Free Markets, Free People

Will Obama go “solo” on Syria?

The likely answer is “yes” since it appears the administration is of the opinion that if it doesn’t act, it will appear weak and ineffective  (yes, France has said it too will strike, but in essence this will still be mostly a solo venture in the region’s eyes).  Demagoguery and ego have combined to get us to this point. However, the question remains how effective any strike on Syria will be in reality if it is, as the President has said, short, limited and tailored (just muscular enough not to be mocked).

After leaking the proposed plan all over the place it is unsurprising that what most of us knew would happen has begun to happen in Syria:

In recent days, U.S. intelligence agencies and the Pentagon have watched with alarm as Mr. Assad has taken advantage of the Western deliberations to spread out his forces, complicating U.S. planning for strikes.

“We know [Assad] has been dispersing assets,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the intelligence.

U.S. officials said Mr. Assad has moved assets such as military helicopters and artillery pieces around the country, forcing a U.S. recalibration of the possible military response.

If Mr. Obama sticks with what originally was a finite set of prospective military and intelligence targets, officials said, then cruise-missile strikes would cause less damage than originally intended because at least some of the targets have been taken out of the line of fire.

Officials said Mr. Obama could adjust to Mr. Assad’s tactics by expanding the number of strikes to hit more targets, but doing so could increase the risk that U.S. cruise missiles will cause unintended damage, including civilian casualties, officials said.

Another senior official said the dispersal of Mr. Assad’s military assets was “certainly detrimental” to target planning.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, US military officers have deep concerns over a strike on Syria:

The recently retired head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. James Mattis, said last month at a security conference that the United States has “no moral obligation to do the impossible” in Syria. “If Americans take ownership of this, this is going to be a full-throated, very, very serious war,” said Mattis, who as Centcom chief oversaw planning for a range of U.S. military responses in Syria.

The potential consequences of a U.S. strike include a retaliatory attack by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah — which supports Assad — on Israel, as well as cyberattacks on U.S. targets and infrastructure, U.S. military officials said.

And it also stirs the possibility of terror attacks on US embassies, interests abroad and even the homeland.  Gen. Mattis is correct.  If the US strikes Syria, then the US takes ownership of this war.  By that I mean if Assad then uses chemical weapons again, we’re in a position of having no choice but to address their use again.

Marine Lt. Col. Gordon Miller, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, warned this week of “potentially devastating consequences, including a fresh round of chemical weapons attacks and a military response by Israel.”

“If President Asadwere to absorb the strikes and use chemical weapons again, this would be a significant blow to the United States’ credibility and it would be compelled to escalate the assault on Syria to achieve the original objectives,” Miller wrote in a commentary for the think tank.

An acceptable risk?

Even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (a highly political job) has tried to warn the administration off of this path:

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has warned in great detail about the risks and pitfalls of U.S. military intervention in Syria.

“As we weigh our options, we should be able to conclude with some confidence that use of force will move us toward the intended outcome,” Dempsey wrote last month in a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid.”

Dempsey has not spoken publicly about the administration’s planned strike on Syria, and it is unclear to what extent his position shifted after last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack. Dempsey said this month in an interview with ABC News that the lessons of Iraq weigh heavily on his calculations regarding Syria.

“It has branded in me the idea that the use of military power must be part of an overall strategic solution that includes international partners and a whole of government,” he said in the Aug. 4 interview. “The application of force rarely produces and, in fact, maybe never produces the outcome we seek.”

But the application of force seems to be the only tool in the Obama bag at the moment.  And Dempsey is correct.  It isn’t particularly difficult for the US to reach out and swat someone.  But what is and always has been difficult is to predict what will follow such an application of force.  The law of unintended consequences has a terrible history of rearing its ugly head each and every time force is applied in this manner.

As for the critical question, the question that all military operational planners ask first and then tailor a plan to achieve … well there is no obvious answer.  That’s likely because the administration hasn’t an answer and has provided no guidance to those planning this misadventure:

“What is the political end state we’re trying to achieve?” said a retired senior officer involved in Middle East operational planning who said his concerns are widely shared by active-duty military leaders. “I don’t know what it is. We say it’s not regime change. If it’s punishment, there are other ways to punish.” The former senior officer said that those who are expressing alarm at the risks inherent in the plan “are not being heard other than in a pro-forma manner.”

Going through the motions of “listening to all sides” when, in fact, the decision to act militarily has been decided.  It is down to how big or how small the strike will be.  And, as we see above, Assad is doing everything he can to make Obama’s deliberations and decision making as difficult as he can.

~McQ

172 Responses to Will Obama go “solo” on Syria?

  • I wait with anticipation of great satisfaction for the protests against President Chimpy Obamahitler to begin.
     
     

    • Code Pink would be ALLLLLLL over this…
      But they can’t afford the protests.
      Serious story!

  • I am beginning to think that Obama may not go solo as it would require him to do something that has always been against his nature.  Lead.
    If he goes solo then the consequences are unavoidably his.  He won’t be able to give a self serving speech to get out of it.  If the consequences turn out bad then his hand will be forced and once again he’ll have to go against his nature.  He has painted himself into a corner here and looks the fool for doing so.
    The only other option is the face saving ‘one and done’ attack.  Fire some cruise missiles with little effect due to the attack being telegraphed, claim victory, and move on.  The only problem is that no one short of his sycophants will buy this.  He’ll be lucky if the unintended consequences don’t show up anyway.
    The sad part is that for such a ‘smart’ and ‘progressive’ president he has talked himself into a bad situation that even the most casual observer could have avoided.

    • Yep. Thus he took the Congressional lifeline.
      Congress should vote NO on Syria.
      1) Right decision
      2) Strengthens Congress.
      3) Weakens Obama.
      But I know Congress will vote YES, because they are stupid.
      A YES vote with many from each party voting NO would be the next best thing.

      • It can be spun either way.  If the House votes for military action then Obama can claim bi-partisan support.  If the House votes no then they’ll be branded as partisan obstructionists that let dictators gas women and children.
        If the GOP really want to oppose military action in Syria then they’re going to have to work hard to explain how this is not our fight.  Senators like McCain are not helping.
        It’ll be interesting to see how some of the Dems vote.  Getting involved in the Syrian civil war is not very popular.  I think most Americans know that what is going on there is terrible but it is not our problem.  It would be nice to keep it that way.

  • And now we’re being mocked by a 10 year old on Facebook:
    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/29/facebook-post-said-to-be-by-assads-son-dares-americans-to-attack/?_r=0
     
    The kid is clearly a right wing tea party racist.

  • If he attacks with no other involvement, it must be because it’s the right thing to do. So if he does, ignore all the stuff I’ve prattled about for years on Europeans and how they have this international foreign policy stuff down cold.

    If he doesn’t attack, that would be the right thing too. Which isn’t either just unprincipled, Obama-worshipping waffling. He knows seeeecret stuff, and you dense ex-military basket cases don’t know all that seeeecret stuff, and besides, he’s so much smarter than you. Because he thinks like me.

    So, in short, whatever he does is the right thing. Because he’s just dreamy. And you guys can’t see it, because you have ODS.

    I’m not the only one who feels this way. The other members of the political science faculty here at Mooseville University also think he’s dreamy, and so, so smart, and whatever he does will be the right thing. Though the far left somewhat more liberal than me environmental polisci teacher thinks war is even ickier than I do, so she’s hoping for no attack.

    I respect her opinion, but the magenta caterpillars with Sarah Palin’s face and ample bosom have begun to chant “Hey ho, hey ho, Assad has got to go” so I’m thinking I’m OK with an attack. And OK without one, because I agree that war is icky.

    Which means I have not really taken a position on this, but after it’s over, I’ll be back to tell you how I predicted what would happen and was completely vindicated. In the meantime, why not come on over to my blog and read about how you can’t figure the world out with reason? Yes, it requires intuition based on Dalai Lama fueled quantum spiritualism, and other Buddhist stuff. Though I’m not a Buddhist. Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.

    Again, with my vast quantum spiritual intuition that definitely isn’t Buddhist, whatever happens, I will have predicted it. So shut up about 2010 elections and climate change and Arab anti-tea-party Spring, and no scandals and all that other stuff. I was right about all of it. You just have to understand the nuances to see it. Which requires godlike powers of political science and deep understanding of quantum spirituality, and you people don’t have it.

    Thankfully you are being left behind and becoming irrelevant. I’m more sure of this all the time, especially when the magenta caterpillars start winking at me, and joining me in my non-Buddhist chants.

    • Already, Chuck Todd is ahead of the game, saying Obama ranted Congress back their power…like it was his doing, and not his eternal embarrassment from 2007 rhetoric being compared to his rhetoric now…Congress should vote no, but they will end up voting yes and screwing this all up.

  • I can’t wait for this to blow up in Obama’s face.
     
    Pass the popcorn

  • The Times was busy this morning trying to claim that France was still on board, but there is plenty of reason to expect the “cheese eating surrender monkeys” to bail.

  • OT

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told National Journal she’s not looking to fill the role of House Speaker again anytime soon.
    When asked by reporter Ben Terris if she’d like to be House Speaker again, Pelosi was quick to reject the idea.
    “No, that’s not my thing. I did that,” Pelosi said.

  • ROTFLOL!  Gee, where were you in 2003 when I was making similar arguments about how dangerous attacking Iraq would be – with a strategy made clear half a year in advance as President Bush tried for about eight months to get UN approval and convince people to go along with him.  Bush’s unilateralism was cheered, but somehow Obama is a demagogue?   It is hilarious how you’re trotting out the arguments against Bush (which you disagreed with in 2003) to use against Obama now.   Clearly, you’re a hypocrite.  When “your side” wants military action, you support it and mock the opposition.  When the “other side” is in charge, you find a way to ridicule it.  When Schroeder, Chirac and Putin actively opposed Bush, you criticized them.  When Obama doesn’t get support you blame Obama.  When your guy is in charge criticism is “blaming America first.”  But you do likewise when you don’t like the President.  Moreover, you don’t even know how this will play out, you’re making assumptions.   You don’t get foreign policy, McQ, you don’t understand what’s happening.  You just have partisan blinders on, which makes you predictable and boring.
    But it is delightful to watch you so blatantly prove yourself a hypocrite.  Delicious!

    • But it is delightful to watch you so blatantly prove yourself a hypocrite.  Delicious!
       
      How does it feel to be an unabashed one?

      • He does seem remarkably proud of his ongoing and easily demonstrated hypocrisy doesn’t he?
         
         

    • And always fun to see you show up to prove you’re a lying hypocrite who can’t remember history.
       
      Furthermore your complete and utter inability to distinguish the difference between an actual ground attack admittedly aimed at toppling a regime and flinging in a couple of missiles to save face is no surprise.    Dolt.

    • It is hilarious how you’re trotting out the arguments against Bush (which you disagreed with in 2003) to use against Obama now.   Clearly, you’re a hypocrite.

      Not everyone here supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Though, unlike you, my choice not to support it wasn’t driven by politics, but by basic ethics.  And, I took no pleasure in the struggles of the US and its allies dealing with insurgents.  Many of you “weasels” on Usenet leapt with glee upon any bad news from Iraq, even though it meant more deaths of innocents and US or allied troops.  It hurt Bush, so that was all that mattered.
      You, on the other hand, flip-flopped from being a pacifist to a being a hawk on Libya (or, “How Scott Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Smart Bomb”) even though innocent people were killed by US bombs and missiles in that war.

      You don’t get foreign policy, McQ, you don’t understand what’s happening.  You just have partisan blinders on, which makes you predictable and boring.

      You’re projecting your own inadequacies, Scott.  You are nothing if not a partisan ideological propagandist.  So much so that “Ott” needs to mock you to bring some levity, since you are so predictable.

      But it is delightful to watch you so blatantly prove yourself a hypocrite.  Delicious!

      You do know that “delightful” and “delicious” are the stereotypical catch phrases of those who enjoy wickedness and mayhem.  That’s certainly not in keeping with the Mr. Rogers persona you’ve desperately attempted to play over the years.

      • Not to mention the fact that an actual look at what was said in the run up to Iraq v Syria reveals an actual reason to believe doing something with Iraq was in our vital national interest.  Syria … yeah, nothing even close.

        • Obama is trying his damnedest to help Al Qaeda and other radicals to obtain control over Syria, with the potential for suicidal terrorists to have all kinds of powerful weaponry (including chemical weapons) right on the border with Israel.  And, goofball McCain is over there trying to make this a bipartisan fustercluck of epic proportions.

        • Or trying to pretend there is some big difference that justifies you simply switching your argument.   You choose to define something in our national interest WHEN your guy is in power and you support him.   There are just as many reasons to think Syria is in our national interests, but in this case you choose not to believe them.  You roll with the partisan winds.  The fact is that Iraq turned out extremely harmful for US national interests, damaging them to a point we haven’t yet recovered from.  That’s not all bad – its forcing us to deal with the fact that we’re not a unilateral power and the world is shifting towards multilateralism.  If Obama tries to act alone in Syria, he’ll probably learn the same lesson Bush learned (even if he has some support, or tries to buy off tiny powerless countries to support him so it looks like a big coalition).   And unlike you, I’ll criticize the policy as much as I did when Bush did it (and recall I praised Bush’s second term quite often).  Partisanship blinds – and if you read a lot of partisan blogs (of either side) it seeps into your mind as “of course, that’s obviously true” and you don’t see that you’re being partisan.   It’s why you thought the “atmospherics” were pointing to a Romney win.  You end up on a “team” fighting the other “team,” which is emotion rather than reason.

          • There are just as many reasons to think Syria is in our national interests….”

            Could you please explain how it is in the “national interests” of the US to make an aerial-only attack on Syria?  Enumerate all of the ways in which which this will benefit the US.  Show your work.
            Do you want the Sunni factions, filled with religious fanatics willing to commit suicide in attacks, to wrest control of chemical weapons and sophisticated weaponry, right on the border with Israel?  Do you want to risk expanding a civil war into a regional conflict, involving Israel, Turkey, etc.?

            You roll with the partisan winds.

            That’s you.  You’re an ersatz propaganda mouthpiece, always looking for excuses to say Democrat good, Republican bad.  It’s mindless.  How can you possibly think you can lambaste others for being partisans and ideologues, when you’re at least as guilty as those you criticize?
            Hypocrisy, thy name is Erb.

          • Yes, please explain the national interests at stake in Syria that warrant some weak bombings?
            In fact, the only one I could think of would be signalling to Iran, etc. that we mean business on WMD use, but that signal could be easily misinterpreted if all we do is send in a few cruise missiles. That might actually HARM our policy.
             

          • You choose to define something in our national interest WHEN your guy is in power and you support him.

            >>>> Which describes you to a tee.

            Pal, you and people like you are building up a HUGE bill. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

        • I think we should give you an opportunity to take up a rifle, and experience the difference between walking the streets of Damascus in a boots on the ground effort and firing cruise missiles from the Mediterranean at what will turn out to be a reply of the famous camels and tents attack (Maybe they’ll have signs outside the empty tents saying “welcome back President Clinton”, perhaps we can find a Syrian aspirin factory to annihilate.)
           
          clearly you’re too stupid to understand the differences in any other fashion.

      • Elliot, you’re silly – “wickedness and mayhem”?  I have already pointed out what you are – a believer in an ideology that you fantasize gives you clear principles, which your grasp probably for psychological purposes.  You need to think you see the right answer, that’s part of who you are.  That’s cool – whatever gets you through the night.   But it is funny to watch McQ give  arguments against US military action that mirror those that were used in 2003 when he was on the other side.  It’s clear it’s all about Obama for him – he’s got ODS,  and he’s given up any pretense of objective thinking.   I’ve stated my views on Syria in my blog – I oppose US action unless it has Congressional approval and is part of a true international/UN approved effort.  I’m clearly NOT supporting what Obama does IF he engages in military action.
        Ideological thinking is a weakness – ideologies can be useful but they are always vastly oversimplified interpretations of an extremely complex reality that changes with context.  You need a dose of pragmatism, and the security to realize its OK not to have the “right” world view.   There probably is no “right” way to look at all these, you need to understand diverse perspectives.

        • you’re silly….

          Says the man who actually uses terms like “delicious” and “delightful” like some hackneyed villain in a hokey movie.

          I have already pointed out what you are….

          Yes, you’re a one-trick pony who dumps the same inane buzz words for all your opponents, indicting the use of ideas to make decisions (as opposed to partisanship and making it up as you go).
          Now your argument is that the non-aggression principle (NAP) and having ethical objections to military actions which (1) cause the deaths of innocents and (2) are strategically unwarranted are symptoms of psychological problems?  Lame.

          I oppose US action unless it has Congressional approval and is part of a true international/UN approved effort.  I’m clearly NOT supporting what Obama does IF he engages in military action.

          So, if Obama engages in military action after getting Congressional approval, as part of some “international/UN approved effort”, you’re going to be torn in two?  You’re speaking out of both sides of your mouth, as usual.  You want to be able to say, months later, that you stood one way or the other, as it serves you.
          Once again, you indict the use of ideas to make decisions, which means making it up as you go–and paying the consequences for disregarding reality.  Now, you’re just a pathetic partisan, guilty of exactly what you accuse others here–except you’re not a very intelligent and effective propagandist, though you seem to think you’re superior to everyone else at Q&O.
          You made more sense when you were a pacifist, because at least that is a position of consistency, i.e., based upon principles.  Now, you’re just in it for the Democrats and forget the people who are getting blown up by US armaments.

          • You’re so silly, Elliot!  I had a letter to the editor published in TIME In 1999 sharply critical of Clinton and the Kosovo war.  My gosh, you’ve said so often that I’m partisan and ideological that you’ve started to believe it yourself!   You are the one with the same old weird name calling (propagandist, etc.)   I’m simply an academic who studies foreign policy and European politics, and uses my political science background to try to analyze events.   I think you are projecting.
            There is no such thing as a non-aggression principle, it’s non-sensical as a principle, its simply a contextually defined arbitrary norm.   That’s why I say that what you think are principles are simply your beliefs, and they are as subjective as any religious or ideological belief out there.

          • I had a letter to the editor published in TIME In 1999 sharply critical of Clinton and the Kosovo war.

            Where was your opposition to the war on Libya?  Where is your criticism of Obama’s surge in Afghanistan, his wide expansion of the use of drones, his assertion that he has the legal authority to kill Americans without due process?  Where do you question the absurdity of giving him the Nobel Peace Prize?
            Why are you not now opposing going to war in Syria, with or without the sanction of Congress, the UN, or some other international group?

            My gosh, you’ve said so often that I’m partisan and ideological that you’ve started to believe it yourself!

            You’re quite obtuse.  I’ve been mirroring your name calling.  You call others partisan, I point out you’re a partisan.  You call others ideologues, I note how you are one.  Yes, I admit it’s a little tit-for-tat rhetoric, except I have facts to support it.  It’s just a fun way to illustrate how absurdly hypocritical you are.
            You are partisan because no matter how you try to present yourself as “small government”, a “left libertarian”, an independent, you always run home to the Democrat party.  Whenever there is an election, whenever there is a legislative battle, when their are scandals, or some other war of words between the parties in the news, you are always there to be an unpaid liar for team donkey.  The tighter the contest, the higher the stakes, you become more dishonest, more sleazy, and more frantic to get out in front of the stories.
            Your ideology is collectivist, though you’re not very bright and you make silly attempts to hide who you are (the whole “left libertarian” mask), so you come across as having very muddled ideas.  Still, sure as the sun rises in the east, you’ll always argue for the supremacy of government over the individual–so long as those holding the reins are your sort of government people (being the partisan).

            You are the one with the same old weird name calling (propagandist, etc.)

            Weird?  You’ve frequently invoked the name of Goebbels to accuse us of engaging in propaganda, but you think it’s weird to use an accurate term to describe you?

            I’m simply an academic who studies foreign policy and European politics, and uses my political science background to try to analyze events.

            You’re anything but objective. You fit right in to acanemia along with the fellow collectivist ideologues.  I’ve witnessed people without degrees, without titles, easily run circles around you, both on facts and on logic.  As propagandists go, you’re not a very good one.  You’re just a wannabe, floundering about in obscurity in cyberspace.

            There is no such thing as a non-aggression principle….

            It is the very basis for laws regarding crimes versus acts of self-defense.  Do you really think you can win by just pretending that something you no longer agree with simply does not exist?
            Again, you were a better person when you were a pacifist.  Now that your party is in power, you’re trying to deny the use of plain language to leave yourself wiggle-room for backing open aggression, if voted on by the “proper authorities”.  Sad.

            That’s why I say that what you think are principles are simply your beliefs, and they are as subjective as any religious or ideological belief out there.

            Thus you assert that the principle of not starting violence, but only acting in self-defense, is an arbitrary whim which is no better and no worse than a fanatical Muslim flying a plane into a building believing that murdering thousands of civilians will send him to paradise with virgins.
            You can try to evade reality by denying it and playing word games, but you can’t evade the consequences of denying reality.  Go punch someone at random and then tell them that their belief that you wronged them is just a subjective belief which is no more valid than your belief that magenta caterpillars had quantum tunneled onto their faces and needed to be squashed.
            Not that I expect you to fathom the lesson, to see how it applies to what you said.  You’ll ignore what you don’t understand, repeat your usual mantras, and everyone else will continue to laugh at you and dismiss you.

    • I remember BOTH Clintons calling for regime-change in Iraq.
      I remember Balless Bill talking about it, and getting a near-unanimous resolution on it.
      I remember BOOOOOOoooooosh going to Congress and the American people, AND the flucking UN, to garner support.  AND I remember Congress supporting him.
      PLUS BOOOOOOOOOOOoooosh had a mission.  Topple Saddam.  THAT mission was accomplished in a lightening-stroke military campaign that is one for the text-books.
      IFFFFFFF it were true that McQ “does not understand foreign policy”, he would be the smartest man in the room at a White House/State Dept. briefing.
      Collectivist tool…
       

    • So Scott, tell us… attack Syria or not attack Syria? You must have an opinion regardless of what the Messiah eventually chooses to do.

      • give him a couple of years to see how it all works out.
         
        In the meantime, accept his answer of yes and no as gospel proof of his keen insight into foreign policy.
         
        A couple of, “it all depends” and “there are many variables” will help fill in the conversation gaps until he can determine if the outcome of whatever happens is good or bad.

        • I took a stance on my blog, opposing military action unless it has Congressional approval and UN/international support.

          • You supported going to war in Libya.  US missiles and bombs caused innocent casualties.  Did getting NATO (which isn’t the UN) to approve it make a difference to the dozens of civilians who died and the others who were injured?
            What is magical about the UN or “international support” in mitigating the harm done to innocents?
            Gaddafi was accepted by the US and Europeans, taken of the rogue terrorist list.  Why didn’t NATO attack in 2007?  Which NATO country did Gaddafi attack?
            Explain.

          • “UN/international support”

            Vague…which one is it? UN or is France enough?

          • That is nothing more than a weasel avoiding what it thinks is a trap. Are you a weasel Scott, or a man? Tell us please, do YOU think Syria needs attacking… not Congress, the UN, or some random other country… YOU. Your opinion on that point should have some basis in your personal values and ideas, independent of your Congressman or the Chinese envoy to the UN. Just tell us, yes or no, should Syria be attacked?

          • Let him consult the quantum oracle, the Erbs throughout the alternate time lines.
             
            Just don’t hold your breath, because you’ve asked HIM to commit.  That ain’t gonna happen.  He’ll end up, if acknowledging the question at all, telling you what he thinks isn’t important.

    • Bush’s unilateralism was cheered, but somehow Obama is a demagogue?
       
      Bush had over 30 countries, a UN Security Council resolution, and the approval of Congress.  Doesn’t sound like unilateralism to me.  Obama has none of those things, so, yes, he’s a demagogue.

      • Bush bought off tiny countries to send at most a few hundred – and they left when it wasn’t the quick victory promised.  He did NOT have security council support nor did he have a resolution authorizing war.  In any case, history has spoken – the Iraq war was a colossal blunder.   I was teaching American Foreign Policy that semester (Spring 2003) and the class had good spirited debates about the war.  I gave my view – getting rid of Saddam would be easy, but the grand view of spreading democracy or making Iraq a “model” was going to be virtually impossible, that this could be the worst mistake the US has made since Vietnam.  Years later a Republican who was in the class and very pro-war looked me up and said, “wow, I though you were just being liberal, but it turned out exactly as you predicted.”  That’s because analyzing these things should not be about who is in charge, but the actual situation.  Partisanship blinds.  Ideology warps.

        • Then we agree Obama is a warmonger.
           
          BTW like the new look for the site

          • Then we agree Obama is a warmonger.

            Scott used to be a pacifist but is a hawk now that Obama is president.  He was fine with Mr. Nobel Peace Prize using bombs and missiles which caused casualties among innocent civilians.
            Also, there’s the surge in Afghanistan, the use of drones, ….
            Now, Scott is speaking out of both sides of his mouth on Syria.  Months from now, he’ll claim he took the wise position, whichever he decides it is.
            And, yes, he is blinded by his partisanship, and warped by his adherence to a failed ideology, which has been responsible for massive human misery over the past century.

          • Elliot, I took a pretty clear position on my blog about Syria, and a variety of other cases over the years.  I explain my position.  Now you could do the intellectually honest thing (which would shock me) and actually discuss the issues and avoid irrational ad hominems.  Or you can make accusations, use argumentum ad hominem, and make clearly false statements (lies, since you must know they are false) that I will change my published position.  You also lie in calling me partisan, when I’ve clearly been very willing to criticize Clinton and Obama when I disagreed with them.  You once tried to make the outlandish claim that you never lie.  Apparently I get under your skin so much that you can’t help yourself but to lie shamelessly about me.   Funny stuff.  You claim to believe in reason, but your posts are emotional and full of logical fallacies.

          • Well then, you’re against Obama intervening in Syria, because he most certainly is NOT going to get UN approval, Assad’s Uncles Ivan and Li will see to that.
             
            It’s questionable as to whether or not he’ll get Congressional approval.   I bet heavily not.
             
            You didn’t think that was all necessary to bomb Qaddafi into submission though, did you.    But that was then, this is now, and, feel free to re-write your history.   It’s a liberal thing, we all understand.
             
             

          • As opposed to rational taunts like telling people they’re silly and have ODS.
             
             

          • I took a pretty clear position on my blog about Syria….

            You’ve made contradictory statements here and you seem to be hedging your bets.  Given your record, it’s obvious you want to be able to claim, months from now, that you called it.  We see through you and know what you’re going to do before you do it, and mock you for it.  And yet, you do it anyway.  Unbelievable.
            You claim you’re not partisan, that you criticize Obama.  Except you backed war in Libya.  I haven’t seen you object to the absurdity of giving Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, or argue that his troop surge in Afghanistan and increasing use of drone strikes makes a mockery of that award.  No, you just go after the people who criticize Obama, blathering about derangement syndrome.  Meanwhile, innocents die needlessly.  And, the man who got his little letter about Kosovo published in a magazine, who formerly took a position for the principles(*) of pacifism, now doesn’t give a crap for those lives.  To fully stand up for what is right, to decry the loss of life, the destruction of dreams, freedom, property, would be to bring criticism down on your party.  So your criticisms are insignificant.

            You once tried to make the outlandish claim that you never lie.

            Outlandish?  I suppose for an incessant liar like you statements of honesty seem “outlandish”.  How sad.
            I have not lied about you or anyone else in the forums in which we’ve debated.  When I say something that turns out to be false, I admit to my error.  When I review something I’ve written and realize it was unfounded, unfair, or misleading, I correct the record.
            Saying you are “partisan” is a judgment, based upon a sampling of what I see you write.  It is not a binary quality, a black or white matter.  I don’t assert that you are a 100% James Carville Democrat.  I assert that in the vast majority of cases, you back Democrats.  When there is not an election or anything on the line, I’ve seen you make criticisms, but when things really matter, I can’t recall you ever making an argument that would harm a Democrat nominee in an election, risk a close party-line vote going the other way, etc..
            On specific items for which you’ve claimed I lied about you, I have frequently put up links to old comments and articles, backing up my statements.  You dismiss factual evidences as “old bits”, pretending that it doesn’t matter.  The reality is that you can’t cite evidence to refute me.
            (*) Yes, being a pacifist means adopting a set of principles.  I’m not saying that you adopted those principles rationally, or that you had a conscious grasp of the principles you held.  Whether you are intelligent enough or honest enough to admit it, when you were a pacifist, you held the NAP.

          • As opposed to rational taunts like telling people they’re silly and have ODS.

            That’s just his academic training and wise analysis, don’tcha know.

        • Were there 30 countries or not, Scott?  Don’t weasel around this:  Bush put together a coalition of nations far larger than the one that is backing up Obama.  How many countries has Obama gotten to go along?
           
          And you may not remember UN Security Council Resolution 1441.  It didn’t specifically authorize war, but it did hold Iraq in material breach of its cease-fire agreement.  Show me ANY UN Sec Council Resolution on Syria, please.
           
           

          • Bush ‘bribed’ them you see.   Pointless, he’ll say whatever it takes to ‘get him through the night”.  He’s very much like Dear Golfer.

          • It’s almost as if Erb lives in a paralllel universe, one where “unilateral” means “gets a bunch of countries to go along with you”.
             
            It’s one thing to say invading Iraq was a bad idea.  But it is completely counterfactual to say that it was unilateral of Bush to do so.

          • Erb is not going to answer my question or admit that he was wrong.  He’s a coward, we all know that.

        • At least you are honest about Vietnam. I have many friends on the Left who adamantly claim Iraq was a worse decision than Vietnam.
          Though, I have to say we may have done better than we think we did in Iraq, and no one ever thinks about what would have happened if we had won Vietnam or even just kept the South safe.
          (Simply look at living standards in Vietnam vs. Taiwan & South Korea…or even Thailand or Malaysia.)

        • He did NOT have security council support nor did he have a resolution authorizing war.
          >>>> That’s an abject f**king lie on both counts, you worthless trolling piece of offal.

          He had MULTIPLE security council resolutions and more importantly, a congressional authorization.
           
          Bald-faced liar

        • I wonder what the total population of all those “tiny” countries is.  Little, insignificant countries like England, Australia, Japan, Spain, and Poland.

        • Many of those countries were notable for (a) being under the boot of the Soviet Union not so long ago, so had direct living experience of living with one-party, murderous and dictatorial leaders and (b) being mostly independent of the old boys club centered around the EU (i.e. French and German) elite. Of course in Erp would this makes them irrelevant, which is kind of an odd position for a supposed expert on foreign policy. No doubt Erp has a cheat-sheet posted on his office wall to remind him of which countries are worth his attention and which are just small outposts populated by darkies, tea-partiers and lacking places in which to impress co-eds on university-paid junkets.

        • 49 of the 196 countries in the world….well, make it 195 for that count.  I doubt Iraq was in favor of invading Iraq.
           
          Maybe my math is rusty.    Isn’t that a quarter of the world allied against 1 country?

      • Bush had over 30 countries, a UN Security Council resolution, and the approval of Congress.  Doesn’t sound like unilateralism to me.  Obama has none of those things, so, yes, he’s a demagogue
        >>> Not true! Obama has France *snicker, snicker*
        Obama doesn’t even have the U.K. for gods sake. Epic, EPIC fail.
        Remember when Obama and Erb and the like tried to mock and delegitamize Bush’s “coalition of the willing”?
        Yeah, that’s the good old days. Now we have France  *snicker haw haw haw”
        Why yes, I personally do hope this blows up in the boy king’s face. Little beeotch has to get into a war now because he fails speaking without a teleprompter.

        PS- Hey BOTUS, it’s not YOUR military. If it was, they’d all quit by day’s end. Snotty narcisisstic beeotch.

    • A raw recruit in the military can see the differences between 2003 and 2013, but not our resident irratrationalist [1], Erbby.
      [1] Irrational – the inability to make distinctions.

  • Just when you thought you had a handle on this Syrian “thing” along comes …

    The U.S. military, struggling after defense cuts of tens of billions of dollars, will be unable to pay for attacks on Syria from current operating funds and must seek additional money from Congress, according to congressional aides.

  • (Note: I would reply to Erb’s BS but for some reason I cannot make a reply, only an original comment.  Oh Well.)To make a few corrections to Erb’s rant: President Bush not only tried to get UN approval – he got it from the Security Council!!!  Along with approval from both the Senate and the House, with Democrats like Kerry, Biden, and Hillary joining in.  Bush’s unilateralism – was joined by more actively participating countries than the Iraq War I.  Doesn’t sound much like unilateralism to me? So who’s approval/concurrence is Obama going to get?  NOBODY!!!  So who is joining Obama’s Coalition of the Willing?  Looks like NOBODY!!!  So who’s the hypocrite?  Looks like you, Erb!!!Now go and get your 30 pieces of silver like the good little lemming you are!!!

    • No, the US withdrew the effort to get Security Council resolution when it was clear that the US would not get more than three or four votes.  They thought if it was just vetoed by Russia or China they could rationalize action, but it was clear there was a real opposition to US action.   The US said that “The UN will not do its work, so we have to.”  There was no approval for the war against Iraq, there was clear disapproval.  And the US got humiliated and weakened by that colossal blunder.   But hopefully it taught us some lessons.  President Bush learned some – he ditched the neo-cons and embraced realists like Rice and Gates ,shifting US policy completely after 2006.  I give Bush lots of credit for that.  Reports are that he stopped trusting or listening to Cheney.  Kudos to Bush for that too!

      • “But hopefully it taught us some lessons.”    Well, it certainly didn’t teach Dear Golfer and staff any.   or is Libya just a subject you’d rather not discuss.  Perhaps the bombing in Libya is one of those phony scandals that WE invented.

      • “And the US got humiliated and weakened by that colossal blunder.”
        Yawn. Then France wants to bomb Libya and suddenly Europe is fine and dandy with America bombing people without UN resolutions again. You do realize these countries in Europe have their own interests?
        And now we have Syria.
        BTW, China and Russia will oppose any attacks on their client. So who cares?
        Are you going to NOT defend Taiwan as long as China and Russia veto in the UN?
        Do you think South Korea would have been a big failure if we had defended it without UN support?
         

  • “However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.”
     
    http://www.mintpressnews.com/witnesses-of-gas-attack-say-saudis-supplied-rebels-with-chemical-weapons/168135/

  • Correction.  I made a mistake.  The UN Security Council did not approve the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.  But the Senate & House did approve of the action and 30+ countries joined the “Coalition of the Willing” – that does not equate to unilateralism.

    • Oh, but it DOES…!!!  I Erp-world, all history is plastic.  All truths are malleable.  That is the whole utility of quantum political science.

    • But remember the countries in the coalition were not real countries as such. They weren’t corrupt one-party states (China, Russia etc) or olde worlde wise men with olde ties and interests with Saddam (Schroeder, Chirac, etc). The other were just small ideological places blinded by the charisma of W. Any really corrupt self-interested bureaucrat thought EXACTLY like Erb thought he thought.

  • Bill Jacobson: Syria: Cluster bombs won’t solve this cluster—-
    To which I will add, we are trying to get this done with smart bombs and dumb leaders.
    —JustOneMinute blog
    Amazing…

  • THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR MITT ROMNEY, WE’D HAVE A PRESIDENT BRIT-PUNDITS WOULD MOCK FOR CLUMSY INEPTITUDE. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Barack Obama is proving an embarrassing amateur on the world stage compared to George W. Bush. “As it stands, President Obama’s proposed military coalition on Syria has a grand total of two members – the US and France. And the French, as we know from Iraq, simply can’t be relied on, and have very limited military capability. It is a truly embarrassing state of affairs when Paris, at best a fair weather friend, is your only partner. . . . In marked contrast to Obama, President Bush invested a great deal of time and effort in cultivating ties with key US allies, especially Britain.”
    InstaPundit
     
    Yes, yes…  So MUCH schadenfreude…so few waking hours to savor…

  • The Syrians, with all the stupid advance warnings issued by the Obami, will regard any attack by Obama as a vacant fireworks display/propaganda opportunity.
    You can count on any “casualties” being refrigerated bodies hauled out of preservation for photo-ops…men, women, and especially children.
    Any actual troop formations or ordinance targets have been moved/dispersed.
    I mean…seriously. Wouldn’t YOU have done that?

  • I know this will prove unremarkable, but I still find Erb utterly fascinating. The hypocrisy, the projection, the faux-intellectualism… It borders on the sublime.
    I mean, look how deftly he sidestepped SShiell’s correction and plunged ahead with his dumb@$$ lecture. Damn, the intellectual honesty, full speed ahead!

    • It borders on the sublime.

      On the contrary, his bumbling attempts are utterly banal.  I used to suspect that he had some sort of strange loss of touch with reality that was a bit interesting, like a high-speed collision is a bit interesting to watch.  Then, I realized that most of his counter-factual statements are a result of a dull wit.
      Have a protracted discussion with him and you’ll eventually see that he’s just not very smart.  That explains most of it.

      • Actually your attempts to lash out on the internet are banal.  I’m teaching classes, giving public lectures around the state as part of a lecture series, and am willing at any time to simply push it all aside and discuss rationally.  I do not (and cannot) carry a grudge, so any time you want to drop the efforts to attack – you have to know by now I only shake my head and chuckle – you can.  Also, it’s fascinating how partisan websites routinely find ways to cast those with different views in personal terms (the left does it to conservatives that come to left wing sites – they are accused of the kinds of things you accuse me of here).  I can’t tell if it’s just “flames” – having fun attacking the other side, with no desire to be rational (Ragspierre here clearly does that – it’s obvious from him), or if you are so into the way of thinking on these sites that you truly believe what you say.  It’s inspired part of my current research program which looks at the impact of the internet and social media on political discourse.

        • Also, it’s fascinating how partisan websites routinely find ways to cast those with different views in personal terms (the left does it to conservatives that come to left wing sites – they are accused of the kinds of things you accuse me of here).  I can’t tell if it’s just “flames” – having fun attacking the other side, with no desire to be rational…, or if you are so into the way of thinking on these sites that you truly believe what you say.”

          There are a few false dichotomies.  With the “left” vs. “conservative” you’re grossly over-simplifying reality, portraying everything as a Coke vs. Pepsi battle.  Not everyone is a fanatic for soda.  There are libertarians, free market anarchists, environmentalists, vegan/animal rights advocates, and other groups.  There’s religion, gun rights, feminism, racial politics, gay rights, and other issues.  The groups often don’t fit under the Coke vs. Pepsi model and the issues don’t always line up on party lines.
          Next, with the insincere flames vs. partisan true believer, you’re employing a false dilemma fallacy to deny that criticism of your arguments and your debate tactics could be honest and accurate.
          As for delegating web sites to simplistic partisan labels, since you frequent Q&O, I assume you read a variety of websites with different political positions.  And yet, you frequently presume that those with whom you argue don’t read other perspectives.  That shows quite a level of ignorance.

          “It’s inspired part of my current research program which looks at the impact of the internet and social media on political discourse.

          Since you start from a very biased, highly partisan ideological position and you express highly biased stereotypes of your opponents in debates, such “research” is doomed to be meaningless from the start.  It’s as ridiculous as having Alexandra Pelosi making documentaries about political campaigns.

        • It’s inspired part of my current research program which looks at the impact of the internet and social media on political discourse.

          In other words, the head of department noticed I spent most of my “working” hours reading blogs so I needed to concoct a “research program” to cover that up before I got my ass hauled into his office to explain myself. You will notice the absence of any relevant publications relating to this “research” other than the occasional letter to Time. I definitely don’t have any grad students working on it, since they are too demanding of my otherwise precious time being a “community member”.


          • He doesn’t have graduate students. The fourth rate barely-above-community-college place he “teaches” doesn’t award PhD degrees.
             
            A few years back, he blathered here about taking a break to write a book about the same subject, more or less. Nothing ever came of that either.
             
            The guy has a serious case of Dunning-Kruger effect. He really does think he’s smart and capable, with zero supporting evidence outside academia.
             
            I’m sure he really does think he has made a big impact on students, without realizing that most of the ones he talks to are just stroking him and laughing about his gullibility as soon as his back is turned. Undergraduates have a much finer BS detector than people like Scottie realize. I’m the direct sort myself, and got into some confrontations with dumbass professors, but my roommate used to regale us with hilarious stories about the stuff he said to butter up his profs.

          • Oh I know he has no grad students. I like to amuse myself with the thought that the self-proclaimed master of academic research produces neither publications nor graduate students, both of which are the accepted measure of success in academia. I tried finding his publication list, but it seems shorter than mine which ceased the year after I graduated my PhD and left for greener fields. He has had apparent decades to produce a body of work to justify his title of “Professor” but… hasn’t.

      • he’s just not very smart

        Agreed. Lots of people around here point out contradictions in what he says and obvious logical flaws. I think they’re wasting their time if they expect him to understand what they’re driving at, because I don’t think he has the cognitive capabilities for that. Which is probably why he ended up where he is. No notable cognitive capabilities needed. All he has to do is parrot the stuff written by more notable people in the field and do some paperwork.

        • I’m pointing out contradictions in what you all say, and how you rely on name calling and emotion to avoid actually discussing things.   You’re smart, I’m smart.  I did get an MA from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a Ph.D. from the U. of Minnesota, which has one of the top political science departments in the country.  I’ve won teaching awards and the like.  But hey, you can say I’m dumb, contradict myself all the time, and can’t communicate.  So I have real world success, and then at a partisan blog the name calling commentators say I’m irrational and dumb.   I’d much rather have real world success!  And don’t forget, I was right about Iraq – you can’t say the same!

          • Yes, I remember humanities professors like you when I was in college. Lots of degrees, and dumb as a box of rocks. The one teaching psychological statistics, for example, asked me to stop coming to his classes because I kept pointing out his math errors. My wife used to edit PhD dissertations, and some of the people she helped were first rate imbeciles.
             
            Go read how easy it is to get one of those degrees by seeing what this guy does for a living. And then think about how many of your students have used him or someone equivalent to him, and you didn’t even notice.
             
            Your “real world success” looks a lot like failure to me. If you were as smart as you obviously think you are, you would be at a university with a reputation, and have a lot more tangible accomplishments.
             
            But that’s OK. Whatever gets you through the night and all. You and the other lefty failures on your faculty can keep on telling each other how smart you are, while the rest of the world is totally aware of the truth.
             
            Oh, and while you are preening about how correct you were about Iraq, tell us again how the surge was going to dissolve into violence “very soon now”, as you did for about a year after it started before you just started avoiding the subject. Yeah, real smart. Can’t even remember your own failed predictions about it. Dolt.

          • Your attack, Billy, says more about you than it does about me.  I enjoy the fact that I help young people shape their lives, and give them both inspiration and help in understanding the world and their future.  I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from people I’ve helped that you’re lame attempt to insult is laughable.  And as long as I think I’m success – I’m enjoying my life, my work, my family, and community – I really don’t care if you think it’s failure.  I love where I work, a strong public liberal arts university.  I love helping young people move forward.  I would not want to work anywhere else.  But hey, if you think it’s failure because the university isn’t Ivy league or something, that’s cool.  I would not want to be anywhere else, and to me that’s success!  I have also publicly praised President Bush for changing US policy in 2006 – it wasn’t the “surge” that worked, but shifting goals away from “spreading democracy” and making Iraq an ally to finding a way to leave.  President Bush altered the goals completely, admitting that the initial goals could not be met.   So yes, I’ve “preened” (cute word you use) about being right about Iraq – and you know I was – and I have also praised Bush for his policy change that even President Obama continued.  I didn’t think the surge would work, but the entire policy shift did.  So I’m glad I was wrong and thank President Bush for making that call!
            Now I have to get ready for a new semester.  I’m now Honors program director, and I have a public talk at Mt. Desert Island next week.  So I’m sorry in advance if I can’t reply to all the ad hominems you throw.  Too much real world success distracts me ;-)

          • You ain’t all that smart. You cite your qualifications and therefore supposed authority on a subject and expect (demand) to be taken seriously. Yet when it comes to discussions around, say, quantum physics you blither on in a way that is embarrassing to anyone who has studied the subject and refuse to accept the supposed authority of people who have studied the subject to a level equivalent to your claimed expertize on foreign policy. Do you not see a contradiction?
            Mind you, you could start validating your claimed authority by listing your, say, 10 most recent publications in peer-reviewed journals on your specialist topic from the last 5 years. That way we could at least begin to see what level of expert we are dealing with here.

          • Heh. You actually think the meaningless, mutual back-scratching stuff practiced by academics at irrelevant colleges counts as real-world success.
             
            I suppose every minnow in a mud puddle fancies itself a big fish in a small pond. You better hope you don’t get flooded out of your puddle into the real world where your supposed accomplishments mean less than diddly squat.
             
            Because your real-world experience suggests you would be in real trouble. From stealing pizzas as an incompetent manager to running from DC because you couldn’t hack it, you are a failure in the real world.
             
            You had to retreat to a Potemkin village of the real world in the middle of nowhere to maintain your internal fiction that you are smart and capable. And of course, you find willing accomplices who have the same problem, and you all graciously prop each other up. Nice adjustment to your inadequacies there, Skippy.

          • My real world experience, Billy, includes working in a factory making kitchen cabinets, managing two pizza parlors, living in Italy and Germany, and being a teacher and mentor for thousands of young people.  My real world experience is being a father, PTA President, writer, and community member.  My world is as real as yours, teaching and working with young people is a very rewarding experience – you see how you change lives, and teaching at a college educating future teachers, I know that the work I do here spreads.  That is very rewarding.  But it’s interesting how you seem to NEED to claim that somehow my world isn’t real, I seem to have gotten under your skin, and you want so much to lash out.  But you can’t.  I would not trade my life for anything, and I certainly don’t begrudge you yours.  I also don’t carry grudges.   I tell students that in debates if the other side slips into name calling and personal attacks that means they know you’ve won, and they just don’t have the honor to admit it.   Honorable people don’t routinely stoop to that level.
            An example: In March 2010 I predicted the Democrats would hold the house.  Oh how you guys ridiculed me when eight months later I was proven wrong.  Yet do you deserve that same ridicule for having so many of you wrong about the November 2012 election, even the day before the election (while my blog finds my 2012 predictions very accurate)?   No, it’s just different predictions some wrong, some right.  Why feel a need to ridicule?  Do you really think it makes you look good?

          • Rewarding.  Who you trying to convince skippy, us, or yourself?
             
            Course no one else here has done squat in the real world, should we care to itemize.  Could be because we don’t need to convince anyone.  Nice thing about knowing yourself, you don’t have to continuously prove it to the world.  You, well, you’re pretty desperate to demonstrate why your sorry ass opinion is worth notice.

          • “Why feel a need to ridicule?  Do you really think it makes you look good?”
             
            “You don’t get foreign policy, McQ, you don’t understand what’s happening.  You just have partisan blinders on, which makes you predictable and boring.
            But it is delightful to watch you so blatantly prove yourself a hypocrite.  Delicious”
             
            “Elliot, you’re silly – “wickedness and mayhem”?  I have already pointed out what you are – a believer in an ideology that you fantasize gives you clear principles, which your grasp probably for psychological purposes.  You need to think you see the right answer, that’s part of who you are.”
             
            “Funny stuff.  You claim to believe in reason, but your posts are emotional and full of logical fallacies.”
             
            So, do you think that small sample, just from this comment stream, makes you look good?
            Paging Dr Hypocrite.

          • …managing two pizza parlors….

            Stealing pizza for the workers to stick it to the man.

            …community member….

            Very impressive!  How hard did you have to work to attain that one?

          • What’s funny is that you are so over the top angry and wanting to lash out that you are using something that backfired on you back in usenet days.  I told of a time when I was 18 that after seeing the drunk CEO getting prostitutes on corporate money, I decided to make free pizzas for the people working that night.  I’ve even blogged about it, http://scotterb.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/my-marxist-pizza-moment/ Note that I don’t think that impulsive 18 year old did the right thing.   You tried to claim that I “stole pizzas” (making it sound routine and on going).   That was so over the top that even people agreeing with you said that it was unfair to turn one episode as an 18 year old into an ongoing, harsh character assault.   That shows dishonor on your part.  That’s always been why you guys fail – I can tell I’m really getting under your skin when you try to lash out and go so far that you make yourself look bad.   I

          • Could be because we don’t need to convince anyone.  Nice thing about knowing yourself, you don’t have to continuously prove it to the world.  You, well, you’re pretty desperate to demonstrate why your sorry ass opinion is worth notice.

            Another related way the rest of us around here are different: we have the manners and good sense not to go to someone else’s place, sh!t on the floor, and then brag about how wonderful it smells.

          • “even people agreeing with you said that it was unfair to turn one episode as an 18 year old into an ongoing, harsh character assault.”
             
            that version of the story must have happened in your mind, it didn’t happen around here that I recall.
             
            Acting Robin Hood for whatever you saw certainly didn’t fix anything did it Robin.  Not very pragmatic, and indicative of a spiteful character flaw which equates ‘doing something’ with doing something right,  wouldn’t you say?

          • You tried to claim that I ‘stole pizzas’ (making it sound routine and on going).”

            You did steal pizza.  You took what didn’t belong to you without paying the price for which you had agreed to pay (charge).  That is theft.  You even admitted that it was wrong.

            “That was so over the top that even people agreeing with you said that it was unfair to turn one episode as an 18 year old into an ongoing, harsh character assault.

            Actually, I recall Robertson, Beck, and others being more critical than I was.  I don’t recall which of them it was, but one of them pointed out, correctly, that the criticism was not of your youthful indiscretion, but that, at the time you first mentioned it, you argued that you didn’t do anything wrong.  A year later, after much criticism, you admitted that the theft was wrong.
            You can complain about “harsh character assault” but the fact is you did steal pizza and you did post to the newsgroup, a couple decades later, that you didn’t think it was wrong.
            An unfair assault on your character would be doing something like pretending that you mocked someone over the death of his child, when you did no such thing.  That would be a reprehensible lie.

          • Wait a minute……Erb is a pizza thief???!?
             
            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
             
             
            SERIOUSLY?
             
            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAH~~~
             
            Does anyone have the backstory on that one?

          • Erb’s confession:

            I remember as an 18 year old night manager at a pizza place. I had risen quickly through the ranks — mastering those dishwashing and busing skills, before moving on to prove my mettle at rolling out dough and running ovens :) I strictly enforced the fact employees had to pay half price for all meals. Then one day the “owner” came into town. He was an obnoxious lout, who had our boss hire him a prostitute, and bragged about how much money he made. I looked at the employees working hard and thought to myself, “god, we’re working hard to make money for this fat ass who sits around, drinking and hiring whores. Fuck him. From now on we all eat on him.” Was I stealing? Sure, according to the law. But I felt morally justified and still do. He was stealing from us, having us work hard to make him rich, paying minimum wage to most of us. I continued to work hard and manage well, but the employees ate free from then on when I was in charge… cheers, scott
            Scott Erb, 1997/05/15 [bold added by me]

            Notice that this in not about the youthful indiscretion he committed at age 18, but about the fact that when he was somewhere around 40 years old, working as a professor who “teaches this stuff”, he asserted that he was “morally justified” to steal.  His rationalizations: (1) business owners who pay minimum wage steal from the employees and (2) business owners who engage in the vices of drinking alcohol (legal) and engaging the services of a prostitute (victimless vice crime) and who brag (legal) are bad people and thus deserve no sympathy when their employees steal from them.  Also, the fact that his boss was legally complicit in procuring a sex worker and, as he argued in later revisions, complicit in misusing corporate funds for unapproved personal purposes, s something he doesn’t address here, or elsewhere.  Only the “owner” (or “CEO” in later versions) who was drinking and bragging is held as the villain in this morality play.
            After being called on his statement about feeling morally justified in 1997, he recanted:

            The reason not charging for pizzas was wrong because it was rationalized as a political act, one which I could be held accountable for.  I thought workers were getting screwed, and I was doing what I thought was a risk for justice.  Just like Billy is, just like conscientious objectors are.  Now, in retrospect, I find that as I look at arguments and these newsgroups, such a justification is too often a rationalization for an emotional reaction and not a well thought out response.  Sometimes it is right to break the law for a greater good, but more often than not when people do it they are reacting to an emotional stimulus and aren’t really doing what is morally right

            Scott Erb, 2001/06/21

            The story changed a little.  It became “justice” for the workers who “were getting screwed”, not about alcohol, whores, and bragging, not about using “corporate money” to pay the whores.
            Here, in the comment section of this Q&O article, he revised history again and invented something that didn’t happen:

            …you are using something that backfired on you back in usenet days.  I told of a time when I was 18 that after seeing the drunk CEO getting prostitutes on corporate money, I decided to make free pizzas for the people working that night. … Note that I don’t think that impulsive 18 year old did the right thing.   You tried to claim that I ‘stole pizzas’ (making it sound routine and on going).   That was so over the top that even people agreeing with you said that it was unfair to turn one episode as an 18 year old into an ongoing, harsh character assault.   That shows dishonor on your part.
            Scott Erb, just above [bold added by me]

            Note how “owner” became “CEO”, the prostitute became prostitutes, and the prostitute(s) was/were paid for by “corporate money”.  In the latter case, Scott justified stealing from the corporation because the CEO stole from the corporation. But previously the employees were being robbed by the “owner” or “CEO”, because he was paying them minimum wage, even though that’s a corporate matter.  So, maybe that the corporation stole from them by paying minimum wage, in which case he might have felt some justice seeing the CEO steal from the corporation.  And, again, no word on if Scott’s boss, who acted as an intermediary obtaining the whore(s) and being complicit in the misappropriation of business funds.
            As for his claims that others criticized me, if you search for the 2001 thread, entitled “Morality and the Golden Rule”, you’ll find that “people agreeing with [me]” did no such thing.  Such people included Billy Beck, Martin McPhillips, Rob Robertson, Lynette Warren, John T. Kennedy, and others. His assertion that others criticized me was something which is directly refuted at the time by this statement from a person who was “agreeing with me” politically:

            Your argument for stealing from your employer is nothing but a rationalization, Scott. Several people have examined the issue and judged for themselves that your actions, and the subsequent justification for them in 1997, were unethical.
            Rob Robertson, 2001/06/23

            He’s spun himself a very tangled web and his attempts to change the details keep getting him spun up in a sticky ball.

          • Nice job assembling all that.

             

            In the shifting swirl of rationalizations from Scottie, what jumped out at me was how “the employees ate free from then on when I was in charge” morphed into “You tried to claim that I ‘stole pizzas’ (making it sound routine and on going). …it was unfair to turn one episode as an 18 year old into an ongoing, harsh character assault.” The first version clearly indicates that it was, in fact “routine and ongoing”. Yet he denies that in the second version.

             

            A 24-carat example of how he bends reality in his own mind to avoid responsibility.

      • Oh, I never said he was smart…

        • You’re right … he can’t even understand the differences between Iraq and Syria.  Says all that needs to be said for such a self-avowed expert, wouldn’t you say?

        • He has to be smart.   I’ll let the wizard speak, as he summed up Erb’s type best those many years ago.
          “Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have! But they have one thing you haven’t got – a diploma. Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitatus Committeatum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Th. D…that’s Doctor of Thinkology.”

  • Obama has just sent the issue to congress for approval.  The GOP in both houses should unanimously vote “Present” on this issue.  That way, whether it passes or not, it is all on the President and his Democratic lackeys.  No sense giving him any cover on this issue – let it be on his head!

    • That is not a bad idea.

    • But I would prefer a NO vote.

    • If crimes  committed far way by bad people against other far away bad people are important enough for Americans to go to war over, they are important enough to call Congress back to work early from summer vacation to vote for war or peace.  If they are not important enough to interrupt Congress’s summer vacation, they are not important enough to go to war over.

    • You prove my point.  You don’t care what’s best for the US, you are simply anti-Obama and want what’s bad for him.  Your partisanship has caused you to sacrifice your patriotism.   You’re not thinking like someone concerned for America.

      • Explain how Obama saying that he has the power “either way” to attack Syria is not also partisan?
        Punting to Congress, and then ignoring them if they disagree with him?
         

      • Erb, when the IRS is used against Obama’s political enemies, something he himself called outrageous, and then nothing is done about it, maybe some damage to trust in government occurs.
        Something you should consider. If you want a loyal opposition, then you had better treat them not as enemies.

      • “Both Obama and Biden are on record as demanding Bush’s impeachment for doing exactly what would be required to hit syria.”
         
        Thus, the need for this teachable moment.

      • “You don’t care what’s best for the US”
         
        Au Contraire – this will be bad for America, it’s bad all around, no matter what he does.  He’ll only compound it by making attacks intended to save face.   He shouldn’t have made idle threats in the first place.
         
        We all know that, we all see that, we all say that.   The boy king demonstrated what we’ve been saying, he’s a boy unfit for the office.   Joe Biden would probably do better because he’d get rid of the collection of the coterie of Chicago politicians that are making the Boy King’s decisions.   I’ll risk the country under Joe, mainly because he can’t possibly do worse than Obama, and at least the lies, the campaigning, and the golf games will slow down.
         
        I’m not willing to approve of this even if Congress does, because it will accomplish nothing.  It will cost us a bundle we don’t have, and it will put our men in harms way.

      • You don’t care what’s best for the US, you are simply anti-Obama and want what’s bad for him.  Your partisanship has caused you to sacrifice your patriotism.   You’re not thinking like someone concerned for America.

        You don’t care what’s best for the US, you were simply anti-Bush and wanted what was bad for him.  Your partisanship has caused you to sacrifice your patriotism.   You’re not thinking like someone concerned for America.
        I watched you and the other weasels on Usenet get so excited over setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, almost gleeful about the death toll rising.  You were giddy that al Qaeda successfully shifted the elections in Spain by bombing trains and murdering dozens of people.  Even here, you write with some satisfaction about military setbacks (the result of US troops and civilians dying) teaching the US a lesson.
        On the other hand, the same sorts of problems, the deaths of civilians due to drone strikes, the Libyan campaign, and other us military actions under Obama don’t illicit much of any criticism from you that I’ve seen.
        Clearly, you’re very partisan, even as you accuse others of partisanship.  As for “patriotism”, you strike me more as the stereotypical “liberal” who gets enjoyment at seeing the US get its comeuppance–just not when it harms the image of your party politicians.

        • You continue to lie.  I was never happy about problems in Afghanistan, again I was extremely critical of Clinton in Kosovo, had mixed feelings (detailed in my blog) about the complex situation in Libya…but you know that.  You’re lying because you’re upset.

          • No, you were perfectly happy to see Khadafi go and many of us, not exactly fans, were convinced we were better off dealing with the devil we knew than what we were going to get in the ‘rebels’.
             
            Now you’ve altered your Arab Spring time table.  You mock the idea that we might conceivably have sped an improvement in government for Iraq, but give credibility to the idea that Twitter and Face Book were about to start the blooming of an Arab Spring that would ultimately bring about democracy with “watch and learn” and “good and necessary” assurances that we would be proved wrong, outdated and 20th century passe in our thinking.
             
            Now you’re on the long view, gonna take time, yessir, maybe years.   What a pathetic fraud you are.   Anyone with an ounce of grasp on history knows that if you give anything enough time it will probably pass through whatever phases you predicted.   You on the other hand will wave that around like valid evidence of your authority on foreign relations expertise.
             
            All of it done so you’re not ‘wrong’ about what a failure Obama is as a President.
             
             

          • I was never happy about problems in Afghanistan….

            I said “Iraq and Afghanistan” but I notice you don’t mention Iraq.
            I believe you that you were not happy about setbacks in Afghanistan during Obama’s administration.  During the Bush years, you made a number of remarks about the situation in Afghanistan deteriorating.  I wonder if a full survey of your on-line “analysis” would show a sharp drop off of such remarks once Obama became CINC.
            Your disgusting remarks about the Madrid bombings and the change in election results have been documented, by me, on this blog before.

            …had mixed feelings (detailed in my blog) about the complex situation in Libya….

            I don’t recall, here at Q&O, your comments about Libya reflecting any sort of ambivalence.  I did challenge you about being a pacifist when I saw your support for going to war and you replied that you had abandoned those principles years ago.  Invoking your letter on Kosovo, when you were still a pacifist, doesn’t address the partisan nature of your statements on military actions during Bush and Obama years.  You keep shaking that at me like a magic talisman.
            Do you ever reconsider your decision to abandon pacifism?

          • Now you’ve altered your Arab Spring time table.

            Yeah, that didn’t go unnoticed.  I will not be surprised, months or years from now, if that is a detail which is lost in his reminiscences.

  • Well, this, if true, will certainly turn out to be very very very inconvenient for our eavesdropping buddies in the NSA collective.
     
    http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/08/30/us_had_intel_on_chemical_strike_before_it_was_launched
     
    We have an obligation to protect AFTER the fact maybe?   No obligation to protect beforehand if we know a crime is going to go down?   Yes in deed, this had better be nothing more than bilge or the Boy King’s empire is REALLY going to be stuck with a foreign policy blunder embarrassment of epic proportion.   He does, after all, function best as By-Stander in Chief so if it’s true, it won’t be much a a surprise.  Horrid yes, but, not much of a surprise.
     
     

    • Hmmmm….let’s take a moment to chuckle as we contemplate Obama getting permission for an attack and then finding out it WAS the rebels, and then having to hit them with Tomahawks to protect the free world from chem weapons proliferation and the threat to the security of the United States.  Instead of playing Air Force for Al Queda, we would of course have to play Air Force for Assad.
       
      …the teleprompter’s head would explode.

    • Not a credible news source.

  • Boy, this Syria gas attack thingee is really getting complicated!  Let’s review, shall we?    Obama knew Assad was planning Gas attacks for over a year!  http://www.nationaljournal.com/nationalsecurity/u-s-knew-syrians-were-preparing-for-chemical-weapons-attack-20130830    But even after Obama drew his “Red Line” in the sand and knowing Assad was planning to use gas, he refused repeated requests to supply the rebels with gas masks!  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/08/30/no-to-gas-masks/  http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-didnt-send-gas-masks-syria_751367.html   http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/08/29/obama-refused-to-send-gas-masks-to-syria-opposition-for-over-a-year.html    And now it seems US intelligence may have known about it 3 days prior to the attack!  And no warning was given.  http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-intel-knew-assad-regime-was-preparing-chemical-attack-3-days-in-advance/    But now there seems to be some doubt as to who is really responsible for the gas attack in Syria.  Even our own intelligence is questioning the validity of blaming Assad.  http://www.mercurynews.com/nation-world/ci_23973042/syrias-blame-gas-attack-not-slam-dunk-u    Could it be someone else is responsible and not Assad?  http://www.mintpressnews.com/witnesses-of-gas-attack-say-saudis-supplied-rebels-with-chemical-weapons/168135/     Lions & Tiger & Bears, Oh My!  Hope & Change & Syria, Oh My!

  • Just a reminder for Erb:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraqi_governorate_elections,_2013
    Unlike your predictions in Egypt, Iraq is still holding elections. For now.
     

  • A final comment on the Iraq invasion. If you judge the invasion as a failure because a lot of people died in Iraq, and a civil war took place, then you should really take a fresh look at your beliefs.
    Look at Syria, where a strong man like Saddam kept the lid on the country, until, suddenly he didn’t and a civil war erupted with 100,00 killed. This did not involve America in any way shape or form, and yet a civil war with mass casualties happened.
    This would seem to me to suggest that Iraq was not a peaceful, kite-flying place that would have never entered into civil war without our intervention. It would suggest that an event such as Saddam’s death could have led to the same exact civil strife that occurred after the invasion, only perhaps with worse results. Just as happened in Syria.
    The fact that Iraq is relatively peaceful and holds elections looks pretty good compared to the Syrian grudge match. Maybe judging these countries like they could become the next Belgium was stupid.
    I also think it was unrealistic after 9/11 not to attempt to nation-build…America likes to give our enemies a chance to re-build themselves into something better.
    I think that reservoir of goodwill is gone now, and if we have to do any more invasions in the Middle East they will be punitive expeditions instead.
    The lesson from Syria should be that Iraq was not somehow doing great until we arrived and messed stuff up, but that Iraq was messed up and we simply removed the cover from a boiling pot.
     
     

    • You have to twist and turn and make lots of assumptions to try to rationalize the US disaster in Iraq.   However, you miss the most important point: the US was harmed immensely by the Iraq war, perhaps irreparably.   Also, to assume Iraq and Syria are equivalents is simply wrong.  Face it, Iraq was a mistake – a very costly one for the US.  That’s an uncontroversial claim in most circles, especially those who study foreign policy.

      • So your claim is that Iraq would never have descended into civil war if we had not intervened?
        This to me is the ONLY “mistake” of the war.
        Removal of Saddam was a good thing in all other respects.

        • Though I will admit its a big enough miscalculation that it convinced me that attacking Syria in any way shape or form would not be a good idea.

        • Also “mistake” here means strategic miscalculation in the decision, not tactical or operational stuff.

        • The biggest failure in Iraq was due to the neo-cons.  They thought American power could reshape the region, spread democracy and put the US in the drivers’ seat in the Mideast.  I don’t think removing Saddam improved things for Iraqis, I suspect they’d have had a better transition if it happened naturally.  Now, thankfully, change is spreading in the Arab world.  It will take decades, but in Egypt, Libya, and soon Syria a necessary process is unfolding, and its worth the pain to get to a better future.  The US needs to be on the right side of history – and I think Obama is doing well, but could risk it by attacking Syria with anything other but true international consensus.

          • “I don’t think removing Saddam improved things for Iraqis, I suspect they’d have had a better transition if it happened naturally”
            See Syria. Was that a nice natural transition?
            How about Libya? How did that transition work out?
            Imagine it without the US…how about that one,. where Qadaffi wins?
            And you also need to consider that Iraqi elections may have influenced the entire region.
            Just like how removing Saddam stopped Qadaffi’s nuclear program.
            And removed a huge threat to Iran making negotiations about their nuclear program have a larger chance of success. (If Saddam was still in power, I would not expect them to ever give up their nukes.)

  • Speaking of “solo”…. In 2008, when Barack Obama was campaigning for the American presidency in Germany, he derided and decried the “unilateralism” of President Bush in attacking Iraq. NB: If recruiting a coalition of over 40 sovereign states to take out Saddam Hussein was “unilateralism”, then what Barack Obama is doing now is geopolitical masturbation.

  • Think….

    1: THe people who died… are they AlQuieda? Can anyone say? Funny how that point hasn’t been touched on by anyone.

    2: Do we have proof that the Syrian Government made the attack, or is it some other faction, such as AQ?

    3: How did those chem weapons come to be in Syria? Anyone recall that long line of trucks leaving Iraq for Syria just prior to our hitting Iraq? Since Obama and his people have repeatedly denied the connection, hitting Syria would now expose facts that would be an embarrassment, at least to Obama…

    4: Both Obama and Biden are on record as demanding Bush’s impeachment for doing exactly what would be required to hit syria.

    5: By dumping it in Congress lap, it shields Obama from the voters about not attacking… anger they’re bound to be whipping up as a tool against the GOP in the next election.

    • Syria has long had a chemical weapons program. They are not signatories to the international treaty banning them, and thus get no opprobrium like Iran does.
      I don’t doubt that Iraq could have sent their chemical weapons over to Syria, but Syria already had chemical weapons at the time.

  • So to respond to Erb (because for some reason I cannot use
    the reply function)

    “You don’t care what’s best for the US, you are simply anti-Obama and want
    what’s bad for him.”  Answer: How does
    attacking Syria equal “what’s best for America”?  Obama did not consult Congress or anybody
    outside the administration when he drew his “red line”!  Was that what was “best for America”?  Earlier you stated “There are just as many
    reasons to think Syria is in our national interests . . ”  How about enumerating those interests – if you
    can.  Using your own words against you, “You
    choose to define something in our national interest WHEN your guy is in power
    and you support him.”

    “Your partisanship has caused you to sacrifice your patriotism.”  Did you question Obama when he leaped into
    the Libyan conflict without so much as a “by your leave” from Congress or the American
    people?  You were prepared to follow your
    dear leader over whatever cliff he may lead and only when the vast majority of
    the US (in polls) showed he should consult Congress did you finally take the
    time to caveat your position with your BS “I took a stance on my blog, opposing
    military action unless it has Congressional approval and UN/international
    support.”  If you would take a moment and
    consider this blog entry and the majority of the comments made by the people
    here, it essentially asks for the same thing. 
    Your BS statements regarding Bush’s unilateralism (which we proved to be
    untrue) was our main problem with the way Obama was approaching this.  Obama’ only “coalition” member is France.  What a joke!

    “You’re not thinking like someone concerned for America.”  And you are thinking like someone more
    concerned for Obama than America.

    • Pssst – you missed the part where I said I opposed action without UN approval and Congressional approval, and will criticize Obama if he does that.   I also was very critical of Clinton in Kosovo.  The action matters, not the party or person.  Your case of ODS (to be sure, you’re mirroring many on the left who had BDS during the Bush years) blinds you.

      • Question: what happens when China attacks Taiwan?
        You will not get UN approval ever.
        Do you still defend Taiwan or do you decide that in that case the UN approval is not needed?
         

        • It definitely is not in our national interest to go to war with China over Taiwan.   That would be suicidal.  Luckily, it’s not in China’s interest to attack Taiwan.

          • It is telling you would abandon an actual democracy to an authoritarian regime, just like that.
            BTW, China views Taiwan as part of China. If there is any hint that Taiwan will move on independence, you’d better re-calculate your odds, buddy.
            And “suicidal” could also describe North Korea’s attack on South Korea, Germany’s attack on Russia, Japan’s attack on the US, Napoleon’s return to France etc. Countries have a long and storied history of making suicidal attacks…do you think that has changed?
             

      • “Pssst – you missed the part where I said I opposed action without UN approval and Congressional approval, and will criticize Obama if he does that”
         
        So you don’t have the balls to criticize Obama BEFORE the UN renders a verdict?  Or before Congress renders a verdict?  You’ll base your perceptive analysis on someone else’s analysis will you?  You’ll react once the authority figures have mapped out the proper course for your reaction?   Why how very Teutonic of you Scott.
         
        You just made a point of taking credit for the idea your convictions are based on what others think.  Quelle surprise.    You’ll man up and criticize him for this whole blunder IF other people do.  Whooo hoooo, you ARE a man’s man aren’t you.   Since you cannot perceive the difference between Iraq 2003 and Syria 2013 why would anyone with an ounce of intelligence bother to listen to you?
         
        All the adults understand that at this point Obama has painted himself into a corner and is looking around for someone to get him out of it, you’re waiting for the UN or Congress to tell you how to think.

        • So you don’t have the balls to criticize Obama BEFORE the UN renders a verdict?  Or before Congress renders a verdict?

          I don’t think he realizes how hysterically funny it is to see a grown man with such vast “experience” of foreign policy (buying beers for co-eds on German junkets apparently counts) being unable to give a forthright opinion on what should be done before his political dominatrixes (dominatrices?) tell him what he should be thinking.

  • Hey Erb – F**K YOU!  Is my ODS blinding you enough now, you POS!

  • First of all, to most of the commenters and readers of this
    Blog I would like to apologize.  The one
    exception is Erb.  Let me explain.

    I spent 23 years serving this country in the US Air Force.  I’m not going to bore you with the details of
    my career.  Suffice it to say, I paid my
    dues.  I have earned the right to speak
    my mind.  Even though the service and sacrifices
    I have made in my life were, in part, done to insure people in this country
    have the freedom to voice whatever opinions they may desire, I take one
    exception.  Nobody gets to question my
    patriotism – EVER!!!  His comment, “Your
    partisanship has caused you to sacrifice your patriotism” set me off. 

    ‘Nuff said!

    • Thanks for loving and serving your country Sshiell.   Hats off to you.  No apology necessary for me.

    • If you dish it out, you gotta be able to take it.   Don’t have such a thin skin – I clearly don’t!

      • And a thick, crap-packed, obdurate skull, too.

      • Not surprising a man who has no honor would give that kind of response.  Honor is a joke word to you.
         
        Then perhaps a lesson in politeness is in order, Mr. Poly Sci relations expert.
        “Excuse me Sshiell, I didn’t intend to malign your patriotism, it was a generic off hand remark I made without realizing your background.   Thank you for your service.”.
         
        Now that’s theoretically what you might have said (though in your case it would have been an insincere lie we all would have recognized…..but…still….diplomatic nonetheless).   Or something bordering being apologetic would have been in order, and would have shocked us I’m sure.
         
        You want people to engage you in polite conversation and lament how that doesn’t happen, yet your automatic response when you yourself trespass isn’t one of chagrin, it is rather, a taunt about developing a thicker skin.
         
        Finally, as you bid a false farewell yet again, you have the nerve to play all butt about coming here to discuss and receiving insults and boring conversation and partisan ship and THIS especially entertaining whiney little gem “Someday I may post something, get a reasoned, friendly response, and you’ll see its possible to have a good conversation.”
         
        Elliott, despite an obvious history with you, DOES actually engage you (not that it does any good, you’re exceptionally adroit at the dismissive hand wave when he makes a reasoned argument) until you finally become insufferable (also a standard phase of most long threads you are involved in).
         
        Do you really think it makes you look good?

  • I know Erb is still reading this thread, but he has ignored a question.  I’ll restate it, in the vain hope that he will answer it:
     
    Did Bush put together a coalition of more than 30 countries to attack Iraq?  How is such a coalition “unilateral” by any reasonable definition of the word?

    • I did answer it – I said Bush paid off a lot of small countries to join just to make it look big, and he got a few others (Spain and Italy) to sign on despite public opinion being against it.  They bet that the US would succeed and they’d be rewarded – they were wrong, and almost all dropped out.  The reason foreign policy experts (not just me) call Bush’s pre-2006 approach unilateral is because anyone that went alone had to do it Bush’s way – the US called all the shots, ignored the UN, and essentially controlled the policy.  After the policy failed (and Bush became the least popular President in recent US history), for reasons I and many others predicted back in 2003, he smartly changed his approach, ditched the failed neo-cons, embraced realists like Rice and Gates, and actually had a decent final two or three years.

      • Spain dropped out after al Qaeda bombed trains in Madrid days before an election, changing the outcome.  The party which was expected to lose ended up winning, at which point they decided to pull out of Iraq.
        You expressed satisfaction at the result, because it hurt Bush politically and was a shift in power towards a “leftist” government, ignoring that this came at such a heavy cost in human lives (train bombing victims) and set up a precedent for AQ to try swaying elections in the future by carrying out more terrorist attacks.
        A non-partisan analysis would result in the following conclusions: (1) al Qaeda successfully bombing trains and murdering dozens was bad and (2) al Qaeda changing the outcome of an election in their favor was bad.
        Clearly, your “analysis” was not objective.  It reminded me of the adage about breaking a few eggs to make an omelet.

      • I think its far more likely that many of the larger non-Eastern European countries were afraid of WMDs getting into the hands of terrorists.
        (The eastern Europeans were helping us so that we would later help them in case Russia got hinky. Very smart of them.)
        I know it sounds crazy, but 9/11 did have an effect on policy-makers worldwide who suddenly realized that mass casualty attacks would be very serious indeed.
        There is a real assumption that “if we had not attacked Iraq, then the terrorists would have mellowed and not attacked us anymore.”
        Erb, do you believe that is true? That Al-Qaeda is mainly succored by US actions?

      • I was right:  you DO live in a parallel universe where “unilateral” has a completely different meaning.
         
        What you’ve written is so stupid, only a college professor would believe it.

  • Elliot, I’ve always said the Arab spring was the start of a transition that would take generations throughout the region.  I also noted on my blog that the Bush administration correctly saw it coming, and mistakenly thought that if the US militarily got in front in Iraq, they could control it.   You also are really mixed up about my past views and ideas, so I’ll ignore anything you said about what you think I used to believe.
    I think all of you need to take stock.  Look at what happens when one person who thinks differently comes in and gives different views, 95% of the time pretty politely.  Name calling, attacks, and suddenly a thread with nearly 150 comments.   This blog and its comments has ceased to be anything creative, it is purely partisan, and its comment section is not about real discussion, just cheer leading your “team.”  At one point the usenet had flames, but also really intense discussion between people with different views.  Even between flames you had to think about the other sides’ argument and there was discourse and mutual learning.  Now it’s attack, emotion, and personal stuff.   It’s not just your blog, but partisanship is becoming a disease devouring the Republic, as the two sides can’t talk.   No need to respond (indeed, I’ll let you have the last word), but I think in your haste to be other-critical you’ve neglected how bizarre your own posts/behavior has been.   I really don’t have anything against any of you, I just find it a bit sad that you all can’t accept disagreement without imagining things about the other person and turning it into emotional attacks.   Someday I may post something, get a reasoned, friendly response, and you’ll see its possible to have a good conversation.   Carry on, and enjoy Labor Day!

    • Imagining requires no basis for reality.  We don’t imagine much about you because it’s not necessary, we are keenly aware of your reality.
       
      Ceased to be creative, yet here you are, carrying the liberal’s burden so nobly by yourself to save the poor benighted heathens.  Such noble selflessness.  You sure you don’t want to toss in a plug for your blog and maybe talk about the spirituality you find in the space time quantum reality while you’re patting yourself on the back for being so patient and wise and noble?

      • Ceased to be creative, yet here you are, carrying the liberal’s burden so nobly by yourself to save the poor benighted heathens.

        Go figure that one.  I’ve found myself on many websites in which the comment section is overwhelmingly hostile.  Instead of whining about it, I just put up counterarguments and deal with the attempts to dog pile onto me.  About half the time, I get banned (blocked, even deleted).  Other times, the discussion is drowned out by sheer volume of participants.  But I never complain about the website not being what I want or the comment section being mostly an echo chamber.  When the discussions get boring or vapid, or the number of comments too great to be manageable, I move on without taking any parting shots.

    • You also are really mixed up about my past views and ideas, so I’ll ignore anything you said about what you think I used to believe.

      You never did answer my question:Do you ever reconsider your decision to abandon pacifism?

    • As predictable as the sunrise, you enter your “more in sorrow than in anger” phase.
       

      Someday I may post something, get a reasoned, friendly response, and you’ll see its possible to have a good conversation.

      See, the problem is that you have gotten reasoned, polite responses in the past. The result wasn’t a “good conversation”. It was cheap shots. It was dishonesty. It was handwaving away the facts of other people, while smugly asserting your own point of view (“I decree it” as the parody version says).
       
      I spent two years being patient and polite with you. Two. Years. You just took it as permission to become more and more smug and condescending, and indulging in cheap shot rhetoric instead of your supposed dream of “engagement”.
       
      A nice example is this thread, where I posed some polite questions and politely said it was pointless to talk past one another. At that point, I had treated you respectfully and discussed Iraq dozens of times for over two years.
       
      Your cheap shot response? “That seems almost a cop out, as if you were afraid of a real discussion with those who don’t share your starting assumptions. That is contrary to the spirit of political debate in the US.”

      Now, anybody might pop off in a bad mood, so I gave you another chance.

      Scott, there’s no need for that kind of petty insult. We have been over and over and over these matters. Some of the same territory is here, for example. I’m simply tired of going round and round, and talking past you because we simply don’t share some assumptions.Saying I’m afraid of a discussion is a cheap shot, befitting a faculty lounge instead of a serious discussion group, and you should be ashamed.

      And you doubled down on the cheap shot, posting some of most sanctimonious stuff I’ve ever seen in blog comments. Because you are simply not capable of thinking you might have been a dishonest debater. You utterly lack the self-reflection to do it.
       
      From that point, I was done with taking you seriously. I had already gone above and beyond the call, with politeness and respectful treatment. I simply suggested you think about some things without the usual strident back and forth.
       
      But you didn’t want to think about things; you wanted to hector the other side. I don’t know why – some kind of emotional satisfaction, I guess, because since you don’t pay any serious attention to the other side you certainly are not learning anything. You are so damn confident that you are right and the rest of us are all wet, and you have complete psychological defense mechanisms in place to ignore anything that suggests otherwise. You are worse than the creationists on Free Republic.
       
      Not to mention the psychological projection. After being in the tank for the left for years, you have the nerve to call everyone else partisan.
       
      So we ridicule you because there’s nothing left. You present no arguments of note. You just assert things without support, cough up leftist talking points, hedge your bets when the talking points are not out yet, handwave away what others do, trot you your worthless degrees, take cheap shots, insult whenever it suits you like you did SShiell above (not to mention “inbred”, “like Goebles”, and other past examples). Then you decree smarmy stuff like “when you insult me, it means I’ve won”, first ignoring that there’s no logical support for such a statement and ignoring your own insults.
       
      Do you not realize that questioning the patriotism of a career military person is over the line? Do you really hate the military that much? I know you lack emotional affect (and if you think it should be spelled “effect”, that just demonstrates your ignorance of social science). That’s easy to tell from your inability to understand the effect of your own words. But are you really so stunted emotionally that you can’t see that asserting, WITHOUT EVIDENCE, that you see inside the mind of someone else and claim that this someone is turning their back on one of their most cherished principles – is rude, uncalled for, without purpose, and does nothing but alienate people with whom you claim to want “engagement as an equal”?
       
      You don’t want engagement. You want the emotional satisfaction of browbeating other people. You occasionally succeed, as in this example. And, boy, do you take satisfaction from it, as you showed above.
       
      But absent occasional exceptions, we are wise to your game, and we refuse to play it. We call out the reality – you are a not-too-bright failure in the real world, who so desperately needs some kind of self-validation that he comes to the only place he can find to talk down to his ideological opponents without getting banned.
       
      We can tell, because you lie to yourself about it. How many times have you said you are not coming back, only to see us laugh and start the pool for when you would give in to the cravings and start commenting again? We know you better than you know yourself because we can predict your own actions better than you can.
       
      Now, of course, you are oblivious to all of this, just as you are oblivious to so much of reality. Your defense mechanisms are well honed. You have honestly convinced yourself that you come here to learn things and educate other people. Too bad the evidence makes it clear that you are lying to yourself on both counts. You need to come here for psychological boosting, by needling and irritating other people. Period. And it’s pretty pathetic that you are such a diseased, damaged soul that such is the case.

  • Elliot, I’ve always said the Arab spring was the start of a transition that would take generations throughout the region.

    You’ve said a lot more than that (e.g., Muslim Brotherhood remarks, the “anti-tea party” characterization, social media power) and you seem more intent on bragging about your analysis being correct and superior to the people here, than owning up to your blunders.  One of the psychological processes which cause people to believe in psychics is confirmation bias.  Couple that phenomenon with the psychic fraud’s careful use of ambiguous phrasing, open to being interpreted as accurate through retroactively fitting the ambiguous parts to what has been known to have happened (which is a bit like the Monday morning quarterback behavior), and you get people who believe in nonsense.  An objective statistical analysis of predictions and outcomes refutes such beliefs.
    Whether you’ve deluded yourself or not, I don’t know.  But it is clear that you recognize that being ambiguous and then waiting until events have transpired to resolve the ambiguity in your favor has given you a rationalization to brag to others of your superior analysis skills.

    You also are really mixed up about my past views and ideas, so I’ll ignore anything you said about what you think I used to believe.

    A quick google search finds one example:

    Finally, as a pacifist, I would think that all soldiers who shoot to kill are
    committing murder.  They could in some countries be contentious objectors, in
    others they may be tried for treason if they refuse to fight.  Oh, you say,
    that’s different.  They are killing other soldiers, not helpless civilians.  
    (Not really true, civilians are killed by soldiers too).  They could have
    chosen not to fight.

    And now, today, you have make arguments for going to war in Libya and you’re leaving open the possibility of supporting an attack on Syria if there are sufficient votes.  For years now, you defend the Democrat president from criticism, even though he escalated troop levels in Afghanistan and increased drone attacks (thus increasing civilian casualties).  Whereas you criticized Bush for using military force and filled page after page of exhaustive explanations of the failures under him, you don’t do likewise for Obama, that I’ve seen.  Maybe you’re oblivious to your own partisanship and don’t recognize it, because you’ve convinced yourself that you are an objective analyst.  Or, more likely, you’re just engaging in simple propaganda techniques, behaving as a partisan but presenting yourself as objective, cynically hoping that you’ll fool some people.

    Look at what happens when one person who thinks differently comes in and gives different views, 95% of the time pretty politely.  Name calling, attacks, and suddenly a thread with nearly 150 comments.

    Your politeness is irrelevant to the accuracy of your statements.  When you make a false statement or a flawed argument, it doesn’t matter if you’re an assh0le or a gentleman.  What matters is your arguments.  The attacks based upon the substance of your remarks are not simply attacks because you “think differently”.  They are refutations, criticisms of substance.  Just because there is also name calling doesn’t mean that the arguments over substance are also personal attacks, or only driven by partisanship.  150 comments in a thread about a pending military action is understandable.

    This blog and its comments has ceased to be anything creative, it is purely partisan, and its comment section is not about real discussion, just cheer leading your ‘team.’

    That begs the question: why do you read the blog and participate in the comments?
    As for my “team”, please explain why my “team” consists of people who justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq and people, like me, who did not support it.  Google older articles and look in the comment section to see how I and others on my “team” disagree on topics such as immigration, gay rights, drug laws, religion, etc..  Or, more obviously, contrast the advocacy of Romney and the election predictions from my “team” with my arguments against voting at all and my prediction of an Obama win.
    That we agree on many other things should not be surprising.  It isn’t a sign of “pure partisanship” or the comments being nothing but an echo chamber.

    It’s not just your blog, but partisanship is becoming a disease devouring the Republic, as the two sides can’t talk.

    Q&O is not my blog.
    The increase in partisanship, and the greater the intensity of vitriol, are a direct consequence of the increase in government power and scope.  In the wake of the Gabby Giffords shooting, I wrote about how democracy drives wedges between people.  Instead of the civilized behavior which happens in the private sector, in which people who have actual skin in the game sit down and work out compromises which benefit all participants, the winner-take-all nature of elections means that the losing party gets nothing and the winning party gets the power to take far more than what their margin of victory would reasonably indicate.
    The more each election influences us, the more that partisans will work to stop the other side from winning, fearful of the consequences of opponents bringing down the hammer on them.  ObamaCare is one obvious example.
    Partisanship will increase.  There will likely be violence, eventually.  How that all plays out is anyone’s guess.  But when you have a leviathan government which does nothing but continue to grow in size an scope, you don’t get to have civil discourse.  You get increasing animosity, or tyranny, in which opposition is squashed.

    Someday I may post something, get a reasoned, friendly response, and you’ll see its possible to have a good conversation.

    Stop confusing criticism of substance with personal attacks.  And, when you belittle others (your constant refrain of “partisanship”, “ideologues”, “last century thinking”, “derangement syndrome”, etc.), quit acting like you didn’t provoke anything.
    Most of the time, you get what you ask for.  Go find a blog which is more creative for your liking, less “partisan” for your liking, with a more diverse blog commentariat.  Don’t talk down to them.  Don’t try to marginalize the “conservatives”, libertarians, or others with your usual droning lectures filled with meaningless buzzwords.  Just discuss substance.  See if you get the same results.

    • “Developmentally and clinically, narcissistic and masochistic pathology are so intertwined that their theoretic and clinical unraveling requires specific attention to their linkage and the predictable forms of response to interpretation. It is, therefore, useful to think of the narcissistic-masochistic character as a clinical entity. In this condition, pathological narcissistic tendencies are unconscious vehicles for attaining masochistic disappointment; and masochistic injuries are an affirmation of distorted narcissistic fantasies.”
      Seems to fit our dear Professor to a T. (http://www.sakkyndig.com/psykologi/artvit/cooper2009.pdf)

      • Shoot, meant that as a reply to Billy’s comment just further up.

      • I’d never thought of the connection before.  I would have thought that masochism (self-loathing) was the opposite of narcissism (self-adoring).  But the notion that a person could be both isn’t that far-fetched.
        I’m often bewildered at seeing Scott make a fool of himself, wondering how he can stand to be decidedly trounced, over and over.  Most of us realize when someone else has a superior argument and feel foolish enough to go lick our wounds, realize where we made our mistakes, and learn not to repeat them.  As Dirty Harry put it, “A man’s GOT to know his limitations.”  I oscillated between suspecting that he was just too clueless to realize hew was seen by readers as losing, and the other extreme, that he knew he was losing but had some perverse agenda, like trolling or just being a truly cynical propagandist, making ridiculous arguments over and over, calculating that eventually some of it would stick.
        As far as the classic narcissism personality, he fits much of the criteria, though one would have to speak to him in person, face to face, to really figure it out.  The classic narcissist uses facial clues and body language to read people as a means of figuring out how to manipulate them.  However, they are deficient at empathy, using language and reasoning to figure out what another person actually thinks or feels.
        On the interwebs, there is only text, so Scott can’t see facial clues or body language.  If he is a pathological narcissist, he may be used to having the ability to manipulate others and simply find it bewildering that his words alone don’t have the same affect on us.
        Had he made some crack about a veteran’s patriotism in person and seen a flash of anger in the man’s eyes, that would tip him off right away that he had crossed the line.  But without such clues, he doesn’t understand the reaction.
        Then again, he could simply be a dumb assh0le.

  • I won’t respond to anyone since I said you could have the last word.  However, I do want to point out, Billy, that I re-read the thread you posted and while we disagreed, I remained polite and tried to engage.  I think sometimes, yes, two people have different enough perspectives that a conversation simply needs to end.  But I’m a pretty friendly and well liked guy – I think most of you have fantasized images you’ve created based on how you’ve interpreted our limited interaction, which I find fascinating on so many levels.  A bit disappointing that I can’t find a way to reach out, but hey – I try.  Sorry for one more comment, but I guarantee you that if people are polite to me, I’m polite back.  As a human I might not follow that perfectly all the time, but if told “that wasn’t polite,” I’ll take it seriously.   I will do everything in my power not to stoop to the level of name calling and personal attacks (so sorry, SShiell I said you sacrificed your patriotism – I meant that more metaphorically, you were thinking of politics rather than country, but I see how you took it personally).

    • However, I do want to point out, Billy, that I re-read the thread you posted and while we disagreed, I remained polite and tried to engage.

      The simple fact that you believe what you just said is damning. As I said earlier, you lack affect, and that proves it. Your response to SShiell proves it.

       

      An honest debater does not accuse someone who has sparred politely for TWO YEARS of being afraid of debate. It’s ludicrous. It’s also not part of any rational or reasoned argument. It’s a cheap attempt to score points using any rhetorical device you can seize, and it’s only one example of many where you have done that.

       

      An honest, emotionally mature debater is capable of understanding the motivations of his/her opponents, and appreciating the service of someone who put their own life on the line to defend you and your family.  Someone who “treats others as an equal” is able to apologize for inadvertent insults.

       

      You fail in all those respects. I say again. You are a pathetic, stunted, damaged soul. DDoc already pulled the clinicalal terminology, as I have done in the past. I’m sorry you can’t see it, but then the old joke about how many psychiatrists it takes to change a light bulb comes to mind. You don’t want to change. You have found a niche, safely tucked away from the realities of the larger world, where you can enjoy your pathologies. You even have an audience for your preening, with a strong incentive to not expose your idiocies, in the form of naive students who need to keep up their GPA.

       

      Now, I don’t begrudge you your comfortable niche. Even bedbugs and tapeworms have to find a way through life. But if you’re going to stick your nose in here and expose your pathologies, you will be treated with no mercy or consideration. Because you don’t deserve any.

       

      So take comfort in your magical little college town, knowing that you won’t be confronted in person the way you are here. Just make sure that, for example, you never ask your ex-wife to read the stuff we write about you and give you an alternate opinion.

       

       

      • Nothing changes with the man.  Nothing.  Well over 10 years and he still can’t seem to figure out how much he is loathed and despised because of his intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy.  It’s why I don’t bother responding or even reading his comments.  I’ve seen it all before, over and over and over again.

        But he is a “useful idiot”.  I don’t have to spend any time describing how the liberal mind works.  He does all of that for me.  And with Ott Scerb to do the parody, it’s all worth it.

        • It’s why I don’t bother responding or even reading his comments.

          I probably shouldn’t either, and in fact in most threads I just skim his comments, knowing there’s nothing there worth reading.

           

          But I hate the way he degrades perfectly good and interesting comment threads with his narcissistic, pathological need for attention. He spouts such ridiculous, pathetic nonsense that our excellent and logical commenters don’t want to let it stand, and I understand that.

           

          Slapping him down is a chore, and I don’t enjoy it. But if we don’t do it, he posts more often, cranking up the idiocy, smugness, condescension, and sanctimoniousness until he gets a reaction.

           

          Despite his “engage me in polite debate” whining, I conclude that the negative reaction is what he really wants, because he doesn’t stop until he gets it. He irritates people for some kind of weird jollies that he gets from it. That’s sick.

           

          • He’s got a SNR that approaches zero.  I learned long ago that he has no intellectual honesty, and so I don’t interact much with him.  Now and then, I’ll jab an elbow into his rib, or try to pin him down on a factual error.  But it’s just worthless trying to debate him.  And when every thread become The Scott Erb Show, I tend to ignore the blog entirely.
             
            Still, he’s like a train wreck:  you know it’s going to be awful, but you want to look anyway.

  • Wow. This thread took forever to read. It did help pass the time and it was entertaining. NW on the responses. 

    Yeah, I know, nothing added to the overall conversation, but this thread is pretty epic.

  • Looks like the GOP establishment is opting to help out al Qaeda, for fear of being seen as weak or not supporting the troops, or whatever.
    Even more adorable, Nancy Pelosi discusses the mass murder of children with her five-year-old grandchild.  No word yet on if the GOP is going to seek out advice from the child.
    Now the reckless charge in to war has bi-partisan support, so opposing war is no longer “partisan”, just sensible.  Leaders in both parties have gone mad.