Finally, voices of reason
talk back on Iraq

Editorial Page Editor
    Finally, after weeks of serious talk about taking the suicidal step of pulling American troops out of Iraq — driven by the steady drip of relentless news coverage of a casualty one day, two the next, and virtually nothing else; by poll numbers that fed on that coverage; and by political opportunism on one side of the partisan aisle, and political cowardice on the other — some people who knew better started talking back.
    It started about 10 days ago.
20051126issuecovus400    That’s when The Economist sent out its last week’s edition, with these words on the cover: “Why America Must Stay.”
     After going on at length, with brutal frankness, about the mistakes the Bush administration has made in Iraq (and I urge you to go to my blog — the address is at the bottom of this column — and follow the links to read this and the other items I will mention), the piece gave both the positive reasons and negative reasons why we have no choice but to maintain our force there until the job is done. The “positive” reasons had to do with political and military progress achieved. Some “negative” reasons: “The cost to America of staying in Iraq may be high, but the cost of retreat would be higher. By fleeing, America would not buy itself peace. Mr. Zarqawi and his fellow fanatics have promised to hound America around the globe. Driving America out of Iraq would grant militant Islam a huge victory. Arabs who want to modernize their region would know that they could not count on America to stand by its friends.”
    Then, on Saturday, political scientist James Q. Wilson wrote in The Wall Street Journal of the kind of speech he’d like to hear President Bush deliver. He complained, quite rightly, that the president was wasting time “arguing against critics of the Iraq war who are trying to rewrite history,” when “What most Americans care about is not who is lying but whether we are winning.”
    And we are winning — a fact of which most Americans are tragically unaware. Mr. Wilson went on to tell how the president should explain that. A sample: “We grieve deeply over every lost American and coalition soldier, but we also recognize what those deaths have accomplished. A nation the size of California, with 25 million inhabitants, has been freed from tyranny, equipped with a new democratic constitution, and provided with a growing new infrastructure that will help every Iraqi and not just the privileged members of a brutal regime. For every American soldier who died, 12,000 Iraqi voters were made into effective citizens.”
    Then on Tuesday, Sen. Joseph Lieberman wrote — once again, in the Journal — a piece headlined “Our Troops Must Stay.” Informed by a recent visit to Iraq, his picture of a nation moving towardLiebermaniraq becoming a vital democracy (as long as we don’t abandon it) was even more compelling than the others. But my own anti-partisan heart was probably warmed most by this passage:
    “I am disappointed by Democrats who are more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq almost three years ago, and by Republicans who are more worried about whether the war will bring them down in next November’s elections, than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead.” Amen.
    Why such a flurry of similar statements of good sense all at once? It may be that the voices of grim reason finally piped up in alarmed reaction to the fact that the American people were actually starting to think of doing the unthinkable. They also wrote (very specifically, in Mr. Wilson’s case) in reaction to the appalling leadership vacuum left by the failure of the president of the United States to explain, and keep explaining, to his people the stakes in this war.
    Then finally, finally, finally, the president reported for duty on Wednesday. As he should, he counseled “time and patience.” But he did more important things than that. He not only explained why we must think not of timetables for withdrawal, but measures for success. He also spelled out how we will achieve those goals. He showed a way to outcomes that too many Americans have Bushvictory_1stopped being able to imagine.
    And he addressed the mad talk about timetables for withdrawal, promising that “decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders — not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington.” In other words, by the brave men and women fighting this fight, rather than by Democratic opportunists and Republican cowards.
    “Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw,” he said, “would send a signal to our enemies — that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run and abandon its friends.” Not only that, but it would tell them exactly how long they have to wait — and that would be insane.
    The president’s speech was accompanied by the release of a 35-page “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.” In greater detail than the address, it set out the definition of victory, and the plans for achieving it. It also stated what should be obvious: “(T)he terrorists, Saddamists, and rejectionists do not have the manpower or firepower to achieve a military victory over the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. They can win only if we surrender.”
    There remains much left to be said, and even more to be done. But it is gratifying and reassuring that the president and others are now discussing, in de
pth, the actual situation and what should be done about it. Finally.

21 thoughts on “Finally

  1. Mark Whittington


    You seem to forget how you excluded people on your editorial page who from the beginning disagreed with starting the war. I know several people who desperately tried to get op-ed pieces published in The State, yet you made sure that their voices were not heard. Your editorial page overwhelmingly supported starting the war, and your propaganda is in no small way responsible for getting us into this quagmire. The following pieces were never seen by the public. I tried to warn the public, but you wouldn’t let me. I never thought in a million years that we would actually debase ourselves by torturing captives, yet otherwise the following never published op-eds seem to be mostly accurate predictors of what has happened.

    The Coming Disaster

    Recently, Brad Warthen cogently espoused the contemporary logic being used as a basis for invading Iraq (The uncomfortable truth about why we may have to invade Iraq). Mr. Warthen is refreshingly forthright in his analysis and he patently states the real reason why the Bush administration wants to go to war: to install a pro Western, secularized, “democracy” in the Middle East. The American public is supposed to understand the Bush administration’s vague allusions to its real aim, and in return provide tacit support for an unstated goal. President Bush ostensibly favors liberating the Iraqi people; his real aim however is less obvious. Many people think President Bush’s policies are going to lead to disaster.

    Thomas Friedman, Bush, and their ilk have been advocating the new form of colonialism called Globalization for some time now. In the new world order, incredibly powerful private interests are destined to co-opt nation states, and entire geographic regions. Bush is the pater nostrum of big money, and he is bound and determined to make the Iraqi professional middle class a vassal, secular diocese.

    Granted, Saddam Hussein is a murderous tyrant: he is the absolute embodiment of evil incarnate. So why then did we aid this thug to begin with? Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction were fine just as long as he was using them against local ethnic minorities.

    I can tell you that based on my travels throughout the Middle East that democracy will never take root there until we back off and give these countries some space. The Middle Eastern version of democracy, in my opinion, will undoubtedly be quasi-secular, Pan Arab, and will be amenable to the precepts of Islam. If we are looking to create a SUV driving, money worshipping, yuppie middle class, then we are sadly mistaken because it is just not going to happen in the Middle East.

    I have a sick feeling in my stomach because I don’t foresee anything positive coming from our proposed invasion of Iraq. This war is not going to be another air war with just a few casualties; it is going to be fought from street to street, from house to house. A numerically small force can easily wreak havoc on a much larger military force that is invading a city like Baghdad. Rocket propelled grenades, anti-tank weapons, and small arms will be the weapons of choice and this kind of warfare is going to militate against our technological advantage. Recently I read a report that the Pentagon is planning to launch 800 cruise missiles at Iraq during two days of preemptive air strikes. The idea here is to “Shock and Awe” the Iraqis: to hit them so hard that they lose the will to fight. If we do this and kill a significant number of innocent Iraqi civilians, then we can kiss the Middle East good by-permanently. Otherwise we are going to have to fight man for man, and get a bunch of our own men killed. There has to be a better way.

    Limiting public debate in the US about the war in order to provide a united front in the hope that Saddam and his henchmen will give up is a bad idea. In part, we are in this predicament precisely because our government over the decades has behaved poorly to many of the world’s denizens outside of the American public’s purview. Osama Bin Laden intended to drive a permanent wedge between the West and Middle East, and as of now, it appears that he is succeeding; Bush is playing right into Osama’s hands.

    NOTE: I was an Electronics Technician, Second Class Petty Officer (ET-2, E-5) in the active duty Navy. I was honorably discharged in 1991 (I am 39 years old) with a reenlistment code of RE-1 (i.e., eligible for reenlistment). This rank in the Navy is equivalent to being a Sergeant in the Army. I’ll never portray myself as being a big military man-I was just a sailor doing my job. I’ve known many military folks all of my life, and I’ve seen the good and bad.

    A Response to Joe Wilson

    “During the Vietnam War, George Bush valiantly served his country, heroically defending the borders of Texas in the National Guard from an armed Mexican invasion.” The above quote from a John McCain TV ad in March of 2000 is sarcastic, but it definitely makes a point. The image I conjure from this is as follows: Mr. Bush with three squares a day and a comfy cot, while Mr. McCain suffered in the “Hanoi Hilton” and received beatings for his devotion.
    I cannot understand, and I will never accept politicians who dodged Vietnam by joining the National Guard, and then to this day act like big shot military men.

    Representative Joe Wilson recently published an op-ed piece declaring that no further debate is needed for a proposed war against Iraq. I feel compelled to respond to Mr. Wilson’s suppositions since there is no Democratic Party candidate opposing him.
    Well Mr. Wilson, I have news for you-this is still a representative democracy and what you propose doing is something akin to what a fascist dictatorship would do rather than the course a liberal democracy should follow. I can hardly believe that you could suggest such a thing, and in my opinion, your written statements should henceforth disqualify you from future public office. Exploiting people’s feelings this close to September 11 in order to generate a big money war is unconscionable. America’s working class military should not be used as cannon fodder.

    Mr. Wilson is suggesting that Congress should egregiously neglect its duty to the American people. Debate on important issues of the day is precisely a function of Congress, and declaring war is a constitutional function of our supreme legislative body. The open ended consent of the September 14, 2001 authorization is not enough to start a full-scale war with a nation state. We cannot start wars with other countries just because we do not like them.

    Comparing the threat of Saddam Hussein to that of Adolph Hitler is absolutely ludicrous. Iraq is an enervated, backward third world country. Hitler posed a severe threat to Western Civilization itself. Hussein poses only a very localized threat. Hussein must surely know that any use of weapons of mass destruction against the US would abruptly end the Iraqi nation state.

    As for the argument that congressional debate will tip off Iraq about American intelligence reports, I say, poppycock. What is there to know that Hussein does not already know? He knows that the American military is superior in every way. He experienced the crushing defeat of the Persian Gulf War, and therefore he already knows our capabilities and tactics. Besides, why can’t Congress keep sensitive information outside of the public view if necessary?

    President Bush has in no wise made a case for military intervention against Iraq. Where is the evidence?

    No, what all of this really has to do with is much less about Iraqi terrorist activity than about domestic politics. The Republicans are too closely tied to corporate scandals and many Republicans are trying to shift the focus of the November elections from domestic issues to military issues because they figure they can win more easily by implying that Democrats are unpatriotic if they do not support the war. Healthcare, Social Security, education and a host of other issues are winning issues for Democrats, and this is a ploy to repress the political opposition. I never thought I would see the day when some members of Congress would abrogate the precepts of our system in a most undemocratic way. Our country is in serious trouble.

  2. Jerry Dunn

    There is no “finally” as Brad Warthen would have it except perhaps that he has FINALLY roused himself to hear and read what the President, the Secretary of Defense, our military leaders and many others have been saying for months if not years.
    But then their words and verily even their testimony before the various Congressional Committees seemingly take place in a great media vacuum- -a vast empty place in which words which don’t comport to what “leaders” of the media accept are under reported, IF they are fully reported at all; only then to be quickly ignored not unlike the leaves now falling in our vast forests.
    If you doubt this assessment go to and read the speech which President Bush gave at Tobyhanna Army Depot on Veteran’s Day this year- -only some three weeks ago. Admittedly that speech which set forth why we are in Iraq and the nature of the enemy we face did not contain all the details of Iraqi troop strength contained in his address to the Brigade of Midshipmen. But those details were readily available elsewhere, for example in the sworn testimony by Generals Myers [then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs] Abizaid, Commander CentCom, and Casey, the Coalition Force Commander in Iraq and Secretary Rumsfeld before the Senate Armed Services Committee. They, the Generals, set forth in detail and responded to repeated detail questions by Senators of both parties: regarding the status of Iraqi forces; their growing capabilities including our “metrics” for reporting unit performance and capability; and how they are being deployed, including their assumption of greater combat responsibility as their performance has increased- – their increased involvement at the “tip of the spear”. Since General Myers retired from active duty on October 1, it is clear this particular C-span broadcast of the Senate hearing occurred in early to mid September- -surely well before the past ten days flurry noted by Mr Warthen. [That merely by way of a single example of the vast array of “news” and status reporting which has been available.]
    So maybe the problem is all this great detail was not “packaged” in the neat bundle desired by Mr Wathan nor did they move “The Economist”, nor Mr Wilson. Senator Lieberman thankfully was moved to speak out with great clarity upon his return from his most recent inspection trip to Iraq as contained in his WSJ op-ed- -there are a “few good men”! [I can’t help but also note how resolutely the mainstream media has ignored the content of the Lieberman report- -once again a statement and facts which didn’t fit the “mold” and so after a brief report buried on in the back page was ignored the next day while on the FRONT PAGE they continued to concentrate instead on grossly inflating and over reporting the “old news” that John Murtha finds the war “unwinnable”!]
    But then I thought the role of journalists, including Mr Wathan was to seek out and find the news, not wait for it to be packaged neatly to suit their desires and handed to them!
    So while I am delighted that Mr Wathan has suddenly been moved to read what informed and responsible people have been saying about why we are in Iraq; the vital nature of achieving success there; the nature of the enemy we face; the growing strength and performance of Iraqi forces deployed to defend their people and their country. All this capped by the remarkable and again vastly underreported progress which has been made by elected Iraqi politicians acting for the people of Iraq who labored to author a Constitution “they said” couldn’t be done; which won ratification even again while “they”, the usual media and Washington cynics, said was at very best “problematic”; and now at the end of a momentous year of political developments in Iraq they are within days of electing officials under their new Constitution. Breathtaking progress all achieved in the midst of armed terrorists attacks with small assistance from the UN, or from “the international community”– or verily supported or reported by our national media!
    Meanwhile at home even the real progress being made is largely ignored and demeaned while too many crass partisans seek political advantage in attacking the war, the President’s credibility and why we are there. Sadly I include John Murtha therein! Does the media report those startling events- -unprecedented in our contemporary history? No they are too busy advancing and facilitating those partisan attacks! Meanwhile the President of the United States has remained resolute and focused on the achieving the mission of raising up a Democratic Iraq even as we fight and defeat the Islamic fascists who threaten our security and that of the free world. In so doing he has remained ever mindful of the overwhelming consequences if we fail to complete that mission. And yes despite the spin there are multiple measurements which define we are making progress beyond the remarkable events with the raising up of an Iraqi democracy!
    There is and has been a clear strategy for victory- -I am sorry that until now Brad Warthen has apparently failed to notice. So Welcome aboard Mr Warthen, now that you are “here” we look forward to your continued contributions in helping to raise the veil of silence!!!

  3. Mary Rosh

    Once again Warthen demonstrates the lack of integrity that makes him a failure as a journalist and as a human being. He looks around and picks out a few voices echoing his chickenhawk fantasies and pretends that the viewpoints expressed by those voices haven’t been expressed many times all during the war and the campaign of lies leading up to it. All the arguments Warthen cites have been made repeatedly, and loyal Americans who have presented opposing viewpoints have been derided as unpatriotic.
    It is astonishing, even for a stupid, lazy, dishonest hack like Warthen, to talk about this chorus of excuses for the war as if it’s something new. It’s not new. What’s relatively new is that the American people are not listening anymore. Unlike Warthen, the majority of the American people care about the losses of our soldiers. Unlike Warthen, the majority of the American people care about the weakening of our military caused by the Iraq war. Unlike Warthen, the majority of the American people care about the damage to Iraq caused by the U.S. presence. Unlike Warthen, the majority of the American people want to do what’s best for America. What’s best for America is for us to minimize the damage to ourselves and Iraq that the Iraq war has caused and is causing, not to make resolutions to stay until some undefined “job” is “done.”
    Warthen doesn’t pay any of the costs of the war. As a chickenhawk, there is no way he would ever fight in the war he advocates. As a South Carolinian, he doesn’t bear any of the financial costs, receiving, as he does, $1.35 in federal payments, subsidies and services for every $1.00 he pays in federal taxes. But he presumes to sit and lecture the Americans who pay to support him, and whose relatives are bearing the costs of his fantasies, that they should continue to bear those costs.
    Instead of spinning out fantasies for other people to pay for, Warthen should try to imagine what he would think if he were shouldering some of the costs. The end of the year is coming soon. What I suggest to Warthen is that he figure out his federal tax bill, and then take an additional 35% of that and pay it to some randomly chosen taxpayers in, say, California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Let him do that on December 31. Then, on January 1, he can write a column from the perspective of someone who has pulled his own weight for the first time in his life. If Warthen pays something of a reasonable share of the costs of the war, will he then be so enthusiastic about it? Or will be be more serious about totaling up the actual costs of the war against the costs and advantages of pursuing some other course of action?
    But I won’t hold my breath waiting for Warthen to shoulder his share of the load. Why should he? Sitting spinning out glorious fantasies is cheap and easy. And Warthen has always pursued the cheap, easy course – for himself, that is, if not for others who have lost their lives pursuing a course of action that’s cheap to Warthen, but maybe not so cheap to them.

  4. Dave

    Jerry, very well said. The rational voices of the Bush administration including Rumsfeld, Rice, and the President himself have been continually drowned out by the incessant daily doom and gloom of the supposed mainstream media, which is really the leftist, pacifist media. The leftist media went gaga over Rep. Murtha’s Howard Dean like call for surrender to the jihadists, yet, Sen. Lieberman’s voice of sanity was nearly ignored. Not surprising. Even the perpetual gigolo John Kerry is given credence by the left. Has this guy ever held to one opinion or strategy, or wife for that matter, for any length of time worth acknowledging. Oh, yes, he was in Vietnam for 120 days but his paper cuts were so critical, he really had to be shipped home to begin his planned political career.

    Actually though, concerning Brad Warthen, I have to give him credit because in the newspaper world in which he works, his war support is career limiting.

  5. Dale

    Mr. Warthen:
    Good column today, much livelier than usual. In our house we agree with your conclusion that we have to stay and finish in Iraq. Thanks for cluing us in on Joe Lieberman’s remarks.
    A few other thoughts:
    This is my first blog visit. Based on the posts before me I’d say you’re going above and beyond putting up with the stuff people say. If blogs are limited to ranters, I doubt I’ll pick up the habit.
    How come Congressman Murtha’s Iraq remarks got intense coverage and Senator Lieberman’s did not?
    I’m a subscriber to the Economist too and agree that they do a good job providing news. They’re pretty liberal but even so I think they do a better job than the American media by presenting more facts and
    also by providing both sides of partisan issues. Why do I learn more about current US news by reading the Economist than I do by reading The State or watching CNN?
    Thanks again.

  6. Mary Rosh

    Dale, you said this:
    “Good column today, much livelier than usual. In our house we agree with your conclusion that we have to stay and finish in Iraq. Thanks for cluing us in on Joe Lieberman’s remarks.”
    No, if YOU were staying and finishing in Iraq, you wouldn’t be in your house. You would be over in Iraq. What you mean is, that you (like Warthen) agree that other people should make sacrifices that you’re unwilling to make, to achieve things you want to achieve.
    Repeating the same tired arguments and lies (which is all that the “reasonable people” Warthen points to have been doing) is not going to create a groundswell of support for the war. There’s only one thing that I can think of that will stir support for the war. And that’s for you to lead by example. Your local recruiting office opens tomorrow. Go sign up to fight in the war you support. Don’t just sit taking the cheap, easy course. Don’t just give verbal support to the war. Go and put your body on the line.

  7. Hugh Campbell

    Why in the world are we still talking about fighting terrorists in Iraq ? As everyone should know by now, we are CREATING terrorists in Iraq. After all, they weren’t there before we invaded. Our occupation serves as a magnet attracting would-be terrorists throughout the Middle East to come to Iraq for on-the-job training.
    Brad Warthen grew up as a military brat and I suppose it’s still in his blood.

  8. Mike C

    Hugh –
    Terrorists were in Iraq before we got there.
    For example, the Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal had been living in Baghdad until he committed suicide by shooting himself three or four times — a pretty determined guy, no?
    Perhaps you haven’t sent something like this:

    Iraq had been on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror for more than a decade–most of that time under President Bill Clinton. Saddam Hussein boasted openly about funding Palestinian suicide bombers. The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report, that panel member John Edwards approved, confirmed this state sponsorship. His regime gave safe haven to notorious terrorists Abu Abbas and Abu Nidal, and welcomed home Abdul Rahman Yasin, an Iraqi who admitted on national television in the United States to mixing the chemicals for the first World Trade Center bombing. And the CIA assessed, again according to the Senate Intelligence Committee report, that Iraq had actually increased its terrorist plotting against the United States “throughout 2002.” <.blockquote>
    Heck, here’s more.
    When you write “As everyone should know by now, we are CREATING terrorists in Iraq,” some folks may think that you’re being either ideological or stoooid, so be careful. Mary is ideological – she thinks Bush and everyone who supports the war is somewhat evil and corrupt, so she wants us to surrender, withdraw, and let the Middle East sink into chaos. If she’s thought through the implications — and I sincerely hope she has not — that means the end of Israel, the takeover of Jordan, continued Syrian hegemony over Lebanon, etc.
    As for the stooopid part, of course all sorts of folks who hope to drive the Middle East into chaos will travel to Iraq to do battle against the US, a/k/a the Great Satan. But, in software engineering terms, this is a feature, not a bug. The folks who make the journey to fight us in Iraq today are the sort who would had tried to attack the US sooner or later. That they may have advanced their plans by heading to Iraq now is good for us in that it’s better for us to fight them there than in, say, Chicago or Miami, no?

  9. Mary Rosh

    Mike, you once again prove yourself to be just as dishonest as you are retarded. You attribute favorable motives to yourself, and unfavorable motives to the people who disagree with you. You sit, doing nothing in support of the Iraq war, making no sacrifices in its support, letting other people pay for it, and collecting federal handouts to the tune of $1.35 for every $1.00 you pay in federal taxes. The war costs you nothing, so you’re glad to pretend that it is cost free, while you make pompous pronouncements about how people who want to evaluate the costs of the war and its net damage or benefit to America want to “surrender.” No, we want to fight terrorism. We want to mount a sustainable fight against forces that threaten the United States. Your fantasies have been proven to be hollow, and the proof has cost thousands of lives (none of them your own) and hundreds of billions of dollars (of which not one cent was paid by you.) You can talk about how others want to “surrender” all you want, but you are once again proving that you have no arguments.
    And your last point is appalling, even for you. You are suggesting that we supply terrorists and other enemies of the United States with an unending stream of Americans to kill, so that they don’t come over here and threaten us. I have more respect for our soldiers than to suggest that it’s a good thing to use them to placate terrorists.
    We should fight terrorists in locations, and under conditions, in which we can win. We should seek to reduce or eliminate threats to the United States. We should not simply choose random targets, declare that they are part of a fight against terrorism, and resist arguments that we should focus our efforts on fighting genuine threats by declaring that we must “finish the job,” without defining in any real way what “the job” is and what it will take to “finish it.”

  10. Herb

    I don’t know who Mary Rosh is, but she must be a hurting individual to use the kind of poisonous language she does in disagreeing with others. Calling other people “retarded” and “dishonest” isn’t going to help dialogue. My understanding is that part of the purpose here is to help each other learn. Mutual learning comes with respect, if not for the opinion, at least for the human being. No wonder our country is polarizing, if this is the way people are going to disagree with each other.

  11. Mike C

    Season’s greetings to you, Mary!
    I can’t hold a candle to you in attributing motives to others: you are certainly the champ in that regards. Although I really should refrain from feeding trolls, I will take a whack at two of your newer points.
    We should fight terrorists in locations, and under conditions, in which we can win. We should seek to reduce or eliminate threats to the United States. I’d love to hear your ideas on what locations and conditions you would find suitable.
    We should not simply choose random targets, declare that they are part of a fight against terrorism, and resist arguments that we should focus our efforts on fighting genuine threats by declaring that we must “finish the job,” without defining in any real way what “the job” is and what it will take to “finish it.”
    According to this, victory In iraq is defined in stages:

    • Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.
    • Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.
    • Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.

    Does that help? It’s a tough nut, and even responsible Democrats are having trouble coming up with an alternative, so I can see why you are frustrated.
    As for the War on Terror, I guess that will be over when more folks like Khalid Mahmoud carry the day.
    Herb –
    Mary’s a regular malcontent. Yes, her words do little to convince folks — she prefers attacking to arguing — but the really annoying thing is having to wipe the spittle off the inside of one’s monitor. See the link above on trolls.

  12. Steve Aiken

    There’s a lot of responsibility to be shared for polarizing language. Referring to opponents as “retarded” and “dishonest” certainly qualifies. So does language such as “even responsible Democrats”, which implies that all Republicans are by definition responsible. Also, referring to The Economist (which I’ve been reading off and on for 30+ years) as “pretty liberal” makes sense only to someone who accepts the idea that South Carolina is a mainstream state and anything to the left of that is “liberal”. Shouting and name-calling drowns responsible debate.

  13. Mike C

    Steve –
    Language such as “even responsible Democrats” does not imply that all Republicans are by definition responsible; it implies that some Democrats are irresponsible. For that matter, so are some Republicans, Libertarians, Socialists, and Bavarian Illuminati. The reader is left to ascertain the percentages.
    The WaPo article I linked to was a rather interesting examination of what the Democrat foreign policy gurus — the folks that might be in charge after the next presidential election — are trying to come up with as a reasoned alternative to Bush’s Iraq and War on Terror policies. I used the word “responsible” to separate them from some of the crazed elements of that party who are accustomed to spouting mutually contradictory one-liners as a substitute for policy.
    Certainly the Republicans have their crazies. Look at the limited government types — boy, are they out in the cold, along with other fiscal conservatives. These folks think that we should live within our means, stop spending Social Security taxes as part of general revenue, stop the Medicare prescription drug plan before it starts, etc.
    How far out can one get?

  14. Lee

    Two major polls on Dec 1 showed over 40% of Democrats saying it would be better to have Saddam Hussein back in power in Iraq – even after we know he provided training camps for the 911 hijackers and had his top men meet with them, according to the 911 Commission.

  15. Brad Warthen

    Dale, please don’t be put off by the other comments — at least, not to the point of giving up on blogs. We need more comments from people who are put off by extreme partisanship and personal attacks. If that description fits, that means we need YOU.

    I’m trying to create a space here where people with various opinions can interact in a civil manner. But I also let anybody have their say (I haven’t used my ability to delete comments once since starting the blog in May — except for cases when the same comment is published twice, because of a glitch in the software). But it is my hope that people who are open-minded, reasonable and respectful of others will ultimately flock to this space in sufficient numbers that they will help distinguish this blog from the all-too-many partisan screamfests out there.

    In fact, in case you haven’t read them, here are a couple of my recent attempts to tilt at the madly spinning windmills of partisanship. If you agree with what I’m saying there, and you agree with Joe Lieberman, you might want to give this blog a chance for a while before giving up.

    As for your question, "How come Congressman Murtha’s Iraq remarks got intense coverage and Senator Lieberman’s did not?"… well, that was one of the oversights by the media that my column was meant to address, to the extremely limited ability I have to address it. The only defensible answer to the question was that Mr. Murtha was rather dramatically changing his point of view, and Mr. Lieberman was not — thereby making the Murtha comments more newsworthy, according to the basic standards of news judgment. But his comments weren’t nearly as important as the play they got, or the reactions from other politicians, or the reactions to the reactions, or any of that other destructive nonsense that happens in the echo chamber inside the Beltway.

    One more thing: Your assessment that The Economist is "pretty liberal" is spot-on, although possibly not in the way that you meant it. The Economist refers to itself as "a liberal newspaper." That is to say, it is "liberal" in the classic sense of the term. It is very libertarian, particularly in the economic sense — very free-market-oriented, opposed to the welfare states of Europe, etc. Of course, over here, people tend to call that "conservative," even though it’s technically wrong to do so. (And even in explaining itself, the publication occasionally uses the modern, popular sense of the term, as illustrated in the above-referenced link.) Therefore, Steve Aiken has a point when he disagrees with your characterization — although I have to differ with him when he seems (at least by implication, although I may be misreading him) to equate calling that publication "liberal" with calling people with whom one disagrees "retarded."

  16. Lee

    Since 85% of the news editors and TV news producers labeling themselves as “liberal”, “progressive” or “socialist”, and the same number voting Democrat, it seems obvious why they give nonstop coverage to Congressman Murtha’s speculation, and little to Joe Lieberman’s reporting of the progress he saw in Iraq.

  17. Steve Aiken

    Brad: You make a good point about my terminological imprecision. I didn’t mean to imply that calling someone “liberal” is derogatory in the same way that calling someone “retarded” is, only that there appear to be a lot of folks who think “liberal” (without qualification or explanation) is pejorative.

  18. Herb

    Unfortunately, Americans have too little sense of history, which tends to only reach back to WWII and the Munich pact. We also tend to think we can fix everything. People in the Middle East and Central Asia know that we got rid of dictator no. 3,112 on the stage of world history (some of these dictators are also historically their national heroes). They also know that dictator number 3,113 is probably on the horizon as soon as we leave. But Brad Warthen is right — having started this, we cannot just pull up and leave. Nor can some of us go to war — I could volunteer, but at 56, I severly doubt they would take me. Besides, there are other ways to help. But just in case we are tempted to despair over our military involvement and its value, in some areas of the world we may be getting it right. There is a lot of gratefulness among the Afghans for our involvement in Afghanistan, that much I know.

  19. Mike C

    Illinois Sen. Barack Obama clearly pointed out the Democrat’s, and the nation’s, dilemma:

    Sen. Barack Obama said Monday that the Democratic Party was unlikely to reconcile its differences and reach a unified strategy for Iraq, conceding: “The politics and the policy of this may not match perfectly.”
    As Democrats work to win control of Congress in the 2006 elections, Obama (D-Ill.) said a cacophony of views over the Iraq war threatens to divide the party once again.
    “It is arguable that the best politics going into ’06 would be a clear succinct message: ‘Let’s bring our troops home,’ ” Obama said. “It’s certainly easier to communicate and I think would probably have some pretty strong resonance with the American people right now, but whether that’s the best policy right now, I don’t feel comfortable saying it is.”

    I admire his candor. He realizes that Democrats are being pushed toward a policy of bringing the troops home now, but acknowledges, or seems to in my view, that such a move would be more than unwise: it would damage the nation by standing as a sign of surrender to bad guys worldwide. That guy has got a future on the national stage.
    All of Herb’s points are good. America does what it can, we who care do what we can, and we are having an effect on the course that the world’s nations are taking. What we call liberals used to care about that. I know that one of the commenters on this blog supports his company’s folks in Iraq, about 40 field engineers providing communications support to the troops. We all do what we can.
    The antiwar folks forget that radical Islam regards them as useful idiots, mere tools useful for advancing their goal of defeating the West and its modernity. Should the bad guys ever succeed in establishing their Caliphate, these folks would be at the top of the list for special treatment.

  20. Lee

    Following on the heels of the seditious remarks of Congressman Murtha, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean and John Kerry, Al Qaeda leader Zalawri today called on Muslim radicals to join forces and overthrow the elected Iraqi government when America leaves.

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