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Old 2007-01-11, 11:33   #1
cheesehead
 
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Default Thoughts on President Bush's January 10 speech about Iraq

More faith-based military planning.

- - -

From the Iraq Study Group report (http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache...s&ct=clnk&cd=4) Executive Summary:

"Our most important recommendations call for new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and the region, and a change in the primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly. We believe that these two recommendations are equally important and reinforce one another.
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Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively. In seeking to influence the behavior of both countries, the United States has disincentives and incentives available."


Where in the speech did Bush mention "new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts", or engaging Iran and Syria constructively?

I missed a few minutes at the start of the speech, but commentators said there was no mention of initiating talks with Syria and Iran to get their cooperation, only portrayal of them as part of the problem (which I did hear).
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Old 2007-01-11, 21:08   #2
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Why does anyone really think it is a viable option to "talk" to what are basically not much more than people from backward third-world countries? You don't talk to terrorists or people who are uncivilized, at least, I don't think you do. The people, in my estimation, who run the governments of these countries, may be civilized, or at least look that way. The problem I see is that they may have the appearance of being civilized because they have money and nothing else. I don't think it is a wise exercise to talk to these countries as grown-ups as long as their own people behave like animals and such.
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Old 2007-01-12, 11:06   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jwb52z View Post
Why does anyone really think it is a viable option to "talk" to what are basically not much more than people from backward third-world countries?
It may be a common practice to speak of other people whom one dislikes as though they are less-accomplished or less-capable than ones own group, but that doesn't make it true. The people in Iran and Syria are fully human and deserve to be treated as such, and they have important influence on Iraq. It is quite feasible to negotiate with people even though one dislikes them or is in opposition to them.

[Side note: I've thought about posting an editorial on the age-old practice of demonizing people in order to justify treating them inhumanly. (That is not what Jwb52z is doing here! It's just that the milder denigration in Jwb52z's post happens to remind me of a more-extreme practice.) Note, e.g., how President Bush repeatedly referred to Saddam Hussein as a "monster" during 2002-2003 in order to promote an emotional mood among US citizens that he could sway toward supporting his war plan. But this has happened throughout history and did not start with the current US administration!]

Have you noticed that people from those "backward third-world countries" have succeeded in straining the armed forces of the world's only "superpower" to nearly the breaking point, according to numerous knowledgable analysts? Well, not by themselves -- it takes two to tangle, and they don't have the intercontinental logistics capability to wreak much havoc on the portion of a superpower army that has not plopped itself down on their doorsteps.

Quote:
You don't talk to terrorists or people who are uncivilized, at least, I don't think you do.
Then you lose any possible benefit that could be derived from negotiation with them. Why do you think it's advantageous to ignore a potential means of gaining something the US wants, namely some partial cooperation about Iraq?

(BTW, people in the areas which are now Iraq/Iran/Syria were civilized long before people in any other area of the world. Calling them uncivilized is just displaying ones ignorance of historical fact!)

I'm not saying we can find some utopian solution, just that nations can gain some things through diplomacy that are not achievable through blunt confrontation or force.

Ever seen a story about how police try to negotiate with a hostage-taker before sending in the SWAT team? Sometimes it works, and there's a peaceful outcome where no one's killed.

Are you old enough to remember when the US and USSR started negotiating nuclear arms reduction? We haven't eliminated the danger of nuclear war, but three decades of negotiation has resulted in agreement to reduce the number of nuclear weapons by tens of thousands. Indeed, AFAIK, as I write this, both countries continue to destroy such weapons (it takes a long time). That's worth something.

Quote:
The people, in my estimation, who run the governments of these countries, may be civilized, or at least look that way. The problem I see is that they may have the appearance of being civilized because they have money and nothing else.
Or perhaps the problem is that you're letting the propagandistic words of others distort your vision?

Yes, we have our differences with Iranian and Syrian leaders! But it's not necessary to invent further difficulties by denigrating them instead of rationally looking for ways to make some progress.

Quote:
I don't think it is a wise exercise to talk to these countries as grown-ups as long as their own people behave like animals and such.
Well, if I were an Iranian reading your words, I'd be tempted to agree that it would be useless to try talking with someone who says I behave like an animal, and that it might be more useful to redouble my efforts to develop nuclear weapons to defend my country against a nation populated with such ignorant barbarians. Whether or not I resisted that temptation might depend on how much control I had of my emotions and how much knowledge I had about the psychological impacts of words.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2007-01-12 at 11:45
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Old 2007-01-12, 23:43   #4
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I've just heard comments on Bush's mentions of sending an air defense battalion with Patriot missiles as part of the "surge". When I heard that Wednesday night, I thought it was odd to include that as part of counterinsurgency. (The missiles used by insurgents have been small and short-range, against which the Patriot anti-missile missiles are ineffective, which is why you haven't heard of their being used in that role. The Patriots need several seconds to detect and track incoming missiles, plus some more seconds to fire and intercept, and the intercept explosion has to be some distance away from the target of the incoming missile, all of which requires that it be used against medium-to-long-range missiles, not short-range.) But then I forgot about it.

Now it is said that the Patriots will provide protection against missile attacks by Iran or others. Okay. Why haven't they already been deployed all along?

So the commentators I just heard made the connection I didn't, to arrive at this theory: it's in preparation for a possible U.S. attack on Iran later this year.

(See "The U.S.-Iran-Iraq-Israeli-Syrian War" at http://www.consortiumnews.com/2007/011107.html
Yikes!)

We've already seen that Bush has no qualms about declaring war or about taking actions he's not legally authorized to take. And he's already introduced the concept of preventative war into the American legacy. He doesn't mind that he looks more and more like the authoritarian premiers of the old Soviet Union (complete with spying on citizens' reading material, massive wiretaps, secret and indefinite imprisonments on the President's order alone, torture, etc. etc.) -- maybe he's counting on the younger generations' ignorance.

So if he just goes ahead and orders an attack on Iran later this year, he's got more than a year to carry it out before his term of office expires. What's to stop him? Even if Congress passes laws to block it -- well, as I said, he's already shown that he lacks qualms about taking actions he's not legally authorized to take.

Republicans haven't seemed willing to impeach Bush, so ... (and anyway, it'd have to be a double impeachment -- just pushing Cheney up a notch won't change anything -- most of what I'm attributing to Bush is probably Cheney's ideas as well or instead).

I don't like conspiracy-type theories, of which the above is one, and I hate sounding parallel to the rabid Clinton-attackers of eight years ago (even though there's lots more evidence now than there was then!).

But ... I'd like to have a more convincing argument than I do right now about how the above scenario would not be possible. Any help? Someone -- reassure me that our system of checks-and-balances is adequate to the above threat.
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Old 2007-01-13, 01:18   #5
Prime95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
We've already seen that Bush has no qualms about declaring war or about taking actions he's not legally authorized to take.
Apparently you have completely forgotten the fact that the U.S. Congress gave the President the authority to invade Iraq. And don't give me any "but the U.N. says..." drivel. Bush was elected President of the United States, not President of the U.N.

I agree you sound very much like the Clinton-haters of 8 years ago. Like it or not, both the far right and far left need to deal with fact that the U.S. system for dealing with a President you do not like is to wait four years and elect someone else. Bitching and moaning during the four years is OK.

I think your worry of an Iran invasion (as opposed to a surgical strike on their nuclear facilities) without Congressional approval is way over-blown. If the U.S. Congress had not given authority to invade Iraq, do you really think Bush would have done it anyway? I seriously doubt it. Unfortunately, the analogy is somewhat flawed since Bush knew the U.S. Congress was going to vote for the Iraq war. Today he knows they'd vote against an Iran war. So maybe I'll change "way over-blown" to simply "over-blown".
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Old 2007-01-13, 01:21   #6
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While I have serious doubts about the wisdom of sending more U.S. troops at this point in the effort (as does the U.S. Congress, apparently), with respect to engaging Iran, I also wonder to what extent one can engage in "reasoned diplomacy" with a leader who spends much of his time organizing Holocaust denial conferences and whose idea of international relations appears to consist of 2 main things:

1) Foment civil strife in Iraq;
2) Acquire an atomic bomb.

On the Syrian side, you'd be dealing with a regime which is no more savory or interested in "fair" outcomes - just look at their dealings in Lebanon.

Last fiddled with by ewmayer on 2007-01-13 at 01:23
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Old 2007-01-13, 05:49   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime95 View Post
Apparently you have completely forgotten the fact that the U.S. Congress gave the President the authority to invade Iraq.
You really ought to take the time to consider less-insulting possibilities. I forgot nothing. Did_you_ forget the illegal, unauthorized mass wiretapping (which is what I had in mind for "taking actions he's not legally authorized to take")?

C'mon -- give us an honest answer: did you overlook (AKA "forget") the possibility that I was referring to the wiretapping incident? If not, why didn't you make the connection? If so, then admit that it's _you_ who are doing the forgetting here.

Quote:
And don't give me any "but the U.N. says..." drivel. Bush was elected President of the United States, not President of the U.N.
I didn't mention the UN. Why do you bring that up? The UN had nothing to do with Bush's illegal wiretapping, didn't compel him to declare a "war" on terrorism instead of a police action against a criminal organization, had no responsibility for the indefinite imprisonments, didn't propose the sweeping confiscations of civil liberties. I am talking about actions of the President of The United States, not of the UN.

Quote:
I agree you sound very much like the Clinton-haters of 8 years ago.
Except, of course, that in Clinton's case, nothing he was being impeached for had damaged the national security of the United States, or had led to tens of thousands of deaths. Maybe you equate lying about a private sexual indiscretion to the invasion and occupation of another country that had never attacked us, but I don't.

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Like it or not, both the far right and far left need to deal with fact that the U.S. system for dealing with a President you do not like is to wait four years and elect someone else.
EXACTLY!!

But Republicans couldn't wait for that normal process in Clinton's case, could they? Oh, no, they had to initiate the shoddiest case of impeachment this country's had since Andrew Johnson, instead of waiting for the next election.

How dare you preach to anyone but the right wing about "the U.S. system for dealing with a President you do not like"! It wasn't the left that tried bypassing the normal U.S. system with Clinton. (Nor was it the left that tried bypassing the system [in a different sense] in the Iran-contra affair, nor was it the left that tried bypassing the system during Nixon's "dirty tricks" campaign or the Watergate break-in ... or did you forget those?).

It's been conservatives who have recently been suckers for authoritarian strutting Presidents who think they're above the law, not liberals. That's no accident. It's been the conservative think-tanks and Karl-Rove-like planners who've crafted Republican campaigns to attract the folks who crave authoritarian father-figures more than they respect our legal traditions, in order to form the "New Republican Majority". See "Moral Politics" by George Lakoff for details.

Quote:
I think your worry of an Iran invasion (as opposed to a surgical strike on their nuclear facilities) without Congressional approval is way over-blown.
Please re-read my preceding post carefully.

I wrote "attack", not "invasion":

"... a possible U.S. attack on Iran ..."

"... if he just goes ahead and orders an attack on Iran later this year ..."

Before you ever accuse me again of being "way over-blown", repeat to yourself ten times, "I was very careless in reading what cheesehead posted, and sloppy in accusing him of various errors in that previous instance, so I need to take time to be more careful in this case."

Quote:
If the U.S. Congress had not given authority to invade Iraq, do you really think Bush would have done it anyway?
Congress wouldn't have given that authority if it had been accurately informed of the facts instead of being misled by the Bush administration, if Bush and cronies had not browbeaten intelligence analysts into giving them the excuses they wanted regardless of facts, if Bush had not pretended that Saddam Hussein was about to buy uranium from whatever-African-country-it-was. If you think "browbeaten" is too strong, how about this: Bush staff endangered the lives of CIA agents by illegally exposing the cover of the CIA wife of the man who actually investigated in Africa and reported that the Bush allegation was baseless!

Quote:
Unfortunately, the analogy is somewhat flawed since Bush knew the U.S. Congress was going to vote for the Iraq war.
Of course -- he loaded the dice that way!

Quote:
Today he knows they'd vote against an Iran war. So maybe I'll change "way over-blown" to simply "over-blown".
Keep going.
"over-blown" => "over-" => "I'll be more careful next time. "

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2007-01-13 at 06:48 Reason: various minor improvements
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Old 2007-01-13, 06:34   #8
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Cheesehead, calm down. Italics, bold print, underline and exclamation points are not going to stop US troops from dying in Iraq.

Back to the topic, I found Bush's speech depressing. The follow-up by the media pundits and politicians (both left and right) further demoralized me. All those media windbags that were so gung-ho, embedded and patriotic four years ago are now so very critical, serious and doubtful of the President's plans. Politicians, left and right, also display this hypocrisy. And I don't know what can be said of the 70% of the US population that opposes the troop buildup. Where was that 70% four years ago? I don't think that what is now happening in Iraq was so unforeseeable.

Personally, I believe the war was a strategic mistake in the war on terror. The Rumsfeld management of the war was also a farce. But pulling out now seems to be an even greater mistake. What happens after we leave? What happens to the moderates in Iraq that are trying to build a democracy? I don't know if Iraq can be stabilized or if the US is capable of doing it, but it seems worth the effort. Who wants an Iranian/Syrian proxy in Iraq? Who wants another fundamentalist theocracy in the middle-east?

Although I voted for his opponent in both presidential elections, I find myself supporting President Bush in this decision. Rightly or wrongly, the administration has painted itself into a corner and the only path out is very messy.

Last fiddled with by masser on 2007-01-13 at 06:51
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Old 2007-01-13, 06:56   #9
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I'll try to be more temperate in my future responses. I could have made my preceding post less provocative while still communicating my ideas. Sorry.
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Old 2007-01-13, 07:50   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masser View Post
All those media windbags that were so gung-ho, embedded and patriotic four years ago are now so very critical, serious and doubtful of the President's plans. Politicians, left and right, also display this hypocrisy.
I disagree that it's hypocrisy.

A tale I've told many times since 9/11:

In summer school between my junior and senior years of high school, I took World History to get that requirement "out of the way". Our teacher, Mr. McGinty, happened to be an excellent one (who won an award for best teacher in the state, or something like that, and was promoted to principal shortly afterwards) who was realistic about what we'd learn about world history in just six weeks (and why we'd signed up for the summer session ;). So he concentrated on some basic principles that occurred over and over in history.

Among those basic principles was that rulers who faced domestic dissent often tried to turn their population's attention elsewhere by provoking, promoting, exaggerating or creating some external threat. Then, they could suppress dissent by playing the "patriotic card" -- everyone had to unite (i.e., stop dissenting) in order to deal with the external threat, or be accused of being unpatriotic.

Fast forward to Sept. 11, 2001. We've been attacked. Probably only a small percentage of US citizens had previously ever thought seriously about the possibilities of terrorist attack on the U.S. mainland.

(I had, but that's just because I'm a Tom Clancy fan, and in particular the ending of Clancy's novel "Debt of Honor" had startled me into thinking about how vulnerable we'd be to an attack by a jumbo jet deliberately crashing into an important building. But I never, ever thought about a coordinated plan with multiple plane hijackings and crashes.)

As many commentators agreed, it was more startling than Pearl Harbor. Most US citizens had their thinking impaired by the natural fear reaction going on for a while. The cry went up that we had to unite. "United We Stand", etc. (implying, or many times explicitly stating, that dissenters were unpatriotic).

I sent a note to an on-line acquaintance: approximately "Watch now as restrictions of civil liberties are proposed as anti-terrorism measures."

(My point is not that I'm so smart. My point is that it was quite possible for people who had paid attention to the lessons of history to foresee many of the consequences of 9/11. Many events have been echoes of earlier, similar historical reactions to shocks.

Pay attention in history class, kiddies! And in psychology class.)

President Bush and other senior government officials _had_, responsibly enough, done some thinking about terrorist threats in the first part of 2001 (though they had demoted it from the #1 concern, as the Clinton administration had considered it, to a lower priority -- see Richard Clarke [terrorism "czar" for both Clinton and Bush]'s book), in-between worrying about what to do about their failing and widely-criticized domestic agenda, and recovered quickly to dust off the plans that had been made.

The idea of a Department of Homeland Security had been floated during the Clinton administration. (I personally engaged in on-line forum debate with right-wingers who poo-pooed the idea as a Clinton power-grab.) So that plan was ready-to-go, along with a number of knee-jerk authoritarian provisions for increasing executive branch power to invade citizens' privacy and curtail civil liberties in the name of security that were cobbled together into a "PATRIOT Act".

I'm proud to be represented in the U.S. Senate by Russ Feingold (D-WI), the only Senator who had the courage to vote NO against the PATRIOT Act in 2001 because of its excessive contractions of civil liberties, and who has since been rewarded by having Republicans call him an "American terrorist". (I saw the bumper stickers around here in Waukesha County.)

Let me get something straight here. I've never accused the Bush administration of planning or executing the 9/11 attacks themselves, as many left-wingers have. What I've said is that Bush, et al., knew how to take skillful advantage of the population's shock to get Congress to rubber-stamp extensive new powers for the executive branch.

It's taken a few years (without further mainland attack -- "knock wood") for many people to recover from that 9/11 shock and gradually resume their skepticism about the administration's desire for power. That, not hypocrisy, is what accounts for the phenomenon you've seen.

Quote:
And I don't know what can be said of the 70% of the US population that opposes the troop buildup. Where was that 70% four years ago?
See above.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2007-01-13 at 08:08
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Old 2007-01-13, 08:39   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masser View Post
Italics, bold print, underline and exclamation points are
... ways I express myself when feeling very emotional. Punctuation marks never killed anyone. But some folks may find them distracting.

Quote:
Personally, I believe the war was a strategic mistake in the war on terror.
Yup. (Remember this lesson of history.)

Quote:
What happens after we leave? What happens to the moderates in Iraq that are trying to build a democracy?
At what point, and by whose authority, did the United States become responsible for domestic tranquility in any country other than our own?

There are about 200 other countries in the world. We can't baby-sit them all.

Citizens of the United States are not the only competent, rational-thinking adults on this planet.

Is Iraqi insurgency an unfortunate by-product of the US occupation after the initial invasion? Yes.

What are we obligated to do about that? Remember this as a lesson of history. Communicate this forcefully to future generations.

Quote:
I don't know if Iraq can be stabilized or if the US is capable of doing it, but it seems worth the effort.
Why? Who made us responsible?

And, no, the US is not capable of doing it. Those who think we are have been caught up in neocon arrogance, IMHO.

Quote:
Who wants an Iranian/Syrian proxy in Iraq? Who wants another fundamentalist theocracy in the middle-east?
Since when have we (USA) been able/authorized/empowered to try to obtain everything we want or prevent everything we don't want, just because we want, or don't want, it?

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I find myself supporting President Bush in this decision.
How do you argue that the US has legal or moral right, much less obligation, to continue on his proposed course?

Quote:
Rightly or wrongly, the administration has painted itself into a corner
Yes, ... and so it must suffer the political consequences, just as does any administration that stupidly or arrogantly paints itself into a corner. (Remember this lesson of history.)

Quote:
and the only path out is very messy.
No, there's still more than one path out.

I sympathize with you. A month ago I thought, too, that we "had" to throw in more troops.

Then I stood back and asked myself the questions I pose above. Then I realized that to think we have any obligation to "straighten out" Iraq is incredibly arrogant, and dangerous to the true national security of the United States of America.

I grieve for all the ordinary Iraqi citizens who are suffering.

But I also grieve for all the Sudanese citizens who are suffering. And the Somali citizens ... And the citizens of Tajikistan ... And ...

Numerous knowledgable commentators say the American army is "near the breaking point". Suppose, say, Canada (or Country X) decides to invade us. How do we defend ourselves when all the good equipment is in Iraq, and all the equipment back here in the US needs repair or overhaul and is not currently operable in battle?

At what point do our obligations to the general welfare of the United States of America, and to its Constitution, outweigh our obligations to accede to the desires of George W. Bush?

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2007-01-13 at 08:50
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