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Armed Liberal Replies

To my question here essentially stating that my post sums up everything that's wrong with the modern left. Two strange things about AL's post. One, I don't disagree with anything he said. Two, nothing in it contains an answer to the question "what would/should our response be to a new major terrorist attack." Now the post does refer to "states that are willing to shelter and succor" terrorists. I quite agree that America should overthrow the governments of states that shelter and succor groups that plan terrorist attacks against the United States. The trouble is that I don't see any states like that on my map. If you had to pick one as the closest candidate, I guess you come up with Pakistan, which kinda sorta fits the bill, but the reasons not to invade Pakistan are simply overwhelming. So if we are attacked again, what do we do? Law enforcement and intelligence work, AL suggests, which I think is right. But the current tenor of the political campaign strongly suggests that hawks are afraid John Kerry will offer a merely law enforcement and intelligence oriented response to future attacks. See what I'm getting at?

July 15, 2004 | Permalink


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Tracked on Jul 15, 2004 9:41:58 PM


Ok. I get it. Campaign stuff, hoist them on their petard, trap them with their rhetoric. I hope you get a lot of readers and trackbacks on this. A lot.

A) It was about Iraq, the flightsuit, and the mid-terms. Reliable sources say Bush wants to be the "Peace President" in his second term. He would do nothing differently than Kerry if attacked. Just bullshit tough talk, but after Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I have decided this is what Republicans prefer:phony warriors.

B) They are serious about major Middle-East hegemony and plan to attack Iran and/or Syria after the election, regardless. In which case they sure are not going to reveal thir plans during the election campaign, and will just talk vague generalities. If you say it can't be done, we have lots of cruise missles, and responsible is not these guys style.

C) My plan as below. Tell Syria and Egypt we are putting a brigade at an airport, and dare them to tell us no. Yes, the Arab street will erupt, but probably less casualties than total war.

D) Total war. Start the draft. Start rationing oil. Start building troop ships.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jul 15, 2004 9:33:14 PM

I do fear that Kerry doesn't have the guts to make war -- even when war is what's called for. That's the one and only reason I might not vote for him. The next time someone asks him how he'd defend the country if elected, it would make me so happy to hear Kerry say:

"If terrorists attack us, and some other country sent those terrorists, I will take us to war with that country, invade and overthrow their government, whatever it takes. But if the terrorists weren't sponsored by a government, I'm not going to send us into war just so I can look macho."

Kerry's been saying the equivalent of that second sentence a lot, and that's fine -- except I never hear him say the first sentence. I never hear him name *any* circumstance, short of an openly acknowledged attack, under which he would have the courage to take us to war. And that scares me.

I fervently hope that Iran's kids overthrow their idiot cleric-tyrants soon, and if they don't, well, I hope the cleric-tyrants aren't total idiots. But if Iran's rulers someday get back into the habit they once had of sponsoring waves of terrorist attacks on Americans, and hundreds or thousands of us die, I don't want America's President to say, "well, Iran hasn't admitted responsibility, so we can't have a war -- maybe just some cruise missiles."

You may think it's silly to fear that Kerry would be as nerveless about war as Bill Clinton. But if he's not, if Kerry does have the guts to go to war if another country is actually responsible for attacking us, why doesn't he say so clearly? And often?

Then I could vote for Kerry with enthusiasm. Because while I know Bush will happily wage war for us, I also know a war led by Bush is a war led badly. And I'm sick and tired of that.

Posted by: unhappy fencesitter | Jul 15, 2004 10:03:12 PM

Mighty strange how some people conceive of a president's decision to wage war in terms of personal courage. It's not as if the president is going personally into the battlefield to risk his life. He just, you know, gives the orders.

I mean, sure, there is definitely political risk to waging war. But there is political risk to any major decision that could seriously affect a president's popularity. And if the US is attacked by another country (or as with the case of Afghanistan, by terrorists being harbored by a particular country) it would most likely be a relatively popular decision to retaliate.

So I guess I just don't know what the hell Mr. Fencesitter is so concerned about.

Posted by: blah | Jul 15, 2004 10:21:01 PM

What are the reasons we cannot invade that part of Pakistan where Bin Laden is hiding? I know they have nukes, but those nukes not controled the by the people in Waziristan and other parts of the northwest tribal regions.

Was not the US (CIA) all over this part of the country in the 80's , setting up bases, and helping the Pastun people (who are divided between Afganistan and Pakistan) fight in Afganistan. Now the US is on the other side of that exact same border, IN AFGANISTAN, and cannot cross in and capturn Bin Laden.

These are "wild, tribal areas". But I think the 10th mountain division could handle it. Wasn't the Saudi who just gave himself up in a wheel chair? He must have a lot of support in these tribal areas.

Could we not negotiate with the other ethinic groups in Pakistan to let us in there? I thought the republicans wanted to take the battle to the enemy?

I am a little personal about this, I was at 30,000 FT on Sept 11th, on a United flight, going from the Northeast to California. Thank god I left from Hartford and not Boston or Newark.

I am not well educated on this subject, so maybe someone could explain why the "reasons not to invade Pakistan [Waziristan] are simply overwhelming".

I can only assume the professionals think they in a major city, not in the tribal areas.

Posted by: Vandemere | Jul 15, 2004 10:26:53 PM

'Fills' the bill.

Posted by: what | Jul 15, 2004 10:37:23 PM

Waziristan is a lot like Afghanistan, and, as near as I can tell, we didn't invade Afghanistan. We just hired other Afghans to do the fighting because the terrain would eat us alive. Even that hasn't been terribly successful.

Some elements within the Saudi government seem connected to global terrorism such as al-Qaeda. Ma'ariv had an article on this just yesterday. But I think they key there is aggressive intelligence and tough diplomacy and hope nothing extreme happens.

Iran is really the only other possibility here, depending on what you make of the alleged connections to al-Qaeda via the Revolutionary Guard. And I think there is a case to be made that Kerry will be more conciliatory toward Iran than Bush has been. This is probably a major fault line between the two camps.

Posted by: Brian Ulrich | Jul 15, 2004 10:40:10 PM

Super Chunky fatboy Oliver Willis, arbiter of all things "dishonest," has yet to "weigh in" (get it? weigh in, 'cause he's so fuckin' fat) on Joe "the hair" Wilson's by-now crystal clear lies. Why's that, fat ollie?

Posted by: u | Jul 15, 2004 10:43:13 PM

dear fencesitter,
it doesn't bother me in the least that Kerry says he won't attack unless we're attacked first. he's been there, done that. He knows first hand the consequences of sending our nation's future to some god-forsaken spot on the planet - people die horrible deaths.
i applaud his forthrightness in saying that, and in being clear about what he will ask of my sons.
Patton said 'the object of war isn't to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his' but losing some of our own is unavoidable.
I just want to make sure that our President understands the consequences of his decisions. And I don't think Bush really does.

Posted by: justa grata honoria | Jul 15, 2004 10:43:23 PM

what's wrong with the modern left? one of its "spokesmen" is a dippy little harvard twat named matty y.

Posted by: adfdsa | Jul 15, 2004 10:45:49 PM

perhaps the biggest myth currently in vogue among neo-con circles is that if a democrat was in the white house on September 11th that he would have just thrown up his hands and surrendered to the terrorists. Its patently ridiculous, any president, of any party (I might be reaching here. . but even nader) would have stuck it to the taliban post 9/11. Any rational person should have no fear that Kerry would have done the same thing. Iraq is another matter. . . .

Posted by: JasonDL | Jul 15, 2004 10:50:14 PM


I remember a documentary where they showed a number of US soldiers staring across the border into Pakistan and saying "we can't go there". And the football player (sorry I cannot remember his name) was killed near the border.

I understand we did not "invade" Afganistan, with so few troops there it is not really an invasion like Irag or the Soviets attempt earlier.

But if we did not waste our resources in Iraq, do you or anyone else think a skilled President could have negotiated our way in there? From the Afgan side? I am skeptical about the terrian being to tough for us, any military people out there that can enlighten me?

Posted by: vandemere | Jul 15, 2004 10:51:33 PM

We could have negotiated special forces in, perhaps, much like we had in much of Afghanistan. The object in Pakistan, though, would be more of a search and destroy mission, not toppling the government, and thus terrain might not have mattered much. But given that, I also don't think the debate between MY and AL really applies to it.

Posted by: Brian Ulrich | Jul 15, 2004 10:58:52 PM

I sure hope in the debate Kerry gets the question first:

Wolf Blitzer:Mr President, if we were attacked again, what would you do?
Bush: I would find out who attacked us, hunt them down, and give them justice! (Sneer;crowd goes wild)
Wolf:Senator Kerry, What would you do differently than President Bush if we were attacked?

Bush's best response to an attack is to continue the tough talk; do the sympathy stuff; and counter his image by promising a thorough investigation and a measured careful response; in other words, do little, and reassure those who think him a cowboy. Devastating. And since I think Bush was never really serious about the WoT or Middle East transformation, it will serve his purposes.

I am probably the only dude left wanting urgent swamp draining.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jul 15, 2004 11:47:51 PM

I'd bet we're already flying UAVs in Pakistan and engaging in hot pursuit.

Posted by: praktike | Jul 16, 2004 12:32:09 AM

bob mcmanus: I'd expect Kerry to say something like, "I'd actually do what Bush says. Under a Kerry Administration it would not be three years and counting since the greatest terrorist attack in US history without bringing its mastermind to justice. The President talks a good talk, but when it comes down to it, he doesn't get the job done."

Posted by: Kimmitt | Jul 16, 2004 1:05:48 AM

Oh, c'mon! There's lots more wrong with the modern Left than that...

...but to be serious for a moment, I do think you're not listening to the sound of what you wrote; I do think it's close to a dominant Dem POV, and that, like Dukakis' reply to Shaw, it does't reflect well on us.

And no, I'm not at all suggesting that law enforcement and intelligence work; in fact, I keep saying that they haven't worked, which suggests pretty strongly that they don't. Clinton's team was pretty good at the law enforcement thing, and look where that got us. As I've said, doctrinal failure...

And there's the rub.

The antiwar movement has hammered away on public support of the war since before the war, and now - amazingly enough! - uses the poll numbers to retroactively justify their position. Bush somehow thinks that he'll be followed without bothering to tell anyone why they should follow him, or where he's going. It's going to be a very interesting fall season. But I owe a more substantive response, and will work on it.


Posted by: Armed Liberal | Jul 16, 2004 1:44:12 AM

"Mighty strange how some people conceive of a president's decision to wage war in terms of personal courage. It's not as if the president is going personally into the battlefield to risk his life. He just, you know, gives the orders."

Yeah right. And all you do is comment in a mainly anonymous way in a blog.

Look, whoever we're talking about, whatever party or idealogical side of the spectrum, or however much a 'mere' politician... the decision to go to war IS personal. It's what a whole generation will judge you on - and what history will record for all time too.

It is most CERTAINLY NOT just "giving orders". To imply such is not only assinine, but displays your immaturity.

Posted by: Dave Dombrowski | Jul 16, 2004 2:15:02 AM

I'm just afraid that Kerry is another Bill Clinton on foreign policy. I'm afraid that Kerry will let our enemies do what they want to us, rather than face the moral and political risks of going to actual war with them. Right now, we don't have any country-sized enemies that need fighting, thank God, but what if we do?

I just want to hear Kerry say, every now and then, "If terrorists attack us, and it turns out a foreign country's government really was behind that attack, I will not send an angry letter, and I will not send a token batch of cruise missiles. I will send our military to invade that country and overthrow that government."

And then he can go on about how Bush has been doing things all wrong in Iraq, and I'll be perfectly content.

I hate so much of what Bush is doing, but I'm scared to death of getting another Bill Clinton on foreign policy -- no ground troops, nothing more than cruise missiles, even at the price of letting our enemies get stronger while we hesitate. Not that I was so different from Clinton's outlook in the 90's, but I know better now. 9/11 taught me. I can't vote for a man who would let the next Afghanistan fester the way we let the last one fester. I can't -- even if the alternative is four more years of Bush.

If Kerry really is like the rest of us, if he's not offering us a return to Clinton's policy on enemies, if Kerry too has gotten over the pre-9/11 innocence -- if he's ready to order a true invasion and not just cruise missiles when that's what we have to do -- then it shouldn't be hard for him to say it. All he has to do is say it.

Why hasn't he said it?

Posted by: unhappy fencesitter | Jul 16, 2004 2:16:53 AM

" Not that I was so different from Clinton's outlook in the 90's, but I know better now. 9/11 taught me. "

Is there anything that would make you believe John Kerry is unaware that 9-11 took place?

Is there something special about your brain that produces epiphanies that John Kerry would likely miss?

If so, I recommend you offer yourself as an advisor to the Kerry Campaign. I hear they cast a wide net.


"Why hasn't he said it?"

'Kerry told the crowd he would not hesitate to go to war but would cooperate with the United Nations.' (I couldn't find the original speech, just the report - Minnesota Daily 2-24-04 "Kerry pushes economy in Twin Cities Speech")

'While the United States should not hesitate to use military might when
necessary to ''destroy'' terrorists, ''we should never wait to act until we have
no other choice but war, '' said Kerry. (London Free Press, 5-28-04, 'Kerry Releases Anti-Terror Plan in Shot at Bush')

"In a September speech in South Carolina: "Being flown to an aircraft carrier
and saying 'Mission accomplished' doesn't end a war. And the swagger of a
president saying 'Bring 'em on' will never bring peace. At times in the term of
the next president, we may well have to use force to fight terrorism. I will not
hesitate to do so. But if I am president, the United States will never go to
war because we want to, we will only go to war because we have to." " (Boston Globe, 3-20-04, "In Search of Voice of the People; Kerry May Need to Adjust his PItch, Speech Experts Say"

Posted by: Gabriel | Jul 16, 2004 2:51:21 AM

"I can't vote for a man who would let the next Afghanistan fester the way we let the last one fester. I can't -- even if the alternative is four more years of Bush."

Aw Jesus. This is exactly what's happening in Afghanistan right now, and it's ~because~ of Bush. Kerry's the one who's talked about getting more NATO peacekeepers and following up on some sort of 'Marshall Plan'. Fallujah may be going down that road too, since the withdrawal, but at least there are people in the Kerry camp who see this.

Posted by: EH | Jul 16, 2004 3:39:50 AM

"The antiwar movement has hammered away on public support of the war since before the war, and now - amazingly enough! - uses the poll numbers to retroactively justify their position." -- Armed Liberal

Could it be that the polls have come around to the anti-war position because what the doves were saying before the war was mostly correct? Senator Pat Roberts seems to think so.

Posted by: Bret | Jul 16, 2004 4:32:05 AM

The conventional understanding of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is that they were both responses to 9/11, but of a different character: the Taliban were a sort of state sponsor of Al Qaeda, during the period of 9/11's gestation; but Saddam's Iraq was merely a possible future source of WMD terrorism, which had to be preempted. Matt is clearly talking about the second sort of response. If Country X is directly implicated in a "new 9/11", then X will obviously become a target - the next Afghanistan, so to speak. But he's asking who might become the next Iraq, and on what grounds.

To my mind the obvious candidates are Iran and North Korea - especially Iran, in view of the reports that it's hosting Al Qaeda leaders right now. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan would also come under much more pressure, especially if this hypothetical new attack did emerge from the Saudi/Pak jihadi milieu. But that direct connection would make them the "next Afghanistan", not the "next Iraq".

Now, in my view Iraq was behind Al Qaeda throughout the 1990s. The evidence does not just consist of Feith-memo-style reports of a contact here and a contact there, but a large number of in-your-face facts whose impact has not been felt, only because (i) they got spun away when they happened (ii) they have never been subsequently put together. I have a small tabulation here - if anyone cares to reexamine the issue at this late date. I also find impossible to swallow Laurie Mylroie's line that no-one ever connected the dots. I think both Clinton and Bush have known perfectly well what was going on - it's just that the facts are considered a state secret. (I will admit that Bush's post-9/11 request that Richard Clarke's group look into the possibility of Iraqi sponsorship does not fit this theory of a bipartisan executive-branch conspiracy. The main reason I feel that they must have known is in the timing of the various attempts throughout the 1990s to overthrow Saddam. Perhaps they only suspected his involvement...)

So, let's hypothetically suppose that this weekend, there's a big anthrax attack somewhere. The number-one suspects would have to be Iraqi intelligence, working with Al Qaeda, engineering an attack on the anniversary of Iraq's Baathist revolution (July 17). Would the Bush administration dare to engineer a war with Iran, on the basis of the presence of Al Qaeda leaders in that country, and on the basis of its nuclear program, while still trying to maintain that Iraq's relationship with Al Qaeda was a mysterious and indirect one?

But instead of pondering that rather hypothetical scenario, there are two other possibilities I find more worthy of contemplation. One is that there is already limited cooperation between the USA and Iran against Al Qaeda (as there appears to have been with Syria). The other is that Iran worked with Iraq to sponsor Al Qaeda in the 1990s. Really, this boils down to the question: Just what has been the relationship between the USA, Iran, Iraq, and Al Qaeda? If you could answer that, you'd be in a better position to know what's coming.

Posted by: mitch | Jul 16, 2004 4:58:57 AM

And no, I'm not at all suggesting that law enforcement and intelligence work; in fact, I keep saying that they haven't worked, which suggests pretty strongly that they don't.

But if another attack occurs, it will be pretty clear that invading countires, particularly ones with litte to do with ALQ (hello Mitch), is not very useful either. Invading PK, Saudi, and Morrocco would be beyond US abilities, without a draft, and would probably not solve the problem. The terrorists would move on to some other country, and hide there.

Ultimately, the 'invasion' attititude of the right is not a serious response to terrorism. And, yes, it sums up everything that is wrong with the modern war-happy right.

Posted by: Ikram | Jul 16, 2004 8:11:30 AM

"And I think there is a case to be made that Kerry will be more conciliatory toward Iran than Bush has been."

More conciliatory than accepting misinformation from an Iranian spy and using it to justify a war that takes out Iran's biggest enemy with no cost to Iran?

Posted by: KCinDC | Jul 16, 2004 9:26:59 AM


You express my same hope: that Iran's theocratic tyrants are overthrown by their own children. It is difficult to see that this will not happen. Of course the world could plunge into another Dark Age, but the suppression of informaiton that this requires seems very unlikely. War against their fathers is not going to speed the cultural brainwashing of these kids. Which I would rather leave to MTV and Nikewho have proven themselves much better at winning hearts and minds to the "evils" of capitalism and multiculturalism than the US Army.

Posted by: epistemology | Jul 16, 2004 9:29:02 AM

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