Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 12, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

BOOT ON McCAIN....I have to give Max Boot credit: he doesn't beat around the bush. He thinks Iran, Syria, and North Korea are thumbing their noses at us and that John McCain is the right guy to make them stop:

Clearly, these rogue regimes do not fear the consequences of waging a proxy war on America and our allies. They think they can get away with killing and maiming American soldiers — and so far they have been right.

....It is hard to see how Bush could reverse this decline in America's "fear factor" during the remaining year of his presidency. That will be the job of the next president. And who would be the most up to the task?

To answer that question, ask yourself which presidential candidate an Ahmadinejad, Assad or Kim would fear the most. I submit it is not Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or Mike Huckabee. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, the leading candidate to scare the snot out of our enemies is a certain former aviator who has been noted for his pugnacity and his unwavering support of the American war effort in Iraq.

There you have it. If you think the most important apect of a president is the ability to "scare the snot out of our enemies," then McCain's your guy.

Now, you might think that after seven years of trying exactly this, with only the current collapse in our fortunes to show for it, the neocon establishment might at least pause for a moment to wonder if there's more to foreign policy than scaring the snot out of our enemies. But no. The real problem, apparently, is simply that the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld administration wasn't good enough at it. Not bellicose enough. Not unilateral enough. Not warlike enough. What America needs is someone even more bloodthirsty than the crew that got us into this mess. Time to double down, folks.

Kevin Drum 12:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (96)

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Comments

Hmmm... Fear as the main tool of geopolitics. But somehow it's not terrorism.

Posted by: charles on February 12, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

It is probably true that other countries are much less worried than they were about crossing the United States. But that's because it has been demonstrated that the US military capability, vast as it is, really cannot impose stable regimes on foreign states without extensive occupation.

Worse, even those states that the US has continued to occupy treat the US with impunity. Germany, Japan, SK act without much concern with American economic, political or diplomatic issues because the US has what is now can only be seen as an irrational obsession with military hegemony. Rather than pursue policies that encourage peaceful interdependence, the US continues to act as if the world is full of danger. The "dangerous" actors can't possibly be very concerned about what the US thinks at this point.

When the US Secretary of Defense tells NATO that its very existence is threatened by the presence of a small number of stateless terrorists, it's very hard to take the US seriously.

All that's going on here is that Boot and his fellow fantasists won't give it up.

Nobody's scot is scared at this point. Or,if they are, it's more like the fear of some rogue overthrowing Gorby and launching indiscriminate nukes.

Posted by: Jayackroyd on February 12, 2008 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

"There you have it. If you think the most important apect of a president is the ability to "scare the snot out of our enemies," then McCain's your guy."

I think that you mean "aspect"

Posted by: moe99 on February 12, 2008 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

neoconservatism itself cannot fail. but you can fail to follow its tenets correctly.

or...

neoconservatism has never failed. how could it? it has never been tried.

Posted by: cleek on February 12, 2008 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Max Boot is posing the wrong question. It should be which candidate is most likely to incite Iran, Syria, and North Korea to take up more arms against us, and to step up the war by proxy? That would be John McCain. He will be viewed by the world as merely an agent of perpetuation of the U.S. preemptive strike policy.

Posted by: Elliott on February 12, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Double down? At this point they're somewhere around 2^7 or 2^8.

Posted by: SP on February 12, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Another blowhard rattling sabers isn't going to scare anyone.

If you want to inspire real fear in our enemies, vote for the candidate most likely to inspire hope.

Posted by: cazart on February 12, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

A president McCain will kill more civilians than president W. Bush. Conservatives appreciate that aspect of government.

W. Bush and many US generals have a picture of Saddam hanging by his neck, it does not prevent them from committing war crimes.

Posted by: Brojo on February 12, 2008 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

As Charlie Pierce said two or three years ago, when the neo-cons first suggested that we had to invade Iran and Syria to win in Iraq, who ever woulda thunk that "You and what army?" would become a serious factor in American foreign policy.
Do these morons really think that Iran and North Korea (backed by our chief creditor China and, increasingly, Russia) are afraid of us? If Nutty John gets in and bombs Tehran, what do these idiots think is going to happen to U.S. military personnel in Shi'ite dominated Iraq, where the recent decrease in violence is due more to Moqtada al-Sadr keeping his (Shi'ite) militia in check than the 30,000 troops in a city of six million?

Posted by: Jim on February 12, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Many on The Right would honestly like to see a few nukes lobbed in various directions. Then when neighboring nations cry foul and complain of the outright insanity of such a move they get nuked for their impertinence. McCain would be just the hot-tempered/short-fused knucklehead to take such counsel seriously. Gotta prove those rabid conservative bona fides somehow.

Posted by: steve duncan on February 12, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

If our army were available to attack those countries, their regimes might have reason to be scared.

Duh.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on February 12, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget that Mo-mar's son is a jihadist militant - and c'mon Mike. Did you ever really trust Qadaffi? Seriously? If so, I have a bridge I would like to unload.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on February 12, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Are these dictators really "waging a proxy war on America and our allies"? Is their first idea in any decision "what will upset, discommode, or interfere with American aims?" Or are they acting in a way that they perceive will further their own interests?

Are their only foreign policy goal "killing and maiming American soldiers"? This is self evidently the goal of many in Al Qaeda and various insurgencies, but is it the underlying principle behind the actions of these governments? Is the first question every country's government asks itself before it acts always "How will this affect the United States?"

Posted by: hallofmirrors on February 12, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Did Boot make his case for McCain without listing the Evilest One of All (Osama bin Hidin)? He ain't here:

To answer that question, ask yourself which presidential candidate an Ahmadinejad, Assad or Kim would fear the most.

Boot's proposing the Madman Theory as the reason to elect McCain. Truthful enough, but so wrong.

As everyone tries to tell every crazy person: There is always somebody out there crazier than you.

Posted by: Boolaboola on February 12, 2008 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Yes! Scare them! McCain will get Max Boot to get Tom Friedman to tell them to Suck. On. This. With McCain we'll bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, Syria will get a big taste of Shock & Awe II: the Iraqing, and North Korea, well, heh heh North Korea... you can bet we'll say some pret-ty mean things about that Kim Jong fella and just watch the snot scare out of him!

Jesus. Is there a Podhoretz factory for Gooper foreign policy advisors?

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on February 12, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

What Proxy war do we have with North Korea?

Posted by: Jimmy on February 12, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

That's the right for you:

1) Shout louder, maybe then they'll understand you...

2) Repeat the same mistakes again because, this time, it'll really work...

3) Belief in an idea guarantees that the idea is correct...

4) Escalation of confrontation is always for the best...

5) The best diplomatic technique is to force people into corners...

6) Dissent is traitorous...

and on and on...

Posted by: Neal on February 12, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

If you want to inspire real fear in our enemies, vote for the candidate most likely to inspire hope.

Posted by: cazart on February 12, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

All right. It's officially a cult now.

Posted by: Pat on February 12, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is awesome, he's chill compared to McCain. Obama seems chill, like Bush. They'd both be cool to have a beer with. I am going to vote for Obama on the same basis I voted for Bush-I like their persona. Everything else is irrelevant, anyway-Congress, not the President, decides the direction of the country. The President is just a talking head. Obama, like Bush, would be a cool talking head.

Posted by: mitt romney on February 12, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

They are so freakin' crazy.

The problem is (a) even if there were military solutions, our troops are tied down in McCain's Hundred Year War in Iraq; and (b) even if we could withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow, there still wouldn't be a whole lot we could do with those troops to beat any sense into our assorted adversaries.

Plus even if there was, our army's battered and tired and needs a break. We can't recruit for the Army and Marines because it's a ticket to Iraq. So we're scraping the bottom of the enlistment barrel, rousting bipolar soldiers out of psychiatric hospitals to send them back to Iraq with their units, and generally ruining the military to fight this war.

But for the wingnuts, nuts to reality - it's all about displays of masculinity.

Maybe they should enlist, so they can do so more effectively, and show the rest of us how it's done.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 12, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget that Mo-mar's son is a jihadist militant - and c'mon Mike. Did you ever really trust Qadaffi? Seriously? If so, I have a bridge I would like to unload.
Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.)

Trust Q? No further than he can be thrown. But at a minimum it was a symbolic victory in a corner of the world where symbolism means a lot.

Bush wielded a big stick. If Obama or Hillary want to wave about a big carrot of hope, that's smart and cool. But keep the stick sitting out where it can be seen. Keep'em worried. The Korean War, GW I and GWII came about when the bad guys misunderestimated that we would not fight when we did. Better to have them misunderestimate in the other direction.

Posted by: SJRSM on February 12, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Fools! How do you expect to build a peaceful, prosperous, cooperative global community without terrifying everyone into submission?

Posted by: DCBob on February 12, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

John Bolton for President!!!

Isn't that really what Boot is saying?

Posted by: Macswain on February 12, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Same old smear and fear!

A good book to read about the smear and fear of the right wing repuke party, David Halberstam, "The Coldest Winter, America and the Korean War. cleve

Posted by: cleve on February 12, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't be sure that the madness of St. McCain is a winning issue for the Dems.

He could easily pull something analogous to Nixon's China visit. Or at least make a credible case that he is the one who can do so.

Posted by: gregor on February 12, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Fools! How do you expect to build a peaceful, prosperous, cooperative global community without terrifying everyone into submission?
Posted by: DCBob

North Korea just needs a hug.

Posted by: SJRSM on February 12, 2008 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

As Pat Buchanan said on the Today show a few days ago, "McCain will make Cheney look like Gandhi." And I think he's right. (Ugh, did I just say Pat Buchanan was right? Shower time!) The question is making sure that the voting public understand that as well...right now, I don't think they do.

Posted by: Glenn on February 12, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Post-Iraq, Syria pulled out of Lebanon faster than Bill out of Monica, and Mo-mar gave up his nuke aspirations pronto.
Posted by: SJRSM

Man did that talkingpoint come directly from the Cheney's desk or what? Just because one event follows another doesn't mean they're causally related. Will the reuslts of tonight's primary returns be predicated on the fact that I went to pick-up some laundry this morning but for the first time ever they forgot to have it ready?

For a little dose of reality, try what actually happened (as described in the Christian Science Monitor):

    "Direct talks were crucial in getting Libya to change its ways, because that's how Qaddafi became convinced that if he did policy change, we would not do regime change," says Bruce Jentleson, who was a State Department official in the Clinton administration when secret talks were initiated with Libya. "The lesson here is that while it's useful to have force as a backdrop, this is really a story of serious diplomacy's success."
Posted by: cyntax on February 12, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Can't we just strap some bombs to Max Boot, put him in a plane, and boot his ass out in the air over Tehran?

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 12, 2008 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

"The lesson here is that while it's useful to have force as a backdrop, this is really a story of serious diplomacy's success."
Posted by: cyntax

I'm with you 100%. Yin and Yang.

Posted by: SJRSM on February 12, 2008 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

It is beginning to look like it will be Saint John of P.O.W. "fame" that swears the oath in January.

*sigh*

where are the adults ?

The Sun Tzu based strategy continues to be successful.

"For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill" - Sun Tzu

Posted by: daCascadian on February 12, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with you 100%. Yin and Yang.
Posted by: SJRSM

Just remember balance is what that concept turns on, and while that may be something you're in favor of, I have trouble finding balance in anything ole Maxie has to say...

Posted by: cyntax on February 12, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Less Jobs, More War. Less Jobs, More War. Vote McCain. Less Jobs, More War. Less Jobs, More War. Vote McCain. What America needs, Less Jobs, More War. John.I.Am has a video.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 12, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Never underestimate the "wuss" factor in American politics. Because our culture is based on the brain of an adolescent male, Boot's sort of dick-swinging passes for serious thought. We even elect Presidents based on it, which is why Clinton is fighting such an uphill battle. The mere suggestion the U.S. might have "feminine" tendencies, ie.the desire to make peace, is enough to unhinge most of the right wing, who, I believe, would prefer nuclear annihilation to being thought "pussies." Makes you wonder what inadequacies they're hiding under those suits.

Posted by: dalloway on February 12, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

In order to be credible and move snot President McCain would have to reinstitute the draft and raise taxes otherwise he'd be easily recognized as a chest-thumping blowhard like Bush, pissing away our strength. M. Boot sees pugnacity in a feeble old man with an aggressive-passive personality disorder. Pitiful.

Posted by: dennisS on February 12, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Worse, even those states that the US has continued to occupy treat the US with impunity. Germany, Japan, SK act without much concern with American economic, political or diplomatic issues because the US has what is now can only be seen as an irrational obsession with military hegemony.

As a clarifying note, while the US occupied Germany, Japan and South Korea after WWII it has not occupied them for about fifty years now. The fact that US forces are stationed in those countries doesn't mean we occupy them any more than the fact that we have forces in Britain, Qatar or Turkey, say, means we occupy those countries.

Posted by: Stefan on February 12, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Bush wielded a big stick.

No, Bush wielded a big mouth. He backed it up with a small stick.

I will leave it to others to tease out the various psychosexual implications.....

Posted by: Stefan on February 12, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, so what would Mr. ToughGuy McCain do if China stages a mid-air collision with one of our unarmed recon/spy aircraft, forces it down in their territory, and 'detains' the crew while they go over our recon equipment with a fine tooth comb?

Is he going to threaten to nuke them, or is he going to apologize like that big ol' pussy-cat Bush?

Inquiring voters want to know! (and put the bastard on the hot-seat with inconvenient questions)

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on February 12, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

When you are getting your butt kicked, put out more flags

it was a symbolic victory ....SJRSM at 12:37 PM

It was a victory for diplomacy. Bush's stick is flaccid and limp. He has shown the US is a paper tiger, unable to prevail in a third world country against a ragtag group of insurgents.

Posted by: Mike on February 12, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Post-Iraq, Syria pulled out of Lebanon faster than Bill out of Monica, and Mo-mar gave up his nuke aspirations pronto.
Posted by: SJRSM

Post-Iraq, North Korea acquired nuclear weapons, the Taliban regained control of large sections of Afghanistan, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated and the Writers Guild of America went on strike.

See, I can make specious comparisons by pretending that correlated events are actually causal as well!

Posted by: Stefan on February 12, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Dictators are a superstitious and cowardly lot. Batman for president!

Posted by: rayc on February 12, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Max is right. McCain is scary.

Posted by: Brautigan on February 12, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on February 12, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on February 12, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

If you think the most important apect of a president is the ability to "scare the snot out of our enemies," then McCain's your guy.

Even if Boot is right that McCain's the scariest and that he's the right one to scare these countries, to accept his argument you also have to be willing to hold up every other priority of the American people to choose one avenue to save the lives and limbs of a few American soldiers.

He's effectively saying that no other policy matters except stopping attacks on the troops and that no alternative (like getting the troops out of harm's way in a stupid war in Iraq) to intimindating these enemies is an acceptable way to stop them. He's also assuming that we're somehow macho enough that if only we elect John McCain, that's going to be the magic difference, and somehow these countries are going to be too scared to sponsor anymore attacks. Hey, what if they don't care about John McCain? What if he doesn't have any realistic new options for intimidating them?

The whole argument is shite.

Posted by: Swan on February 12, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Friends,
These are perennial types. They were formally known as Colonel Blimps. They used to have British accents and were, generally speaking, proto-fascists for Empire. Bolton even looks like a mad mustachioed Colonel Blimp. The sample cartoon at wiki has the Colonel Blimp Manifesto:

“Gad, sir, we must have a bigger Army to protect the Navy and a bigger Navy to protect the Army. Only then can we fight the French and the Italians and the Abyssinians and keep the war from spreading. There can be no Naval Agreement unless everyone is conceded superiority- especially Britain. DAMMIT!
We must have Conscription if Liberty is to survive- Gad, sir; I stand for lower taxes on unemployed millionaires and for raising the school age to cover Mr. Thomas. I will abolish socialistic experiments like the Post Office and the sewage system. As for the socialists, shoot’em all down and then make ‘em work. BAH!
2 November 1935, Evening Standard

Sound like anyone we know?

Colonel Blimp recommends a Dictatorship of Colonels to safeguard democracy! BAH!


Posted by: bellumregio on February 12, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Back when Mr. Boot was pimping for the Iraq invasion, he'd maintain (along with his fellow neo-cons) that madmen like Saddam could not be deterred - they did not act rationally, so displays of overwhelming force or threats to obliterate would have no effect.

Same with the terrorist (bogeyman). They wanna die, and receive their 72 virgins, etc. etc. They're immune to deterrence.

Here, in the (fucking) LA Times, he's arguing that the US needs to reestablish a credible threat against the tin pot dictators/terrorists of the world, so deterrence will be effective.

It doesn't really matter what the neo-cons say - schmucks like Boot will argue anything, anyway they can, to get the US to kill more Arabs/Muslims. That's all there is to it. He sits there with his shit-eating grin, he's the Limbaugh of foreign policy - he doesn't really believe his own bullshit, it's half entertainment, half propaganda.

And our "serious" media provide him with valuable real estate - a weekly column in the LA Times. Fuck the neo-con press.

I'd add that back when Mr. Drum was also a (maybe reluctant) war supporter, he'd often link to some of Boot's drivel in the NYT or WashPo, and consider it thoughtfully, scratching his chin.

Posted by: luci on February 12, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

He's effectively saying that no other policy matters except stopping attacks on the troops and that no alternative

'Cuz he's saying, pick McCain for the terrorism difference alone as if nothing else matters.

Posted by: Swan on February 12, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think Max Boot, aka Slim Pickens, needs gelding.

Posted by: Adam on February 12, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Post-Iraq ... the Writers Guild of America went on strike.

Crap. We got to bomb Hollywood, too?

Posted by: thersites on February 12, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Crap. We got to bomb Hollywood, too?
Posted by: thersites

They're still "reeling" from Ishtar.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 12, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Just to make sure I have this straight: The best way to stop suicide bombers willing to die for their cause is to scare them?

Thanks, Rush. I'll take my answer off the air.

Posted by: thersites on February 12, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Send Boot to Pakistan. Let him be the new Rambo. If Boot doesn't slay all the evil-doers than the rest of us will be toast.

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on February 12, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Boot:. . . the leading candidate to scare the snot out of our enemies is a certain former aviator who has been noted for his pugnacity and his unwavering support of the American war effort in Iraq.

Him and what army?

The one that can only keep enough troops in Iraq by doing 15 month tours of duty? The one that has to send back physically and mentally handicapped soldiers to keep up the force in Iraq? The one that's relaxing recruiting standards to the extent that almost thirty percent of new recruits aren't high school graduates?
Army Off Target on Recruits
The army that met its high recruitment goals for the past two years by lowering acceptance standards, offering signing bonuses and loosening age restrictions? The army that is bleeding young officers who are fed up with the FUBAR that is Iraq?
Challenging the Generals

Indications are that Americans aren't signing up for this War Forever plan.

Posted by: cowalker on February 12, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

one regrets Boot's sometimes adolescent rhetoric - but quite naive to dismiss it as therefore necessarily wrong. The most important concern for the leader of the most powerful country in the world is foreign policy - just because most of you people don't like the idea of war doesn't change that. Obama has no credibility here, Hillary some, McCain quite a lot - that makes him important. Did none of you study Roman history?

Posted by: opus on February 12, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Politics is always a choice between alternatives. Don't think toughness will get Iran to scale down its ambitions to dominate the region? Fine. What's your alternative strategy? Seriously, let's hear it. Bribery? Abandon Lebanon to Syria? What's the carrot, if not the stick? Or is the carrot letting them build a bigger stick? Just trying to see if there's any actual geopolitical (as opposed to partisan domestic) thinking behind this jab at Boot.

Posted by: Judasmac on February 12, 2008 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

If no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of Americans, what the Dems should do to combat the Republican fear campaign is to say that fear lessens masculinity, causes sexual dysfunction,and, worst of all, causes job and hair loss.

Posted by: Hank Mencken on February 12, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Boot's just another brainstem with a fear fetish. It's all they know, it's all they got. Pity them.

Posted by: Howard on February 12, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

The most important concern for the leader of the most powerful country in the world is foreign policy Preferably a foreign policy that doesn't squander that power and influence for the sake of chest-thumping.

Did none of you study Roman history?
Well, yes, actually. That's why some of us worry.

Posted by: thersites on February 12, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Roman history, did you say? Did anyone here study Roman history?
Didn't they peter out? Bad leadership and the rich didn't to want to fight in the wars or pay taxes?

Isn't that what happened to them?
Could this kind of thing happen here?

Send the Mittster's kids and the Bush daughter's to Afghanistan, I say and let's restore taxes on the rich. Then will have a fighting chance, I say.

Posted by: Caeser Salad on February 12, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Did none of you study Roman history?

Is there no Marcus Junius Brutus Caepio amongst us to save the Republic from military dictatorship?

Posted by: Hostile on February 12, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Shame" is not something these guys have ever been acquainted with.

And I'm sorry, Assad? We're supposed to be scared of Syria now? The neo-cons are such wimps.

Posted by: gf120581 on February 12, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

opus: Did none of you study Roman history?

Oh, are we officially an empire with an emperor now? What's all this talk about an election then?

Posted by: cowalker on February 12, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Whatever happens we have got
the Maxim gun and they have not"

Posted by: genome on February 12, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

McCain? The little fairy had his spirit broken in Vietnam. He'd probably be as humane toward rogue regimes as he is toward the invasion of Mexicans. He's just a pussycat who acts tough to please his dominant buddy, the Likud party senator Lieberman. If elected with his touchy-feely humanity he probably would make Neville Chamberlain look like Genghis Khan .

Posted by: Luther on February 12, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has no credibility here, Hillary some, McCain quite a lot - that makes him important.

Here's Gigolo John McCain's credibility on Iraq:

“But I believe, Katie, that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.” [NBC, 3/20/03]

“It’s clear that the end is very much in sight.” [ABC, 4/9/03]

“There’s not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shiahs. So I think they can probably get along.” [MSNBC, 4/23/03]

“This is a mission accomplished. They know how much influence Saddam Hussein had on the Iraqi people, how much more difficult it made to get their cooperation.” [This Week, ABC, 12/14/03]

“I’m confident we’re on the right course.” [ABC News, 3/7/04]

“I think the initial phases of it were so spectacularly successful that it took us all by surprise.” [CBS, 10/31/04]

“I do think that progress is being made in a lot of Iraq. Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course. If I thought we weren’t making progress, I’d be despondent.” [The Hill, 12/8/05]


Posted by: Stefan on February 12, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Don't think toughness will get Iran to scale down its ambitions to dominate the region? Fine. What's your alternative strategy?

Ooh, I know, pick me, pick me!

OK, first we invade and overthrow the government of the only country powerful enough to serve as a counterweight to Iran in the region, see? Next, we install a new government in that country run by folks with deep historical, religious, and political ties to the Iranians! That'll slow Iran down, for sure! And the kicker of my brilliant plan -- you'll love this part -- is that by doing so we manage to decimate not only our military strength but our global political capital too!

I'm a fucking geopolitical genius, I tell ya. We'll have Iran right where they want us -- I mean, of course, where we want them.

Posted by: Glenn on February 12, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Judasmac,

Politics is always a choice between alternatives. Don't think toughness will get Iran to scale down its ambitions to dominate the region? Fine. What's your alternative strategy? Seriously, let's hear it.

Ah. Here we have it. Your premise is that we MUST get Iran to scale down it's ambitions to dominate the region. Buy the premise, buy the conclusion.

My solution - get out of the region. Screw the oil. Before long it will be gone anyway. Israel? Maybe they need to defend themselves. They've done it before.

Whether we want it or not we will be isolated soon enough. Why is it that all the sudden (since, I dunno, 1973 when the US oil hit its peak and the tri-lateral commission was formed) it became so assumed, so much a premise that no one dare even question it, that we MUST do whatever it takes including killing all our people and spending all our money to keep peace in the Middle East?!

I have heard neocon blowhards say we must do everything and anything, as much as it takes, to defeat terrorism and bring peace to the middle east.

Nice words. I bet they'd love to sacrifice the rest of us just for the cause. Uh huh. But somehow none of them ever volunteers to go first.

Posted by: Tripp on February 12, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Scare the snot out of them?? My question is this where is he going to get the troops from to scare them with, we already are stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan besides McCain is surely a warhawk and he scares me more than Bush, so you must be talking about scareing them in nuclear means and that means the end of time as we know it so forget the WarHawk McCain he would be worse and much more stupid than Bush so all you Republicans vote Democrat this time and see what they can do the Republicans have had their shot at it and failed miserably.

Posted by: Al on February 12, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

A geriatric old fool with PTSD is just the kinda guy I want to have his finger on the nuclear trigger - NOT! Good God, how did we get so stupid as a society? We cannot kill our way to peace, unless we plan to slaughter every person in every other country on the face of the planet. Every innocent life we take creates another potential enemy of the United States, as every human being has a mother, father and usually, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc.

Maybe it's time to reach out a hand of peace to our enemies. That would be the way of a truly Christian nation.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 12, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

It seems more that Boot is the scared one.

Posted by: Gregory on February 12, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

keep the stick sitting out where it can be seen. Keep'em worried. The Korean War, GW I and GWII came about when the bad guys misunderestimated that we would not fight when we did. Better to have them misunderestimate in the other direction.

Mike, you fool, Bush has broken the Army. We don't have a stick thanks to Mr. Not Ready For Duty, Sir.

Posted by: Gregory on February 12, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Mike, you fool, Bush has broken the Army.
Posted by: Gregory

Gregory you insufferable prick, Clinton didn't use the army or any ground forces in Kosovo.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 12, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Judasmac: Don't think toughness will get Iran to scale down its ambitions to dominate the region? Fine. What's your alternative strategy? Seriously, let's hear it.

Tripp: Ah. Here we have it. Your premise is that we MUST get Iran to scale down it's ambitions to dominate the region. Buy the premise, buy the conclusion.

I don't even buy the premise that Iran is attempting to dominate the region. While Iran certainly has some ambitions for power and influence in the region (which is understandable) this doesn't necessarily mean they want to "dominate" it -- indeed, how could they, sandwiched as they are between nuclear Russia to their north, nuclear Pakistan to their east, and non-Persian, non-Shia states to their south and west?

Posted by: Stefan on February 12, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

keep the stick sitting out where it can be seen.

Please, don't. Think of the children.

Keep'em worried. The Korean War, GW I and GWII came about when the bad guys misunderestimated that we would not fight when we did. Better to have them misunderestimate in the other direction.

On the other hand, World War I came about largely because everyone was worried, because everyone thought the other guy wanted to fight when they really didn't, and therefore everyone falsely thought they had to strike first. Everyone misoverestimated in the direction of war, and look where that got us. (See also the Cuban Missile Crisis, which might have ended a lot more tragically had Kennedy followed the "keep 'em worried" approach).

Posted by: Stefan on February 12, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory you insufferable prick, Clinton didn't use the army or any ground forces in Kosovo.

I see that when backed into a corner Mike retreats again to one of his favorite argument techniques, the wildly off-topic non sequitor.

But just to clarify, the reason Clinton didn't use the Army or Marines in Kosovo was because they weren't needed, not because he didn't have them to use. We, however, no longer have that option.

Posted by: Stefan on February 12, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

I don't even buy the premise that Iran is attempting to dominate the region.

You know what I want? I want to go back to not caring about stupid frigging ethnic squabbles between groups that have been fighting for centuries.

I am sick of our oil economy meaning that we must go into every hellhole on Earth and care what happens there. It was bad enough when it was Texas and Colorado and Pennsylvania but this?

Okay, I'm kidding. Colorado and Pennsylvania are not hellholes.

Posted by: Tripp on February 12, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

I see that when backed into a corner...

Backed into a corner? By Gregory? Heh.

We need an Army if we are going to occupy land. We don't need to occupy land in order to influence or deter a country's behavior. Kosovo was case study in that. Sorry to break it to you, but we remain powerful militarily.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 12, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Bloody Mary, queen of death from above, is always looking for some way to ensure that more brown people will die. Ask her how many human beings she turned into mush. She won't answer because the victims of a bombing aren't important unless the terrorist isn't wearing fancy dress.

That's why she's a big supporter of John "Torture Supporter" McCain. And that's why she's pimping dropping bombs on innocents in Iran, Syria, and anywhere else that might not think we should be their de facto rulers.

Posted by: heavy on February 12, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

You know what I want? I want to go back to not caring about stupid frigging ethnic squabbles between groups that have been fighting for centuries.

We'd all like that, sure, but the fact is you're either a Yankees fan or a Red Sox fan, and so it has been from time immemorial.

Posted by: Stefan on February 12, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

We don't need to occupy land in order to influence or deter a country's behavior.

So we didn't, in fact, need to occupy Iraq in order to influence or deter Saddam's behavior? Then why the fuck did we invade??????

Posted by: Stefan on February 12, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Time to double down, folks.

You mean "double or nothing," not "double down." You double down when you have a good hand, you go double or nothing if you're desperate.

Posted by: croatoan on February 12, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

This just might be the best post I've read so far this year. Doin' a heckuva job, Glenn!!!

Don't think toughness will get Iran to scale down its ambitions to dominate the region? Fine. What's your alternative strategy?

Ooh, I know, pick me, pick me!

OK, first we invade and overthrow the government of the only country powerful enough to serve as a counterweight to Iran in the region, see? Next, we install a new government in that country run by folks with deep historical, religious, and political ties to the Iranians! That'll slow Iran down, for sure! And the kicker of my brilliant plan -- you'll love this part -- is that by doing so we manage to decimate not only our military strength but our global political capital too!

I'm a fucking geopolitical genius, I tell ya. We'll have Iran right where they want us -- I mean, of course, where we want them.
Posted by: Glenn on February 12, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: G.Kerby on February 12, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Mike's pretense of competence as a debater never ceases to amuse.

Clinton didn't use the army or any ground forces in Kosovo

Stefan's already taken care of this one, Mike, but again, in this one case, we were able to achieve our aims without using ground troops. So what? You're claiming a "big stick," and thanks to Bush, America's enemies know full well that if we do need to commit troops, we don't have them

Nice to see you giving Bush a free pass for breaking the Army with one hand while you embrace delusions of military capability to protect you from the Scary Brown People with the other.

As for air power, we have a lot of air power to use in Afghanistan and Iraq, for that matter. How's that working out for us?

We need an Army if we are going to occupy land. We don't need to occupy land in order to influence or deter a country's behavior. Kosovo was case study in that. Sorry to break it to you, but we remain powerful militarily.

You gotta love it how Mike, when backed into a corner by his betters -- notice he doesn't even attempt to rebut that Bush did in fact break the army -- resorts to snide implications against his betters' patriotism. But the fact remains that for all of Mike's pretentious claims to a "big stick," Bush's failures give the US much less in the way of options, and therefore makes it much less of a threat to our enemies.

As recent experience shows, we need an Army to effect regime change. The attempts at decapitation in GWII accomplished fuck-all -- a fact that I'm sure wasn't lost on Kim Jong-Il in his bunker or the "Mad Mullahs" Mike raves about. Big stick, indeed.

Meanwhile, Mike carries water for the incompetent fools who broke the Army. And he imagines his betters have something against the military?

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on February 12, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

So we didn't, in fact, need to occupy Iraq in order to influence or deter Saddam's behavior? Then why the fuck did we invade??????

Especially since, as Mike claimed in the thread about Gates' comments about NATO, if one isn't willing to commit enough troops to win one shouldn't commit at all......

Posted by: Gregory on February 12, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, I'm going to simmer down and take some of my own advice. Well, at least the "tune in" part. I never did Turn on or Drop out.

Anyway, here is a beautiful piece of music that you might like. I suppose it was inevitably beautiful because of the Bach and Chaucer influences.

For four minutes of peace listen to Procul Harum's Whiter Shade of Pale

Posted by: Tripp on February 12, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

We don't need to occupy land in order to influence or deter a country's behavior.

You heard it from Mike first -- since we don't, according to him, need to occupy Iraq to influence its behavior, we can safely withdraw all our ground forces back home in time for them to line the parade route for President Obama's or President Clinton's inauguration.

Posted by: Stefan on February 12, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

I get that Iran and Syria support terrorism against our ally, Israel, and Iran is allegedly funding insurgents in Iraq. Who is North Korea killing, exactly, that constitutes war-by-proxy? Thumbing their nose, maybe, supposedly, whatever. But war-by-proxy? I don't see it.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on February 12, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder who Max Boot would think al-Qaeda was more afraid of, Bhutto or Musharif? Which one did they kill, if we are to believe the reports?

Posted by: Th on February 12, 2008 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

We all know Mary is a big coward who loves death and hates America. In fact, her biggest thrill comes when she can support the killing of innocents (as we have done so much of in Iraq - both directly via the conjoined twins of incompetence and malice as well as via utter unconcern for the establishment of security for the civilian population) while undermining the national security of the United States, then she is just orgasmic. What a disgrace to the uniform she claims to have worn.

Hey goon, how's that Iraq war working out for you? Was the brutalization of women under the lawlessness your idiocy has unleashed your goal? Or was that just one of those masturbatory side benefits?

Al Queda has no better friend on this board than its resident swaggering jingoistic supporter of murder (of course, Mary will tell you that it isn't murder if someone in a cute outfit tells you its okay - that's because she's a sociopath).

Posted by: heavy on February 12, 2008 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

About the only thing that the neocons haven't diminished is their own capacity for self delusion. Max can write this stuff for a shrinking domestic audience of true believers, but the rest of the world sees it as further proof that the US Right has totally lost its links to reality (even if there were times when they claimed to make that reality themselves ...).

Posted by: number6 on February 12, 2008 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin sometimes is smart and good on politics, but pretty naive about security/military matters. It is not about playground concepts like "scare the snot" out of someone or to call our political leaders "bloodthirsty." It is, of course, good that enemies are afraid of the united states. It would be bad if they thought Hillary or Obama was weak. And we are talking about historical consequences for us and the rest of the world. As to the result of the last eight years, only history will tell, but some enemies who are or were bad people are gone or have lost power. Kevin thinks it has been bad, but he has the luxury of being able to criticize how Bush had done it without knowing if there would have been bad or worse consequences from whatever Kevin's approach would have been.

Posted by: brian on February 12, 2008 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

Referring to Pat Buchanan's quote above, "McCain will make Cheney look like Gandhi."

What is up with Buchanan lately?!?!? He used to be a crazy, crusty old winger, however, it's as if he took some kind of pill that made his opinions mellower and his wit extra sharp. Whatever it is he needs to keep taking it, he's practicaly likable these days.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on February 12, 2008 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

brian, everyone's favorite faux-reasonable concern troll, wrote: Kevin sometimes is smart and good on politics, but pretty naive about security/military matters.

brian, you've been pushing this line of bullshit, and the implication that Republicans are inherently stronger on national security, for a long time. That dog just won't hunt anymore. No one is convinced by your GOP talking points claptrap -- why don't you just go back to ranting about Murtha?

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2008 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin sometimes is smart and good on politics, but pretty naive about security/military matters. It is not about playground concepts like "scare the snot" out of someone or to call our political leaders "bloodthirsty."

"Scare the snot" was Max Boot's playground term. Can't you even read, you pitiable platitudinous bore?

Posted by: Stefan on February 13, 2008 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

... scare the snot out of terrorists (how about the ones outside of Iraq??) or more likely please the hell out of war contractors and Big Oil.

Posted by: Paul on February 13, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK
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