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Mixed Messages

The president's repeated contention that you win a war by speaking clearly and consistently is something that has to warm any writer's heart. The pen, as they say, is mightier than the sword. Sadly, though, I doubt this is an accurate assessment of military strategy. Sending a message is one thing. Killing Osama bin Laden is another. Sending a message is one thing. Retaking Falluja is another. Sending a message is one thing. Halting genocide in Darfur is another. Sending a message is one thing. Preventing a hostile Iran from going nuclear is another. Sending a message is one thing. Warding off the looming Iraqi Civil War is another. Results matter. The real world matters.

September 30, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

Unfortunately, you are not member of the Kerry debate team.

Posted by: praktike | Sep 30, 2004 11:13:07 PM

To use a football analogy, you gameplan and then adjust. We need to become a second half team.

Posted by: Just Karl | Sep 30, 2004 11:30:17 PM

Spoken very un-like a philosopher.

Posted by: Nougaro | Sep 30, 2004 11:44:40 PM

A mixed message is an indication of mixed thinking. "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."

My impression of Kerry is that he is really anti-war at heart. He really believes that conflict can be resolved by negotiation and not by force.
Why doesn't he just say that rather than spending so much of the campaign days changing his position. (Has history proven that negotiation is more effective than war when it comes to irrational forces that will stop at nothing to win their objective?)

Also, where is the accountability for the UN in all of this? What have they done about Darfur? North Korea? And Iran clearly does not respect the UN. It's response the French and German is laughable. The UN has been around longer that President Bush has been in office. Terrorism has been an known problem for over a decade. The UN is the epitome of an organization with a message (albeit conflicting) with little effective action.

When America takes action to pick-up the slack for the UN (e.g. Iraq), why is she criticized for not acting multilaterally? When the UN fails to act on behalf of dying innocents, why is it America's fault for not acting e.g. Darfur?

It amazes me how many leaders in the international community agreed about WMDs in Iraq. The incredibly ineffectual UN response was 13 resolutions that did not work. And what about the "Oil for Food" scandal? And Saddam continued killing his people too...

America (with its allies) is the only country that actually took action to substantiate her message.

In all of history, looking at all of the nations that has risen to great power, never has there been a nation that has used its power with more restraint and benevolent purposes than the United States (despite her many mistakes).

We are currently the world's sole superpower. But we're not going after nations to rape, pillage and force them under our cruel domination. Instead, we want to give them the taste of what Willam Wallace screamed. Freedom.

"As a man speaketh, so is he." In his 20 years in the Senate, what has Kerry done to substantiate his many messages?

Posted by: bluecitrus | Sep 30, 2004 11:55:26 PM

A mixed message is an indication of mixed thinking. "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."

My impression of Kerry is that he is really anti-war at heart. He really believes that conflict can be resolved by negotiation and not by force.
Why doesn't he just say that rather than spending so much of the campaign days changing his position. (Has history proven that negotiation is more effective than war when it comes to irrational forces that will stop at nothing to win their objective?)

Also, where is the accountability for the UN in all of this? What have they done about Darfur? North Korea? And Iran clearly does not respect the UN. It's response the French and German is laughable. The UN has been around longer that President Bush has been in office. Terrorism has been an known problem for over a decade. The UN is the epitome of an organization with a message (albeit conflicting) with little effective action.

When America takes action to pick-up the slack for the UN (e.g. Iraq), why is she criticized for not acting multilaterally? When the UN fails to act on behalf of dying innocents, why is it America's fault for not acting e.g. Darfur?

It amazes me how many leaders in the international community agreed about WMDs in Iraq. The incredibly ineffectual UN response was 13 resolutions that did not work. And what about the "Oil for Food" scandal? And Saddam continued killing his people too...

America (with its allies) is the only country that actually took action to substantiate her message.

In all of history, looking at all of the nations that has risen to great power, never has there been a nation that has used its power with more restraint and benevolent purposes than the United States (despite her many mistakes).

We are currently the world's sole superpower. But we're not going after nations to rape, pillage and force them under our cruel domination. Instead, we want to give them the taste of what Willam Wallace screamed. Freedom.

"As a man speaketh, so is he." In his 20 years in the Senate, what has Kerry done to substantiate his many messages?

Posted by: bluecitrus | Sep 30, 2004 11:55:57 PM

A mixed message is an indication of mixed thinking. "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."

My impression of Kerry is that he is really anti-war at heart. He really believes that conflict can be resolved by negotiation and not by force.
Why doesn't he just say that rather than spending so much of the campaign days changing his position. (Has history proven that negotiation is more effective than war when it comes to irrational forces that will stop at nothing to win their objective?)

Also, where is the accountability for the UN in all of this? What have they done about Darfur? North Korea? And Iran clearly does not respect the UN. It's response the French and German is laughable. The UN has been around longer that President Bush has been in office. Terrorism has been an known problem for over a decade. The UN is the epitome of an organization with a message (albeit conflicting) with little effective action.

When America takes action to pick-up the slack for the UN (e.g. Iraq), why is she criticized for not acting multilaterally? When the UN fails to act on behalf of dying innocents, why is it America's fault for not acting e.g. Darfur?

It amazes me how many leaders in the international community agreed about WMDs in Iraq. The incredibly ineffectual UN response was 13 resolutions that did not work. And what about the "Oil for Food" scandal? And Saddam continued killing his people too...

America (with its allies) is the only country that actually took action to substantiate her message.

In all of history, looking at all of the nations that has risen to great power, never has there been a nation that has used its power with more restraint and benevolent purposes than the United States (despite her many mistakes).

We are currently the world's sole superpower. But we're not going after nations to rape, pillage and force them under our cruel domination. Instead, we want to give them the taste of what Willam Wallace screamed. Freedom.

"As a man speaketh, so is he." In his 20 years in the Senate, what has Kerry done to substantiate his many messages?

Posted by: bluecitrus | Sep 30, 2004 11:56:42 PM

A mixed message is an indication of mixed thinking. "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."

My impression of Kerry is that he is really anti-war at heart. He really believes that conflict can be resolved by negotiation and not by force.
Why doesn't he just say that rather than spending so much of the campaign days changing his position. (Has history proven that negotiation is more effective than war when it comes to irrational forces that will stop at nothing to win their objective?)

Also, where is the accountability for the UN in all of this? What have they done about Darfur? North Korea? And Iran clearly does not respect the UN. It's response the French and German is laughable. The UN has been around longer that President Bush has been in office. Terrorism has been an known problem for over a decade. The UN is the epitome of an organization with a message (albeit conflicting) with little effective action.

When America takes action to pick-up the slack for the UN (e.g. Iraq), why is she criticized for not acting multilaterally? When the UN fails to act on behalf of dying innocents, why is it America's fault for not acting e.g. Darfur?

It amazes me how many leaders in the international community agreed about WMDs in Iraq. The incredibly ineffectual UN response was 13 resolutions that did not work. And what about the "Oil for Food" scandal? And Saddam continued killing his people too...

America (with its allies) is the only country that actually took action to substantiate her message.

In all of history, looking at all of the nations that has risen to great power, never has there been a nation that has used its power with more restraint and benevolent purposes than the United States (despite her many mistakes).

We are currently the world's sole superpower. But we're not going after nations to rape, pillage and force them under our cruel domination. Instead, we want to give them the taste of what Willam Wallace screamed. Freedom.

"As a man speaketh, so is he." In his 20 years in the Senate, what has Kerry done to substantiate his many messages?

Posted by: BC | Sep 30, 2004 11:57:12 PM

A mixed message is an indication of mixed thinking. "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."

My impression of Kerry is that he is really anti-war at heart. He really believes that conflict can be resolved by negotiation and not by force.
Why doesn't he just say that rather than spending so much of the campaign days changing his position. (Has history proven that negotiation is more effective than war when it comes to irrational forces that will stop at nothing to win their objective?)

Also, where is the accountability for the UN in all of this? What have they done about Darfur? North Korea? And Iran clearly does not respect the UN. It's response the French and German is laughable. The UN has been around longer that President Bush has been in office. Terrorism has been an known problem for over a decade. The UN is the epitome of an organization with a message (albeit conflicting) with little effective action.

When America takes action to pick-up the slack for the UN (e.g. Iraq), why is she criticized for not acting multilaterally? When the UN fails to act on behalf of dying innocents, why is it America's fault for not acting e.g. Darfur?

It amazes me how many leaders in the international community agreed about WMDs in Iraq. The incredibly ineffectual UN response was 13 resolutions that did not work. And what about the "Oil for Food" scandal? And Saddam continued killing his people too...

America (with its allies) is the only country that actually took action to substantiate her message.

In all of history, looking at all of the nations that has risen to great power, never has there been a nation that has used its power with more restraint and benevolent purposes than the United States (despite her many mistakes).

We are currently the world's sole superpower. But we're not going after nations to rape, pillage and force them under our cruel domination. Instead, we want to give them the taste of what Willam Wallace screamed. Freedom.

"As a man speaketh, so is he." In his 20 years in the Senate, what has Kerry done to substantiate his many messages?

Posted by: BlueCitrus | Sep 30, 2004 11:58:40 PM

A mixed message is an indication of mixed thinking. "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."

My impression of Kerry is that he is really anti-war at heart. He really believes that conflict can be resolved by negotiation and not by force.
Why doesn't he just say that rather than spending so much of the campaign days changing his position. (Has history proven that negotiation is more effective than war when it comes to irrational forces that will stop at nothing to win their objective?)

Also, where is the accountability for the UN in all of this? What have they done about Darfur? North Korea? And Iran clearly does not respect the UN. It's response the French and German is laughable. The UN has been around longer that President Bush has been in office. Terrorism has been an known problem for over a decade. The UN is the epitome of an organization with a message (albeit conflicting) with little effective action.

When America takes action to pick-up the slack for the UN (e.g. Iraq), why is she criticized for not acting multilaterally? When the UN fails to act on behalf of dying innocents, why is it America's fault for not acting e.g. Darfur?

It amazes me how many leaders in the international community agreed about WMDs in Iraq. The incredibly ineffectual UN response was 13 resolutions that did not work. And what about the "Oil for Food" scandal? And Saddam continued killing his people too...

America (with its allies) is the only country that actually took action to substantiate her message.

In all of history, looking at all of the nations that has risen to great power, never has there been a nation that has used its power with more restraint and benevolent purposes than the United States (despite her many mistakes).

We are currently the world's sole superpower. But we're not going after nations to rape, pillage and force them under our cruel domination. Instead, we want to give them the taste of what Willam Wallace screamed. Freedom.

"As a man speaketh, so is he." In his 20 years in the Senate, what has Kerry done to substantiate his many messages?

Posted by: BlueCitrus | Oct 1, 2004 12:00:48 AM

er, we can't "retake" Falluja if we never really had it in the first place. The marines weren't in there long enough, and didn't have the troop strength needed to "take" it in the little time we were in there. Whydaya wanna take it at all? I mean, how deep do we want to go in Iraq? Is our goal there to disperse/catch the foreign jihadis and ensure that Fallujans don't attack US forces and Iraqis?

I've heard Fallujah being described as a place historically that is like an earlier Sicily, with a few extended families playing the mafia role. May not be ideal, but if we could convince them to expel the jihadis, and this is not as pie in the sky as it sounds. From what I've read the very independent Fallujans are really sick of the people they are starting to view as the crazy Arabs. Yeah, they initially invited them in to help defend them but they are starting to try to pull the taliban type crap - no movies, music, etc. that is not in keeping with the Fallujan's lifestyle. So if they spit out the foreign jihadis, and stop sponsoring attacks elsewhere in the country, and we pull the US troops back, well then we don't need to "take" it. Occupying the town with US troops will never work with these people. According to Juan Cole, even Saddam didn't screw with Falluja. What makes someone think that we can change them? And why should we even try? This is what I mean about how damn deep are we suppose to go with this mission in Iraq?

Sorry for the long rant. I think you've done a fine job with pointing out Bush's inconsistencies. And you've given Afghanistan the attention it deserves. I just think that we've taken the wrong tack regarding Falluja. When the marines relieved the army there, I think they had a good handle on the place. They understood that a heavy handed approach would just alienate them. Then that group of mercenaries rolled right down the main road and were killed in a horrible manner and Bush gave his war cry and then everything went to hell.

I'm trying to find a link to a fantastic article I read a while back from a reporter who spoke Arabic and convinced the Fallujans that he was Chechnian or Bosnian. I think it was in the Fact section of the New Yorker. The Fallujans gave him free rein and the impression you're left with after reading it is a far cry from what the mainstream media presents. If the local grand poobahs are sick of the foreign jihadis and resent the encroachment on their power, then they could be a potential ally. Everytime we do an aerial bombing, though, are chances are slimmer.

Posted by: Altec | Oct 1, 2004 12:01:51 AM

err... sorry about the multiple posts of the same stuff. Your thing kept giving an error message saying it would not allow me to post unless I hit the post button again, and again, and again.

Posted by: BlueCitrus | Oct 1, 2004 12:13:17 AM

Here is the link to the Fallujan article if you're interested and haven't already read it.

www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?040705fa_fact

Posted by: altec | Oct 1, 2004 12:38:52 AM

Well, with the cut and run Democratic Party of Vietnam, and the over arching concern of exit strategy over commitment to the modern Democratic Party, it seems that the missing ingredient is the unwavering consistnecy in word or deed that this Presidnet exihibits. Lasting results only come from that kind of commitment. It is disingenuous to characterize the President’s words any other way. What happened to the Democratic party of JFK, when he said at his 1960 Inaugural Address, " Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge—and more." This sounds more like George W. Bush than any current Democrat. Your post is clever, but silly.


Posted by: MCL | Oct 1, 2004 3:10:06 AM

Matt, I believe the phrase is "mexed missages."

Posted by: EH | Oct 1, 2004 3:26:52 AM

In last night's debate, Bush's emphasis on avoiding 'mixed signals' suggests that his conception of leadership requires steadfastness above all.

This helps to explain his inability to acknowledge unpleasant realities. It's leadership by hucksterism--the Ken Lay method.

Steadfastness has it's place among the qualities we expect of a leader but along with vision, skill and the capacity to make good decisions.

Steadfastness in the service of bad decisions is no virtue.

Posted by: Dave Hollander | Oct 1, 2004 6:48:44 AM

"The incredibly ineffectual UN response was 13 resolutions that did not work."

Bluecitrus, wtf do you mean, "did not work"? Did US troops get nuked in their assembly areas during the pre-war buildup? Did our army have to fight its way through clouds of poison gas to Baghdad? Did we uncover major caches of WMD in the aftermath of the war? Did we find any evidence at all that Iraq possessed WMD subsequent to about 1991? Get a clue, guy!

Posted by: rea | Oct 1, 2004 9:27:05 AM

Seems to me that Shrub is the one sending the troops a mixed message. THEY see the situation on the ground in Iraq and it sure doesn't match what the Preznitwit spouts. How demoralizing is that?

Posted by: John | Oct 1, 2004 9:46:48 AM

To REA:

"did not work" means that Saddam failed to comply with the UN demands as stated in the resolutions. Hence the need to pass THIRTEEN resolutions re Iraq for the same thing. Why would they need to pass so many resolutions if they were effective in managing Saddam. He kept delaying and evading and we kept giving him more of the Oil for Food crap that is now mired in scandal. Again, the UN stuff just did not work.

Posted by: bluecitrus | Oct 1, 2004 11:52:42 AM

bluecitrus, you're not making sense. You think 13 UN resolutions about Iraqi WMD were failures-but Iraq didn't have any WMD. I mean--what the heck do you think success would have looked like? Do you think Saddam should have acquired some WMD to destroy for your edifcaton?

The business about corruption in the oil for food prgram would be funny if you weren't trying to use it to shape public policy. Where is the evidence for it? Well, Chalabi SAID he had evidence, but never produced it--and then tried to claim he lost it in the simultaneous crash of two seperate computers on seperate continents. But the accusation survives, even if the eivdence or the credibility of the accuser dd not . . .

Posted by: rea | Oct 1, 2004 12:34:43 PM

But sending a message is easy. All that other stuff you mentioned is "hard work."

Posted by: BFDiehl | Oct 1, 2004 12:54:53 PM

If Saddam didn't have any WMDs, why then did the UN pass 13 resolutions? Just for fun?

Help me understand what I'm missing.

Posted by: bluecitrus | Oct 1, 2004 5:49:19 PM

The nuclear program was buried in some guy's back yard. The UN sanction regime was working. If it wasn't, he would have had the weapon stockpiles we said he had. It's as simple as that. Did we have irrefutable proof that he did NOT have WMD? No. Does that justify short circuiting the international enforcement process and attacking? Answers may vary, but it's important not to lose sight of the basic facts.

One of the most credible and reasonable perspectives on all of this is that of Rolf Ekus of UNSCOM, who belives that what Saddam had and sought to sustain was a concealable, just-in-time production capability that would enable him to produce chem/bio battlefield, not strategic, weapons to use against the likes of Iran and Israel. Now, assuming that he did have such a capability, does that justify us attacking? Does it justify us going to war in the manner we did, and does it explain or excuse throwing out the comprehensive postwar planning of State Department experts in favor of Don Rumsfeld's faith in Ahmed Chalabi? Again, reasonable answers may vary, but we must be mindful of the basic facts if we want to reach sensible conclusions.

Posted by: Handle | Oct 1, 2004 6:00:27 PM

Incidentally, there's also the Cheney perspective on the WMD question, which is that the weapons did exist and still do, out there, somewhere, maybe Syria...

One of Rumsfeld's "known unknowns" and practically unfalsifiable; if true, though, cuts against the notion that we're "safer" for having attacked. So, did he not have WMD? Or did he have them, but we lost them like we lost bin Laden?

Posted by: Handle | Oct 1, 2004 6:08:17 PM

This bussiness of mexed missages is sheer insanity.

If you believe Busheviks, the missages are not mexed if, and only if, when we threaten to wack someone that we will wack the guy. Dead. Nothing less counts.

In the same time, you can exhibit another example of duplicity
every week and missages stay unmexed. Tiny example: Kerry said that, unlike Bush, he does not intends to have 14 permanent military bases in Iraq. Bush replied nothing to that. What can Iraqi think about our plans for their country?

Another example: Iraqi often view our policy toward Palestinians as a litmus test of our attitude toward Arabs. What the hell happened to the peace process? Misseges were numerous, heavily mexed, and now they are all forgetten -- but not by the Arabs.

Posted by: piotr | Oct 1, 2004 8:06:24 PM

In response to Handle's "Did we have irrefutable proof that he did NOT have WMD?"

I hear from various sources that Saddam used WMDs on his own people.

Does WMD = nuclear bomb? It seems like it includes both chemical and biological weapons.

Saddam kept killing his own people. He kept ignoring the UN. Where is the success of the sanctions? So many Iraqis died. Millons more than are dying now.

The oil for food scandal is disgraceful. If the UN can't be trusted to regulate itself, why should we, the sole remaining superpower, sign over our foreign policy to this decaying, ineffectual organization?

Posted by: bluecitrus | Oct 1, 2004 11:30:37 PM

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