Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It Ain't What I've Been Told

A fascinating letter to the editor appeared in this morning's local paper.

Saturday over a cup of coffee, an Investor's Business Daily editorial caught my eye.

All that I have read in most newspapers and heard on TV and radio is that President Bush has cost us our respect, and allies and our global standing has gone to pot.

"But a look at U.S. ties shows Bush to be a master diplomat who is strengthening U.S. relations all over."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown says "the world owes President Bush a debt of gratitude in leading the world in our determination to root out terrorism." I had read that when Brown came to power, our relations with Great Britain would go down the tubes.

How about President Sarkozy in France, Prime Minister Berlusconi in Italy, even Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany? They are all Bush fans. So are the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Canada. Add Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic, Romania, and Albania.

Tens of thousands cheered him in Africa. Then there are the Asian countries, the Arab states of Morocco, Jordan and Bahrain, plus India, Brazil, Chile. Even Russia and China still talk.

Of course our Democratic Congress is trying not to vote for free trade in Columbia so they will turn against us.

My question to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama and the liberal media is who is left that our president is alienating? Perhaps a few anti-American dictators! Who else?

Seems to me President Bush has done an outstanding job creating friendships by attacking terror, supporting democracy and promoting free trade.

James A. Wagner
Barrington


I haven't seen that issue of IBD, so I'll have to assume that the list is lifted from the editorial he cited. I'm sure that there are pockets of Bush bashers in each of those countries on the list. I mean, we've seen protests on the news in the past. And I doubt we're the only country with those who see only what they want to see. Also, none of this means Bush is now the best prez ever. In addition, it doesn't change the fact that world opinion, even good opinions, should NOT dictate to us our path. Perhaps I'll try to find the editorial in question. It might be online. I'd like to see it for myself. In any case, it's refreshing to hear what is likely a more reasoned observation than we are accustomed to hearing from naysayers in this country. I never bought the "world opinion" hype anyway.

UPDATE:

Note that I've corrected a point to better reflect my meaning. It's where I've italicized the word "NOT". Without that word, the entire meaning is wrong and would make me appear to be a liberal weenie. That would be unfortunate.

57 comments:

Mark said...

I get a kick out of the Libs when ever they say we have a bad reputation with other countries. I say, who cares? We are not placed on this earth to be liked. We have been placed on this earth so people who want to be free have somewhere to seek refuge.

Les said...

"I say, who cares?"

Uh, that would be the rest of the world, you egotistical narcissist. I'll agree with Art that we cannot allow our policy to be dictated by international opinion polls, but c'mon, Mark. In this modern age of globalized economy, such calloused flippancy is not only bad business, it reeks of assholery. Dude, I thought you claimed to be a Christian. You're right - we were not placed on this earth to be liked. In fact, we weren't "placed" on this earth at all. Relatively speaking, this nation is new to the game, and we'd do well to remember that. Some perspective for you:

World population: 6,600,000,000
US population: 300,000,000

Do the math. That means there's well over 6 billion people on this planet who don't call America home. Do you honestly believe casual disregard for our international neighbors is a smart move with the rise of the European Union and the arrival of new economic and military superpowers like China looming on the horizon? Could we please, for one second, turn down the Lee Greenwood CD a little and think big picture here? Have you checked your history books lately? Empires fall, my man. How do they fall? Hubris and an acute lack of foresight. Nobody likes the cocky kid playing king of the mountain. It makes for one helluva target.

blamin said...

Les,

Since we’re a relatively young nation, referred to as the great experiment, and we’ve done so unbelievably well, I think Mark makes a good point, I think you jacked into a little overkill. I took the statement “I say, who cares?” to mean us first, as in, God, family, nation. You can’t infer that means unfairly taking advantage of others, only that as with your own family, you take care of your own, first. Would you put your own child at risk just to placate a neighbor that may not understand the nuances of your families particular problems, and who may actually be coveting that which is yours?

Part of what has made us so successful is our unwillingness to copy the mistakes of the rest of the world. Our geography allows us to have a little different mindset. Many countries in Europe and Asia, living in such close proximity to enemies or potential enemies, have a subconscious affect on their mindset and actions.

I agree with your last 5 sentences or so, but you have to consider one thing. The base and often unconscious nature of human beings. Unless a country is “obviously” tramping on the human rights of others or just greedily taking by force that which they want, humans tend to respect power. On the other side of the coin, humans tend to take advantage of another’s weakness.

Now we can talk all day long about how we should act one towards another, but there will always be those who will attempt to take advantage of another’s weakness. Mollycoddling ones enemies, actual or potential, is a broadcast of weakness.

That’s why, I hope the nation of my children will always project strength and independence, while rejecting most policy which is designed to simply placate other nations. If there’s any placating to be done it damn well better have other motives.

I would add to your last few sentences as to why empires fall. I would say a sick, self-indulgent culture, which refuses to acknowledge the dangers around them have much to do with a collapse.

Les said...

I'm not sure what half of your comments had to do with mine, but nonetheless...

"I took the statement 'I say, who cares?' to mean us first, as in, God, family, nation."

I didn't. I took it to mean "I say, who cares?".

"You can’t infer that means unfairly taking advantage of others..."

I didn't. Apparently you did. Please don't infer what you think I'm inferring. Being cocky and not giving two shits about how others view us doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as taking advantage of people. It simply means there's a certain level of arrogance at work. Nobody likes an asshole, nor should they.

"Would you put your own child at risk just to placate a neighbor..."

That's an absurd piece of rhetorical rubbish to which you already know the answer, and your analogy assumes a premise I summarily reject on principle. As do the last few paragraphs of your comment. You're framing your argument to portray situations in a manner that feeds your premise, and it's pointless for me to engage you within said framework.

"I hope the nation of my children will always project strength and independence..."

As do I. Have I said otherwise?

Marshall Art said...

The question then becomes, where is the line between self-confident independence, and arrogant assholery? I think we could all agree that there is the potential to slice from one to the other (golf season's on, you know), but how far before one emits the aroma? (See what you started, Les?) And do we proceed in our confidence, or inhibit our progress, afraid of how we appear to those who are so totally different in culture and/or national interests?

I personally don't care what other countries think of us. I say that if we are acting in an honorable fashion, world opinion takes care of itself.

At the same time, doing what is honorable for whom? Of course, it must be for our own nation first, with a willingness to lend a hand every now and then. Pretty much what we do now. Trouble is, we can't count on the perceptions of our neighbors. So are we going to stick to our notion of honorable behavior whether or not other countries view honor in an entirely different manner?

From that perspective, I'd say, "who cares?" Arrogance is often in the rhetoric of the nation in the subordinate position. Doesn't mean we are arrogant.

blamin said...

Les,

It’s perfectly reasonable to use situational anecdotes to make a point or describe reasoning behind a certain sentiment.

When we observe our leaders on the global stage, promoting positions that many in this country deem dangerous to our well being, it’s logical for people to attempt to “refocus” these leaders. Saying “Who cares what they think” rolls off the tongue and more efficiently goes to the heart of the matter than saying “in the scheme of things, what they think is not (as) important as our safety, future, and the well being of this country.”

I don’t believe “Who cares” necessarily equates a feeling of arrogance.

Marshall,

Perxactly!

Les said...

"It’s perfectly reasonable to use situational anecdotes to make a point or describe reasoning behind a certain sentiment."

Agreed. But the analogy has to match. As I stated, I disagree with your premise, so the analogy doesn't fly.

Les said...

"The question then becomes, where is the line..."

Another one of those non-existent gray areas, isn't it? It's in that gray area where these kind of arguments find life.

Marshall Art said...

Oh, I don't know if it's so much a gray area type of situation as merely finding where one's attitude moves from one perspective to the other. When I think of the term, I'm thinking of a particular action being right or wrong. For discussions of morality and such, referring to gray areas fit in, whether they're real or not. Here, we're talking more about perspectives, so to use the term doesn't rankle, because there's really no right or wrong attached within the gray area wherein one moves from confidence to that notorious assholery. One can be the most gentle soul filled with confidence in his position, and still someone pushing the other argument will look upon that person as an asshole. Perspective.

I don't think it's the best idea to totally ignore the opinion's of our foreign neighbors, but to dismiss them will likely be considered arrogance simply for being rebuffed while we were only rejecting a totally unworkable or irrelevant opinion.

Les said...

"When I think of the term, I'm thinking of a particular action being right or wrong."

That's precisely the point here, Art. You're assuming the position that we're in the right on any given issue, whereas others might not see it that way. There's certainly nothing wrong with promoting the virtues of our position, but to say "who cares?" when others don't agree with our position most certainly smacks of arrogance. Let's go back to our old friend Merriam Webster:

arrogance: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions

Sounds exactly like what we're talking about here, Art, and to distance oneself from that definition in this argument strikes me as (I've waited so long to use this ridiculous term) intellectual dishonesty. Again, you, Mark, and Blamin seem to be taking the position that America's actions have been indisputably right here. You don't know that for certain. Only history can definitively judge. We're not talking about issues where I think you and I can actually agree there are absolute right and wrong positions to take. Like going to war to defeat the Third Reich. Like going to war to end slavery. Like going to war to establish OUR independence in OUR own land. No, we're talking about issues of critical international economic, political, and military importance. These issues entail actions with far-reaching consequences for more nations than just our own - nations with which we must trade in order to survive in a globalized economy, I might add - and all YOU can do is try to convince others of opinions YOU hold. When you say "who cares?" when they disagree with you, it's arrogance any way you look at it.

blamin said...

Les,

I regret my words “seem to be taking the position that America's actions have been indisputably right”. I never meant that.

I believe you realize that inevitably there comes a time when you can no longer attempt to sway every single naysayers opinion, you have to back the decision you’ve made and move forward. Take your examples of WWII, The Civil War, and the Revolutionary War. There were many very intelligent and respected people, and leaders who were vehemently against all of those wars. There came a time when the leaders of our country said in so many words, “who cares what you think” we’re doing what we believe is right; and believe me, they didn’t spend a lot of time trying to sugar coat their words! I’m not suggesting our current involvement in the Middle East is as clear cut, only that we reached a point where the decision was made and we were going to move forward.

That leads me to Marshall’s original post. It appears that world opinion is not as negative towards us as first believed. Which I suspected all along. I heard too many stories both through non-MSMedia sources and personally (I have a few friends scattered about the globe) to believe that world opinion was overwhelmingly against us. Unfortunately the whole debate over reported world opinion has to take into account the overwhelming bias of the MSM.

So what does one do with all the convoluted, conflicting opinion of other states? Just as Marshall suggested, do what we think is right, after considering and weighing the information we have.

Marshall Art said...

Regarding the definition of arrogance, I'd say that it is NOT what is going on, but merely the sour grapes response to being rebuffed. You make it sound like this:

France: "Pardon moi, USA, but we have an opinion."

USA: "Aw, who cares."


When what WE'RE saying is more like:

USA: "We've considered your opinion but it doesn't really work for us."

France: "But you must act according to our opinion or you're engaging in arrogant cowboy assholery."

USA: "What are you talking about?"

France: "You heard us mon ami."

USA: "Aw, who cares what you think."


More like that. I don't think that anyone who really cares about the welfare of our country is going to blow off a good idea or crap on sound opinion. And it's the decision of our leaders to make the call. They'll decide wrong now and again, but frankly, what is usually the case is that THEY are not thinking in our best interests, but their own.

The impetus for discussions like these are of course current events surrounding Bush's foreign policies, which the linked article suggests hasn't brought about the negative opinions of everybody in the world. In fact it ain't a bad cross-section. But for those around the world who are complaining, they, like the Democratic Party, have no real alternatives, and simply whine like Dems as well. Their opinions, like those of the Democratic Party, reflect already discredited ideas that they think will work THIS time, but if they are wrong, we're the ones paying the price. So really, who cares what THEY think?

Marshall Art said...

"...it's the decision of our leaders to make the call."

Huh?

Mark said...

Perhaps I should clarify.
I don't give a rat's patootie what some Communist, Socialist, Marxist country, or any other kind of dictatorship thinks of the USA. We may not always be right, but as long as we represent the most liberty and freedom in the world, we are never wrong. If some other country can offer us an idea that is an improvement over our Representative Republic, let them bring it on, but so far, we are the best, strongest, and most free country in the world. Until some other country can show themselves as better than us, I don't care what they think of us.

blamin said...

OohRah!

Les said...

I love this one:

"USA: 'We've considered your opinion but it doesn't really work for us.'"

Are you for real? If you honestly believe the hawks genuinely and objectively "considered" anyone's opinions other than their own, then I've got a bridge to sell you. Why? Because the hawks are like you three - they're absolutely convinced they've been right from the outset, and no amount of debate would have convinced them otherwise. Bush set the tone for his administration's war agenda when, less than a month after 9/11 and with Jacques Chirac standing right next to him, he famously said the following:

"Over time it's going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity. You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror."

Oh. How nice. Nothing like unleashing a veiled threat right out of the gate. "Play ball or else" doesn't really sound too inviting to me, guys. Everybody might as well have stepped aside right then and there, 'cause he obviously had everything all figured out already, right?

Please. Bush "considered" other opinions just about as much as Apollo Creed "considered" his corner's advice to stay away from Rocky Balboa in the final round. How's THAT for an analogy, Blamin?

Marshall Art said...

"If you honestly believe the hawks genuinely and objectively "considered" anyone's opinions other than their own, then I've got a bridge to sell you."

No. Actually, I believe our leaders, hawks or otherwise, decided on a course of action following the murder of 3000 unsuspecting fellow citizens and acted. There was no opinion from anywhere beyond, "That's the wrong move!" but no real alternative suggestion. More diplomacy? Been there, done that as far as Iraq for the last 12 years. Thus, not an alternative. So we got the whining and bullshit anti-war protests from those who are more concerned with calling Bush & Co. "chickenhawks" than with dealing with a real threat. Some think we can talk with Islamofascist scumbags. They're not even smart enough to be called dreamers. Others think Global Warming is more a threat than another group of scumbags trying to top 9/11. They're pathetic liars.

As to Bush's words while standing with the French loser, the point was, and still is, that this is a world concern and not just some mere vendetta of some cowboy mentality. If a country wants to sit on the sidelines and let other countries make the ultimate sacrifice, that country could pay by being considered last in any subsequent international dealing and that would be the price they pay for inaction. Those who understand the stakes and join the fight are the true friends of this country. They will continue to benefit by or come to realize the benefits of int'l relations with us.

Les said...

"...a course of action..."

And it's the specifics of that course of action that are - and have been since the beginning - in dispute. You and I have gone back and forth on this numerous times ourselves. As I stated, it seemed clear that Bush and Co. had only one plan in mind in the new war against terror, and everyone else's opinions meant squat. Hence the problem.

Marshall Art said...

Les,

Two things:

First, perhaps you could list which opinion(s) of our foreign neighbors carried with it an alternative course that was worth two shits, and

Secondly, why the rejection of those alternatives automatically implies arrogance on our part. When it is determined, nevermind for now if there are legitimate objections, that the chosen course must be enacted, labelling that determination to be arrogance is in itself arrogance as the objector believes himself superior in intellect without true evidence for believing so, but rather for an unfounded belief regarding the character of Bush & Co. It is then that we say, not arrogantly, but dismissively, that is, dismissive of baseless objections, "who cares"?

Mark said...

Arrogance can sometimes be a good thing. Sometimes arrogance is the catalyst for doing things while others are still thinking about it.

It takes balls sometimes to act instead of sit around and complain. That's arrogance that is a good thing.

Les said...

"There was no opinion from anywhere beyond, 'That's the wrong move!' but no real alternative suggestion."

Art, I swear to God - if I hear one more variation of the "Nobody offered alternatives!" complaint from you, my fucking head is going to explode. How many times do we have to go over this? I'll try to summarize the position I've had since Day 1 in two sentences so it's easier for you to remember moving forward:

Instead of base-building and conventional warfare tactics targeted at nation-states, invest those resources into intelligence-building and special ops. Politically, offer alternative economic incentives to encourage continued participation from those allies of ours who otherwise stood to lose money with Hussein's ouster.

Do you honestly believe Europe wouldn't have agreed to something similar on their end? Do you really think they were never willing to offer military manpower in some capacity in the days immediately following 9/11? Here's what your favorite villain Chirac had to say about the Afghanistan mission:

"The ultimate responsibility of any political official...is to ensure the safety of his people, and that is exactly what President Bush is doing, what I am doing. In this spirit, we talked about military operations, about French support, about the political actions we must take to establish in Afghanistan all the trappings of a modern state."

Here's what Germany's Schroeder, facing a mountain of criticism from the Greens due to his offer to send German troops to Afghanistan, had to say:

"Curbing international terrorism demands great efforts and staying course for the long haul. We have a common interest to bring the military operation to a speedy and successful conclusion. I am certain that this success is not only necessary, but achievable."

Let's stop pretending like Europe never made a good faith effort to help in the war against terrorism, shall we? You guys know as well as I that the sticking point has been and will continue to be the Iraq mission. Once that decision was made, Bush had ZERO interest in hearing other opinions, and you know it. THAT'S the arrogance in play here, Mark. There's an acute refusal to admit that maybe, just maybe, this whole hullubaloo isn't necessary to battle terrorism. This, however, is the strategy that Bush wanted, and it's the strategy he's gonna stick with, everyone else be damned.

Blamin, I'm gonna use your own argument against you for a sec. You said the following:

"Many countries in Europe and Asia, living in such close proximity to enemies or potential enemies, have a subconscious affect on their mindset and actions."

EXACTLY. So why not choose a strategy that might be a safer bet for those we're trying to recruit to our cause? After all, THEY'RE the ones who have to live with barbarians at the gate - barbarians who are none too pleased that a western force is setting up camp in the homeland. Kinda nice having an ocean in between us, isn't it? Unfortunately, Europe doesn't have that luxury.

Les said...

And by the way, you suck for making me defend the French, Art.

Marshall Art said...

Les,

If we were arrogant, then thirty-something nations who went with us were arrogant, too. Schroeder and Chirac? Put Merkel and Sarkozy in their place and we're likely not having this discussion. I'd say it's arrogant for two countries (three, if you count Russia) to hold up the show. It wasn't arrogance, it was Bush, in concert with about thirty of his international friends, all deciding this was the best course of action at the time.

You've given us YOUR alternatives, but none of those of the negative world opinion.

blamin said...

Les,

Re my Europe/Asia statement you said:

”EXACTLY. So why not choose a strategy that might be a safer bet for those we're trying to recruit to our cause?…”

WWII would seem to suggest a reason why not to rely too heavily on their opinions. A perfect example of not doing enough for fear of offending your neighbors. Then FDR almost waited to long because so many in this country were against our involvement. If he hadn’t basically said, “who cares what you think” and started supplying the Russians, there’s no telling what may have happened. What an arrogant a-hole!

Special Ops (SO) and economic incentives? No doubt something good could have been achieved, but the shear scale of special ops needed to achieve any kind of long-term goal would have made it extremely difficult. I believe intelligence gathering and SO are more difficult within Muslim countries than anywhere else in the world. It would only be a matter of time before somebody would get caught with their pants down. The Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi, or some government would declare it an act of war, with support from the UN no doubt, and the leaders of other countries on that continent would start wringing their hands, leaving us with less and more difficult options and probably less support than when this war started.

But it’s pure speculation. I find it hard to believe that what you’ve suggested wasn’t considered.

Les said...

Let's get something straight:

"You've given us YOUR alternatives, but none of those of the negative world opinion."

I'm not entirely sure why you're looking for alternatives that were provided by international sources. How is that relevant? This argument has been about the nature of our disregard for the OPINIONS of those allies of ours who opposed the Iraq war. Specifically, the opinion that we shouldn't invade Iraq. We're not arguing about tactical suggestions that may or may not have been made by Frenchie McFrench or Der Chancellor. I never made such a claim, although said suggestions could just as easily have fallen into this category.

That being said, with the newly-christened War on Terror inherently being a US-led endeavor by virtue of our response to 9/11, it was the responsibility of the United States to form a plan and sell it to the rest of the free world, NOT the other way around. As I illustrated in my previous comment, even Chirac and Schroeder expressed their willingness to offer military support to the cause immediately following 9/11. At that particular stage in the game, the War on Terror did not yet include the Battle for Babylon, and the leadership of "Old Europe" (thanks Rummy) was still on board with us. Only when the objective clearly morphed into the overthrow of the Iraqi regime did they back out and voice their opposition. That was the critical moment when the line was drawn in the proverbial sand - both here and abroad. It became clear all too quickly that it was Iraq or bust for the Bush administration, and those of us with alternative solutions were either slapped with the obstructionist label or, even worse, branded as un-patriotic. Frankly, I'm not surprised you don't remember other suggestions, Art. With all the flag-waving, yellow ribbons, and "Never Forget" bumper stickers everywhere, opinions that didn't jive with those of the White House were mostly ignored or outright scoffed at. You keep asking me where the alternatives were? I'll tell you where at least one could have been found if you'd have been listening. That would be General Wesley Clark. While I can't say I agree with some of his pre-war stances on Iraq, I gotta tell ya - much of what he had to say was dead on. Here's a couple snippets from late 2002:

"Clark is concerned with the lack of a long-range plan for the chaos that would ensue among the Kurds, Shiites, and those factions loyal to Saddam Hussein, which he believes would play out on a much larger scale than what took place in Bosnia."

Yup.

"After the war, establishing a Western-style democracy in an Arab police state such as Iraq would be problematic. We likely would have thousands of soldiers tied down and billions of dollars committed in post-war reconstruction."

Yup.

"Unilateral U.S. action today would disrupt the war against al-Qaeda, supercharge anti-American sentiment in the Middle East and Europe, undercut international cooperation and shake up moderate Arab governments."

Yup.

And here's the part that's relevant to our conversation:

"Rather than unilaterally attack Iraq now, we should refine the war against al-Qaeda by:

* Strengthening cooperation with allies, forging common standards for evidence and definitions of crimes and enhancing the exchange of in-depth information.
* Training more police and investigators around the world so they can detect al-Qaeda operatives and bring them to justice.
* Increasing U.S. assistance to countries and to non-governmental organizations to alleviate the miseries of underdevelopment and strengthen democracy."

Sounds like an alternative to me, Art, and while it doesn't match verbatim the objectives I outlined above, it was close enough to win my vote in the 2004 Wisconsin presidential primary. General Clark is far from perfect, but nobody's EVER going to be 100%. Sometimes you just gotta prioritize your issues and run with it.

"...thirty-something nations..."

Ah, yes. The vaunted "Coalition of the Willing". Of roughly 200 countries in the world, nearly 50 supported the invasion. (Only four actually provided troops, but who's counting?) That's lower than Bush's current approval rating. Not exactly a resounding international mandate, if you ask me.

"...but the shear scale..."

Which is why it can't just be us, Blamin. As General Clark suggested 5 years ago, this has to be an international effort at all levels - not simply that of the conventional military. Unfortunately, it's kinda hard to get your allies to cooperate when you've either ignored their vested economic interests or simply shrugged them off altogether.

Marshall Art said...

So fighting against this foe is simply a matter of money? That is what your final paragraph suggests.

So were was Wes during the time between Bush I and Bush II? What was going on at the time? As I recall, it was a lot of people only talking about the threat of an unchecked Hussein (this during the time of so-called "containment") but doing nothing at all resembling the ideas of those like Clark. So the twelve or so years between were perfect for an asshole to play games while moving toward his goals. Bush felt, and I agree, the time for talk and negotiation were long over. We know now better than then just how much Hussein supported the enemies after whom we took off. That made him one of them.

As to the "willing", I agree they could have been more willing than they've shown themselves to be, but my point was that it was the same group who joined us in the first war, minus those you've mentioned plus Russia. Thus, we were, minus those countries, every bit as multi-lateral as before in the sense that we did have their support in one form or other.

We've discussed you ideas about SO and such way back at the Museum. Back then I mentioned that I thought regular troops were still required for the very public representation of our attitude toward the scum that they are. To even lose as a result of SO operations can still be distorted publicly. Several thousand troops in country lets everyone know where we stand, and who we believe to be the bad guy. I would also add that our intel agencies have been wanting for some time and that too much time to repair would be time spent being jerkwads by Hussein and other scumbags. Not a good idea.

I don't know why you want to believe that any who disagree with us must be right, must be listened to, must provoke ourselves to risk while we consider their own self-interest motivated concerns. The decision to move was correct, in my opinion, even if the execution left a little to be desired. Asswipes don't wait until you are perfectly ready to act.

Les said...

"So fighting against this foe is simply a matter of money?"

Of course that's not all, but let's be honest - money ALWAYS matters, wouldn't you agree? It's the grease that keeps the wheels turning, and sometimes you just gotta be pragmatic about things and do what you gotta do to make sure your team keeps all the high priced players on board, in a manner of speaking. Not quite a perfect comparison, but hopefully you get my point. Basically, sometimes you just gotta sweeten the deal. You scratch our back, we'll scratch yours, so to speak. It's the way of the world, my man.

"So were was Wes during the time between Bush I and Bush II?"

C'mon. You know full well what General Clark was doing during the 90's. If I recall, that was another favorite topic of ours over at the Museum.

"...regular troops were still required for the very public representation of our attitude toward the scum that they are."

I guess this is one of the key ingredients of our fundamental disagreement about the Iraq mission. Unlike yourself, I believe the presence of a massive military force setting up camp for the long haul in the very heart of Muslim territory provides exactly the kind of recruitment fodder that bad guys like al-Qaeda are looking for. I think the scum you mentioned are already well aware of our attitude toward them.

"I would also add that our intel agencies have been wanting for some time and that too much time to repair would be time spent being jerkwads by Hussein and other scumbags."

I agree 100% about our intelligence agencies, and they're improvement is one of the primary staples of the long-term strategy I endorse. I disagree, however, with the second half of your statement. I believe the imminence of any threats we faced immediately following 9/11 was overstated to encourage support for the war agenda, and quite honestly, can you think of a better time to get to work on shoring up our intelligence? The damage had already been done. They got their shot in. We had some time to start getting our shit together and rethink our approach to national security in the modern world.

"...minus those you've mentioned plus Russia."

And "those" I mentioned are exponentially more powerful internationally than they were back in the first Gulf War. Again, the modern global economy has changed the rules of the game, and as much as that sucks, we have to be mindful of that in our decision-making process. It's a new world out there, and we MUST be willing to adapt. Not surrender our ability to lead, mind you, but we have to be able to adapt.

"I don't know why you want to believe that any who disagree with us must be right..."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I didn't say that. And let's be careful with the use of the word "us" in this context. While I've also used "us" to mean "America" (which I think you're doing here), it doesn't quite work in your sentence, because there are a few different positions represented by this particular "us". You and I have starkly different opinions on strategy, but we're both Americans, right? Just wanted to be clear on that. It's not disagreement simply for the sake of disagreement here. There's actual thought put into both sides of the coin here, as our years-long debate has proven.

Dan Trabue said...

Late to the game, but let me just note that this fella sounds pretty naive and uninformed.

Of course our Democratic Congress is trying not to vote for free trade in Columbia so they will turn against us.

? The people in these nations HATE the agreements as they're written. They've cost jobs, lost farms, lost businesses, etc.

From what I've read from THE PEOPLE of latin American countries, as well as friends who live/have lived in some of them (Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala), the folks of these countries would like legitimate FAIR trade arrangements with the US, but the FTAs as they are written are for the benefit of corporations.

At benefiting corporations, these FTAs have done a fairly good job.

At benefiting the peoples of the Americas, they have stunk. And people know it.

That's just on the Latin American front. This writer is similarly uninformed about the rest of the world, it would seem.

Mark said...

"At benefiting corporations, these FTAs have done a fairly good job.

At benefiting the peoples of the Americas, they have stunk. And people know it."

I don't know. Seems to me Corporations employ PEOPLE. How else are they going earn a decent living in South America?

Oh, yes, that's right. The wealthiest South Americans are the drug dealers and the dictators.

Perhaps if we can help all the people in Latin America become drug dealers and dictators they wont need corporations.

Dan Trabue said...

How's that NAFTA working out for the employees of the US, there Mark? Pretty well, huh? After all, corporations hire PEOPLE, right?

Dan Trabue said...

You can look no further than today's news here to see that Bush is "THE MOST UNPOPULAR PRESIDENT IN MODERN HISTORY" but I guess you're thinking maybe he's more popular in the rest of the world than here?

Don't bet your home on it.

Dan Trabue said...

...well, there WAS a news story at that link about Bush.

Here are the lead paragraphs:

WASHINGTON DC (CNN) -- A new poll suggests that President Bush is the most unpopular president in modern American history.


A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Thursday indicates that 71 percent of the American public disapprove of how Bush is handling his job as president.

"No president has ever had a higher disapproval rating in any CNN or Gallup Poll; in fact, this is the first time that any president's disapproval rating has cracked the 70 percent mark," said Keating Holland, CNN's polling director.

blamin said...

I guess Dan; I’d be interested in why these people gave him an unfavorable rating – could it have anything to do with perceptions?

I for one don’t necessarily want my president trying to win a popularity contest.

“Polls” are relatively new (compared with the very short history of our country).

I’m curious, what do you suppose Lincoln’s “popularity” rating was right after Fredericksburg?

Marshall Art said...

Truman's approval ratings sucked pretty loudly as well. Around 27% as I recall from the book of the same name. He's looked upon a bit differently now. I believe history will treat Dubya well when it's all said and done.

Dan Trabue said...

Again, Marshall, don't bet your house on it.

And blamin, I certainly agree I don't want a president whose trying to be popular and liked.

But when 70+% of Americans don't approve of the job you're doing, when a great majority of the world think your policies are horrendous, that ought to give one pause. NOT because we "want to be liked," but because SOMETIMES when people are continuously opposed to your policies, it could be that YOU are wrong and the People are right.

blamin said...

Let’s see…the current legislative branch of our government has approx. an 87% unpopularity rating.

Dan Trabue said...

As a whole. Look at any one representative and that is not true.

Still, the country as a whole thinks we are on the wrong path (again, about 70%), and I concur.

Congress has largely neglected its role as a check against the powers of the president. Shame on them for that.

hashfanatic said...

"I believe history will treat Dubya well when it's all said and done."

Would that be before or after the entire Bush Crime Family is relaxing in sunny Paraguay, his dope dealers have all come forward, and Jeff Gannon writes his first book?

Fools, fools, fools.

Marshall Art said...

Did I hear a fart? I'm sorry, that was Hash. Again with the crime family crap and no support for it whatsoever.

Dan,

A major flaw in your comment is in regards to what the world thinks of our policies. Sorry. They don't count. We can't wait around for countries concerned with their own self interests to give us approval for what we feel is in OUR best interests. In addition, too many in THIS country have bought into the comic book fables of the evil Bush administration foisted upon them by leftist buffoons with no real ability to do any better, and are simply looking to unseat the current prez to put in one of their own. Any outlandish story will do. 70% of the population and for damn sure a good portion of them have NOT been paying attention.

But years from now many of those same 70% will look back with a different perspective and realize they judged wrongly.

Dan Trabue said...

So, 70% of your fellow citizens are idiots and it just happens to be the ones with whom you disagree?

Corrupt fascists the world over have always contended that it doesn't matter what the world thinks, too. As have many lesser thugs.

It's a ridiculous position to take, but they have taken it nonetheless. Comes along with being a fascist or a thug, I suppose.

Mark said...

"So, 70% of your fellow citizens are idiots and it just happens to be the ones with whom you disagree?"

I am not an idiot. My rationale is flawless. I know I am right, therefore if one disagrees with me, one is not as smart as I am. Ergo, everyone who disagrees with me is an idiot.

If I didn't think this way, I wouldn't express my opinion on blogs.

And neither would you.

Did you ever consider, Dan, that you give the exact same impression to those who don't agree with you?

Except you usually state (with some sense of authority unknown to anyone but yourself) that 70% or more of the world agrees with you.

Dan Trabue said...

Ergo, everyone who disagrees with me is an idiot.

If I didn't think this way, I wouldn't express my opinion on blogs.

And neither would you.


Don't presume to foist off on others your own hangups, brother.

I express my opinions on blogs because I think those opinions are in the minority, oftentimes, because they're worth considering and because I like writing. I express my opinion because it helps me sort out what my opinion is.

Because I disagree with you or Marshall, does not mean that I think you're an idiot. It means I think you're wrong on whatever point(s) we disagree upon. There's a big difference.

Now, there are times when people are acting/writing idiotically and I begin to think that it may be true that THEY are idiots - or at least acting the role. But that does not mean that I think all those who disagree with me are idiots. I have a big ego, but not that big.

After all, I, myself, once disagreed with me. I don't think that the Younger Dan was an idiot. Just mistaken. My parents sometimes disagree with me. My best friend growing up oftentimes disagrees with me. My beloved pastor even sometimes disagrees with me. I don't think any of them are idiots.

Don't presume to foist off on others your own hangups.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

I don't believe I said anyone was an idiot, though of the 70% you'd mentioned, surely there are idiots among them. Heck, most of them are liberals, so there ya go.

I don't think the prophets and apostles cared what others thought, if others refused to hear their message. By your point of view, they were fascist thugs?

Bear in mind that our president is elected to lead based on his campaign message. Your senators and congressman are to concern themselves with your opinions. A leader has to lead by his principles and notions of what's best, not opinion polls.

Dan Trabue said...

Except you usually state (with some sense of authority unknown to anyone but yourself) that 70% or more of the world agrees with you.

Well, oftentimes when I quote a specific number, it is a reference to a particular source. In these comments, I referred to polls that show that 70% of the US think Bush is doing a poor job. I referenced another poll that said that 70% of the US thinks we as a nation are going in the wrong direction.

These polls were both in the news on the day I referenced them, but I also gave you a source for at least the first number.

I am under no delusions that as a Christian from the anabaptist tradition, as one who leans towards pacifism, towards personal AND corporate responsibility, towards living within our means, etc, etc, that as THAT sort of person, I am anything but a minority in my many of my positions. I point that out with great frequency.

One thing that I'm NOT in the minority on, though, is thinking that Bush has been a horrible, horrible president. As research has shown and as I have referenced. That would be the authority which is known to anyone who actually reads what I've written, Mark.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said:

I don't believe I said anyone was an idiot, though of the 70% you'd mentioned, surely there are idiots among them.

No, you didn't use the word, "idiot." You wrote, instead:

too many in THIS country have bought into the comic book fables of the evil Bush administration foisted upon them by leftist buffoons with no real ability to do any better, and are simply looking to unseat the current prez to put in one of their own. Any outlandish story will do. 70% of the population and for damn sure a good portion of them have NOT been paying attention.

Suggesting, it seems to me (correct me if I'm wrong) that a large number of those who disagree with Bush are too stupid or uninformed to make a valid assessment of Bush. That we, the people, will swallow any stories about "the evil Bush administration foisted upon them by leftist buffoons."

What was it that you were trying to suggest about we, the people who disagree with you, if not that we're uninformed and too stupid to ascertain the reality of the world around us?

Dan Trabue said...

I don't think the prophets and apostles cared what others thought, if others refused to hear their message.

Certainly, there comes a time for people to stand up and do what's right, regardless of what others think.

But there is a difference between acting towards justice, even when you're in the minority, and prefering to assume that, when Others disagree with you in great numbers, that they must be wrong and you ought to pursue your own way.

That is a hypocritical blindness in the guise of righteousness.

It is always worthwhile and a positive Good to listen to what others have to say. Including and especially our enemies. To weigh their opinions and wisdom for what they're worth.

To presume to think "They're evil and we're good, therefore, we must not listen to them," is to ignore the reality of the human condition and an arrogant misstep that can't lead to good. We do well to remember that we're not little gods, that we lack that crucial component of omniscience.

Marshall Art said...

Well there you go, Dan. Like others, you assume that there is absolutely no concern whatsoever by the Bush admin for the opinions of others. I have never seen anything to suggest that this is true or routine or even the case in the least. All I hear is people like you suggesting that they are arrogant SOB's with some evil agenda driving their every move. This crap is also put forward by the very people you are more likely to support, as well as other various CNN/MSNBC type pundits.

But I say to you that Bush, like every president has or should have, acts on his principles and beliefs about what might be the best course to take in order to fulfill his obligations as president. Again, there is no reason to suspect otherwise. But there are countless buffoons who believe they know different, without having any means of showing how they could.

I don't believe Bush to be THE greatest prez ever. But I have no doubt that he'll be judged better in due course, after the smell of his detractors has finally dissipated.

As to that 70%, I've little doubt most of them are Democrats. Thus, idiot is an apt term in general. At this stage of the game, those who disaprove of Bush's job performance are indeed not paying attention because they are hung up on the war (without understanding that even in conventional warfare, predictions are pointless and duration is based on infinite variables). The resolve of that 70% is shameful in the face of the threats by our enemies. No leader worth his salt would give such people the time of day.

Dan Trabue said...

As to that 70%, I've little doubt most of them are Democrats. Thus, idiot is an apt term in general. At this stage of the game, those who disaprove of Bush's job performance are indeed not paying attention because they are hung up on the war

You make no sense, Marshall. Are you saying that you believe that nearly 70% of the US are Democrats and, therefore, idiots, in general?

And you know that they are not paying attention because, of course, they're idiots and you're omniscient enough to know that they're not paying attention?

I thought you were serious about discussions, but your blindly partisan loathing of all those who disagree with you just make you out to be an arrogant, ignorant buffoon - do you realize that's how you come across? Is that intentional?

Les said...

"...your blindly partisan loathing of all those who disagree with you just make you out to be an arrogant, ignorant buffoon..."

I don't know if I'd go that far, Dan, although he IS a F.I.B. - an unforgivable offense in my neck of the woods. That said, I think a more accurate description for Art's attitude toward his opponents would be "selectively dismissive". I, for one, get the impression that when Art encounters legitimate or rational points that don't jive with his point of view, he simply moves on as normal and pretends it never happened. It's one of his more endearing, albeit frustrating, qualities. Don't get too upset about it - he's old.

Dan Trabue said...

FIB?

Les said...

He knows. 'Nuf said.

Marshall Art said...

But I'm old and I've forgotten. FIB?

Dan,

Read again. I said "As to that 70%, I've little doubt MOST of them are Democrats." This is a far cry from what you'd prefer I have said. And, it makes perfect sense since we know that around half the country did not vote for him (that is, of those who bother to vote). Thus, most of that 70% are Dems/libs and therefor, idiots.

But all seriousness aside, there has not been a sound counter to my position. So, with that in mind, I've not simply dismissed those with whom I disagree, because I have to hear the goofy argument in order to dismiss it. When I hear a sound argument, I salivate like a dog kept waiting for dinner. "Finally, something to really bite into." You've not given me such an argument. Les, you come much closer. It is "Les", right? I'm old, you know. (Officially tacking on another year in about 12 days. Please, expensive gifts only. Remember, money's no object.)

To further elaborate, I have no problem talking in generalities as it concerns what "most" of the left is like, just as you lefties have little trouble in generalities regarding the right. So don't get your panties in a bunch. Dan, you've asked for the courtesy of requests for clarification. Is that what your last comment was? If not, you may want to consider it. As the Obamanation continues to draw support, it's pretty obvious that idiocy is rampant amongst the left. I'm sorry if you find that fact uncomfortable.

Dan Trabue said...

Hey, embrace idiocy if you want. No skin off my back.

Les said...

"But I'm old and I've forgotten. FIB?"

The only thing worse than a plucky f***in' Illinois bastard is an old f***in' Illinois bastard. Down with all things Land of Lincoln. Your tollways suck almost as bad as the drivers that use them. Seriously - is learning how to tailgate and cut people off some sort of prerequisite for a driver's license down there?

Have a happy birthday, you stubborn old mule.

Les said...

An explanation of sorts, I suppose:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fib

Anonymous said...

I wanted to read all these comments until I came to Dan's and then I just decided to stop. I've smelled that stick enough. Mom2

Anonymous said...

oops, smelled that stink. Mom2