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July 10, 2005

My Homework Assignment...

[Editor's note: This post will remain up top for today, and maybe tomorrow, because it *is* a homework assignment, and Hugh Hewitt linked to the webpage, not a specific post (because it didn't exist yet) and people are coming from Hewitt's to the top of the blog. Sooo, until Hugh gets a link up to the post proper, new content will come in below this. New visitors - welcome, and feel free to poke around!]

Once again, I had to open my mouth and call Hugh Hewitt while listening to his conversation with Tom Oliphant of the Boston Glob (no, I didn't misspell that).

What I ended up with was a homework assignment from my favorite Con Law prof/talkshow host. As luck would have it, I'm on the road, in between careers (quitting the old, starting a new) and houses (selling the old, moving into the new). I've just spent 12 hours on the road, it's 10 minutes to midnight and I have a long day of driving ahead tomorrow, so this is a rush job.

Any incoherence is mine and mine alone, and for that I sincerely apologize in advance...enjoy!

The Boston Globe's Tom Oliphant spends most of the hour with Hugh on the War on Terror.

Spread this one far and wide, folks. Tom is not a rabid twit of a lefty, using Hugh's new definition. He's wrong, but he's not insane. This is the view of the left in America today. Go forth and dissect:

HH: For a different take, now, on the war against terror, joined by Tom Oliphant, who is a columnist for the Boston Globe. Long time columnist there, as well as a frequent participant on the PBS News Hour. Yesterday, a guest on Air America. Today, a guest on Hugh Hewitt. Tom, you've covered the waterfront of talk radio in two days.

TO: Can I get the rest of the week off after this?

HH: You're pretty tired. You've run the lap. Thank you for making some time for us. I listened to the Air America interview yesterday with great interest. And at the end of it, you said that the idea that we're making progress in the War on Terror is bunkem. Why do you say that?

TO: Well, you know, 9/11 often gets compared, with good reason, to Pearl Harbor. A combination of hideous sneak attack and wake-up call. It certainly was that.

That's about where the comparison's aptness ends. It's accurate and pithy, like a good reporter's work should be. At this point, however, he should have stopped and waited for the next question. Alas, he wanders into Clauzewitz's garden and falls down the well…

What ought to trouble more Americans, however, is that at the same distance from Pearl Harbor, in the 1940's, we had won the war.

This begs the question, “And, therefore…what?” A classic apples-to-oranges comparison that so many on the left engage in, especially when it comes to the application of military power--a subject they find, well, icky, and thus rarely take the opportunity to study.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Islamo-fascists, their tactics and capabilities present a somewhat different problem than Imperial Japan or Nazi Germany. I won't insult everyone's intelligence by going into details, like the asymmetry in conventional capabilities, the sheer sizes of the target sets, the relative reluctance of both sides to target civilians as a matter of policy (although the residents of London, Tokyo and Dresden may vehemently disagree), and something Tom may not have even thought about-uniforms.

Readily identifiable combatants sort of simplifies your firing solution. But ones that dress like civilians and are probably long-time residents among their target societies, ones who specifically target non-combatants…and do it on every major continent…might take a little longer to subdue.

So, that temporal strawman probably has most of Hugh's military listeners' eyes twitching like Herbert Lom's in the Pink Panther movies. The sheer idiocy of the statement makes us nuts.

We're involved in a much more difficult, longer-term struggle now.

So…he just rendered inapplicable his previous comparison…

But it is very hard to see the gains. In the four years, almost, since 9/11, there has been at least one major Al Qaeda-connected or inspired event per year. The hideous nightclub bombing in Bali, the attack on the resort in Kenya, Madrid, and now London, before we count casualties in Iraq and from somewhat smaller incidents around the world. The willingness of terrorists to do this sort of thing, does not appear yet to have been matched by our ability to defeat them, or to defuse the broader problems out of which terrorism emerges.

If by defeat, Oliphant means “prevent every attack,” that is an obviously impossible goal…but it does help paint current US policy as “failed.”

By this standard, no police force, fire department or emergency medical response organization in the world can declare success, ever. At least not as long as crimes are committed, fires destroy property and lives, and people don't survive medical emergencies. But let's ask a question: If the Chief of Police in any major city in the US…check that--let's say of our capital city...successfully reduces the murder rate in Washington by 50%, would Mr. Oliphant consider this news?

Or, more specifically, good news?

News worth acknowledging in print?

I think he might.

Maybe not, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

Well, the number of bombings in Baghdad--one of our central battle fronts in the physical and political war on terror--have done just that. I won't hold my breath waiting for Brian Williams or Tom Oliphant or Daniel Schorr or [pick your favorite MSM pundit/journalist] to let us know about it.

This brings up another point: The Left will always insist on defining success in terms no opposition Administration (or ANY Administration for that matter) could attain. And, if something happens that irrefutably demonstrates success (the first Iraqi elections come to mind,) it will be grudgingly acknowledged for one day, then studiously ignored, and finally overshadowed by some other “disaster,” real or imagined, usually the latter. What's really revolting to watch is the mad scramble to uncover that thing that diverts the American peoples' attention from the successes we are enjoying on a daily basis.

HH: Now, of course, it's a good thing that the United States has not been attacked. That's progress, correct?

TO: Could I try and divide your point in half, and agree completely with the first point.

Well, thank God, for that, Tom…sheesh…

Of course it's a good thing that the U.S. hasn't been attacked. And at least a few incidents, some of which, for good reason, we haven't heard about, it's because of the actions of our government. But I'm not sure that that's progress, because if you see the war against terror as President Bush originally defined it, international, you're either with us in this thing or you're not, and we have a willingness to fight it anywhere we find it, in order to reduce the danger to our own country, that's where I have a little trouble seeing major progress.

At this point, Hugh ticks off a list of successes that are a kind of “on-the-fly Fisking” of Oliphant's just-stated general premise…

HH: Let me throw a couple more at you. The camps in Afghanistan are no longer training jihadists by the tens of thousands, correct? It's good they're gone, right?

TO: Absolutely. It's not only good, it's wonderful.

HH: Is it a good thing that Libya has given up its nuclear ambitions, and turned over their chemical and biological facilities and arsenals to us.

TO: Hugh, you're talking to somebody who would go even further than that. Again, it's great, and I have written that so much progress has been made with Libya, as a result of a process going back, by the way, several years, that it's ridiculous that Libya continues to be officially listed as a terrorist supporting nation.

This one was like fingernails on a blackboard to me--it sounded like he was doing all he could to give the Clinton Administration some retroactive credit in the current war on terror while at the same time castigating Bush for not giving Qaddafi a friendly pat of the fanny and an “All is forgiven” a nanosecond after we get the old rogue to lay down his arms--something he did only because he was staring down the barrel of The Cowboy's .44.

Again, Bush is so…icky…in his willingness to intimidate monsters.

Meanwhile his predecessor's more “nuanced” approach, like Albright's US/PRnK State Dinner toasts to the Dear Leader in Pyongyang, etc., etc., must have had some positive effect on the Libyan dictator's decision to get rid of his WMD programs?

Please.

HH: So those are a couple of big wins.

TO: Huge wins, but let me try to balance that, to get people to think more.

You just heard one of the most effective weapons in the Left's rhetorical arsenal: the “B word.”

“…but…”

There's always the “but.”

I think...I don't think, I know from talking to American officials, that it is an operating assumption, though not one talked about very much, that on 9/11 itself, the leadership, if you want to call if that, of Al Qaeda, that was based in Afghanistan, realized instantly that not only had everything changed for the developed world, everything had changed for them, too. That we were going to come after them, that some kind of invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was inevitable, that life as they had known it would cease to exist also.

Frankly, I think he overestimated al Qaeda's appreciation for the magnitude of America's response. Bin Laden believes the West is a paper tiger, at best. He may have changed his mind but I don't think he changed it for long (See: Spain's reaction to the Madrid bombings).

And I just think that in the years since, terrorists have done as good, and sometimes a better job of adapting than we have.

[Insert my version of the “Howard Dean Scream” here]…This was another vein-popper for me. Look, I have made my share of jokes about my sister service members' mental agility (to say nothing of my own). But, lemme tell you something--our Army and Marine Corps combat, combat support, combat service support, active duty, Guard and Reserve soldiers and their leaders have, for the most part shown a flexibility, adaptability, creativity and operational agility that makes the Borg Collective look like a bunch of pikers. They have been friggin' awesome in their responsiveness to the needs on the ground and brilliant in coming up with innovative solutions tailored to their surroundings. If I had any criticism of the Administration in this regard, I'd say they haven't given the military a free enough rein in country.

Again, Oliphant's statement was more illustrative of his view of American military people--probably thinking they're mostly poor, minority schmoes who are just there for the pay and benefits. It is a normal (sadly) gross underestimation of our warrior citizens' capabilities and talents that are intrinsic in the populations of free societies. Our British comrades are further cases in point in this regard.

I may be wrong, and I'm sure Mr. Oliphant would deny it…vehemently…but I've overheard too many of these folks talk about our troops in this way that I think he just can't help himself. It may even be subconscious, but it colors his understanding of who and what we are and is applied to his estimation of how the war must be going.

HH: Again, I just look at body totals. I look at very simple things in a rather sort of plain fashion of saying how many people are they killing, and where are they nesting, and how many refuges have been denied them? And now I want to come to the hardest nut of all. Do you think it's a good thing that Saddam has been removed from power?

TO: Oh, I think it's absolutely fantastic, and was one of those weird people who supported the invasion, even though I was a skeptic from the beginning, about unconventional weapons on Iraqi soil. What a tiny minority of us objected to, was such a poorly planned, and carried out, invasion and then occupation.

Last sentence (another “Dean Scream” from me)…wait a minute--we conducted the fastest, least costly take-down of a country in modern history, against the seventh-largest heavy armor army in the world, and this is a “poorly planned, and carried out, invasion…”?? Gaaaahhhh!

We beat those bastards like a drum, even when they were using women and children as human shields in firefights, running around in something other than regular uniforms and basically wiping their bottoms with the Laws of War handbook.

On the contrary, what we did reinforces my point about our people in uniform. They can think on the fly, they fight like tigers and they bend over backwards to show restraint in the face of repugnant foes. There is, I swear, a special place in Heaven for those who haven't made it.

As for the occupation, I defy Mr. Oliphant to name one that hasn't been a bugger's muddle, at least at first.

Dateline Germany, 1945-46: German local leaders trying to rebuild their war-torn nation are being assassinated by the Werewolves, an organized terror group made up of former SS and other unsavories that had help rule that country for almost two decades.

Occupation is HARD. Get over it. Our greatest weapon is patience. It is also present in the smallest quantities in most Americans' genetic makeup. It has been surgically removed from 99.9% of freshmen in America's mainstream journalism schools.

HH: Well, we can disagree on that, but that's a different thing, because when you talked to Franken yesterday, what I was really surprised by, was your comment that we don't know what motivated the killers in London yesterday. Was it...and you speculated that it might have been the invasion of Iraq. Do you think...

TO: No, my lack of knowledge doesn't go to motivation, so much, which after all, until we know who they are, we don't know anything about motivation.

Eh?!? Hasn't this guy read ANY Bernard Lewis?

And in terms of defending our country and our interests, I frankly don't care that much about another person's motivation if he's trying to kill me. I'm much more interested in stopping him.

Bollocks. You're beside yourself in trying to figure out his motivation…that's the Left's basic worldview and what generates this navel-gazing about why the whole thing, from 9/11 on, is as much our fault as it is al Qaeda's.

HH: But yesterday, you said were they inspired by the American occupation in Iraq, the Middle East...

TO: Yea, that question is one that has perplexed American officials at the highest levels, in the last 36 hours, and I'll tell you why. You will notice that there is a new phrase in the bureaucratic language about terrorism. We used to use Al Qaeda routinely to cover just about everything. Now, there's a difference between what we call Al Qaeda-connected, and Al Qaeda-inspired. And it's the latter that troubles American officials, who operate in counter-terrorism situations, and it ought to trouble all Americans in my view.

HH: Well, it should. You know, Lawrence Wright wrote this magnificent piece. Have you read it in the New Yorker?

TO: Yes, indeed he did.

HH: And the Madrid cell, of course, was Al Qaeda, but it was never directly connected to Al Qaeda. And as Paul Wolfowitz once said in a lecture I attended, they don't have membership cards. But do you really think that that bombing would not have happened yesterday...is there a chance in your mind, that it wouldn't have happened yesterday, had we not invaded Iraq?

TO: Yes, I think there is.

HH: Explain that for me, because I find that amazing.

TO: Well, because the...I don't want to bore anybody with a long history of Al Qaeda's emergence, along with bin Laden and Al Zahawi. But this kind of terrorism grew out of at least two or three strains. One of them was the fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which trained a lot of rather radical people in the instruments of guerilla warfare and then terrorism. The American military presence in the Middle East, during and following the first Persian Gulf War, is another strain.

HH: Okay, we've to wait for the third strain until after the break.

---

HH: I do want to, though, truncate the history, since this audience knows the history of Al Qaeda very, very well, to how you think the War in Iraq could possibly have made terrorism, international terrorism worse.

TO: Well, what's new about what we continue to call Al Qaeda, and I'll accept it if you view it as a kind of loose federation or umbrella source of inspiration. What troubles American officials that I talk to, is the emergence, the steady emergence, of new recruits. Now, they're coming for a variety of reasons, from a variety of places, for a variety of reasons. I think those most motivated by the U.S. occupation of Iraq, are trying to go to Iraq. But it's not by any means, the sole reason that people who are operating in this area, are discovering. Some of them are familiar reasons. The continued stalemate between the Palestinians and the Israelis, the American military presence, not just in Iraq, but more broadly in the region. But what ought to be troubling all of us, regardless of the reason, is that this new kind of Al Qaeda-inspired terrorism is occurring. Madrid may be my favorite example for the moment.

HH: But can I interrupt you for a moment?

TO: Anytime you want.

HH: The thing that my friend Lileks likes to point out, and Mark Steyn likes to point out, is let's give them credit for what they say. And when Osama writes, or Zarqawi orates, they say they are driven by a vision of Islam, which is their duty, that it's not dependent on us. It goes back to the exile of the Moors from Spain, that they are on a jihad that has very little to do with what we do or don't do, whether we go to Iraq or don't go to Iraq. They're killers, Tom. And they're going to kill us unless we kill them first.

TO: Well, yes, but that clearly doesn't explain either the people we are looking for, or the people we already have in captivity.

Say what? It explains it very well. Just go read bin Laden himself, or better yet the Egyptian Safalist Sayyad Qutb, or the tenets of Wahhabism. Give. Them. Credit. For. What. They. Say.

HH: Well, now, let's debate that. What about the shoe bomber? That clearly explains the shoe bomber who was going to blow up our plane before we ever, you know, looked the wrong way at Iraq.

TO: Well, as I said, there are threads out of which Al Qaeda emerged in the early 1990's, or possibly even the late 80's, that have absolutely nothing to do with Iraq. But there are some that do. And what bothers me, just as an American, forget lefty for a minute, is that there appears to be a continuing stream of recruits in international terrorism. And what troubles me specifically about the bombings in London yesterday, is that despite the evidence of considerable planning and coordination, possibly even movement across international borders, neither British MI5, nor the American intelligence community, after nearly four years, appears to have picked any sign of it. And that means, to me, that we are in danger of falling behind in the intelligence game...

HH: But Tom, we've heard Blair and Bush, completely independent, say it's a matter of time. It's inevitable. Rumsfeld, it's inevitable we will be hit again. Sort of like you give the flu vaccine to a million people. A number of them are still going to die of the flu. The idea is that we are defending forward, and you know the roach motel is set up in Iraq, and the roaches are going there, and there may be a few, marginally few more recruits, but the dangers that Saddam posed by being a state sponsor, just as the Taliban was a state sponsor, are just too...far too greater than to allow them to go on that way.

TO: Well again, possibly...maybe the problem we have here is apples and oranges. When Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, that was one set of facts. There appear to have been, at least according to the American intelligence community, something like 50,000 plus people who in some way, went through the training facilities there, and scattered around the world. Well since that time, there has been roughly an equal number of people who have begun forming cells that are more inspired by Al Qaeda, than connected to it. And that's why I think what happened in Madrid, and in London yesterday, is especially troubling. Because you mentioned body counts at the beginning of our conversation. And to me, it's as horrible if five hundred people die in ten incidents over the next six months, as it is if five hundred people die by happenstance in one incident.

War is bad. Not fighting an enemy bent on your destruction is worse. Our casualties have been remarkably light, even when you factor in 9/11. That horror was made even more stark by its target--non-combatant innocents--but our losses could have been far worse, and may yet be, should terror-supporting states succeed in developing and providing WMDs to Islamofascist elements.

HH: I'll come back if you'll stick with me, Tom.

TO: Sure.

HH: I'll come back and carry on this conversation.

---

HH: Tom, let me give you a theory here. The west, maybe we can agree on this. The west slept through the early viral years of Islamist fanaticism.

TO: No question.

HH: And as a result, it went from a few bands of isolated jihadists, to a worldwide movement, headquarters Kabul. And it got followers throughout western Europe, and it had followers throughout the Middle East, and we slept through the transfer in Palestine of a secular political movement that was vicious and violent, into one that had a religious inspired counterpart in Hamas. And that that went viral on us as well. And then after 9/11, we woke up collectively. Forget the partisanship. And now the question is what do we do when it's gone viral around world? And what I am distressed by, is that the left seems more interested in bleeding Bush than in killing terrorists.

TO: Well, on that last point, Hugh, I represent a minority that would agree with you. I think every sentence spent on President Bush is wasted breath. And it doesn't unite the country, but much more importantly, it doesn't solve the problem. And what I wish my friends on the left would do more of, is talk about the present and the future in very specific ways, designed to get this right. A classic example is in intelligence. I believe that something is not quite right, nearly four years after 9/11, and that we all need, regardless of party, to examine this structure that's emerged in the last few years, much more carefully, to understand better why it is not really working yet.

HH: But now, they had the 9/11 Commission, and we had the Intelligence Commission, and all but one of their recommendations have been adopted, so we'll see about that.

TO: That's true of the latter, but not of the former. I believe the batting average of the 9/11 Commission is slightly under 50% at this point.

HH: But as to the intelligence community, it's not.

TO: Well, actually, the way I read the statute that was actually enacted, I think there were so many fudges and compromises, that the typical senior U.S. intelligence official is still pretty confused about the bureaucratic relationships.

Welcome to politics.

HH: All right. I want to play something for you, because I think this gets to the heart of the problem. This is an exchange between Ron Reagan and Christopher Hitchens, partial, earlier today. I want to talk to you about it as soon as you hear it.

CH: Do you know nothing about the subject at all? Do you wonder how Mr. Zarqawi got there under the rule of Saddam Hussein? Have you ever heard of Abu Nidal?

RR: Well, I'm following the lead of the 9/11 Commission, which...

CH: Have you ever heard of Abu Nidal, the most wanted man in the world, who was sheltered in Baghdad? The man who pushed Leon Klinghoffer off the boat, was sheltered by Saddam Hussein. The man who blew up the World Trade Center in 1993 was sheltered by Saddam Hussein, and you have the nerve to say that terrorism is caused by resisting it? And by deposing governments that endorse it? ... At this stage, after what happened in London yesterday?...

RR: Zarqawi is not an envoy of Saddam Hussein, either.

CH: Excuse me. When I went to interview Abu Nidal, then the most wanted terrorist in the world, in Baghdad, he was operating out of an Iraqi government office. He was an arm of the Iraqi State, while being the most wanted man in the world. The same is true of the shelter and safe house offered by the Iraqi government, to the murderers of Leon Klinghoffer, and to Mr. Yassin, who mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. How can you know so little about this, and be occupying a chair at the time that you do?

HH: Tom Oliphant, my point in playing that is...Ron Reagan's a twit. I don't expect you to defend him or attack him or anything like that. I just...I am confused by the left's refusal to look the problem in the eye, which is that there are literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jihadists who would kill us if they could. And it leads to this questions. If the folks in London yesterday, the killers, not folks, had had weapons of mass destruction, would they have used them?

TO: My assumption is that the weapon of choice was high explosives with low poundage.

HH: But if they had had, for example, radioactive material with which to make a dirty bomb or a biological agent like anthrax, do you think they would have used them in the course of doing this?

TO: Not necessarily, because what we're not understanding is the choices that are being made inside terrorist cells today. I understand theories and generalizations. But I think when the rubber meets the road, you're encountering real terrorists with very specific plans. There's no question in my mind that you're right, that many of the people involved in international terrorism would gladly used a weapon of mass destruction if they had one at their fingertips. What ought to disturb us, because it is going on right now, it that there appears to be a trend toward the selection of soft targets, and the acceptance of casualties, forty, fifty, is a major event to them now. And if this trend gets further established, the loss of life is going to be substantial over time.

HH: But catastrophic, not. I mean, we lost...

TO: Oh, excuse me. This is what I mean...

HH: Now wait...

TO: When you start getting into body counts...

HH: Tom, time out. There is a difference between 3,000 in the World Trade Center and yes, the fifty yesterday. And the fact is...

TO: But Hugh, that's not my point. My point is that if yesterday is replicated ten times over the next six months, the numbers eventually add up.

HH: But it will still be five hundred, not three thousand. My point is, and it's the one I never see the left confront, they will kill millions if they can. They will take a nuke to New York if they can. Doesn't that mean we have to take the action necessary to cut off the possibility of that?

TO: Well, and it makes our failure to all the more horrible.

HH: But you're agreeing with me. We have to.

TO: But again, I am focused, as I say, I recognize that politically, I'm a minority in my own world, just as some of my friends on the right are a minority in theirs.

HH: But Tom, it's not about you. It's not about me. It's about what does the country do?

TO: It's called solve the problem instead of politicizing it. This is why on the left, our contribution right now could be to forget about terms like Bush and the Republican Party, and concentrate on making concrete suggestions to get it right, both in terms of fighting terrorism and fighting in Iraq.

HH: When we come back, I want the Tom Oliphant concrete steps on killing the beast. How do we kill this beast. I want the real concrete...do we go into Syria? Do we go after the nuclear Iranian facilities? What do we do, Tom Oliphant, because it's not enough to say we've got to get serious. I want to know what the left thinks we ought to do, and you're a great spokesperson for it.

---

HH: Tom, I want to thank you a) for coming and staying. I hope you come back. I hope you found it congenial, if tough and blunt. And now, you've got Rumsfeld and Bush in a room. You've got two and a half minutes to tell them exactly what they should do, concrete steps. Take it away, Tom Oliphant.

TO: Okay. In addition to this fresh examination of the adequacy of our intelligence efforts in the wake of Madrid and London, I think, short-term, the most important thing is to get Iraq right. I think we have to confront the possibility that we do not have forces adequate to do the job. We may need to go to NATO, the plans exist by the way, to deploy a force of a few thousand, maybe up to five thousand, along the Syrian border, to begin dealing with infiltration systematically.

There are two problems here. First, he grossly overestimates NATO's ability to field effective forces. When the Wall came down, it squashed the Warsaw Pact and most NATOtians' resolve (Britain certainly, and maybe Denmark and Holland being the exceptions).

Second, he suggests an approach I call O'Reilly's Folly--border security by sheer manpower. How long is the Syrian border with Iraq? 360 miles. Five thousand troops? That's what, maybe a Brigade-plus? A might challenging…unless we couple that with imposing unacceptable risk to those trying to cross, like instant death for a significant portion of the crossers using all means at our disposal (UAVs, mines, shoot-to-kill Rules of Engagement, international messages/warnings to potential targets, bombing the living crap out of Damascus, etc.).

I think we have to rethink our approach to reconstruction, so that we emphasize labor-intensive projects, that can reduce unemployement that is way too high in a broken country.

Oops. For a minute there, I thought he was talking about Poland (17%) or Spain (10%)

But above all, we need to listen to the people on the ground, who in contrast to the administration, describe our force structure as inadequate to maintain security over the critical next year during which the political institutions in Iraq may or may not be able to emerge.

I don't know where the Left gets this canard (other than from the usual sun-challenged place).

Too many troops defeats the transition effort in a whole host of ways (not the least of which is maintaining a sense of urgency among Iraqis that we're REALLY not going to be there forever) and brings with it logistical and other costs that make bulking up the force in-country counterproductive. Rumsfeld is NOT lying when he says, “If they want more, they'll get more.” But we don't want them.

Success in Iraq, getting it right, in my view, would have an immediate effect, though not a completely solving effect, on the wave of international terrorism that I think is threatening to get out of hand.

HH: Rumsfeld speaks up. He says what about Iran? What do we do about their nukes?

TO: We do not have the military to invade Iran or North Korea. I still believe that even with the change in government in Iran, it is possible, behind...if we did ti with Libya, we can do it with anybody.

HH: Can we bomb them?

TO: I don't think we're at that point, because I don't think their nuclear development is at that point, either.

HH: Rumsfeld says it is, and he can prove it to you, and accept it for the moment. Do we bomb them?

TO: I don't buy that.

HH: But just accept it for the purposes of the argument. If I could prove it to you, that they're there, or they're a week away. Do we bomb them?

TO: No, because I don't believe that we're organized or we've thought through what we'd do the day after the bombing.

Nonsense! Every military option considered involves a thousand “what ifs”--and they are consciously examined. It's called “wargaming the Courses of Action.” Is it perfect? Well, of course not and, as von Moltke famously quipped, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” But we look at the fallout of those kinds of things very hard, including involving professional diplomats on the political ramifications, etc. Give us some credit, Tom.

And what we've learned in the last few years, is we haven't thought through enough this question of what we'd do the day after we satisfy our impulses.

HH: Tom, I wish you would...oh...satisfy our impulses...We're out of time, Tom. I won't...you've been such a good guest. I hope you come back. We'll get in touch with you about that.

TO: It was my pleasure, Hugh.

HH: It was a great pleasure. Satisfy our impulses?!? Ugh. It's something like that that just kills me, but I'll talk with the audience about it.

Alas, I was off the net for that last part. I would ask you, Hugh, to not get too disgusted with the “impulses” crack. That's just the way the Left thinks--Bush is a cowboy, soldiers are morons/closet psychopaths/whatever, Rumsfeld files his fangs to a sharp point every night, etc., etc., etc. Frankly, I sometimes think the New York cocktail crowd thinks Dr. Strangelove was a documentary.

Listening to that snark goes with the territory when you're trying to be an adult in an very, very, dangerous world…but I appreciate you seeing it for what it is--a cheap shot.

End of interview.

Dusty | Permalink | Comments (17) | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
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