Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Conversation Interrupted

Stuff happens when you try preaching to the non-choir.

On a good day, 40% of my blogging occurs on neutral or pro-Bush sites. I call it my outreach program.

This week, on a neutral site, we had a warm and heated dialogue underway when the blogmeister elected not to approve my contributions.
No rules or standards for comments were posted, so I am without a clue as to how I offended anyone. My emailed query to the administrator has gone unanswered.

My annoyance is especially piqued by an anxiety that my companion in this discussion might be left with an impression that I had nothing further to say. He has the ability to follow me in here, to my pages. So, risking accusations of narcissistic self-indulgence, I thought I would reproduce the dialogue below in hopes he could be enticed to continue the discussion.

The thread was about a local Congressman's comment in Bush's surge splurge. Vigilante jumped in on September 14th, 2007 at 8:11 am:
Registering agreement with all opinions expressed above, I think it is important to acknowledge that our Dear Leader announced ‘victory’ in our unnecessary war of Iraq, that we are now in ‘occupation mode’ which, if allowed to linger indefinitely, will eventually morph into another war (with Iran). Furthermore, occupations are not won or lost. They are merely ended.
On September 15th, 2007 at 9:57 am, Mick responded:
It must be a heavy burden to bear: a visceral hatred of the political opposition, distrust of one’s own government, and such venom toward your own countrymen that you would prefer a civil war at home to the liberation of the Iraqi people.

If you weren’t so blinded by these emotions, you might have been able to hear during General Petraeus’ testimony that we are actually beginning to achieve some considerable success in Iraq. But then, perhaps that’s what you fear the most.

There were many, many mistakes made in the execution of the war, as in most wars; since, as Joe Louis once said, all battle plans become obsolete the minute the first punch is thrown. But the Iraqi people, like all people, want freedom.

If we leave before that goal is reached, there will be immediate mass slaughter perhaps exceeding the aftermath of our pulling out of Vietnam; Al-Qaeda will become emboldened and entrenched in their new international headquarters for Islamic terrorism, and finally, Iraq will be subsumed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, for, as Mahmoud has already stated: Iran will fill the void. I don’t have to explain in detail what will become of Israel.

I, personally, would not want to be responsible for leaving that mess in the hands of our children and grandchildren - if they’re still alive. Remember, Iran will soon have nukes, and, as founders of the Islamic Revolution, they feel the same way about Big Satan and Little Satan as Osama does. Have a great day.
Anon (September 15th, 2007 at 3:06 pm):
Losing will hurt the Republicans and that’s all that matters!

The sooner we quit the better.
Vigilante (September 17th, 2007 at 8:43 am):
Hey Mick, this misgovernment has already fully earned the distrust of our people. I have venom only for Bush who betrayed our people and who - themselves - will bear a heavy burden for a generation as a consequence of his unprovoked and unnecessary invasion of Iraq.

Mistakes? The invasion was the mother of all mistakes.

General Potemkin, in his own Congressional testimony, did not want to express his opinion on how or whether our continued occupation of Iraq would improve our national security.

When my grandchildren reach adulthood, they will fully grasp that George Bush has put a greater hurt on our once-great country than Osama bin Laden.

Have a GR8 day, yourself.
Mick (September 17th, 2007 at 10:21 am):
History will be the judge of these events, it is true. In the meanwhile, we can share our opinions on the subject, limited though our views may be.

Allow me to correct one of your statements, though, if I may. President Bush has not “earned the distrust of our people;” he has merely stirred up the hornets’ nest of the left. Wars always have been and always will be divisive, as well they should be. Bush-hatred goes much deeper than that, though, and I won’t bother to enumerate those ugly details here.

As far as the notion that Bush betrayed the nation by invading Iraq, you shouldn’t allow your hatred to blind you to the original facts of the situation: Saddam, it is well known, certainly once had WMDs. America and most of the rest of the world knew this, since America, England and France, you may recall, had sold him the bulk of them when they supported Iraq against the Soviet-backed Iranians in the Iran-Iraq war. Rightly so, I might add.

After that conflict and after his alienation from the U.S. in the wake of “the rape of Kuwait,” Saddam projected and encouraged the belief that Iraq still had stockpiles of the stuff to deter enemies both internal and external. As with most Stalinist regimes, it requires a certain amount of paranoia to remain in power.

That’s why, prior to the invasion in 2003, the CIA, Britain’s M-9, the UN, as well as French, German, Czech and most of the world’s intelligence agencies, had plausible reason to believe he possessed weapons of mass destruction. It was his successful, but ultimately fatal, strategy of “deterrence by doubt.”

In the wake of 9-11, it was clear that we could not afford to take the chance that Saddam might provide al-Qaeda with those weapons, since they were already operating there - the Ansar al-Islam camps (run by al Qaeda) operated in Northern Iraq and cooperated with Saddam against the Kurds in that region.

Betrayal? I think not. It was a justified toppling of a dangerous dictator who had also been murdering and torturing his own people for 25 years. Have you forgotten that America had recently invaded a sovereign nation for what some might consider dubious reasons (it was called “ethnic cleansing” then), in an invasion that was UN-opposed and unprovoked by the invaded nation, in the Balkans in 1998? Without a single peep from the anti-American Left, I might add.

Also, have you noticed that the anti-American presidents of Germany and France have since been replaced - by wide margins - with pro-American, conservative leaders? Schroeder and Chirac, as it turns out, opposed the invasion of Iraq to protect illicit deals they had with Saddam in clear violation of the “Oil-for-Food program,” which was established international law at the time.

Finally, I might point out that you spelled ‘Petraeus’ wrong. Does not a man who has devoted most of his life to protecting his nation at the very least deserve to have his name spelled correctly? Have another great day.
Vigilante (September 17th, 2007 at 9:57 pm):
Excuse me. Petraeus. I was being ironic. Potemkin refers to the General’s description of Iraq.
And then, Vigilante immediately followed up with a second consecutive comment which never appeared:
I do not consider myself corrected on any other of my points. As far as your errors, it's not my day or night job to educate you. My time constraints require that I be brief.

My quarrel with Bush began with his post-9/11 stampeding this country into a pointless, illegal, and ill-advised invasion of Iraq. He and his team did this by fear-mongering, lying, faking and the cherry-picking of intelligence. The intelligence and facts were fixed around the policy as dramatized by the Downing Street Memorandum.

Bush's policy was regime change by force of arms. Clinton's policy in the Balkans was qualitatively more limited: instead of replacing a regime by invasion and occupation, the Balkan policy was aimed at getting the Serbs to modify their behavior through punitive aerial bombardments. Clinton's intervention in the Balkans interrupted genocide and ethnic cleansing as it occurred. To put as generous a spin as possible on it, your pretense that Saddam's mass murdering was interrupted by Bush's 20-Mar-03 invasion is disingenuous: the killings Saddam was hung for occurred a decade or more before. By the time Bush invaded, Saddam had long been checkmated by overlapping no-fly zones.

As far as public opinion in Europe goes, my impression is that the polls show it to be as adverse to Bush as ever, irrespective of government. I am not surprised. The Bush doctrine of preventive war is not only alien to our American tradition of statecraft, it is also a retro-rationale for aggression that most Europeans (left and right) thought and hoped had been buried in the middle of the 20th Century.

In the minds of world opinion - as well as in the minds of a growing number of Americans, 11-Sep-01 did not change everything. 20-Mar-03 did.

Chuck Hagel, Republican Senator from Nebraska agrees with me. He calls Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq "The biggest foreign policy blunder in our history". If you have anymore questions, Mick, take them up with the Senator.

Great as your day was today, I hope your tomorrow will be even better!
So, Mick: if you're out there, please come in and let's continue?

Of course, while we're waiting for Mick, others are invited to pick up this dangling thread.


  1. vigilante, I assume you purposely decided not to name the site.... and, indeed, it doesn't matter.

    But I do really hate sites that elect to screen replies before they are posted or censor them afterwards (except for spam or extreme abusive (slanderous) attacks or being horribly off topic).

    I, frankly, like to encourage those who disagree witn me.

    Prior to posting censorhip eliminates the possibility of "conversation and debate."

    I like your policies here on The Vigil that actually encourage debate and conversation, even though I occasionally get a real drubbing from the group.

  2. The next time you see him, ask Mick why he hates America.

  3. Vig, I've been reading your blog since April '06 and have never been disappointed. This addition is no exception.

    I'm sure Mick's a really nice guy, you know, a regular American. That said, I have no compunction about kicking a Republican while they're down. We must end the madness. So Kick Ass Bro.

  4. You're right, C.W., Mick is a good guy. A good American. He's shown a willingness to engage.

    And thank you for your readership. Please comment again. I've been to your site, off and on, hoping for new posts. I think maybe we're both working too hard, given our age.

  5. Come on guys all this depressing stuff is sooooo yesterday. OJ is back in the news, get with the program.

  6. OJ? I'm drinking my orange juice at this very moment. Why is it in the news?

  7. Beach Bum made me spit out my coffee in laughter. Thanks, BB!

    And thanks, Vigilante, for flying the flag for those of us too lazy to go to toe to toe with our "worthy opposition." :)

  8. Mick says:

    It must be a heavy burden to bear: a visceral hatred of the political opposition, distrust of one's own government, and such venom toward your own countrymen that you would prefer a civil war at home to the liberation of the Iraqi people.

    The chattering classes in Washington are awash the wake of the September reports on progress--or the lack thereof--in Iraq . The war of words has already begun. Churning the Petraeus and Crocker reports and spinning the reports from the various think tankers and politicians just returned from their latest day trip to the Green Zone, hard-liners and soft-liners have already announced their willingness to accept or, more likely, reject any report that does not conform to their preconceived notions.

    In this rush to condemn without considering the unintended consequences of a US withdrawal, Americans seem to have their eyes more on the 2008 US presidential and congressional elections, and none on Iraq. It is a point not missed by embattled Iraqi politicians and Iraqis exhausted by the four-year siege on their security and their country's existence.

    American politicians have little interest in Iraq as a failed state or as a successful state--either way, they see risk. In Iraq, the struggle is all about identity and power. In the US, it is all about the next election. But, regardless of how one feels about the reasons we went to war in Iraq, the consequences of a precipitate withdrawal cannot be ignored.

  9. I am speaking for myself, and not the Clintons, Kerrys, or their patrons.

    If this is about politics, it is not about politics-as-usual. As I said above, 20 March 2003 changed everything. On that date, Bush and Cheney succeeded in their fear mongering by terrorizing our American republic into an unprovoked war of aggression. "Regime Change", they called it. In so doing, they broke more than Iraq's pottery barn. They broke a well established and cherished mold: open societies do not war upon sovereign states unless attacked. This was also our American brand of no-first-strike, (which carried us through the darkest shadows of the Cold War's balance of terror,) that was tarnished. Deterrence not belligerence; defense not offense. Diplomacy before militarism. Why else did the USA changed its Department of War to the Department of Defense (1947)?. Under the Bush-Cheney, the Defense department has become more of an offense department, overshadowing even the department of state's mission of diplomacy.

    I am sensitive when others argue that we, Americans, have stake in the future of the Middle East. Believe me, I am. We have a geo-political stake. And not only us. We have tradionally been concerned about the stability and protection of this area as a source of petroleum, the life blood of modern international economies. That's why I fervently supported the first Gulf War.

    But Americans are also stake holders in the American legacy of non-aggression, of respect for state sovereignity, international organizations and law. These aren't quaint notions of the 18th century; these are the bedrock of international order and stability in the 21st century. Their sacrifice in the 20th century led to catastrophes from which we are still trying to sort out today.

    So, when Mick says I am more concerned about resolving the political civil war in my own country than the 'liberty' of the Iraqi people, I'll just say, "Well, yeahhhh?" The occupation is about oil and military bases. This political civil war stateside is about our national soul.

  10. He starts right off by mentioning the venom and hatred on the left. Not worth arguing with this fellow, Vigilante.

    The guy's full of himself.

    Tell him to go blow.

  11. Mike could be talking about (I assume he's a conservative Republican) his own party's position against gays, feminists, progress. They are always the ones with the visceral hatred, the venon toward our own countrymen, the absolute refusal to accept people slightly different from them in our country and keep the peace; he protests too much. A very good case of when someone is really talking about their own feelings, not yours. Vigilante, you state the case and the facts and hold our leaders responsible for their illegal actions; he generalizes. When their core values involve giving blind, moral authority to their leaders, no matter the failures of those leaders, while tearing apart their leaders' critics, they have some serious soul searching to do and we won't get anywhere trying to reason with that insane mentality.