Free Markets, Free People

Where are the Navy and Marines to protect and evacuate US citizens in Libya?

Right now, in Libya, there are hundreds of Americans waiting for evacuation … by ferry.

Seriously.  The State Department has chartered a ferry to take the hundreds of waiting Americans to Malta.  But rough seas have delayed the ferry’s departure until Friday.

So where is our military and why aren’t they involved in the evacuation of Americans threatened by the violence in Libya?

Well there’s actually a simple answer to that:

So far the State Department has not requested the U.S. military to assist in the evacuation of civilians from Libya, something it would specifically have to request. Several U.S. officials have confirmed to CNN there is a vigorous debate inside the administration about whether to involve the military because of concern it could cause further provocations by the Libyan regime.

Ah … fear and intimidation.  Assume the worst and … do nothing.   And when I say nothing, I mean “nothing”. Per POLITICO’s Morning Defense newsletter:

THERE IS NO U.S. MILITARY ROLE IN LIBYA FOR NOW, officials across Washington said Wednesday. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley didn’t explicitly reject calls by McCain, Lieberman and others for a no-fly zone above the country, but that seemed unlikely for the present. Gates told The Weekly Standard the U.S. hasn’t talked with NATO about doing anything. Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan told reporters Wednesday the Pentagon had received no requests to stand up a no-fly zone or use its ships or aircraft to help evacuate Americans.

Nothing.   That’s not to say that the military isn’t trying to at least be prepared should someone decide to call them and ask that they help look out for the safety and security of Americans in an apparent war zone:

In the first indication the crisis with Libya could take on a military dimension, the Pentagon is looking at "all options" it can offer President Barack Obama in dealing with the Libyan crisis a senior U.S. military official tells CNN.

The official declined to be identified because of the extremely sensitive nature of the situation but he has direct knowledge of the current military planning effort.

"Our job is to give options from the military side and that is what we are thinking about now," he said. "We will provide the president with options should he need them."

While all true, we’re in the 10th day of this blowup … 10th day!  And apparently the military, on its own initiative, is trying to provide options to the national governing authority that it has just as apparently not requested.  Notice the wording in the very last sentence above.  “Will provide” and “should he need them”.  That says to me he hasn’t requested them and the military is trying to get ahead of the game without any guidance.

It took the President 9 days to speak out about the situation there and then his remarks were anything but forceful.  Even Chris Matthews found them wanting saying they “lacked dignity”.   Essentially we got the “unacceptable” line and a promise to send the Secretary of State to … Geneva?  Well yes, that’s where she’ll repeat how “unacceptable” all of this is – in 5 days from now, of course.

So in sum, we find out that our government has no plans, other than a ferry  – which I’m sure isn’t big enough to carry the full number of Americans from Libya who might need to be evacuated, but, because of violence, haven’t been able to make it to that particular evacuation point – to evacuate the thousands of American citizens there.  No military plan.  No orders to ships such as the Kearsarge group (which is the closest) or the Enterprise group off Pakistan to redeploy to the coast of Libya to aid in the evacuation of Americans.


As POLITICO’s Morning Defense reminds us:

The Navy and Marines evacuated some 15,000 Americans from Lebanon in 2006, but that was a major undertaking that required several ships.

Well, yes, of course … and we should have had “several ships” moving toward Libya 10 days ago when this thing blew up  — that’s what a prudent administration concerned with its citizens abroad would have done in order to try to ensure that the lives of those citizens in Libya were protected.

Instead, 11 days later those citizens get … a ferry?


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149 Responses to Where are the Navy and Marines to protect and evacuate US citizens in Libya?

  • Free markets:  The evacuation is privatized.

  • That may be a “faerie” they are waiting for, McQ…with the moon pony airlift command, and the unicorn gunships.

  • Well, yeah, we have to be cautious you know, after all, Libya (or Lybia, if you’re the current White House staff – that Bush administration, what a bunch of dummies….but I digress), as I was saying Libya isn’t Honduras you know, you can’t just go interfering in these countries and making snap decisions.  It’s only been 9 days or so, as I said, you can’t just fly off the handle with this sort of thing.
    I think the Administrations record stands for itself on whether or not we’ll react to a crisis situation quickly, look at our record, Iran (the first time around), the BP platform crisis and subsequent clean up effort, Fort Hood, The Afghanistan decisions of 2009.  This Administration has a long history of quick action and quick, decisive, effective decision making, not necessarily in that order of course.
    Yessssss sirrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeee.

  • As Charles Krauthammer said: “Decline is a choice”.

  • Any of you halfwits notice that Ghadafi is more interested in killing Libyans than Americans?  You Wanna change that?

    • How would using the military to evacuate Americans change that? Ghadafi has had a couple of run ins with our military and been a bad 2nd best both times. Why would he go for a third when all we’re doing is taking our people out of harm’s way?

    • I have to figure that [the name that Obama will not utter] is looking out the tops of his eyes for Predator tracks.
      If [the name that Obama will not utter] decides he gets any leverage out of killing Americans, how would Obama stop him, puke?

    • Well Speak, because bombs, and bullets and shells, they don’t pay much attention to WHO they kill.  There’s no little smiley face check box on them that says “make not fatal to Americans”.
      So if Mommar Whackjob accidentally hits some Americans with HIS bombs, or people shooting back at him accidentally kills some Americans with THEIR bombs, the Americans in the middle of this exchange STILL END UP DEAD.
      And that happens, GEE, even if NO ONE MEANT IT TO….
      So, like, maybe you should either grow up or sit down.  Besides Ghadafi just told everyone how he and the big O are best buds, so all O has to do is place a call and say “we’re coming in to get our people out, no harm, no foul, best of luck”.
      Then again, you could wait until some of our civilians come home in body bags, and complain about how the House Republicans caused it and the military didn’t do enough to STOP it.

    • And if Ghadafi’s control is lost and we have opposition groups running around armed with no doubt some of them are very radical (if not most) and they decide to attack Americans Iran Embassy style, then what?

  • I guess our civvies in Libya have been thrown under the bus.

  • One wonders if the President and the Secretary of State remember the famous line, “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli…”

    Sonsofbitches. Every single one of them.

  • What exactly could the US do on its own that is any good?  The US speaking up loudly and threatening Gaddafi unilateraly would play into Gaddafi’s hands, he wants that kind of reaction.  That’s why Obama’s been advised to go slow on the rhetoric, and not let Gaddafi make this a “stand up to the US” issue.  Military involvement by the US unilaterally would not be effective, and would give Gaddafi the excuse to butcher and blame the US.  Even if he couldn’t get away with it, he probably thinks he can.   The US knows that our options are limited and that Gaddafi’s capacity to make the situation much worse is real.  The only way to really pressure Gaddafi effectively is for the world to essentially speak with one voice, making it clear that continuing on this manner will only assure Gaddafi’s family will lose everything, and he will be humiliated.  The movement to build that consensus has been slow, but it looks like it is taking shape.
    A lot of people like to think the US has some kind of magical power to simply talk tough and make things better.  But the reality is our power is limited, and tough talk does no good.  Again, that would play into his hands.  A good leader understands the limits of his capacity to act effectively.  That’s why McCain blew it when he suspended his campaign over the financial meltdown and vowed to go to Washington to solve things — his rhetoric went beyond his capacity to follow through.  Obama has consistently matched rhetoric to capacity, which is why he’s so much more effective than our last President on the foreign policy front.   Yet I agree the world needs to send Gaddafi a clear message that he has no way out, and that ultimately military action such as a no fly zone will be chosen.   They also have to hit him on the financial front, and in ways that hurt his family fortune.  Tough talk feels good, perhaps, but talk is cheap.

    • “What exactly could the US do on its own that is any good?”-Erb

      How about, hmmm, I don’t know, maybe F’ING ECAVCUATE ITS OWN DAMN CIVILIANS.  I think at one time Scott, I was one of the few to regular readers here who didn’t just hogpile on your inane outbursts. No more. Enough with the Straw Men, Professor.

      Its not like someone has suggested we start another war, looking for WMD’s or Al Queda. Or that we enforce UN sanctions. Or even that we “Kick that thar Momar Kaddafee’ Bee-hind”.

      Just rescue and evacuation. You really do tend to embarass yourself at every occasion.

      • Really, and how do we do that, Jim?  Be specific.  What exactly would a military evacuation look like, do you know where the people are, and what the process would be?  Are people in direct danger now?   You make it sound like you can “rescue and evacuate” by fiat.  Those are easy words to type, it’s easy to sit back in your easy chair and pontificate about simply “going in and getting civilians.”  The reality is much more difficult.  Your inane outburst there is cute, but not well thought out.
        Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro and chiming in saying that the US is fomenting this as an excuse to grab North African oil.  We play into their hands if we act in a way that appears militarily aggressive.  Be a bit patient.  So far there are no reports of Americans killed, and there are efforts for a true international response that will achieve a greater good — removal of Gaddafi and prevention of him engaging in massive crimes against humanity in order to hold on to power.  You have no clue what’s going on in communications between leaders, in the White House meetings, or on the ground.  You are quite literally being an arm chair quarter back shouting “just throw the ball and get a TD.”  Sure, it feels good, but you have nothing to back it up.  “Just rescue and evacuation.”  My, you write that as if that’s a simple thing.  Do you even understand what you’re suggesting?  *eyes rolling*

        • Of course it wouldn’t be easy. But there have been ten days to plan…. something more than a ferry boat.

        • Really, and how do we do that, Jim?  Be specific.  What exactly would a military evacuation look like, do you know where the people are, and what the process would be?

          I imagine it would look like the dozens of other examples from recent history of countries sending in professionals who are armed but don’t need to use force since their presence dissuades anyone considering violence, who can provide civilians with transportation a bit better than a ferry.
          Do you never watch the news?

        • And Exactly DICKHEAD, what does sending a FERRY do?

          That’s Ferry, not FAIRY, so those people better magically appear at the dockside by themselves.

          And I gather the Ferry Marines, the normal compliment thereof,  will ensure the safety of the passengers as they gather and board.
          God, you’re a hopeless nitwit, well suited to be a follower of this President.

        • “You make it sound like you can “rescue and evacuate” by fiat.”

          And you make it sound like it has never been done, and never planned for. Your ignorance is showing. Again.

    • The Chinese PLA Navy sent a couple of ships to evacuate their folks, and the Brits even sent in SAS to protect their evacuated folks.
      In a throwback to “Operation Eagle Claw,” the US rented a “ferry” that was useless because of high seas.

  • See. I was so flustered by the idiocy, I spelled evacuate wrong.

    • Your own idiocy flustered you?  Oh well, I suspect you haven’t studied international relations much, so it’s understandable.  (Yes, Billy H., that was condescending.  But given the guy’s silly insults, I feel justified in sort of sneering down my nose at him.  If he’s going to dish it out, he’s going to have to take it)

      • Your own idiocy flustered you?

        Funny, you seem impervious to yours.  It’s as though you aren’t even aware of how stupid you are…  When it is so evident to everyone else.  Huh…  A mystery.

      • No, Scott. Not my own idiocy. Yours.

        I see that I gave you too muc credit in the past. I’m sure the regulars here would call me slow. (Feel free Professor to insert yout witty retort there- Once again, I can take it. 

        • Charity is not a fault, and hope not a failing.  But Erp has proven all such notions regarding himself are vacant.

        • Jim, you don’t know what you’re talking about.  You don’t understand what it means to “rescue and evacuate.”  You are covering up your own ignorance with ad hominems.  Yeah, people here can trash talk, but they don’t teach international relations.  They haven’t studied at Johns Hopkins or earned a Ph.D.   I have.  It’s not easy.  It’s not easy to teach about these events as the world goes through unprecedented transformation.  I do, and I take great care to inform myself of all sides– it’s an ethical component of my profession.  So yeah, when people get emotional and have knee jerk reactions (which is what I see in your response) I have little patience.  You just don’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t understand the complexities.
          But hey, you can talk tough on a blog.  Anyone can do that.

          • It’s the old “I teach this stuff” line that people have been mocking for over a decade.
            It still doesn’t get you a pass to continue writing ignorant, illogical arguments, much less the dishonesty and childishness.

          • My gawd, how DO you bear up under the enormous weight…?!?!?
            And somehow…someWAY…you expose yourself to all us emotional, non-complex trash talkers and show SUCH patience.
            Truly, a saint walking among us.
            Or a completely delusional putzReader’s choice…!!!!

          • Well, then Scott, consider me duly chastised by my intellectual and idealogical better. I’ll take my college degrees and experience and go sit in the corner with the other anti-intellectual cretins. After all, I must have earned them from the back of a cereal box or something, since they aren’t from John Hopkins.  I know my place now. Thank you.

            But I’ll leave you with this final thought, a little something from my mentor and old professor: Just because its Ad Hominem, doesn’t mean it ain’t true.

          • “Anyone can do that”

            Same for your degree then, twerp.

            I now finally met a person holding a PH.D. where it really does mean “Piled Higher and Deeper”.

          • “They haven’t studied at Johns Hopkins or earned a Ph.D.   I have.”

            Pig, lipstick, etc. 

            ” I take great care to inform myself of all sides…”

            Wow. You really are delusional, aren’t you? A rather selective memory, too.

            “You don’t understand what it means to “rescue and evacuate.” ”

            Perhaps you can enlighten us, from the depths of your security and military training and experience. I am sure that in your extensive study of foreign relations you have, as the Marine Corps and the state department Bureau of Diplomatic Security have, done expensive studies in that area.
            So much for ‘taking great care to inform myself’. 

        • SO you get mad about a post and throw out a bunch of ad hominems.  That’s fine.  Trash talking someone who thinks differently on a political website is pretty normal.  You’re engaging in mob approved behavior.  But it is meaningless in the real world.  I note that you don’t make any substantive or rational arguments, it’s all name calling and emotion.  But hey, that’s par for the course for trash talk partisan websites.  You’re becoming Ragspierre, who is so over the top that no one outside of trash talking partisan websites would dismiss with an eye roll.
          If you want that emotional experience on web discussions, cool — go for it, it’s harmless.  If you actually want rational discussion, well, I can do that too.  Again, you haven’t made a rational argument, it’s all emotion.

          • What….rational arguments like demonstrating to you that both the British and the Chinese have already employed their military personal to effect a “difficult” evacuation of their civilians from Libya?

            Right, none at all.  Do you teach evacuations too?

          • I am pleased that no one…would dismiss me with an eye roll.
            Got a  mite emotional right  there, dinya…!!!
            You make for a strange combination of pathos and hi-larity, there Erp…!!!

      • “I suspect you haven’t studied international relations much”

        That would put you both on the same level.

  • You have no clue what’s going on in communications between leaders, in the White House meetings, or on the ground.

    And, according to all indications, neither does the Obami.  While Lil Dick Trumka brags he has at least weekly White House access, we know that there are SEVERAL cabinet members that have not even spoken with hte MEEEEEsiah since coming to office.
    And the comedy gold of Clapper and Pinata are legend now.

  • Since we saw a wave of this stuff happening in North Africa, you’d think some plans would have been made.
    In any case, Libya has only 50,000 troops, of which many are not even loyal and have “defected.”
    It would not be difficult to evacuate our people in this environment, and I wonder how many of the Colonel’s mercenaries would stick around if they even had a whiff of US involvement…

    • You overestimate what the US can do.

        • Scott is right.  With its present leadership, I would not be as confident in the USA’s abilities.

      • You overestimate what the US can do.

        Just because you don’t know to organize and execute the evacuations of civilians doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who have done just that a number of times and trained their people constantly for such eventualities.
        Quit projecting your inadequacies onto others.
        You’re acting like this is the first time such a crisis has ever caught foreign civilians unprepared, like we’re all supposed to look at one another, say, “damn, those people in Libya are screwed!” and throw up our hands.
        I don’t know if BHO’s people are going to need to call on the military to get people out of there, but I’m hoping that if it comes to that, they can pull it off without any incidents.  You ought to sit back and read the news for a few days or weeks without jabbering on and on with your ridiculously inept “I’m an expert” arrogance.  Pay attention.  Take notes.  Don’t look for the propaganda angle.  Look at how things play out so differently than your predictions.  (If you just wrote them down in a little book, instead of broadcasting them on the web, it might be a bit less embarrassing for you.  Just sayin’.)

        • I’ve been following this very closely, Elliot.  Since my own blog predicted the spreading unrest  on January 19th after Tunisia, I’ve been on top of this.  It actually fits in with my research.  It seems like you and a few people here are reacting without understanding the causes and meaning of these events.  To fixate on whether the military is called to evacuate Americans is a bit strange, it certainly isn’t a major part of the nature of these unfolding events.  Also, trust me — you may not realize it, but just because the headlines don’t scream that the military is evacuating people with some major large scale operation doesn’t mean things aren’t being done. Be patient, the full story will come out and you’ll see there was nothing for Jim to throw a hissy fit about.

          • I’ve been following this very closely, Elliot.

            You may be saturated with news stories about the unrest, but that has nothing to do with your ignorant statements regarding the particular topic of evacuating civilians.
            The militaries of various countries go in and get their people out and then leave, without shooting up the place (unless something goes terribly wrong).  Maybe you shouldn’t watch fictional action movies.  I don’t know why you’re so wrong on this one.

            Be patient, the full story will come out…

            That’s rich coming from a guy who rushes to the keyboard to try to get out his predictions about major events like this or election cycles.  Like I said, you’d do well to wait a bit on so many of these things, instead of tossing darts blindfolded hoping that you’ll get lucky and predict something that actually comes true.  You remind me of the psychics who make their annual predictions for some Enquirer like magazine year after year, then brag about the 5% they happen to get right.
            Less propaganda.  Less games.  More reading.  More patience.

        • Amazing.

          Here’s what the Brits did:

          The SAS was ordered into Libya on Thursday to oversee the evacuation of hundreds of British nationals after the Government’s response to the crisis came in for widespread criticism.

          Nearly 500 Britons were successfully repatriated throughout the day after three RAF Hercules transport aircraft and a Royal Navy frigate were pressed into action.

          The Daily Telegraph has learnt that special forces were on the ground in Tripoli to ensure the evacuation of all British nationals went smoothly.

          SAS officers offered support and advice to private security firms drafted in to rescue more than 170 oil workers stranded in remote desert compounds.

          Last night the frigate HMS Cumberland set sail from Benghazi with 200 passengers on board, many of them British.

          Rescue efforts were still under way last night but the Government insisted that it was close to getting everybody out.

          • Again, you people and your facts….

            HE HAS A PH.D!!!!!!  You WILL RESPECT HIS A-THOR-EH-TIE!

          • I’ve read news stories like this for decades.  In nearly all cases, it’s a quick extraction and the military is out of there.  It doesn’t make the top stories unless there is some dramatic “human interest” angle the reporters want to play up, or in the rare cases when things go badly.
            How a so-called “expert” who is supposedly so immersed in foreign news doesn’t realize that such operations are quite standard is beyond me.  I’m still wondering if instead of reading the paper beyond the front page headline, Scott spent most of his time watching Stallone and Schwarzenegger movies, thinking that’s the only way the military works.

          • They even practice this stuff. The Kearsarge group would have been perfect.

            Additionally, the aircraft that was denied entry was a commercial charter. Note that any number of other countries brought in military cargo planes, of which we have thousands, to evac their people.

            So yeah, pretty common, over the years (as noted in the post about 2006) and certainly inarguable when talking experience and capability.

          • No, “Dr.” Erb is living proof of his own belief in big government management styles.

            Throwing money at a problem makes it go away (all the way to Maine in fact).

          • This is a story that NEEDS a lot more mining.
            WTF were the Obami doing over the last WEEKS WRT the Libyan developments?
            Who…working for what agency…chartered a 68 meter ferry that was incapable of seaworthiness in “stormy seas”?
            WTF were the Obami thinking in not incorporating military contingency planning MANY DAYS AGO?
            What diplomatic alternatives were forestalled because we had civilians IN DANGER, instead of being extracted DAYS ago?
            According to accounts, the Americans have been sitting on the ferry for days.  What was being done to secure their safety?

          • Maybe Scott would prefer the bribes, instead of SAS:

            Britain has been buying off Libyan officials with hefty additional fees in order to expedite the troubled evacuation of UK nationals, according to senior government figures.

  • Just wondering out loud why the silence on the ‘nobility’ of the opposition in the media?  Is it because they aren’t using Activist tactics?  Or is the opposition not potentially as unfriendly to the US as Ghadafi and therefore moving in the wrong direction?

  • Im certain there are some private guys willing to get people out. If anyone there has some money id start making some phone calls.

  • That whole Erp riff was one of the most strange and funny things I seen in a long time.  I do believe his golf ball has lost its cover, and the little rubber bands are starting to spontaneously fly off into the distance.
    One feels guilty for watching it in fascination, but it is so damn funny at the same time!

    • He needs to evacuate from this post.  Maybe there’s a ferry waiting outside his office to pick him up.

    • After a couple dozen times, the schadenfreude wears off.
      But it is important to bookmark this page so we can remind him later when he pretends like nothing like this ever happened.

  • I have come to the conclusion that Erps posts are really posts by his students given an assignment to study the effects of contradictory views or some other Poly Sci ‘technical’ term.  The last set of posts was/is so devoid of reality that they can’t be anything more than a put on to get ‘expected’ responses.

  • Some 285 people have been sitting on the Maria Dolores, a chartered ferry, since Wednesday, as the ship’s crew waits for the stormy seas to calm, according to State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says.

    That is from N freaking PR, for goodness sake!  And I’m not a tactically trained operator, but having them nice and concentrated like that gives me the willies.

    • And shall we discuss the number of ferry related accidents in the last 10 years or so and how them seem to account for the majority of lives lost at sea (at least according to the lamestream media)?  Or perhaps we should NOT.

      A FERRY…jumpin Jimminy Christmas.   We’ve replaced our Navy with a rental ferry.

  • And ya know kids, it’s just not terribly bright to be telling the world that you’re working with Europe and NATO and the UN to figure out what you might DO to Khadaffi until you’ve got your people secure. 

    But hey, the One pissed away days and days of response time, why worry now.

    Just me I guess.

    • At her service speed she can take them from Tripoli to Malta in about 6 hours.

      As for Erb, yet another ‘interesting excercise’, great to be safe up there in Maine where you can say “don’t worry”.

  • I really think you guys don’t see the big picture, you just try to choose trivial things to attack, and then get shocked when someone doesn’t share your point of view.  My analysis of this is more common than the strange responses you all give.  Watch and learn, Americans will not be killed in the uprising, the US will act effectively with other countries, Gaddafi will ultimately go down, and all the gnashing of teeth from you guys is just right wing blogosphere noise — meaningless and quickly forgotten.
    Oh, will you comment on the fact that a GOP panel determined that the so-called “climategate” scientists have been vindicated and scientists did not misrepresent the data?   You guys have your own alternate reality where up is down, right is wrong, and reasonable is to be ridiculed.  Oh well, harmless I guess, and typical of the blogosphere.   Psychologists note that people with doubt tend to grab on and hold more extreme positions and strict ideological views of reality.

    • A veritable dreadnought of stupid and Collectivist crap.  With all pennants proudly flying!!!  Sail on, CSS Erp

    • “We did not find any evidence that NOAA inappropriately manipulated data,” the inspector general concluded in a recent report. It also cleared Lucbhenco for testifying before Congress that the e-mails did not weaken the science of climate change.
      That was the conclusion of the Commerce Dept. Inspector General…NOT the panel.
      Let me just here and now call you a liar, Erp.  And the only place I found that was Raw Story…an embarrassingly Collectivist lie factory.

      • LOL!  Even when you’re shown to be wrong you find a way to try to turn it into an insult.  You have ideological blinders, and if reality doesn’t conform to what you want to believe, you simply create an alternate interpretation of reality to fit your ideology.  You are fundamentally anti-enlightenment, unlike the Frankfurt school, which undertook a project to try to save the enlightenment after discovery of the unconscious and how it drives our behavior made the idea of rational self-interested individuals simply making choices was no longer a feasible understanding of human behavior.   You’re a poster child for that — emotion, labeling others and then arguing against the label rather than the argument, and emotive rhetoric trump any effort on your part to use reason or see debate as an option.  Your style of thinking is the biggest threat to the enlightenment goal of human liberty out there.  Luckily, many of us are working to make sure your can’t succeed.

        • You are fundamentally anti-enlightenment, unlike the Frankfurt school, which undertook a project to try to save the enlightenment after discovery of the unconscious and how it drives our behavior made the idea of rational self-interested individuals simply making choices was no longer a feasible understanding of human behavior.

          The “unconscious”? Maybe you should enlighten yourself as to what that is.

          Nice condescension fail BTW.

        • …after discovery of the unconscious and how it drives our behavior made the idea of rational self-interested individuals simply making choices was no longer a feasible understanding of human behavior.
          So, the Frankfort School MARXISTS were saving the rational Enlightenment from itself…!!!
          Where have I heard that nonsense before…???
          You can’t possibly read this shit before you hit the “submit” button.

        • Perhaps I was unclear–
          YOU LIED.
          The PANEL did not make that determination.  An IG did.
          IT DID NOT SWEEP CLEAN, but was limited to NOAA.
          It was the CONCLUSORY REPORTED statement of one guy.

          • The report notes a careful review of eight e-mails that it said “warranted further examination to clarify any possible issues involving the scientific integrity of particular NOAA scientists or NOAA’s data,” that was completed and did not reveal reason to doubt the scientific integrity of NOAA scientists or data.
            The report questions the way NOAA handled a response to four FOIA requests in 2007. The FOIA requests sought documents related to the review and comments of part of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. NOAA scientists were given legal advice that IPCC work done by scientists were records of the IPCC, not NOAA. The requesters were directed to the IPCC, which subsequently made available the review, comments and responses which are online at IPCC and

            Well, that is really pretty frog-fur fine…doncha think, Erp…???
            “Vindicated”…???  Yep.  As to the gnat-straining “legality” of NOAA conduct.

        • Your style of thinking is the biggest threat to the enlightenment goal of human liberty out there.  Luckily, many of us are working to make sure your can’t succeed.

          How are you working towards “the enlightenment goal of human liberty”?  By forcing people to buy into yet another Ponzi scheme (ObamaPelosiCare), which is, contrary to all your noise about you being a “left-libertarian” and for decentralizing power, a federal mandate.  Some liberty there, huh?
          On issue after issue, when there is an election or a legislative vote, you consistently back the Democrats when they want to impose new restrictions or centralize power.
          I know, I know, now you’ll redefine “liberty” with some Newspeak rationalization about “powerful actors” ignoring the dozens and dozens of times that various people have debunked that silly argument.

          • Actually that is the goal of my current book project, considering how the new media and current information revolution will make possible the end of the central bureaucratic state and overcome the dilemmas people like Fromm pointed out makes the enlightenment goals much harder to achieve than when people thought they could conceptualize humans simply as rational self-interested actors.  On health care, I’d prefer it to be done at the state level, not the national level, so I’m not sure what you’re going on about there.

          • On health care, I’d prefer it to be done at the state level, not the national level, so I’m not sure what you’re going on about there.

            You’ve praised ObamaPeolosiCare several times and made condescending remarks about the detractors and how all the other modern industrial countries had this, so just shut up and quit complaining.
            Tell me this: did you write articles or attend protests to try to stop the Democrats from passing that legislation?  Or, were you hoping the Republicans would be successful at blocking the legislation?
            You can’t have it both ways, siding with the people who imposed this federal monstrosity, but then posturing as one who wants things handled at the state level.
            Furthermore, look at Massachusetts.  Romney signed in a state-level universal health care program which was a financial disaster.  They were soon looking to Washington to bail them out.  So, the notion that just going down one level will solve problems is foolhardy.
            No, the real answer to the dilemmas of health care is to allow people more choices and quit using government force to screw up the natural incentives.  The pre-tax incentive to get insurance through an employer, Medicare rules, and limits on interstate insurance sales have all distorted the market.
            When people either have no insurance or high-deductible insurance, they tend to be more cautious about getting services.  And, when doctors and pharmacies can’t rely on Medicare and a high percentage of overly insured people guaranteeing a steady stream of people who aren’t comparing prices, they can set prices high and just rake in the cash, without paying attention to supply and demand signals.
            Oh, and mandating coverage of preexisting conditions?  That makes as much sense as a football bat.  It’s like being able to buy homeowner’s insurance after your house catches fire, or auto insurance after you’ve had a crash.  Insurance companies have to make a profit or they go out of business.  Economics 101.

        • Ah. Found those old Cliff Notes, eh? Try reading more than the chapter titles this time.

    • Americans will not be killed in the uprising…

      The guy I met in the Frankfurt airport security line Thursday morning would disagree with you. He left everything he owned in Libya to get away, and was carrying everything he still owned in two small bags. He considered himself lucky that he got one of the few flights out.
      So who should I believe? A dingbat professor cosseted up on a campus in Middle-Of-Nowhere, Maine who has been proven wrong about almost everything he’s ever predicted, or an American guy who actually fled Libya? Gosh, what a tough decision.

      • Oh, Billy…(eye roll)…
        that guy was just an overly emotional, non-complex thinker, who had never studied international relations at Hop-a-long Cassidy U, and was just making a knee-jerk, unpopular conclusion.  Hell, the guy probably worked for an OIL COMPANY, and the GOP just determined they are destroying the planet and slandering honest scientists (whose dog ate all their data JUST at the moment an FOA law required it).
        That kind of story is all over these right-wing blogs, where it is so easy to arm-chair quarter-back complex issues…when you know that really is the province of a trained elite…like Erp…who work SOOOOOO hard…(sob)

      • Who you believe is irrelevant, when the dust settles we’ll know what happened.  There are reports the US military has advisors in some of the break away regions of Libya (along with other NATO advisors, at least the British).   My point is that any dingbat behind a computer can pontificate that “the government should do more.”  Yet in times like this we have very little information about what is actually being done, and the extrapolations based on incomplete reports (like the one this post has) are meaningless.  Cute how you say I’ve been wrong — go back to my blog starting in 2008 and you’ll see that I’ve been right in predictions on a wide variety of things, including the economic crisis, the problems in Afghanistan, the failure in Iraq (I noted when the war started it was possible we’d still be there five years later — conservatives were laughing at me, telling me Iraqi oil revenues would pay for everything, it would be a thriving modern democracy, we’d get the lucrative oil deals, Blair would be the dominant European leader, the French and Germans discredited, yada yada.)
        Face it, what really bugs you Billy is I have a different perspective, I make my case very well, I know what I’m talking about, and you can’t stand up and have a debate with me toe to toe because I destroy your arguments and you can’t defeat mine.  That happened once.  You got mad, frustrated and then disintegrated into a series of ad hominems refusing to recognize that you had simply been defeated in a debate.  It’s funny how people who can’t admit to being wrong can’t stand losing a debate and willl simply start hurling ad hominems at those who show the errors of their argument.  Insecurity, I guess.   Oh well, you’re not doing in harm, and it is a semi-interesting blog, so carry on!

        • That happened once.

          Link, please. Otherwise, you’re blowing smoke as usual.

          Though you’re right about one thing. I can’t do a debate with you toe-to-toe, for the same reason I can’t debate a three-year-old on anything more complex than SpongeBob. You bring nothing to the discussion worth debating; it’s all argument from authority and handwaving away of anything you disagree with. Plus the fact that *you* can’t stand the fact that we’ve all got your number and keep pointing out the myriad things you’ve been howlingly wrong about.

          What’s up with you the last couple of weeks, anyway? You have drifted from incoherence into bitter derangement. Several people here have noticed it; there must be a reason.

          • No, Billy, you are the one using ad hominems, insults and hand waving to avoid actually discussing something.  You’re on your home turf here, so no one is going to call you on it, but in the real world your style would be a sign of weakness and an inability to debate.  I’m willing to be patient, work through issues one by one, understand the others’ perspective, take time to look for evidence if that’s indispute, and focus on logic and reason.   For all your insults, I think you know someone doesn’t have the experience and success I’ve had by just hand waving.  Yeah, I understand the partisan blog game where insults are cheap and those with contrary views are ridiculed (I’ve seen the same treatment given to conservatives on left leaning blogs).  But the bottom line is I’m always willing to put aside that stuff and have a clear,  well defined discussion where the crucible of evidence and reason determines the result.  I’ll play the blog game for fun — respond to your bravado with bravado of my own.  I obviously don’t take the insults seriously.   But it would be more productive, and we both might learn something, if real debate on a serious issue occurred.  But that would require you put down that banner of labeling me all sorts of insulting things and you’re loathe to do that.
            Blogs – both left and right – tend to have more name calling then I’ve seen since junior high.  That is an interesting dynamic.

          • Yep, blowing smoke. Just as we all expected.

            And I find your “out in the real world” blather to be consistently hilarious. Seeing as how it’s from a guy who has shaped his entire life to avoid the real world and live in the cocoon of social “science” academia.

        • Wow. Just, wow.

    • Oh, will you comment on the fact that a GOP panel determined that the so-called “climategate” scientists have been vindicated and scientists did not misrepresent the data?

      That is incorrect.  The panel determined that the NOAA did not inappropriately manipulate data.  It made no determination as to the actions of any of the scientists whose dirty laundry was aired in the CRU email archive.  This is very similar to the other investigations that “exonerated” those involved– the narrow scope of those investigations provided ‘vindication’ to those accused by not actually addressing the incidents where they manipulated data, tried to silence dissent, and made a mockery of both the scientific process and the rules of publication.
      I suspect that in spite of this apparent victory, the IPCC will not be reintroducing the “hockey stick” chart into its next report, nor will it reinstate the numerous other false and/or misleading claims that it has been forced to purge recently.

    • Your “analysis” about the particular topic of evacuating civilians being an unfeasible task for the military was already proved wrong by the citations of other countries using their military assets to protect and extract their civilians, without incident.  Even if no Americans are killed, that doesn’t mean you were right.  I would just mean that they got lucky.
      As for the out-of-left-field quip about Climategate: for all your talk about what is anti-Science, you should know that one of the primary things one needs to do is to provide evidence for others to review which you didn’t do with a link to a particular story or other suitable reference (it’s very easy to do in this comment interface, people do it all the time).  Furthermore, one of the chief complaints about Climategate was the fact that, as with many other research findings by climate alarmists, the alarmist researchers refused to share their data set, which is highly anti-Science.  Again, part of scientific research is testing, testing, testing, and re-testing.  That means you share your data so that some guy in Australia, Japan, or Norway can run the same experiment and see if he gets the same result.  Deliberately refusing to allow others have data gives the appearance that one is trying to hide things (after all, the skeptics figured out about the Russia “error” at NASA’s Goddard institute for Space Studies (GISS) declaring October 2008 the hottest ever, only to realize that data in Russia was duplicated from September 2008).  But even if you aren’t hiding some dishonesty, playing the “I won’t give data to skeptics” game is childish and anti-Science.  It sets a bad precedent.

      • Hmmmm. Erp also refuses to supply his data/sources. I detect a pattern here. It must be the *social* science approach to analysis that he learned at Hopkins, where he had a scholarship for class clown. 

    • Yeah, and Lara Logan wasn raped.

      • Oh, that’s right YOU have studiously avoided that issue, looks bad when you go talking about democracy, and the youth uprising in the Middle East that will sweep them into the new age of Islamic enlightenment.

        Sorry to bring reality into your view AGAIN.

        Go head and look out the window at the pretty pine trees, dream some dreamy liberal dreams, and tell us how we don’t know WTF we’re talking about because YOU managed to get a PH.D. (like those are in short supply…)

        Your ‘authority’ fetish would have done you credit in 1930’s Germany, I’m sure.

    • “Oh, will you comment on the fact that a GOP panel determined that the so-called “climategate” scientists have been vindicated and scientists did not misrepresent the data?”

      What panel would that be? Can you spell ‘cite’ or ‘link’?

  • I’m certainly not a fan of this administration, but there’s a well-established protocol/doctrine for evacuation of American citizens from the world’s hot spots.  In order of preference, they are:
    1) use of commercially scheduled transportation (e.g. airlines)
    2) chartered conveyances (e.g. aircraft, ships, busses)
    3) US military aircraft
    4) USN/USMC
    The ambassador on the scene makes the call/decision based on the security situation, threat levels, etc.  Overlooked in all of the criticism that we didn’t send in the Marines is that official Americans (and presumably others who wanted to leave) were evacuated safely from Libya without injury/loss of life.  Things worked the way they were supposed to…

    • Forgive me for observing, but… BULLSHIT.
      The SOP may have been followed, but your “Things worked the way they were supposed to…” is the same a Napolitano’s “The system worked”.
      There are STILL (apparently) uncounted numbers of Americans in Libya.
      Process is not result.

    • …there’s a well-established protocol/doctrine for evacuation of American citizens from the world’s hot spots.

      Try explaining that to Scott, who tell people who discuss such things that “[y]ou overestimate what the US can do.”  Clearly, he underestimates what can be done.

      Things worked the way they were supposed to…

      Well, kinda sorta, not really.  Going by news accounts, the Americans who did get out on the ferry had to wait a few days when there was carnage happening on the streets, because the chartered ferry was too small.  Maybe you think that’s the way things are “supposed” to go, but a competent approach would have at least started with chartering a vessel which was big enough to handle rough seas in the Mediterranean, to minimize the exposure to risk.  Yes, they got out, luckily.  But the “powers that be” shouldn’t rely on luck.

  • Meanwhile, back at Rancho Ferry-ee-ooo ( E-I-E-I-Ohhhhhhh)

    Ferry too small for number of people to ve evacutated……

    • The State Department is still not sure how many of the thousands of Americans living in Libya are still waiting to get out.
      As the Maria Dolores left Tripoli a U.S.-chartered air plane carrying 41 passengers, including 32 Americans, also left Libya today for Istanbul.

      That is just OUT-FLUCKING-RAGEOUS.  We have a Constitution that permits the Federal government to do a FEW essential things.

      It FAILS because it has busied itself with how many gallons of water our toilets use.

  • I read now ( that all 167 American citizens were evacuated. The “too small” comment was in reference to safety on potentially rough seas.

  • Sorry to be contrarian, but I am not terribly concerned with the safety of anyone who chooses to live in places like Libya. If they can be evacuated without too much effort, fine, but I don’t see the need to risk the lives of US servicemen  rescuing those who find living in 3rd world dictatorships congenial.
    You pays your money and you takes your chances. 

    • I have to weigh “I love living in Libya! – Leptis Magna is spectacular!” against the “crap, they want me to go to Libya to help with oil production….sigh”. 

      Not everyone there is living there, some probably thought they were just passing through.

  • I’d like to nominate this post as an early entrant for Erb’s most BS and /or delusional of the year.

    “The only way to really pressure Gaddafi effectively is for the world to essentially speak with one voice, making it clear that continuing on this manner will only assure Gaddafi’s family will lose everything, and he will be humiliated.”

    “I do, and I take great care to inform myself of all sides– it’s an ethical component of my profession.”

    Being humiliated in the eyes of the world? That’s supposed to have an effect on Gaddafi? If the general concept of embarrassing a dictator out of office wasn’t farcical enough, there is the actual history of what happened to Gaddafi in the 80’s.  World condemnation had no effect, miltary action worked almost immediately.

    Ignoring the history of Gaddafi to make a claim is just one example of Erb’s comments here being unethical or uninformed (giving benefit of the doubt to the theory that some are written by students), but it is consistent with his ‘professional’ writings as well. The background information he gave to his students about Iraq when the readings were posted online was riddled with lies and twisted theories  (sanctions would be enough to force Saddam out of Kuwait, the US committed war crimes in 1991, Iraq had destroyed all it’s chemical weapons, Saddam was should be considered powerless during a time frame where he killed 500,000 people, etc.). Even if it comes out that all of his comments here are just a psychological ploy to get a reaction, Erb’s already shown that he has no no concern for the ethics of his profession.

  • Today…State is still clueless…

    “It is very difficult to know at this point how many Americans still remain,” Crowley said. “They are getting out through a variety of means. Companies are also chartering transportation to evacuate workers. Some Americans are included in these movements.”

    But we are quite peeked at the Libyan government.

  • Heh.  It appears the US has been focused on getting civilians out the whole time, and all this caterwauling about getting the military to “rescue and evacuate” was, indeed, based on speculation.  As soon as the ship left, sanctions were put in place, and the US promised to undergo efforts to locate and evacuate any remaining citizens.   Just as I figured.
    Phil, Saddam was essentially powerless by 2003, the Kurds were controlling the north, and the weapons inspectors had gotten rid of biological and chemical weapons (though a few managed to survive in old storage facilities — but they were mostly unusable and had simply been forgotten.)  Claims that he had WMD programs was dead wrong, you should really criticize the Bush Administration for lying about that.  I doubt sanctions alone would have gotten Saddam out of Kuwait in time for the coalition to stay together, I’m not sure where you got that.  Clearly the chemical weapons did exist in 1991, if you are trying to assert I said otherwise, you’re wrong.   You don’t know your stuff, Phil, you have a partisan interpretation that clearly is designed to prevent you from having to admit you had Iraq all wrong.   It was a policy failure, a war that was supposed to be fast, easy, cheap and set to allow the US to project more power in the region.  Ironically, if the US had been patient Iraq would probably have a natural revolt against Saddam now, without the extreme cost to US power and prestige that the failed war caused.  Perhaps you need to educate yourself a bit on this, and learn to see things through lenses other than your own partisan perspective.

    • Normal people…after having so thoroughly mortified themselves in a public place…seek to withdraw, regain their dignity, compose themselves, and learn from the experience.
      Normal people…

    • Saddam killed about 500,000 people in the deacde prior to 2003. Many caches of old usable weapons were found after 2003, and the inspectors lost track of  hundreds of munitions that have never been accounted for. Claims he had the ability make new chemical weapons were proven when mobile labs were found. The idea that sanctions could have made Saddam leave Kuwait came from the ‘case study’ on Iraq Erb wrote his classes. Defeating Saddam was fast, rebuilding Iraq was not supposed to be, even though Iraq’s new government was formed as quckly as German’s and Japan’s after WWII, despite having a much more diverse population. And anyone who’s had even a rudimentary introduction to Germany’s international relations knows that in warfare, changing strategy is not the same as changing goals – no plan survives contact with the enemy.

      Erb offers further proof that he is either ignorant or dishonest.

      • Erb offers further proof that he is either ignorant or dishonest.

        Actually, after several years of observation, I’m pretty sure it’s both. They’re not mutually exclusive.
        But give him a break. He has to come here to feed his narcissitic need for attention and find someone to feel superior to and talk down to. So he has to stay intentionally ignorant of anything that would make us look on a par or above him. He really, really can’t stand it when it’s clear and obvious how clueless he is. On the few occasions his blather actually contains measurable predictions, as in the 2010 election, and then he’s proven to be wildly wrong, he hides in shame for a while and makes lame excuses for why he didn’t come around and ‘fess up. Eventually, his narcissitic cravings overcome the shame and he returns.

        On the dishonesty front, I’ve lost count of the number of times he said he was going to stop commenting here. Each time, we laugh and tell him he’ll be back because his cravings will eventually get the better of him, and that is in fact what has happened each time. So those declarations are obviously dishonest, though I lean towards the theory that he’s lying to himself rather than intentionally lying to us.

        • Erp likes to think of Freeport as the new Delphi, with himself as the Oracle.

          • *Ahem*
            I believe I should have written ‘Farmington’ instead of ‘Freeport’. My apologies to the citizens of Freeport and my condolences to those of Farmington.

        • Like most collectivist arguments, Erb usually starts with a false premise (sometimes there’s just a huge gap in logic). I usually point out the first obvious hole in his theory so anyone not familiar with him won’t be tempted to think he’s being reasonable.
          The real question is, what’s the better public service? Disproving the leftist conclusion as early as possible or allowing the tortured thinking to continue unmolested so that he could be observed in as natural an environment as possible. While showing the flaws in Erb’s arguments may prevent the unitiated or naive from being sucked in, each interaction allows him to refine the argument so the flaws are less obvious.

        • In March of 2010 I was indeed wrong in what to expect in November.  But to compare my predictions in March to McQ’s in late October is a bit of a stacked deck!  But I was right in 2008 on numerous fronts, when people make predictions they are sometimes wrong and sometimes right.  Dishonesty is when someone just to attack another person focuses only on a wrong predictions and uses that to justify a bunch of silly ad hominems.   The one or two times I was disgusted here and decided I was wasting time, I intended not to ever comment here again.  I changed my mind — but that’s not dishonesty.
          But when it comes down to it, the irony is that you many times claim you won’t give me any more attention, and yet you feel compelled to repeat the same old insults.   Should I accuse you of dishonesty, or did you just change your mind?   Should I suggest that psychologically you fear not really being able to debate effectively with me (and you’re resentful that I have an MA from Johns Hopkins and a Ph.D. from Minnesota, one of the top ten Poli-Sci programs) that you feel a compulsion to try to force humility on me with insults, something by now you should realize is impossible.  See, I can play those same games with you, and that’s typical blog blather.
          If you wanted to demonstrate a real sense of integrity, you’d actually discuss issues and let evidence and logic determine the result, not junior high taunts.   I mean, it’s easy to gang up on the person who is different — a leftist academic in a group of conservatives often with military backgrounds — but do you really think that is very honest or impressive?  Think about it.  I’m actually addressing you as a person, not the abstract caricature you paint me to be.

          • If you wanted to demonstrate a real sense of integrity, you’d actually discuss issues and let evidence and logic determine the result…

            Except there’s no discussing issues with you.  You don’t argue in good faith.  When it was on the newsgroups, you were called Jello because attempting to have a discussion with you was like trying to nail Jello to the wall, because of all the context switching you do.  And, you hide your true intentions over and over, with the bullspit talk about being a “libertarian”, your nonsensical attempts to attach the Enlightenment to socialism, your desperate attempt to put the alarmists on the side of Science and portray skeptics as anti-Science (even though skepticism is at the bedrock of Science), etc..  That’s why you were dubbed a “disingenuous fraud”.
            Interacting with you isn’t a discussion.  It’s not a normal bilateral exchange of arguments.  It’s an exercise in pointing out the flaws in your remarks and trying to warn people who are new to you not to be fooled by your games.

  • Seriously Billy, your silly insults sound like junior high playground stuff.  If I were coming here just to get attention, well, I certainly succeed.  You make it very clear that you are irritated and annoyed — if that were my intent, you’d be playing into my hands. When I’m involved in the discussion there are far more comments because people decide they want to “insult the so-called leftist” and issue ridicule since that way you can puff yourselves up and feel superior.  There is a psychology behind this, but its yours Billy, not mine.
    Phil, really — 500,000 from 1993 on?  Where do you get that figure?  How many were being killed in 2002 and 2003?   I think I know where you’re pulling your numbers out of Phil, the numbers stink like poop.  The reality is that 500,000 to a million were killed in the war with Iran, which ended long before 1993.   Moreover, the number of Kurds killed were about 100,000, and that was also before 1993.  I have no idea where you’re getting your numbers Phil, but here’s a chance to prove me wrong.  Show me the death toll from 1993.   Prove that it was 500,000.  If you can, then I have no choice but to humbly admit I was wrong, and you can smirk over my ignorance.  If you can’t, well, that will speak volumes.
    Also, since you seem to claim he had WMD labs and usable weapons (not just forgotten old ones found here and there), put up on that too.  You’ve made a positive claim.  I say you’re wrong.  Can you prove your point or not?

    • You make it very clear that you are irritated and annoyed…

      Well, yeah. Your toxic combination of stupidity and arrogance irritate lots of people here.
      So on one side there’s you. On the other side there are lots of people who feel the same way as I do, in fact most of the people around here. I’ve noticed many, such as Elliot above, who have noted that you’ve been like this for years. So we can all see it. We all know that you have a pathological need to come here and irritate others for some kind of perverse pleasure. That’s why you can’t stay away.
      Let me point out, for the nth time, that every time you’ve whined and said you were going to stop commenting, we all laughed and said you’d be back. And you’ve always come back. That’s clear evidence that we understand you better than you understand yourself, because we can predict your own actions better than you can. That truth must really hurt someone who has such an inflated view of himself as you, but it’s the truth nonetheless. You say you’ll stop, but you don’t. You can’t. It’s really as simple as that.
      So throw out whatever accusations you like, but a whole bunch of people here, as demonstrated on this very thread, have your number. We know just what you are, and the sight isn’t pretty. You’re a sad, pathetic soul, crying out for attention of any kind to assuage your feelings of mediocrity and that nagging feeling that you’re so special you were meant for more than a third-rate job at a fourth-rate college.
      If you had a shred of self-awareness, you would do some serious self-examination about these things, but you don’t. You’ve constructed an elaborate fantasy in which you are competent and doing wonderful things. It might even be just as well that you stick to your fantasy. I’ve seen what happens when people as pathetically mediocre as you finally have to face the truth, and it’s not pretty.
      So you keep coming here to satisfy those cravings to talk down to us, and we’ll keep on telling you that you’re a fool and a mediocrity. Because we believe we have a good place for discussion here, we’ll keep on correcting your stupid and lame “analysis” as much as we have to. It’s like changing a baby’s diaper – unpleasant, but necessary.

      Even anti-Bush sites show an excessive number dead during the same time frame Saddam was selling food to pay for palaces during the period between the wars.

      • Thanks for posting links, and I apologize for claiming you’d dropped it — I realize that with links you end up having to be moderated, so I appreciate the effort.  However, these links do not support your claim of 500,000 dead?  Do I take it you retreat from your claim there was 500,000 killed in the decade before the war?  The Stanford link has mostly deaths from before Desert Storm.   The “moreorless” site claims that international trade sanctions killed 500,000.  That has pretty much been debunked (and that wouldn’t be Saddam killing anyway).  Saddam made that figure up, and many on the left accepted it in order to argue against continuing sanctions against Iraq.  But it was Saddam’s propaganda.  More on the sanctions…oops, I was about to cite the same link you did on the sanctions!  It shows clearly the controversy around the figure, and that was being blamed on the UN and US!
        Was Saddam still a despot?  Yes, and though the Kurds were autonomous and control over Shi’ite areas starting to buckle, I’m sure terror was still practiced until the end.   But he could not have started another war or engaged in mass atrocities by 2003.

        • All four links show that more than 500,000 died, you apparently have no actual source that disputes it.

          • You said they died in the decade before.  The links themselves say most of the deaths were in the Iraq-Iran war (ended in 1989), or putting down the Kurds (by 1994 the Kurds were essentially autonomous).  Your own links do not support your claim.  Also, you made a claim about the last decade, not the whole time period.  I think you realize that the number of the decade before 2003 was much lower than 500,000 killed by Saddam.   It isn’t weakness to have the integrity to admit you’re wrong.
            Your own links support my point to the letter!

          • The links say most of Saddam’s total of two million were before 1991. 500,000 is less than half of two million. All the links show 500,000 dead after Saddam was forced out of Kuwait as the mid-range estimate for that time frame.

    • The UNMOVIC report from 2003:
       Page 30 – the old munitions were still effective and undeclared weapons were still being found.

      Bouns: Page 5 states that many proscibed items were unaccounted for. Even the Washington Post recognizes that over 500 chemical munitions had been found in Iraq after the war stared. These weapons were from the same time frame as the ones tested effective by UNMOVIC.


      • Unless I’m missing something these reports go along with what I said — left over munitions were found, but they weren’t the kind of capacity the administration was warning about.  Even Colin Powell calls his UN presentation one of the worst moments in his career, the administration had it wrong (and we know now that the Vice President and others circumvented the CIA and tried to make their own estimates).
        Remember, finding some munitions is not the same as finding the kinds of things that the Administration said made the war necessary, nobody has made the argument that I’ve seen that the administration was right about that — in fact, their memoirs are spent trying to explain how they got it wrong.
        I’m willing to forgive Bush on this for two reasons: a) I think he truly believed he was spreading democracy and he too quickly believed his VP and the neo-conservatives who played to that.  He was new in office, and new Presidents take awhile to really get comfortable in the role; and b) he ultimately shifted policy after 2006, stopped taking Cheney’s advice (that’s also noted in memoirs – Cheney’s role declined) and increased the role of people like Rice and Gates — two very competent members who helped recraft Iraq policy after 2007.  I find Bush’s ability to alter to have been skillfully done (not like Carter’s “my eyes are open” shift with the USSR).  But the policy did not make Iraq a model, wasn’t paid for with oil revenues (Livingston left when he let slip that the war would cost $200 billion, and of course it’s now multiples of that), did not enhance US power or leverage in the region (it helped Iranian hardliners win elections in fact), assured Bush’s domestic agenda would falter (no ownership society, a Democrat resurgence in 2006 and 2008) and harmed the US.
        But if you want to argue the benefits of the policy, I’ll listen.  Let’s each try to avoid partisan talking points, the left’s disdain for Bush, as you is, is something I disagree with.  Truth is usually not contained in either side’s partisan talking points!

        • You’re missing the part where you asked me to prove my claim that he had usable weapons, and not just a few. My links proved exactly that.

          • Your links told me nothing I didn’t already know.   The weapons numbers are few.  He could not have done much at all with them, and certainly it was minuscule compared to the claims being made before the war.   The Administration was wrong about Iraq having serious WMD capacities, their claims were way off base.  That’s even admitted in their memoirs!

          • Even the 500+ munitions found since 2003 would be enough to cause causualties in the tens of thousands. The 200 tons of nerve gas that the U.N inspectors had verified the existence of, but went missing before Hans Blix’s last trip to Iraq, could injure many more. These facts directly contradict your claim that Saddam had no power to do serious harm by 2003. 

  • Elliot, I am not an activist so you’ll probably not see me protesting much of anything.  I don’t think I’ve ever given praise for the health proposal passed, though after talking to my wife — a CPA in the health care industry — I came to the conclusion that something needed to be done and this was probably better than nothing.  I do have a fundamental disagreement with you on the nature of health care, I think it should be like education and police protection, everyone should get the basics.  But a centralized system like the one passed will be full or inefficiencies and irrationalities.  If (and I know for an ideological purist like you this is unacceptable, but think pragmatically) each state were given a minimum standard, a set of resources that would allow that minimum to be met, and then allowed to experiment on how best to handle it, you’d find a lot of data about how different plans work, plus the bureaucracy would be more accountable.
    Sorry, Billy, but in partisan blogs you can’t say “the other like minded folk here attack you too” because you see that in ALL really partisan blogs.   The “different” thinker is attacked, ridiculed, and often the like minded folk say “we all agree you’re an idiot so you must be.”  That’s like if a gang in the playground decided to torment some kid, and said “you must deserve it because everyone in our gang thinks you do.”   Nope, that logic is laughable.   Moreover, I comment in a lot of blogs, and only here is there this kind of animosity (and I avoid left leaning blogs, actually).   In my real life my experiences are much different as well, I’ve been elected both faculty President, won many teaching awards, and head of the Faculty Union (yup, add that to the list of things you can categorize me under, a leader in a public union!)  So to me it’s pretty clear the issue is not me, but you guys.
    So to talk about self-awareness, I look at my whole life and find that this blog reaction is unique – it’s a small clique of you who have gotten into the groupthink habit of imagining me a particular way and bolstering each others belief about that through mutual insults.  I find it interesting, and if it were replicated in any other part of my life maybe I’d have to look at myself.  But it’s not.  It’s only the small gang of you guys in this partisan blog.   So your insults are really a reflection of something about you, not about me.   You get in fact over the top in your insults, as if you want to somehow get me upset and can’t stand the fact you can’t.   You need to practice of some self-awareness.  Look at your name calling.  Look at your behavior.  Is it adult?  Is it honorable?  Or does it sound like a frustrated kid lashing out?   Seriously, you need to look in the mirror as you type your insults.

    • Look at your name calling. Look at your behavior. Is it adult? Is it honorable? Or does it sound like a frustrated kid lashing out? Seriously, you need to look in the mirror as you type your insults.

      Sounds like I touched a bit of nerve there, Scottie.
      Understandable. You refuse to face the central issue I keep raising. You have said, multiple times, that you would stay away. We said you couldn’t. We were right. You. Were. Wrong.
      So when it comes to understanding and predicting your own behavior, we’re right, and you’re wrong. Period. Savor that. Let it roll around on your tongue for a while. Those silly partisans at QandO can predict what you’ll do better that you can yourself.

      That must really get your goat. Because, as shown in several places on this very thread, it appears that the closer we get to the fundamental facts you don’t want to face, the more you try to change the subject and play the aggrieved victim. If it really didn’t matter, if you really thought we were so contemptible, you would not bother to respond. Heck, you wouldn’t even bother to come here. But you can’t help responding, going for one more round of your laughable attempts at self justification. And you can’t stay away. 

  • Billy, I think I said once or twice I was done commenting here.  Later I changed my mind.  No big deal.  You also said you wouldn’t respond to me because I just wanted attention.  You changed your mind.   I’m not sure what “fundamental facts” you think I don’t want to face.  I certainly don’t think you’re “contemptible,” as I said, your blog is interesting, and I comment her because of that, because I hope that perhaps some of your readers can see a different perspective.  I urge you to let go of the personal animosity.  That doesn’t do you any good, you don’t know me at all, you’re battling a creation of your imagination based on limited posts.  Why not actually focus on something real?   You keep repeating that I can’t stay away.  I check this blog irregularly, but I do now and then, and I comment now and then.  Sometimes I get involved in a conversation like this, sometimes I go weeks without commenting.  You seem to think there is something unique about that.  I don’t check this blog as much as I do many others.  Seriously, I don’t think you realize that your comments say more about you than they do about me.

    • …your blog is interesting, and I comment her because of that…

      Well then, the short summary is that you think we have something worthwhile to say and read,  and we think you are an absolute imbecile constantly making ludicrous assertions with no support except your insistence that you’re an expert because of that degree you can’t help bringing up.

      So I’d say both sides are right, and that’s a good point to close out today’s discussion.

      • Do you realize how ironic you’re being, Billy.  You talk about how I “can’t help myself” from posting, yet you continually seem to have a need to unleash a torrent of insults.  Compare how I’ve talked to you — civilly, carrying no grudge, willing to look at legitimate arguments with reason and evidence, to how you respond — with insults, accusations, a rejection of any actual discussion and false claims that I continually insist I’m an expert.  Look at the over the top list of insults you’ve made about me, and compare that to anything I’ve said about you.  Note that you also don’t point out anything I’ve said that is inaccurate or ludicrous.  And you accuse me of not being able to stop myself?  Ah, the irony!

  • Elliot, you are making things up.  I will talk issues with you, and we can delineate clearly what the points of contention are, and how logic, reason and evidence are used.  People who lose debates often claim the other is “jello” because they can’t accept that their logic has failed.  That’s a meaningless claim.  You have to show in the process of discussion if and when another person is not adhering to the rules of logic and evidence.  In this case you are making baseless assertions, showing that you are the one avoiding real discussion — perhaps you fear that the ideological edifice in which you’ve put your faith might get cracked if held to the light of reason and evidence?  By the way, if you really want to see how I think and where my views are, you can find that in my blog.  It’s easy to dismiss those who think differently as “jello” or “Goebbels,” then you don’t have to actually engage them.  That’s a good way to protect yourself from having to confront critical thought.

    • People who lose debates often claim the other is “jello” because they can’t accept that their logic has failed.

      I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone use that term, besides Billy Beck and a few others.  Their logic didn’t fail.  They demolished your arguments over and over, and you just kept switching context, pushing the reset button, and never arguing in good faith.
      I know you’ll never have a real dialog and I’m not going to be Charlie Brown to your Lucy, believing that this time I can kick the ball.
      This is simply a PSA for anyone not yet familiar with your tactics not to be bothered when they try to have a discussion with you only to be lied about or frustrated when you deny what you’ve written before.

      • Billy Beck was unable to discuss anything outside his own ideological framework.   Fromm has a useful way to see people like Beck: he made “principle and ideology” a God and submitted himself to them, attacking without rational argument those who questioned his orthodoxy.   But your tactic is transparent too — you make accusations you can’t support, and try to reinforce them by making the accusations again.  That is dishonest.  You can’t accept that I don’t use your definitions and take the argument in a way that doesn’t go along with what seems self-evident to you.  Rather than follow that line and investigate its strengths and weaknesses, you just insult.  I think you may be trapped by your ideology as well.

        • Billy Beck mopped the floor with you, time and again.

          Billy Beck was unable to discuss anything outside his own ideological framework.   Fromm has a useful way to see people like Beck: he made “principle and ideology” a God and submitted himself to them, attacking without rational argument those who questioned his orthodoxy

          Anyone familiar with the man knows that your assertion that his attacks lacked “rational argument” is one of the more ridiculous lies you’ve ever told.  Yes, he has principles and sticks to them (even though it costs him a hell of a lot) and he bases his judgments on a system of ideas.  Again, why do you indict the use of ideas and the strength of character to stick to principles, even when they are inconvenient?  What, you want people who follow the herd without thinking too much and who change their minds on a whim as soon as the going gets rough?
          And all this nonsense about “faith” and “orthodoxy” is just a Gobbelesque way to try to tie rational thought to irrational faith.  Repeat it a thousand times and it’s still false.

          But your tactic is transparent too — you make accusations you can’t support…

          When you’ve accused me of lying about you, over and over I’ve cited your own words.  And, I can’t recall a single instance where you ever acknowledged that.
          I’ll let my arguments stand on their own.

          • You make charges here, but you neither support them or even explain what you mean.  I disagree with you about Beck — he struck me as the true believer type, and whenever I started to really press him on his arguments he’d get very self-righteous, throw a few insults and refuse to consider anything that didn’t align with his core assumptions.  That is the key symptom of a true-believer mentality.  It looked like faith to me, as if his beliefs were the only possible rational belief.  They are beliefs based on certain assumptions about reality and humanity that are not only questionable, but marginal in political philosophy.  That’s OK — many of my beliefs are marginal too.  The difference is I know I might be wrong and am willing to listen to different points of view and discussion them on their own terms.   I also don’t make things personal; I accept that others think different and hold no grudges.

          • I disagree with you about Beck — he struck me as the true believer type…

            He believes what he writes and does his best to live according to his principles.  Putting in the phrase “true believer” to imply that his ideas are comparable to some religious faith is flat out wrong.

            …whenever I started to really press him on his arguments he’d get very self-righteous, throw a few insults and refuse to consider anything that didn’t align with his core assumptions.

            Oh dear.  You have the chutzpah to claim that you were the one doing the pressing, after all the times Beck mocked your complaints that he was pressing you?
            Google has it on record and a few other participants in the QandO comment sections saw it happen, too.  Start with the Jan 16, 2000 post “Bookmark Erb” at the bottom of that list.

          • You’re using “press” in two different ways.  Ideology is not that different than religion, its a simplified way to make sense of the world.   Ideologies are inherently vast over-simplifications of reality.  They are useful, but shouldn’t be taken as dogma.  The best use of ideology is to compare how different perspectives interpret a situation, and then analyze the situation and find out the strengths and weaknesses of different ideological interpretations.  When people turn ideology into something akin to a faith, I think they are deluding themselves.
            However, debating about other people is pointless.  I’ll talk philosophy or substance but this is delving into gossip.

          • You’re using “press” in two different ways.

            I’m not using it in any way.  In both cases, it’s you who initiated the discussion by using the word “press”, once to refer to Beck pressing you, and another (just above) to your silly claim about pressing him.

            Ideology is not that different than religion…

            Once again, you’re too lazy to differentiate between different ideologies.  An ideology is nothing more than a method of organizing ideas.  What you’re doing is indicting the entire process of thought itself, instead of criticizing the bad ideas.  Simply because a number of ideologies (the sort you’re prone to defend) are awful and their proponents are “true believers” doesn’t mean that every ideology is similarly misguided.

            The best use of ideology is to compare how different perspectives interpret a situation, and then analyze the situation and find out the strengths and weaknesses of different ideological interpretations.

            Well, anyone who followed Billy Beck’s newsgroup posts and blog knows that the man is very well read and seems to have a solid grasp of “how different perspectives interpret a situation” and, from an early age has been examining philosophies to “find the strengths and weaknesses of different ideological interpretations.”  You know this, but you’re pretending that he woke up one day with a Rothbard book and never considered anything else.
            It’s simply ridiculous how you smear other people by accusing them of not considering other ideas.
            The thing is, you’ve convinced yourself that the socialist mantra of “powerful actors” and “wealth maldistribution” are the way, the truth, and the light, that no matter how many times people discredit those arguments of yours, you come back and repeat them, mindlessly.

            When people turn ideology into something akin to a faith, I think they are deluding themselves.

            Any sort of faith is delusional.  People should use evidence and logic, not a blind belief in something for which there is no evidence.
            But you keep repeating the BIG LIE that a respect for individual rights (which is based upon experience and logical thought) is akin to faith (which is not).  Repeat it a thousand times and it won’t be any more convincing.

  • By the way, I notice Phil has done nothing to substantiate his claims about Iraq.   I believe it is because he can’t, but has too much pride to admit he was wrong.  Phil, don’t worry – I won’t use a couple mistakes as an excuse to launch numerous ad hominems against you or ridicule you.  That would be immature, everyone makes mistakes.  But perhaps you can recognize that there are reasons that in retrospect so many of us think Iraq was a failure and a mistake.  I do give Bush credit for some significant policy changes in 2006 and beyond that I think salvaged the situation (by the time his approval ratings had tanked I thought he was actually becoming a decent President — by  mid-2007 and 2008 I’d have given pollsters an “approve” rating for the President).  It’s OK to recognize some of the failures of policy, or to have been wrong with rational reason when you supported it.  It’s also fine to still think it was worthwhile — but please, do so based on an accurate assessment of the situation.

    • By the way, I notice Phil has done nothing to substantiate his claims about Iraq.

      He appears to have posted a series of links in response to your challenge the day before you posted this message.

      • I submitted the comments at the times shown, but they didn’t actually make it on to the post before Erb’s last message. They may have been delayed by the spam filter because I wrote out entire web addresses with little other comment.

        • If you have links, it usually gets flagged by the moderation software to allow a moderator to check it and ensure it isn’t spam. And, yes, that’s what happened with yours Phil.

      • Yup, I found them and responded above.  I also apologized to Phil for accusing him of not posting them, since I know links are often tagged.  Thanks for posting links!