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Tilting at Windmills

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January 15, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

GLOBETROTTING....The newspapers are just a great big bundle of foreign policy cheer today. First up, Iraq:

The Iraqi defense minister said Monday that his nation would not be able to take full responsibility for its internal security until 2012, nor be able on its own to defend Iraq's borders from external threat until at least 2018.

Oh, goody. Next, Afghanistan:

After more than six years of coalition warfare in Afghanistan, NATO is a bundle of frayed nerves and tension over nearly every aspect of the conflict, including troop levels and missions, reconstruction, anti-narcotics efforts, and even counterinsurgency strategy. Stress has grown along with casualties, domestic pressures and a sense that the war is not improving, according to a wide range of senior U.S. and NATO-member officials who agreed to discuss sensitive alliance issues on the condition of anonymity.

And finally, the world's most dangerous country:

Pakistan's premier military intelligence agency has lost control of some of the networks of Pakistani militants it has nurtured since the 1980s, and is now suffering the violent blowback of that policy, two former senior intelligence officials and other officials close to the agency say.

So how are things going in your neck of the woods these day?

Kevin Drum 1:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (108)

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Comments

Pretty Good

Posted by: Borons on January 15, 2008 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

but the surge worked! and freedom is back on the march! what could be more beautiful than the world bush and cheney have wrought?

Posted by: howard on January 15, 2008 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

If Congress EVER had a reason to defund the war, it's now. 2012? Are they out of their fu*king minds? I can't imagine Republicans backing these type of nonsense.

Posted by: Publicus on January 15, 2008 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

We're on the edge of our seats, just waiting for the next administration foreign policy initiative.

Posted by: DevilDog on January 15, 2008 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

I am so happy that I live in a peaceful and safe place like Oakland, California.

Posted by: adlsad on January 15, 2008 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

We've come a very short distance since 9/11/01. Maybe we've even walked backwards.

Posted by: AnotherBruce on January 15, 2008 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

I can't imagine Republicans backing these type of nonsense.

I can't imagine why you can't imagine this.

Posted by: AnotherBruce on January 15, 2008 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

That should be "this type of nonsense"

Posted by: Publicus on January 15, 2008 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Our good intentions have tried to use those whose intentions are only temporarily aligned with us. When they see an oppertunity to break with US plicies, they do. What's so hard about recognizing that fact.
Next up, the Sunnis who are now aligned with us in the Anbar Miracle will turn against our other Shi'a buddies in the Iraqi government.

Posted by: natural cynic on January 15, 2008 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

there will be no elections this year.

bush will crown himself. nancy pelosi and harry reid will manage the coronation.

c'est le temp pour la revolution, citoyens.

Posted by: albertchampion on January 15, 2008 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

Publicus: That should be "this type of nonsense"

The truth hurts, eh?

Posted by: DevilDog on January 15, 2008 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

Pakistan's premier military intelligence agency has lost control of some of the networks of Pakistani militants it has nurtured since the 1980s, and is now suffering the violent blowback of that policy

Gosh, you mean arming and supporting radicals because you and they temporarily have a common enemy has a downside? Well, I'm sure this is an isolated incident and that, in any case, the US would not be so short-sighted and foolish as to do anything similar.

Right?

Posted by: jonas on January 15, 2008 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

So how are things going in your neck of the woods these day?

Great! I live in Vietnam. Message: be the blowback, not the blown back upon.

Or, in the immortal words carved into 10,000 Vietnam vets' Zippo lighters: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the death, I shall fear no evil. For I am the meanest motherfucker in the valley."

Posted by: brooksfoe on January 15, 2008 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK

Here in the UK, we're continuing to lap up the sordid details of Princess Diana's love life. And you guys in America thought you'd been dredged through the dirt lately!

Posted by: KathyF on January 15, 2008 at 4:03 AM | PERMALINK

"So how are things going in your neck of the woods these day?"

I was just in India, so Pakistan was in my neck of the woods. So, not so good. But it's much better here in Bangkok. Fortunately, we've ignored that neck of the woods for a while now. So they are doing quite well in Thailand. Yeah, there's political uncertainty, but that's normal for them.

Posted by: fostert on January 15, 2008 at 4:04 AM | PERMALINK

So how are things going in your neck of the woods these day?

Pretty good, thanks. Economy still being pulled along by China and it's been cold the last couple of weeks so that's calmed my fears of global warming (I was really starting to worry about things round about last August).

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 15, 2008 at 4:23 AM | PERMALINK

When you completely misread the culture you wish to "help" by taking away its natural resources through proxy, then you better be prepared to stick around for the pay-off, I guess.

Posted by: SteinL on January 15, 2008 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "So how are things going in your neck of the woods these day?"

It's been all quiet on the western front, out here in Honolulu. We're just waiting to see if we'll be impressed if and when Kim Jong-Il & Co. whip out their big Taepodongs.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 15, 2008 at 5:20 AM | PERMALINK

adlsad: "I am so happy that I live in a peaceful and safe place like Oakland, California."

Actually, I'd really like to know if there's any "there" there yet.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 15, 2008 at 5:26 AM | PERMALINK

Worst. President. Ever.

Worst. Secretary. of. State. Ever.

Period. Full stop.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 15, 2008 at 5:55 AM | PERMALINK

Wishing our conservative Prime Minister was as incompetent as your president. At least, for election purposes.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on January 15, 2008 at 6:40 AM | PERMALINK

Absolutely hunky dory, considering I live near Washington, DC.

Posted by: pol on January 15, 2008 at 6:50 AM | PERMALINK

"Wishing our conservative Prime Minister was as incompetent as your president. At least, for election purposes."

Yes, because Canadians don't go into denial when they see a politician fizzle and burn.

Posted by: Kenji on January 15, 2008 at 7:30 AM | PERMALINK

Reagan is the primary cause of the muslim revolt when he injected USA power into the Middle East to defeat an aging, lost Soviet system.

We will be paying for Reagan's mistakes in housing bubble, banking crisis, recessions, overblown government and a mismanaged security system around the world.

Big Government Communist Reagan, the source of most of our problems.

Posted by: Matt on January 15, 2008 at 7:46 AM | PERMALINK

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
and the women come out to cut up what remains,
jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
and go to your gawd like a soldier.

Posted by: anandine on January 15, 2008 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe, bus dits.

Posted by: majarosh on January 15, 2008 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Still cherry-picking your news, I see.

Iraq is starting to move toward political reconciliation. It is now sharing oil revenues among the ethnicities. The awakening councils are being incorporated into the police forces.

Bush is in the Middle East promoting his ideas on democracy, to warm reviews. It's likely there will finally - FINALLY - be an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement by the end of the year, further marginalizing Hamas.

Pakistan, in fact, is in trouble. Yet it's hard to see how Bush is to blame, or what he could really do. In fact, it's not really our business to get into Pervez's nikkers.

Posted by: egbert on January 15, 2008 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Here in Australia, the big spat between the national cricket team and India's cricket team appears to be resolved.

And that's it. There is no more news from down under. I love this place. I may well sit out the next GOP-HRC administration down here now that they've gotten rid of John Howard as PM.

Posted by: sweaty guy on January 15, 2008 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

I lost my ATM card last night. I wonder if the country still has it's card?

Posted by: hollywood on January 15, 2008 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

During this administration the dollar has depreciated by over 50% versus the Euro, and by almost the same amount against other currencies (Tanzanian Shilling for example). Our political standing in the world, i.e. our ability to influence others, has similarly declined.

The Soviet Union died of exhaustion in part from their ten year involvement in Afghanistan. How much longer can we continue these wars and maintain our delusion of greatness?

Posted by: Cycledoc on January 15, 2008 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

government never ceases to disappoint me. When I wake up and need a laugh I can always count on CNN. Since I can remember (I'm still young) we've always had some sort of war. This is not something I want my children saying in their thirties because "NO" can't be enforced to the president. I mean com'on 2018?

Posted by: Stephanie on January 15, 2008 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

So how are things going in your neck of the woods these day?

In south China... inflation, especially of food staples such as pork and cooking oil, is punishing all but the most well-off families. Fuel, despite being heavily subsidized, is also soaring in price. The government has imposed price controls, so that problem is taken care of (sarcasm).

Corruption continues to infect every aspect of government, with most Chinese considering the way to get ahead is having the right relationship and paying off the right person. Pollution continues to get worse, if that's possible. Unemployment of university graduates stands at over 20% and continues to rise as more enter the workforce each year. All this against a rich-poor gap that would make pre-Czarist Russian seem egalitarian. Oh, and the government cut the naughty bits out of the official release of Lust, Caution, so of course any self-respecting middle-class person rushed out indigently and bought illegal copies of the Hong Kong version, which is not at all hard to get.

All that said, it's hard not to be optimistic. First of all, personal freedom for ordinary Chinese--officially santioned or not--is at an all-time high. Most people enjoy that. And regarding the government, the thing is that for all the flak it legitimately receives, the Chinese government actually recognizes exist, are quite serious, and has made dealing with them its top priorities. Lacking popular legitimacy and having discarded its basis in class struggle, the Chinese government in effect claims legitimacy on the basis of its reasonably successful management.

Thanks for asking.

Posted by: m on January 15, 2008 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Providing its own security" is a medium-term goal in the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. Long term, "Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure."

Posted by: croatoan on January 15, 2008 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

The world has gone to hell.

Jonah Lucianne starts his column today by stating that he thinks that the Clintons are right.

Next up: Rush Limbaugh singing the praises of Dennis Kucinich.

Posted by: gregor on January 15, 2008 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Profits versus prophets.

We are in an era when profits trump all else. So what if the US dollar is weakening? So what if our adventures in Iraqistan have no end?

Profits still can be had. Screw the prophets.

Globalization does not strengthen nations,only corporations.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 15, 2008 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

I don't see Abdul Qadir's comments as particularly bad news. Many of those commenting here believe that Iraq is hopeless -- that it will inevitably fall into sectarian violence and chaos. By comparison, Abdul Qadir evidently believes the current democratic government can stand and survive, but will need some help from Coalition forces for another 10 years.

By comparison, after WW2 there were US forces in Europe to defend its borders from external threat (from the USSR) for over 50 years. There were US forces in Japan to help maintain its internal security for over 50 years.

What I hope to see is a formal agreement between the US and the government of Iraq providing for US forces to remain there. Not only will this help Iraq, it will also mean that we have forces present in a key part of the world. Negotiations on such an agreement are scheduled to be conducted next summer.
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/22143.html

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 15, 2008 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

What I hope is to see a formal agreement for US troops to occupy every country on the planet so as to guarantee stability and the free flow of oil and consumer goods into the US. After that, I'd like to see us put nuclear weapons on the moon and launch a full-scale invasion of the rest of the solar system.

Posted by: ex-librul on January 15, 2008 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal,

That rainbow you are chasing is an optical illusion caused by the reflection and refraction of light. It will always appear before you or vanish. You can never reach it.

Posted by: Tripp on January 15, 2008 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Foreign policy? This is what happens when you have no foreign policy.

Posted by: Ya Know.... on January 15, 2008 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is in the Middle East promoting his ideas on democracy, to warm reviews. ~~Egbert~~
You talking about that 20bn armas package for Saudi?

It's likely there will finally - FINALLY - be an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement by the end of the year...~~Egbert~~

You falling for that canard, again? BTW

Posted by: Ya Know.... on January 15, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

I don't see Abdul Qadir's comments as particularly bad news.

Of course not -- they contradict the "surge is a success!" bullshit you were pushing the other day. But then, you're a dishonest neocon tool, "ex-liberal."

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

That rainbow you are chasing is an optical illusion caused by the reflection and refraction of light. It will always appear before you or vanish. You can never reach it.
Posted by: Tripp

Thats not really true. grab a water hose with a sprayer, set it to mist. Stand with the sun to your back, spray a mist around you. The mini-rainbow you will start at one foot and end on the other.

Posted by: Ya Know.... on January 15, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory, there's no contradiction. News that would contradict the "surge is a success" might have been
-- attacks by Sunni militias against Shia civilians, or vice versa
-- al Qaeda in Iraq gaining territory (In fact, the reverse is occurring.)
-- Jump in Coalition casualties (rather than the dramatic drop that has occurred.)
-- Bomb attack inside the Green Zone (as occurred some time ago)
-- Increase in weapons and forces from Iran into Iraq (instead of the decrease that has taken place.)

Considering all the bad things that could have happened and didn't, it seems like a stretch to despair over a projection by an Iraqi politician.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 15, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" argues, as always, in bad faith. But quickly:

Gregory, there's no contradiction.

From your perspective, but again, you're a dishonest neocon tool. As you said, you welcome a continued US presence in Iraq; the purpose of the "surge," therefore, was to provide political cover for punting Bush's disaster of a war into the lap of the next Administration.

But from the point of view of securing Iraq, the minister's claim that Iraq won't be able to defend itself for decades means that the current program to train Iraqis to manage their own security -- also known as "arming all sides in a civil war" and "surrendering to the Sunni insurgency" -- are failures.

News that would contradict the "surge is a success" might have been

No, no, "ex-liberal," you can't have it both ways. If you're going to make a career of arguing in bad faith, you don't get to define terms.

attacks by Sunni militias against Shia civilians, or vice versa

Which have, of course, been occurring; the so-called "surge" hasn't eliminated violence, merely reduced it to the already-unacceptable levels of 2006.

it seems like a stretch to despair over a projection by an Iraqi politician.

Ah, bonus bad faith points for your use of the word "despair," "ex-liberal." Your snide attempts to insult the thread behind a facade of superficial faux-politeness aren't lost on the readers -- which gives you a sick thrill, of course -- even if Kevin's moderator(s) tolerate your pissing on the floor.

But again, "ex-liberal," you openly admit that you welcome a continued American presence. The majority of loyal Americans disagree. They want out of this quagmire, and the bogus citations of "prograss" by dishonest tools like you and Petraeus were designed, as you know, since the actual benchmarks were failures, to bamboozle the American public into seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

So, no, "ex-liberal," the minister's comments flatly contradict the "surge is a success" bullshit you were pushing -- unconvincingly, i might add -- in the other thread. You were debunked there, you're debunked here, and yet you continue to insult everyone by posting your neocon talking points.

There's no despair, "ex-liberal," just further confirmation that Bush and the neocons are acting against the interest and wishes of the American people. Your phony happy talk and eventual Dolchstosslegende don't fool anyone.

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

The next six months will be crucial.

Posted by: AJ on January 15, 2008 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on January 15, 2008 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

But again, "ex-liberal," you openly admit that you welcome a continued American presence. The majority of loyal Americans disagree.
Posted by: Gregory

Everyone agrees that if Iraq stays like it is, no one wants to be there. I find it hard to believe that if Iraq can stay on an upward trend, if we can get a breakthrough in the politics, if our presence in Iraq moves from occupation to basing agreements, that people would still be wanting to get out. No way will we be occupying Iraq until 2018. Yes way would be be there at Iraq's invitation under a joint security agreement. Or do you want them to pull close to the Russians or Chinese instead?

Posted by: SJRSM on January 15, 2008 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Your sentiments are noble, but here is your false premise: "if we can get a breakthrough in the politics" We can't and they won't.

Posted by: hollywood on January 15, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone agrees that if Iraq stays like it is, no one wants to be there.

Including the millions of Iraqi refugees that are part of the costs of Bush's criminality -- which criminality you and "ex-liberal" support, Mike.

I find it hard to believe that if Iraq can stay on an upward trend, if we can get a breakthrough in the politics, if our presence in Iraq moves from occupation to basing agreements, that people would still be wanting to get out.

You forgot "and if monkeys fly out of my butt."

No way will we be occupying Iraq until 2018. Yes way would be be there at Iraq's invitation under a joint security agreement.

There's a difference? As you indicate in your previous sentence, we're occupying Iraq now, bullshit claims of "sovereignty" and "joint agreements" aside, and the minister just admitted that Iraq can't handle its security for a decade, so our continued presence in Iraq is inherently an occupation.

Or do you want them to pull close to the Russians or Chinese instead?

Are you suggesting the Russians or Chinese are stupid enough to squander their citizens' lives and treasure in Iraq the way Bush has?

Talk about despair -- Mike basically hangs his hat on the minister being wrong and a pony materializing in Iraq. Which is fine, but a piss-poor justification for demanding other people sacrifice their lives and treasure on the altar of Republican political ambition.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Ya Know,

Thats not really true.

Sigh. Do that trick with a hose and the rainbow you see will be in front and below you if you keep the sun to your back. How far in front and below depends on the angle of the sunlight. It will be a circle if you actually create the entire thing. Step forward with the hose and the rainbow will move. Step forward without the hose and the rainbow will vanish.

Sheesh. Physics are your friend!

The rainbow either moves or vanishes.

Posted by: Tripp on January 15, 2008 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals are amazing people- they look at the dysfunctional islamic world and its myriad problems- poverty, ignorance, mistreatment of women, its centuries-old sense of being victimized by the west and somehow conclude that this is all the fault of the United States of America. - mhr

It's not our fault they're poor. Therefore, we must wage war upon them.

???

Posted by: brooksfoe on January 15, 2008 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "The newspapers are just a great big bundle of foreign policy cheer today"

The foreign policy news is indeed cheerful, compared to this:

Escalating Ice Loss Found in Antarctica
By Marc Kaufman
The Washington Post
Monday 14 January 2008

Climatic changes appear to be destabilizing vast ice sheets of western Antarctica that had previously seemed relatively protected from global warming, researchers reported yesterday, raising the prospect of faster sea-level rise than current estimates.

While the overall loss is a tiny fraction of the miles-deep ice that covers much of Antarctica, scientists said the new finding is important because the continent holds about 90 percent of Earth's ice, and until now, large-scale ice loss there had been limited to the peninsula that juts out toward the tip of South America. In addition, researchers found that the rate of ice loss in the affected areas has accelerated over the past 10 years - as it has on most glaciers and ice sheets around the world.

[...]

Rignot said the tonnage of yearly ice loss in Antarctica is approaching that of Greenland, where ice sheets are known to be melting rapidly in some parts and where ancient glaciers have been in retreat. He said the change in Antarctica could become considerably more dramatic because the continent's western shelf, an expanse of ice and snow roughly the size of Texas, is largely below sea level and has broad and flat expanses of ice that could move quickly. Much of Greenland's ice flows through relatively narrow valleys in mountainous terrain, which slows its motion.

The new finding comes days after the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the group's next report should look at the "frightening" possibility that ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica could melt rapidly at the same time.

"Both Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheet are huge bodies of ice and snow, which are sitting on land," said Rajendra Pachauri, chief of the IPCC, the United Nations' scientific advisory group. "If, through a process of melting, they collapse and are submerged in the sea, then we really are talking about sea-level rises of several meters." (A meter is about a yard.) Last year, the IPCC tentatively estimated that sea levels would rise by eight inches to two feet by the end of the century, assuming no melting in West Antarctica.

[...]

The new findings come as the Arctic is losing ice at a dramatic rate and glaciers are in retreat across the planet. At a recent annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, Ohio State University professor Lonnie Thompson delivered a keynote lecture that described a significant speed-up in the melting of high-altitude glaciers in tropical regions, including Peru, Tibet and Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya.

The unexpectedly rapid melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice portends catastrophic sea level rise which will render densely populated coastal areas (including many major cities in the USA) uninhabitable within this century, while the loss of "high-altitude glaciers in tropical regions" portends the loss of fresh water supplies for hundreds of millions of people.

Now, back to the wars over who will profit from extraction of the world's remaining fossil fuel supplies, the burning of which will ensure the end of human civilization within a century.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 15, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK
How much longer can we continue these wars and maintain our delusion of greatness?

What's this "our" shit, kemosabe?
Speaking for myself, I'm not under many delusions, those of coital competence notwithstanding.

Posted by: kenga on January 15, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

mhr - no one is saying the US is to blame for all of the Islamic world's problems, merely that the US cannot remake the Islamic world in our image, either with bombs or bribery.

This silly idea that the rest of the world needs to be like us, think like us, and live like us, or else we'll bomb you out of existence, is a large part of the reason why the US is hated so much.

Posted by: SPR on January 15, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

I find it hard to believe that if Iraq can stay on an upward trend, if we can get a breakthrough in the politics, if our presence in Iraq moves from occupation to basing agreements, that people would still be wanting to get out.

As Reese Witherspoon said in "Walk the Line," there's too many "ifs" in that sentence....

But taking the argument on its face, "if" all those things went well, then why wouldn't we want to get out? Otherwise this seems to be an answer in search of a rationale:

Things are terrible in Iraq! Why that means we should stay.

Things are great in Iraq! Why, that means we should stay.

If we shouldn't leave Iraq if things are bad, and we shouldn't leave Iraq if things are good, then under what conditions should we ever leave Iraq?

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

If we shouldn't leave Iraq if things are bad, and we shouldn't leave Iraq if things are good, then under what conditions should we ever leave Iraq?

Strive always for mediocrity, my son.

Posted by: thersites on January 15, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Strive always for mediocrity, my son.

2. Get wingnut welfare book contract
3. PROFIT!!!

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

NATO? What's Nato? Never 'eard of it.

Posted by: Mike on January 15, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

I feel the need to thank ex-liberal for his polite tone in contrast to some crude remarks being thrown his way. God bless the Internet for allowing us all the opportunity to act like an ass.

Posted by: Sojourner on January 15, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal, you showed your warmongering chickenshit face, so I must ask, once more...

How many deferments did you ask for and receive during the Vietnam war?

You remember Vietnam? The war you hid out at Berkley to avoid fighting in?

A chickenshit then and a chickenhawk now. It's easy to be pro-war when one has nothing to lose.

Posted by: Isle of Lucy on January 15, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK
….Considering all the bad things that could have happened and didn't…. ex-laxat 10:46 AM
What bad things didn't happen, Dave?: did oil production go up? Did electrical output rise? Is there more safe water and sewage? Are there fewer refugees? Are there more children in school? Is there more comity? Is infrastructure being built? Are the dead being resurrected? Are the children of refugees not having to prostitute themselves to feed their families? Every day, in every way; Bush is causing more human suffering and misery than Saddam. I see you're still making moronic WWII comparisons. Were US troops being killed on a daily basis then? Since they were not, there is no comparison.
Liberals are amazing people…. meatheadrepublican at 11:26 AM
Moonbats are amazing people. They look upon the world and think; There, with a few megatons of good ol' American bombs, will be a new America. Thanks to Bush's trip, we see that not only is China, but also the Middle East is essential to support the American economy. The shame, the horror! What are the options for the devout neo-con?
….do you want them to pull close to the Russians or Chinese instead? SJRSM at 11:48 AM
That's right, free choice isn't allowed for puppet states Posted by: Mike on January 15, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Pardon my ignorance but am I the only one who is wondering how Antarctica, encircling the South Pole, can have a Western side?

Posted by: Tripp on January 15, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

I feel the need to thank ex-liberal for his polite tone

You must be new here. "ex-liberal" utterly merits the "crude remarks being thrown his way" by shamelessly arguing in bad faith -- hardly "polite" behavior, regardless of the "tone" of his comments.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

I feel the need to thank ex-liberal for his polite tone in contrast to some crude remarks being thrown his way. God bless the Internet for allowing us all the opportunity to act like an ass.

Oh, please. That faux-polite tone is an act, specifically designed to be smarmy and therefore irritating. It's the politeness of a Uriah Heep or an Eddie Haskell. In fact, it's calculated to add an extra level of insult, rather like a high school mean girl who's calling you names with a sweet smile on her face.

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Pardon my ignorance but am I the only one who is wondering how Antarctica, encircling the South Pole, can have a Western side?

The side that's in the Western Hemisphere.

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

[Trolling deleted]

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 15, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

How about those deferments, ex-liberal?

Why won't you answer the question?

Are you embarrassed by it now that your time of peril is past?

Posted by: Isle of Lucy on January 15, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

But taking the argument on its face, "if" all those things went well, then why wouldn't we want to get out? Otherwise this seems to be an answer in search of a rationale:

If (yep, big @#$-ing "if") Iraq became stable, we would want to stay there because it is in one of the most strategic sites imaginable, geo-politically speaking. All the reasons that we are in Bahrain and were in Saudi Arabia would apply.

If they want us to leave, we go.

Posted by: SJRSM on January 15, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

So you subscribe to the theory that the truth and logic of a statement depends on who says it?

Of course it can. It doesn't when what is being said is a simple statement of fact, as in your "2+2" example. But it does when what is being said is a statement of that individual person's beliefs and opinions. If, for example, Adolf Hitler had said "I believe in freedom and equality for the Jewish people" he'd actually be lying, wouldn't he, whereas when Theodore Herzl said it it was a true statement.

Similarly, when the person speaking is a notorious and professional liar, with a well-documented history of repeating the most blatant falsehoods that he himself knows have already been disproven multiple times, then yes, you have to consider the source.

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Wow...judging by his 2:22, "ex-liberal"'s really becoming unhinged. It must be tough, seeing his neocon philosophy being consigned to history's ashheap along with the failure that is the Bush Presidency.

I'll simply note that "ex-liberal," of course, provided no citations for his assertions. And, of course, "ex-liberal," who takes a positive glee in posting in bad faith -- as Stefan correctly notes, merely to insult the forums -- knows perfectly well that his assertions, in particular the delusional rant of 2:22, aren't worth a bucket of piss. We've sure come a long way from "the surge is a success" in one short dayt, haven't we?

The US so far hasn't managed to ameliorate the chaos, destruction and death caused by Bush's criminal invasion, "ex-liberal." I don't know why the failure and shame of the neocons cause you to enact your psychodrama here ("there are fewer refugees now than under Saddam," indeed!), but rest assured that you fool no one, except perhaps Sojourner and Kevin's moderator(s), who give your insulting bullshit a free pass. Why they tolerate you pissing on the floor in here is beyond me.

Red State Mike wrote:

If (yep, big @#$-ing "if") Iraq became stable, we would want to stay there because it is in one of the most strategic sites imaginable, geo-politically speaking.

So you're saying those who said this was a war for oil are basically correct? Why do you hate America?

If they want us to leave, we go.

I'd say the insurgency has been a not-so-subtle hint that they don't, in fact, want us there. Imagine! Not wanting one's country to be occupied -- and incompetently at that! -- by a foreign power.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

If (yep, big @#$-ing "if") Iraq became stable, we would want to stay there because it is in one of the most strategic sites imaginable, geo-politically speaking. All the reasons that we are in Bahrain and were in Saudi Arabia would apply.

But again, if it was stable why would we need to stay in Iraq specifically? We already have forces in the region in Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar, plus carrier groups in the Gulf. That's plenty for force projection. So why do we need to be in Iraq? Moreover, in Iraq we'll always be subject to daily attacks by rebels, which is not the case in the other Gulf States. So why not just withdraw from Iraq, where we are being attacked, and keep forces where we're not?

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Similarly, when the person speaking is a notorious and professional liar, with a well-documented history of repeating the most blatant falsehoods that he himself knows have already been disproven multiple times, then yes, you have to consider the source.

Along similar lines, it's worth noting that the term "ad hominem" is widely misapplied. It refers to the logical fallacy of an irrelevant personal attack.

If I note that "ex-liberal" is a lying neocon tool with a long history of bad-faith posting and shifting positions based on the neocon talking points of the day, and so we shouldn't credit his opinion about, say, industrial design, that's an ad hominem attack.

When I note that "ex-liberal" is a lying neocon tool with a long history of bad-faith posting and shifting positions based on the neocon talking points of the day, it's entirely relevant to evaluating his bad-faith bullshit talking points -- er, opinion -- on Iraq, Iran or whatever other war he wants the US to expend its blood and treasure -- not his, mind you! -- on behalf of the security interests of the State of Israel.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

[Trolling deleted]

Props to the moderators. Unless that was a handle hijack? As I noted, the 2:22 didn't seem entirely like "ex-liberal"'s usual unflappable style.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory, you can find some statistics at http://www.brookings.edu/fp/saban/iraq/index.pdf

Others come from various reports by our military and by embedded reporters in Iraq.

Virtually all economic indicators are improving. Some have not yet reached pre-war levels; others, such as electricity and oil exports, have surpassed pre-war levels.

One especial improvement is that Iraq now has 436 independent media outlets: TV and radio stations, newspapers, and magazines. The pre-war figure was zero.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 15, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Virtually all economic indicators are improving. Some have not yet reached pre-war levels; others, such as electricity and oil exports, have surpassed pre-war levels.

it only took a couple million dead and wounded and over four million displaced from their homes to create this economic wonderland.

oh yeah, and the creation of a homegrown terrorist group and the splintering of the country into warring sectarian groups with a powerless goernmnet that can't pass legislation.

god bless america.

Posted by: st on January 15, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

you can find some statistics at http://www.brookings.edu/fp/saban/iraq/index.pdf

I'm sure I can. Do any support your assertions? If so, cite them. Yes, yes, I know -- you're just offering another insult by insisting your betters do your research for you -- not to mention your habit of not creating a clickable link, which you've shown you know how to do.

Speaking of insultingly bad faith, I'm sure it must have given you a special sick thrill to cite "reports by our military and by embedded reporters in Iraq." Do you have any sources with credibility?

As for your other assertions, again, your word isn't worth a bucket of piss. And even if there are more "independent media outlets" -- a debate I'm not sure you want to start, given how deadly an environment Iraq is for journalists -- so what? It's too late to be pointing to some bogus indications of "progress."

But again, we've sure come a long way from your "the surge was a success" bullshit from yesterday. Orwell had your number, pal, and so do we.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

But again, if it was stable why would we need to stay in Iraq specifically?
Posted by Stefan

We wouldn't need to. I am saying we would want to. They'd be a trading partner and a partner with mutually shared security interests. It puts us in position to keep an eye on Syria and Iran. Etc. But hey, if President Clinton or the Iraqis think we should leave, we leave, militarily. But if things calm down, we'll have plenty of businesses there building relationships. It can all go either way.

Was a post of mine deleted? Could have swore I had an extra one up.

Posted by: SJRSM on January 15, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

I am saying we would want to.

We know you want to. You're doing a piss-poor job of convincing us, against all evidence, that we want to.

Interesting to see that you essentially agree with the "blood-for-oil" crowd, though.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting to see that you essentially agree with the "blood-for-oil" crowd, though.
Posted by: Gregory

The best way to have gotten Saddam's oil would have been to just leave him in place and buy it. Blood for Oil is a liberal myth, but that does not mean oil wasn't a critical factor.

Posted by: SJRSM on January 15, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Blood for Oil is a liberal myth, but that does not mean oil wasn't a critical factor.

That glaring contradiction deserves another mention. Bravo, Mike.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

It puts us in position to keep an eye on Syria and Iran.

Puts us in a position? We're already in such a position, and have been for years, with our multiple bases and listening posts in Uzbekistan, Kazahstan, Afghanistan, Qatar, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, etc. We've already practically encircled Syria and Iran. What on earth are we getting by being in Iraq that we weren't getting with all those other bases?

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

We're already in such a position, and have been for years, with our multiple bases and listening posts in Uzbekistan, Kazahstan, Afghanistan, Qatar, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, etc.

...Naval presence in the Persian Gulf, satellites...

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

SJRSM wrote: "The best way to have gotten Saddam's oil would have been to just leave him in place and buy it. Blood for Oil is a liberal myth ..."

Wrong. The Cheney/Bush administration's war of unprovoked aggression against Iraq wasn't about who could buy the oil. It was about who would reap the profits from selling the oil.

Under the US-written Iraq Hydrocarbon Law, passage of which is the primary "benchmark" that both the administration and the US Congress insist that the Iraqi government must meet, the vast majority of those profits will go to Cheney/Bush cronies and financial backers in the US-based multinational oil corporations.

The idea that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was about anything other than seizing control of Iraq's oil (and positioning the US for military control of the rest of the Middle East's oil reserves going forward) is the myth.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 15, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

It seems that I am playing devil's advocate today.

it only took a couple million dead and wounded and over four million displaced from their homes to create this economic wonderland.

oh yeah, and the creation of a homegrown terrorist group and the splintering of the country into warring sectarian groups with a powerless goernmnet that can't pass legislation.

Isn't whether the war was wrong to start with, and the results horrible, a separate matter then what should be done now and whether the surge is working? Unless you're saying those conditions are a result of surge, it doesn't really make an argument that the surge is or isn't working.

To be clear, I am against the war and the surge, but decrying the horrors of war does not add to the discourse about what to do in Iraq now.

Posted by: Sojourner on January 15, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure I can. Do any support your assertions? If so, cite them. Yes, yes, I know -- you're just offering another insult by insisting your betters do your research for you -- not to mention your habit of not creating a clickable link, which you've shown you know how to do.

You could've just asked him to specifically cite his sources. Searching for a veiled insult, and insulting him for not adding HTML, is not petty.

Speaking of insultingly bad faith, I'm sure it must have given you a special sick thrill to cite "reports by our military and by embedded reporters in Iraq." Do you have any sources with credibility?

You're putting words in the mouth of someone you only know through a pseudonym on the Internet. Perhaps he is some insane deviant that gains a "sick thrill" from his postings. Or maybe he has more trust in these reports. Why not counter with some reports of bias and propaganda from reporters embedded in the military? Either way, is there anything out of Iraq that can be trusted?

As for your other assertions, again, your word isn't worth a bucket of piss. And even if there are more "independent media outlets" -- a debate I'm not sure you want to start, given how deadly an environment Iraq is for journalists -- so what? It's too late to be pointing to some bogus indications of "progress."

But again, we've sure come a long way from your "the surge was a success" bullshit from yesterday. Orwell had your number, pal, and so do we.

Why is his opinion so worthless? Because he disagrees with you? As someone who hasn't developed the disgust for ex-liberal that you have, ranting and dismissing him with such venom makes the liberals here look like insane, and that's frankly something I'd prefer to leave to the neocons. Whether ex-liberal deserves it or not, civility makes the rest of us better for it.

Posted by: Sojourner on January 15, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't whether the war was wrong to start with, and the results horrible, a separate matter then what should be done now and whether the surge is working?

No.

Or, in more detail, since the same people who started the war are still the ones in control now and for the next year, then the question of what should be done now and whether the splurge is working cannnot be a separate matter.

As I said in a post yesterday, it's like saying "isn't the question of how the drunk driver crashed the car into the ditch a separate matter from how he should get out of the ditch and continue his drive home now?" As long as he's the same drunk, why should we trust him to do a good job now? Why should we discount the fact that he got horribly drunk and behind the wheel in the first place?

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Why is his opinion so worthless? Because he disagrees with you?

Simply put, because not only is he a serial propagandist on this site, cheerleading the worst atrocities in the name of partisan gain, but more importantly because he has a long record of flat out lying and misstating here.

Shall I begin posting a list of the outright lies and distortions? I'd be happy to.

Posted by: trex on January 15, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't whether the war was wrong to start with, and the results horrible, a separate matter then what should be done now and whether the surge is working?

Not when those who claim the surge is working are, by and large, the same ones who were wrong about starting the war and wring about downplaying the horrible results so far, and employing equally dishonest tactics -- see "ex-liberal"'s too-little, too-late claims of "progress" when the actual goals of the surge have not been met -- to claim the surge is working.

Unless you're saying those conditions are a result of surge, it doesn't really make an argument that the surge is or isn't working.

But pointing out that the surge

* isn't helping -- in the case of the millions of Iraqi refugees, for just one example

* isn't responsible for what progress there is -- in the case of the so-called "Anbar Awakening," which predated the surge

* isn't able to sustain whatever progress there may be -- in the case of the inevitable drawdown of the surge, happening even now, juxtaposed with the minister's prediction that Iraq won't be able to manage its own security for a decade

* is likely to result in unfavorable unintended consequences -- in the case of our surrendering to the Sunni insurgency, paying them off and arming them

* isn't achieving the so-called "progress" it's touted to -- in the case of the violence being reduced to 2006 levels, which were themselves unacceptable

* and, once again, *isn't achieving the goals it was stated to have when it started*

* is, to all appearances, merely a stunt designed to give political cover to the failures of this Administration's policy and underpinnings to the coming Dolchstosslegende

* not to mention the shortchanging of America's faltering war effort in Afghanistan, not to mention our general unpreparedness for another crisis should one arise

...all at a tremendous cost in American lives and treasure, is an argument that the surge isn't working.

Or, more succinctly, the minister's statement alone, that Iraq won't be able to handle its own security for a decade, is a sign that thee surge isn't working. And, coincidentally enough, these arguments have been made on this thread.


decrying the horrors of war does not add to the discourse about what to do in Iraq now

Sure it does. Bush invaded a sovereign nation under false pretenses and have botched the occupation, causing untold death and destruction at a tremendous cost of lives and treasure. The so-called "surge" has failed to achieve its goals, but has resulted in many more American deaths. The horrors of our involvement in this war are definitely germane to the argument to get out -- not that the horrors, rather than the failure of Bush's policies, is the main thrust of the arguments here anyway.

For someone who claims to be "against the war and the surge," you seem remarkably more sympathetic to "ex-liberal"'s neocon bullshit than to the actual arguments against the war and the surge being presented in this thread. Are you playing devil's advocate, or concern troll?

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Whether ex-liberal deserves it or not, civility makes the rest of us better for it.
Posted by: Sojourner

Good intentions, but you're wasting your time. I'm sure Gregory will be slinging mud at you shortly for not bowing to his god.

Posted by: SJRSM on January 15, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

As for your 4:55, Sojourner, your comments one and all presume we aren't tiresomely familiar with "ex-liberal" and his dishonest neocon shilling.

Here's a hint, Sojourner -- we point out why "ex-liberal"'s comments are worthless in this very thread, not to mention the others he's posted on. For just one example, I did ask him to produce cites that support his assertions, and he manifestly failed to do so, except to wave vaguely at some sources he claimed would. That dog won't hunt.

Unlike some who continue to carry water for this disgraceful Administration, I do "ex-liberal" the credit of acknowledging his intelligence. He isn't stupid. He knows exactly what the rules of good faith debate are, and manifestly and repeatedly refuses to abide by them.

If you aren't familiar with "ex-liberal"'s record of insulting bad faith, and are, as you claim, against the war and the surge, why do your comments sympathize more with this dishonest neocon tool?

And if you are familiar with "ex-liberal"'s legacy of lies and repetitive talking points, why haven't you developed disgust for him?

I've been trying to give you the benefit of the doubt and presume you're new here, but your sympathy with "ex-liberal"'s arguments, rather than the criticism of them, and your hackneyed calls for "civility" mark you more and more as a concern troll.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Good intentions, but you're wasting your time.

Mike, I make perfectly clear why "ex-liberal" doesn't deserve civility, and others have pointed out the foolishness of citing his "tone" in the face of his continued arguing in bad faith.

"Civility" concern trolling is a bullshit effort to give Republican lies an equal footing with truth. That dog won't hunt. It was over back in 2006.

But if you think that "ex-liberal"'s discourtesy merits "civility" in return, go ahead and make the case. You're doing so well making your case elsewhere in this thread, after all.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Whether ex-liberal deserves it or not, civility makes the rest of us better for it.

Oh, fuck off, Mary. When the conservatives are on top, then it's all fists and boots with them. As soon as their victims start hitting back, they whimper "m-m-m-meanie! It's no fair! Why can't you play nice!" Fuck that -- I'm not going to be civil to pervert psychopaths.

Posted by: Stefan on January 15, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

As long as he's the same drunk, why should we trust him to do a good job now? Why should we discount the fact that he got horribly drunk and behind the wheel in the first place?

And not just the same drunk, but the same drunk who's still not sobered up from the crash he caused to begin with.

Posted by: shortstop on January 15, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Sojourner now gets pie.

That didn't take long.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 15, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

No...since the same people who started the war are still the ones in control now and for the next year, then the question of what should be done now and whether the splurge is working cannnot be a separate matter.
Posted by: Stefan

First, we're not getting out prior to the elections so that's just a waste of typing. Second, soon enough it'll be November and candidates will have to come up with something better than, "Bush is President and he got us here so we have to get out since he can't be trusted to finish the job." He'll only have a few months at that point. He essentially has under a year now.

Posted by: SJRSM on January 15, 2008 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

And not just the same drunk, but the same drunk who's still not sobered up from the crash he caused to begin with.

And not just the same, still-not-sober drunk, but the one who keeps muttering darkly about how -- despite the fact that the car is obviously totaled -- he'll sue the tow truck drivers if they put so much as a scratch on it.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

we're not getting out prior to the elections

Shorter Republicans: Mission accomplished!

And, Mike, it isn't just Bush, it's the Republican Party that won't be trusted with national security for a generation. (Hence, the Dolchstosslegende "ex-liberal" and others are so carefully preparing.) Bush has ruined, in addition to Iraq and much of the United States' national security, your Party's decades-long branding effort as strong on defense.

Posted by: Gregory on January 15, 2008 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

So how are things going in your neck of the woods these day?

Well, we're verging on full-fledged Fascism, with a dictatorial leadership bent on perpetual war and the complete eradication of all constitutional rights. Oh, and we also appear to be spiraling uncontrollably into a second Great Depression.

And you??
.

Posted by: Poilu on January 15, 2008 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Well, we're verging on full-fledged Fascism, with a dictatorial leadership bent on perpetual war and the complete eradication of all constitutional rights...And you??
Posted by: Poilu

Well, we're well into our election season where we elect our leaders and lawmakers through the most open, transparent process on the face of the planet, thus allowing the people to truly govern through their representatives. This ranges from small town Mayor to President.

Must suck to live where you live.

Posted by: SJRSM on January 16, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

we're well into our election season where we elect our leaders and lawmakers through the most open, transparent process on the face of the planet

I'll see your "most open, transparent process on the face of the planet" and raise you the 2000 election.

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on January 16, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Wahhhh, My candidate didn't get elected in 2000. Wahhhhh!!!
Posted by: Gregory

Posted by: SJRSM on January 16, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Amazing....Mike goes from touting "the most open, transparent process on the face of the planet" to smugly applauding a stolen election in barely more than an hour. Consistent much?

Posted by: Gregory on January 16, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Waaah! The butterfly ballot confuses me! Why am I so stupid? Waaah!
Posted by: Gregory

Posted by: SJRSM on January 16, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Waaah! The butterfly ballot confuses me! Why am I so stupid? Waaah!

Three words, Mike: Bush v Gore.

Three more: Voter roll purge.

Three more: Republican activist riot.

Your straw men in defense of a stolen election -- when, again, you were just recently touting "the most open, transparent process on the face of the planet" -- does you no credit. As usual.

Posted by: Gregory on January 16, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like the Thought Police has aroused from its slumber. Must have thought you were getting pwned, Gregory.

Posted by: SJRSM on January 16, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Mr Drum,

Hardly a moving monologue to sway folks from supporting Ron Paul.

And why should we trust the opinion of a Neo-Con hawk like yourself? What have you done that's so special? Come on be real. You went to CalState...not Stanford, UCBerkely, UCDavis, UCLA or UCSD.

The last time I checked. You were pandering to those traitors over at the Council On Foreign Relations.

Why would you associate yourself with a organization who's main mission is the erosion of United States sovereignty?

Richard Haas, the president of the CFR wrote a paper last year about how and why our sovereignty must be destroyed.

Why should anyone trust any of you "Benedict Arnold" types ever again. You have brought us nothing but war and debt.

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Posted by: Kaiser on March 12, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: www.washingtonmonthly.com on April 9, 2011 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK
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