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Iraq may signal a return to "Realpolitik" abroad
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Victor David Hanson points to the possibility of Iraq turning the clock back on our foreign policy:
The Left thinks that the “fiasco” in Iraq will bring a repudiation of George Bush, and lead to its return to power. Perhaps. But more likely it will bring a return of realpolitik to American foreign policy, in which no action abroad is allowable (so much for the liberals’ project of saving Darfur), and our diplomacy is predicated only on stability abroad. The idealism of trying to birth consensual government will be discredited; but with its demise also ends any attention to Arab moderates, who whined for years about our support for the House of Saud, Pakistani generals, Gulf autocrats, or our neglect of the mayhem wrought by Islamists in Afghanistan. We know now that when the United States tries to spend blood and treasure in Afghanistan and Iraq that it will be slandered as naïve or imperialistic.
Given the "Conventional Wisdom" concerning Iraq, I think this is a real possibility and I certainly think that we're seeing it reflected in our approach to both North Korea and Iran. However I'm conflicted as to whether, in the final analysis, think it is a good thing.

Stability, obviously, has some appeal, at least at the moment. But it necessarily means supporting rather odious governments (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc.) in the future if those governments can keep a lid on their radicals. The obvious question is, can they?

And if we opt for security, as Hanson points out, that essentially would mean deserting moderates in the region (and elsewhere) who are calling for more freedom and settling for "peace" - defined as fewer attacks on us. Obviously stability requires a "tit for tat" reciprocity. Oppressive governments agree, tacitly, to put the hammer down on radicals and we, tacitly, agree not to say anything about it or raise any fuss or talk about "human rights" and the like.

Is that, in fact, where we want to be in the near future? Is that reason enough in your estimation to attempt to see Iraq thorough to some modicum of democratic success?

And if we do withdraw as described and opt for "stability" as our future foreign policy choice, will that really give us peace or security in the future?
 
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And if we do withdraw as described and opt for "stability" as our future foreign policy choice, will that really give us peace or security in the future?
The "realpolitik" prior to 9/11 generated 9/11.

What do you think?

And to the extent that having a divided congress makes "realpolitik" more likely, enjoy your Democratic victory—if you have it, of course.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
The demcratic party has come a long way in its transition from FDR to Pat Buchannan.
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://moorejack.ytmnd.com/
Heck, if some people want to justify maintaining our security on the backs and lives of foreign people, they are welcome to it.

I think we, as a nation, and we as a world, can do better.

It isn’t going to be easy, and people will still die, but the choices are, allowing genocide, repression, and tyrany, or doing something about it.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
Liberal: Bush withdrew from Iraq, now look at the genocide! We demand democracy in Iraq!

Conservative: Actually I once supported democracy. But when I did, you called me a genocidal fascist. So I caved to your demands and supported the retreat.

Liberal: You genocidal fascist!

Conservative: Too late, you already called me that when I supported democracy. Now I say screw them. Let’s take their oil and let them rot.

Liberal: You are all about the Oil! Haliburton!!!

Conservative: Too late, you already called me that when I supported democracy. You didn’t support democracy then. Now I don’t care.
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
When the USA understands that its policy for decades brought about the radicals (not only Muslim but Christians of the USA must also be included in the list of these extremist as well as the Zionists) then a miracle would be required for the Whitehouse (regardless of party in power) to take on vested interests in the USA that consistently thwart any attempt at justice for those who are radicalised in the Muslim world mainly due to the lack of justice.

USA policy has never been about democratisation and freedom but self-interest and megalomania and it’s these objectives that must change for any really positive effect of any policy by any US regime.

Unfortunately, history teaches us all that the US will never accept justice in place of its self-interest. And blind support for the atrocities of its closest ally will never waver producing cynicism throughout the world to any attempt by the US to ‘police the world’.

The USA must grow up as a nation and start to understand the pure definition of such words as civilisation, liberty and justice prior to implementing their twisted and highly constructed fantasy of the meaning of these words.

It is the lack of growth within the American public and their utter gullibility when faced by smooth politicians that cause so much strife in the world. In no other country in the world would someone with the history and attitude of Bush would be elected.

Bush has single-handedly turned the world into the least safe it has been in my lifetime and it will be getting worse as the root causes are ignored and the symptoms are maltreated. The disease is infecting more of the body of humanity and the USA is accelerating this. When will the USA grow up?
 
Written By: Frank
URL: http://
"A usually expansionist national policy having as its sole principle advancement of the national interest."

"foreign politics based on practical concerns rather than theory or ethics."

These are two of the definitions of "realpolitik" that I found via google. None of them included stability or self-imposed inaction. I think Hanson is misusing the word. What they do seem to have in common is self-interest and practicality, neither of which require inaction or isolationism.
In any case, stability is another mirage, and there is no reason we shouldn’t support moderates, or even revolutionaries, and oppose tyrannies if it is in our interest. There are more restrained modes of action that do not involve invading armies or massive airstrikes.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
The situation is a bit more complex than Hanson asserts, at least from a realist perspective. One fact that Americans need to understand is that we cannot bring democracy to the Mideast. Yet the Mideast is undergoing a transition driven by globalization and expanding media access which ultimately undercuts the long term stability of authoritarian rule. This is a concern to realists, witness the problems caused by support for the Shah; if there is a major change in Saudi politics, we risk being harmed by our long support for the current regime.

Moreover, we have to understand that our modernism is really a secularized Christian tradition, built on a foundation created in the Middle Ages when Greek philosophy meshed with Christian thought. While modern secularists want to often deny that heritage, it is a part of how we think and what we think. Islamic culture will develop/modernize in different ways, and that’s a path we cannot shape or force, but perhaps support. The challenge for realists is to recognize our long term security rests on assuring that we are not seen as having been the enablers of regimes doomed to the ashbin of history, even while at the same time we are clearly unable to force our notions of democracy into the region. This further illustrates the need to open a relationship with Iran, and avoid situations like Iraq where we’re hated by the very youth who may benefit in the future by having Saddam gone. International Relations can be driven by idealistic goals, but without a strong dose of realism it leads to collassol failure — something Kennedy and Johnson learned when they tried to implement their "grand design," and we’re now relearning.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The situation is a bit more complex than Hanson asserts, at least from a realist perspective
This observation could apply to nearly everything the man has to say.

The debate isn’t between idealism and realism, it is between being smart and being dumb. Iraq was a dumb war because the people who started the war and are running it are dumb and therefore misjudged nearly everything.

The Bush administration simply did not understand the underlying dynamics in Iraq and in the region. They didn’t understand the potential for ethnic and sectarian strife. They didn’t understand Saddam’s regional concerns, and his need to project, falsely, that he was armed with WMD. They didn’t understand the view of the United States on the Arab street. And on and on and on. When it came to Iraq and the Middle East, they are dumb. No two ways about it.

Now, those of us who weren’t part of the Bush cult knew this going in. It’s why we were able to predict, correctly, that Iraq would turn into a fiasco. We could see thru Bush - it’s why we didn’t vote for him, of course. We knew that he did and his administration did not understand what they were getting themselves into. That they didn’t understand the region. Bush 41 did, so did Scowcroft and Baker. It’s why they didn’t invade. They weren’t dumb when it came to the region. Bush 43 and his lackeys were.

Idealism can be a useful tool - it’s one of the best weapons we have. When it used by smart politicians who know what they are doing. Kennedy used it. Reagan did too. Bush tried to use it, but he is dumb (and, as one of our diplomats just said, arrogant), and therefore he misused it.

Being idealistic and being realistic are not mutually exclusive states of being. Smart politicians can be both. Dumb ones cannot.

As for VDH, he thought the Iraq war was a good idea. He is therefore among the dumb. Why in the world would one ever rely on his analysis of anything? If VDH is saying X, the opposite of X is probably correct.




 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
These are two of the definitions of "realpolitik" that I found via google. None of them included stability or self-imposed inaction. I think Hanson is misusing the word. What they do seem to have in common is self-interest and practicality, neither of which require inaction or isolationism.
Realpolitik, as defined by Henry Kissinger in his book "Diplomacy" is "foreign policy based on calculations of power and the national interest".

In other words, it is based on deciding what the best goal us in the region is and what sort of pragmatic adjustments and accommodations we’re willing to make with others (who may have other goals) to accomplish what we seek. If, as Hanson says, we decide that goal is "regional stability" then there are certain accommodations we’ll have to make with regimes in the area (support SA rather than criticize, abandon moderates, forget about human rights) to accomplish it.

There are indeed "calculations" which have to be made to accomplish that goal. And, as is obvious, those calculations might run afoul of our national "principles" and end up supporting non-democratic states, ignoring oppression and abandoning friends. So I don’t think he’s misusing the word at all.

I also don’t think Hanson is arguing that "stability" is necessarily a viable, attainable or even worthwhile goal, I think he’s just using it as a vehicle for explaining what a shift to realpolitik might mean in terms of a foreign policy choice.

And make no mistake, our foreign policy is going to change.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Realpolitik, as defined by Henry Kissinger in his book "Diplomacy" is "foreign policy based on calculations of power and the national interest".
Realism is a theory of international relations. Kissinger was a practioner of "classical realism," and to best understand that I’d recommend the book Politics Among Nations by Hans Morgenthau. It is a classic, and gives the essentials of realist theory.

A new form of realism, called neo-realism or structural realism, came out in the late seventies and early eighties. That is more popular in academia than classical realism, but classical realism lends itself to foreign policy analysis much better.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
mk has just said everything he’s every going to say about any debate...

You’re dumb...

So there...
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
"When will the USA grow up?"

i.e. Be just like France.

NO THANKS.
 
Written By: T
URL: http://
It is the lack of growth within the American public and their utter gullibility when faced by smooth politicians that cause so much strife in the world.
Speaking of utter gullibility, one has to assume then that Tony Blair was simply a dupe, correct?
In no other country in the world would someone with the history and attitude of Bush would be elected.
Heh ... I’m not sure that is a particularly good thing considering the state of the rest of the world.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
mk has just said everything he’s every going to say about any debate...

You’re dumb...
Of course I don’t expect die-hard war supporters to admit they were wrong. It’s part of the problem that got us into this problem in the first place. But the bottom line remains: those who opposed invading and occupying Iraq were smart and correct, and those who supported the invasion and occupation were wrong and therefore dumb.

Now, those same dumb supporters are suggesting that they weren’t dumb or wrong. They were just idealistic. (Yah, that’s the ticket.) Jonah Goldberg made the case last week. It’s a way of avoiding responsibility for their support for the war and at the same time making themselves feel good about themselves.

And now that they have wrapped themselves in the cloak of idealism, those same people now want to write the obituary for idealism. Sorry, Charlie, but idealism is not dead, as both a political philosophy and a foreign policy tool. It certainly is dead as long as it still lies in Bush’s hands. But to suggest that another leader could not come along and use it effectively is nonsense. Indeed, in the hands of someone who opposed the Iraq invasion, it can be a very useful tool.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
mk has just said everything he’s every going to say about any debate...

You’re dumb...

So there...
Which is why, the majority of the time, I simply skip his comments.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Unlike whoever you’re trying to stereotype, I went in with eyes wide open. I knew it was going to be difficult, and that didn’t change my opinion, nor does it change my opinion now.

The decision to take Saddams regime out was correct, is correct, and will always be correct, no matter what the execution of "nation building" after accopmlishing that goal results in.

The decision to leave Iraq a better place is also the correct policy. Letting it fall into complete chaos wouldn’t help our national security one bit.

"Predicting" that the aftermath would be a difficult task, is about as usefull as predicting that an American team is going to win the World Series. IE not very usefull. In fact, many who predicted such an outcome were hoping for said outcome, and practically creaming in their pants at every chance to paint any efforts as a fiasco/qaugmire. Heck 2 weeks into the fighting we heard that, and it wasn’t a usefull prediction, nor was it true.
We have difficult work to do in Iraq.

The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.
This was the promise made by the President, and we ought to keep it.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
Which is why, the majority of the time, I simply skip his comments.
I have been far more correct in my predictions about Iraq than you have ever been. That’s a fact. You know it. I know it. No wonder you skip my commments.
"Predicting" that the aftermath would be a difficult task, is about as usefull as predicting that an American team is going to win the World Series. IE not very usefull. In fact, many who predicted such an outcome were hoping for said outcome, and practically creaming in their pants at every chance to paint any efforts as a fiasco/qaugmire. Heck 2 weeks into the fighting we heard that, and it wasn’t a usefull prediction, nor was it true.
This statement is idiotic. Predicting what our occupation would be like is not very useful? What? This doesn’t even make sense. Of course planning for the occupation would have been useful.

As for hoping for said outcome, well, that’s like saying I hope I grow old and my hair grows grey and my skin gets wrinkled, because I predict that is what will happen. Again, it’s simply idiotic.

Those of us who understood even a little about the Middle East saw this coming. Scowcroft did. James Baker did. Bush 41 did. This is not a partican issue. It is a factual issue. People like you obviously didn’t have a clue about the Middle East or what you are talking about.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
And if we do withdraw as described and opt for "stability" as our future foreign policy choice, will that really give us peace or security in the future?
"Stability" is a false choice. Unless you consider a current, chronic level of instability to be "stable" there’s no real continuity....just a slow decay that will lead us into more trouble, or lead more trouble to us.





 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Bush has single-handedly turned the world into the least safe it has been in my lifetime
Yeah, 9/11 was HIS fault. The NoKos didn’t want nukes unitl Bush insulted them.

Cretin.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Bush has single-handedly turned the world into the least safe it has been in my lifetime...
Yeah, the Cuban Missle crisis can’t hold a candle to the current situation...

Of course, you know that idiot Raygun wanted to get the Soviets into a nuclear war, everyone said so at the time. He’s such a failure for not living up to expectations.

Geez. With statements like the above there’s no use arguing.

In the 42 years I’ve been living, this world has not known one year without conflict somewhere in the world.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
I have been far more correct in my predictions about Iraq than you have ever been. That’s a fact. You know it. I know it. No wonder you skip my commments.
I never cease to be amazed by the inability of some war hawks to admit that this has gone horribly wrong compared to the predictions and expectations even as late as early 2005. That’s post-modern political discourse: if you don’t admit an error, one doesn’t exist. If you spin things and control the discourse, then reality can be ignored. People can always pick and choose evidence and interpretations to fit their biases, but in the case of the Iraq war it gets taken to an extreme. But Vietnam revisionists are trying to say that war could have been won too...I guess the only thing to do is try to focus on truth in both education and political discourse, and let the spinmeisters avoid cognitive dissonance at all costs.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Bush has single-handedly turned the world into the least safe it has been in my lifetime...
Interesting claim. Clearly a thermonuclear war between the USSR and the US (which was possible in my lifetime) would do far more damage to the world and the US than even a WMD terror attack. In fact, I think both sides are wrong when they stress the level of danger we face — terror attacks are unlikely and usually hit a small population. There isn’t a lot al qaeda could do to truly harm the US in the long term — the real danger is if out of fear we undertake policies which undercut our values and cause us to do things which weaken and hurt ourselves. It’s looking more and more like Iraq is an example of each of these, and we have to learn quickly so that we don’t react in more self-defeating ways.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"But Vietnam revisionists are trying to say that war could have been won too"

Vietnam could never have been won, as the US was too rife with treasonous socialists who undermined the war effort. We were doomed to lose, no matter what, as the Left (funded by the KGB) were actively working to make us lose.

We will lose Iraq for the same reason. Shame on Bush for not understading that the media, universities and congress are rotten to the core. Shame on Bush for bluffing that the US isn’t a weak, pathetic nation that deservies sharia law and the burka. We are. And we will get what we deserve. Most of all, shame on all hawks who blindly thought the Left wouldn’t sell us out. We deserve what we get.
 
Written By: T
URL: http://
Scott: Are you willing to bet the population of New York or LA that there isn’t a risk of a terrorist suitcase bomb? I bet you will, if you are democrat, if it helps you scratch out a few more seats in the House.
 
Written By: T
URL: http://
terror attacks are unlikely and usually hit a small population. There isn’t a lot al qaeda could do to truly harm the US in the long term — the real danger is if out of fear we undertake policies which undercut our values and cause us to do things which weaken and hurt ourselves
If only those silly geese working in WTC 1 and WTC2 only know that the real enemy was fear (mongered by the evil Bushco for oil profits I imagine)they wouldn’t have had to jump out of those windows would they?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
shark: Why do you expect an "anti-war" person to be bothered about mass murder? They have been shilling for mass-murderers for the last 100 years, do you really think they will suddenly stop because you ask them to?
 
Written By: T
URL: http://
shark: Why do you expect an "anti-war" person to be bothered about mass murder?
Blood spilled doesn’t really count unless the U.S. (and a Republican specifically) is doing it. Same thing with the S.E. Asia purges really. Cambodia had enough human skulls to use as the national currency but who on the left cared?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Cambodia had enough human skulls to use as the national currency but who on the left cared?
None of them. They (led by Chomsky) were too busy with the denial of the act. And when it was beyond denial, blamed it on the US. typical and timeless
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
terror attacks are unlikely and usually hit a small population. There isn’t a lot al qaeda could do to truly harm the US in the long term
That’s a relief. I was always worried that someone I loved might die, but now I can sleep easier.

Thanks.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Sorry, Charlie, but idealism is not dead, as both a political philosophy and a foreign policy tool. It certainly is dead as long as it still lies in Bush’s hands. But to suggest that another leader could not come along and use it effectively is nonsense. Indeed, in the hands of someone who opposed the Iraq invasion, it can be a very useful tool.

Written By: mkultra
You really are stupid aren’t you? So if a Democrat believes in nation building and spreading Democracy, its ok, but if Bush does it its stupid.
Remember this, IF we cut and run, and Iraq becomes a sectarian bloodbath, (no its not that bad right now). We will lose ALL creditability for a generation or more and a Democrat president will not be able to change that.

We would see many former allies, cut their losses and make their own private deals with the Jihadists.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
Scott: Are you willing to bet the population of New York or LA that there isn’t a risk of a terrorist suitcase bomb? I bet you will, if you are democrat, if it helps you scratch out a few more seats in the House.
An odd question — what exactly am I betting? Certainly the war in Iraq doesn’t make us any safer from a terrorist suitcase bomb. In fact, the resources being spent there could be put into more effective counter-terrorism efforts. It appears to me that the current administration is courting danger by engaging in a rather pointless war. Saddam was gone three years ago.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
If only those silly geese working in WTC 1 and WTC2 only know that the real enemy was fear (mongered by the evil Bushco for oil profits I imagine)they wouldn’t have had to jump out of those windows would they?
Our weapons have killed more innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq than were killed on 9-11. We’ve destroyed far more territory. There is a bizarre double standard at play. When we lose lives and get hit once, it’s like the sky fell. But when we do it to other people, well, it doesn’t matter.

Don’t you wonder why we’re so unpopular amongst Iraqis, especially the youth according to the recently released poll? 9-11 was minor compared to the damage we’ve unleashed on Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Of those wars, only Afghanistan seems to be defensible as protecting national security and being waged with just cause.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
That’s a relief. I was always worried that someone I loved might die, but now I can sleep easier.

Thanks.
No problem. The odds of you or your loved ones dying in a car accident or from illness are far, far, greater than that they might die in a terrorist attack. Many Americans were so taken by the spectacle and the visuals of 9-11 that they lost perspective.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
In the 42 years I’ve been living, this world has not known one year without conflict somewhere in the world.
Well MK has led a very sheltered life. Blinders were installed at birth apparently.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Nothing but trolls here, eh?

The promotion of democracy isn’t dead. Leftists will not cheer, as D’s mocking dialogue itself suggests, the re-imposition of dictatorship in Iraq. However, we will take soft dictatorship and the lack of anarchic daily massacres over "democracy" and 5000 deaths a month. Why? Because the people in Iraq, we think, would also prefer it. The moral perspective is the one that doesn’t shove good ideas down the throats of foreigners with so much force that said good ideas make gaping exit wounds out the back side. One promotes them in a relatively pain-free manner, so as not to discredit them as they are currently being discredited.

Why didn’t we choose, if we needed a democracy object lesson so badly after 9/11, to start with nations who are our genuine allies? We have a lot of leverage over them, and probably could have forced significant change on their systems *without* war. Why not bring democracy as a gift to non-violent Arab religious radicals, conditioned a freeze-out of Al-Quiada?

And if we had to overthrow Saddamn, it would have been enough to blow the top off the old order without sticking around to dictate the new one. If we had organized elections in one month after Saddamn fell and then withdrawn troops completely - let the government stand or fall on popular support, like it ought to - we would not have been morally responsible for what I think would have been a less violent outcome.

Rarely do you enlighten a foreign country by meddling in its violent conflicts with your own violence.

I"m sorry I can’t do justice here to the McQ’s implied question "what is the fate of democracy in the world after Iraq?" which is an important one with some serious danger signs.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Our weapons have killed more innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq than were killed on 9-11. We’ve destroyed far more territory. There is a bizarre double standard at play. When we lose lives and get hit once, it’s like the sky fell. But when we do it to other people, well, it doesn’t matter.

Don’t you wonder why we’re so unpopular amongst Iraqis, especially the youth according to the recently released poll? 9-11 was minor compared to the damage we’ve unleashed on Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Of those wars, only Afghanistan seems to be defensible as protecting national security and being waged with just cause
God bless Moral Equivalence. It allows you to avoid the hard questions, doesn’t it?
Many Americans were so taken by the spectacle and the visuals of 9-11 that they lost perspective
Between the 2 quotes I see here, the only one with the lost perspective is you.
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
You really are stupid aren’t you? So if a Democrat believes in nation building and spreading Democracy, its ok, but if Bush does it its stupid.
Remember this, IF we cut and run, and Iraq becomes a sectarian bloodbath, (no its not that bad right now). We will lose ALL creditability for a generation or more and a Democrat president will not be able to change that.

We would see many former allies, cut their losses and make their own private deals with the Jihadists.
That’s not what I said. Here is what I said:
Idealism can be a useful tool - it’s one of the best weapons we have. When it used by smart politicians who know what they are doing. Kennedy used it. Reagan did too. Bush tried to use it, but he is dumb (and, as one of our diplomats just said, arrogant), and therefore he misused it.
Reagan was a Republican.

We will lose more credibility if we stay. There is a civil war going on that we are making no attempt to stop. So which side are we on? The Shia? Then the Sunnis hate us. The Sunnis? Then the Shia hate us. The time is now to get out and quit taking sides an an intra-Muslim fight. It’s a lose-lose propostiion for the United States.

The only reason wingers want to stay is that leaving Iraq would be politically damaging to the Republican party. Everybody understand this. I know, in your heart, you do too. If you can form a sentence, you know it’s true.

American soldiers should not have to die for the good of the GOP.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Is that, in fact, where we want to be in the near future? Is that reason enough in your estimation to attempt to see Iraq thorough to some modicum of democratic success?

And if we do withdraw as described and opt for "stability" as our future foreign policy choice, will that really give us peace or security in the future?
The last question Bruce asks, is, I think the most telling.

What you’re asking, in reality, is if a policy of ’containment’ works toward the desired goal of peace... and the answer from history all too often, is no, it does not. Germany and Japan stand out as history’s most glaring examples. Even, more recently, North Korea demonstrated that it doesn’t work in the long term. (What were we fighting, in Korea in the 50’s and since, but a war of containment? We see the results of that effort, today)

And further, perhaps the question should be raised, which of those currently calling for such a policy are ready to embrace all that policy demands, such as a MAD policy involving nuclear weaponry? If I recall rightly, those on the left... oddly... the same group now waving the ’containment’ flag, were the same group that in the 60’s through the 80’s were arguing against our even having the tools used to contain such regimes.

The answer, as we all know, is no they would not have the stomach for it. That phrase is not chosen lightly; that’s been the problem all along.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
The situation is a bit more complex than Hanson asserts, at least from a realist perspective. One fact that Americans need to understand is that we cannot bring democracy to the Mideast. Yet the Mideast is undergoing a transition driven by globalization and expanding media access which ultimately undercuts the long term stability of authoritarian rule. This is a concern to realists, witness the problems caused by support for the Shah; if there is a major change in Saudi politics, we risk being harmed by our long support for the current regime.

Moreover, we have to understand that our modernism is really a secularized Christian tradition, built on a foundation created in the Middle Ages when Greek philosophy meshed with Christian thought. While modern secularists want to often deny that heritage, it is a part of how we think and what we think. Islamic culture will develop/modernize in different ways, and that’s a path we cannot shape or force, but perhaps support. The challenge for realists is to recognize our long term security rests on assuring that we are not seen as having been the enablers of regimes doomed to the ashbin of history, even while at the same time we are clearly unable to force our notions of democracy into the region. This further illustrates the need to open a relationship with Iran, and avoid situations like Iraq where we’re hated by the very youth who may benefit in the future by having Saddam gone. International Relations can be driven by idealistic goals, but without a strong dose of realism it leads to collassol failure — something Kennedy and Johnson learned when they tried to implement their "grand design," and we’re now relearning.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
First of all, why the heck has my comment from earlier in the comment thread apparently re-appeared now towards the end? Weird. But I want to respond to this:
What you’re asking, in reality, is if a policy of ’containment’ works toward the desired goal of peace... and the answer from history all too often, is no, it does not. Germany and Japan stand out as history’s most glaring examples. Even, more recently, North Korea demonstrated that it doesn’t work in the long term. (What were we fighting, in Korea in the 50’s and since, but a war of containment? We see the results of that effort, today)

And further, perhaps the question should be raised, which of those currently calling for such a policy are ready to embrace all that policy demands, such as a MAD policy involving nuclear weaponry? If I recall rightly, those on the left... oddly... the same group now waving the ’containment’ flag, were the same group that in the 60’s through the 80’s were arguing against our even having the tools used to contain such regimes.
Where to begin... Containment works under certain conditions. Japan and Germany were major world powers with the capacity of regional conquest. North Korea clearly is not, nor is Iran. They can be contained because they are relatively weak. Even Iran with some nuclear weapons has limited capacity to act. Yet, despite their relative weakness, Iran does have the capacity to inflict damage if they are attacked, especially economic damage. Moreover, if Iraq is difficult, Iran would be ten times as difficult to deal with militarily. Containment is the only feasible option for Iran, and the Bush administration has already recognized that there are limited options with North Korea (and their response has been pretty good there, I give them credit for a realistic North Korea policy).

The mainstream left, by the way, never argued for unilateral disarmament, and in fact Kennedy argued that Eisenhower had been soft on Communism, and Carter agreed to the missile modernization program implemented by Reagan. There was general bipartisanship in the Cold War.

But if you don’t want to contain Iran, what is your option — invade? The sad thing about the Iraq war is that it revealed fundamental weaknesses in American power. Everyone knows the military is overstretched, the public divided, and that a sustained insurgency is effective against a superpower (lessons that should have been learned from Afghanistan and Vietnam).

Another problem is people viewing everything through some weird left-right partisan lens — that is a disease that has hit a lot of people who identify with each "side." That kind of thinking leads only to rationalization of pre-existing positions, and doesn’t allow the creative and necessary discussion and dialogue to deal with the real, serious problems facing the country. That right-left partisanship is emotion-driven, we need more reason.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
We will lose more credibility if we stay. There is a civil war going on that we are making no attempt to stop. So which side are we on? The Shia? Then the Sunnis hate us. The Sunnis? Then the Shia hate us. The time is now to get out and quit taking sides an an intra-Muslim fight. It’s a lose-lose propostiion for the United States.
No, taking sides is a win-lose propostion. Back the Shia win their friendship, but lose the Sunni and vice versa. If Bush can pick the winning side (doubtful) and sticks with them (very doubtful) then you can help shape the peace of the victors - like you did in S.Korea, Chile, Nicuraugua, Philipines, Palestine.

It is only staying the course or leaving that are lose-lose. Stay the course and be neutral, everybody dislikes you. Leave and you will be officially blamed for all the violence (including the massive bloodbath that is almost certain* to happen when you leave) whenever the Islamist who wins the sectarian war needs to find a villian to blame.



* Tends to happen that a portion of the losing side is punished - executions, exile or internment common practice.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
No, taking sides is a win-lose propostion. Back the Shia win their friendship, but lose the Sunni and vice versa. If Bush can pick the winning side (doubtful) and sticks with them (very doubtful) then you can help shape the peace of the victors - like you did in S.Korea, Chile, Nicuraugua, Philipines, Palestine.

It is only staying the course or leaving that are lose-lose. Stay the course and be neutral, everybody dislikes you. Leave and you will be officially blamed for all the violence (including the massive bloodbath that is almost certain* to happen when you leave) whenever the Islamist who wins the sectarian war needs to find a villian to blame.
"Win-lose: (as opposed to "lose-lose")assumes that the winning side would show gratitude toward the United States. If you believe that, you are beyond naive. It’s lose-lose for the US; the victors won’t credit us and the losers will of course hate us.

Do you really think the Iranians, and the Iraqi Shia, who have benefitted most from our occupation, will ever thank us for invading, occupying, or leaving? Are you kidding? What about Hezbollah? Think they care what we do? Our invasion and occupation of Iraq has strengthened the hardliners in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.

Likewise, let’s assume the far more remote possibility: the Sunnis prevail. First, the odds of this outcome are basically nil. Second, because our invasion is so widely perceived as benefitting the Iranians, and displacing a Sunni regime, no matter what the United States does or does not do, Sunnis will continue to view us with suspicion, if not animosity. And lest we forget, Al Qaeda is Sunni, though not exclusively Arab.

The bottom line? We must get out of Iraq. What would happen if we did?

The Shia would brutally, but rather swiftly, impose order. It would be harsh, and nasty. But to be frank, it would quickly end any possibility that AQ would or could use Iraq as a base or training ground. The Shia would never allow AQ to continue to remain in Iraq. Nor would Iran. And they would not be hesitant to kill as many Sunnis as necessary.

The key is the Iranians. They are embedded in the Iraqi government. They would make short work of the Sunni insurgency. Iraq will become an Islamic Republic very similar to, but somewhat different from, Iran. Count on it.

It does not matter when we leave; 1, 2 or 3 or 6 years. When we leave, this is what will happen.



 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
"Win-lose: (as opposed to "lose-lose")assumes that the winning side would show gratitude toward the United States. If you believe that, you are beyond naive. It’s lose-lose for the US; the victors won’t credit us and the losers will of course hate us.
Think of it as a dealer-junkie relationship, not as a friendship born out of gratitude.

To win their conflict one Arab religious group needs to be better armed and supplied than the other. Everyone knows Uncle Sam supplies the bestest weapons and has biggest piles of cash. So the favored side is going to be real friendly whilst they need this support to win. Later the aftermath of this coming sectarian war is likely to be messy, it will have consequences. The winner is going to end up ruling Iraq (less what bits the Kurds take) and on one of their borders they are going to have a group of vanquished foes plotting to seek revenge, meaning they will need more guns and support (and aid) with again America being the best placed to provide. Furthermore they are even going to have p*ssed off their religious kin, by shunning the local (Shia Iranian/Sunni Gulf) support in favour of Americas the Iraqis buy themselves yet more enemies to be held off by American protection.

The junkie will be hooked for life, the dealer gets paid in oil money and much happiness ensues.


In the absence of American supply the Iranians (the most powerful local power) do become central, but only then.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
The mainstream left, by the way, never argued for unilateral disarmament,
The mainstream left of the day, perhaps. But let’s remember, that the mainstream left of the day is all but gone from the Democratic party of today. The radicals of that day were chanting "ban the bomb". Those same radicals are the ones that are in charge of the party today. And there the ones that are getting lambasted by their own radicals of today for not being anti-war enough, despite not having changed their positions over the years.
But if you don’t want to contain Iran, what is your option — invade?
You got it. First time, too.
Everyone knows the military is overstretched,
Who is ’everyone’, Scott? Are you so strapped for support for your position that you must resrt to the bandwagon?
the public divided
Yeah, well, the left rides again.

Another problem is people viewing everything through some weird left-right partisan lens
Something which Democrats didn’t see as a problem until they lost power. Now they’re all about ’bipartisanship’, which is loosely defined as ’agreeing with Democrats"

Sorry, Scott, we’ve heard this all before.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
". The odds of you or your loved ones dying in a car accident or from illness are far, far, greater than that they might die in a terrorist attack"

The failure to distiguish from "Acts of God" from "Cold Blooded Murder." I encourage all of you to read Scott’s statement about why the US will fail. Our nation is doomed. We are a "moral relative" nation now, deprived of any morality or reason to exist.

Scott and the Left advocate immediate unconditional surrender. They obviously don’t care about my head being chopped off, but do they care about theirs?
 
Written By: We already lost
URL: http://
The mainstream left of the day, perhaps. But let’s remember, that the mainstream left of the day is all but gone from the Democratic party of today.
I see you’ve fallen for the Orwellian tactic of giving your opponents a collective identity and demonizing them. You are an example of what’s wrong with this country. Luckily most conservatives and most Republicans don’t think like you, most recognize that people in both parties want what’s best for the country, and that disagreement is good. (And, by the way, I’m voting Republican for the Senate, Democrat for the House, and Independent for Governor)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
". The odds of you or your loved ones dying in a car accident or from illness are far, far, greater than that they might die in a terrorist attack"

The failure to distiguish from "Acts of God" from "Cold Blooded Murder." I encourage all of you to read Scott’s statement about why the US will fail. Our nation is doomed. We are a "moral relative" nation now, deprived of any morality or reason to exist.

Scott and the Left advocate immediate unconditional surrender. They obviously don’t care about my head being chopped off, but do they care about theirs?
You need a lesson in reading comprehension. The post was about people being worried about their loved ones dying. I noted, and you did not refute, that such worry was not rational in comparison to other potential causes, and that the level of fear is also not rational given the odds of a terror strike. Instead you go off on an hysterical rant about our nation being doomed because you fantasize that there is no distinction between acts of god and murder.

You make up bizarre fantasies about alleged ’moral relativism’ with no basis except your imagination. You entertain bizarre fantasies about me supposedly advocating unconditional surrender. Either you have trouble reading, or you are dishonest. Perhaps you realize that real, rational discussion based on reason would force you to give up wild emotionalism that allows you to feel self-righteous while demonizing those who disagree with you? Yours is a strange delusion.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Another problem is people viewing everything through some weird left-right partisan lens — that is a disease that has hit a lot of people who identify with each "side." That kind of thinking leads only to rationalization of pre-existing positions, and doesn’t allow the creative and necessary discussion and dialogue to deal with the real, serious problems facing the country. That right-left partisanship is emotion-driven, we need more reason
Yeah! The kind of "reason" that says since our military operations in response to 9/11 have killed more than 3,000 people, we should stop otherwise we’re the ones who are wrong!

Scott, I don’t think you should be lecturing anyone about needing more reason...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
American soldiers should not have to die for the good of the GOP.
I thought it was for Halliburton and Big Oil? Now it’s for the GOP? Get your facts straight man!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
It’s completely rational to fear murder over acts of god. One is a preventable ane evil action by a human agency, the other is bad luck. Scott is being completely dishonest and irrational about this fact. It is why people lock their doors at night, even though the the "odds" are they will die of heart disese instead of murder. His fundemental misunderstading of statistical theory is only too common, and his distortions and lack of moral sense is why the US will probably be destroyed within our lifetime (which will probably be shorted significatnly in areas doomed to nuclear explosion). It is sad that his retarded common sense may lead to the death of thousands.
 
Written By: Tet, Part Deux
URL: http://
Yeah! The kind of "reason" that says since our military operations in response to 9/11 have killed more than 3,000 people, we should stop otherwise we’re the ones who are wrong!

Scott, I don’t think you should be lecturing anyone about needing more reason...
I would certainly never make the argument that being right or wrong depends only on the number killed. I do think we need to be honest and recognize that just as we get angry when we’re attacked, our buildings destroyed, and our children and civilians killed, so will they. I think we also need to recognize that we can’t look at our wars as abstractions with good intent and efforts to avoid hitting civilians as enough to whitewash the consequences of our choices.

None of that says that the choice can’t be made, or that we’re wrong just because innocents day. But so far people seem to want to run as far as they can from acknowledging these truths — instead they do as you did, and try to caricature the argument.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
It’s completely rational to fear murder over acts of god. One is a preventable ane evil action by a human agency, the other is bad luck. Scott is being completely dishonest and irrational about this fact. It is why people lock their doors at night, even though the the "odds" are they will die of heart disese instead of murder. His fundemental misunderstading of statistical theory is only too common, and his distortions and lack of moral sense is why the US will probably be destroyed within our lifetime (which will probably be shorted significatnly in areas doomed to nuclear explosion). It is sad that his retarded common sense may lead to the death of thousands.
Your insult "completely dishonest and irrational" is over the top, and suggests you know you’re developing a bad argument.

Rational fear is based on probability. Clearly it is rational to what is possible to lower the probability of an event happening. That doesn’t mean you fear it more. So you lock your door at night, perhaps you take medication to protect your health (heart disease is in our era mostly a preventable woe), and undertake rational choices.

Back in the 90s, before 9-11, I remember always thinking about the possibility of nuclear terror attacks whenever I visited New York and DC (and I was in DC frequently). When I travel abroad, or take trips with students abroad, I think about the possibility. I tell students that they should not fear this, the odds are very low of an attack, and for their individual life choices, it’s not something they can prevent or alter the statistical probability unless they simply choose to stay home. That, I argue, is irrational because life is full of rational risks, that’s part of what makes it worth living.

Now, you hurl insults like ’retarded common sense’ and the like, but you don’t really make an argument at all. You make statements that seem almost chicken little like, that the US will be destroyed and the like. It is as if fear has you in its grip. I think you’ve lost perspective.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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