Archive Logo.jpg

April 01, 2004

Zac, here's an answer to one of your long ones...

Zac, who came to Castle Argghhh! via the discussions over at She Who Will Be Obeyed (I think, anyway) and I have been having an amicable chat over our differences in word-view. Rather than keep it buried in the comments, I thought I would drag at least part of it out into the light of day. Zac has more time to write than I do at the moment - so, Zac, don't feel slighted if I don't get to everything you write to this level of response!

Cut me some slack, too, readers. This originally started out as a response to a comment, and isn't neccessarily as polished as I would like it to be - but I didn't want to lose the moment, either.

With all those spineless caveats, here we go, Zac's comments are the blockquotes:

I agree with your friend partly. I think these wars are additional wars. I don't think all of those Iraqis currently committing terrorism, were terrorists to begin with. In that way, I think it's self-defeating to have gone into Iraq. But now that we are there, I agree we can't just cut and run.

(Pedantic Mode) I disagree, on technical grounds. And I fault the administration and the media for there being a disagreement between us on this simply because neither are truly accurately portraying what's going on. Afghanistan and Iraq are not two different wars. The problem is that people perceive them to be (and therein lies my gripe with the administration and the media - for allowing/fostering that perception). They are two campaigns in a larger war, and should be viewed as such. Even as you and I debate this, there are other operations on-going in the intel/SOF realm that continue the war in yet another campaign. That does not mean that further activity will be of the large-scale expeditionary nature - and this one has borne fruit, good and bad, like it or not. Libya is one such instance. Syria is trying to get on our good side (I suspect mostly in appearances, but there is still leverage there) and even North Korea has taken note that at least under this President, the US will ACT, instead of act. Like it or not, much of what has happened in the last couple of years is due to the feckless response of Bush senior and Clinton - by giving the perception of weakness. (/Pedantic Mode)

I disagree that Kerry is going to do that. I also disagree that he'd sell the US down the river, sell us out to the UN. I see it like this: he's going to engage the UN and the world community, offload some of the burden in Iraq onto them.

That's no different from what the Bush administration has been trying to do for months.

After Kerry gets his classified briefings, you may be right. And you are correct that the Bush administration is trying to offload some of the burden. My problem with Kerry is that he will seek permission to act in the interests of the US, and not act if he does not get that permission. I'm all for building coalitions. If you want to play, join. If you want to influence the decision-making, join. If you don't want to, fine. But the fact that Germany and France don't want to be involved does not mean that I am going to give them the right to say that I can't go do something that I percieve to be in my best interest. We can certainly founder on this issue - you can ask the question, "How is that different from a criminal deciding to rob the bank, "In his own best interest" against the wishes of society. The answer to that question lies in the discussion of motives and outcomes. Many on the left argue the whole thing is about oil, and we therefore are not any different. I disagree, but that comes down to the polarization you allude to later in your comment when you say "For better or worse, a lot of country's leadership and citizenry can't stand Bush. " Okay. So what? I can't stand Dominique de Villepin or Gerhard Schroeder, either. So, I'm wrong? (For the record, I have lived among the French and Germans, for many years. I was born in Germany, and have spent almost 20 years overseas in my life thus far). There are also many governments and citizens who like George Bush. Neither fact alone gives them the right to veto US actions. As for the UN? That's a whole different rant, with a part of that discussion being a treatise on confusing democratic forms with actual liberty. Just because people vote, doesn't make it free. Lots of elections held in the old USSR, for example. The UN is perhaps more accurately termed the United Governments, as it is a body comprised of representatives of governments. No problem with that, the state of the world and technology is such now that it would be unwieldy for it to be any other way. But - how many of the governments therein are truly representative of their peoples? How many governments there hold their position at home through their armies? How many of those governments want to see change like we felt needed in Iraq and Afghanistan - unless they themselves felt threatened by the nations in question? The data analyzed so far on the Food For Oil program is not favorable to the argument of the UN as an executive agency. Nor has the UN's record in Peace Keeping been all that good, either, absent a willingness on both sides to keep the peace. So, when it comes to issues of direct US interests, I'm all for asking all of 'em for help, but if they don't want to, and can't provide any better answer than "Because!" or that isn't obviously tilted by their own-self interest, then I say, "Hasta la vista, baby!" and let's move on. Does that mean we'll be right? No, but just because they disagree doesn't mean they'll be right, either.

?Just because Kerry's brand of politics is more acceptable to the world community than Bush's, it doesn't follow that Kerry would be selling us out. It means we gain a lot of new potential allies. It means the allies we do have may be more enthusiastic and pliable.

True. Except I think that Kerry will let them tell us what to do in the large sense. Like Clinton did in many respects. He'll throw a few missiles around, so he can look like he's done something, but he won't make any really major move that doesn't have everybody's buy-in. That response is what got us to 9/11 in the first place. There's no doubt we could be better at playing well with others, but as often as not, that just gets us paying someone else's bill. As in Kosovo. Why did we have to take care of that mess? Why not the Europeans leading the charge with us in support? Instead, it was the other way around, with them barely in support, but wanting to vet everything (read Clark's book on the war). Reality is, those nations aren't going to act (well, not true, France will act in her former colonies without UN permission) when they know they can get "Mikey" to do it.

For better or worse, a lot of country's leadership and citizenry can't stand Bush. They find him arrogant. Bush burned his bridges with some key allies. Kerry will get a better response from those allies in whatever he tries to do.

Um, aside from a "So what?, I find the French and Germans to be arrogant." Going along to get along isn't what Presidents are paid to do. They are paid to lead. That means deciding where we ought to go, and then convincing the rest of us to follow. If we disagree, they lose their job. That is what Bush has done, and I concede he may lose his job because he hasn't necessarily done a good job of explaining why we should go where he wants us to. I still prefer that to a poll-driven President who is so needy for the validation of the job that he does whatever it takes to keep it. Clinton's huge flaw and greatest damage to his 'legacy' is that he didn't have the courage of his convictions. He wanted to hold on to the job so badly that he didn't lead - he just ran to the front of wherever the polls told him the mob was heading and said, "Follow me!". That's not leading. Leading is where you tell the mob where you think they should head, and get them to follow you there. And, if you can't do that, then you aren't the right guy. The Congress, especially the House, is where the passions of the people are meant to be represented and expressed and influence policy. The job of President is to lead, to draw the people where he feels they should be headed. And if he can't do that, if he just runs to the front of the mob, then they shouldn't have the job. That's Kerry to me. I lived through 8 years of no leadership, just aimless bumping in search of adulation, and I'm not interested in it again. I want a Man for All Season, not a Man for Any Reason.

Now, you can call that "butt-kissing" but I think we gain more than we lose.

Cut me some slack here. It's a blog, not a scholarly journal, so I get to engage in some hyperbole. But, as I have expressed earlier, it's butt-kissing when you reflexively, rather than reflectively, kow-tow to the other guy's opinion. I don't see Kerry acting reflectively in that regard.

Kerry will work at expanding the circle of countries we can enlist in the war on terrorism. Recall this is what Bush did after 9-11, before he became belligerent and "go it alone" starting later in 2002 leading up to the Iraq effort. I don't think that was necessary. Just my pinion, "freedom fries" not withstanding.

Feh on Freedom Fries. That was pointless and silly. Shoulda just called 'em fries. Kerry will go back to the law enforcement model that those other countries are comfortable with and which resulted in 9/11, but I believe with no mailed fist inside the velvet glove.

What makes you think Bush isn't doing that now anyway? Iraq overshadows the news - but that doesn't mean we aren't also pursuing the LE model as well. And the fact that we have shown we're serious about this has probably gotten us more support. I don't think we've lost support in that regard, and despite the rhetoric of the Spanish government, I suspect they are all over helping us deal with that.