March 4, 2016

"I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities."

Said Donald Trump today, in a striking turnaround from last night's debate.

I'm glad to see that quick response to what I'd called "the most alarming thing in last night's GOP debate," in a post this morning. I said:
I have been seeing [these opinions from Trump before] all along, but the effect was heightened by the way Bret Baier framed it — in terms of the point of view of military personnel who are trained to resist illegal orders — and Trump's very severe tone when he said "They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me." That is, there may be law and there may be extensive training about law, but there's something special about Trump, or so he thinks. They’re not going to refuse me. In his mind, Trump trumps law.
I was disturbed by how many commenters on that post blithely embraced the notion that President Trump should boldly operate outside of the law in the war on terror. I guess there are quite a few people who are ready to jump to support Trump whatever he says, but now that Trump has backed off — and so quickly — what will you say? He left you hung out to dry. But if he was your man before, I'm going to bet he still is. One of Trump's many extraordinary powers is the power to change his positions without looking (to his admirers) weak or flipfloppy.

235 comments:

1 – 200 of 235   Newer›   Newest»
BDNYC said...

FYI it took him months to change his mind on this issue. He wasn't just flapping his gums last night, the "kill the terrorist's family members" shtick has been a staple of his foreign policy for many months. It was his considered position.

Daniel Richwine said...

Just as Biden became immune to gaffe due to him saying so many, Trump is so over the top outrageous he can say anything. His strengths as a public person are so unusual it's hard to predict how he'll do in a contest against Hill or anyone

Chuck said...

And it isn't even the quick reversal that is so remarkable. The self-reversal actually shows a glimmer of sanity. It was no doubt a considered staff decision, along with a staff-written press release.

What is so remarkable about the story is to go back to the debate and re-live the relish that Trump takes, in declaring that he didn't need any steeenking laws and that the intelligence officers and national security teams would do Trump's bidding.

It's sociopathic.

A great article by Steve Hayes posted online at the Weekly Standard this afternoon:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/no-trump/article/2001405

Saint Croix said...

"I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities."

I'll bet Putin told him to say that.

jaydub said...

It's good that he won't order military officers to disobey the law. It's irrelevant because, his hubris aside, no officer of consequence would have paid any attention to him. Personally, I would relish the opportunity to stand in front of the green table and respond to the courts-martial for disobeying such an order. AA's readers don't necessarily understand it, but there are more honorable men in the military today than there are in any other profession.

Ryan said...

Trump never said he would order the military to disobey the law. The issue is whether there is some disagreement between Trump and the Military as to what is "legal" or not. They should obey all legal orders, even if they personally disagree with on the legality issue.

SGT Ted said...

Yes, bound by the law. Just like Obama and Hillary, right?

Amanda said...

bipartisanreport.com/2016/03/04/justice-marine-in-training-discharged-for-shoving-black-woman-at-donald-trump-rally/

"Marine hopeful was discharged from his program after a viral video of him shoving and screaming at a black protestor surfaced, according to Wave 3 News. The incident occurred at a Donald Trump rally on Tuesday.

The man, Joseph Pryor was taking part in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program, which prepares potential Marines for shipping out to boot camp. Pryor appears at the end of the Twitter video below, wearing a dark jacket with a blue collared shirt under it.

The local Marine Corps station released the following statement announcing Pryor had been discharged.

‘Joseph Pryor demonstrated poor judgment in his use of social media that associates him with a racially charged altercation at a political rally. Hatred toward any group of individuals is not tolerated in the Marine Corps and he is being discharged from our delayed entry program effective yesterday."

Trump was yelling "Get her outta here!" His followers complied, now this young guy's military career is over before it began.

HT said...

"One of Trump's many extraordinary powers is the power to change his positions without looking (to his admirers) weak or flipfloppy."

Yes! Or - no? Or, we'll see.

I've been listening to Fox News Radio all day. Quite a VERY LARGE DEFENSE of immigrants doing the work Americans can do. There's a shift back to SOP, it seems to me. Lots of understanding for hiring people who can work nowhere else and for limited pay, and "you can't find anyone else!" Oh? Well, lower the status of a job enough and Americans will take themselves out of consideration.

And for Trump - reality television and Howard Stern.

David said...

It will help you to understand the Trump phenomenon if you know that his supporters are incredibly incredibly dumb.

n.n said...

Positive progress. Precedents can be overturned. Even faith-based laws discovered in a penumbra that justify the commission of torture, murder, and cannibalism are subject to scrutiny and revision.

Amanda said...

http://warontherocks.com/2016/03/open-letter-on-donald-trump-from-gop-national-security-leaders/

"We the undersigned, members of the Republican national security community, represent a broad spectrum of opinion on America’s role in the world and what is necessary to keep us safe and prosperous. We have disagreed with one another on many issues, including the Iraq war and intervention in Syria. But we are united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency. Recognizing as we do, the conditions in American politics that have contributed to his popularity, we nonetheless are obligated to state our core objections clearly:"

The rest of the letter at the linked site.

Ryan said...

Just curious, suppose we did operate outside of the law on the war on terror. What is the penalty for doing so?

Would Trump be prosecuted as war criminal? What is the procedure for bringing him to justice in this regard?

What if Trump were to accept those risks?

gadfly said...

Scary! He shoots from the hip, opens mouth, inserts foot. But in your heart, you know he might.

HT said...

"What if Trump were to accept those risks?"

It's not just Trump who would be accepting those risks. He would be putting the continuity of the government at risk and would elevate the risk level all of us face.

I take AA to mean that perhaps he is not temperamentally suited for the job.

Saint Croix said...

Trump runs away!

Brave, brave man.

Dan Hossley said...

He is as good a liar as Hillary. It gives him no pause.

Freder Frederson said...

Just curious, suppose we did operate outside of the law on the war on terror. What is the penalty for doing so?

Would Trump be prosecuted as war criminal? What is the procedure for bringing him to justice in this regard?


Well, we are loathe to prosecute war criminals in our own midst (and Althouse's belated horror that the president would violate the law by torturing people is admirable, if a bit hypocritical). Even after the Senate report concluded that the CIA and military had indeed tortured detainees, nobody was held responsible.

But theoretically, ordering torture and murder of civilians is a high crime and misdemeanor, and would justify impeachment and the lodging of criminal charges, including murder.

dreams said...

It isn't an ordinary flipflop as in promising something to get elected but not doing it, instead he realized he was wrong and changed his mind and that is a good thing.

HT said...

No he didn't, dreams. He's saying these outrageous things (wall, deport!, no Muslims, torture, kill families of terrorists) to get attention. He'll say it again, but milder once he has the attention, and then, he'll wiggle out of it entirely, eventually. He's done it on everything but the wall. And (thumb and index finger together) he will not build that wall.

He should study Wallace if he wants to see a successful case of populist demagoguery, he spends enough time in the white parts of bama.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Yeah, because there are no gray areas when it comes to Presidential powers. Do you think Trump, or the rest of us for that matter, haven't been paying attention the last 15 years? If Obama wanted the father, brother, or teenage son of a terrorist dead, do you honestly believe that the chain of command couldn't be manipulated/pushed into making that happen, even for wholly fabricated reasons? Sheesh, this isn't even close to tinfoil-hat territory. It's what absolutely everybody assumes to true.

Chuck said...

Because reader Ryan questioned the substance, here's the transcript of the exchange in question last night in Detroit:

BAIER: Mr. Trump, just yesterday, almost 100 foreign policy experts signed on to an open letter refusing to support you, saying your embracing expansive use of torture is inexcusable. General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, NSA director, and other experts have said that when you asked the U.S. military to carry out some of your campaign promises, specifically targeting terrorists’ families, and also the use of interrogation methods more extreme than waterboarding, the military will refuse because they’ve been trained to turn down and refuse illegal orders.

So what would you do, as commander-in-chief, if the U.S. military refused to carry out those orders?

TRUMP: They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me.

BAIER: But they’re illegal.

TRUMP: Let me just tell you, you look at the Middle East. They’re chopping off heads. They’re chopping off the heads of Christians and anybody else that happens to be in the way. They’re drowning people in steel cages. And he — now we’re talking about waterboarding.

This really started with Ted, a question was asked of Ted last — two debates ago about waterboarding. And Ted was, you know, having a hard time with that question, to be totally honest with you. They then came to me, what do you think of waterboarding? I said it’s fine. And if we want to go stronger, I’d go stronger, too, because, frankly...

(APPLAUSE)

... that’s the way I feel. Can you imagine — can you imagine these people, these animals over in the Middle East, that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we’re having a hard problem with waterboarding? We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding. That’s my opinion.

BAIER: But targeting terrorists’ families?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: And — and — and — I’m a leader. I’m a leader. I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.

BAIER: Even targeting terrorists’ families?

TRUMP: Well, look, you know, when a family flies into the World Trade Center, a man flies into the World Trade Center, and his family gets sent back to where they were going — and I think most of you know where they went — and, by the way, it wasn’t Iraq — but they went back to a certain territory, they knew what was happening. The wife knew exactly what was happening.

They left two days early, with respect to the World Trade Center, and they went back to where they went, and they watched their husband on television flying into the World Trade Center, flying into the Pentagon, and probably trying to fly into the White House, except we had some very, very brave souls on that third plane. All right?

(APPLAUSE)

Amanda said...

What does it say about him that he thought that the military would follow an illegal order, if it came from the CIC? What does that say about his judgment, his temperament, not even speaking of intelligence.

dreams said...

I heard a rumor that Carson is going to endorse Trump and I heard part of his speech where he described some of Trump's qualities.

Matt said...

"Blithely"? Someone not agreeing with you does not make them unthinking. In fact, I would posit that many of those who post contradictory comments here are deeper thinkers than you are. Too often you seem driven by emotional reactions which you try to justify after the fact with intellectual drivel. (By "too often" I mean more than never but still infrequently.)

BDNYC said...

"Trump never said he would order the military to disobey the law. The issue is whether there is some disagreement between Trump and the Military as to what is "legal" or not. They should obey all legal orders, even if they personally disagree with on the legality issue."

I think you are confused. Either an order is legal or it isn't. Trump was saying he would order military actions that most people know are illegal. Some people are very ignorant, though. Trump speaks their language.

sinz52 said...

Amanda sez: "What does it say about him that he thought that the military would follow an illegal order, if it came from the CIC?"

It says he's a fascist.

Along with his blatant appeal to the "alt-right", which also says he's a fascist.

Along with the obvious sympathy of his followers for authoritarianism.

And a lot more besides.

"I was only following orders" was the excuse of every war crime up to the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

I had Trump pegged as a fascist almost from the day he declared his candidacy. Only now are various Republican officials and columnists starting to notice what Trump's philosophy of government is: "What I say goes!"

rcocean said...

Another tempest in a teapot.

The military should not obey OBVIOUSLY unlawful orders. OTOH, the military aren't lawyers and it isn't their job to disobey the President because they disagree with his reasonable interpretation of the constitution or the law.

FDR ordered the US Navy to attack Japanese vessels on their way to invade the Dutch East Indies and Singapore even without a declaration of war, an attack by the Japanese on US, or a defense treaty with the Dutch or British.

This was clearly an "Unlawful order" yet the US Navy was going to obey it.

Ryan said...

Terrorists don't follow any law in attacking us. They specifically target civilians. Why should we follow some higher law when fighting them?

Honestly who gives two cents about this? So what if terrorists families are targeted. Maybe they will think twice about attacking us.

Even if there is some "law" against this, so what. Change the law. Deal with the lawsuits or supposed "crimes."

Birkel said...

"You cannot argue somebody out of a position they didn't argue themselves into."

Trump supporters are running on emotional connection. Forget it, Jake. It's Trumptown.

Henry said...

I'm happy that ridicule caused Trump to reconsider the legality of his nonsense, but that doesn't change the fact that his position was essentially: I'm going to blow things up and double-down on torture.

dreams said...

Carson said his choice for president would be someone who is an outsider, accomplished and who is well liked by his employees which seemed to me to be a good description of Trump, We'll see.

khesanh0802 said...

One of the signs of a good executive is that he listens to and responds to feedback. We have forgotten that under Obama. Trump has made it clear where he stands.

jr565 said...

Clearly it's illegal now to water board because Obama and congress made it so. But they could make it legal.and then the president could order it and it wouldn't be illegal to do so.

But trump has a tendency to assume that commander in chief means the guy makes the deals and simply directs his subjects to do things. As if he was. King or an emperor.
He doesn't seem to really understand govt.
it's nice that he did a quick turnaround and changed his position, but the fact is if he did t so consistently put his foot in his mout he wouldn't have to.
And for those expecting consistency on his positions should look at this and the question of visas and despair. Becausethis is what he's going to do on all of his controversial issues. All the people cheering him and his strong positions must be shaking their head that he walks back those positions. If he's not serious about them then he looks like an unserious Douchebag. Who can't even stand by his own positions.

David said...

At least he didn't say he "misspoke" or that he was "taken out of context." I don't jump on it right away because I wanted to see if he really meant it. I think sometimes in verbal combat he defaults into defiance mode without fully thinking things through. That's not the best trait but it's manageable and he managed it. If you believe the recantation, which the people who are convinced he is the next Hitler will not.

Chuck said...

I posted the transcript of the exchange so that the question that Trump was booting would be clear to all.

The question put to Trump was not about the general wisdom of tough anti-terror and interrogation techniques. (Although a big part of Trump's larger problem is that he himself set this up as waterboarding and torture as some form of punishment and retribution, rather than intelligence gathering.)

The question put to Trump was set up this way (without re-quoting it): Given that there is near-universal agreement among our national security officials that waterboarding is no longer legal and permissible, and that currently national security and military personnel are trained and instructed not to use the methods you described, how and why would you ever expect them to obey your orders?

Naturally, Trump's answer was that he was a highly successful condominium developer and golf course operator, and he had seen ISIS do very bad things on his television at home in Trump Tower.

The more exact quote is what I already posted.

Amanda said...

Was he completely unaware that what he would be ordering is illegal? How can a candidate for president not know this? He didn't know what the nuclear triad was either. Or he knew and he had plans to "open up" those torture laws the way he wants to "open up" libel laws? He doesn't respect the rule of law, he doesn't know enough about the law, he feels he's above the law. Why are we better than rogue nations? Because we are a lawful nation, for the most part.

Gahrie said...

One of Trump's many extraordinary powers is the power to change his positions without looking (to his admirers) weak or flipfloppy.

Most of them don't care. I'd say that at least 75% of Trump's support comes from those who are simply getting a kick out of watching him drive everyone else crazy.

He's a revenge fuck. They don't have to be rational, just available. And the more outraged and desperate the Establishment and their lackeys get, the more fun they have.

Birkel said...

khesahn0802:

Trump has made it clear that he stands on all sides of all issues, clearly.

Henry said...

Ryan wrote: Why should we follow some higher law when fighting them?

Because we aren't terrorists.

Michael K said...

"the intelligence officers and national security teams would do Trump's bidding."

I would imagine that his support below the level of general is close to 100%. Generals are politicians.

dreams said...

It was trump being attacked by five people, five against one and I think all of us have had experiences where we found ourselves outnumbered in an argument so I think he did fairly well considering he was under siege.

Michael K said...

"Trump was saying he would order military actions that most people know are illegal"

And your transcript doesn't say that.

Fabi said...

Amanda's concerned about the Republican primaries, the Marines, and the opinions of Max Boot! She's a regular right-winger!

HT said...

dreams said...

It was trump being attacked by five people, five against one and I think all of us have had experiences where we found ourselves outnumbered in an argument so I think he did fairly well considering he was under siege.


I agree, but what does that have to do with this post?

Amanda said...

OPEN LETTER ON DONALD TRUMP FROM GOP NATIONAL SECURITY LEADERS

"We the undersigned, members of the Republican national security community, represent a broad spectrum of opinion on America’s role in the world and what is necessary to keep us safe and prosperous. We have disagreed with one another on many issues, including the Iraq war and intervention in Syria. But we are united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency. Recognizing as we do, the conditions in American politics that have contributed to his popularity, we nonetheless are obligated to state our core objections clearly:

His vision of American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle. He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence.

His advocacy for aggressively waging trade wars is a recipe for economic disaster in a globally connected world.

His embrace of the expansive use of torture is inexcusable.

His hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric undercuts the seriousness of combatting Islamic radicalism by alienating partners in the Islamic world making significant contributions to the effort. Furthermore, it endangers the safety and Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of American Muslims.

Controlling our border and preventing illegal immigration is a serious issue, but his insistence that Mexico will fund a wall on the southern border inflames unhelpful passions, and rests on an utter misreading of, and contempt for, our southern neighbor.

Similarly, his insistence that close allies such as Japan must pay vast sums for protection is the sentiment of a racketeer, not the leader of the alliances that have served us so well since World War II.

His admiration for foreign dictators such as Vladimir Putin is unacceptable for the leader of the world’s greatest democracy.

He is fundamentally dishonest. Evidence of this includes his attempts to deny positions he has unquestionably taken in the past, including on the 2003 Iraq war and the 2011 Libyan conflict. We accept that views evolve over time, but this is simply misrepresentation.

His equation of business acumen with foreign policy experience is false. Not all lethal conflicts can be resolved as a real estate deal might, and there is no recourse to bankruptcy court in international affairs.

Mr. Trump’s own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world. Furthermore, his expansive view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States. Therefore, as committed and loyal Republicans, we are unable to support a Party ticket with Mr. Trump at its head. We commit ourselves to working energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted to the office."

From my linked article above. Belies the idea that those under the rank of General agree with Trump's ideas.

Laslo Spatula said...

Porn is protected by the First Amendment.

People willingly do things to each other on film that some may find distasteful. Still: First Amendment.

I hereby say that it isn't torture to a terrorist if people already do it to each other willingly in porn films.

So, an incomplete list of acceptable practices:

Fisting.

Blumpkin.

Tossed Salad.

Bukkake.

Golden Showers.

Gokkun.

Felching.

Dirty Sanchez.

Donkey Punch.

Brown Necktie.

Monroe Transfer.

Plating.

Ham and Cheese sandwich.

Rusty Trombone.

Lucky Pierre.

Eproctophilia / Dutch Oven.

Cleveland Steamer.

Danza Slap.

Pig Roast.

Queening.

Roman Showers.

Three-Eyed Turtle.

Shocker.

DP (not' 'Disabled person')

DVDA.

ATM.

Airtight.

And -- of course -- anything that is found in the seminal film 2 Girls 1 Cup.

I am Laslo.


traditionalguy said...

The real law of war is to kill first or be killed. All of the rest of the stuff is endless variations on pretending that we play nice so the civilians won't know what is really going on call it off it because they are not proud of our being in a cruel and dirty war.

The leaders who can win wars would just as soon kill you as look at you. And they also make fun of weaknesses. Even handicapped reporters.

So Trump would be just fine if he agrees never to win wars.


dreams said...

"I agree, but what does that have to do with this post?"

I think it affected what he said, maybe he could have thought more clearly if not for the "incoming". It seemed to me that he was doubling down on something even he wasn't sure about.

Birkel said...

Michael K:

Why do you think Trump 'clarified' today? What need was the clarification serving?

Birkel said...

dreams:

What other excuses would you like to offer Trump?

DanTheMan said...

Buried deep in the pile horse manure from Trump is a good point, very poorly expressed:
We are fighting a new kind of war, against a new kind of enemy, and we should consider new tactics.

For example: Terrorist A and his pals shoot up Paris, killing dozens, and escape. We can't find him or his pals, but we know where his family is.
Should we kidnap his family, and that of his associates, until somebody gives up A and his pals?
Clearly illegal under the current laws of the United States and international law as well.
We carpet bombed Japan into submission, killing hundreds of thousands of non combatants. Is kidnapping them worse than incinerating them?

Please note that I am not advocating this, just wondering if the laws for war defined almost 100 years ago are applicable in the current conflict.

Livermoron said...

Ms. Althouse on her high horse still. The Professor hates war. My, how daring. And the bovine left moos "Me too!"

And jaydub, I'll put my military service up against yours any day. So, fuck you and your posturing about honor.

If a president isn't willing to kill a few families to save thousands, then that is not a president who will protect his country. And I will wait to hear the actual orders before I declare any unlawful or illegal.

This is all just posturing on the part of commenters here. If a President Trump were to give an illegal order, then no soldier is obligated to follow it. But what is illegal? "We're taking fire from that village. Send in the C-130s!" Is that an illegal order because there may be families in there? Try turning down that order and you'll be spending a lot of time in Leavenworth. Would it have been illegal to just wipe out the building housing OBL? I don't think so.

What do you think a president would do; tell some PFC to go shoot a kid playing in a sandbox?

Once again, no Trump fan here...but you guys are clutching your pearls for nonsense. I'd be much more worried about a candidate who trades access and policy changes for millions of dollars. That's a real concern.

When tough decisions need to be made you need someone who will stand up and make those decisions so that they benefit America. Reagan prohibited the discussion of any personal political concerns when dealing with crises. The Obama Admin appears to have the opposite policy.

And while you are all displaying your virtue as proudly as a baboon displays its blue, swollen ass, let me ask you this: Where was all this posturing when Obama ordered the murder of a 16 year old (IIRC) American citizen? Where is the hue and cry from Ms. Althouse or commenters on the left about this "illegal order"?
Where are the tortured postings? Where are the "scariest thing I've ever heard" postings? Where are the "Obama lost me here" postings?


Selfish hypocrites, the lot of you. Selfish because you want others to perform the dirty deeds necessary to keep you safe and secure.... and you're as comfortable as hell with more and more of your neighbors' sons and daughters sacrificing their lives as long as it makes you feel good about yourself. The hypocrite part is self-apparent.

I find you disgusting.


HT said...

Livermoron, you can also clutch at your pearls, you know. If you think Trump will not make decisions influenced by those with money, then ... I don't know what. You aren't thinking. He will be very influenced by money, very. He's self-deluded to the max.

Birkel said...

HT said "to the max" so we know he is for real-serious!!

Livermoron:
I do not disagree with what you said. But we are judging Trump to determine if we trust him with the levers of power. A loose lip might sink the ship of state, or worse. We are free to judge him unfit because he does not "speak softly and carry a big stick" without criticizing the military. Trump seems reckless, but not unhinged.

And, frankly, he seems a little to excited about the power of the presidency. Granted, I believe Hillary would be worse (in a vacuum).

Andrew said...

Ordering the military to kill terrorist families in retribution is a promise Trump seems to have backed down on, but like most of his promises and policies they are always fluid. I think that was covered in Liar101 at Trump University, a famous Ivy school, poison ivy.

Ryan said...

Let's see how many votes Trump loses because of this. His stance here doesn't bother me one bit. Including the flip-flop. He is changing to a better position. That's what negotiation is. Get used to it people.

Anyway, I couldn't care less whether we follow some higher law in fighting Islamic terrorism. They are targeting our wives and kids. If that somehow makes us "terrorists" then so be it.

Matt said...

Livermoron

So you're saying you love war? Your rant is just as hypocritical as the people you claim to hate. You get upset about Obama killing family members of possible terrorist but then call for a strong commander in chief [who's a Republican] who might issue orders to kill family members of possible terrorists. Stay consistent or at least be more articulate. Trump's cavalier attitude about what he will or won't do is pure braggadocio, but little else. I think being a bit critical of his views is in order. If you won't take the word of Ann or others not in the political arena [or military] then how about the 108 GOP national security leaders who signed an open letter condemning Trump's views?

HT said...

He? And - how picayune you are.

Livermoron said...

Jesus, HT. I've seen your previous posts. Frankly, I'd rather argue with someone smart.
Thanks for the try, though.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Jackson!"

"Yes sir?"

"We need the intel from that terrorist, and we need it NOW! Lives are at stake!"

"I understand, sir."

"Did you give him the 'showers'?"

"Golden AND Roman, sir!"

"And?"

"He didn't say a word, sir."

"How about the Cleveland Steamer and the Brown Necktie?"

"No effect, sir."

"The bastard! How about the Dirty Sanchez?"

"I don't think it was his first one, sir."

"How about 'plating'?"

"He winced, but that was it."

"We need to get serious, Jackson! Did you give him the DVDA?"

"Yes -- and with ATM, sir."

"And nothing?"

"He is a tough one to break, sir."

"Well -- when you gave him the DVDA did you make it Airtight?"

"Uh, no sir: no we didn't."

"Then get in there and get those cocks going! I want the bastard Airtight for at least an hour! Am I understood?"

"Yes, sir."

"And Jackson?"

"Yes sir?"

"Add a Danza Slap, from the biggest Jew we have..."


I am Laslo.

Browndog said...

Trump is a fascist totalitarian that will do whatever the hell he wants.

Trump's willingness to negotiate on seemingly everything shows he has not core values, and is weak.

....let me know which is which.

chickelit said...

Amanda cited...

OPEN LETTER ON DONALD TRUMP FROM GOP NATIONAL SECURITY LEADERS

That letter needs an Einstein signatory or two to look more than a "Letter from Leo Szilard to FDR." It kinda reads like a Who's Who of the DC consultancy class.

Where is the celebrity? Where is the gravitas?

Why didn't Cheney sign? Condi Rice? Colin Powell?

Livermoron said...

Matt: Where did I write that I was upset about killing the kid?
LOL. And yes, I love war. That's what all my posts have been about.
God almighty, save us from idiots like you.

Trooper York said...

Hey Larry. You better cut it out. Or we are going to go to the mattresses.

I have left you alone for a long time. Don't press it or you will not like it very much.

Fabi said...

@Matt: how many of those GOP "national security leaders" do you know or follow? How many GOP "national security leaders" exist in toto?

Anglelyne said...

I am pleased to see the revulsion that people feel toward an immoral and irresponsible use of military power that does not advance our national interest, results in the death of hundreds of thousands of innocents, is pointlessly destructive of nations, and which has catastrophic destabilizing effects far beyond the regions directly affected by heedless interventionism.

I'm sure everyone here will carefully avoid supporting any candidates, Republican or Democrat, who offer "more of the same" of the ill-considered interventionist policies of recent decades, and whose foreign policy advisors are drawn from the same pool of "experts" who promoted those failed policies.

coupe said...

Truman was the last president that was able to incinerate whole families.

I miss Truman...

chickelit said...

Matt ranted: You get upset about Obama killing family members of possible terrorist but then call for a strong commander in chief [who's a Republican] who might issue orders to kill family members of possible terrorists...

And then Matt challenged: ...then how about the 108 GOP national security leaders who signed an open letter condemning Trump's views?

It's a real pity that none of your ilk raised an eyebrow when Obama did what he did over the last 7 years to American foreign policy. I guess you were all too busy transfixed by his "transformative" social changes. And now you want to sign on for an effective 3rd term?

Livermoron said...

Birkel:
Yes, I understand the context. Let me reiterate.... Not a Trump fan. People getting all upset by what Trump said he might do vs. what Obama actually did.
The lack of self-awareness in people like Matt is astonishing: He hates what Trump says he might do, and gives Obama a pass for actually doing it...and call me a hypocrite.

And to point out that he seems a little excited by the power??? Do you believe that the others aren't? Really?

Terry said...

I can see why people would object to torture of suspects or killing a terrorist's family on moral grounds, but legal grounds? C'mon. Executive order? You know, the progressive's dream? Obama has already set that precedent. When congress refuses to do what the executive wants, Caesar's signature makes it legal. Only losers face war crimes tribunals.

Amanda said...

http://www.inquisitr.com/2643111/donald-trump-experienced-pentagon-commanders-to-quit-if-hes-elected-president/

"If Donald Trump is elected President of the United States, there may be some serious fallout at the Pentagon. According to the Daily Beast, multiple commanders are thinking long and hard about their future careers. “More often than not,” these military professionals are opting to make the difficult decision to leave their careers in the service behind them if Donald Trump becomes commander-in-chief. The reasons are many and varied, but it ultimately boils down to career military men and women being uncomfortable with the Trump rhetoric and his plans for the future of the United States.

The next president and his or her plans for the future of the U.S. are highly personal to Pentagon commanders, and to military personnel in general. When you enter the U.S. military, you swear an oath to defend the Constitution, which protects both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. You additionally swear to “obey the orders of the president of the United States.” When a potential POTUS, such as Donald Trump, campaigns with promises and ideals that are contrary to the Constitution, such as limiting free speech on the internet or violating freedom of religion protection by singling out/excluding Muslims, it creates a disconnect between defending the Constitution and following the orders of the commander-in-chief."

John Henry said...

Funny how nobody ever complains about Obama's more credible threats along the same lines.

First he threatens to use a predator drone on the Jonas Brothers (a boy band). Yeah, I don't like their music but the president can't go around threatening folks like that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWKG6ZmgAX4

Then he actually murders, with a drone, a 16 year old American citizen who was not charged with any crime. As far as we have been told, he was not even suspected of any crime. He was mainly guilty of being the son of another American citizen who may have been a terrorist. Anwar Al-Waki (Spell?)

Bush's waterboarding pales beside crimes like this.

John Henry

Bobby said...

Chickelit, Fabi,

Many of the Open Letter signatories- which I see the list is now up to 108- are extremely competent, and would make excellent candidates for an Administration's national security and foreign policy roster. Some are (to use the technical terms) dipshits. I'd be more than happy to discuss with you guys a dozen or so of the former in greater detail, if it's a good faith discussion, but I'd rather not waste our time if this is just about you guys going into "kill the messengers" mode and simply trying to discredit them for daring to criticize Trump.

chickelit said...

I betcha all the signatories of "An OPEN LETTER ON DONALD TRUMP FROM GOP NATIONAL SECURITY LEADERS" are friended on Facebook.

Birkel said...

Livermoron:

I would at least like a presidential candidate to feign grasping toward the big chair isn't orgasmic. Know what I mean?

Washington had to be begged to serve and left after two terms despite more begging. That's the example I would like candidates to follow.

And if Cruz believes in constitutionally limited government, as he has displayed in word and deed, I hope his core principles keep him from being too grasping. But I have always assumed politicians are the worst sorts of people and my hopes are low.

John Henry said...

BDNYC said that either an order is legal or illegal.

In Navy basic training 67 we were taught that we had an obligation duty NOT to follow an illegal order. We were also taught that we had an equal obligation to follow a legal order. This was reinforced in dozens of other training sessions, posters, promotion courses, leadership training and so on. Pretty much constantly.

We were also told that while most orders would clearly be one or the other, there might be some that were ambiguous. It was our responsibility to decide whether it was legal or illegal and act accordingly. We were also told that if we chose wrong, we would suffer the consequences.

There is not always that clear bright line you seem to think there is, BDNYC.

John Henry

Anglelyne said...

Bobby: Many of the Open Letter signatories- which I see the list is now up to 108- are extremely competent, and would make excellent candidates for an Administration's national security and foreign policy roster. Some are (to use the technical terms) dipshits. I'd be more than happy to discuss with you guys a dozen or so of the former in greater detail...

Can't say I'd have anything of interest to add to the discussion, but I'd certainly be interested in reading your input here.

chickelit said...

Bobby said...Many of the Open Letter signatories- which I see the list is now up to 108- are extremely competent, and would make excellent candidates for an Administration's national security and foreign policy roster. Some are (to use the technical terms) dipshits.

What was that saying some wrote here a while back (paraphrasing): a drop of sewage in in wine is sewage; a drop of wine in sewage is sewage.

n.n said...

If only we could have simulated eight years of the Obama administration before he entered office, before he was selected as the Democrat candidate. Well, other than foreknowledge of his pro-choice religion. Everyone knew where the bodies were buried, trafficked, and transplanted. And the rainbow that crosses the pool of disenfranchised and excluded Americans.

Oh, well. Simulations have consequences, too. I suppose.

The next president will be the best ever. Except for every candidate that did not participate in the simulation.

John Henry said...

During the Philipines war of 1902 or so, one of our generals said that he was going to sew up the dead rebels in pigskin and drench them in pigs blood before burying them. This would prevent the deadskies from going to Muslim Paradise

He never carried out the threat. He didn't need to. All he needed was that the rebels believed that he was doing it.

Likewise threatening to kill families. The credible threat may be enough to modify behaviors. May not actually need to do it.

Suppose a President Trump and his military announce that they are killing families. They are not but they announce they are in a way such that the terrorist believe it is happening and is likely to happen to their families.

Has any crime been committed?

I am not saying it is necessarily a good idea from a practical standpoint. It could lead to reprisals against US troops. Just asking if anyone would have any legal or moral problems with this kind of disinformation campaign.

John Henry

John Henry said...

Laslo,

Is fisting torture if the fistee enjoys it?

John Henry

Fabi said...

Thanks for your reply, Bobby. You made an argument to authority with that reference and I was trying better understand your familiarity with the signatories. As your reply also notes, several of those individuals are certainly interested in a position with the next administration and could have ulterior motives. I'm not necessarily asserting such, but tend to consider motivation in the heat of a political battle.

Birkel said...

n.n.

Did any conservatives miss on their Obama prognostications by much? I had the measure of the man. Even his ineptitude - revealed by his lack of success in any other venture - was patent. And his anti-American views are just standard issue Leftist bull shit.

AReasonableMan said...

Althouse said...
I was disturbed by how many commenters on that post blithely embraced the notion that President Trump should boldly operate outside of the law in the war on terror.


I was surprised by how many people voted for Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld after it was clear that they were perfectly willing to do the same. And that was not mere talk, like Trump, that was action.

Terry said...

"I was surprised by how many people voted for Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld after it was clear that they were perfectly willing to do the same."
Which law, ARM? Yours? And why aren't they in jail?

Livermoron said...

Birkel: All that would be nice. I could argue that Mr. Trump would be least likely to become infatuated by the trappings of the Presidency. I mean he lives that way, doesn't he?

Agreed about Cruz.
And I will happily pull the voting booth lever for Trump if he is the nominee, given our choices.

I don't think I would see Trump stand in front of the coffins containing their sons and lie to the grieving families about what caused it....and then lie about lying. Perhaps I am wrong about Trump. I already know who DID do that.

John Henry: Yes, those who have not served are unaware of those responsibilities and are just plain naïve as to how difficult that may be. BDNYC is bereft of clue in that regards.

Bobby said...

chickelit,

"What was that saying some wrote here a while back (paraphrasing): a drop of sewage in in wine is sewage; a drop of wine in sewage is sewage."

I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean - the point of the letter is that its signatories come from a wide variety of national security and foreign policy backgrounds and perspectives. You have everything from: neo-conservative adventurists to realists and paleo-conservative non-interventionists; SOF operators to conventional military practitioners; intelligence professionals to human rights advocates; Russia, East Asia and Middle Eastern experts to Latin Americanists.

It's quite striking that they represent such a wide band of the national security spectrum, seemingly united only in their refusal to Donald Trump's Presidency on the grounds of his national security and foreign policy proposals.

Terry said...

So the generals will tell us which people are acceptable for the people to choose as president. We are becoming very Latin American.

Titus said...

The only way Trump is going to lose the pube primary is if he aborts a baby on stage or officiates a fag wedding.

Qwinn said...

To the actual question about "terrorist families", which I didn't address in the last thread, here's my considered position:

Going after their families in retaliation for an attack? Illegal and immoral. No.

Confronted with terrorists using their families as human shields? Blow the terrorist away. Full stop. Steps that can be taken to avoid killing the families that do not, in any way, increase risk to our troops or of the terrorist getting away should be taken. If those steps aren't available or fail, that is unfortunate but cannot be allowed to change the tactics or objectives. It is those who used them as human shields who bear the entire moral culpability, and as long as the practice gives them any advantage, they will continue to use it and more families will die.

AReasonableMan said...

Terry said...
And why aren't they in jail?


None of them have taken a vacation in Europe recently.

Livermoron said...

Althouse says:
I was disturbed by how many commenters on that post blithely embraced the notion that President Trump should boldly operate outside of the law in the war on terror.
------------------------------
Our brave, beautiful and oh-so-moral Professor drops a slam and bravely hides from the contrary responses to allow others to defend her bullshit.
I am seeing a pattern.

Wayworn Wanderer said...

They all caved in and did whatever Obama wanted: gay this, gay that, women this, women that. They'll do whatever it takes to get promoted.

Terry said...

"None of them have taken a vacation in Europe recently."
So they've broken another nation's laws? Hmm. I imagine that Saddam would have liked to jail them, too.
Lot' of people do not understand the implications of what it means to be a sovereign nation or a republic. I guess you are one of them, ARM.

Robert Cook said...

"Just curious, suppose we did operate outside of the law on the war on terror. What is the penalty for doing so"

Given that we already have...nothing.

"Would Trump be prosecuted as war criminal? What is the procedure for bringing him to justice in this regard?"

Neither Bush nor Obama has been or will be prosecuted for their war crimes, so Trump would not be likely to be prosecuted either. As with so many on this comment thread, Americans would likely cheer on Trump the more savage and bloody his policies.

Bobby said...

Fabi,

Yeah, it's not exhaustive of even just Republican-leaning foreign policy experts (let alone the Democratic-leaning and independents)-- and some of the absences are rather striking. I should also point out that at least some of them would change their minds if Trump became President. Some could be convinced that, regardless of their feelings about a President Trump, their presence is needed to help the country (think Bob Gates and Gen. James Jones from 2009-2011). Some will likely close ranks once the primary was sewn up. Others, frankly, will relish the opportunity to serve under a President whose subject matter expertise on national security and foreign policy is so anemic that they will be more or less free to run their portfolios sans White House interference.

Bobby said...

Terry,

"So the generals will tell us which people are acceptable for the people to choose as president. We are becoming very Latin American."

As far as I know, all of the military officers who signed the Open Letter are retired (I have to say "as far as I know" because the list is gaining new signatories in real-time). Retired military officers have every right to participate in the political process, an American tradition that dates back to some guy named George Washington.

Brando said...

The joke is on us for thinking Trump means anything he says. He ran off at the mouth, got his applause for a while, then saw enough blowback he backtracked. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sure, he seems to misunderstand balance of powers, rule of law, and the Constitution, but it's less that he rejects those things and more that he just doesn't care.

He is radically unqualified to be president any way you slice it.

John said...

A lot of the drone operators are civilian.

Not covered by the ucmj. The legal/illegal thing doesn't apply to them in the same way.

It would be easier for an obama or trump to order them to kill civilian families.

Fabi said...

@Bobby: Not only do I agree with your 7:19, but I'm also thankful for its substance and courtesy. Election season tends to destroy rational debate.

Robert Cook said...

"Terrorists don't follow any law in attacking us. They specifically target civilians. Why should we follow some higher law when fighting them?"

Because we are supposedly--and by Constitutional design--a nation of laws and therefore prohibited from acting lawlessly.

Also, it is we who are attacking them. We've invaded their countries, blown up and shot their citizens, destroyed their civic infrastructure, rendered them into homeless refugees.

"Honestly who gives two cents about this?"

We should, just for practical reasons, even if one considers the niceties of ethical and humane behavior to be worthy only scorn: the more brutal a nation becomes in the other countries of the world where it places its military forces, the more brutal the nation becomes at home, as the social order and the authorities become more authoritarian and militarized...as we're seeing now with our police forces nationwide.

AReasonableMan said...

Livermoron said...
Our brave, beautiful and oh-so-moral Professor drops a slam


Without examining the implications for her own prior votes.

traditionalguy said...

That Illinois Baboon who ordered the alcoholic Ulysees Grant to attack Lee's forces at Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse and Cold Harbor was generally accepted to be the worst commander in chief we ever had right up until Sherman took Jonesboro and Hood surrendered Atlanta two months before he was going to be fired by the voters. Now that was some useless killing.

The Trumpophobics are coming out of the woodwork like angry rats all over the DC Megaplex. Hopefully they will all agree to quit enmass and run away and hide
before Trump finally gets a chance to do something...To Make America Great Again.

Wouldn't it be funny if Trump had to hire all Hispanics after as his Military Officers all run away.

Livermoron said...

Damn it, ARM I was hoping to get through life without ever agreeing with you on anything.
Damn it.

Robert Cook said...

"Then he actually murders, with a drone, a 16 year old American citizen who was not charged with any crime. As far as we have been told, he was not even suspected of any crime. He was mainly guilty of being the son of another American citizen who may have been a terrorist. Anwar Al-Waki (Spell?)

"Bush's waterboarding pales beside crimes like this."


The crimes of Obama you describe are atrocious, and he should be prosecuted and tried for them. Don't forget, though, that Bush's crimes go well beyond implementing torture as official US policy...he is responsible for a great deal of death and destruction. Bush and Obama are brothers in blood.

AReasonableMan said...

I am not as absolutist about this as Cook but the point that we interfere in other countries in a remarkably cavalier way is a fair one. My concern is not just the moral one of Cook's but a practical one, these interventions never seem to work out well for us. 9/11, according to the leader of Al Queada, was triggered by Bush I's placement of US troops in Saudi Arabia. Given the intense religious and nationalist feelings surrounding this country it was, in retrospect, a remarkably bone-headed move that was almost guaranteed to produce blow-back.

AReasonableMan said...

Livermoron said...
Damn it, ARM I was hoping to get through life without ever agreeing with you on anything.


You have made a good effort to date and should feel proud of your work.

Birkel said...

traditionalguy
Robert Cook
the Crack Emcee
Shouting Thomas
rhhardin
Cedarford

The list of single-issue, boring, repetitive commenters is up to six.

Fabi said...

Just an aside: there's an article at NRO trying to game the voting in the next few primaries. All well and good. They want supporters for "the other three" to rally around Kasich so that he can win Ohio and similarly for Rubio in Florida. This will yield a brokered convention. That's fine and that's fair. Where they get hinky is with whom they'd like have emerge as the candidate from that brokered convention. Here's a hint: his name rhymes with "Paul Ryan".

Michael K said...

"Michael K:

Why do you think Trump 'clarified' today? What need was the clarification serving?"

I think he saw he was being misquoted all over today, like here.

The "killing families" thing is a myth that has been used quite successfully by the Palestinians to accuse Israel of war crimes. In fact, Hamas put rocket launchers and ammunition in schools. Their headquarters in Gaza are beneath a hospital.

I fully anticipate hysteria on the left if a president Trump loosens the ROE in the middle east. The A 10s in Syria come back from 75% of missions with all ordnance unused. The ROE in Afghanistan are killing our troops.

" multiple commanders are thinking long and hard about their future careers. “More often than not,” these military professionals are opting to make the difficult decision to leave their careers in the service behind them if Donald Trump becomes commander-in-chief."

It would save firing them. The war fighters have all been forced out by Obama. Maybe McChrystal would consider coming back as chief of staff if the pussies are gone.

Of "senior national security leaders ", I wonder how many are on the Saudi payroll?

Molly Powell said...

Kasich's "nice" act is completely fake; many people who have worked under him have reported that's he imperious, condescending and plain nasty. This comes through loud and clear, despite the hastily applied patina of "I'm a nice guy." And how nice is it, really, to say over and over, "Gee, I'm such a nice guy; all those other guys are a-holes"? He attacked Trump in ads, but when asked about this at last night's debate, he ducked and covered and stooped and aw-shucked and bullshitted. He's letting Rubio and Cruz risk their necks and do the dirty work. What a total coward and poseur. He's like the shrimpy, devious kid who cheers on a schoolyard brawl from a safe distance, then slinks onto the playground later to pick up the loose change that fell out of the fighters' pockets.

Henry said...

A few points:

* Counterinsurgency is well-studied military discipline. Carpet bombing is not a favored approach.
* The fight against international terrorism requires a long term multinational effort.
* There are no shortcuts.

Spare me your ahistorical anecdotes. If torture and slaughter worked, the Spanish would speak French.

Chuck said...

Here is an exercise in Trump's supporters deserving the man, and vice versa.

John Henry posts the following in part:

John Henry said...
During the Philipines war of 1902 or so, one of our generals said that he was going to sew up the dead rebels in pigskin and drench them in pigs blood before burying them. This would prevent the deadskies from going to Muslim Paradise

He never carried out the threat. He didn't need to. All he needed was that the rebels believed that he was doing it.


This is so rich. Start with the fact that the story is not history, and is likely a myth of the war at the time. No credible historian has ever verified it.

But that didn't stop Donald Trump from doing his own riff on the story. Preceding the South Carolina primary, Trump mentioned it in one of his free-form stump speeches. Trump asserted that it was none other than General John J. Pershing, a decorated and distinguished officer who committed this war crime. (Naturally, Trump described the purported incident in glowingly positive terms and not as a clear war crime since he appears not to understand war crimes very clearly at all.)

Here is Trump, in that speech on video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBVKO5_em6U

Trump assures everybody that "you can find this in the history books. Aright?"

It is deeply psychotic, when you understand that Trump didn't just cite the story as an anonymous tale; a sort of a fable. (On its own, the story is bad enough as representative of a war crime.) Trump looked straight at his audience and assured them that they could find it "in the history books." The guy has a screw loose.

Add to all of that, that the roadkill in this episode of Trump's unhinged speech is General Pershing. Absolutely no one has ever credibly linked Pershing to such a monstrosity. If Pershing were alive, and if he were as litigious as Donald J. Trump, he'd sue Trump for defamation, and just might win.

As a footnote, is a story I can't possibly vouch for by writer William Lambers at the History News Network website. Where he cites a 1927 (25 years or so after the fact) Chicago Daily Tribune article describing Pershing's actions as spattering pigs' blood on live prisoners, but also negotiating with the Fillipino Moro warriors and reading the Quran with them. The opposite, in other words, of the "Trump" fake-story.

http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/162096


Time magazine posted this online feature on the story:
http://time.com/4235405/donald-trump-pig-blood-muslims-story/

And then

traditionalguy said...

The only single issue commenter around is the one whose single issue asserts several times a day that all other commenters must answer to him and really need to get his favor or be disapproved.

I would suggest seeing a good psychiatrist for that for that obsessive compulsive problem.

future toothless bum said...

Really, people are upset about this?

What about Obama's method of killing terrorists by dropping bombs that kill bystanders innocent or no. Isn't that the same thing?

J. Farmer said...

Like Yugoslavia, the borders of the modern middle east were drawn by foreign victors over the carcasses of old dead empires. And like Yugoslavia, they are destined for authoritarianism or ethnic conflict. Inserting ourselves into these petty tribal conflicts, including the Israel-Palestine quagmire, is a ridiculous waste of resources that only serves to decrease our overall security.

Basil said...

Water boarding is not against the law. Neither is collateral damage in an air strike. Where are the defenders of the law when the law is DOMA or DADT? The Europeans are giving welfare to their invaders. And you don't get the appeal of Trump?

We aren't the crazy ones here.

Bobby said...

Michael K,

Just wondering, but whom among the Open Letter signatories jumps out you as a prominent or even closet Saudiphile?

Chuck said...

Whoever questioned Kasich's "niceness": you have a real point.

I know some people in the executive branch in Ohio right now. I'll be in Columbus tomorrow. John Kasich is no pushover. He can be really prickly. He really understands bureaucratic fights over budgeting, and the legislation of budgets. And he will roll people.

These are all qualities that make me like him, and while I hope there is never a Trump Administration, and I have serious doubts about whether there could be a Kasich Administration, the best pick I know of, for a Republican Vice Presidential nominee, would be Kasich. The perfect President of the Senate; the perfect foil for a presidential campaign; a man who could step in as being a heartbeat away from the presidency.

future toothless bum said...

Maybe I could have read a few responses.

Basil said...

And Hiroshima.

rich hahn said...

As I posted on original thread, Trump never said he would break the law or order others to. This was a clarification, not a change in his position.

traditionalguy said...

Kasich is not worthy of a bucket of warm piss/spit, so he can be Veep. And then no one would kill Trump unless they could get both with the same bomb.

Meade said...

You're not an asshole, Donald. You're just wrong.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjibEkDoXQc

J. Farmer said...

@Basil:

"Water boarding is not against the law."

The OLC's argument was that waterboarding did not constitute torture because the harm it inflicted was not "severe." That is obviously a slippery legalistic point. What, after all, constitutes "severe?" Defenders of the legality and usefulness of the technique are often caught in a paradox of saying it's necessary because of the gravity of the threat but simultaneously arguing that the physical and psychological terror it causes are not really that big of a deal.

J. Farmer said...

@Basil:

"And Hiroshima."

The nation-state war fought between the US and the Empire of Japan, two large, industrialized world powers, is not even remotely comparable to anything that the US faces in the middle east. Describing our involvement in Iraq and Syria as a "war" already does not make sense under any conventional meaning of the term.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Progressives have been full-throated supporting Obama's extra-legal, unconstitutional, and criminal power plays. Shameless and unprincipled cheerleaders, particularly so in light of the complaints and accusations of the Bush years. Of course, it's only objectionable when republicans do it. Gawd, democrats are such bold-faced hypocrites!

Chuck said...

Michael K:

Since I was the person who posted the full transcript of the relevant part of the debate last night, I feel compelled to ask who it is you think has been misquoting Trump "all over, like here..."?

Henry said...

If you want to hold Obama to account, don't enable Trump.

khesanh0802 said...

Traditional Guy@7:34: Your knowledge of Lincoln and Grant is obviously very thin. What that history has to do with this thread is a mystery.

Nonetheless, It is generally accepted that Jefferson Davis was a terrible C in C. He was fortunate to have Lee to burnish his efforts in the east. Lincoln's problem was that he could not, until Grant, find a general in the east who would execute the campaigns as Lincoln desired them to be executed. Meade came the closest but he failed to follow up after Gettysburg as Lincoln wished.

Grant's alcoholic problem never got in the way after he began his campaign on Vicksburg. If you recall Lincoln once joked that if Grant had a drinking problem, Lincoln would like to give a barrel of whatever Grant was drinking to his other generals.

It was Grant's decision to attack Lee that resulted in the battles you mention. The losses were horrible, yes, but the campaign succeeded in tying down all of Lee's army and reinforcements which allowed Sherman to successfully fight his way to Atlanta and then to Savannah effectively severing the supply line to Lee. Grant also sent Sheridan into the Shenandoah where he did the same, while Lee could do nothing to prevent it.

Strongly recommend that you read the Shelby Foote Civil War trilogy if you are going to use Civil War analogies.

Terry said...

For some reason, the people who are sure Bush and Cheney are war criminals at large never mention John Kerry's self-confessed war crimes or Wes Clarke's illegal targeting of civilian infrastructure in Yugoslavia. So-called war crimes are really just politics by other means. Yes, even the Nuremberg trials. The US started the Nuremberg trials ten weeks after it nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I agree with Churchill; there were no eternal human values to form the basis of a criminal trial for Nazis. We won, we think they deserve to die for what they did, kill them. At the same time the Nuremberg trials were going on, von Braun, an SS officer who was responsible for thousands of civilian deaths in Britain and who had used slave labor to assemble his rockets, was creating our missile program.

Livermoron said...

Henry muttered:
Counterinsurgency is well-studied military discipline. Carpet bombing is not a favored approach.

--------------------------------------------
Put ISIS fighters in a tight perimeter and drop the rug on them. What's not to like? Even a COIN tactician would be happy for just that situation.

eric said...

Trump is doing what Ann predicted he would do. Becoming more presidential. Which means he is lying his ass off now in order to tack to the center.

Remember how Obama and Hillary were against gay marriage and for traditional marriage, until they evolved? Remember how Ann knew this was a lie and that's why she voted for them?

This is what Trump fans are doing now. Counting on the fact that he is lying.

Suck it.

rehajm said...

I was disturbed by how many commenters on that post blithely embraced the notion that President Trump should boldly operate outside of the law in the war on terror.

And as commenters here have also expressed this isn't exactly a unique position amongst the last three (four) administrations. Perhaps stating it aloud is what calls for the fainting couch, or something.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...



It's worse than that. Obama defines a "terrorist" as any military age person I. A designated area of terrorist activity. Therefore a 13 year old goat Herder is a "terrorist" if he is killed by a drone.

Where is Amanda? Where is Frederson?

J. Farmer said...

@Terry:

"Put ISIS fighters in a tight perimeter and drop the rug on them. What's not to like? Even a COIN tactician would be happy for just that situation."

We don't even knew who is an ISIS fighter or not. Hell, even McCain unwittingly posed for a photo op with a likely ISIS fighter. So called "moderate" Syrian rebels trained and armed by special forces have defected to ISIS (brining their shiny new American military hardware with them). Comparisons to WWII Germany are nonsensical. We are trying to fight something that barely resembles a nation-state, and we are essentially fighting it on behalf of the people who live there. This is what makes Cruz's "carpet bombing" statement such a stupid, ill-informed pander. The entire rationale for carpet bombing cities like Dresden and Tokyo was to demoralized the enemy and force them to surrender. But there is no coherent ISIS state that can surrender on behalf of a nation like there was in Germany and Japan.

elcee said...

Terry:
"the people who are sure Bush and Cheney are war criminals at large"

Answer to "Was Operation Iraqi Freedom legal?".

Birkel said...

traditionalguy:

I demand nothing of you. You are dull and boring. I mock you. My laughter at your expense is not a psychological problem. Now dance for me, monkey. Now go grind your Trump organ.

Bobby said...

Farmer,

"So called "moderate" Syrian rebels trained and armed by special forces have defected to ISIS (brining their shiny new American military hardware with them)."

Are you talking about Division 30? I believe they handed over their weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliate who is in a particularly vicious fight with ISIS.

Terry said...

@Terry:

"Put ISIS fighters in a tight perimeter and drop the rug on them. What's not to like? Even a COIN tactician would be happy for just that situation."

Those are not my words, J. Farmer. You are quoting a different commenter.

Henry said...

Put ISIS fighters in a tight perimeter and drop the rug on them.

Are you planning to send them a birthday invitation? Hey guys, meet me at the corner of Syria and Iraq. We have fireworks.

While there are ISIS fighters, there is no entity that comprises some kind of ISIS army that we can destroy and be done with it. If that were true, the lovely, ruthless, Soviets would have done that for us in Afghanistan in 1980.

Terrorists recruit. Acts of terror help them recruit. A huge part of counterinsurgency is co-opting enemy propaganda.

Henry said...

It was Livermoron. Livermoron, see J. Farmer's reply to you via Terry.

Terry said...

Elcee wrote:
Answer to "Was Operation Iraqi Freedom legal?".

This isn't a traffic ticket, Elcee. It is a political matter because it has to do with American sovereignty. The American people aren't answerable to any other nation (maybe God, though). They aren't answerable to the Justice Department, or the congress, or the president. Whether Iraqi Freedom fits some legal definition of a crime (or not) doesn't matter. If the American people wanted Bush/Cheney in jail, or Kerry, or Clarke in jail, they would be in jail. If any foreign nation or supra-national organization wants to put them in jail, they will not be able to do so if the American people oppose it.

Terry said...

Henry, how have are our counterinsurgency strategies worked out?
I mean, it's one thing to say "this is how we do counterinsurgency" when it has a proven track record, it's another thing entirely when our counterinsurgeny strategies haven't been particularly successful.

J. Farmer said...

@Terry:

"Those are not my words, J. Farmer. You are quoting a different commenter."

My apologies. I see now that my comments should have been directed at commenter Livermoron. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

J. Farmer said...

@Bobby:

"Are you talking about Division 30? I believe they handed over their weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliate who is in a particularly vicious fight with ISIS."

No, I am talking about members of the Free Syrian Army. Here is some reporting on it. But even taking the example you give, how do you not see that as precisely the problem? There is no coherent enemy with which we are trying to do battle. That there exists competing jihadist factions in Syria is a given. Same in Libya and Afghanistan. It is precisely the kind of warlordism you expect from anarchic failed states.

Tank said...

Good discussion here today.

Then Althouse came back to insult (again) half her commenters.

Bobby said...

Farmer,

Your link doesn't mention anything about these FSA defectors having been trained or equipped by US SOF. Doesn't mean they weren't, just that it doesn't say what you originally said had happened.

Regardless, I didn't say it wasn't a problem -- I was merely pointing out the fact that if it was Division 30, they gave their weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra, not ISIS. It's like, if I say Hillary Clinton had 30 messages that have been classified as Top Secret on her Unclassified server, and you correctly point out that it was actually 22, that doesn't mean you're saying it wasn't a problem, it just means you're correcting my facts.

Henry said...

@Terry -- that's a good point. Partial successes in Vietnam and Iraq were, at best, partial. Yet Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other conflicts make it quite clear that conventional tactics, including air strikes, fail completely.

J. Farmer said...

@Terry:

"I mean, it's one thing to say "this is how we do counterinsurgency" when it has a proven track record, it's another thing entirely when our counterinsurgeny strategies haven't been particularly successful."

I would agree with and amplify this statement. Not only have they not "been particularly successful;" they've been abject failures. Even if we don't want to rehash the minutiae of the surge argument, take a look at Afghanistan.

I think probably the only clearcut counterinsurgency victory of the modern period was the British in Malay. And that had less to do with British tactical genius and a lot more to do with the fact that insurgents were primarily concentrated among the ethnic Chinese, who were a minority in Malaysia and generally loathed by ethnic Malay. US counterinsurgency in the Philippines in the first decade of the 20th century is a more muddled historical analogy, I think.

J. Farmer said...

@Bobby:

"Regardless, I didn't say it wasn't a problem -- I was merely pointing out the fact..."

You are right, and I was quick to go on the defensive. The story is more than six months old now, so I will happily concede that I may have erred on the details, but I still am not certain we are talking about the same story.

Nonetheless, I think my larger point still stands regarding our attempts to build a resistance force from the outside in.

Zach said...

A climbdown is better than no climbdown, but I don't think you can escape the fact that he was advocating those positions and stuck to his guns when challenged about it.

A president giving illegal orders is bad news. A president getting into fights with the general staff about carrying out his illegal orders is really bad news. A president who doesn't see either of those things as a problem until the polling results come in shouldn't be president.

Bobby said...

Henry, Terry,

Perhaps referring to Max Boot's seminal Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present might be instructive here. It's a fairly lengthy read (almost 800 pages), but- just counting the ones since the American Revolution- Boot reviews 442 insurgencies and demonstrates how just 25 percent of them were ultimately successful. He goes into detail on the strategies and tactics employed by both the insurgents and counterinsurgents, and his conclusions tends to support what Henry is saying on this thread (perhaps because of the historical record, it's light detail for the ancient wars, greater detail as you get closer to contemporary wars). You can probably buy the book through the Althouse portal, and if you'd rather start with something shorter and more American centric, then I'd recommend Boot's The Savage Wars Of Peace: Small Wars And The Rise Of American Power (which you can also buy through the Althouse portal!)

Incidentally, Max Boot is one of the Open Letter signatories.

Terry said...

Thanks for the tip re: Max Boot, Bobby.
There is a theory that the American political system will not support a counterinsurgency campaign for long. If the insurgents know this, that gives them an edge.
Anyway, American presidents, of both parties, seem to like the idea of meddling in other nations business 'on the cheap.' The American people may endorse a short, violent war, but will balk at a years-long counterinsurgency campaign.
I am not sure if this is a problem that has a solution (or needs one). It is easy to say that we should withdraw from the world stage, and I have some sympathy for this position, but I think that it is important to acknowledge that a map of the world shows borders that haven't changed much since the founding of the UN and the US becoming the world's policeman in the late 1940s. Things could be worse. A lot worse.

Livermoron said...

J Farmer
All your points are vacuous. All you are saying is that it is tough to ID who's who. Terrific insight. Terrific.
Fine. Then don't bomb them.
However I stand by my statement now more than ever.

And it seems that we ARE bombing some folks in Syria. I wonder who they are?
----------------------------------------
And Henry eructed this: Yet Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other conflicts make it quite clear that conventional tactics, including air strikes, fail completely.

Henry, is there an adult at home with you that you could put on the line? Your stupid comments sound like a cry for help.

J. Farmer said...

Bobby:

I have read Boot's Savage Wars and thought it was a shocking piece of shoddy historical revisionism. American interventions in places like East Asia and Latin America in the early 20th century were primarily for mercantilist self-interest. That is not a particular indictment of the US. That was the game being played by the European powers. But Boot's attempt to build a Wilsonian liberal internationalist case for these interventions is an ahistoric anachronism. Of course the US preached noble intentions in its imperial adventures after the Spanish-American War. European powers made exactly the same claims for their designs on Africa and Asia. Most bizarrely, Boot includes a chapter on Vietnam. How that counts as a "small war" for America I'm not sure.

The interventions that occurred during the progressive era in America are an important part of our diplomatic history and deserve a serious historical analysis. Boot is not interested in undertaking such an endeavor. He is really just digging up these forgotten small wars to build a case for his incessantly hawkish, interventionist foreign policy. Like Victor Davis Hanson, Boot has turned himself into a professional pontificator on war.

J. Farmer said...

@Livermoron:

"All your points are vacuous. All you are saying is that it is tough to ID who's who. Terrific insight. Terrific.
Fine. Then don't bomb them."


No, I am afraid you have misunderstood my point entirely. The problem is something much more fundamental than can be solved with bombing. The borders of states like Syria and Iraq do not enclose coherent nations. We cannot bomb Iraq or Syria into functioning states anymore than bombing Somalia would accomplish the same there.

The Godfather said...

I think we're missing the real issue. Whether or not we approve of what the Bush Administration did in Iraq or Afghanistan has nothing to do with Tromp's qualifications to be president. Nor is it relevant that non-combatants have been, and will continue to be, killed in war. What's relevant is that Tromp announced, in public, that it doesn't matter whether his orders to the military, if he's elected president, are legal or not. The military will follow his orders because he's a "leader". We supposedly have a government of laws, not of men. What many of us object to about the Obama administration is the practice of substituting the leader's will for the legal and constitutional requirements. I believe that all the other Republican candidates have objected to what Obama has done in that respect. In contrast, Tromp says in effect, sounds good to me, but I'll do it even more than Obama has, and people will obey, because I'm a leader.

Fuehrer is "leader" in German. (Goodwin moment, I know, but is it not apt?)

Terry said...

Blogger The Godfather said...
Fuehrer is "leader" in German. (Goodwin moment, I know, but is it not apt?)

But 'leader' means something different to the Germans than it means to Americans.

J. Farmer said...

Democracies will always be susceptible to cult of personality. Gustave Le Bon made the basic observations more than 120 years ago in his book The Crowd. The entire American experiment in constitutionalism is how to protect individual liberty from democracy, or the "tyranny of the majority" as Jon Stuart Mill liked to phrase it.

Henry said...

Lewis Sorley's revisionist history of Vietnam A Better War is one I found insightful.

elcee said...

Terry,

The point is "the people who are sure Bush and Cheney are war criminals at large" over the decision for OIF are wrong on the law and the facts.

Jim S. said...

Don't forget, though, that Bush's crimes go well beyond implementing torture as official US policy...

The OLC's argument was that waterboarding did not constitute torture because the harm it inflicted was not "severe." That is obviously a slippery legalistic point.

It's not clear to me why waterboarding constitutes torture. I'm disturbed that most of the people who say it does don't really explain why. I wrote about this several years ago here.

Jim S. said...

Also, remember that Bill Clinton said torturing terrorists would be acceptable under certain circumstances (link)

Bobby said...

Farmer,

"Most bizarrely, Boot includes a chapter on Vietnam. How that counts as a "small war" for America I'm not sure."

Yeah, in military parlance, "Small Wars" is not a reference to duration of a conflict or even the size of combatants' orders of battle. The Small Wars Journal defines it as a derivative of war, which Clausewitz defined as "an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will." If in large-scale conventional war, then the means used to accomplish this objective is (primarily) physical force, then the means available to compel one's adversary into compliance in a "small war" varies across a broader range of means from pure diplomacy reinforced by the credible threat of force, to less than large-scale conventional combat operations. "Small Wars" are also often referred to interchangeably as Guerrilla Warfare and Irregular Warfare- the latter term being amusing because throughout history "irregular wars" are more common that "regular" wars). I admit it's clunky, but I didn't create the vocabulary and have to use the common tongue to communicate with my colleagues. In any case, practically every military historian will agree that Vietnam was a "small war" by the classic definitions.

Interestingly, I didn't get any "Wilsonian liberal internationalist" pleas from Savage Wars of Peace. Matter of fact, I don't even remember him providing more than a cursory overview of the causes and reasons we conducted those wars, so much as describing the nature of the conflict and their combatants, so I don't know how he would do it. But I read it 12 years ago, so perhaps I'm only remembering the parts I was interested in.

J. Farmer said...

@elcee:

"The point is 'the people who are sure Bush and Cheney are war criminals at large' over the decision for OIF are wrong on the law and the facts."

Completely academic point mostly unrelated to the operations of the real world. The majority of the interventions the US has engaged in since the second half of the 20th century have been outside the auspices of UN Security Council authorization. Like all great powers, the US pays lip service to international law but in practice mostly just ignores it. Since no superstate with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force exists to enforce international laws, they are only tangentially related to domestic law as it's popularly understood.

The US justifies most of its interventions by defining its national and security interests in extremely broad terms.

Bobby said...

Terry,

Totally agree the world could be a lot worse if not for American international leadership. Has it often been messy? Have we made mistakes? Definitely and definitely, but it could be a LOT worse.

Henry,

Yeah, I found Lew Sorley's A Better War really interesting - I met him at a conference at Fort Leavenworth in 2006, and he was really astute. I came out of the reading with Colby as a personal hero.

Bobby said...

Farmer,

"Like all great powers, the US pays lip service to international law but in practice mostly just ignores it."

My guess is that the Melian Dialogue in Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War was the first to articulate this dynamic, but that it has always been this way because, as the Athenians told the Melians: "the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."

J. Farmer said...

@Bobby:

"I admit it's clunky, but I didn't create the vocabulary and have to use the common tongue to communicate with my colleagues."

I am sure you are correct on the semantics. But I think given the book's stated intention of focusing on limited foreign interventions not widely known to the average American, Vietnam was an odd inclusion.

"Interestingly, I didn't get any "Wilsonian liberal internationalist" pleas from Savage Wars of Peace."

Boot's entire oevure is premised on the notion that America should maintain global military hegemony for the interest of liberal democracy. He is frequently described as a neocon, though his wildly utopian views seem to be anything but conservative.

Sebastian said...

"now that Trump has backed off — and so quickly — what will you say? He left you hung out to dry. But if he was your man before, I'm going to bet he still is. One of Trump's many extraordinary powers is the power to change his positions without looking (to his admirers) weak or flip floppy." There is nothing to say. It's not an "extraordinary power." It's an extraordinary, umm, quality in his followers.

"His hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric undercuts the seriousness of combatting Islamic radicalism by alienating partners in the Islamic world making significant contributions to the effort. Furthermore, it endangers the safety and Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of American Muslims." Oh? See, this is the kind of BS a smarter Trump would attack directly rather than foolishly. Not that I would want the real Trump as CiC anymore than the letter writers do. We could use a tough and serious critique of Islam and Islamism from actual American leaders. Trump is setting back the cause of resistance.

@HT: "I've been listening to Fox News Radio all day. Quite a VERY LARGE DEFENSE of immigrants doing the work Americans can do. There's a shift back to SOP, it seems to me. Lots of understanding for hiring people who can work nowhere else and for limited pay, and "you can't find anyone else!"" Right. Trumpkins are reverting to the one consistent Trump position, touchback amnesty and fairness for illegals. But, but, Rubio! Gang of 8!

Bobby said...

Farmer,

"Boot's entire oevure is premised on the notion that America should maintain global military hegemony for the interest of liberal democracy. He is frequently described as a neocon, though his wildly utopian views seem to be anything but conservative."

Ah, THAT I agree with - I just don't remember it in Savage Wars the way I do from his Foreign Affairs articles and assorted Op-Eds.

Regardless, for the purposes of the Henry-Terry discussion, the 442 small wars I cited from Invisible Armies can easily be reviewed by third parties to determine whether or not they were "successful" or not, and the 25% figure isn't likely to change substantially -- like, regardless of why you think we were in El Salvador, it's quite clear that FMLN did not achieve their objectives of seizing power (though interestingly enough, once Shafik Handal's death ended his grip on the FMLN, they were able to win compete in and win elections).

J. Farmer said...

@Bobby:

"Totally agree the world could be a lot worse if not for American international leadership. Has it often been messy? Have we made mistakes? Definitely and definitely, but it could be a LOT worse."

If "leadership" was all the US was interested in providing, it would probably have a much easier go at its foreign policy. Unfortunately, the US is pursuing something much more illusory and destructive: global hegemony. This policy is sure to bring us into conflict with other great powers who are very reluctant to accept "because I said so" as a legitimate reason for capitulating to US interests.

The eastward expansion of NATO in the post-Soviet period if just an one example of America pursuing a relatively useless foreign policy at the cost of antagonizing and alienating Russia. By what bizarre calculus is a security guarantee to Estonia or Montenegro worth more to the US than a pragmatic, constructive relationship with Russia? A Metternichian congress of power with Russia and China would be far more beneficial to the US than our aggressive containment strategy.

Bobby said...

Farmer,

Yeah, I'm way too steeped in neorealist-vs-liberal internationalist literature to get lured into this eternal debate-- read way more than my share of Waltz, Walt, and Mearsheimer in grad school. Suffice to say, I don't really have an opinion on these kinds of big picture grand strategy debates, which is a good thing because I wouldn't be able to do anything about it if I did.

chickelit said...

The Godfather offered: Fuehrer is "leader" in German. (Goodwin moment, I know, but is it not apt?)

Furor would be more apt.

Sebastian said...

@JF: "A Metternichian congress of power with Russia and China would be far more beneficial to the US" I understand your point, but it would be a different US than the actually existing US.

J. Farmer said...

@Bobby:

Agree with you on the matter of grand strategy and the like. Thomas P.M. Barnett's work is a cautionary tale for the kind of laughably naive proscriptions that field is capable of generating. His Pentagon's New Map was pop international relations at about the level of Tom Friedman (not a good thing). But is lesser known follow up, Blueprint for Action, was a true howler as page after page Barnett chirpily laid out his grand master plan for basically conquering human aggression.

J. Farmer said...

@Sebastian:

"I understand your point, but it would be a different US than the actually existing US."

Yes, US foreign policy is horribly burdened by democratic forces, unfortunately. It is really quite breathtaking how straightforwardly hypocritical mainstream foreign policy is. Putin is criticized for authoritarian tendencies, but our entire defense arrangements with countries like Egypt and the Gulf Arab states is largely predicated on the ability of authoritarian forces to keep a lid on revolutionary forces. If free and fair elections were held in Egypt and Saudi Arabia tomorrow, both countries would elect conservative Islamist figures who were broadly sympathetic to radical salafist sentiments and very hostile to Israel.

Bobby said...

Farmer,

Yeah, I thought Barnett's work was overly simplistic as well. He basically took Keohane and Nye's complex interdependence theories, ignored all of the numerous (and frequently unique) factors that undergird the presence of that interdependence, and then acted as if CI could just be grafted onto any bilateral relationship.

I'm inherently skeptical of ideologues who tell me they have a one-size-fits-all theory or system that can be universally applied to any situation. It's like... Riiiiight.

Bobby said...

Farmer,

" If free and fair elections were held in Egypt and Saudi Arabia tomorrow, both countries would elect conservative Islamist figures who were broadly sympathetic to radical salafist sentiments and very hostile to Israel."

Saudi Arabia, I agree. But genuine widespread resistance to the Muslim Brotherhood emerged during Morsi's (albeit short) rule in Egypt -- would it be a less secular government than el-Sisi's government? Almost certainly. But I'm not entirely convinced they would re-install a radical Salafist or Muslim Brotherhood (which are not necessarily the same) government right now.

Bobby said...

But your broader point about our defense arrangements- in some countries- being largely predicated on the ability of authoritarian forces to keep a lid on revolutionary forces is generally accurate, and in many cases, we're going to eventually get called on it. But I'm still not sure if there's a better option, though.

J. Farmer said...

Victor Davis Hanson is another peddler. A classicist with an interest in ancient Greek warfare reinvents himself post-9/11 as a "military historian" always ready to draw some broad inapt analogy to a military conflict of the past to justify a military conflict in the present. The Kagan brood are similar practitioners. They are all very intrigued by the events of 5th century Athens, and they all seem to discuss warfare as surely as meteorologists discuss climate patterns.

J. Farmer said...

Almost certainly. But I'm not entirely convinced they would re-install a radical Salafist or Muslim Brotherhood (which are not necessarily the same) government right now.

Certainly not a radical religious figure. Egypt is a generally more secular and less conservative country than Saudi Arabia. But even then, the cosmopolitan pockets in places like Cairo and Alexandria are still a minority of the Egyptian population. Most Egyptians are quite conservative, and a democratic Egypt would almost certainly pursue a foreign policy more independent of US interests. Morsi lost popular support as his actions came to be seen as increasingly authoritarian for self-interested gains. Authoritarian behavior for the purpose of "national interests" are usually popularly supported. Authoritarianism for pure personal gain less so.

J. Farmer said...

@Bobby:

"But I'm still not sure if there's a better option, though."

My advice is to stop fretting so much about the internal nature of regimes that pose little threat to us. Trying to enforce the legitimacy of borders that enjoy little historical legitimacy from the populations that actually live there is a fool's errand.

Mark said...

Trump is the Orange Obama.

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickelit said...

Bellbottoms for Hillary, from "Orange."

J. Farmer said...

"Trump is the Orange Obama."

And Obama is the black Bush.

chickelit said...

And Obama is the black Bush.

That's the spirit!

Birkel said...

"...pose little threat to us..."

The assumption that swallows the argument.

chickelit said...

Saint Croix said "Somebody took that little punk to the woodshed. It's obvious, is it not?"

Actually, it's not obvious. Perhaps you could flesh out your concept.

jr565 said...

Jim S wrote:

It's not clear to me why waterboarding constitutes torture. I'm disturbed that most of the people who say it does don't really explain why. I wrote about this several years ago here.

it doesn't. We used it for training purposes because we couldn't torture our troops. Would anyone suggest that, merely to allow people to graduate form SERE training that the military can toeture troops? Water boarding is allowable because it doesn't quite rise to the level of torture.
All the interrogators who used water boarding made sure they themselves were water boarded just to show that it was tolerable and that they Weren't delving into torture. Don't get me wrong. No one WANTS to get water boarded.
But if you were attending SERE straining and wanted to graduate, then you had to submit to water boarding. How many people graduated every year? Who was crying about torture? No one. Because it was routine.

Douglas said...

What President George W. Bush should have done is to order the CIA to waterboard whatever high-value AQ captives we had, for the purpose of extracting not confessions but information about AQ networks, plans, operations, and he should have then pardoned them all. Yes, it may have been illegal, but he had the unilateral power to pardon them and he should have done that and taken the political heat for it. The American public could then have decided if they cared and if so how much. That's how the system is supposed to work.

chickelit said...

Waterboarding is torture because Christopher Hitchens said so.

Q.E.D.

Saint Croix said...

Actually, it's not obvious. Perhaps you could flesh out your concept.

Okay, Chick.

My theory is that Mitt Romney, or somebody else, took that punk to the woodshed. And made clear, in no uncertain terms, that he will obey the Constitution and not give unlawful orders to our soldiers. And if Donnie did not reverse himself, and pronto, that there will be a third party run and his nomination will be scuttled.

And this person did it, not for personal glory or to advance his self-interest, but he did it because what Donnie said was evil and wrong, and needed to be fixed.

What I am suggesting is that a hero stepped in and scared the shit out of Donnie, and so he backed down. I do not think this retreat or reversal originated from Donnie. Some senior Republican, Marco Rubio or Ted Crus or John McCain, took the little boy to the woodshed and explained to him that what he wants will not be given to him. And Donnie backed down.

Donnie is a liar, in my opinion. I do not trust him at all. But I want Republicans to understand that not everybody in the government, or who is seeking the White House, is motivated by 100% self-interest and nothing else. Some people are actually heroes. Think about it.

chickelit said...

I wonder...would Hitchens be for Bernie? Certainly not for Hillary! Hard to imagine him cruising Ted's way. Maybe he'd settle for Rubio?
_____________________
Hitchens on Trump:
Donald Trump – a ludicrous figure, but at least he’s lived it up a bit in the real world and at least he’s worked out how to cover 90 per cent of his skull with 30 per cent of his hair. link

Saint Croix said...

Also Donnie ran away from CPAC. Think about that, too!

Terry said...

Blogger chickelit said...
Waterboarding is torture because Christopher Hitchens said so.

Strangely enough, for a man more moral than God, Christopher Hitchens moral reasoning was often only comprehensible to Christopher Hitchens. Hitler bad! Trotsky good! Slavery bad! Thomas Jefferson good!

chickelit said...

Saint Croix wrote: Some people are actually heroes. Think about it.

My first choice Republican candidate was Scott Walker, but he's gone. He actually was a hero, at least in one state. He fought a battle as a governor -- the kind that the likes of Jeb Bush never did have to fight. Trump was right about Bush III -- he's a low energy light weight.

Rubio? Precisely because he came from the humblest circumstances, he is vulnerable to bad influence from corrupt financiers. It breaks my heart that a person can no longer rise from zero to speed limit in this country. So tell me St. Croix, were you on board for Sarah Palin and did you then throw her overboard for Crubio as did my Twitter pals? What is it about Rubio that so stokes you?

Saint Croix said...

Maybe it was Michael Bloomberg! I have no knowledge who it was. I'm just saying somebody did it.

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