substantive.

I interviewed Beinart about all this last week, and the interview should be available in a couple of days. I'll have more to say about it then.

Kevin Drum 2:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (129)

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Comments

So he's willing to admit he was wrong, sort of, as long as his Wrong Faction retains control of the party, and as long as the people who were right don't gain any influence, and as long as he can continue to call the people who were right "squishes"? That's big of him.

Posted by: Humble blogger on May 28, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

He believes we need a sort of modern-day Marshall plan for the Middle East

The higher price of oil should be enough of a Marshall Plan. The problem of course is how the windfall gains are distributed within the country. So how, short of force of arms, do we insure that there is a more equitable distribution of oil revenue gains?

Posted by: TangoMan on May 28, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Beinart is an idiot. He took a strong position, called other people idiots for not agreeing, and then was proven to have been completely wrong. Even worse, his first reaction after being proven dead wrong was to call for the purging from the party of everyone who had been right in favor of those who were catastrophically wrong like himself.

Sorry, but he's an idiot. There are too many books I need to read to waste my time reading one written by a known idiot.

Posted by: The Fool on May 28, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

He believes we need a sort of modern-day Marshall plan for the Middle East; a willingness to work with international institutions even if that sometimes restrains our actions; an acceptance that we should abide by the same restrictions that we demand of others; greater patience in foreign affairs; and a rededication to social justice both at home and abroad.

Also, a pony.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc on May 28, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

He is not necessarily wrong in changing the approach, the good cop/bad cop sometimes works. However, we cannot afford too much Marshall plan.

There is a third approach, let things just stew for a while, take the long term view.

Dems have nothing to lose or gain by taking the third approach because remember Bush was warned many times by his anti-terrorism units that Al Qeda was about to pull off the big one, before 9/11, and he dismissed the threat.

Posted by: Matt on May 28, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

For the sake of Kevin's article, I hope that his interview with Beinart is longer than mine would be:

"So, Mr. Beinart, you're a poseur and intellectual flyweight who's learned that being a nominal Democrat who regurgitates Republican talking points will get you bankrolled beyond your wildest dreams. What does being a prostitute feel like? ... Umm, Mr. Beinart, where are you going?"

Kevin knows as well as anyone that before the Iraq war started, it was clear it wouldn't achieve any of the goals the "liberal hawks" sought -- because Bush wasn't interested in them.

So either Beinart was reading nothing but comic books during the run-up to the war, or his primary interest was exactly the point Heibrunn (unintentionally?) makes ... being seen as "not a squish."

In short, a poseur rather than a thinker.

Posted by: Swopa on May 28, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Further, as Iraq shows, our vision of how a society should be structured is at odds with the cultural practices prevalent in the Middle East. When 30% to 60% of a country's population are marrying their cousins and strengthening kinship networks, that practice erodes the foundations of law that facilitate the interactions between strangers. Fealty is owed to the tribe before it is owed to the nation. Nepotism runs rampant and one cannot prosper without the protection and nurturance of the tribe.

So, how is a modern-day Marshall Plan going to overturn these cultural practices and how will it contend with all of the Liberal naysayers who will take to the street about our imposing cultural imperialism upon the Middle-East by attacking their cousin marriage customs? Implementing such a Marshall Plan will involve a two-front campaign, the first being the boots on the ground within the Middle East and the 2nd being against our own MultiCultural Activists, and it's hard to forecast which will be the most intransigent enemy.

Posted by: TangoMan on May 28, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraq adventure is an allegory of domestic politics: nothing more. It is to some extent a rehearsal, and to some extent a [cowardly] substitute, for a civil war here at home. If you want grounds for moral denunciation of the Iraq adventure, here they are: it isn't about Iraq. It never was. The Iraqi people are neither its beneficiaries nor its victims. They are not even spectators: they are scenery.

This is why the only option is to leave, immediately and completely--and then hope that the rest of the world never grows the balls to hold us to account.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on May 28, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

If Beinart really is the standard bearer for a new incarnation of liberal hawkishness, then we're almost all liberal hawks now.

Proving once again that a liberal with a credible plan for national security is almost a contradiction in terms.

Posted by: American Hawk on May 28, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, do I resent Beinart's appropriating the phrase "the Good Fight" from the Spanish Civil War (in which my late uncle fought as an Amerian volunteer).

Posted by: Swift Loris on May 28, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

My guess is that Al Gore's stock went up a notch or two over the weekend.

Posted by: parrot on May 28, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

I heard Beinart once, when he debated, of all the people, Ms. Ann Coulter.

I think that's his intellectual peer. Kevin should not waste his time on this guy, whose positions seems contrived, obsequious to the Republican warmongers, and outright moronic.

Posted by: lib on May 28, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

What makes someone like Beinart a "young national security expert"? His good decisions so far? His perspicacity on the situation in the Middle East? Because I would have thought that if you screwed up an assessment this badly, that would pretty much move you from the "expert" to "blowhard" category.

And as for the "squishes" leading the party to defeat, I was under the impression that the Democratic leadership had more or less the same attitude toward the war in Iraq that Beinart did.

Posted by: darrelplant on May 28, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK
Beinart remains critical of liberals who have gotten so disgusted with George Bush's approach to terrorism that they've decided the whole war on terror is just a sham.

Bush's war on terror is a sham. Osama is still on the loose, Afghanistan is sliding back toward chaos, Iraq is the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place, and homeland security is staffed with political lackeys who are famously incompetent. International terrorism is a real issue, but Bush's administration seems dedicated to stoking the fires and talking tough instead of actually doing anything constructive about it. If Beinart has some useful to say about combatting terrorism is a realistic way, then good. If he just wants to criticize liberals who call Bush's "Great War on Terror" a hoax, then he's missing the point. It is a hoax.

Posted by: Zeno on May 28, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Proving once again that a liberal with a credible plan for national security is almost a contradiction in terms.

Ha. That's a good one! Probably has them rolling on the floor at AEI.

Of course, it would be funnier if you could point to any conservative that had any plan for national security whatsoever.

"Oh, I know, in response to this attack, we'll invade this country that had nothing to do with it, and then once we're there, something good will probably happen. Blah, blah, democracy, blah, blah, freedom, blah, blah Haliburton"

Posted by: Ray on May 28, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

He doesn't even respect the traditional definition of containment.

Containment is a policy of big carrot and engagement. Deterrent force applied within alliance to strengthen standing insitutions.


Then again Beinert's type didn't serve in peacetime either. Why should we expect them to know the value and definition of true containment?

That jackass isn't a liberal either, he never was. Liberal - a good measure of. The good fight is one with which a liberal amount of resources are applied to insure its outcome.

You're not putting that reviosinist republican chickenhawk into the ranks of liberals.

Perhaps you should eloquate the intermarriage culture that one of your fans obliges is part of the discussion, Drum. No doubt he was harboring bias when he supported the invasion of Iraq. What exactly was your excuse again? Bigoted repubs drinking the kool aid and claiming to be the party of solutions.

Final solutions maybe.

Posted by: Mr.Murder on May 28, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Ray: "Oh, I know, in response to this attack, we'll invade this country that had nothing to do with it, and then once we're there, something good will probably happen. Blah, blah, democracy, blah, blah, freedom, blah, blah Haliburton"

That just proves you don't understand Bush's vision. Creating a "reverse dominoe" effect that spreads democracy throughout the region would completely obliterate the base for terrorism. As plans go, it's much better than the Democrat.... "Let's blame ISRAEL!!!!!!".

Posted by: American Hawk on May 28, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

And didn't Clinton appoint a commission to study the threat of terrorism from the middle east? Headed up by some guy named....Gore, or something like that? Shrubb decided he could'nt use the report 'cause it had blo-job cooties on it, so he reappointed the commission, headed by Cheney. It never met until after 9/11.
The notion that Bush should be taken seriously proves that Beinart is, as someone once said, a Wanker.
DemByDefault |

Posted by: Mr.Murder on May 28, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Reverse Domino? You have confused "domino" with the word "dominion" there.

Posted by: Mr.Murder on May 28, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

That just proves you don't understand Bush's vision.

Bush's "vision" was a hallucination.

Creating a "reverse dominoe" effect that spreads democracy throughout the region would completely obliterate the base for terrorism

1) dream up "reverse domino[e] effect
2) ?
3) world peace!

. As plans go, it's much better than the Democrat.... "Let's blame ISRAEL!!!!!!".

WTF?

Posted by: cleek on May 28, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Beinart got everything wrong. But many of us knew that in real time, back when he and every other "serious" person were calling us naive, weak and disloyal. Why should we read his book? Why should we even mention him or what he says?

If he wants to confess his errors, send him to a priest, or maybe Dr. Phil. But I don't want or need him hectoring me, and I am not really concerned with anything he has to say.

I am calling for a return to the days, if there ever were such days, when people who had demonstrated their incompetence and lack of understanding of the world were out of work and ignored.

And another thing.

The salient similarity between Truman/Cold War and Democrats/Islamic Terrorists is that the Republicans have exploited a circumstance, exaggerated beyond all rationality, used it to brand the Democrats as traitors, and convinced Democrats that they must be more rabidly and insanely bellicose in order to win elections. The result of that was the Viet Nam War, an utterly useless and immoral exercise in Cold War precepts.

Americans are going to be lied to again and again. They are also going to believe it again and again. Is that any reason to become a liar?

Posted by: James E. Powell on May 28, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't that make you all liberal chicken hawks?

Posted by: Birkel on May 28, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

That just proves you don't understand Bush's vision. Creating a "reverse dominoe" effect that spreads democracy throughout the region would completely obliterate the base for terrorism. As plans go, it's much better than the Democrat.... "Let's blame ISRAEL!!!!!!".

False premise much?

Bush's "vision" has been soundly debunked. The folks in Iraq didn't ask for a democracy. They certainly haven't expressed any keen interest in doing the work required to start and maintain one.

If you honestly think democracy ends terrorism..you're delusional. I give you Tim McVeigh, Erik Harris and Dylan Kleibold and Eric Rudolph.

Posted by: carla on May 28, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going to be un-Christian here.

When Beinart says, "Forgive me for I have sinned," I am going to say:

Fuck you and the blind-idiot train you rode in on.

At least Kevin can claim that he lost his idiot glasses a week or so before the invasion. Too late to help, of course, but at least it didn't take 2500 lives, 18000 maimed and 300+B dollars for him to see some light.

Fuck you, Peter. Fuck you. Fuck you.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on May 28, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

and let us never forget who was president when 9/11 happened: bush

and let us never forget that people in ny, where 9/11 actually happened, declined twice to vote for bush -- before and after
i'm just saying |

i'm just saying: and let us never forget that people in ny, where 9/11 actually happened, declined twice to vote for bush -- before and after

D.C., as well.

And no one mentions the fact that the following terror attack -- the anthrax mailings -- have gone unsolved. Osama is free. The anthrax mailer is free. Yet Bush is fighting terror.

With that kind of record, I'd like to see him run up my ass an fight for air.
.
Jeffraham Prestonian |

I have grown increasingly frustrated lately over the realization that no one seemingly gives a shit that George Bush ignored a PDB titled: Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside US

To be fair, whom amongst us could think about terra-ism if we owned a lake full of bionic perch?
DemByDefault |
Shouldn't the Middle East be considering a modern day Marshall plan for us?

Have you seen the gas prices lately? Saudia Arabia is just raking it in...
BC |
How about modern-day version of the Marshall plan for the middle class? It seems do be vanishing in America.
Lumpenprolitariot |

Plus, every single bit of information they don't want to divulge can be labeled "Not for Release, National Security Concerns." And, they can reclassify documents that were unclassified earlier.

Don't ya just love these people.
mer |

The Godfather would tell people who he extorted that it was for their own good and safety they paid...

Posted by: Mr.Murder on May 28, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Creating a "reverse dominoe" effect that spreads democracy throughout the region would completely obliterate the base for terrorism.

I've been away for awhile. How's that working out so far?

Posted by: Brautigan on May 28, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Message for Kevin: When Beinart and others call themselves "Hawks" and you repeat that description, you are essentially calling us (who were against the war) "Doves."

Wrong.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on May 28, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Proving once again that a liberal with a credible plan for national security is almost a contradiction in terms.

My first instinct was to laugh at this remark. Actually all my instincts are to laugh at this remark. Pot, kettle, black, projection, delusion, it's all here wrapped up in one tidy sentence.

Posted by: AnotherBruce on May 28, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

the so-called liberal hawks (no such thing is possible) are fucking idiots. they're so worried about appearing squeamish and being called sissies by slope-browed, slack-jawed, knuckle-scrapping republicans...here's the bottom-line: it takes far more strength...that's FAR MORE STRENGTH, along with integrity and wisdom to resolve problems and disputes peacefully than it ever does by force. Force is the feable cowards way.

so-called liberal-hawks want to play their immature schoolyard games with their insecure, little-dick, bed-wetter republicans buddies, they should go fuck themselves along with their republican masters, and free the rest of us from their immature idiocy.
.

Posted by: gak on May 28, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

"I've been away for awhile. How's that working out so far?"

Oh just great.

All the schools in Iraq have been repainted in various shades of koolaid.

Many rose "bush"s have been planted so as to create an endless supply of petals.

Posted by: American Fawk on May 28, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know, Kevin. Seems to me that a man who realizes (if he does) that he was so very wrong would be a bit more humble about writing a book that says, "Now I'm right! Listen to me!!"

What is so weird to me is being wrong-- and realizing it, if they do-- hasn't chastened pundits a bit. They're just as likely to spout off whatever flows through their head. I'd like to see a bit more understanding that they were taken, and why, and maybe some idea of how next time, they won't be taken in again.

And, oh, that it was -really- wrong to cast aspersions on those who were right from the get-go.

I'm not interested in hearing Beinart, frankly. His analysis hasn't yet impressed me as being very insightful. And now that he has pretty much cribbed from the "liberal doves" and presented it as his own plan, I'm supposed to respect him more?

I sure don't get this.

Posted by: cous on May 28, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

The people who promoted this atrocity called a war are not hawks. Hawks do their own killing. Hawks kill to survive. Turkey buzzards is a better term. Also like the turkey buzzard, they are unable to vocalize, only hiss and grunt.

Posted by: Chrissy on May 28, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Beinart actually says the war on terror is NOT a sham??

He is right, of course. But if Beinart says that, he will be lambasted by his fellow Democrats.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on May 28, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

"What is so weird to me is being wrong-- and realizing it, if they do-- hasn't chastened pundits a bit."

please, a pundit chastened - never happen, they'd have to have integrity for that.

pundits just want to hear/read themselves and marvel at how incredibly smart and clever they are. they're like stock-pickers...if the stock goes up they're geniuses. If the stock goes down, they're idiots until the next time they guess correctly.

Posted by: gak on May 28, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

war on terrorism.

think about that.

terrorism is a method of asymetrical warfare.

it is not possible to have a war on terrorism.

you can deploy counter-measures against terrorism, you can fight terrorists, but that's it.

a war on terrorism is unadulterated metophorical bullcrap used to manipulate the idiot massess. In fact its not all that different in its effect than terrorism - the whole point of which is the frighten the civilian population...something the bushliar-criminal regime has been excellent, down right exceptional at doing.

Posted by: pluege on May 28, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

He is right, of course. But if Beinart says that, he will be lambasted by his fellow Democrats.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on May 28, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency Kenneth, don't be a jackass. After all, it was Clinton who focused on Bin Laden as national security priority #1 while Republicans worried about a blowjob. Your fellow members of the Republican base are just showing how much they want a daddy to take care of them to make sure that reality can go away. Dealing with terrorism is part of life around the world, from Ireland, the UK, Sri Lanka, Peru, Colombia, Spain, France, Germany, Turkey, Indonesia, Mozambique, Russia, Israel, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Sudan, and South Africa, among others. Even Canadians and the Japanese have had to deal with some smaller terrorist problems. Republicans haven't acted like the Brits and others and accepted that terrorism is both a problem to deal with and an enemy to fight. The Republican line is basically that bombing Arab people will somehow create democracy (as in a Chalabi dictatorship), as opposed to researching alternative fuels that will allow us to go tell the House of Saud to go fuck itself. If you really wish to stir the pot, you have to focus on Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Territories. Bush has not taken these issues seriously. Republicans have acted more like the Russians living in fear of the Chechen separatists they helped to inspire to violence. Russians have turned to a strongman in Putin who has rolled back civil liberties while failing to keep Russians safer. Where Bush uses rhetoric and spin to mask failed economic policies, Putin uses oil and corruption. Get a clue if you wish to fight the good fight. Otherwise you are just hurting American efforts to fight terrorism and strengthen liberalism internationally. Why not learn Arabic, study the history of Arab nations, British-French imperialism, Islamic movements, etc.? You only care about your partisanship, not about winning the war.

Posted by: Reality Knocking on May 28, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Beinart remains critical of liberals who have gotten so disgusted with George Bush's approach to terrorism that they've decided the whole war on terror is just a sham.

If it isn't a sham, how would we know? Would there be, ya know, some sort of success?

Once Mr. Bush decided to carry out OBL's foreign policy himself, by invading Iraq, the guys who attacked us on 9/11 can relax, secure in the knowledge that after nearly five years Mr. Bush is no closer to capturing them than he was on 9/12, and is actively recruiting an entire new generation of terrorists for them.

Without Bush, Osama might actually have to work at his craft, but I'm sure that in his most optimistic dreams, he never imagined an opponent as inept as Bush has turned out to be.

Posted by: Repack Rider on May 28, 2006 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency Kenneth, don't be a jackass

Lemon, don't be sour

Posted by: cleek on May 28, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

If the war on terror was not a sham, GWB would not have to misrepresent the truth to get us into Iraq.

Posted by: lib on May 28, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

That just proves you don't understand Bush's vision. Creating a "reverse dominoe" effect that spreads democracy throughout the region would completely obliterate the base for terrorism.

Kevin and Beinart get some support from the trolls, at least. Or is this from "The Onion"? It would have made some sense a year or two ago. (Except for the possibility that a more democratic middle east would be equally terrorist.)

Posted by: Humble blogger on May 28, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Not a war on terror, a war on deranged Islamic nutcases. We outta just say it, finally.

Posted by: Matt on May 28, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

I dont wanna talk about liberal hawk crap, I wanna talk about George W. Bushs marriage. Its on the rocks, dont you think? I mean how can Laura stand that sniveling retard? After all, Bushs daddys marriage is a sham. Could you even imagine having sex with Bar??? for Chrissakes she is NASTY! And that scum-sucking brother of his, Neil, is banging every whore in Bangkok!

Whaddya think? I say Bush needs a double whammy of D-I-V-O-R-C-E and I-M-P-E-A-C-H-M-E-NT!!!!

Whahooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Fred Flintrock on May 28, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Like there conservative buddies but in a sense, more hypocritical, most of the "liberal" hawks never served a day in the military. They are, therfore, quite comfortable advocating military adventures from the comforts of the salon, where war is mere abstraction (isn't that the pedigree of the conservative hawks--and,incredibly--self-styled national security experts--who read "books" or "policy papers" or served on this "congressional committee" or that Senate committee, or attained an "NSC" fellowship or--here is a laugh--"served" on the NSC staff)and thus use of military force elicits tongue-clucking platitudes of the seriousness and neccessity of the decision to "take 'our' country to war." But without skin in the game,and no draft, it is easy for these so-called hawks to support war because they don't have to put their bodies where their mouths and feeble minds are. Liberal support of the military is great, but people like Beinart (is he even an American citizen?),Michael O'Hanlon, a former Congressional Budget Office analyst and Kenneth Pollack,a former CIA "analyst" or book reader--spot a pattern--never served in the military and supported this prememption war Bush (argubly a deserter or at least he less "fake" macho when he had a chance to kill commies in Vietnam), Cheney (five deferments), Wolfowitz (deferments) , Fieth (wasn't Vietnam still going on in '71)has foisted on us. Therefore they have not any credibility with me.

I don't think hawks, liberal or conservative, would be willing to be killed or maimed for reason-of-the-day rationale for attacking Iraq or NO(!!) WMD. Not to mention the unseemly stink of father-son Oedipal competetive aspect to the Iraq invasion. Remember, Dubya's comment less than 24 hours after Saddam's capture: [H]e tried to kill my dad." Or what about the memo (from Paul O'Neill's files) dated Jan 31, 2001 (the Bush hadn't been in office two weeks)that included the topic "Post Saddam Iraq Crisis." (http://thepriceofloyalty.ronsuskind.com/thebushfiles/archives/000067.html)"Post Saddam?"

Nevertheless, unlike the so-called hawks(of every stripe), I'll be in Iraq this summer honoring my oath of service. And that's in UNIFORM, not civilian b.s. that allows for resigning to"spend more time with my family" or "to pursue other opportunities."

Posted by: Allen on May 28, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

some times you have to have a rest of this political 'things'. so, if you want to have a brake go to casino online site :)

Posted by: fanboy on May 28, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

As usual, mostly just carping and attacks on any Democrats on the centrist wing of the party. The only reason the Democrats have a real chance for gains in 2006 and 2008 is because, despite the best efforts of their base, they are not shoving away moderates as well or as hard as is the Bush administration. If we didn't have an electoral system so inhospitable to third parties I think a moderate party could find real success in the next few years.

Okay, Beinart was wrong. I don't recall his specific reasons for supporting the Iraq war, but if they were the general liberal hawkish reasons, then they went something like this: Saddam has WMD, and we cannot, in a post-9/11 world, take the chance he'll use them or give them to terrorists. Now, it was difficult to know at the time the extent to which the Bush administration was exaggerating and outright lying about the WMD evidence. Yes, I know you knew it, because of that incisive Kos reader's diary in January '03. But it was not unreasonable, or uncommon, among liberals to believe that Saddam probably did have them, whether or not that justified war.

So, if I'm to understand most of the commenters here, there's simply no room in the party for someone who believed Saddam was dangerous (or soon would be), and believed that a military invasion was the best remaining option. Oh, you'll take their votes and money, I suppose, but they should shut the hell up. Do you actually believe you can win elections and sway policy that way?

Why not try, for once, engaging the arguments of those to your right? I'm not saying you should have an in-depth conversation with your Rush-listening uncle (although that might be a good idea as well), but actually debate, rather than dismiss, centrist Democrats and independent moderates, maybe even centrist Republicans. Maybe they'll never agree with you. Maybe you'll have to compromise, not on your beliefs, but on policy. But such a coalition would have a major advantage, aside from just winning elections. The next time a similar situation arises when your party is in power, you'll have a mutual respect between the wing that says, "We can't go to war over this!", and the wing that says "We don't dare wait any longer!", a respect that will allow whichever wing is actually correct to win out in the end, on the merits of the evidence.

Anyways, Beinart was wrong. Maybe, at some point in your life, on some political issue, you were too. Did you have the fortitude to publicly admit it? Or even admit it to yourself? Did that invalidate your opinions on that issue forever after? Do you really believe that all those who disagree with you do so only out of ignorance, stupidity, or for nefarious purposes?

But if it's more important to you to have an ideologically pure party than to win elections and influence policy, go nuts. It's too bad you're going to sink the rest of us non-fundamentalists with you, but that's your right.

Posted by: ChiSox Fan in LA on May 28, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

This is the week Rove gets indicted.

Posted by: NSA wiretapper on May 28, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

In some sense Mr. Drum is right, but the central thrust of Beinart's thesis is that the Democrats should make democracy promotion in the Arab-Muslim world their all-encompassing priority, and be willing to back that priority with military force.

Is that something the Deaniacs are willing to support or not?

Posted by: Linus on May 28, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'm actually a big fan of Beinart's writing, even though I disagree with him about half the time. I also like the fact that TNR, the mag he used to edit, poses questions that rankle the more die-hard lefty elements in the Democratic party. That's one of the best things about the magazine actually, and I will gladly start up my subscription again as soon as the anti-Arab Martin Peretz kicks it.

But I agree with the writers who say that Beinart is lacking some credibility with how to reshape the party when he, like so many other of the "best and the brightest" liberal writers, got wrong what may well be the single biggest decision in US foreign policy this decade.

Don't get me wrong, I think there is a lot to the idea that the far left has things to learn from the center, particularly when it comes to winning. Gore was derided by many on the left as a watered-down GOP candidate, a far cry from the real Democrats of The Good Old Days. They turned to Nader or didn't vote in 2000, yet Gore was still preferred to his GOP opponent by most Americans. Kerry had everyone from Chomsky to Michael Moore to Hunter S. Thompson on his side to some degree or another but still couldn't get the votes.

But that's politics; foreign policy is a different thing. The lefties got it right on the Iraq war, and I think Beinart would be taken more seriously - by them and moderates like myself - if he would sit back and listen to them before showcasing his newest great idea.

Posted by: sweaty guy on May 28, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

One other thing. Even though I think Beinart has his nerve to start telling everyone how liberals ought to run foreign policy at this particular point in time, it is still strange to see how hated he is on this board. It goes back to a theme pointed out by a friend of mine that liberal-to-moderate journalists who supported the war are being criticized way more by the left than liberal-to-moderate politicians who supported the war are. Interesting.

Posted by: sweaty guy on May 28, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

ChiSox Fan, it's not us refusing to talk to nice Mr Beinart. He's been consistently harsh and insulting about anyone who opposed the Iraq War, and if he'd won his gamble he'd be gloating and taunting right now.

But he lost his gamble, so now he's pretending that it all never happened.

He still expects his discredited faction to maintain control of the party, and he still has the nerve to call us "squishes".

Posted by: Humble blogger on May 28, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

"It goes back to a theme pointed out by a friend of mine that liberal-to-moderate journalists who supported the war are being criticized way more by the left than liberal-to-moderate politicians who supported the war are. Interesting."

it wouldn't be surprising at all if liberals held greater scorn for journalist than politicians given that politicians don't lead they only follow, whereas journalists are out front shaping public opinion...in this case uncritically publishing lies, helping to manipulate by promoting fear, and selling the meme of liberals as bogeymen.
.

Posted by: pluege on May 28, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

It goes back to a theme pointed out by a friend of mine that liberal-to-moderate journalists who supported the war are being criticized way more by the left than liberal-to-moderate politicians who supported the war are. Interesting.
Posted by: sweaty guy

my contempt for the media which played cheerleader for this war outstrips my disgust at the politicians. These unelected, worthless, elitist gossiping fucks provided a nominally bipartisan cover for this war.

When proven wrong regarding every single facet of the war, they continue to insist on their rightness and to dismiss those of us, who in retrospect offered the most accurate assesment of this botched illegal invasion, as unserious.

fuck beinart then, and especially now. we're better off without reading opinion pieces from this type of offal.

Posted by: Nads on May 28, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

It goes back to a theme pointed out by a friend of mine that liberal-to-moderate journalists who supported the war are being criticized way more by the left than liberal-to-moderate politicians who supported the war are.

I don't quite accept that premise, although there are certainly examples. The annoyance with Beinart stems from a few things: his preference for strawman opponents; his refusal to accept basic reality (i.e. Bush is in charge); and most of all the gracelessness of not shutting the fuck up after being proved wrong in every way possible. Oh, and to add to that, his belief that being proved wrong means he's actually better qualified to keep making bullshit arguments.

Tony Blair's unfulfilled laundry list is a testament to where Gladstonian 'liberal interventionism/internationalism' gets you when George W. Bush is in charge. This is not some arcane thing.

As Alexander Pope once said, you don't become subject to ridicule for doing or saying something stupid. After all, you only truly know it's stupid after you've said or done it. The ridicule comes from refusing to leave the stage.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc on May 28, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

ChiSox Fan: Okay, Beinart was wrong.

and a very good career move on Mr. Beinart's part! As Krugman among others has observed being wrong at the outset is required if you're to be seen as a serious commentator by the people who matter. Those right from the git go are shrill.

P.S. If I've ever come across someone who meets the description of squish, it's Mr. Peter "I'm a security expert if I may say so myself" Beinert.

P.P.S. Libby Sosume makes an important point when s/he writes that many of us who opposed this war from the start are not "doves," that this is a false presumption.

Posted by: snicker-snack on May 28, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Humble blogger gets it.

Mr. Beinart is welcome to his views after he has atoned for his sin and has voluntarily relinquished his self appointed position as the intellectual heavy weight whose sage advice should be followed by the rest of us.

Posted by: lib on May 28, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

if I'm to understand most of the commenters here, there's simply no room in the party for someone who believed Saddam was dangerous (or soon would be), and believed that a military invasion was the best remaining option.

Are you saying that taking a position like that would mean that we would be limiing ourselves to intelligent people who actually thought out a situation, but in addition to them, we would also need the votes of the people like Beinart, who are too stupid to think about anything?

I'm interested in your plan. How do you go about cultivating the stooopid votes, if you are a Democrat?

Posted by: Repack Rider on May 28, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Look, let's face it, the Middle East is a hellhole and the sooner we cut ties with the region the better off we'll all be. What we need is a stalemate of sorts to last long enough for a non-petroleum based infrastructure to be established and then we can forget about that region, much like we've forgotten about Africa.

Posted by: TangoMan on May 28, 2006 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't read The Good Fight, but Beinart's 2004 piece in TNR, A Fighting Faith, while it had a few good points, left a lot to be desired. I hope he's at least moved beyond cold war analogies.

And as much as promoting democracy may be a laudable goal, I'm not convinced it's an appropriate lead, especially in the developing world. How much more might be accomplished if we lead instead with stability and prosperity? The rest will follow in due time.

Moreover, Beinart--nor anyone else--has provided a good answer for the two elephants in the room: Russia and China. Stop threatening them and their interests with jingoistic rhetoric and Pax Americana, sit down with them and cut a deal, and real solutions might become feasible very quickly in, e.g., Darfur and the Middle East.

Posted by: has407 on May 28, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think gak has Beinart's number pretty well.

I am always struck by how obsessed Beinart and the other "Truman Democrats" are with appearances. Their favorite phrase is "be perceived as", as in "we don't want to be perceived as soft on terror", or "we can't risk being perceived as weak on security", or "we must not be perceived as limp-wristed, naive brown-nosers." The passive voice suits them, and reveals their inherently fearful, objectified and immature personalities more clearly than all of those books, essays and blogs, in which they work so earnestly to prove otherwise.

Even as they try so hard to strike a bold and courageous stance, they are so transparently faking it that it is usually a bit comical - sort of like a kid trying on his dad's Army hat, which keeps falling down over his eyes. Maybe if they keep giving their books and essays titles like "The Good Fight" and "A Fighting Faith" and "A Tough National Security Agenda", nobody will notice their pathological, pee-in-pants fear of bullies, their paranoid obessions with how those bullies "perceive" them, and their resultant craven need to suck up to the bullies at every turn.

Whenever I have seen Beinart in action, he appears as meek as a lamb. I doubt he would personally have the nerve to take preemptive action against a dog that was pissing on his shoe.

Posted by: Dan Kervick on May 28, 2006 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Bush's "vision" has been soundly debunked. The folks in Iraq didn't ask for a democracy. They certainly haven't expressed any keen interest in doing the work required to start and maintain one."

Yeah, right, all those elections in the face of snipers and IEDs, all those politicians continuing to develop a government in spite of their relatives being assassinated, all the effort to create a government that would represent the whole country, all the calls for restraint from starting a civil war . . .

no, no keen interest at all. This is typical of the antiwar position. I think us liberal hawks who actually want to give the Iraqis a chance have more respect for them and care more about human rights than you self-righeous conspiracy-mongering jerks.

Posted by: Yehudit on May 28, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

So,the republicans are hawks, to be correct, they are STUPID hawks.

To invade Iraq was the most stupid thing to do, and they believed it would be easy, like Panama and Granada. SH had no army to speak of left. The NEOCONS knew it, remember the cake walk. They just did not expect what came after, as Blair said, they did not expect the enemy to fight back. What a surprise.

If that is not stupid, I don't know what is.

To be just a stupid hawk is nothing to write home about. The Democrats don't need to be like that.

Posted by: Renate on May 28, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

All the pundits to;d the people, Bush is the MAN, he is comfortable in his skin, the guy one wants to have a drink with and Gore was tooooo smart, we need a stupid man.

Gore won and he was right.

But we got stuck with a nerd and his neocon mafia.

Posted by: Renate on May 28, 2006 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Beinart got it wrong. People do make mistakes. But what gets my goat is that even dumfuks like me knew that the war was wrong and a terrible mistake before we ever invaded. What does that say about Peter Beinart? I am expert. I have no access to national security information. I am not smart enough to be of the pundit class. I am not as well-read as Beinart is (or should be). Yet I knew then that this was a trumped-up excuse to invade for power, money, and oil - and revenge.

Of course, many of you knew this just as well as I (but I won't call you dumfuks).

What it boils down to is this: Beinart is clearly a bigger dumfuk than I. He should have his pundit license revoked, immediately. He should be forced to wear a big "D" until he gets a brain. And that doesn't stand for "Democrat."

Posted by: Libby Sosume on May 28, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think us liberal hawks who actually want to give the Iraqis a chance have more respect for them and care more about human rights than you self-righeous conspiracy-mongering jerks.

go kill another ten or twenty thousand of them to prove how much you care. i'm sure they'll line up around the block, waiting their chance to become collateral damage in your respectful little war.

Posted by: cleek on May 28, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Should have been: "I am NO expert."

Posted by: Libby Sosume on May 28, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yehudit is right on. The anti-war left couldn't care less about the Iraqis, as they prove over and over again with each passing day. Bash Bush all you want, I don't care. But think for a moment what is best for the Iraqis and the Middle East right now. Unilateral withdrawal is not it.

It will be Blair's speech to Georgetown University students that will be remembered years from now. And how the Dems killed their chances of taking back the presidency by eating their own, like Beinart, in the name of the righteous wrath of the angry Left.

Posted by: JohnFH on May 28, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Yehudit, Bush hasn't helped the Iraqis. Sen. Hagel just pointed that out. The progress you alleged was imaginary.

And Bush won't help them in the future either.

The pro-war left doesn't care about the Iraqis, except when they need a cheap argument.

Posted by: Humble blogger on May 28, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

The anti-war left couldn't care less about the Iraqis, as they prove over and over again with each passing day.

So trying to avoid the invasion that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis was callousness on our part, while wanting to kill them was "concern" for their well-being?

War is peace.

Down is the new up.

Posted by: Repack Rider on May 28, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

There would be no need for unilateral withdrawal if we had not invaded in the first place.

The Iraqies should know what is good for them, but no one asked them. Did they calle for the invasion, other than Chalabi and his ilk?

Posted by: renate on May 28, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

But think for a moment what is best for the Iraqis and the Middle East right now. Unilateral withdrawal is not it.

frankly, the pro-war set's ideas of "what's best for the Iraqis", so far, have turned out to be total shit.

our presence there now is probably an irritant, and not a pacifier.

Posted by: cleek on May 28, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

John FH, are your smug prognositcations re. the Democrats to be as accurate as your prognositications re. Iraq?

I have yet to see even an inkling of a smidgeon of a reason to pay any respectful attention to your tired harrumphings.Once you start to be occassionally (you know, just occassionally) correct, I'll start to pay attention.

Oh, and you have a severe problem with conflations.

1. opposition to an ill-thought-out and contrived invasion does not automatically equal support for unilateral withdrawal.

2. to be anti-this-war does not automatically make one a member of some (imaginary) anti-all-war left. There are 'good fights' even if someone like Peter Beinert (or John FH?) has no ability to discern them. There are also plenty of 'bad fights.'

3. re. your accusations that 'we' (um, by this I guess you mean the, you know, lock-step readership of the wamo) couldn't care less about the Iraqis, a polite 'Fuck you.' Don't know about you but I have Iraqi friends and acquaintances. This is a cheap, sleezy and lazy shot. Perhaps if you had better arguments to make, you wouldn't need to resort to it.

Posted by: snicker-snack on May 28, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: biu on May 28, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Repack Rider said: "I'm interested in your plan. How do you go about cultivating the stooopid votes, if you are a Democrat?"

This is exactly the problem, as I see it. Do you really think everyone who disagrees with you is stupid? Do you really think that it is impossible (or so rare as to be negligible) that people who are well-informed, thoughtful, and intelligent may come to hold opinion that contrast with your own?

Personally, I know intelligent people who disagree on issues they are well-informed about. I know smart, left-wing socialist activists; smart, right-wing Rush listeners; smart, apolitical libertarians, etc. I also know uninformed people, dumb or not, in those categories. I don't know any smart religious fundamentalists, but I'm willing to concede that that's likely as much a function of where I've lived (Wisconsin and West Los Angeles) as anything else.

If you've lived and associated with people from diverse walks of life, and you nonetheless believe that people's intelligence and knowledge of an issue is proportional to how well their conclusions correlate with your own, then that says a lot more about you than it does about those with whom you disagree. One of the best ways to tell whether someone actually holds an intelligent position on an issue is to ask them about the strongest opposing arguments they have encountered. If they can't discuss these...

Anyway, my point really isn't about Beinart. It's about engaging the arguments of others, rather than assaulting them or rejecting them out of hand. There are a lot of Dems who were wrong about Iraq (I think pre-invasion polls showed something like 40-50% of Dems were for the war). You can condescend to that group and inform them that they are stupid and ignorant, or you can attempt to understand their positions and their reasons, and treat them with respect. If you do so, you may actually win elections and influence policy. If you don't...well, again, you're lucky the Repubs are shoving moderates away as well. But one of the parties is eventually going to figure out that there is a middle ground in this country, and it's politically up for grabs. Wouldn't you rather that party be the Democrats?

Posted by: ChiSox Fan in LA on May 28, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Anyway, my point really isn't about Beinart. It's about engaging the arguments of others, rather than assaulting them or rejecting them out of hand. There are a lot of Dems who were wrong about Iraq (I think pre-invasion polls showed something like 40-50% of Dems were for the war). You can condescend to that group and inform them that they are stupid and ignorant, or you can attempt to understand their positions and their reasons, and treat them with respect.

ChiSox Fan: I actually agree with your sentiments. But an interesting difference in perception. From my POV, it's been the boisterous pro-war crowd (particulary those of the 'oops, gosh, I might just have been wrong' variety) that continues to condescend to those who have always been opposed to this grand imperial adventure. Perhaps if we weren't categorized as 'squishes' (by those squishier than squishier can be; sorry, couldn't resist), we could have a more respectful discussion. This certainly seems to be the tenor of many posts here besides my own.

Posted by: snicker-snack on May 28, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

There's a little more to it, of course, and Beinart remains critical of liberals who have gotten so disgusted with George Bush's approach to terrorism that they've decided the whole war on terror is just a sham.

Really? Seems like "sham" describes it pretty well. What evidence has he got to smack me down with?

Posted by: craigie on May 28, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Beinart and Lieberman are experiencing what happens to moderate Democrats - they get slimed and savaged by their own party.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on May 28, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency nailed it!

Posted by: rock paper scissors on May 28, 2006 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

Anyway, my point really isn't about Beinart. It's about engaging the arguments of others, rather than assaulting them or rejecting them out of hand.

Beinart and his crowd don't treat us that way, so why should we. The animosity to Beinart doesn't come from nowhere. We have a history with that guy.

Posted by: Humble blogger on May 28, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

There's a little more to it, of course, and Beinart remains critical of liberals who have gotten so disgusted with George Bush's approach to terrorism that they've decided the whole war on terror is just a sham.

More crocodile tears from the Right. Thank you for your concern. I fart in your general direction.

Posted by: craigie on May 28, 2006 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

This is silly. Whenever they feel like it, Lieberman and Bienart slime any Democrat who disagrees with them. Tit for tat. The poor little babies.

Posted by: Humble blogger on May 29, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

To those who opposed the Iraq war, why did you oppose it?

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on May 29, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

"One other thing. Even though I think Beinart has his nerve to start telling everyone how liberals ought to run foreign policy at this particular point in time, it is still strange to see how hated he is on this board."

Ditto. The vitriol is really puzzling, Beinart is one of the good guys.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on May 29, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

In my case, because I didn't believe the pretexts, and because I was very aware that it could turn out badly. I haven't had to change my mind about much.

The public pre-war "dialogue" was incredibly one-sided. The media collaborated with the Bush people in stampeding the public into accepting the war, and there was very little real opposition.

Posted by: Humble blogger on May 29, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

There's a little more to it, of course, and Beinart remains critical of liberals who have gotten so disgusted with George Bush's approach to terrorism that they've decided the whole war on terror is just a sham.

Beinart's approach to terrorism appears to be little more than a slight reframing of of Bush's approach, so why does Beinart feel his proposal should not be met with the same digust? (Caveat: that is based on Beinart's previous writings; I haven't read The Good Fight).

Posted by: has407 on May 29, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Dustin, Beinart is a good guy to you, but he hasn't been good to us, and in my memory you haven't been good either. Get a clue.

Posted by: Humble blogger on May 29, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Beinart and Lieberman are experiencing what happens to moderate Democrats - they get slimed and savaged by their own party.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on May 28, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK


Now you're just being a pussy. The left is not going after Nelson, Landrieu, etc. Lieberman and Beinart went out of their way to attack those who knew how the war would turn out instead of falling for utopian dreams of liberal empire. They have brought this on themselves. If they had had respect for their critics when their critics were making arguments that were eventually proven correct, Lieberman and Beinart would not be such a target. You are also a pussy for not responding to my last post. You remind me of a kid I went to school with that turned out to be a rapist. I bet you are in prison. I hope your cellmate cocksmacks your little bitch ass.

Posted by: Reality Knocking on May 29, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

Dustin Ridgeway: To those who opposed the Iraq war, why did you oppose it?

I think counter-productive, unnecessary and stupid cover it.

Posted by: has407 on May 29, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

"I think counter-productive, unnecessary and stupid cover it."

I don't mean to sound condescending, but could you be more specific?

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on May 29, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

"Dustin, Beinart is a good guy to you, but he hasn't been good to us,

Hasn't been good to you? What do you mean? Did he cut you off in traffic?

"and in my memory you haven't been good either. Get a clue."

Do we even know each other? what did I do?

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on May 29, 2006 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

"In my case, because I didn't believe the pretexts, and because I was very aware that it could turn out badly. I haven't had to change my mind about much."

On the second front, you were against it because you didn't think it would be successful & would turn out badly. That makes sense. On the first front, what pretexts were you specifically referring to? There were several changing pretexts for the invasion.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on May 29, 2006 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

There were several changing pretexts for the invasion.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on May 29, 2006 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't that be a red flag in itself?

Posted by: Whateva on May 29, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

Dustin Ridgeway: I don't mean to sound condescending, but could you be more specific?

  • Counter-productive: Leading to unintentended and undesireable outcomes; c.f. outcomes that defeat the intended purpose of the intended action. See also: unnecessary; stupid.
  • Unnecessary: Not required to achieve the intended goals or outcomes. See also: superfluous; redundant; needless; uncalled for; unwarranted; gratiutious; excessive.
  • Stupid: Lacking intelligence or reason. See also: idiot; dull; brainless; dim-witted; obtuse; slow; dense; thick.

Posted by: has407 on May 29, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

ChiSox Fan--

You're entirely right, of course, that it's foolish for anti-Iraq War liberals to slam and insult the entire category of Democrats and independents who supported the war. If for no other reason, these people constitute roughly half the votes we need to win the White House.

But this is a two-way street, and some of the nastiest rhetoric has been coming from the party's center. Marshall Wittman praises Hillary Clinton for demonstrating "courage in the face of the left wing fever swamp by refusing to reverse her position on Iraq"... in other words, he defines "courage" as refusing to admit that those feverish lefties were right about the Iraq War.

Elsewhere, hawkish Democrats have admitted they were wrong but refer to the people who were right as "unserious", or "squishy", and demand that we remain on the margins of the party. It's as if being wrong on the single most important foreign policy question of the past 15 years is a prerequisite for being taken seriously.

Frankly, I'm tired of being described as an America-hating fifth-columnist peacenik pussy because I happened to have the right level of skepticism toward Bush's case for war. It's bad enough that Republicans smear the patriotism of liberals and insult our manhood because we don't reflexively support every single military action proposed by a Republican President. What makes it worse is that so many "liberal hawks" like Beinart think the way to win elections is for Democratic candidates to say "you're absolutely right about those squishy liberal traitors, but I'm not one of them!"

The perception of Democratic weakness on national security is a real problem, and we can't solve it by insulting everyone who disagrees with us, muttering about health care, and hoping the problem goes away. We need to rebuild bridges between liberals who supported and opposed the war. And we do, unfortunately, need to convince the American public that we're serious about national security.

Beinart, to his credit, is willing to admit his mistakes and learn from them. The next step is to stop pissing on the people he wants to be his allies. That's a lesson both sides need to take to heart.

Posted by: ajl on May 29, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

Actually it is true that he was wrong about an entire series of things in the last several years.

And we should continue to listen to him because, er anyone? Anyone? Buehler? Anyone?

Posted by: Ba'al on May 29, 2006 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

To those who opposed the Iraq war, why did you oppose it?

1. I never believed the WMD pretext, especially given what UN weapons inspectors on the ground were saying. History proved them correct. This should not come as a surprise in retrospect.

2. I knew it would end badly because of the size of the country and its ethnic mix. Civil war was inevitable result, which is why Poppie decided not to take down the Saddam government in the first Gulf war.

3. Preemptive war is a really bad precedent to be following, especially in the absence of any support from allies familiar with the area (including allies who have good intelligence services). OUr national reputation now smells like shit to the rest of the world.

4. I knew that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 or Osama bin Laden.

5. Iraq is very far from Afganistan and Pakistan, where OBL and his minions used to be concentrated.

6. I knew that this war in Iraq would actually benefit AQ in so many ways -- by weakening our military, our economy, and by diverting attention from real security concerns. I think we can say that AQ is thriving like never before.

7. I knew it would also benefit Iran. Kinda looks that way now.

8. Bush has failed at everything he has ever tried. He had people like Richard Perle and Elliot Abrams pushing this, among other neo-cons. Was bound to end badly.

Posted by: Ba'al on May 29, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Dustin, I opposed the war because I thought the following statements were likely to be true in March 2003.

1) The WMD evidence was plainly, obviously being exaggerated. The evidence was being tailored to fit the policy and Bush was going to go to war regardless of what the inspectors found. A war fought under false pretenses would harm US credibility for years.

(Though I was surprised to learn that Saddam didn't have any low-grade chemical weapon stockpiles)

2) Nation-building requires long-term military occupation, and a long-term occupation of an Arab country by the US would inevitably lead to a jihadist terror campaign against our soldiers that would open a front more favorable to the jihadists. At best, it would be like Gaza. At worst, Beirut in the 1980s.

3) The Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive unilateral invasion and nation-building was a huge error and a disaster waiting to happen. If it didn't crash and burn in Iraq, it would fail soon enough.

4) Getting rid of Saddam would be nice. But on a pure cost-benefit analysis, it wasn't worth it. Not really even close.

Here's what I got wrong:

I thought the war would incite a good deal more Anti-American violence in the rest of the Muslim world than it did. But I also thought the Pentagon would operate a semi-competent military occupation inside of Iraq. Wrong on both counts, but pretty much a wash.

Posted by: ajl on May 29, 2006 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

To those who opposed the Iraq war, why did you oppose it?

Because it was a bad idea strategically, politically, and economically.

Because after both Napolean and Hitler failed to take Moscow, anyone who studied history knows that you can't fight a war with 10,000 mile supply lines against people who live there. They have no place to go, and nothing to lose. We do. Millions of Russians died fighting Hitler, not because they were motivated by mom and apple pie, but because they had no choice. If anything, religiously motivated people are even more implacable than the Russian troops who advanced without weapons, knowing that they would soon be "issued" one from a corpse.

The money we are shipping in containers over to Iraq is being plundered by the contractors, so we are getting a few cents on the dollar in actual return while making billionaires out of white-collar criminals, who then buy legislators like Duke Cunningham to keep shipping them money. It's the graft, stupid.

After Vietnam, one would think that starting a war on the basis of easily exposed lies would be a non-starter, but I forgot that unlike me at that time, these guys had avoided military service. Silly me.

Since the lies about WMD were exposed long before the invasion, I figured that if the truth wasn't good enough for these guys, it was a bad idea.

I never actually heard from anyone why it was a good idea.

Posted by: Repack Rider on May 29, 2006 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

Do you really think everyone who disagrees with you is stupid? Do you really think that it is impossible (or so rare as to be negligible) that people who are well-informed, thoughtful, and intelligent may come to hold opinion that contrast with your own?

Of course. But not on certain subjects.

I have no respect for anyone who voted for Bush, or who supported the Iraq invasion, because both of those required monstrous stupidity. There is no rational explanation for either.

I will accept considerable disagreement, however, with my positions on quantum physics or the extinction of the American megafauna after the last glacial maximum.

If a majority of Americans voted for Bush, contrary to any rational explanation, and we need some of their votes, in addition to the votes of smart people, we need to cultivate a few of the stupid ones. What's your plan?

Posted by: Repack Rider on May 29, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

To those who opposed the Iraq war, why did you oppose it?

Because Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

Because Saddam and AQ were adversaries, not allies.

Because unprovoked aggression is wrong. (The reason it is wrong is that it sets a terrible precedent.)

Because an unprovoked, unnecessary war in the middle east is not likely to win us friends. And US created chaos there would likely strengthen our enemies.

Because knowledgeable people warned that severe ethnic strife was a highly probable consequence of removing Saddam.

*See also has407 at 12:52 am.

**See also Ba'al #8 at 1:30 am.

Posted by: obscure on May 29, 2006 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with repack ... Iraq isn't a "reasonable people may disagree ..." sort of issue. America was lied into illegally invading a sovereign country by falsely playing on the imagery and the fear of 9/11.

Pack it any way you want, but if you were at all reasonably awake and aware during the last 5 years, and you STILL voted for bush and for skyrocketing Iraqi and American deaths, then you are an absolute fucking idiot. ... or a racist and/or religious fanatic who just enjoys vicariously killing brown people. I give most of them the benefit of the doubt and stick with the former label.

I'll concede I may need that vote, but that doesn't change the initial conclusion.

Posted by: Nads on May 29, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

'...Kevin should not waste his time on this guy, whose positions seems contrived, obsequious to the Republican warmongers, and outright moronic.'

Wha!

Why should Kevin stop doing what he's so good at!

Posted by: professor rat on May 29, 2006 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

Nads - I'll concede I may need that vote, but that doesn't change the initial conclusion.

The problem is, you do need that vote. And people tend to be put off when called an 'absolute fucking idiot'. And of course it's an issue on which 'reasonable people may disagree', because there are reasonable people who disagree. There are even people out there who agree with you on most issues, but not this. The fact that you don't know or talk with such people does not call their existence into question.

Of course, maybe you define 'reasonable' to mean 'those who agree with me on this particular issue'. That's an essentially fundamentalist definition, but let's accept it. What about some other issue that's important to you? What about someone who agrees with you on X, but disagrees on Y? Are they reasonable?

As far as the election goes, I think that Bush looks like he's going to go down as one of the worst presidents ever. But we've had some pretty bad ones, so it will take time to tell. But nonetheless, there hasn't been a single election in American history in which all the intelligent and well-informed people voted for only one party. People have complicated and varied reasons for the set of beliefs and policy preferences they hold. People can be wrong without being idiots. Open-minded, intelligent people, by definition, know this. You can be one or the other with this 'no reasonable people disagree' nonsense, but not both.

Why not try seeking out, among your friends, family, or co-workers, someone who voted for Bush but seems otherwise intelligent? I'll bet you know at least someone who you could've sworn seemed like a decent, honest, intelligent person aside from the fact that they've been politically brainwashed by Fox News and talk radio. Try talking with them about some specific issue, and actually listening. You're never going to sway them, but you may learn something that helps you sway an independent.

Or call them 'absolute fucking idiots'. That might work too.

Posted by: ChiSox Fan in LA on May 29, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

Pat Robertson determined to Strike Inside US - should someone tell the president?

Posted by: professor rat on May 29, 2006 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

Dustin Ridgeway: To those who opposed the Iraq war, why did you oppose it?

Thank you for asking a serious question, I'll try to remember my reasons as they unfolded over time.

During the 2000 presidential debates, I remember Bush taking Gore to task for the Clinton administrations "failure" to deal with Saddam Hussein, I remember even back then thinking that Bush, if elected would instigate military action against Iraq. I couldn't see the need for it, we had Hussein under control.

On 9/11/01, a co-worker asked me who attacked the WTC and the pentagon. I told him about Bin Laden and the Taliban, and mentioned that they would be the targets of U.S. military action. I also remember mentioning that it would be a good thing to take these people out.

After 9/11, I was encouraged by what Bush had to say. He explained who Al-Qaeda were very concisely to the American people. He was also careful to explain that Muslims were not our enemy, that Bin Laden and his organization attacked us.

All well and good, the Taliban were routed, though we failed to catch Bin Laden. I thought we would eventually, we had the whole world supporting us.

When the talk about invading Iraq had started, I couldn't believe it, it smelled worse than a two day old dead fish. I knew enough about the middle east to know that Hussein had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. I knew the 9/11 hi-jackers were predominately Suadi Arabian. I figured that the next step would be to let the Saudis know in no uncertain terms that they had to get their damn madrassas in line. Instead we invaded Iraq. It was just a damn non-sequitor. The only thing I could put my finger on was that this was an attempt to control middle eastern oil.

To this day, although there have been a lot of explanations as to why we invaded Iraq there hasn't been a good explanation. That's why Cindy Sheehan became so popular, she had the guts to ask the question why? and demand an answer.

There are many other reasons for opposing this war of course, but thats how I remember it unfolding for me.


Posted by: AnotherBruce on May 29, 2006 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

Why not try seeking out, among your friends, family, or co-workers, someone who voted for Bush but seems otherwise intelligent?

I don't know anyone who votes, and who voted for Bush. Intelligence isn't even a factor. As far as I can tell from my daily interactions, everyone thinks he's a crooked moron.

The county I live in went 73% for Gore in 2000, and I guess I don't run into the other 27%. Apparently we have nothing in common.

Or perhaps they no longer admit to it.

Posted by: Repack Rider on May 29, 2006 at 3:01 AM | PERMALINK

ChiSox Fan in LA:

You may or may not believe this, but my approach to independants in person is vastly, vastly different than the obscenity-spewing wit I offer here.

I have several acquaintances you, for any of a variety of reasons, voted bush. With respect to that decision, they are indeed absolute fucking idiots ... a fact which I convey only AFTER I've realized that we're speaking at cross-purposes, and that I'm dealing with someone who I would otherwise consider a wingnut.

Once Ann Coulter gets cited as an authority, then I'm through discussing policy.

With respect to trying to understand why they voted bush, or why they're wingnuts for that matter, I do, and generally I find them more repellant afterwards. There is a nice, thick vein of racism and stupidity amongs my countrymen, which conservatives have been exploiting for at least 40 years.

On the plus side, it does give me some idea on how to approach an "independant" voter. the inadequacy of bush has lent some impressive ammo to this cause. Unfortunately, I still categorize many of these independants as fairly ignorant ... on politics, on current events, on worldview and value system in general. ... It's a failing ... I'll try and work on it.

I come to the comment section to learn, correct, offer an idea, and occasionally to vent. Represented here are the worst of the neocon mentality, where the veneer of civility has worn off and the ugly, hypocritical racism and opportunistic greed is unimpeded by a pretty delivery. I have little patience for that, and I in these cases civility takes too much time, and hasn't been earned by these pieces of shit.

Posted by: Nads on May 29, 2006 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

Repack - I live in West Los Angeles (if you're not familiar, one of the more liberal regions of Los Angeles). Most of my friends work at UCLA or are ultimate frisbee players. And even I know Bush voters here. Forgive me if I don't think you're reaching out much. Not that you're obligated to on my account...

Nads - I don't blame you for shutting things down when Ann Coulter comes up. And I know the faceless internet is a great place to vent. I just get frustrated that there seems to be less and less effort by people in general these days to engage rather than dismiss the arguments of others. I do it too, and I don't mean to suggest that this is somehow a problem only or mostly with liberal Democrats.

Maybe I've had a different experience than most people, but I grew up in an extended family with self-avowed Socialists and strident Republicans, and most everything in between, some well-informed, some not; we happily argue to this day at holidays. I started college as an atheist (still am) who had nothing but contempt for religious Christians, and then got a dorm roommate who was religious and is now in the Air Force. We roomed together throughout college, and I came to respect his opinions, though they usually differed from mine.

So my point is, when people say no intelligent people voted for Bush, to me it's like saying that no intelligent people use drugs, or that all people who opposed the Iraq War hate America. I know such statements are wrong, because I know multiple people who prove they're wrong. They're simply comfortable assertions about the way people should be, not the way people are.

Anyway, I just think that everyone on any side of almost any debate should try to hear the best arguments on the other side, and should not be quick to denigrate people based on their political beliefs. That's not to say I don't do it as well; I don't know any real Christian fundamentalists and find it almost impossible to imagine any could be intelligent, for example. This is just the ideal that I arrogantly believe is best for everyone.

Posted by: ChiSox in LA on May 29, 2006 at 3:37 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know any real Christian fundamentalists and find it almost impossible to imagine any could be intelligent, for example. This is just the ideal that I arrogantly believe is best for everyone.
Posted by: ChiSox in LA

When I graduated med school, one of my fundie classmates matched into neurosurgery (which implies a certain level of pretty-fucking-smart, fyi) ... but I never could wrap my head around it.

I hope he's gotten better ... when I left, he still didn't believe in evolution or, more relevantly, in using stem cells from discarded embryos. ... a fucking NEUROsurgeon, with the potential to use stem cell research to help spinal injury patients with this type of research!!!!

what would jesus do?

Posted by: Nads on May 29, 2006 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

one of my fundie classmates matched into neurosurgery (which implies a certain level of pretty-fucking-smart, fyi) ... but I never could wrap my head around it.
..............
fucking NEUROsurgeon, with the potential to use stem cell research to help spinal injury patients with this type of research!!!!

Posted by: Nads on May 29, 2006 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

Since he's a certain-level of fucking smart, maybe he knows better than you.

Posted by: McA on May 29, 2006 at 4:07 AM | PERMALINK

Or perhaps they no longer admit to it.

Posted by: Repack Rider on May 29, 2006 at 3:01 AM | PERMALINK

Or they pretend to be Liberal for social reasons and then vote for tax cuts.

Posted by: McA on May 29, 2006 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

Since he's a certain-level of fucking smart, maybe he knows better than you.
Posted by: McA

obviously an unhealthy amount of jesus sapped any rational-thinking ability he had ... but he had minimal research interest, anyways, in any field. which may turn out to be a good thing.

but what would you know about medicine, little man?

Posted by: Nads on May 29, 2006 at 4:11 AM | PERMALINK

I know you are but what am I?

Posted by: McA on May 29, 2006 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK

"To those who opposed the Iraq war, why did you oppose it?"

I looked into bush's eyes and saw no soul whatsoever.

Posted by: pluege on May 29, 2006 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Hey! Any more about Dubya gettin the big old D-I-V-O-R-C-E??? I think Bush is stone drunk most of the time these days! The American people need to hire a private investigator to get to the bottom of this drunken, coke-sniffin incompetent and his sham marriage! Its high time the American people realize what a worthless lout is inhabiting the Peoples House. 4% approval ratings, here we come!!!!!

Posted by: Fred Flintrock on May 29, 2006 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

It will be Blair's speech to Georgetown University students that will be remembered years from now. And how the Dems killed their chances of taking back the presidency by eating their own, like Beinart, in the name of the righteous wrath of the angry Left.

In 2004, Peter Beinart called for a "purge" - his words - of the antiwar faction of the Democratic Party, in his loving TNR paean to the Cold War. I don't take kindly to being purged from my party, especially by naive, baby-faced little twerps like Peter Beinart.

So as we worry about Democrats eating their own, lets not forget who took the first bite.

Posted by: Dan Kervick on May 29, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Many thanks to AnotherBruce, ajl, Ba'al and any other who took the time to answer my question. Such a question seems pointless at this point, equivalant to "Why did you oppose that Hitler guy back in 1936?" but the reason I asked is because it seemed the reasons for opposing the war were at least as varied & sometimes contradictory as the reasons for supporting the war. The responses have given me a clearer insight into other prewar thoughts.

My own position was I opposed the Iraq war because the WMD pretext seemed to be cooked out of chewing gum & bullshit, but since the war was inevitable I thought some Humanitarian good for the Iraqis might come out of it. And I held onto that hope up to a year ago. I was right on the first front, but dead wrong on the second.

What does that make me? A hawk? A half-hawk? A dove? I ask because even though I technically opposed the invasion, I still thought some humanitarian good may come out of it, just what many liberal hawks were arguing, so since I shared that view I felt the need to reflexively defend them. What is my culpability in this? is it less than guys like Beinart? More? Do I need to apologize? Offer up a mea culpa? Is the worth of my opinion on foreign affairs compromised? I'm tired of being one of the liberal "hawks" and just want to be a liberal again, and I'd like to hear what anti-war liberals think of my past opinions on the war and what people like me need to do.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on May 29, 2006 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

You either opposed the war or you didn't, Dustin.

"Okay, since we're going to do this bad stupid thing regardless, now I support it because something good might come out of it."

Posted by: Libby Sosume on May 29, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Dustin,

I have just reviewed some of the things I wrote in 2002 and early 2003, and the following fairly well captures my thoughts at the time:

Fundamentally, I thought the war would kill lots of people in Iraq and elsewhere, and in the end make the overall situation in the Middle East worse than it already was. When I debated pro-war people on the left, I realized I had a much more pessimistic attitude than they did about the nature of Iraqi and Middle East politics, even global politics, and about the forces restraining violence. I viewed the region as a tinder box, and a strategically vital one at that - and thought it was just insane to start lighting matches over there.

I continue to be focussed on that issue above all. I still see the situation in Iraq as containing a worrisome potential to spark a broader regional conflict which will ultimately draw in states from outside the region, and kill many millions. What is going to happen once several of those oil-rich states start fighting each other, while the many petroleum-hungry powers in the world jockey for an advantageous position in the final settlement, and become entangled in their many side-deals? Global war, most likely.

Something I was wrong about: I believed that the invasion would prompt a broad Kurdish uprising and prompt an overt Turkish intervention in Iraq. That may still happen, but I thought it would happen very quickly. Something I was right about: I thought Iraq would fragment along ethnic-sectarian lines. The US had spent more than a decade undermining the central government, encouraging resistance by the Kurds and Shiites, and limiting Baghdad's capacity to assert control over northern and southern Iraq beyond the no-fly zone boundares. It was natural to think that a collapse of the central government would send the country spinning apart.

I was also worried about the Afghanistanization of Iraq. I feared that plunging the country into war would lead to the same empowerment of Islamist radicals as had the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

I was also concerned about international law and global order. The decision about the war exemplified a conflict between two contasting principles of international order. (Of course there has been so much water under the bridge since then, many will now view this debate as quaint.) One rule of action is rooted in the UN Charter, and it's foundational principle of the sovereign equality of nations. What that means is that the only excuse for non-UN-authorized military intervention abroad is self-defense. It's a frustrating principle, because it requires treating despotic states like Iraq the same way one treats more enlightened states. But it is a principle that statesmen settled on after hard experience with the nightmare of war in the first half of 20th century. It used to be called "internationalism". I believed that preserving and strengthening this norm, imperfect though it was, helped to keep us all safer. I especially believed it was important for the most powerful states - like the US - to support the norm in word and action.

The competing norm might be put this way: "it is the right and duty of the good to intervene militarily in evil states, and fix them." I think this is an extremely dangerous norm for action, because so very many states believe they are good and that their rivals are evil.

So then, what about self-defense as a justification for intervention? I believed that there was no serious threat to the US from Iraq. I actually did believe that Iraq retained some small remainder of its WMD supplies from the early 90's - a belief which turned out to be mistaken. But my judgment about the nature of the Iraqi state, gained from reading the works of all the experts I could get my hands on, was that Iraq had no significant ties to Islamist terrorism, of the sort that threatened the US, and that its track record showed it had no disposition at all to attack the United States. I thought Saddam was a ruthless strongman whose primary motivation was hanging on to power, and passing that power on to his sons. I didn't think he was a dreamy ideological crackpot who would stupidly attack the US to precipitate the end of his own regime. CIA analysis that was released at the time suggested that the only event which would prompt Saddam to use WMDs against the US was a US attack on Iraq.

I thought that Saddam was quite safely penned in by no-fly zones, sanctions, economic weakness and diminished military capacity. I also believed the time was right for a deal that would bring an end to sanctions in exhange for a more sytematized and permanent UN inspection regime, and a more cooperative realtionship with Western countries. Would this have left the asshole in power? Yes. But Iraq wouldn't be falling apart at the seams. Unfortuantely, the US and its leadership class had invested so much face and prestige in its long effort to drive Saddam from power that they had backed themselves into a corner with regard to Iraq options.

Posted by: Dan Kervick on May 29, 2006 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for those really in depth thoughts, and I appreciate you reviewing some of your earlier writings to gather those thoughts. Our thought processes leading up to war were quite similiar, but you were much more pessimistic than I was post invasion. I too thought & think that something good might come out of it for the Kurds. In fact, I'm hoping that if a Democratic administration proceeds with partitioning the country along Shia, Sunni lines, a republic of Kurdistan might also be created.

"You either opposed the war or you didn't, Dustin."

That's probably what it comes down too.

"Okay, since we're going to do this bad stupid thing regardless, now I support it because something good might come out of it."

To be technical it wasn't a matter of "Since werre going anyway I'll support the war because something good might happen" I opposed the decision to go, but after the egg was hatched, and we controlled the country, I thought something good might come of it. Perhaps a distinction without a difference but I'm just trying to explain myself as clearly as possible.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on May 29, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Dustin:

In the past I have seen your argumentative style, and I have not always liked it.

As for the pretexts, I did not believe that Saddam was a threat to the US, I did not believe that he had anything to do with 9/11, I did not believe that he had or would soon get nuclear weapons, and I did not believe that chemical and biological weapons should count as WMD. As time went on, I also did not believe that Bush intended to bring democracy to the Middle East, or would be able to.

The specifics aren't the most important point. There was a terrible breakdown of the political process and also of the media, and the breakdown was the result of deliberate sabotage. The decision to go to war was a dishonest stampede with many collaborators, among them Beinart. The public was basically excluded from whatever the actual process of decision-making was, and was not even informed of the actual reasons for the war.

I suspect that some of the more militarist and imperialist warbloggers did correctly understand Bush's motives.

It's an enormous problem when political decisions of major significance are done on the basis of secret motives. Even the supporters who think they understand what's going on (nudge-nudge wink-wink) can be cheated in the end. It amounts to unconstrained, unchecked personal rule of exactly the type that the English tradition and the American constitutional tradition tried to prevent. And one consequence is that ordinary Americans who oppose the big plan on the basis of the weakness of its official justifications cannit be argued with, but only can be vilified and accused of treason.

Posted by: Humble blogger on May 29, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Nads & ChiSox Fan for an engaging back & forth.

I think ChiSox makes very good points. Like most of us here, I often lose my composure and go into full-bore abuse mode. McA, especially, brings that out in me.

But, things in general don't tend to improve unless people like us get out more and listen to people we disagree with. Try to hear them out and appreciate where they're coming from. For me, this is made easier through some Red-state cousins of mine. I'm genuinely interested in what makes them tick. And it is quite clear that they are good people and not idiots. (Cannot say the same about McA.)

The onus is--always--on us to practise tolerance.

Posted by: obscure on May 29, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

I live in West Los Angeles (if you're not familiar, one of the more liberal regions of Los Angeles). Most of my friends work at UCLA or are ultimate frisbee players. And even I know Bush voters here.

Your point?

I know there must be some. I have no idea where I would run into any in my normal social interactions, because my friends are either from the local Black community, which hates Bush 100%, or from an intellectual social stratum that hates stupid people like Bush. I have a friend who was at one time the chair of the county Republican party. Even HE hates Bush, although his reason is that Bush is not "conservative."

If I do meet people who voted for Bush, they no longer admit it, which makes discussion impossible.

Posted by: Repack Rider on May 29, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

"In the past I have seen your argumentative style, and I have not always liked it."

I won't argue with your characterization, but I had no idea I as just a commenter made sucha lasting impression. I post here pretty infrequently, perhaps you are referring to another blog I commented at?

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on May 29, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, probably TPM Cafe.

Posted by: Humble blogger on May 29, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Dustin:

I tend to be significantly more irrate with the media "liberals" who continue their pretense to inerrant wisdom and seriousnes, and remain dismissive of those to their left as unserious regarding nat'l security. THAT'S annoying.

Changing your position, or adapting it, in the setting of new data, isn't a failing, and I wouldn't criticize you for it.

Posted by: Nads on May 29, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: bh on May 29, 2006 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

That just proves you don't understand Bush's vision. Creating a "reverse dominoe" effect that spreads democracy throughout the region would completely obliterate the base for terrorism. As plans go, it's much better than the Democrat.... "Let's blame ISRAEL!!!!!!".
Posted by: American Hawk on May 28, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Please oh Please do go on. I would love to KNOW how you KNOW what Bush's VISION is. Ya know Poppy Bush was known as 'Visionless' & 'Wimp' didn't you? Stay the Course. Turning a Corner, Stay the Course, Turn a Corner.

You Call lying a country into War a Vision? First it was for 911. Then it was Humanitarian, then it was about terror, then democracy, then evil dictator, then the oil, then it was about secular violence. So Now we have a country out of control, people killing people just because their name is of a certain religious descent? Where do you get such Ideas American Chicken? Can you PROVE Georges Vision American ChickenHawk?

Posted by: Hamster Brain on May 30, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Dan Kervick, very nicely written.

Posted by: kreiz on May 30, 2006 at 7:15 AM | PERMALINK

I just came here from reading that interview of Beinart you alluded to. (behind a subscription wall, though) Fastinating stuff.

Posted by: Wes McGee on May 30, 2006 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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