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March 25, 2004


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I'm sorry, did you say something? I wasn't listening. I was watching a news item concerning a two more American servicemen getting killed over in Iraq.

Servicemen getting killed? Some experts are against it? Why didn't you tell me a long time ago? I'm going to withdraw my support for the occupation of Iraq right now! I say, bring the troops home! Release Hussein and all the others we're holding captive there!

I can present simplistic arguments too. Let's see: Clarke was in charge of counter-terrorism for more than a decade. During that decade, there was: 1) the Oklahoma City bombing, 2) the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, 3) the bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa, 4) the bombing of the USS Cole, and 5) 9/11. It was the worst decade for terrorism in American history.

Since Clarke resigned from his post over a year ago, there hasn't been a single terrorist attack against American civilians. Wow, he certainly did a great job, huh?

As for Clarke's best pal Beers, his sympathies are even more obvious: he's working for the Kerry campaign. I'm sure whatever Beers has to say about Bush is completely nonpartisan.

And as for your man Phil Carter, for every military officer who opposed the invasion of Iraq, I can probably find at least five who support Bush's policies. If you're trying to win the battle of experts (as lawyers call it), you've got a long way to go.

There is this thing called google. Try it sometime.

Clarke served in the White House for 11 years. He wasn't appointed National Coordinator for Security and Counter-terrorism until 1998. Before that, his title was Special Assistant to the President for Global Affairs.

And good job running down Rand Beers, too, who has served his country his whole life, including doing great jobs for Republican presidents G.H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. Former Marine rifle company commander in Vietnam, too; obviously, he's a commie.

Mithras, actually Inkling succeeded in what he set out to do: "I can present simplistic arguments too." Got some facts wrong, but it was simplistic. Now, maybe he will come back and provide a well thought out logical argument based on facts. I don't want to put him in a corner, but I'm presuming he would argue the invasion of Iraq was justified?

I guess one problem I'm having with debates now a days, is what is a credible source to cite. I mean I'm sure you can find someone that has said a lot of things, Rush comes to mind, and I would hate for the debate to degenerate into a my source v your source thing.

By the way, I'm ex-military, with six and a half years active duty, 14 in the reserves, and it's on my record that I volunteered to go to both Gulf wars. I wonder what Inkling's bonafides are?

rick, you get a cookie. That was indeed intended to represent a simplistic argument, a little more sophisticated than Mithras's, but nevertheless simplistic.

One correction to Mithras's comment on my initial comment: just because Clarke's title didn't include the word "terrorism" in it before 1998 doesn't mean that his duties did not include dealing with terrorism threats. (Yet more simplistic thinking, and arguing, on Mithras's behalf.)

The fact is, when he was assigned the new title in 1998, he was the first person to have it. It wasn't until 1998 that Clinton finally got around to setting up the post of Counter-Terrorism Coordinator (there hadn't been one in the Clinton White House previously).

All the commentary and background I've read on Clarke over the last few weeks indicate that he was the White House's point man on terrorism throughout the Clinton presidency, regardless of what his actual "title" might have been at a given time. (Word of experience here: White House assistant titles shift and change all the time. They don't always mean what they say, either.).

Perhaps another assiduous google search on Mithras's part will prove me wrong. I just gave it a shot and could come up with nothing to contradict what I wrote above (including his Harvard teaching bio, which is frustratingly vague on this point).

As for a good argument justifying Iraq, I can't do a whole lot better than the following:

One other trend among the left that I find depressing is their recent rejection of the time-honored American constitutional principle that decisions regarding where and when to go to war should reside among the democratically-elected civilian leadership and not the military brass.

Let's face it, the whole "chicken-hawk" argument popular nowadays among certain lefties is bullshit -- the notion that somehow only those who have gone to war have the right to decide whether to go to war. Would you rather live in a military dictatorship, for crying out loud? Are you willing to relinquish your own political authority to someone else just because they've carried a gun in battle?

Just because you can line up a few soldiers on your side of the argument doesn't mean you've won it. It's the equivalent of anedoctal evidence. If you did an actual survey, you'd lose. Do you honestly believe that a majority of U.S. soldiers are on your side of this debate? (I guess only the ones who agree with you count.)

I salute your service, rick, and certainly don't mean to take anything away from it. I have nothing bu the highest respect for the military. But in our system of government, being a soldier gives you no more right to decide these matters than a civilian (thank God). Maybe you can bring some special insight into the nature of war, etc., that I don't possess. But this is ultimately a political, not a military decision.

The same goes for Rand Beers. Again, I applaud him for his service. But it doesn't alter the fact that he is now working for the Kerry campaign, and is thereby exposing his political loyalties in this debate.

Ultimately, the whole question of bona fides posed by rick is a red herring. If I told you I was a four-star general who served in three wars, would it suddenly transform my arguments above into winning ones (even if you had previously disagreed with me)? Of course not. I could brag about my background as an investigative journalist and a Capitol Hill aide. But it shouldn't matter. All that should is the force of my arguments.

Christ, what a disingenuous comment. Liberals want the military brass to run the country? Can you even prop that straw man up? I'll note in passing that this is the most ass-backward criticism of the left I ever heard; aren't you right-wingers always going on about how we hate the military? At least get your ad hominems straight.

What I want, personally, is the politicians not to override the judgments of the military brass when they say a particular military aim cannot be accomplished. That's what led the country into the Vietnam debacle - politicians willing to fire officers who said that what they wanted was not possible, and officers who replaced them who wanted to promote their careers over the good of the country. For a current example, google "Shineski." (You need the practice.)

As for the "political loyalties" angle, I assume you'd have no problem with Rand Beers or Richard Clarke working for George Bush and promoting his policies. Are Condi Rice and Rumsfeld "exposing [their] political loyalties in this debate" and thus not credible?

Word of experience here: White House assistant titles shift and change all the time.

Let me guess what your "experience" is: White House intern for the current Bush after college, right?

Your ignorance is showing. I said I was a Capitol Hill, not White House, aide. Capitol Hill refers to the legislative branch of the government. I happen to know about White House titles because I've had many dealings with people who've worked in the White House.

Not to say that there is any disgrace to being an intern in the Bush White House -- unlike, say, the Clinton White House.

As for my criticism of your (and others' on your site) chicken-hawk argument, I was fully aware of the irony. I suppose you're a little slow on the uptake (as rick noted earlier). How will we ever level the playing field? Perhaps I'll try to use smaller words.

"What I want, personally, is the politicians not to override the judgments of the military brass when they say a particular military aim cannot be accomplished. That's what led the country into the Vietnam debacle...."

Vietnam. It always comes back to that for you people, doesn't it? But here we agree. If only the politicians had ceased meddling in the military brass's business and granted them free rein, we would have won the Vietnam War. As you're such an avowed virtuoso, I'm certain you will have no trouble googling the name "Creighton Abrams."

(Incidentally, I did have some difficulty with your word. Imagine my embarrassment when I googled "Shineski" and was politely prompted, "Did you mean: Shinseki?" Please relinquish your googling prizes forthwith.)

I'm not sure why you wanted me to read about Shinseki. You have a beef with Rumsfeld because you believe he's not sending enough troops to Iraq. Fair enough. I've read that one reason for his is that Rumsfeld wants to ensure that we have enough troops in reserve in case another hot spot in the world -- like, say, North Korea -- flares up. This is a grand strategic decision. If (God forbid) we ever need those reserves, Rumsfeld will be hailed as a genius (again).

In addition, too many troops at once in Iraq means that we don't have any in reserve to relieve those who are deployed. The troops who are in field now already complain that they aren't relieved often enough.

"As for the 'political loyalties' angle, I assume you'd have no problem with Rand Beers or Richard Clarke working for George Bush and promoting his policies. Are Condi Rice and Rumsfeld 'exposing [their] political loyalties in this debate' and thus not credible?

Oh come on. I noted from your blog bio that you admit to being an attorney, so you should possess some rudimentary ability to reason.

Many of Richard Clarke's assertions are unsubstantiated or in dispute (for instance, the substance and tenor of certain conversations). In addition, Richard Clarke has said different things about the same topic on at least two different occasions.

Thus, Clarke's credibility is at issue here. And examining such matters as possible motives for lying (or shading the truth, if you prefer) is a perfectly legitimate method in trying to get at the truth amidst all the contradictions and disagreements.

One of the reasons Democrats are salivating so profusely over Clarke's book and testimony is the fact that he served in the Bush White House. Democrats use this fact as evidence that Clarke is not motivated by partisanship to criticize the Bush administration.

It would be not only laughable but irresponsible for Republicans simply to concede this point if they had evidence to the contrary. Even the sainted Bill Clinton's consiglieres did everything in their power to assault the integrity of those who brought evidence of wrongdoing against him.

Think of Clarke as serving as a witness for the prosecution. Would you deny the defendant the right to question his veracity? (Yes, I know this isn't a court of law, but the principles are the same, as surely even someone as partisan as you must agree.)

Damn, I wanted to post yesterday, but the browser on the computer I'm using started flipping out. I've told my buddy about the dangers of unprotected surfing, but...

I haven't had the time to read the site inkling's posted above, so I will limit my comments largely to what y'all posted.

Civilian control of the military is not in and of itself a bad thing. It's been a long ongoing debate, but in the end, war is politics by another means. My problem w/ the chickenhawks is that they so willingly send other people and other people's children to war, while they and they families will never see the inside of C-130, a polaris or an M1A1. And, it's the fact that they is no risk to they and their families but they always seem to find causes that are worth other people fighting forthat irks me. Used to be at least the pretension that the elites and their families would actually lead, not just send.

My argument here, goes both ways. The difference between the Dems and Reps is prattle. They are run by families in-bred for years in places like the Hamptons, Cape Cod, Martha's Vinyard. Okay, the difference might also include which country club memberships they have. If you paid attentiion to facts, and weren't blinded by partisan ship, you'd come to the realization that each president in my life time could and probably should have been impeached for their own personal acts of malfeasence (sp).

Reagan for Iran Contra as just one example; Clinton for excepting foreign campaign contributions and providing military aid to Taiwan (not that stupid
BJ); Papa Bush for his involvement in Iran Contra; Baby Bush for ginning up a bogus war; Johnson for the same; Nixon we all know, and Carter, well all that come to mind right now, is gross stupidity, but I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Anyway, I think of the party as Bill Hicks put it in one of his routines, 'there's one guy holding up a sock puppet on each hand, asking you to vote for the red sock puppet or the blue sock puppet?'
And, we're chumps for even participating.

On the war itself, I think this was an unnecessary war, and I believe that Sun Tzu was correct: (paraphrasing) The acme of war, is to win without fighting.

And, I think we were beating Iraq, w/o sending in our troops. Further, I do believe this war has made the war on terrorism even more difficult. And I have seen no credible evidence of any connection between Saddam and other terrorist organizations since Gulf 1.

See my post on perchlorate pollution and the Carlyle Group, and I think it provides another problem I have w/ this war.

Lastly, I won't contrast statements made by Condi, Collin, Baby Bush etc. in 2000 and early 2001, with their comments post 9/11 here, but their credibility is totally shot with me. Gross inconsistancies...And, I do find Clarke credible very credible in comparison. But, I also find Shenseki (sp), the previous chairman of the joint chiefs who's name eludes right now, O'Neill, and hell, a host of people who have resigned from this administration on principle or forced out on based on their principes, to be a strong argument that there is something deeply wrong w/ this administration.

So, I think we should take back our government. I just don't see a vehicle available for accomplishing this; the forces of evil control both parties, and there are no viable third parties. If one became viable, I'd say they would be just as corrupt w/in a fairly short period of time.

Don't forget to call me and let me know when the revolution starts.

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