April 27, 2007

Finishing the debate in transcript form, I give the win to Richardson.

I think I got about two thirds of the way through the debate last night. Here's what I managed to write. I was just about to watch the end of the debate this morning to finish up, but I found this handy transcript. I like a nice transcript. It's quicker to read than to watch, you don't have to type out the quotes, and evading the question is so obvious that what's irritating seen on TV becomes almost amusing.

Let me start reading where I left off last night and pick out what interests me.

Obama is asked "what are America's three most important allies around the world?" He throws in so much extra material that he gets around to naming two: the European Union and Japan. A follow-up question is asked: "I didn't hear you mention Israel, and I ask because there is a quote attributed to your name. You said recently, 'No one is suffering more than the Palestinian people.' Do you stand by that remark?" Answer:
Well, keep in mind what the remark actually, if you had the whole thing, said.
What the remark said. There's that remark, talking away, and I'm over here, so I guess you can say I'm standing by it. Standing by, watching with amazement, wondering what that darned remark will come out with next.

But in his next sentence, he takes ownership of the remark:
And what I said is nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence, and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region.
And:
Israel has been one of our most important allies around the world. It's the only established democracy in the Middle East. It's the linchpin of much of our efforts in the Middle East.
Has been? So it "has been" an important ally, but it "is" a "linchpin" of our "efforts."

Hillary Clinton is asked about Giuliani's statement that "the Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us," and "America will be safer with a Republican president." She responds with what looks like her favorite debate move: say the current President is a failure.
We haven't secured our borders, our ports, our mass transit systems. You can go across this country and see so much that has not been done. The resources haven't gotten to the front lines where decisions are made in local government the way that they need to. And I think that this administration has consistently tried to hype the fear without delivering on the promise of making America safer. And its foreign policy around the world, as you've heard from all of my colleagues here, has also made the world less stable, which, of course, has a ripple effect with respect to what we're going to face in the future. So I hope that we can put that myth to rest. It is certainly something I will try to do during the campaign.
There is absolutely nothing there about why she would do a better job as the next President, and we were just reminded of Giuliani. Who do you want to trust, Clinton or Giuliani? That's the question. She gives not one shred of a reason here to go with her. Is there some way she would secure our borders and ports better than he would? Picture her standing at a debate next to Giuliani a year and a half from now. That's what you ought to do if you're trying to pick the best Democratic candidate. Is she the one you Democrats want standing there?

There's a "show of hands" question: "Do you believe there is such a thing as a global war on terror?" Kucinich doesn't raise his. I don't bother to read his explanation.

Let's read something important. Obama is asked "how would you change the U.S. military stance overseas" if there were another attack on two American cities and we knew "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that al Qaida did it:
Well, the first thing we'd have to do is make sure that we've got an effective emergency response, something that this administration failed to do when we had a hurricane in New Orleans.
The first thing he thinks of is Katrina. Bush failed there, don't you know. Think fast, Senator. It's another 9/11! What is the military response? Show us you can think like a Commander in Chief:
And I think that we have to review how we operate in the event of not only a natural disaster, but also a terrorist attack.

The second thing is to make sure that we've got good intelligence, a., to find out that we don't have other threats and attacks potentially out there, and b., to find out, do we have any intelligence on who might have carried it out so that we can take potentially some action to dismantle that network.

But what we can't do is then alienate the world community based on faulty intelligence, based on bluster and bombast. Instead, the next thing we would have to do, in addition to talking to the American people, is making sure that we are talking to the international community.

Because as already been stated, we're not going to defeat terrorists on our own. We've got to strengthen our intelligence relationships with them, and they've got to feel a stake in our security by recognizing that we have mutual security interests at stake.
So the military response is: think and talk.

Edwards is supremely fortunate to get a shot right now at the same question:
Well, the first thing I would do is be certain I knew who was responsible, and I would act swiftly and strongly to hold them responsible for that.

The second thing I would do -- and, of course, some of these have been mentioned already -- is find out how did this happen without our intelligence operations finding out that it was in a planning stage; how did they get through what we all recognize is a fairly porous homeland security system that we have in this country that has not been built the way it needed to be built?

You know, did the weapons that created these two simultaneous strikes come through our ports? Were they in one of the containers that have not been checked? How did these weapons get here, and how do we stop it from happening again?

I believe -- and this goes to the question you asked earlier, just a few minutes ago -- global war on terror. I think there are dangerous people and dangerous leaders in the world that America must deal with and deal with strongly.

But we have more tools available to us than bombs.

And America needs to use the tools that are available to them, so that these people who are sitting on the fence, the terrorists are trying to recruit the next generation get pushed to our side, not to the other side. We've had no long-term strategy. We need one and I will provide one as president.
So, be strong. But mainly just try very hard to figure out how they did it and how we can defend against the next attack. His idea seems to be about winning the hearts of the next generation. How do you fight the terrorists? Why not make them love us so they won't want to be terrorists anymore? Surely, if they see the Democrats have brought their new tools into the White House, they'll feel the love.

Now, Clinton gets her shot. Come on, Hillary, show you can do it! Your two biggest opponents have set this up perfectly.
Well, again, having been a senator during 9/11, I understand very well the extraordinary horror of that kind of an attack and the impact that it has, far beyond those that are directly affected.
Boring. Non-responsive.
I think a president must move as swiftly as is prudent to retaliate.
Yes! Retaliate!
If we are attacked, and we can determine who is behind that attack, and if there are nations that supported or gave material aid to those who attacked us, I believe we should quickly respond.

Now, that doesn't mean we go looking for other fights. You know, I supported President Bush when he went after Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

And then when he decided to divert attention to Iraq, it was not a decision that I would have made, had I been president, because we still haven't found bin Laden. So let's focus on those who have attacked us and do everything we can to destroy them.
Attack! Destroy! Thank God, one of them is willing to say it. Hillary wins.

No one else is given a turn at this, the key question of the night. But the next time Richardson is called on -- with the special Hispanic question "How do you feel about normalizing relations with Castro's Cuba?" -- he insists on going back to the "two cities" question. Good for him! And he must have been pissed to have been excluded from the A group.
I would respond militarily, aggressively. I'll build international support for our goals. I'd improve our intelligence, but that would be a direct threat on the United States, and I would make it clear that that would be an important, decisive, military response, surgical strike, whatever it takes.
That beats Hillary. Richardson is my favorite of the Democrats. And Obama and Edwards are unacceptable.

But wait.

Taking a cue from Richardson, when Obama is asked a question about lightbulbs -- yeah, really, what kind of lightbulbs! -- he goes back to the terrorism question. Now, that he's heard the others answer, he knows he's screwed it up.
But one thing that I do have to go back on, on this issue of terrorism: We have genuine enemies out there that have to be hunted down, networks have to be dismantled.

There is no contradiction between us intelligently using our military and, in some cases, lethal force to take out terrorists and, at the same time, building the sort of alliances and trust around the world that has been so lacking over the last six years.

And that, I think, is going to be one of the most important issues that the next president is going to have to do, is to repair the kinds of challenges that we face.
Am I going to let him off the hook for this? "In some cases, lethal force"?

Kucinich is spurred to challenge Obama.
My good friend, Senator Obama, that's a very provocative statement. You previously said that all options are on the table with respect to Iran. And I think that it's important for people to reflect on the real meaning of that, that you're setting the stage for another war.
Oh, no. Kucinich is pushing him back into the peace corner.
I think it's important that we move away from global warming and global warring. And the connection is oil. We're in Iraq for oil. We're looking at attacking Iran for oil.
Oh, no.
And until we change our international policies, which quit using war as an instrument of policy ... and change our energy policies ... we will continue to repeat this sorry cycle.
Obama responds (with Kuchinich interrupting him throughout):
I think it would be a profound mistake for us to initiate a war with Iran. But, have no doubt, Iran possessing nuclear weapons will be a major threat to us and to the region.... And I don't think that's disputed by any expert. They are the largest state sponsor of terrorism... Hezbollah and Hamas.... There is no contradiction between us taking seriously the need, as you do, to want to strengthen our alliances around the world -- but I think it is important for us to also recognize that if we have nuclear proliferators around the world that potentially can place a nuclear weapon into the hands of terrorists, that is a profound security threat for America and one that we have to take seriously.
Gravel goes wild here and says, among other things: "Who the hell are we going to nuke? Tell me, Barack. Barack, who do you want to nuke?"

Obama's all: "I'm not planning to nuke anybody right now, Mike, I promise."

Well, now I do want to watch the video. It seems as though Obama comes to life at the end, that he does best when he's reacting to the other candidates, rather than answering the question cold. This is a good sign that he may be an engaging candidate. I'll say more when I've seen the video.

From the transcript, I like Richardson best. Hillary didn't do anything wrong. Obama worries me. Edwards did not impress me. The others... I don't have to have an opinion on them. But what a nut that Gravel is.

UPDATE: Mere Rhetoric notes a discrepancy in some transcripts and questions whether Obama said "Israel has been one of our most important allies" as I have it quoted or "Israel is one of our most important allies" as the quote appears elsewhere. Since I have the debate TiVo'd, I checked. My quote is correct. I am certain.

87 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Previous to these posts on the debate, I had never heard of Mike Gravel, or if I did hear of him, the name didn't stick. I wonder if I am an anomaly.

My frontrunner has been the non-Senator in the race, Gov. Richardson, so I'm glad to hear that he did not badly in this question/answer session.

Sloanasaurus said...

It's all great to get excited about your candidate of choice, but when it comes time to vote, why would someone vote to go from the offensive to the defensive. So far the offensive has been working. No attacks in 5 1/2 years, 3% GDP growth. America is doing better than it was in the 1990s.

Chosing a new strategy at this time could be devestating. People need to ask whether they want to risk changing strategy to Defense when the current strategy of Offense is working. Yes, the current strategy generates bad news stories that people get tired of such as car bombs in Iraq and deaths of soldiers, but is that worse than attacks here in the U.S. killing hundreds of civilians Is it worse than Americans losing their jobs because people here in the U.S. are afraid to go to the mall?

Adopting the Democrats strategy of Defense is too risky - that is what people will decide in the voting booth in 2008.

Sloanasaurus. Read more at John Adams Blog.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Icepick said...

RICHARDSON: No. Let me be very clear about my position. This war is a disaster. We must end this war.

This is what I would do if were president today. I would withdraw all of our troops, including residual troops, by the end of this calendar year.

I would use the leverage of that withdrawal, coupled with intensive diplomacy in three areas.

One, a political framework led by the United States where the three religious entities in Iraq have a coalition government, divide oil revenues and possible set up three separate entities.


Which three religious entities in Iraq? Shia and Sunni are two, but the Kurds are an ethnicity, not a religious faction. He loses a lot of points for that idiotic statement.

Mark said...

Yes, Israel is such a good, important ally in Obama's mind that he simply forgot about her.

But at least he didn't say Syria!

Fen said...

Edwards: You know, did the weapons that created these two simultaneous strikes come through our ports? Were they in one of the containers that have not been checked?

John, remember "failure of imagination" from the 9-11 commission? Both nukes were smuggled aboard Yemeneese freighters and detonated a mile off our coast. They never came within reach of our coast guard or port security. They didn't need to, as you can see from the resulting radiation clouds being swept up the NE coastline...

how do we stop it from happening again?

How about "how do we stop it from happening once"...

You'll have to wait for President Hillary to reverse herself when she explains the weaknesses of static defenses, and why we need to take preemptive action [offense] to prevent rogue states from developing WMDs or farming them off to terrorists for proxy attacks against the West.

BTW, would you retaliate against millions of innocents in Tehran because of one madman? Nuke them all because you don't have the balls to take on Ahmadinejad when it could make a difference?

Roger said...

I have to admit I kind of like Dennis Kucinich--the blood for oil thing is, I think, pretty silly in that the US only gets about 20 percent of its oil from the mid east--but I do think he is more principled than some of the other folks.

Perhaps these debates should be more like American Idol: have a panel of judges award "substance points" on a 1 to 10 scale, and "style points" on a one to ten scale, and average the scores. Then let American vote and the next debate one of them gets kicked off. and so forth. Admit it: wouldnt you like to Simon Cowell critiquing their performace?

mikeski said...

I agree with Sloan - I was stunned that not one of them came up with something along the lines of "React? Are you kidding? We can't wait to 'react', we've got to carry the fight to the enemies of this country."

Bender said...

So the common answer amongst them all is to for us to sit back passively and when we are attacked -- when, not if -- then they will close the barn door and appoint a who-to-blame commission and then, and only then, consider the possibility of a military response -- if our "allies" go along with it.

Hey, how about doing something NOW, so that I don't see that bright flash of light outside my window here in D.C.?

But the Dems are too far committed to their policy of national suicide to do that.

MadisonMan said...

sloan, we heard a very thought-provoking sermon on Sunday. Nearly every day in Iraq, there is a VT-sized killing of civilians. What does that do to a nation's psyche? Offense is only "working" if you value American Civilians over Iraqi Civilians and that is a morally tenuous position to hold. If the fight is between America and terrorists who aren't Iraqis, why should the Iraqi people shoulder the brunt of the terror? I'm not advocating a fight on American soil (although I think that would certainly eliminate Anti-war feeling, which is one reason AQ might not attack). But there is a cost to fighting our war somewhere else besides here.

Kevin Lomax said...

"[W]ouldnt you like to Simon Cowell critiquing their performace?"

Yes please. Imagine:

That was terrible, I mean just awful. Utterly horrendous. I'm being serious. Come back and see us again in four years.

Monkeyboy said...

The resources haven't gotten to the front lines where decisions are made in local government the way that they need to.

Glad to know the front lines of the war on terror go right through my living room.

The repond question is actually one I'd like to have answered. AQ is an entity, not a state, so do we do respond with a nuke in a capitol? What is the proper MAD answer to a non-state actor?

Aluwid said...

"If the fight is between America and terrorists who aren't Iraqis, why should the Iraqi people shoulder the brunt of the terror?"

We're not the ones that are attacking the Iraqi civilians, the terrorists are. Direct your question towards them instead.

Sloanasaurus said...

why should the Iraqi people shoulder the brunt of the terror?

You are kidding right? The Iraqi's have the most to lose from us getting out. Osama's goal is to reestablish the Caliphate. The terror would just be beginning for the Iraqis. Besides, you forget that Saddam put a million Iraqi's in mass graves in 25 years - thats 100 killings a day. Isn't that terror too?

And while you can certainly take the moral high ground by arguing that our civilians are worth no more than Iraqis, your moral highground is a sure loser at the ballot box.

That you advocate that we whould fight the war here in order to share in the burden of terrorist losses is ridiculous. This kind of insanity is why the Leftist position is reckless and foolish.

Sloanasaurus. Read more at John Adams Blog.

Saul said...

Gravel rocks!!! He reminds me of Perot's v-p. Gravel makes Kucinich look like a right winger.

Hilary was horrible when she complained about the corruption in the Bush adminsitration. What about the Clinton presidency???

Bender said...

And if you look carefully, you see that Richardson is as much as a September 10th Democrat as the rest of them -- "I would make it clear that that would be an important, decisive, military response, surgical strike, whatever it takes."

That seems to be fairly tough, until you see that qualifier "surgical strike." Yes, he would respond aggressively, but only with clean and antiseptic missiles or from bombers 50,000 feet up in the air, a la Bill Clinton. He would not take any real risks with a real military response involving "boots on the ground."

Richardson is a little better than the rest, but they all refuse to see that we are at war now -- not possibly in the future -- and that war is a real war, not a figurative one. And we must fight that war now, because the enemy is certainly fighting it -- and getting only bolder and bolder by the day by the Dems' lack of will and resolve. It appears that Osama was right when he said that America seems strong, but is hollow and weak, and if they only bide their time and hold on, America will lose its resolve and quit and walk (run) away from the fight.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Nearly every day in Iraq, there is a VT-sized killing of civilians. What does that do to a nation's psyche?

I can't imagine anything good but I think you have to look at who is doing all the killing over there. Of the thousands of deaths, how many are actually a result of US military actions vs. Sunni/Shia fratricide? Given the opportunity for freedom and a stable society they (excluding the Kurds) have opted for some good old fashioned ethnic cleansing.

Offense is only "working" if you value American Civilians over Iraqi Civilians and that is a morally tenuous position to hold.

I would agree if you subscribe to the Iraq is the flypaper theory which I think there is some merit to. Again, I think the idea was to pick Iraq as the most despotic and the people would rejoice at being free and then be a solid ally against Islamic terrorism.

If the fight is between America and terrorists who aren't Iraqis, why should the Iraqi people shoulder the brunt of the terror?

Well perhaps if they would stop killing each other they wouldn't. I can't imagine AQ lasting very long in a unified Iraq.

MadisonMan said...

sloan, when you say that I advocate that we whould fight the war here in order to share in the burden of terrorist losses is ridiculous you deliberately ignore that I wrote I'm not advocating a fight on American soil.

Please try to read the words I write.

Roger said...

MM--I think there is another way to conceive "offense" in the "war on terror." I suggest our military forces in Iraq now are not doing much in the overall war on terror; they may kill a few terrorists from time to time, but they are not now undertaking offensive operations in the war on terror. In short, using the situation in Iraq obscures how we should fight the war on terror.

To me, offense implies operating in the shadows using assassinations, renditions, instursive intelligence gathering and a bunch of other rather unsavory things that are admittedly not consistent with our norms of due process carried out external to the homeland. Offense to others could adopt a more law-enforcement style with formal protections of civil rights. And it's not a zero sum game, however, as there are still things that can be done in the homeland to enhance security than can and should proceed concurrently with "offensive operations." Right now, that debate is being obscured by Iraq.

We are a free society with permeable borders and terrorists will always have the advantage. The question it seems to me that is being obscured by the situation in Iraq is this: After we leave Iraq and bring all the troops home (or wherever)--how do we prosecute a "war on terror." That to me is a very serious question I want candidates to address.

Mary said...

Given the opportunity for freedom and a stable society they (excluding the Kurds) have opted for some good old fashioned ethnic cleansing.

"Good" ? Never forget!

Sounds like unconditional support of Israel is what some voters are looking for. Not everybody though. Will the money trump?

PatCA said...

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy...

Tim said...

"I was stunned that not one of them came up with something along the lines of "React? Are you kidding? We can't wait to 'react', we've got to carry the fight to the enemies of this country.""

Stunned?

These are the Democrats, after all.

You shouldn't be stunned if you've been paying attention since, oh, I don't know, let's start with 1968.

Edwards' strong reaction will be a request for a resolution from the Security Council.

And when they tell him to shove it, he'll shrug his shoulders and tell the rest of us, "Oh well. Our hands are tied."

Zeb Quinn said...

According to this the public says it was Obama who won.

Tim said...

"Offense to others could adopt a more law-enforcement style with formal protections of civil rights.

Moynihan was more right than he could have ever known.

We've long accepted liberals defining deviancy down; it was not imaginable until 9/11 they could do the same with acts of terroristic war as mere crimes.

Pathetic. It's really unbelievable that any but a very small fraction of the polity really "thinks" this way. With this attitude, we'll lose much more before we begin to win again. It will take that to knock some sense into the willfully stupid.

Roger said...

Tim: I happen to agree with you; one of the consequences of the reaction to the SWIFT program and other types of weapons employed was to box many of the democrats into precisely such a strategy. Having worked themselves into a lather to criticize Bush administration tactics, they will find it difficult to adopt any strategy BUT a law enforcement approach with the full panoply of civil rights protection. (all, of course, IMO)

ricpic said...

Wake up American Jews. The Democratic Party is your enemy!

Sloanasaurus said...

I suggest our military forces in Iraq now are not doing much in the overall war on terror; they may kill a few terrorists from time to time, but they are not now undertaking offensive operations in the war on terror.

Maybe, but others would disagree. And right now the results are good under the current policy. No attacks in 5 1/2 years; Al Qaeda is not rising in power.

I think what you are really arguing is that the cost in Iraq may not worth the current benefit. However, people advocating your position to withdraw from Iraq and fight the war "in the shadows" or fight on defense need to prove that we will have the same results.

I suppose the Dems are trying to argue that they can obtain the same benefits (no attacks 3% GDP growth) with less cost.

To most Americans, however, the cost of Bush's offensive policy is is only emotional and perceived - what they see on the news. A very small minorty feel the cost in the deaths of soldiers.

If the Democrats advocate a new direction, the initial costs may go down, but long term costs may go up - more expense for security more unemployment from decreased growth, more fear in society. This loss may be felt by many many more americans in a more direct manner. The result will be a new political landscape.

Sloanasaurus. Read more at John Adams Blog.

Roger said...

Sloan--let me expand on my point. I would never attempt to justify our military presence in Iraq as a major contributor to war on terror. I do subscribe to the "fly paper theory; and to the extent that jihadis are coming there they may not be going elsewhere, but that is certainly difficult to quantify.

I have argued elsewhere that I do think our forces in Iraq are serving other functions right now, the most important of which is to attempt to provide some amount of stability so Iraqi can become a democracy. There are also other benefits as well but these are more geostrategic in nature.

Balfegor said...

Re: Icepick:

Which three religious entities in Iraq? Shia and Sunni are two, but the Kurds are an ethnicity, not a religious faction. He loses a lot of points for that idiotic statement.

Well, you're probably right that he did mean the Kurds. But there's other religions present in Iraq -- a couple hundred thousand Kurds apparently belong to the Yazidi religion. They're one of the angel-worshipping cults, and not Sunni or Shiite at all. Not really Muslim, for that matter.

Re: Roger:

To me, offense implies operating in the shadows using assassinations, renditions, instursive intelligence gathering and a bunch of other rather unsavory things that are admittedly not consistent with our norms of due process carried out external to the homeland.

This is something I expected to see (or hear, I suppose) a lot more of this than I have so far. We confront an enemy who are, essentially, plainclothes soldiers, so we ought to fight them with analogous tactics -- infiltration, assassination, incitement, and so on. We know some of this is going on -- rumours of secret CIA prisons and so on, and the ethic rebellion and strife we are said to be fomenting in Iran, even as they foment dicord in Iraq. But it would be nice to hear a success story come out of that effort every once in a while -- something tangible and verifiable that hits the headline.

Mike said...

Gov. Richardson said: "This is what I would do if were president today. I would withdraw all of our troops, including residual troops, by the end of this calendar year.


I would use the leverage of that withdrawal, coupled with intensive diplomacy in three areas.


One, a political framework led by the United States where the three religious entities in Iraq have a coalition government, divide oil revenues and possible set up three separate entities."


Leverage??? How does a quick withdrawl give the U.S. any leverage over the resulting political framework???

Roger said...

Sloan, sorry I didnt complete my post--as to the cost of a "war on terror:" if we take what I call a mossad like approach using cladestine tactics and focus that effort overseas, I think the cost of such an effort would be relatively low. Ceertainly much lower than trying to use combat forces which, in a war on terror, is using a sledge hammer when a fly swatter will do.

reader_iam said...

Back in the day, Gravel was the one to read parts of the Pentagon Papers formally into the record. He also filibustered the measure to renew the draft; eventually the Republicans let it expire.

Madisonman: I've gotten feedback from others that they didn't remember Gravel, or hadn't heard of him. Given who the "others" include, I suspect you're not an anomaly.

Fen said...

I'm all for black ops, but I thought it was the Left who insisted our agents cannot associate with "evil" people?

Sloanasaurus said...

Ceertainly much lower than trying to use combat forces which, in a war on terror, is using a sledge hammer when a fly swatter will do.

Maybe, but you don't really know. The terrorists are willing to use sucide bombers to kill civilians. They are willing to strike anywhere and for any reason. Such a tactic gives them a great power multiplier and is worth thousands of tanks and cannons and planes especially when it comes to affecting the morale of the people. Operating against such a force with only intelligence or the CIA might be fruitless.

Other groups who used terror tpye tactics to gain power such as the Nazis or Bolsheviks did so with a very small group of "motivated" thugs.

Sloanasaurus. Read more at John Adams Blog.

Pogo said...

It's really true, isn't it?

The entire Democratic slate wants to use the UN approach to violence in the world.

My heart is so heavy about this.
But what can you do when a citizenry no longer believes itself worth fighting for, worth saving?

More, pointing this out colors you as reactionary/alarmist/racist/unenlightened, or even the real enemy, not, you kow,the 19 guys named Mohammed that flew planes into the Twin Towers.

Just last week I drove to the remote field in Pennsylvania where Flight 93 plowed 30 feet into the dirt over an old strip mine. The old farmer manning the makeshift memorial recalled the day he felt the house shake and saw the mushroom cloud of smoke come over the hill. (His neighbor actually saw the plane dive into the ground. He doesn't leave the house much anymore.)

He said he thought the site was the first battle in the war on terror, and that, the passenger's who fought back won.

But then I have to read about these ostriches, these appeasers, these capitulators, these weak-willed September 10thers, and I become afraid that maybe Osama's guess about the US was right, that by giving us a few Mogadishus, our will to fight will soon be broken.

Damn it.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

One of the problems with these debates is that the questions are usually moronic. (Another problem, of course, is that the candidates are given a free pass if they don't answer the question.) Here's a typically inane question:

"How would you change the U.S. military stance overseas" if there were another attack on two American cities and we knew "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that al Qaida did it?

Since the candidates don't get to toss out stupid questions, they have to do the best they can with them. In this case, they are expected, apparently, to suggest changes to the current military stance. To the extent that a military stance can be summed up in a few words, the current military stance appears to be blunt retaliation without necesaarily thinking about long term political consequences. Therefore, saying "retaliate!" in response doesn't actually qualify as a change in US military stance overseas. To my mind, "retaliate" isn't far from an endorsement of Bush administration policy. Of course it might be interesting to know how they would retaliate, but surely that would depend on circumstance. The result is the candidates fall back on linking together bits and pieces of memorized soundbites relating to terrorism. Clearly, no value is placed on pausing, thinking and speaking intelligently and to the point.

Instead these events become a matter of "feel good" moments. Listeners will hope to hear some key word that is important to them (like "retaliate" or "surgical strike") without thinking about the context. It's an emotional response rather than a reasoned response, and unfortunately that may be why we continue to nominate and elect those who are judged to be good television performers. I suspect this is the reason, when audience members are asked to explain why they picked a certain candidate as a winner, they often say things like "I feel comfortable with him" or "I like that he's a strong leader."

One way to make the debates more meaningful is to get someone who will push the candidates, ask tough and relevant questions, and to make them answer directly (by commenting when they don't). I'm far more interested in seeing how the candidates think about problems than I am in hearing carefully crafted issue positions, or nonanswers littered with focus group tested buzz words.

To whomever suggested that we have American Idol style debates: I'm afraid that's what we already have, and it sucks. And style points? Style points are for ice skating. I want substance, not style. I don't care who has the best haircut, tells the best jokes, or has the best posture. If we want good candidates, we have to stop placing so much value on style.

The saddest thing about this is that we're probably going to get the candidate we deserve again. That's a painful thought.

Cedarford said...

I wouldn't call Israel a "key ally". We have no mutual defense pact with them. Never fought a war with them on our side. Israel is a diplomatic and economic ball and chain the US has to drag around.

The follow-up question to Obama was more about pandering to wealthy Jews to tap the large reserviors of Jewish wealth and influence that can greatly assist a candidate. (As AIPAC brags, half the money that runs the DNC comes from Jewish donors and support of Israel -and pandering to secular progressive Jewish agenda on matters like gay marriage) is similarly critical to Presidential candidate's fundraising goals.

Obama is down with Hollywood's agenda and thus is getting huge piles of money from Jewish progressives. The Israel question was to vet him with the Zionist block of Democrat Party supporters.

Obama was mostly correct about allies. He just left off the ones in his backyard.
The US's critical allies that we do have defense pacts with and mutually beneficial relations with are (1)Pacific Rim Nations, (2)The Western Hemisphere nations of the OAS, (3)NATO. We had hopes to add Iraq and "moderate Muslims". That has failed...but many states in the Gulf are more ally than enemy, and not a drain on us. And, we have hopes for India becoming a true ally on a level like the EU...

Israel? What benefits of any informal "alliance" we have with them is pretty much one-way. Their small but good military is unusable to us in any forseeable conflict, and we spend most of our time and energy associated with the relationship propping them up, keeping global trade going to them, keeping their enemies off their back or bribed like Egypt, Jordan are..

Thorley Winston said...

Besides, you forget that Saddam put a million Iraqi's in mass graves in 25 years - thats 100 killings a day. Isn't that terror too?

Oh come on, haven’t you heard? The Iraqi people were much better off when Saddam Hussein was in power and his sons were in the wings waiting to take over.

mtrobertsattorney said...

If Mrs. Clinton and the rest of the Dems are so worried about the security of our ports and borders, can anybody tell me why they don't introduce lelgislation that deals with this problem? After all, they control both houses now. But instead of working on this serious issue, they seem to think it's more important to hold hearings on who fired whom for what reason.

Roger said...

To riff on Cyrus' points about the debate, what I would like to see would be a two hour long one on one interview with a questioner like Cyrus' envisions: tough questions and no slack when the question isnt answered. (too bad Oriana Fallaci is dead). Following the series of one on one interviews, then the candidates could gather for a debate with their positions already on the table for discussion. (could you imagine the post interview series of "clarifications?")--only in the Congress to the honorable members have the luxery of correcting the oral record so the written record reflects what they wish they had said.

Roger said...

luxery = luxury

Der Hahn said...

Cy ... Thanks for pointing out the real reason that the Dems don't want to debate on Fox.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

One way to make the debates more meaningful is to get someone who will push the candidates, ask tough and relevant questions, and to make them answer directly (by commenting when they don't). I'm far more interested in seeing how the candidates think about problems than I am in hearing carefully crafted issue positions, or nonanswers littered with focus group tested buzz words.

How about Rush or Sean to conduct the next Dem Debate? and just to keep things fair how about Randi Rhodes to conduct the Repubs?

Cedarford said...

Fen (if 2 US cities were nuked by Iran) - BTW, would you retaliate against millions of innocents in Tehran because of one madman? Nuke them all because you don't have the balls to take on Ahmadinejad when it could make a difference?

Well yes, I would nuke millions of Iranians if they nuked us if I was running the US, and I expect any elected leader to have no doubts about what they would do in war.

Ahmadinejad is democratically elected President (omitting the minor detail that the Supreme Cleric in Iran has the true power about pushing the button on any future nuke). War is all about punishing "the innocent people" for the leaders they put in power or acquiesce to.

The idea that if millions of Americans die by WMD we only in the aftermath only have "the moral authority" to launch a single precision bomb at a "guilty leader's house after ensuring his innocent children are out of the house" is fatuous nonsense. Same with after nuking plead for the UN to "issue ICC warrants" wait years, then and only then "invade, find him after years search and massive casualties hand him over to the ACLU and have a trial" being fatuous nonsense.

Similar fatuous nonsense is "Preventative War" that far right-wing advocates have urged in "bombing the Soviets/Chinese/Iraqis" so that we don't have to nuke them later and kill "millions of innocents".

The "bomb them to save them" approach was tried with the Iraqis, to decidedly unfavorable global and local results.

Unless attacked, we lack the will and the people willing to be in the military needed to fight a preventative war with Iran....

Sorry neocons, your days are done..

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

How about Rush or Sean to conduct the next Dem Debate? and just to keep things fair how about Randi Rhodes to conduct the Repubs?

I don't think Rush/Sean/Randi know enough to do more than spout talking points either. It would be interesting to have Rudy conduct the Dem Debate and to have Hillary conduct the Republican one. If you want feet held to the fire, a candidate from the other party could do that pretty effectively, I think.

B said...

CeBoy,

Sorry neocons, your days are done..

Well, I guess we'll talk in a couple of years. I'll copy this on a pdf and make a note to call you up in Jan 2009.

Ann,

I've been saying in your comments for the last two months that Richardson is the best, most qualified of the lot.

That doesn't mean I'll vote for him - just that if a Democrat has to win, he's the only one in the field - and I mean this sincerely - who actually is smart enough to figure things out. He is a practical politician that can change to the necessary positions if he has too. There's not a chance that Obama, at his current stage of experience, nor Edwards, nor Hillary, and not even Biden, would ultimately leave their personal political calculations off the table in a crisis. They have far too many advisors and political debts, and far too little practical government management experience to be able to make a down-to-earth, damn-the-torpedos decision in that true moment of testing.

Richardson alone has and would.


And for the few who believe that any of the Dems other than Richardson could just "hire" good management:

When you interview for a job you're offering, do you hire the one who has actually performed it before, or the one who says "I've done similar stuff, but not this actual kind of job. But don't worry, at the hard parts, I'll find someone who can help out?"

Or how about "Just trust me because I'm ________ (fill in with your choice: popular, beautiful, articulate, a woman, etc.)

Mike said...

MM said: It would be interesting to have Rudy conduct the Dem Debate and to have Hillary conduct the Republican one.

Oh, man, wouldn't that be informative! But the other candidates would complain that they don't get to question the other side. Maybe have Bill Clinton and George Bush (41) do it. Or maybe Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid.

I think this is a very interesting idea.

Freder Frederson said...

Maybe, but others would disagree. And right now the results are good under the current policy. No attacks in 5 1/2 years; Al Qaeda is not rising in power.

Sloan, not only is this statement plainly wrong (oops, forgot the still-unsolved anthrax attacks), even if it were true it is such a selective choice of facts it is meaningless.

Even excluding Afghanistan and Iraq, where literally tens of thousands of brave Americans have been killed and maimed by terrorists, the number of terrorist attacks have been at record highs, including major attacks against our allies in Britain, Spain and Turkey, among others, in the last five and a half years.

How you can falsely claim that just because the U.S. has not been attacked is proof we are making progress in the war on terror is just beyond belief.

Freder Frederson said...

Well yes, I would nuke millions of Iranians if they nuked us if I was running the US

Admit it Cedarford, you would nuke millions of Iranians on your first day in office if you were running the country, (along with the rest of the Middle East, including Israel, and probably most of Europe--you might spare the Brits--and Africa as well).

Roger said...

Freder: Sloanasaurus can, of course, speak for himself but at the risk of sounding somewhat jingoistic, I think it is a fact there has been no known terrorist attack on the homeland since Nov 2001. Does that meaning we are "winning the war on terror?" I dont know if we are winning, but I do know the homeland hasn't been attacked.

I regret that terror has been used as a tactic in Iraq and Afghanistan against US forces; I regret that all too many innocent people all over the globe have died as a result of terror attacks. And, finally, I believe that the war on terror is NOT winnable in the military sense because to my way of thinking we will ever eliminate terror as a tactic--by anyone with any ideology. But I do KNOW, that for whatever reason, the US homeland has not been attacked since Oct 2001. And thats a good thing IMO.

Freder Frederson said...

But I do KNOW, that for whatever reason, the US homeland has not been attacked since Oct 2001. And thats a good thing IMO.

It is undoubtedly a good thing. I never said it wasn't. But Sloan doesn't state the fact over and over just to point out we are lucky or blessed. No, he uses it as evidence that our Dear Leader's policies are just, right and correct. That is pure, unadulterated bullshit. It proves absolutely nothing.

Revenant said...

BTW, would you retaliate against millions of innocents in Tehran because of one madman?

I think being explicit about the fact that we will do exactly that is our best chance of preventing such a "madman" from getting his hands on a nuke.

After all, if the average man-on-the-street in Tehran knows that *he's* in no danger if New York gets nuked, what's his motivation to do something about the nuts running his country? No skin off his nose if they nuke us.

If, on the other hand, he knows that HE is going to die the same day that his leaders finally achieve their dream, well -- then he's motivated.

dave™© said...

I think I got about two thirds of the way through the debate last night before passing out in a pool of my own vomit again.

Fixed your typo...

Robert said...

Yes, it has been five and a half years since there was a foreign terrorist attack on U.S. soil. And on September 10, it had been more than five years since the attack before that - the first attempted destruction of the WTC.

Why attribute the lack of an attack on the homeland to the policies of the current administration? Attacks like the 1993 bombing and the coordinated 9/11 strikes clearly require an enormous investment in time and resources on the part of the terrorists. Why should our default assumption be that the terrorists would have launched multiple attacks on our soil post-9/11 when they didn't pre-9/11?

I'm not saying the terrorists aren't a threat. They clearly are - especially if they ever acquire even a crude nuclear device. But I don't see any reason to assume that, sans the Iraq War, we'd be dealing with weekly, monthly, or even yearly bombings in malls or public squares. These guys take their time and go for the big pay off - because they have to.

XWL said...

From the transcript, I like Richardson best.

For a Democratic audience his answers were good (but for the general election audience I think he still has problems.

But folks don't read transcripts or just listen to debates for the most part.

In the first ever televised debate between Kennedy and Nixon, it has been said that those that listened on the radio thought Nixon did much better than Kennedy, but the TV cameras told a different story.

Like Nixon, Gov. Richardson sounds good, but on camera he looked bloated, uncomfortable, and a bit sweaty.

Sen. Obama on the other hand stumbled through some answers, was tight and tentative verbally, but he looked more comfortable than he sounded.

Judging from this poll of SC viewers of the debate, looks (and ethnic background) mattered.

Gov. Richardson is running for VP anyway, and in the Veep sweepstakes he helped himself quite a bit. Sen. Obama or Sen. Clinton will not accept being the VP for each other, Sen. Edwards doesn't add anything to the ticket, so Gov. Richardson seems like the logical choice for either frontrunner to choose as VP.

But I still think The Goracle is going to jump in this thing some time around October, so all this early posturing doesn't matter too much.

And why no mention of the "Free Ponies" section of the debate ('aka' Universal Government Provided or Heavily Subsidized Healthcare)?

Roger said...

Robert: your point about time major plots of terrorism require is certainlly well taken; but there is an intervening variable that came into play post 9/11: a much more robust policy (or ill conceived, or however you choose to characterize it). It remains to be seen how it will all work out.

Richard Dolan said...

I agree completely with Ann's statement of the basic issue: "Who do you want to trust, Clinton or Giuliani? That's the question." I would amend that to say Giuliani or McCain, since the R nominee could just as easily be McCain. But on the key issues of national security, I don't see much difference between them. Because the real issue is trust, it doesn't make much sense to spend a huge amount of effort parsing out the talking points offered by these candidates.

Hillary's by-now-rote invocation of "first responders" around the country doesn't inspire much confidence. It's a way of reducing national security to a huge pork-fest. Obama and Edwards were even less convincing. But, putting all of the details aside, a display of rhetorical bravado on these issues isn't the point, even if the candidate can manage to get the words out. That Richardson gave the better answer to a debate question isn't enough to answer the "trust" question.

Presumably whatever candidate gets the nomination, the D team's foreign and defense policy will be staffed and implemented by the same folks who populated the Clinton Admin and form the unofficial D shadow gov't on those issues. A return of that crowd certainly doesn't inspire trust or confidence on these issues. So which candidate is looking to put in place a different team for these issues?

Basically, I don't see any reason to believe that the D candidates view the threats facing the US as anything other than the kind of glorified law enforcement issue, almost a nuisance really, that Kerry described during the last election. That would require one of the candidates to buck the entire D establishment, to say nothing of the D base. There will always be reasons to hesitate, dither, talk endlessly, consult with "allies," seek resolutions from the Security Council -- in short, do anything except take swift or decisive action -- when faced with a terrorist attack. And it's even harder to see any of these candidates ever taking pre-emptive action, regardless of the provocation and potential threat.

Not much to trust in that.

Mike said...

the D team's foreign and defense policy will be staffed and implemented by the same folks who populated the Clinton Admin[.]

Here's a good question for the next debate: "Would you allow Sandy Berger to get his security clearance back?"

MadisonMan said...

Here is a really interesting analysis of the langauge used by the candidates last night. I look forward to a similar analysis when the Republicans get together for questions and answers.

Roger said...

MM--that is a GREAT site! I put some speeches of churchill in--interesting results indeed. Thanks for identifying for us.

Sloanasaurus said...

And on September 10, it had been more than five years since the attack before that - the first attempted destruction of the WTC.

I keep hearing this argument and it is bogus. Al Qaeda trained over 10,000 terrorists in Afghanistan from 1998 - 2001. They were at the peak of their power in 2001. They had cells all over the world. In 1993, Osama had barely begun to start his organization. The conventional wisdom was that we would be attacked soon after 9-11. Osama even said he was going to attack us soon. Yet after 5 1/2 years, no attacks.

But I don't see any reason to assume that, sans the Iraq War, we'd be dealing with weekly, monthly, or even yearly bombings in malls or public squares.

Maybe, but the burden is now on you to prove it. After 5 1/2 years, the burden has switched to the naysayers to prove that the Iraq war has not contributed to the lack of attacks here. You need to prove that the thousands of terrorists who have been killed in Iraq would not have tried to attack us in the U.S. but for the ease of attacking us in Iraq.

Sloanasaurus. Read more at John Adams Blog.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

I know I've said this before, but I again remind everyone that two of our allies (Spain and Great Britain) who joined us in "fighting them there so we don't have to fight them at home" suffered major terrorist attacks since the invasion of Iraq. The Madrid and London attacks were significant hits by the terrorists. Clearly the offensive strategies of Britain and Spain didn't guarantee homeland security.

It's true that we haven't been hit again here yet, but in that regard we should probably consider ourselves lucky rather than protected by our offensive strategy. Whatever offensive strategies we adopt, we'd better make sure that we have a sound defensive strategy to go along with it.

And Sloan, the economic performance of the US economy since 2001 has not been brilliant. It does not compare favorably with economic performance from 1993-2000. In any case, if you want to discuss the connection between the "war on terror" and US economic performance and outlook, you should start with the cost. For example, do you want to share a final price tag with us? Will you describe Bush's payment plan for us? If we are going to continue to pursue an offensive strategy around the world, isn't it time we start to pay the real costs of this policy?

Pogo said...

Cyrus,
France and Russia, who opposed every step of the way, have also been hit.

You just don't get it. This is World War IV. Waiting to get hit and then reacting isn't a sane option, but it is the Democrat's plan, shown by the candidates' responses here.

Roger said...

Cyrus--you have been really good at providing support for your arguments, and I appreciate it. I really would like to know what measures you are using to assert that this current economy is worst than the 1993 to 2000. From what I have seen they are remarkably similar EXCEPT for the budget deficit incurred primarily by military operations. But that figure is most meaningful when looked at as a percentage of GNP; and tax revenues.

Yes this economy has lost manufacturing jobs, but has increased overall employment and reduced the unemployment rate; both economies had bubbles: the Clinton Economy had the dot com bubble; this economy has a housing bubble; the Clinton economy ended in recession; the most recent figures suggest that this economy COULD be headed into recession. but we will need three quarters of negative growth and we arent there yet.

And really, the bottom line is that a president cant do much to affect the economy; our economy has pretty much been based on monetary policy by the fed, and the common denominator thru the last 15 years has been Alan Greenspan.

Your point about England and Spain, allies, getting hit, overlooks the fact that they probably do not have the somewhat more shadowy programs we have had in the US--plus they dont have the luxury of oceans as frontiers. It seems to me to be an apples and oranges comparison.
The war in Iraq and Afghanistan are not our ONLY efforts in the war on terror.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

pogo,

You missed my point. I was addressing the bogus claim that "playing offense" guarantees that you don't have to "play defense." Madrid and London prove that claim wrong.

I also think you distort/fabricate the position of Democrats. I don't know of ANY politician who recommends "waiting to be hit" as a strategy in dealing with terrorist attacks.

It is legitimate and reasonable to debate how we allocate limited resources to protect ourselves from terrorism. It is intelligent to consider how we can improve our defense of the homeland. We should be having a calm and rational discussion about how best to allocate our resources rather than accusing those who disagree with us of being unpatriotic, or as you suggest, insane.

Tim said...

"It is legitimate and reasonable to debate how we allocate limited resources to protect ourselves from terrorism. It is intelligent to consider how we can improve our defense of the homeland."

In a static environment in which threats are hypothetical, abstract, unrealized, prospective or possible but uncertain, yes, it would be absolutely legitamate and reasonable to debate how we allocate limited resources to protect ourselves from terrorism. But we are in a hot war with the enemy, engaging him on at least two fronts (if not more), and one side of the polity thinks we're better off surrendering one of those fronts to the enemy, retreating home to, presumably, lick our wounds and retrench in a defensive posture.

There is no military reason for doing this. While the enemy has clearly defeated the U.S. in the halls of Congress without firing a shot, our soldiers in Iraq are made of sterner stuff and have yet to lose on the battlefied and, more importantly, will not lose if only funded, supplied and supported. The enemy cannot defeat us on the battlefied, so let's finish the job and finish him off there.

Once we do that, we can talk about whether a defensive or offensive posture is best (but be mindful no one ever won a war on defense). And while all resources are, in their own way, limited, our relative wealth make materiel resources a moot point, vis a vis the enemy's capability.

More importantly, our political will is a resource our enemy has made common cause with the Congressional majority in diminishing. Or do you think Reid's declaration that the war in Iraq heartens our soldeir's morale and resolve to win? I know it heartens our enemy's resolve and boosts his morale.

Don't ever wish for friends who support you like the Democrats "support" the troops. You'll surely find a knife in your back.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Roger,

I agree that Britain and Spain are closer to the Middle East, but as an island, Britain is, unlike us, completely protected by ocean/sea boundaries. Also, both Britain and Spain have "homegrown" terrorism issues that some might include as secondary fronts in the "war on terror."

If I can find the comments by the Director General of MI-5, I will post a link, but basically she admitted after the London bombings that MI-5 analysts had predicted that the invasion of Iraq would lead terrorists to increase efforts to strike inside Britain. She also admitted that terrorist activity directed at the British homeland (as monitored by the intelligence community) had been on the rise, consistent with their prediction. So, in the case of Britain at least, the choice to "play offense" led to an increased defensive risk.

I don't know if the same is true for Spain or the United States and I'd be awfully hesitant to extrapolate solely from the British experience. But as far as the principle is concerned, it shows that "playing offense" offers no guarantee of safety, and in fact, can increase the risk of an attack on the home front.

I'll have a comparison of the two economies for you soon, assuming you're willing to check back.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Tim wrote:

be mindful no one ever won a war on defense


Tim, what about the unsucessful attempts by the Mongols in 1274 and 1281 to invade Japan? Isn't that an example of a war won from a purely defensive posture?

Tim, is it really true that the reason the Raiders will be drafting first tomorrow is that their fans and cheerleaders weren't up to snuff last year?

The partisan moderate said...

Ann, I am really starting to question your knowledge of politics. Richardson made two gaffes of epic proportions or alternatively these represent his real views, where his first comment makes him unsuitable to win the Democratic nomination and the second makes him unsuitable to be President.

Thursday, April 26, 2007
Richardson is not ready for prime-time
Governor Richardson, who people believe is a plausible VP candidate or even a dark-horse for the President, made a few comments at tonight's debate that he will regret.

From Roger Simon at the politico:

1. "They all support Roe v. Wade (though when Bill Richardson was asked to name his “model” Supreme Court justice, he named Byron “Whizzer” White, one of only two justices to vote against it."

2. "Williams asked Richardson why he resisted asking for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ resignation “because he's Hispanic.”

(“He came from nothing; I know the guy,” Richardson said. “Did it affect me that he was Hispanic. Yeah, it did, and I said so. I think the American people want candor. They don't want blow-dried candidates with perfection.”)

I suspect his first comment was a gaffe and just demonstrates that he not ready for primetime. If he really supports Roe v. Wade, why name one of two justices who dissented. I suspect he has a very rudimentary knowledge of our judicial system and of judges.

His second comment almost sounds racist in nature. He is going to be less criticial of Hispanics. Give me a break, he is running to be President of the country not to represent one sub-sector of the country.

He also talks about supporting background checks on guns even though he voted against this while in Congress and has earned an A rating from the NRA.

Richardson, comes across as phony and not much of a policy wonk.

Tim said...

"Isn't that an example of a war won from a purely defensive posture?"

If you think the Mongols are historically analogous to al Qaeda you might have a point - but they are not, so the point is facile, at best. I'm confident you wouldn't understand the distinction so I won't waste my time trying to make it clear for you.

"Tim, is it really true that the reason the Raiders will be drafting first tomorrow is that their fans and cheerleaders weren't up to snuff last year?"

This particularly insightful analysis betrays your inability to think responsibly about matters of war. The analogy to football is morally offensive; it is not at all apparent you have the seriousness of mind to think these matters through with any degree of intelligence. You may think those fighting our war are no more connected to the rest of us than football players are to their fans and cheerleaders and their efforts as inconsequential; you're welcome to your assessment; it only betrays your shallow understanding of this matter.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Tim,

Thanks, I needed a good laugh!

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Ok Tim, chuckles aside, maybe you can help me out by applying your superior intelligence to this.

You wrote:

be mindful no one ever won a war on defense (emphasis added)

I responded with the observation:

What about the unsucessful attempts by the Mongols in 1274 and 1281 to invade Japan? Isn't that an example of a war won from a purely defensive posture?

And you came back with this:

If you think the Mongols are historically analogous to al Qaeda you might have a point...

So did you actually intend to write:

"No one fighting a war against an opponent historically analogous to al Qaeda has ever won a war on defense?"

If that's what you meant, can you give some examples of wars in which the opponent was historically analogous to al Qaeda?

A second question: Hypothetically, would it hurt troop morale if a national politician asserted that we can't win the "war on terror?"

hdhouse said...

It's 5am. I just let my cat out to pee. Read this thread. interesting. All the neocondogs out in full force with their "observations" and smarthy self congrats that they got a lock on 2008.

Ann ought to get all of them together in some sort of deliverance mixer...tight little smiles, lotsa buttslappin' and high fives, shotguns in the back windows of the pickup truck...maybe a few half sentences all ending in haw haw haw.

and Sloan. What can we say about sloan. so challenged intellectually, so ..what is the work...unfactual? somehow equating a 3%GDP growth with what? a civil war in Iraq? There is Sloan longing for offense when his GWB wasn't...remember the chain of events Sloanie? Only offense Mr. Bush was involved in was clearing brush in Crawford. Ahhh the vacationer in chief.

Such a collection of bumblethumbs. Hey you buttheads, circle up and fire inwardly. haw haw haw.

Roger said...

Cyrus--I would be interesting in seeing the comparison--I am going to be out of town until sunday, and by that time this thread will be long buried--may I request you hold them, because I am positive the question will come up again.

As to M. MI5's comment, you posted them earlier, and I have no reason at all to think she wasnt calling them like she saw them.

I think we can both agree that this war on terror thing is extraordinarily complex, and that it is a unique threat given the immigration patterns in Western Europe, a two front war in the Mid East, and the nature of the tactics chosen by the terrorists.

I look forward to seeing if we can agree on a strategy by which to confront it, because I dont think we are there yet.

Fen said...

Cyrus: I was addressing the bogus claim that "playing offense" guarantees that you don't have to "play defense."

I think you're simplifying the argument. No one is saying we shouldn't have a defense, we're saying the focus should be offensive. Its the weakness of static defenses - you cannot be strong in all places at once, an attack will get through.

It is legitimate and reasonable to debate how we allocate limited resources to protect ourselves from terrorism. It is intelligent to consider how we can improve our defense of the homeland.

But of course.

We should be having a calm and rational discussion about how best to allocate our resources rather than accusing those who disagree with us of being unpatriotic, or as you suggest, insane.

Insanity is attempting a rational civil discussion re defense with BDS victims who seek poltical power at the expense of the nation and its security. Your side has lost any credibility that it can discuss homeland security etc in good faith. Thats a consequence of your partisan sniping for the last 5 years.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Roger,

Thanks, I'll post the comparison when you get back. Have a good weekend.

Tim said...

"...can you give some examples of wars in which the opponent was historically analogous to al Qaeda?"

There are no analogies to al Qaeda, of course, which is why the liberals fear of fighting this war on offense is so stupid. I'm not going to do your research for you, but a casual understanding of history shows there are analogies to what kind of war al Qaeda is fighting, and why it is fighting, and there is no evidence those kinds of enemies fighting wars for those reasons are defeated by passively waiting them out or hoping they blunder into defeating themselves. Liberals may think the war a distraction from universal health care, global warming, abortion or gay marriage rights, or simply loath their country so much they prefer to turn its defense over to fate, but history suggests, over and over again, that's a losing proposition.

More importantly, ask yourself what kinds of countries and people's fight defensively and what kinds fight offensively. You might learn something useful, if you wanted to.

As for troop morale, I'm certain you've no practical interest and I haven't the time to answer.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Fen wrote:

No one is saying we shouldn't have a defense, we're saying the focus should be offensive. Its the weakness of static defenses - you cannot be strong in all places at once, an attack will get through.


Why should the focus be offensive? For example, how can you be sure that we shouldn't be allocating more resources to defense than offense? And why do you assume that strengthening homeland security is equivalent to creating a "static defense?" I don't know of any evidence to support your opinions and you aren't offering any.

Insanity is attempting a rational civil discussion re defense with BDS victims who seek poltical power at the expense of the nation and its security. Your side has lost any credibility that it can discuss homeland security etc in good faith. Thats a consequence of your partisan sniping for the last 5 years.

"BDS victims?" I have no clue what this means.

"My side?" Do you mean the side called "People unaffiliated with any political party?" Or do you mean the side called "People wanting to beef up homeland security instead of invading and occupying Iraq?" And how did "my side" lose credibility?

"Partisan sniping for the last 5 years?" Huh? Fen, I've been commenting on the Althouse blog for about two weeks. How did you decide I'm guilty of partisan sniping for the last 5 years?

Fen, where is this venom coming from?

Fen said...

Why should the focus be offensive?

Simply because you cannot defend against all threats. You have to go out and destroy the enemy.

"BDS victims?" I have no clue what this means. "My side?" Do you mean the side called "People unaffiliated with any political party?" Or do you mean the side called "People wanting to beef up homeland security instead of invading and occupying Iraq?" And how did "my side" lose credibility?

Your side meaning those who have undermined our efforts in Iraq with the usual Bush=Hitler, No Blood for Haliburton Oil, Bush Lied bull. Your side had no credibility in asking for a civil and rational debate re defense. You havn't been arguing in good faith and are not to be trusted.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

Cyrus, how would you keep WMDs from rogue states out of the hands terrorists if your focus is defense? How would you project American power abroad and protect Western interests if you're huddled behind Fortress America? If you retreat behind thick walls and cede the ME to a Caliphate, how much time before you are isolated behind those walls, starved of resources and influence?

Offense is the only way to win. You must close with and engage the enemy. Better that Osama-wanna-be's are facing our Marines in Afganistan/Iraq than stalking our families in the local shopping malls.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Tim,

Let me make sure I understand ...

You wrote this:

no one ever won a war on defense

I then gave you an example of a war won on defense. In response, you cleverly revised your statement to insist the opponent must be

historically analogous to al Qaeda

and then when asked to name wars with opponents "historically analogous to al Qaeda" you wrote:

There are no analogies to al Qaeda, of course

So...I guess what you're saying is, uh, not much of anything. Thanks though for stretching it out across three posts.

As for troop morale ... I haven't the time to answer.

Uh huh. And here I was thinking your credibility couldn't get any lower. I was wrong.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Fen,

Before I answer your question, I have one for you. Without any evidence to support your allegations, you accuse me of

- undermining US efforts in Iraq
- partisan sniping
- arguing in bad faith

You also conclude that I

- can't be trusted
- have no credibility in discussing terrorism

(At least you didn't accuse me of rooting for the extinction of honeybees as AJ did in one of his goofier moments.)

My question is this: If you really believe that I am guilty of all these offenses, why do you continue to ask me questions? If you've concluded that I'm untrustworthy, unpatriotic and not credible, you are wasting your time by posting to me.

It seems to me that you've made up your mind about who I am and what I have to say. You often create crazy strawman arguments, assign them to me, and ask me to defend them. I don't think you realize you do it and it is extremely frustrating for me. Because I don't expect you to change your mind about any of this, I really don't see any point in continuing to exchange posts. Please tell me if I'm wrong.

I hope you have a good weekend Fen.

Fen said...

Cyrus: My question is this: If you really believe that I am guilty of all these offenses, why do you continue to ask me questions

Your side of the aisle Cyrus, not necessarily you.

Look at Clinton harping about homeland security - she doesn't really care about it, other than as a tool to bash Bush. What bills has she sponsored to back up her rhetortic?

Reminds me of the censure and move on rhetoric. Dems could have censured Clinton at any time, without cooperation from GOP congress-critters. But they pushed for censure instead of impeachment - and if impeachment had been taken off the table, they would have pushed for harsh words instead of censure.

Its the same thing with Democrat fixation on homeland defense: they want to push Homeland Security as an alternative to the Iraqi War - and if Iraq is taken off the table, they will push for a focus on domestic issues like health care instead of Homeland Security.

Fen said...

/bump

Cyrus, how would you keep WMDs from rogue states out of the hands terrorists if your focus is defense? How would you project American power abroad and protect Western interests if you're huddled behind Fortress America? If you retreat behind thick walls and cede the ME to a Caliphate, how much time before you are isolated behind those walls, starved of resources and influence?

Offense is the only way to win. You must close with and engage the enemy. Better that Osama-wanna-be's are facing our Marines in Afganistan/Iraq than stalking our families in the local shopping malls.

Fen said...

via Redstate:

"If Osama bin Laden stood up and said 'Here's my timetable for withdrawing from Iraq ...it would be of significant benefit to us both tactically and strategically." - AcademicElephant