Knowing In Part
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Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Will the Oppostion Lead?
Andrew Sullivan links to a Op-Ed piece in the NY Times that I find both very appealing and confounding. The crux of the argument is that the democracts need to have a viable stance on the War on Terror. They need to use thier ties to European governments in particular to go out and convince the world of the justice of what America has been doing in Iraq. This quote from the article gives a good feel for Paul Berman's feelings.
"Nobody can doubt, however, that even in its planning stages, the invasion and occupation of Iraq were depressingly bungled. The whole thing was done in an odd mood of hysteria and parsimony, a bad combination. It is tempting to conclude that, all in all, we would have been better off staying out of Iraq altogether — and maybe this will turn out to be the case.
But everyone who feels drawn to that conclusion had better acknowledge its full meaning: the unavoidable implication that we would be better off today with Saddam Hussein in power; better off with economic sanctions still strangling the Iraqi people; better off with American army bases still occupying Saudi soil (Osama bin Laden's original grievance against us); and better off without the progress on weapons proliferation in the Muslim world (unless you believe in the sheer-coincidence theory, in which case, you think that progress would have happened willy-nilly). That is a pretty horrifying set of alternatives. "
He acknowledges the reasons for going into Iraq and states his belief that the operation has been badly handled. I don't have a problem with this. I don't feel that things have been bungled as badly has he does, but I can see where he is coming from. This and others like it are the parts of the article that I admire and respect. The parts that bother me go like this.
"I wish the Democrats would follow Mr. Kerry's example and take it a step further by putting together a small contingent of Democrats with international reputations, a kind of shadow government — not to undermine American policy but to achieve what Mr. Bush seems unable to do. The Democrats ought to explain the dangers of modern totalitarianism and the goals of the war. They ought to make the call for patience and sacrifice that Mr. Bush has steadfastly avoided. And the Democratic contingent ought to go around the world making that case."
I see a few problems with this. First, Mr. Kerry did urge the incoming Spanish government to not withdraw troops which has been admirable, but for the most part Kerry has done little but criticize the current operations in Iraq. Not exactly the kind of behavior I would really want to see more of from the Democratic side. The second problem that I have is the suggestion to develop a shadow government of sorts. I mean, lets just imagine how this would play out. You have unofficial US representatives going to foriegn governments to try and explain policy decisions they had little to do with and quite possibly actively opposed. Or maybe they are out there saying, "Yes, Jaqcues, I know that Bush keeps saying we have as much of a coalition as we need, but what he really means is that we want more people to join us, including France, Germany, and Russia. " or how about "No, we aren't really going to push the UN for a full investigation of the Oil for Food scandals. No, we aren't going to try to get the bank records from France and Switzerland." Those may be bad examples but ultimately having the opposition going around while they are still the opposition and try to sway opinion in Europe could do nothing but undermine current US policy.
I would love to see real cooperation from both sides for the war effort. If you could convince Joe Biden to go be a spokesman for the President's policy in Europe I'd be all for it, but it would have to be for the President's policy, not for Kerry's policy, or the Democratic policy, or some watered down half truth version of the current policy. One of the beauties of the American system is that every four years we get a chance to punish or reward the man elected President. If the American people decide to punish Bush for what he has done up to this point we will know in November. If they decide to reward him, we will know in November. Until the election has run its course George W. Bush is president of this country and his policies with regards to foreign affairs are the only ones that matter. Suggestions for cooperation between the parties are well founded and should be used, but suggestions of unofficial representatives "a kind of shadow government" are unwarrented and even dangerous.
I respect Paul Bermen's desire to see Democrats come out and try to rally support for the war against the new fascism that is going on today, but it would be irresponsible to send out a group of opposition politicians with no accountablity to the current administration to try and rally the support of those who have opposed the war all along.
Monday, April 19, 2004
More stones for the Gorelick - Commission issue
Read this thoughtful accounting of the Jamie Gorelick - September 11th Commission issue. Thoughtful people should be asking the reasoning behind every commission member's appointment.
Casting the first stones
Well, it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. The September 11th Commission could have been informative. The S11C could have produced policy guidance. The S11C could have reminded us all that our own dispassionate views and complacency on world events contributed to the disaster. The S11C could have been a clarion call for just about anything. BUT.... as usual.... The September 11 Commission has become center stage in the political blame game.
Oh, it is on a new level and oh so poorly veiled. Family members of the persons killed on September 11th have been given venues to vent their feelings on the matter. I remember one family member asking why President Bush had not accepted responsibility for September 11th. She was distraught and on the verge of tears. She had righteous indignation. She had multiple cameras in her face.
Yet, I noticed she did not ask when President Clinton would accept the responsibility for September 11th. She did not ask when American Airlines would accept responsibility for September 11th. I noticed she did not ask when the designers of the World Trade Center would accept responsibility for September 11th. Why? I also recall in the early days after September 11th when all news outlets were airing Al Qaeda training footage. One clip that stands out in my mind is that the photograph that the terrorists were shooting at was of President Clinton. Not President Bush. The terrorists did not care which president or party ran the US. They hate/hated us all with equal passion. I have never seen an armed guard on an airplane. Untold numbers of planes have been hijacked. Yet, the airlines have never placed armed guards on planes. The World Trade Center had already been the target of terrorist attacks in 1993. Why had the designers of the WTC not revised the evacuation procedures for the building? Why weren't parachutes available for the occupants of the building above the fire?
The members of the Islamic terror network HATE the US. They HATE all citizens regardless of political affiliation, religion, and world view. They HATE our allies. They HATE countries that are not our allies but do not support Islamic fundamentalism.
The September 11th Commission should be calling representatives of the governments of countries in the Middle East. They should be asking Islamic clerics why they allow other clerics to preach hate. The S11C could be asking why the consecutive state departments never fully addressed the issue of Islamic war with the US. The S11C could be questioning the UN. The S11C could be asking the UN why no action was taken after all of the previous attacks on the US by Islamic terrorists. Predictably, the S11C is just center stage in the political blame game. Members of each side have attempted to score points by shifting blame and focus. In the end, this commission will end with results much the same as all other commissions: unanswered questions, new questions, conspiracy theories, and no substantive results.
What is needed is someone of the caliber and character of the blinded Colonel in the movie Scent of a Woman to stand before the commission and declare "in my younger days I would have taken a flamer-thrower to this place!"
Roger L. Simon
Michael J. Totten
Winds of Change
Outside the Beltway
Daniel W. Drezner
The Ornery American
Iraq the Model
The New Republic Online
National Review Online
The Crayon Years
Number 2 Pencil
The Weekly Standard
New York Times