Is Bush Trying Out the Madman Theory?





Mr. Kimball is a professor of history at Miami University and the author of Nixon's Vietnam War. His most recent book is The Vietnam War Files: Uncovering the Secret History of Nixon-Era Strategy (University Press of Kansas, 2004).

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Responding to questions about United States policy toward Iran’s nuclear program, President Bush bluntly said in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday, February 22: “This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table.” His response reminded Europeans, members of Congress, and many American citizens of statements he and his administration had made during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, as well as of similar statements he had made in January about U.S.-Iran differences: “I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I will never take any option off the table.” That comment was in part a response to questions raised by Seymour Hersh’s argument in his article, “The Coming Wars,” in the January issue of the New Yorker, that Iran might be the next target in Bush’s “war on terror,” because Bush and the rad-cons in his administration favor military over diplomatic approaches toward Iran.

Amid growing concerns in Europe and elsewhere about the apparent contradiction between Bush’s belligerent words and his conciliatory remarks about wanting to cooperate with European diplomatic efforts vis-à-vis Iran’s nuclear program, Bush said on Wednesday, February 23: “You know, yesterday I was asked about a U.S. decision, and I said all options are on the table. That’s part of our position. But I also reminded people that diplomacy is just beginning.” Later that day, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition described this comment as Bush’s attempt to “clarify” the “mixed signal” he had given on Tuesday.

For the most part, the press has avoided serious attempts to explain the causes of Bush’s repeated “mixed signals”—his repetitive or persistent ambiguity. The world is left wondering whether such ambiguity is the result of the president’s legendary inarticulateness, his admitted tendency to voice his deepest emotions, or his reputed ignorance of global—and especially Middle East—realities. Hersh’s explanation is that an ideologically rigid Bush administration is serious about using military force against Iran while the president and his spokespersons blunt criticism and placate allies with conciliatory rhetoric.

Considering the administration’s 2002-2003 march toward war in Iraq, Hersh’s claim about Bush’s intentions regarding Iran seems plausible. Seventy percent of Germans at least, according to a recent poll, believe it is plausible. Many diplomatic and military experts and wonks disagree, because a strategy of making war against Iran for the purposes of regime change and nuclear containment is not credible against the backdrop of the colossal problems the United States now faces and would face after an attack on Iran: an already overstretched U.S. Army; the opposition of allies and probably the majority of Americans; soaring U.S. budget and trade deficits; a two-front war, one in Iraq and another in Iran; the inherent military and political difficulties of subduing a country almost four times the size of Iraq with a population about three times that of Iraq’s; an increase in hostility toward the U.S. in the Muslim world; and so on. Even the prospect of a “limited” attack against Iran—strikes against its nuclear facilities—is not credible: these are widely dispersed, and experts maintain that they could be quickly rebuilt.

On the other hand, if Bush and the rad-cons are truly madmen, perhaps Hersh’s prediction is not only plausible but credible. Despite everything, I do not yet accept this assumption. There are militaristic radicals in the White House, yes, but they are not truly irrational, mad, or crazy. Perhaps I am naïve. Perhaps I want to believe this. In any case, I suggest a third and more likely reason for Bush’s ambiguity: he is and has been embarked on a deliberate course of projecting his putative irrationality through threats or hints of using military force in order to instill uncertainty and fear among his adversaries. It is, in other words, a coercive strategy directed against Iran and other states, such as North Korea, but also Syria, and perhaps, indirectly, China. Other small states are, of course, also supposed to be intimidated.

Historians and political scientists—the reasoning intellectuals that we are—usually dismiss such explanations. To my knowledge political science even lacks a theory of “irrational compellence.” Nonetheless, this strategy has a long recorded history, dating at least as far back as the Hittites—and we should not forget Attila, the Mongols, and countless other wielders of power in the past who threatened opponents with excessive force in order to coerce them into yielding. In American history, over three thousand years after the Hittites, the principle of excessive force became an essential component of strategic bombing, “atomic diplomacy,” and nuclear deterrence. The administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower openly practiced “brinkmanship,” and President Richard Nixon and his aide Henry A. Kissinger secretly implemented Nixon’s self-styled “madman theory.”

Policymaking strategists and decision-makers continued to incorporate the madman theory, or the appearance of violent irrationality, in their concepts of nuclear deterrence and coercion in the decades after Nixon. A declassified 1995 study commissioned by the U.S. Strategic Command, for example, observed: "The very framework of a concept that depends on instilling fear and uncertainty in the minds of opponents was never, nor can it be, strictly rational. Nor has it ever strictly required rational adversaries in order to function" (“Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence,” [ca. April 1995]).

In 2002 the George W. Bush administration openly touted the uncertainty principle in its strategy of nuclear ambiguity and preemption as spelled out in public statements, public documents, and leaked documents; namely, the Nuclear Posture Review, a classified version of which was leaked in January 2002; the administration's "National Security Strategy," a version of which was issued in September 2002; Bush's "National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction," released in December 2002 (it was a companion to the National Security Strategy); a classified version of the latter, the National Security Presidential Directive 17 (NSPD 17), which was signed by Bush in December 2002, portions of which were leaked in December 2002; and several statements by Bush and officials in his administration.

Together, these documents and statements assert that nuclear weapons "provide credible military options to deter a wide range of threats, including WMD and large-scale conventional military force." Nuclear weapons are seen as useful to "hold at risk a wide range of target types. . . . Nuclear attack options that vary in scale, scope, and purpose will complement other military capabilities" (NPR).

In addition, there are hints in these documents and statements that the Bush administration includes the first-use of nuclear weapons in its preemptive, or first-strike, doctrine. Commenting on these papers and statements, some journalists and others argued that the main significance of the new Bush administration policy was that it broke tradition with the policy of ambiguity that had suffused the nuclear strategic doctrines of previous administrations and that the Bush administration had also altered previous policies in aiming their threats at non-nuclear states. But these commentators, I think, missed the point on the first issue and were in error on the second. Regarding ambiguity, the administration, through its public statements and leaks, had been attempting to bolster the credibility of its doctrinal threats through what could be called "enhanced ambiguity"; that is, by dropping more robust hints of the possibility of nuclear use, while at the same time refraining from formal or direct statements on nuclear use. On the second point, we must remember that previous administrations had either issued nuclear threats against non-nuclear states or had considered the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states. The Bush administration was, in effect, simply ramping up both longstanding doctrines.

In so doing, the administration was pursuing a course that was scarcely more credible than in the past. Yet, it was a more dangerous course, inasmuch as its threats were likely to encourage real or potential adversaries—such as Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea—to respond by stepping up their military and nuclear programs. Or their statements and actions might lead to an unstoppable momentum toward threat escalation and nuclear use.

The strategy of ambiguity or irrationality is not, however, defined solely by nuclear threats. It can also apply to apparently irrational threats of conventional force—which today is highly destructive—against smaller states. “Conventional” aerial terror doctrine has been followed to the present, for example, now in the form of "shock and awe." As its author, Harlan Ullman, writes: "Intimidation and compliance are the outputs we seek to obtain. The intent here is to impose a regime of shock and awe through delivery of instant and nearly incomprehensible levels of massive destruction directed at influencing society writ large. Through very selective, utterly brutal, ruthless, and rapid application of force to intimidate, the aim is to affect the will, perception, and understanding of the adversary. . . . The adversary becomes impotent and entirely vulnerable."

I believe this is the kind of threat that Bush is now directing toward Iran. Ironically, Hersh’s marvelous investigative reporting, which has uncovered the rad-cons' self-proclaimed proclivity toward military measures, serves Bush’s purpose of lending apparent credibility to his apparently ambiguous threats—his mixed signals.

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    More Comments:


    Michael Barnes Thomin - 3/12/2005

    F.B.I.'s definition of terrorism:

    http://www.fbi.gov/publications/terror/terror99.pdf


    Arnold Shcherban - 3/10/2005

    Adam,

    Risking to fall 'face in the dirt' I nethetheless will make some predictions:
    1) Iraq is not going to make a quarter of the way to real democracy in the course of the nearest 10 years, instead
    that nation will be facing a sort of civil war it is going on there now, if not a full-fledged one. The number
    of victims (including died of malnutrition, deseases and poverty) of the occupation and internal struggle will
    reach one million, probably more.
    Economically, Iraq will fall into even greater dependence
    on Western benevolence, practically becoming an economical colony of the Western capital, enriching 10%
    of the population and empoverishing the rest 90%.
    I also forsee real danger of Iraq being divided in two-three almost independent states, what will be (in case it happens) pictured as the will of Iraqi people by the US administrations, not as the consequence of the American invasion. The Kurds, given independence will have a regime, similar to Taliban's one, but Pro-American, and therefore, will be praised by the US for courageous strive for democracy and human rights.
    Iran, Syria and Lebanon might avoid US military attacks/intervention only by taking anti-democratic, which they currently have, but pro-US economic and political positions.
    North Korea currently has no nuclear weapons contrary to the definite statements of the CIA and White House.
    But, if the stalemate continues (the US will refuse to get involved into bilateral talks with Little Kim ), which I'm quite sure it does, Koreans, having enough time, will build several of them together with the means of delivery onto the territory of the US. It will never use them, of course, unless facing the direct US agression. And even then I doubt they will dare, since that would mean national anihillation for them.
    However, the terrorist activity against the US and UK will stay on the rise for at least 5 next years.
    I'm afraid, but there will be, at the least, one more
    major terrorist attack on the US soil within this period of time.
    Either US or Israel will use nuclear weapons against some country within 10-year period.

    I have many more predictions about Central and South America, Europe, Russia, China, etc., but I guess it's enough for today...


    Arnold Shcherban - 3/9/2005

    Bill,
    Should we take you quoting Kipling on Afghanistan as the admission that today's US and UK policies towards countries in that region are basically the continuation
    of the same good ol' practices of colonial empires?


    Arnold Shcherban - 3/7/2005

    Am I evading the issue?
    God, if you are there in the skies, pleeeeese, be my witness.
    The issue was terrorism and your (and the US, in general) double standards in ascribing it to some particular countries, the ones who don't play ball with the US, but never to its allies or itself.
    I told you twenty five times that I don't ignore any terrorist acts and states, as long as those actions are
    recognized as terrorist by the wide international consensus, not just by the US and its clients. Therefore,
    if you had a speck of logic in you, you would conclude that I against any terror tactics, used by any country against another, unless in defense, i.e. under/after direct attack from that other country, including Cuba, US, Venezuela, Iraq, Afghanistan, UK, Ireland, etc., being
    on any side of the conflict. Beleive me, I feel pretty stupid enumerating for you all those countries, just because you cannot (or refuse?) perceive respective general statement.
    To conclude this leading to nowhere debate, let me offer you a fair deal: if you admit that the FORMER terrorist
    attacks against Cuba and, say, FORMER sponsorship and support of terrorist regimes in Central and South America (Somosa, Truhillio, Pinochet, Argentina's Nazis, etc.)
    amounted to terrorism on the part of US, then I admit
    that the PROVEN acts of terrorism and the support of international terrorist groups by Cuba and, say Venezuela, amounted to terrorism, as well.
    It is the double standards I always fight against on these boards and elsewhere and continue to do so.


    Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/7/2005

    Thank YOU for the kind words. You are very welcome for the article, I am glad you enjoyed it.


    Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/7/2005

    "The Bush Doctrine will establish human rights, dignity and freedom wherever it succeeds"

    With all due respect, this sounds more like blind devotion and unbending loyatly than actual analysis of the facts of the situaiton. You speak of Bush more as a prophet than as a president.


    Michael Barnes Thomin - 3/7/2005

    "If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers lied."

    Rudyard Kipling (1919) "Common Form"


    Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/7/2005

    Bill,
    I must confess, your last post truely disarmed me and I thought it was histerical!

    The article you provided was as witty as it was well put, and I thank you for it. That is not to say that I agree with it 100%, but it was still intelligent and enjoyable.

    We will indeed have to wait and see what the results have been but as I have said before, if things really work out in that region, I will frelly acknowledge the debt the world owes to the US for making it happen. However, if things do not work out so well, the blame will fall on this administration.


    Michael Barnes Thomin - 3/7/2005

    He's not half bad, is he Bill? I mean, as a poet...


    Michael Barnes Thomin - 3/7/2005

    " The Dresden and Tokyo firebombings were part of a larger war and were aimed at the logistical supports of the enemy and were also supposed to demoralize enemy civilians. To condemn Dresden is to condemn warfare since the first raider burned the first stable and since Sherman burned Atlanta. We're talking scale, not semantics."

    My whole point is that the same line of reasoning for destroying Tokyo and Dresden can be used for the "terrorists" (I use quotations because we still have not agreed on what exactly terrorism is) who blew a hole in the side of the Pentagon or brought down the World Trade Center. For instance, they might declare that the Pentagon housed military officers and civilian administrators in charge of warfare operations against them therefore they were legitimate targets and any civilian janitors, fast food employees, etc. that died as a result were collateral damage. Similarly, they might try and reason away that those who were killed in the World Trade Center were civilians whose tax money is spent on the bullets, bombs, tanks, planes, etc. We can reason away any act if we please, but the act in itself is what concerns me. So what they might, in the end it under the Army definition that I just cannot get around it was terrorism.

    As for "the mining was no more than a blockaded harbor," would it not be terrorism to plant a bomb on the side of the road even if it did not kill anybody? The intent is obviously there, and blockades are generally administered through ships, not explosives. Moreover, mines are indiscriminate and those who planted them knew damn well civilian ships operated by civilians used that port. The mining was not the only act committed; there were several others that included providing military aid (logistics, finance, and weaponry) to ex-Somozan officers who did indeed commit brutal acts against civilians. The International Court of Justice judged in favor of Nicaragua:
    “(2) By twelve votes to three,
    Rejects the justification of collective self-defence maintained by the United States of America in connection with the military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua the subject of this case;
    (3) By twelve votes to three,
    Decides that the United States of America, by training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying the contra forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua, has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State”
    (4) By twelve votes to three,
    Decides that the United States of America, by certain attacks on Nicaraguan territory in 1983-1984, namely attacks on Puerto Sandino on 13 September and 14 October 1983, an attack on Corinto on 10 October 1983; an attack on Potosi Naval Base on 4/5 January 1984, an attack on San Juan del Sur on 7 March 1984; attacks on patrol boats at Puerto Sandino on 28 and 30 March 1984; and an attack on San Juan del Norte on 9 April 1984; and further by those acts of intervention referred to in subparagraph (3) hereof which involve the use of force, has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to use force against another State;
    (6) By twelve votes to three,
    Decides that, by laying mines in the internal or territorial waters of the Republic of Nicaragua during the first months of 1984, the United States of America has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligations under customary international law not to use force against another State, not to intervene in its affairs, not to violate its sovereignty and not to interrupt peaceful maritime commerce;
    (9) By fourteen votes to one,
    Finds that the United States of America, by producing in 1983 a manual entitled "Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas", and disseminating it to contra forces, has encouraged the commission by them of acts contrary to general principles of humanitarian law; but does not find a basis for concluding that any such acts which may have been committed are imputable to the United States of America as acts of the United States of America.”
    http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/icases/inus/inus_isummaries/inus_isummary_19860627.htm

    ”Admit it, Mike, the terrorism was Saddam's against Halabja and is Fidel's against Cuban homosexuals, but is not manifest in our liberation of Iraq as implied by Mr. Shcherban. Or is that inferred...?”

    On this you need no admission from me for it is quite apparent on its own. I have never classified the actions of the U.S. in current Iraq as terrorism. I do however, stand by the fact that the U.S. has committed terrorist acts in the past (state sponsored), which I think should at least be acknowledged as a “mistake” or “flight of justice.” Admit it Bill, the U.S. has not always made the most humanitarian based decisions, and on occasion has done the exact opposite. True, it has done a lot of good, but we cannot ignore its “evil” deeds either, just as we should not forget anybody else’s. There is always room for improvement and I am not suggesting the U.S. is an evil country. On the contrary, we radiate a remarkable amount of compassion and assistance around the globe. Nonetheless, let us not hide the fact that our government has not always made the best decisions for the sake of mankind. Let us at least apologize for some of our unjust actions and not let the nations patriotic drums silence that out, for admitting our shortcomings is exactly what makes us so wonderfully unique from the rest of history. If Clinton can be man enough to own up (sort of) to past “mistakes,” then any of us can! http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/1999/03/scoop10.html

    Best regards and we appreciate your past service,
    Mike


    Bill Heuisler - 3/7/2005

    Better Kipling:
    When you're wounded and lying on Afganistan's plains
    And the women come down to cut up your remains
    Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    And go to your God like a soldier.


    Bill Heuisler - 3/7/2005

    Mike,
    True, words can be used as clubs or political devices. Let's not cheapen the discourse by applying certain words for rhetorical or psychological advantage. The thugee phenomenon in India, for instance, was purportedly a religious activity, but was obviously thievery and murder encased in religious and nationalist rhetoric.

    McVeigh was a terrorist we can agree. His intent was to kill civilians for political reasons and there was no warfare between him and those Government agents he said he was targeting. He didn't care about the civilians or he targeted them; he would better be called a criminal.

    But the "inurgents" in Iraq are engaged to military ends with what has traditionally called guerilla warfare. The Dresden and Tokyo firebombings were part of a larger war and were aimed at the logistical supports of the enemy and were also supposed to demoralize enemy civilians. To condemn Dresden is to condemn warfare since the first raider burned the first stable and since Sherman burned Atlanta. We're talking scale, not semantics.

    The Nicaragua mines were a violation of international
    law, but they were designed to damage, not sink, shipping and the mining was done with publicity to deter shipping.
    No one was killed or injured. Chomsky and Moore both tried to use this incident to besmear the US without mentioning no lives were lost or the atrocities committed by the Sandanistas against Moskito Indians, for instance, at the same time - and where thousands died. This one is a matter of propaganda and the systematic killing of those Indians was truly terrorism, while the mining was no more than a blockaded harbor.

    Admit it, Mike, the terrorism was Saddam's against Halabja and is Fidel's against Cuban homosexuals, but is not manifest in our liberation of Iraq as implied by Mr. Shcherban. Or is that inferred...?
    Bill


    Michael Barnes Thomin - 3/6/2005

    Bill,
    Sorry, one more thing I need to address. You wrote:

    "Terrorism is defined by me by its indiscriminate killing of persons not directly involved in a conflict."


    So then, fire bombing of Dresden and Tokoyo would be considered terorrism?


    Michael Barnes Thomin - 3/6/2005

    Bill,
    Alas! We have discovered where our true problem lies in the use of words! This is the first step to establishing meaningful and fruitful exchanges. Would you classify a bomb left on the side of some civilian transportation route with the intent of detonating supplies meant for civilians, driven by civilians, and/or civilians as terrorism? If so, then Nicaragua vs. United States (1986) was indeed terrorism because the U.S. planted mines in Nicaraguan harbors for those purposes (among many other things), and further, this was proven in a court of law. Hypothetically, using your same logic regarding not specifically targeting a civilian populace, we could assume that the bombing in Oklahoma City targeted government agents and the civilians that died in the process were, unfortunately, simply collateral damage. As well, using your same logic the bombs that have been blowing up Coalition forces and Iraqi forces would not be classified as terrorism either because the targets are military in nature and the civilians that die as a result are just collateral damage. It is easy to understand why defining terrorism is such a delicate issue on the international forum based on these few examples. To clear up all these hypothetical scenarios I for one think it best to stick with the Army’s definition.

    Best regads,
    Mike


    Michael Barnes Thomin - 3/6/2005

    Bill,
    You sound so familar!...

    "The White Man's Burden"

    Take up the White Man's burden--
    Send forth the best ye breed--
    Go bind your sons to exile
    To serve your captives' need;
    To wait in heavy harness,
    On fluttered folk and wild--
    Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
    Half-devil and half-child.

    Take up the White Man's burden--
    In patience to abide,
    To veil the threat of terror
    And check the show of pride;
    By open speech and simple,
    An hundred times made plain
    To seek another's profit,
    And work another's gain.

    Take up the White Man's burden--
    The savage wars of peace--
    Fill full the mouth of Famine
    And bid the sickness cease;
    And when your goal is nearest
    The end for others sought,
    Watch sloth and heathen Folly
    Bring all your hopes to nought.

    Take up the White Man's burden--
    No tawdry rule of kings,
    But toil of serf and sweeper--
    The tale of common things.
    The ports ye shall not enter,
    The roads ye shall not tread,
    Go mark them with your living,
    And mark them with your dead.

    Take up the White Man's burden--
    And reap his old reward:
    The blame of those ye better,
    The hate of those ye guard--
    The cry of hosts ye humour
    (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
    "Why brought he us from bondage,
    Our loved Egyptian night?"

    Take up the White Man's burden--
    Ye dare not stoop to less--
    Nor call too loud on Freedom
    To cloke your weariness;
    By all ye cry or whisper,
    By all ye leave or do,
    The silent, sullen peoples
    Shall weigh your gods and you.

    Take up the White Man's burden--
    Have done with childish days--
    The lightly proferred laurel,
    The easy, ungrudged praise.
    Comes now, to search your manhood
    Through all the thankless years
    Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
    The judgment of your peers!


    Rudyard Kipling (1899), http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/Kipling.html


    Bill Heuisler - 3/6/2005

    Mike,
    I disagree with both of your listed definitions and with your and Mr. Shcherban's designation of US sponsored acts against Cuba as terrorism for the same fundamental reason.
    Neither definition mentions civilians and the targeting of non-military persons. Terrorism against military targets is not terrorism, but combat or guerrilla war. Terrorism is defined by me by its indiscriminate killing of persons not directly involved in a conflict.

    I was a member of Alpha 66 in the mid sixties and we were strictly forbidden to target civilians in any way. When we blew up the oil fields in Santiago with mortar rounds we probably killed civilians, but that was not our intent.
    When we raided a Cuban Army barracks near Camaguey we were intent on killing Cuban soldiers. Unfortunately we killed some civilians who were visiting and that has haunted me all my life, but that was not our intent.

    Atta, OBL, Hamas, and the bombers of markets and polling places in Iraq are attempting to kill civilians because they are easier to kill and because mass murder sends a ruthless message. Please don't get lost in semantics, terrorism is the purposeful murder of civilians for political or criminal reasons.

    When Fidel executed those free-press dissidents last year his purpose wasn't criminal justice, it was terror and the surpression of freedom. Thus there's no comparison between the United States and Fidel Castro in any sense, let alone a logical or moral connection.
    Bill Heuisler


    Bill Heuisler - 3/6/2005

    Mr. Shcherban,
    Estimates, Mr. Shcherban? Estimates like the infamous Lancet study that listed all deaths in Iraq since 2003, called them innocent civilians and blamed the US?
    Their not counting combat deaths of Iraqi soldiers and those killed by so-called insurgents certainly makes them anti-American propagandists and little else.

    By your (their) estimation, free elections, emancipation of Iraqi women and the fall of a tyrant mean nothing.
    Open your eyes. The Bush Doctrine will establish human rights, dignity and freedom wherever it succeeds and your doctrinaire opposition more and more looks like mere partisan hatred of this country and its leader. If that is the truth, the question arises: Why?
    Bill Heuisler


    Arnold Shcherban - 3/6/2005

    The enemies of "democratic revolution", Bill?

    If you and me still be here in say five years, I want
    you to recognize then by acknowledging my absolute hegemony in the sphere of the US foreign policy and world's events in particular, if in 5 years the number of the direct or indirect victims of this "revolution", as some other "revolutions" caused by Americans before this one, would exceed a million (of course not by the estimate of your conservative US friends, but by the estimates of the world's international majority).
    That would be real ultimate test of our abilities to predict and understanding of history, would it not?
    And if you say, that won't happen, would you put your money where your mouth is?
    And if it happens, will you admit that this administration
    was CRIMINALLY responsible for the death of those men, women, and children this " democratic revolution" was supposedly meant for?
    I doubt though you will ever gain enough moral and financial courage to admit your misconceptions, despite all the evidence in the world...


    Bill Heuisler - 3/6/2005

    Mr. Shcherban,
    Please don't evade the issue. You (in effect) called the US a terrorist nation and defended Communist Cuba. You noted Cuba might consider assassinating a US President. You wrote, "...the anti-democratic, violating every human right possible, murderous right-wing regimes, not the side of the population majority." of the US and ignored the fact that Fidel is anti-democratic, violates human rights, has established a murderous Left-wing regime and does not side with his population majority.

    And you did so after 40 years of worldwide terrorism by Castro - from Ireland to Vietnam, from Sri Lanka to Spain and Algeria and from Angola to Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Chile and Uruguay. Naturally Castro's support for the old Machetero terror on Puerto Rico is also forgotten. However, your central claim, the 25 year old, airliner bombing of a Cubana plane is an isolated incident while all the Cuban-directed bloody terror is Castro policy. BTW, did you know those found guilty of the airline attack were Venezuelan? That Bosch was acquitted after 11 years of imprisonment? That Bosch was found innocent several times and still held prisoner until he escaped? Do you care?

    You ignore the much more recent shoot down of unarmed planes of "Brothers to Rescue" over international waters. You ignore the recent visit to Cuba by IRA leader Gerry Adams and Adam's acknowledgement of his debts to Castro.

    Are you aware of the Cuban government support for the growing terror-war of Colombian narco-guerrillas? Do you know Cuba offers safe haven and medical treatment for wounded FARC guerrillas? Do you recall the kidnapping and murder of a prominent Colombian woman by FARC guerrillas? Why defend such people? Why use Cuban backed terrorism as counter for my defense of the United States? Lastly, if you believe this country is so terrible, why are you here?
    Bill Heuisler


    Bill Heuisler - 3/6/2005

    Adam,
    Explanation accepted. Thanks. I enjoyed the attached article and it's relevant to our discussion:

    America's thankless task: U.S. forays pave way for real peace. By Gerard Baker/ Sunday Forum
    Sunday, March 6, 2005

    One of my favorite cinematic moments is the scene in Monty Python's ``Life of Brian'' when John Cleese's Reg, the leader of the People's Front of Judea, is trying to whip up anti-Roman sentiment among his team of slightly hesitant commandos.

    ``What have the Romans ever done for us?'' he asks.

    ``Well, there's the aqueduct,'' somebody says, thoughtfully. ``The sanitation,'' says another. ``Public order,'' offers a third. Reg reluctantly acknowledges that there might have been a couple of benefits. But then steadily, and with increasing enthusiasm, his men reel off a litany of the good things the Romans have wrought with their occupation of the Holy Land.

    By the time they're finished they're not so sure about the whole insurgency idea after all and an exasperated Reg tries to rally them: ``All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?''

    I can't help but think of that scene as I watch the contortions of the anti-American hordes in Britain, Europe and even in the United States itself in response to the remarkable events that are unfolding in the real Middle East today.

    Little more than three years after U.S. forces, backed by their faithful British allies, set foot in Afghanistan, the entire historical dynamic of this blighted region already has shifted.

    Ignoring, fortunately, the assault from clever world opinion on America's motives, its credibility and its ambitions, the Bush administration set out not only to eliminate immediate threats but also to remake the Middle East. In the last month, the pace of progress has accelerated, from Beirut to Kabul.

    Confronted with this awkward turn of events, Reg's angry successors are asking their cohorts: ``What have the Americans ever done for us?''

    ``Well, they did get rid of the Taliban in Afghanistan. 'Orrible bunch, they were.''

    ``All right, the Taliban, I grant you.''

    ``Then there was Iraq. Knocked off one of the nastiest dictators who ever lived and gave the whole nation a chance to pick its own rulers.''

    ``Yeah, all right. Fair enough. I didn't like Saddam.''

    ``Libya gave up its nuclear weapons.''

    ``And then there's Syria. Thousands of people on the streets of Lebanon. Syrians look like they're pulling out.''

    ``I just heard Egypt's going to hold free presidential elections for the first time. And Saudi Arabia just held elections, too.''

    ``The Palestinians and the Israelis are talking again and they say there's a real chance of peace this time.''

    ``All right, all right. But apart from liberating 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan, undermining dictatorships throughout the Arab world, spreading freedom and self-determination in the broader Middle East and moving the Palestinians and the Israelis toward a real chance of ending their centuries-long war, what have the Americans ever done for us?''

    It's too early, in fairness, to claim complete victory in the American-led struggle to bring peace through democratic transformation of the region. Despite the temptation to crow, we must remember that this is not Berlin 1989. There surely will be challenging times ahead in Iraq, Iran, in the West Bank and elsewhere. The enemies of democratic revolution - all the terrorists and Baathists, the sheiks, the mullahs and the monarchs - are not going to give up without a fight.

    But something very important is happening now, something that will be very hard to stop. And, although not all of it can be directly attributed to the U.S. strategy in the region, can anyone seriously argue that it would have happened without it? Neither is it true, as some have tried to argue, that all of this is merely some unintended consequence of an immoral and misconceived war in Iraq.

    It was always the express goal of the Bush administration to change the regime in Baghdad, precisely because of the opportunities for democracy it would open up in the rest of the Arab world. President Bush [related, bio] understands the simple but historically demonstrable thesis that freedom is not only the most basic of human rights, but also the best way to ensure that nations do not go to war with each other.

    In a speech one month before the start of the Iraq war in 2003, Bush laid out the strategy: ``The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life.''

    I doubt that anybody, even the most prescient in the Bush administration or at 10 Downing St., thought the progress we now are seeing would come as quickly as it has.

    But what was clear to the bold foreign policy strategists in Washington was that the status quo that existed before Sept. 11 no longer could be tolerated. Much of the Muslim world represented decay and stagnation, and bred anger and resentment. That was the root cause of the terrorism that had attacked America with increasing ferocity between 1969 and 2001.

    America's critics craved stability in the Middle East. Don't rock the boat, they said. But to the United States, this stability was that of the mass grave; the calm was the eerie quiet that precedes the detonation of the suicide bomb. The boat had a hole and was listing viciously.

    As a foreign-policy thinker close to the administration put it to me, in the weeks before the Iraq war two years ago: ``Shake it and see. That's what we are going to do.'' The United States couldn't be certain of the outcome, but it could be sure that whatever happened would be better than the status quo.

    And so America, the revolutionary power, plunged in and shook the region to its foundations. And it already is liking what it sees.

    ( Gerard Baker writes for The Times of London. )


    Robert F. Koehler - 3/6/2005

    A very balanced, informative and realistic appraisal of the chances of demo's in the Middle East. I bumped around within this site and discovered other interesting commentary and analysis and bookmarked it immediately. One of the main reasons I hang out on this site is because of the oppourtunities it provides to learn something from other points of view. Thanks for the link and the site.


    Michael Barnes Thomin - 3/6/2005

    Bill,
    Forgive me if I did not give much of an answer, but I typically like to keep my posts short and direct.

    You wrote:
    "Mike,
    He did not compare?
    He wrote, "since some US govermental (note, not private) agencies sponsored and supported the specific terrorist attacks on Cuban territory, committed by American citizens of Cuban descent, and I can list for you some of them that HAVE BEEN PROVEN (in difference with the Hugo Chavez case) in the courts of law of this country and other countries, Cuban and other nations fighting the war against international terrorism in all its forms and appearances should either take the steps to assassinate the US president(s) or invade this country for
    the regime change..."

    First, let us agree on the definition of terrorism. For the sake of the argument, let us use the U.S. Army’s defintion of terrorism from US Army Operational Concept for Terrorism Counteraction (TRADOC Pamphlet No. 525-37) , “…the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature...through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear.” Likewise, if you prefer, we can use the following definition of terrorism:

    “The definition of terrorism used in this study comesfrom The Federal Bureau of Investigation, and states that,"Terrorism is the application of psychological pressure (fear)resulting from the threat of or actual employment of indiscriminate violence in the attempt to achieve political gainby a group of individuals whose organization by its' lack ofsufficient size cannot effect change in an accepted manner."2 Asyou can see from the definition, the act of terror can be used byanyone. Fear is a powerful weapon. An act of violence anywherein the world today induces fear everywhere. More important tothis study are the following definitions: international terrorism is, "any heinious act of barbarism committed within the territoryof a third state by a foreigner against a person possessing anationality other than that of the offender for the purpose ofexerting pressure in a conflict not strictly internal in nature.";3insurgency is, "the revolution against civil authority orconstituted government. The insurgency can be either violent ornon-violent."4 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1984/STJ.htm
    I wrote that he did not compare the acts of terrorism on the World Trade Center and those acts of terrorism committed by the U.S. government against Cuba, meaning in degree. You either conveniently or mistakenly left out the sentence before you began the quote, which I will quote as following: “Therefore, based on your own logic and these American laws…” Thus, he is, in his on words and in the same sentence, basing his contention on your own said logic.
    On the one hand, yes, under the two definitions we hopefully agree upon the acts against the World Trade Center would surely be classified as "terrorism," but on the other hand the acts against Cuba (whether you like communism or not) should, using the former definition, be classified as terrorism, and using the latter definition “international terrorism.” I hope that clears any confusion up, and if not I would be glad to elaborate on it more with you.

    Best regards,
    Mike


    Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/6/2005

    We do disagree on some fundamental issues here, Bill, perhaps most mundane being that I do not recall ever insulting you, not have I “assumed facts.” Indeed, in your entire post, you have failed to repudiate even a single fact that I have posted.

    1) “Iraq was a training and funding source for terrorists. The war in Iraq attacks the very foundations of terrorism and we are safer killing them in Falluja than in Jersey City or Detroit. We are safer now. Proof? We've not been attacked in the US since 9/11. That's inarguable proof.”

    Based on your standards of proof (not being attacked) the policies of the previous administration and the Bush administration were 100% effective up until 9/10/2001. Furthermore, if we were not doing ANYTHING other than invading Iraq, than I would agree, no attacks since 9/11 is pretty hard evidence. But what about taking out Afghanistan? Creating the DHS? The PATRIOT Act? Couldn’t I attribute the lack of an attack to any one of those issues, or the simply fact that it takes years to plan large-scale attacks? We have not been attacked since 9/11 (thankfully) and that is a fact, but you are, I think, confusing correlation with causality, assuming that because 2 things (Iraq and no attack) are correlated, one must have caused the other. I disagree and await any additional evidence you have to offer.

    2) “Iraq had the fourth largest armed forces in the world prior to the Gulf War. They had the eighth largest in 2003. Iraq was a formidable enemy. To say otherwise is to denigrate our military. Pundits (who you conveniently forget) predicted huge casualties and are still using the term quagmire in a largely wishful process whereby a defeat for Bush in Iraq is a victory for his enemies.”

    The truth is the truth Bill. Let us not condescend to our military by suggesting that telling them anything other than heroic images of good and evil against all odds will make them feel sad or denigrated. As for the strength of Iraq’s military, who cares what it was BEFORE the Gulf War? If it was so powerful, why did such high ranking military and defense agents within the administration predict such a short conflict? Was Meyers and Rumsfeld simply ignorant on Iraq’s military potential. Further, how could such a “formidable enemy” enemy be defeated so quickly? The very idea of a “formidable enemy” against the worlds greatest superpower seems a little odd, especially in light of the speed of our victory. Also, since when did you believe that pundits know more than analysts? In any event, feel free to post a pundit who says I am wrong, and I will be happy to address it.

    Also, although we can debate the merit of terming what is happening a “quagmire,” this is unrelated to the issue of how powerful the Iraqi military was or how fast the actual military war would end compared to “winning the peace” to use a popular euphemism.

    Finally, you may accuse those who are not supportive of the war to “want” us to fail just as you have already accused us of supporting terrorists (and you accuse ME of insults!) but based on your analysis, it would be impossible for anyone to oppose ANY war or conflict at all. Since the president has the authority to unilaterally send troops anywhere in the world, do you suggest that the public can never oppose it since doing so would wish for failure, help our enemies, and demoralize the troops? I disagree, and so did the Founding Fathers who included a Bill of Rights in the Constitutions for a reason (remember they were no strangers to a war that was widely opposed).

    3) “When you quote Robertson, Goldberg and Goering in a discussion to prove no casualties were expected, that lies and treasonous utterances about our troops in combat are constitutionally protected, to show how criticizing our war effort is patriotic, and that my objections to those lies are somehow Nazi-like then I must respectfully decline further comment lest I write things I may regret about someone I had come to respect.”

    Bill, I appreciate your restraint, but may I recommend you re-read my post. I believe if you do, you will see that each of my points were explained with evidence and logic and that I invite you or anyone else to respond to any one of them in kind. For example, you obviously do not trust Robertson (which surprises me actually) but you do not address anyone else that I quote, indeed you write your post as if I never brought them up?

    Furthermore, I neither said nor implied that your objections are “Nazi-like.” I merely pointed out that your suggestion that anyone who opposes anything about the current Iraq operation is helping the terrorists is a common and traditional tactic. I added the Goring quote because it articulates what I believe to be, more or less, accurate. Not to suggest that anyone is acting like a “Nazi.” If you disagree with it, by all means, explain how your comment differs from what the quote says rather than simply a knee-jerking rejection of the author.


    Michael Barnes Thomin - 3/6/2005

    Mr. Moshe,

    For what it is worth, I agree with post #55394 fully. Might I also add this quote (somewhat relevant to the discussion):

    "The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

    Theodore Roosevelt, “Lincoln and Free Speech,” The Great Adventure (vol. 19 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed.), chapter 7, p. 289 (1926).


    Michael Barnes Thomin - 3/6/2005

    A terrorist, is a terrorist, is a terrorist, and so on... The degree is another matter entirely. From his post, he was not saying they were the on par, but simply that they were both acts of terrorism, and further, pointed out that under your logic the pot was calling the kettle black.


    Bill Heuisler - 3/6/2005

    Adam,
    We disagree at such a fundamental level we cannot even agree on basics to use as starting points. And now you begin the oldest trick: Assume facts and insult me.

    I believe:
    1)Iraq was a training and funding source for terrorists. The war in Iraq attacks the very foundations of terrorism and we are safer killing them in Falluja than in Jersey City or Detroit. We are safer now. Proof? We've not been attacked in the US since 9/11. That's inarguable proof.

    2) Iraq had the fourth largest armed forces in the world prior to the Gulf War. They had the eighth largest in 2003. Iraq was a formidable enemy. To say otherwise is to denigrate our military. Pundits (who you conveniently forget) predicted huge casualties and are still using the term quagmire in a largely wishful process whereby a defeat for Bush in Iraq is a victory for his enemies.

    When you quote Robertson, Goldberg and Goering in a discussion to prove no casualties were expected, that lies and treasonous utterances about our troops in combat are constitutionally protected, to show how criticizing our war effort is patriotic, and that my objections to those lies are somehow Nazi-like then I must respectfully decline further comment lest I write things I may regret about someone I had come to respect.
    Bill Heuisler



    Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/6/2005

    1) “While any deaths in combat are tragic, there are causes worth fighting for. To call the losses in Iraq heavy is to ignore history.”

    I disagree entirely. Although it is true that casualties in Iraq have been tremendously low by historical standards, the yard stick that I use the administrations, not history's. It has been well over a year now since the President declared the end of major combat operations, and yet the death toll of Americans alone has been over 1,500. As for whether they died for a cause worth fighting for, that is another matter entirely.

    2) “American casualties in Iraq do not reflect the fact that we destroyed the eighth largest army in the world (Jane's - we're sixth) that possessed 500 T-72 tanks and another 1500 lesser MBTs in 2003 - in a place bigger than Arizona with a much worse climate - in a relatively short time.”

    I cannot help but notice your implication that we defeated a mighty and worthy foe. Although I do not want to take anything away from our fine military, I also feel no need to exaggerate the strength of the Iraqi army, which was a mere shadow of what it once was. The Iran-Iraq war plus the first Gulf war combined with sanctions did not make Iraq some paper tiger, but it also left no question that any military struggle it had with the US could only have one result. Aside from whether or not Iraqi troops would use WMD against American forces, I am unaware of any analyst suggesting even the possibility of an American military defeat (although this is not to say that such analysts were not out there, I am simply not familiar with any).

    3) “Considering the fact we're staving off another 9/11 by killing terrorists in Iraq and changing the political climate throughout the Middle East to defeat terrorism, I would venture that we are suffering these casualties in an excellent cause.”

    Were that such opportunity costs directly measurable, I might agree. However, since I believe the attack on Iraq has made us far more vulnerable to an attack, not less, I cannot agree with that variable.

    4) “Looting the museum? This is old news, Adam. The museum was never looted because the curators hid all the valuable and perishable items before the invasion. In any case, they blamed the US for a crime that didn't happen.”

    I have not heard this particular conspiracy theory. You are suggesting that the looting everyone reported, the looting that prompted 3 White House cultural advisers to resign, never happen? I would be very interested in reading your source for this information, if you could kindly post it, I will consider your allegation.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/2958009.stm

    5) “President Bush has never said the war on terror would be short, in fact the SOU speech right after the invasion mentioned repeatedly that we were in for a long haul.
    This short war myth was started during the triumphal talk after we took Baghdad in such a short time. Neither Rummy nor the President has ever talked about a short war.”

    Because I do not believe that the war on Iraq is part of the war on terror, your statement is true, he never said that the “war on terror” would be short.” However, when it comes to the war in Iraq, his administration said exactly that. Prior to the conflict, Defense Sec. Rumsfeld said the war would last “weeks, not months,” and Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, predicted “a short, short conflict” against an Iraqi force that was "much weaker" than it was in the 1991 Gulf War.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-03-31-then-and-now-usat_x.htm

    Also, if Pat Robertson is to be believed, he claimed that Bush told him that there would be “no casualties” prior to the conflict. Of course, the WH disputes this and I have no reason to believe Robertson over Bush, but it is worth noting that Robertson, the guy who blamed 9/11 on abortionists and gays, is no flaming liberal out to get Bush.
    http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/10/19/robertson.bush.iraq/

    Indeed, up until the war was already underway, I would say that at the very least, the administration remained ambiguous about the costs, and duration of the war with Iraq, and I believe it was a deliberate attempt to rally public opinion on his side. Certainly, once combat had started and support jumped to soaring levels did the president attempt to lower some of the hightened expectations about the conflict.

    6) “Morale is a big part of any war effort. If you like, I'll put you in touch with some Marine units on line and you can ask how those volunteer combat grunts feel about all the doom-sayers and defeatists in the media and elsewhere.”

    And if you like, I can put you in touch with marines and army personnel that I know and they will tell you that it is a myth that some public opposition has a significant impact on morale. But of course, those examples don't prove anything other than that we know soldiers that have different opinions and observations, do they?

    As far as I am concerned, I have seen no evidence that domestic opposition to a conflict has ever effected troop morale. Rather, not having the necessary equipment, loosing men in combat, appearing to be unsuccessful, and having a high mortality ratio would seem to have a far stronger correlation.

    Furthermore, given the tremendous public support for this conflict and the immense praise and admiration heaped on soldiers even from the harshest critics of the war (even Michael Moore spent part of his film praising the American military, even following through with a book about letters he has received from soldiers), the idea that soldiers in the field would feel low morale because policy experts, intelligence analysts, and some media pundits have raised legitimate questions about this conflict is simply too much for me to buy.

    Finally, in a democracy, no one should ever silence themselves about speaking out against an unjust war (not to say that this is such a war, but in general terms) simply because it might make the soldiers feel bad.

    7) “Giving encouragement to the terrorists prolongs their resistance and costs us the lives of more Marines.”

    This, of course, is simply propaganda, the likes of which has been seen by a portion of every society that has been at war.

    I am reminded of the words of Herman Goering, whose quote seems particularly prophetic in some circles in this country today:
    “Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”

    This accusation, that criticism only helps the enemy was seen in the Sedition Acts during the Adams presidency, and it is with us today.

    8) “Imagine a similar cacophony during WWII. There our parents faced a similar implacable, ruthless and dedicated enemy - but our parents were united.”

    In WWII, the threat was entirely different, and even then, I would be saying the same thing: let the skeptics voice their pacifism in an open and free democracy, and see what the people decide. I have every confidence that when push comes to shove, and Americas are given the truth about the situation, they will, in the aggregate, make the right choice most of the time.

    As for this myth that in WWII, we united behind our leader, this is simply not true. In the election of 1944, for example, Thomas E. Dewey, the GOP nominee, slammed the president as an incipient dictator and a pawn of radicals. Even leading up to the war, the election of 1940 was not without an election. In that years, Republican candidate Wilkie campaigned against the New Deal and the government's lack of military preparedness. During the election, Roosevelt preempted the military issue by expanding military contracts. Wilkie then reversed his approach and accused Roosevelt of warmongering.

    Thus even then, in our finest hour, the freedom to oppose a sitting president simply because we are at or near war, was simply not accepted. Today, having seen presidential deceit in virtually all areas from war (LBJ), to campaigning (Nixon) to terrorism (Reagan) to the bedroom (Clinton), the obligation to question what we see as wrong is even more urgent.

    http://slate.msn.com/id/2097789/

    Allow me to end this post with some words that we would do well to remember:

    "It is fundamental that the great powers of Congress to conduct war and to regulate the Nation's foreign relations are subject to the constitutional requirements of due process. The imperative necessity for safeguarding these rights to procedural due process under the gravest of emergencies has existed throughout our constitutional history, for it is then, under the pressing exigencies of crisis, that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with fundamental constitutional guarantees which, it is feared, will inhibit governmental action. The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances ... In no other way can we transmit to posterity unimpaired the blessings of liberty, consecrated by the sacrifices of the Revolution.”
    --U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez (1963)


    Bill Heuisler - 3/6/2005

    Mike,
    He did not compare?
    He wrote, "since some US govermental (note, not private) agencies sponsored and supported the specific terrorist attacks on Cuban territory, committed by American citizens of Cuban descent, and I can list for you some of them that HAVE BEEN PROVEN (in difference with the Hugo Chavez case) in the courts of law of this country and other countries, Cuban and other nations fighting the war against international terrorism in all its forms and appearances should either take the steps to assassinate the US president(s) or invade this country for
    the regime change..."

    Please explain how this juxtaposition of the word terrorist with American citizens of Cuban descent and with US president(s)somehow depicts, illustrates or turns my "malleable moral logic" against me. Do you mean to equate Hugo Chavez with John Kennedy? Or perhaps you see similarities between Mohamed Atta's fanatic killers and the Cuban-American members of The Brigade at Playa Jiron.
    Do you consider Fidel an innocent victim of terrorism?

    Do you have a moral compass - malleable or otherwise?
    Bill Heuisler


    Bill Heuisler - 3/6/2005

    Adam,
    While any deaths in combat are tragic, there are causes worth fighting for. To call the losses in Iraq heavy is to ignore history. Compared with the more than 405,000 American personnel killed in World War II and the 58,000 killed in Vietnam, American casualties in Iraq do not reflect the fact that we destroyed the eighth largest army in the world (Jane's - we're sixth) that possessed 500 T-72 tanks and another 1500 lesser MBTs in 2003 - in a place bigger than Arizona with a much worse climate - in a relatively short time. In WWII, we lost an average of 300 troops a day. In Vietnam we lost about 15. We lose two per day in Iraq.

    Tragic, yes, but not heavy. Considering the fact we're staving off another 9/11 by killing terrorists in Iraq and changing the political climate throughout the Middle East to defeat terrorism, I would venture that we are suffering these casualties in an excellent cause.

    Looting the museum? This is old news, Adam. The museum was never looted because the curators hid all the valuable and perishable items before the invasion. In any case, they blamed the US for a crime that didn't happen.

    President Bush has never said the war on terror would be short, in fact the SOU speech right after the invasion mentioned repeatedly that we were in for a long haul.
    This short war myth was started during the triumphal talk after we took Baghdad in such a short time. Neither Rummy nor the President has ever talked about a short war.

    Morale is a big part of any war effort. If you like, I'll put you in touch with some Marine units on line and you can ask how those volunteer combat grunts feel about all the doom-sayers and defeatists in the media and elsewhere.
    Giving encouragement to the terrorists prolongs their resistance and costs us the lives of more Marines.

    Like I said, I'm not referring to your more clinical and academic approach, but there are some on this site who seethe with hatred for the President, constantly ridicule our efforts in Iraq and castigate the troops for killing civilians and torturing POWs. This false propaganda hurts our war effort. Imagine a similar cacophony during WWII.
    There our parents faced a similar implacable, ruthless and dedicated enemy - but our parents were united.
    Bill Heuisler


    Arnold Shcherban - 3/6/2005

    No Bill you don't have to assume anything; all you have to do is to read what I actually said.
    And if it seems to you that I send some coded messages to Fidel Castro, I'm about to decode what I said for you.
    I said that terrorist act in its strict international interpretation is the terrorist act regardless by whom
    it was committed.
    Therefore when the terrorists from the US blew up Cuban
    factory, eg. killing 240 Cubans or blew up Cuban passenger airliner it should have been considered as egregious, as any other terrorist
    act committed against the US or any other country in the world, "evil" or holy, irregardless of scale, especially taking in the account the relative size of the two countries in question. It also should have the same consequences (if any) for the country of those terrorists come from, as 9/11 had for Afhganistan.
    That's what I basically said.
    Concerning Marxists being defeated in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile and recently in Uraguay I tell you what:
    provided Marxists could have terrorized the population of
    this country as monstrously as the Right Fascists terrorized the populace of those Central and Latin American countries, and then the elections were conducted here, in the US, neither Repubs nor Dems would never get even 10% of the votes.
    Nice try, Bill, but read what the common people and independent journalists in those countries said about the reasons behind those "victories", not their pro-American elite and the right "democratic" press the latter have in their pockets.

    And to get more details read the greatest contemporary
    interpreter of the US foreign policies Noam Chomsky.

    "Confiscation and imprisonment"? Have I ever said that they are "manifestations of human rights"???????
    It looks like you specifically pile up some stupidities
    ascribing them to me in order to avoid debating on the
    essence of my posts.


    Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/5/2005

    An interesting article I thought I would share with everyone here:

    http://foreignpolicy.com/story/files/story2705.php


    Michael Barnes Thomin - 3/5/2005

    "To compare raids on Cuban shipping and tank farms with 9/11 is particularly egregious."

    In short, he did not "compare" them. He simply used your malleable moral logic against you.


    Regards,
    Mike


    Jonathan Pine - 3/5/2005

    My response was to Mr. Koehler’s #55268 post.

    My comment referred ONLY to Mr. Koehler’s statement about elections in AMERICA: "But if it should so turn out that the electoral process cannot be trusted anymore, than where does that leave the American people, us?"

    To understand my comment would require reading at least two books by Leo Strauss: Natural Right and History, and On Tyranny.


    Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/5/2005

    1) “The word, "inevitable" is yours, not mine. I wrote,
    "President Bush's strategic vision for freedom and Democracy in The Middle East is slowly, but surely becoming a resounding success. Your long-winded Jeremiads are becoming absurd." Those words remain true.”

    Your insults are no more true now then they were in your original post. As for my terminology, according to my thesaurus, the word “surely” can also be substituted for “definitely” and “unquestionably.” If you would prefer I use one of those words instead, by all means, insert them into my sentence.

    2) “Your side's constant pessimism and doom-saying has hurt our war efforts and has been untrue from the beginnings of planning for the Iraq invasion.”

    By what basis do you make such a charge that it is harmed our war effort? As for being untrue from the beginning, I believe a record of the administrations pre-war claims demonstrate that “my side” has no monopoly on false and inaccurate predictions.

    3) “Recall the casualty predictions? The looted museum? Quagmire? All untrue.”

    Are you actually arguing that the casualties have been light, the museums not looted, and the prospects of troops staying for far longer than originally predicted are untrue? If that is what you are suggesting, I would ask for your sources on this information, because I could certainly provide sources that suggest the exact opposite. Whether you would care to believe them is, of course, your prerogative.

    4) “I'm not accusing you of this - you're too reasonable and intelligent - but I do notice your acknowledgements of the President's recent successes are grudging at best.”

    I appreciate your kind words Bill. If I did not think the same of you, I would not waste my time responding to your posts.

    My acknowledgement of Bush’s success is less a hesitation on him than of that part of the world. I can think of numerous times when Bush behaved truly as a national leader. His actions following 9/11 for example, and his willingness to follow through with a threat that he has made. I also think that his willingness to confront Saddam Hussein (I refer to the events preceeding the invasion- forcing the UN to reinstate inspections, forcing Saddam to accept far more stringent rules than before, etc.) was an act of resolute leadership. It is the invasion itself, as you know, that I have questioned from the beginning, not confronting the threat Iraq may/may not have posed.

    Transforming the Middle East however, is tricky, and it is a task bound by more than just the President of the United States. I would be saying this if Washington himself were here.

    In other words Bill, it is not Bush that I am hesitant about, it is the ability of countries that have become so indoctrinated with anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Westernism in general suddenly given the right to vote. Democracy is all fine and good, but do we really want Saudi Arabians and Pakistanis choosing their leaders? It is a cynical view on my part, I freely admit, but if I am being honest, I question whether or not rushing to democracy without economic and market structures and institutions first is really in Americas best interests right now.


    Robert F. Koehler - 3/5/2005

    Mr. Heuisler

    "The invasion of Iraq a "disaster"?"

    It pains me that I have to say the following: "Sir: did you really read the post and the links to the articles within?" And in having said it, it doesn't surprise me there is a clear need in having to say it! Had you done that you may have come to understand the context the above remark was made in.

    The article in question is one recently published by Mr. Pollard on the CFR website, jointly with a Mr.Takeyh, kindly forwarded to me by Mr. Moshe. Its a good read and I highly recommend you read it. My comment of "disaster" was in regard to many analysts like Mr. Pollard who supported the invasion of Iraq but later came to regret it. He publically conceded that he was wrong on that issue in June of last year when he published another article entitled: "Morning After, How They Screwed It Up" on the Brookings Institution website. That's a good read and you should read that one too. Here is the site:

    http://www.brook.edu/views/articles/pollack/20040628.htm

    Nor has Mr. Pollard changed his mind since the last lines in his recent essay, the bottom line if you will, is adroitly addressed to your lord, god, savior and master.

    "Rather than continue to criticize everyone else's Iran policy, the United States should stop making perfect the enemy of good enough. Washington has a chance to curb Tehran's alarming behavior, with the help of its allies and without resort to force. If it does not seize the opportunity now, at some point soon it will likely wish it had."

    As I told you before I am non-partisan and a-political as concerns any political party. I renounce, condemn and damn them all. That is no doubt a minority view here but am happy that I have finally come to my senses as concerns what passes for democracy(?) or politics in this country. Your loving it ain't my problem.


    Bill Heuisler - 3/5/2005

    Adam,
    The word, "inevitable" is yours, not mine. I wrote,
    "President Bush's strategic vision for freedom and Democracy in The Middle East is slowly, but surely becoming a resounding success. Your long-winded Jeremiads are becoming absurd." Those words remain true.

    Your side's constant pessimism and doom-saying has hurt our war efforts and has been untrue from the beginnings of planning for the Iraq invasion. Recall the casualty predictions? The looted museum? Quagmire? All untrue. Problem is they think they're Cassandras, but they are really indulging wishful thinking because they hate Bush.
    I'm not accusing you of this - you're too reasonable and intelligent - but I do notice your acknowledgements of the President's recent successes are grudging at best.
    Bill Heuisler


    Bill Heuisler - 3/5/2005

    Mr. Shcherban,
    To compare raids on Cuban shipping and tank farms with 9/11 is particularly egregious. Shall we assume you now sympathize with Fidel Castro along with Hugo Chavez?
    Again, your very selective choices for empathy show a particular blindness toward basic human rights.

    Fidel Castro presides over Sierra Maestra concentration camps for homosexuals and keeps a large proportion of dissidents and political opponents on The Isla De La Juventud. He recently murdered members of a group who merely wanted to form a political party and had the chutzpah to ask for free elections. Fidel Castro also imprisons the relatives of Cubans who have the nerve to flee his Socialist Paradise and he won his last election with over 90% of the vote. Jimmy Carter did not monitor that particular election - even he was embarrassed.

    Perhaps you've been misled when you assert in part:
    "...as it has happened in Nicaragua, San-Salvador, Argentina, Chili, Paraguay, Uruguay and other countries of Central and Latin America with the US somehow always taking side of the anti-democratic, violating every human right possible, murderous right-wing regimes, not the side of the population majority."

    Now reality:

    The Marxists have been defeated in free elections in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile and recently in Uraguay where a Left-coalition defeated an Army-supported Rightist candidate. In every case the US supported free elections and the Marxists did not. While Ortega headed Nicaragua's Marxist-oriented Sandinista government from 1979 to 1990, he twice jailed the current President, Bolanos, for brief periods. Bolanos, an engineer who studied at St. Louis University in Missouri, focused much of his 2001 campaign on reminding people of the economic and military difficulties of the Ortega era. Bolanos's cotton and coffee fields were confiscated, as was much private property after the Sandinista National Liberation Front marched into Managua in 1979.

    Confiscation and imprisonment are not manifestations of human rights, Mr. Shcherban, they are manifestations of Marxism and Socialism. The US has consistantly supported freedom and Democracy in the Western hemisphere since Ronald Reagan.
    Bill Heuisler



    Arnold Shcherban - 3/4/2005

    Yes, if he really and knowingly helps actual terrorists he deserves whatever you say he deserves, though Venezualians don't deserve to be invaded by anyone or experience the niceties similar to Pinochet's regime in Chili after the coup (and it can't be reversed otherwise,
    since Chavez currently enjoys great population support).
    However, there are, at the least, a couple of problems with your assertions:
    First, that in accordance with the laws and constitution of this very country, the accusations (especially, so grave) don't prove the guilt, and his guilt has not been proved in any court of law in any country.
    Second, the laws are to be applied equally to every party
    involved in similar crimes.
    Therefore, based on your own logic and these American laws, since some US govermental (note, not private) agencies sponsored and supported the specific terrorist attacks on Cuban territory, committed by American citizens of Cuban descent, and I can list for you some of them that HAVE BEEN PROVEN (in difference with the Hugo Chavez case) in the courts of law of this country and other countries, Cuban and other nations fighting the war against international terrorism in all its forms and appearances should either take the steps to assassinate the US president(s) or invade this country for
    the regime change...
    Somehow I feel the latter equal-based proposition won't lie comfortably with you.
    You also mentioned Columbian FARC, considered to be terrorist organization by the US goverments. I won't
    argue this characterization of FARC, though I could of based on facts and specifics of the historical developments in that country. But again, should the US State Department enlist the Columbian paramilitary and military under the same category organizations, even according to numerous reports of the US embassy officials
    accredited in Columbia, not mentioning huge mass of the respective evidence collected by many Human Rights groups in the course of the last 20 years.
    Somehow, again, I don't think this ever happens.
    And of course, it is inconceivable to you that FARC's terrorist activity (no matter how criminal it is/was)might have been just an equal reaction to the previous govermental murderous actions against anyone just raising their voice against social and political practices of those aided and fully supported by the US goverments as it has happened in Nicaragua, San-Salvador, Argentina, Chili, Paraguay, Uruguay and other countries of Central and Latin America with the US somehow always taking side
    of the anti-democratic, violating every human right possible, murderous right-wing regimes, not the side of the population majority.
    Tell me now more bed-time tales about "spreading democracy and freedom around the world", while suppressing them at your back yard that the US strategists considered Central America to be.


    Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/4/2005

    1) “Bush's strategy "counterproductive"?”

    Correct. Let us assume for the moment that the goal of the administration is prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. It’s policy thus far has been intimidation and threats. Although Iran has had nuclear ambitions for some time, it has never seriously risked the international isolation, and economic consequences of going through with it. Seeing the discrepancy between our treatment of nuclear-free Iraq and the nuclear powered N. Korea, Iran had every incentive to begin building its own insurance policy against an invasion. The administrations hostile and threatening rhetoric towards the country has, at minimum, failed to sway Iran. Finally, they are cooperating with the Europeans in trying to convince Iran that it is not in its interest to obtain a nuclear weapon.

    2) “The invasion of Iraq a "disaster"? Democracy "used to defeat liberty"? Where have you three been since January 30th?”

    I have not made these statements, so I will allow their authors the opportunity to respond to them.

    3) “Three million refugees have returned to Afghanistan; the Emirates and Kuwait held elections with women voting; Pakistan and India are talking of peace, as are Israel and the Palestinians; Lebanon is confronting the Syrians; Libya gave up its nuclear ambitions and both Egypt and the Saudis are talking of free elections.”

    The assumption you make here is that Bush has caused all of these things. This is partly true, American policy in the region is extremely important and PART of Bush’s strategy has been tremendously successful, such as his ostracizing of Arafat, thus forcing the Palestinians to create an alternate political structure that was able to fill the vacuum after Arafat’s death. However, while it would be a mistake to minimize the tremendous gains in freedom over the past few years in the region and to dismiss the connection to the Iraq invasion, it would be equally erroneous to claim victory just yet, or to credit the administration for some of what you say.

    Bush did not kill Arafat, which was the real instigator of recent events in that area, nor has he anything to do with events in Pakistan, which have far more to do with the progressive (yet wholly undemocratic) President Musharraf than anything else, and there is evidence to indicate that Libya seized the moment rather than Bush.

    As for Egypt and Saudi elections, I do not mean to minimize their significance. I am extremely excited about both developments and if democracy truly does blossom in the region, I will be more than happy to concede that perhaps the ends will have justified the means (being the invasion of Iraq).

    However, let us retain some realistic expectations. Just what these steps lead to remains unclear, and the future stability of Iraq is hardly certain. Optimism is a good thing, but declaring that freedom and democracy are now inevitable at this stage in the game represents the same partisan blindness that you accuse so many others of exhibiting.


    Bill Heuisler - 3/4/2005

    Messers Pine Moshe and Koehler,
    Bush's strategy "counterproductive"? The invasion of Iraq a "disaster"? Democracy "used to defeat liberty"? Where have you three been since January 30th?

    Your comments are obviously based on dislike for the Bush administration and not on reality. You fail to see the landslide effect of people power when citizens are given the freedom to run their governments.

    Three million refugees have returned to Afghanistan; the Emirates and Kuwait held elections with women voting; Pakistan and India are talking of peace, as are Israel and the Palestinians; Lebanon is confronting the Syrians; Libya gave up its nuclear ambitions and both Egypt and the Saudis are talking of free elections.

    President Bush's strategic vision for freedom and Democracy in The Middle East is slowly, but surely becoming a resounding success. Your long-winded Jeremiads are becoming absurd.
    Bill Heuisler


    Jonathan Pine - 3/4/2005

    "But if it should so turn out that the electoral process cannot be trusted anymore, than where does that leave the American people, us?"

    With the truth, if it can be recognized. But which truth will the people go along with? problem is, there is this highly influential, organised powerful, and well funded Force composed of Straussian indoctrinated neocons on the scene with their own truth and who have the ear of the White House. Funny though, Leo Strausse, the very man the neoconservatives idolize, disliked liberalism and democracy. Yet people like Kristol, Fukuyama, Bloom) have twisted it so democracy can be used to defeat liberty.

    People also have to start realising the importance of the recent social changes in America, how historically significant they are. But that won’t happen until America develops an education system that will bring the majority of the American population into the national dialogue. Maybe that will come too late to make a difference. I don’t think there is really anything culturally and politically comparable to current events since the period after WW I.


    Robert F. Koehler - 3/4/2005

    Mr. Moshe

    The "Ticking Clock" by Kenneth Pollack and Ray Takeyh is quite good and in harmony with other analyses I have read. Though Pollack himself was a strong supporter of this administrations invasion of Iraq, he and many other "pragmatists" within the foreign policy establishment have since changed their tunes and recognize it for the disaster it has become. Many have now sided with the once formally abandoned "realists" (who opposed the invasion) into pressuring the Bush administration into a more moderate and diplomatic approach, not only with the EU & Russia, but also via the Eurasian agenda of negotiations with Iran over the nuclear issue. This change appears clear to me from George's euro visit and recent news reports of the administrations sudden switch in support for those negotiations and tentative acceptance of Iran into the WTO. I agree with you that this "turnaround should be praised, as it is a step in the right direction." I hope that it continues and not some devious front to buy time for some later feint accompli. Though the neo-cons have been beaten back they are still present in this administration and surround the President like a body guard.

    As for the "Overstretch Myth" I honestly don't know. From reading various articles concerning economics I get the distinct impression that you can have as many points of view on this subject as you can have tax accountants interpreting the US Internal Code of Revenue. There is no real uniformity in opinion, especially when the discussions wander into the economic advantages, effects & consequences upon geo-politics and globalism. A real cat fight. Consequently, I prefer the wise advise that economists are people who are trying to sell you something and that buyers should beware. Observing the slight panic that temporarily plunged the US market when word leaked that S. Korea was going to diversify a portion of its reserve currency tells me the national debt problem is a lot more serious than the article admits. Greenspan's recent testimony before Congress on this very issue was his strongest yet demanding that our pols immediately start addressing it. He doesn't care how they do it, so long as they start doing it now and quickly.

    Historical examples abound concerning how a nations foreign debt burden can be used as a weapon against it. Eisenhower's deft use of Britain's indebtedness to the US over the Suez crises is a classic use of debt as a weapon. I therefore tend to believe our domestic and foreign debt is a serious national security issue, which the authors allude to though they gloss it over with a lot of financial details. Though their point is impressive and overwhelming at first blush, I can't help but wonder what all that paper value would mean if the US should ever have to face a concerted axis of regional powers embarked upon a unified policy of economic warfare against the US. One of the major concerns among foreign policy analysts is the clear intent among regional powers to constrain & contain American hegemony and move the international system from a uni-polar world to a multi-polar world. Another round of Bushian "goose stepping" could compel regional powers from one of dialog and nasent co-operation in emerging diplomatic, trade & security arrangements, that was unthinkable before 9-11, into a full blown global alliance against America. Any one regional power is no threat, but in combination the US will have one hell of a major problem.

    As for my meaning of competence I am basing that on those important components & qualities of character & leadership skills that are so important in a leader, both of which I personally see as glaringly absent in this President. I wasn't all that enthused with Bush in 2000 when I voted for him, which by 2004 I considered it a sacred duty & moral obligation to correct, even though I suspected the election would be stolen then and still suspect so today. There is a lot of concern of what went down in Ohio with even some supporters of Bush agreeing that this issue should be addressed by the Congress. It won't change the election since once the electoral votes are counted the game is officially over, but my participation in the electoral process may likely go the way as my participation within the political process has gone, done, finished and through forever. I am not blind to the extraordinary corruption of the republic and the rackets otherwise known as parties that dominates politics in America today. Its something only a blind-whacked out partisan can adulate and worship. But if it should so turn out that the electoral process cannot be trusted anymore, than where does that leave the American people, us?


    Bill Heuisler - 3/4/2005

    Mr. Shcherban,
    Since you "know that clique and the reaction of the rest of the world to its actions so well." It's odd you should bring up Hugo as someone of concern. Are you really worried that a friend of Fidel, OBL and a friend to terrorists like FARC in Columbia might get his due?

    You should know that two groups have filed suits on behalf of victims of 9/11. One group, Judicial Watch, filed against Venezuela, its President, Hugo Chavez, and the Venezuelan Ambassador to India, Walter Marquez, for material, financial and other support and assistance to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. The lawsuit follows recent revelations of Chavez aid to international terrorist groups. The evidence has been documented by Venezuelan and US military and intelligence officials, among them Chavez's own former personal pilot, Venezuelan Air Force Major Juan Diaz Castillo, and U.S. General James T. Hill, Commander of United States Southern Command.

    The suit alleges that Chavez, as president of Venezuela, in furtherance of his radical agenda, initiated a plan to assist Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda to relocate and train terrorists for attacks on the United States by providing them with at least $1,000,000.00. According to the suit and reported in Fox News, WorldNetDaily, Global News Wire and EFE News Service, Chavez sent the $1,000,000.00 to his ambassador in India, Marquez. Marquez then took the money to Afghanistan to be paid to the Taliban, OBL and al Qaeda. These funds reportedly supported terrorist acts aimed at Americans and U.S. interests. As you know, Judicial Watch is a DC-based public interest group that investigates government corruption and abuse.

    A similar Wrongful Death/Conspiracy suit was filed by a Human Rights group in Spain against Hugo Chavez and other Venezuelan government officials for their involvement in deaths of civilians, among them a Spanish citizen. In the lawsuit filed in Madrid, the human rights lawyers are accusing the Chavez regime of terrorism, aiding and abetting terrorism, and crimes against humanity.

    Nice guy you're worried about. If he helps terrorists he deserves to be a little uncertain about his future.
    Bill Heuisler


    Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/4/2005

    Robert,
    I agree with you that Bush’s strategy of threats and accusations has been terribly counterproductive both in regards to Iran as well as North Korea. This administrations diplomatic skills (to the extent that they can be called skills) has really been devastating when it comes to our policies with those countries.

    Bush has the “sticks” down cold, but no carrots. He seems to genuinely believe that negotiation and “giving in to blackmail” are one in the same and thus both will be refused. All this has done in the case of Iran is create a backlash, driving them to acquire nuclear weapons to deter a country that seems bent on conquest. Bush’s overheated and ill-timed rhetoric doesn’t help either.

    However, I would be remiss if I did not give credit where it is due. Apparently, without fear of re-election, Bush has become far more rational about the matter, and seems willing to finally come to terms with the fact that getting Iran to give up weapons may not be as easy as pointing and giving orders. This turnaround should be praised, as it is a step in the right direction, as is Bush’s attitude towards Europe, which has similarly changed for the better. Bush’s single greatest deficiencies (in my humble opinion) in his first term was his inability to learn from mistakes (or admit them). I am happy to see that his second term is proving a bit more fruitful in that regard.

    I recommend the following article for more on the topic of Iran.
    http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20050301faessay84204/kenneth-pollack-ray-takeyh/taking-on-tehran.html

    I would have to respectfully disagree with your appraisal
    http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20050301facomment84201/david-h-levey-stuart-s-brown/the-overstretch-myth.html

    As for your statement that Bush is “the most extraordinarily incompetent chief executive to ever occupy the White House,” I am not really sure what you measure of competence is. Generally speaking, the mark of a successful politician is their ability to do two things: get elected, and get re-elected. Thus far, Bush has managed to do both of those things, a trick I do not believe a man of incompetence could possibly do. Even assuming that his successes are due to the men around him, it was he who chose those men and thus, deserves the credit for their success.


    Robert F. Koehler - 3/4/2005

    “In any case, I suggest a third and more likely reason for Bush’s ambiguity: he is and has been embarked on a deliberate course of projecting his putative irrationality through threats or hints of using military force in order to instill uncertainty and fear among his adversaries.”

    Well, it appears that tactic doesn't work anymore. Interesting things went down in Europe between our prez and the bosses of old Europe.

    George's tough stance on Iran has changed from sticks to carrots and working with the EU big 3 on either curtailment or unobstructed UN inspection of that countries uranium enrichment program. He was told if the talks fail it will be his fault and if we or one of our allies attacks that country the US is on its our own.

    On the question of the EU dropping the ban on arms trades with China, which is a big issue with stateside hawks, Chirac bluntly told Bush its a done deal. Its reportedly told that George said he doesn't have a problem with it but that the EU had best explain their position with the US Congress. This is unkindly seen as George hiding behind the Congress.

    Chancellor Schroder of Germany caught George off guard when he said that European relations with the US through NATO are done and will henceforth be increasing only relevant through the EU. He also followed that up with demands for a more balanced command paradigm in NATO between the US and the EU.

    Our prez was also told to back off on Putin and his queer fixation on democracy in that country. The private meeting between Putin and our prez was described as a "strained" event by an anonymous presidential aid. During the press conference Putin looked like he wanted to punch George in the mouth every time he opened it, but these media events are nothing more or less than orchestrated circus acts for each pols domestic audience back home. George's last hope here was to see if could persuade Putin from not supplying Iran with nuclear fuel for their new reactor, which the Russians anyway closed the deal on a few days later in Tehran.

    But the most striking revelation of the visit was the unity and confidence of the emerging EU as a regional power and rising competitor. It also elucidates that whenever France and Germany are united, either as empires or working in solidarity all of Europe new or old follows.

    In the US our prez's trip to Europe was billed as a success in easing trans-atlantic tensions. In a sense that was accomplished but probably only because realist foreign policy types had finally penetrated the denseness in George's skull of the need to be accommodating and less confrontational. Condi and Rummy's previous visits were sounding boards to introduce Europe not only to their new selves, but also to the new and improved George Bush. Had those exploratory visits turned out wrong its doubtful George would have visited Europe, or that Europe even cares one way or the other.

    I don't think George is a madman. He is just simply the most extraordinarily incompetent chief executive to ever occupy the White House. The question I have is George learning or is he sand bagging? Time will tell.


    Arnold Shcherban - 3/3/2005

    Sorry for "Shavez", should have been Chavez, of course.


    Arnold Shcherban - 3/3/2005

    Unpredictability of Bush administration's policies?
    Five-year-old can easily predict them, if he knows the meaning of war and peace, diplomacy and threats!
    In fact I don't value too high my own accurate predictions on the Iraq war, Iraq's WMD, current situation in Iraq, today's US "diplomacy" towards North Korea, Iran and Venezuela exactly on the reason mentioned above.
    However, from Mr. Heuisler standpoint, I should have been
    appointed the chief White House astrologer, since I know
    that clique and the reaction of the rest of the world to its actions so well.

    And as the conclusion, let me give you one more prediction: the US either gets Shavez assasinated with the consequent regime change or will use severe economic sanctions and if they won't help direct invasion or invasion by neighboring client states
    (the latter seems less likely).




    Bill Heuisler - 3/2/2005

    Yes, Michael, I must agree with you, the President's policies of strength, clear purpose and determination - coupled with open military options have worked superbly. Afganistan and Libya and Lebanon are prime examples, and the policies are working in Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Iran.
    Bill Heuisler


    Bill Heuisler - 3/2/2005

    Well said, Oscar,
    A balance between warm principle and cold reality must steer US policy.

    We agree in the larger sense of diplomacy and strategic planning - the correct process was illustrated in the last election - when the American people agreed with a President's vision of statecraft and military strategy. However, troops' lives are at risk if either policy is tactically transparent to our enemies after decided upon.
    Imagine the futility if, after Mayor and council decided to crack down on car-busts, the list of surveilled mall parking lots was publicised.

    The Republic must survive for our rights and freedoms to continue. In a more perfect world we could be governed by a grand town-hall process, but in a world where Kim Jong II and OBL exist we must deprive them of foreknowledge they most likely will use to kill our troops.

    Kim Jong II is a perfect example of the madman theory in full repulsive flower: he keeps hold of his basketcase country, huge military and starving people by frightening Japan and China - and us - with his irrationality.

    President Clinton's seemingly random use of missiles and bombers in Africa and the Balkans without Congressional approval was a far better example of a sadly failed attempt at intimidation/coercion. Applying similar standards to President Bush's cautious public statements without acknowledging circumstances of past Presidents betrays a rather typical bias and careless history.
    Bill


    Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/1/2005


    With all due respect, I am forced to question whether you actually read the article. Allow me to highlight the relevant paragraphs in the posts below that seem to contradict what you are accusing the author of saying:

    1) “I am not so sure that one should call oneself a "reasoning intellectual" and then conclude that the only creditible explanation for the Administration's policies is that President Bush is a madman.”

    What the author actually said was this:
    “On the other hand, if Bush and the rad-cons are truly madmen, perhaps Hersh’s prediction is not only plausible but credible. Despite everything, I do not yet accept this assumption. There are militaristic radicals in the White House, yes, but they are not truly irrational, mad, or crazy.”

    As you can see, the author says the exact opposite of what you suggest: he is saying that the most credible explanation is that Bush is NOT mad.

    2) “The policy of "keeping all options open" is one that has been pursued by many administrations, Republican and Democrat alike. The message that this statement is meant to imply (and for good reason) is that the United States should and will always negotiate from a position of strength.”

    I could not agree with you more, and indeed the author agrees:

    “In any case, I suggest a third and more likely reason for Bush’s ambiguity: he is and has been embarked on a deliberate course of projecting his putative irrationality through threats or hints of using military force in order to instill uncertainty and fear among his adversaries.”


    Oscar Chamberlain - 3/1/2005

    Bill,

    You make a good point. Confusion can have an important role in diplomacy

    One problem though, a President can only play that game at the cost of subverting republican government. That is because he must mislead his own public about basic policies of peace and war, and at election time, they must judge him without knowing that the real policy is.

    This is at the core of why an imperial America undermines a republican (or democratic) America. (By "imperial" I simply mean an America that asserts the right to pursue its interests throughout the world by military and other means)

    Maintaining and extending power on that scale requires deception on a grand scale. As you point out, that deception is essential. Thus the more power we assert, the less the public can be told about the wielding of that power.

    The resulting ignorance is the enemy of liberty.


    Lynn Bryan Schwartz - 3/1/2005

    I am not so sure that one should call oneself a "reasoning intellectual" and then conclude that the only creditible explanation for the Administration's policies is that President Bush is a madman. The policy of "keeping all options open" is one that has been pursued by many administrations, Republican and Democrat alike. The message that this statement is meant to imply (and for good reason) is that the United States should and will always negotiate from a position of strength.


    Michael Barnes Thomin - 3/1/2005

    It has worked out just perfecty so far in Iraq, now hasn't it Bill?


    Bill Heuisler - 2/28/2005

    Professor Kimball,
    My impression after reading and rereading your article is that you disapprove of unpredictability in diplomacy. Also, I get the feeling you dislike the US and our President in general terms and think of both as bullies. You wrote of our President's unpredictability, "It is, in other words, a coercive strategy directed against Iran and other states, such as North Korea, but also Syria, and perhaps, indirectly, China. Other small states are, of course, also supposed to be intimidated."

    Then you had the good grace to comment further that,
    "Historians and political scientists—the reasoning intellectuals that we are—usually dismiss such explanations."

    After praising your modesty, I would ask why use the pejorative, madness, when political/military opacity and unpredictability saves lives and has done so throughout history. From Alexander to Caesar to Machiavelli's Lorenzo de Medeci to our landing at Normandy, keeping intentions from enemies has been crucial in maintaining peace and in winning wars. Would you council sharing our intentions with tyrants, Professor, in hopes of Christian Charity and mutual good fellowship?

    Do you prefer the madness of the sacrificial "Tripwire" policy on the DMZ in Korea where our troops have been placed deliberately in the position where they will pay in blood for the folly of a tyrant...a madman? This policy was also followed in West Germany for fifty years.
    And the policy of allowing nuclear parity to the USSR so that a Mutually Assured Destruction will deter certainly cannot be called sane. So why is prudence "madness".

    President Bush, it seems, would rather exhibit strength, ruthlessness and inscrutability than be held ransom to the fleeting wisdom of tyrants. In light of recent events in Libya and Lebanon, the proper name for President Bush's wily designs should be called "Effective theory", or "Good Sense Theory".
    Bill Heuisler