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  #1  
Old 11-18-2009, 10:51 PM
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Default Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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  #2  
Old 11-19-2009, 12:12 AM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

Thanks for this very timely and enlightening diavlog.
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  #3  
Old 11-19-2009, 01:43 AM
graz graz is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

I second their hope for a continued diavlog. But I'm not optimistic that David will like the results anymore the second go-round.

He was comfortable discussing competing details with Joe Klein that accepted the same basic premise: We are in mortal danger and we must use deadly force to instill/install freedom.

Conversely, Andrew's paradigm had David slinking so far in his chair that he nearly left the frame. While Andrew didn't have the time to say it, his posture implies that the threat posed to the U.S. as a result of the struggle within the Af-Pak (and beyond) world as it contends with Modernity entails accepting risk. There is no prescription for immediate or complete immunity from blowback or peripheral threat to our hoped for safety. It's all about facing the fear.

The Freedom Project has failed and yet David is inclined to continue based on his perceived impression that not addressing the threat, even with a failed strategy is better than any possible alternative. Old habits die hard... His rationale for creeping Democracy in Iran is (or must be) attributable to our Iraqi war efforts. Which ties in nicely on the continuum that regresses to the Cold War, Viet Nam and Korea, as wars of necessity - no question.

Rather than have Andrew flesh out how his sensible alternative would be implemented, maybe David ought to come up with an alternative to resting on the laurels of identifying and naming a problem and cut his losses in regard to commitment to the so-called Freedom Project.

Last edited by graz; 11-19-2009 at 10:58 AM..
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  #4  
Old 11-19-2009, 07:53 PM
Baltimoron Baltimoron is offline
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

I don't understand why teleological optimists, like Frum, even need people in the world. Frum makes it sound as if freedom will triumph regardless of the leaders making the decisions and the people voting them into office - as he came close to describing Iran. If something goes wrong, it's a hiccup on the road; an election suffices to proclaim victory.
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  #5  
Old 11-19-2009, 04:20 AM
T.G.G.P T.G.G.P is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

David said he didn't really get what Andrew proposes that we do. I think it can be summed up as "less". Andrew thinks that the costs of military intervention exceed the benefits (if there are in fact any). So we turn to other options, and if they aren't completely effective in preventing terrorism, that's just something we have to accept.

I for one would argue that the terrorist threat is overblown and that many security measures are either ineffective "security theater" or more costly than the attacks they prevent (because those measures are applied universally they hit an enormous number of people, so a small cost applied to each can exceed severe costs applying to a smaller number of people). We could probably save more lives at lower costs by focusing on car accidents. I would be less inclined than Bacevich to rely on students visiting, rather I would clamp down on entry as by far the most cost-effective way of stopping terrorists. Leaving other countries the hell alone might also help them forget we even exist so they can get to venting their frustration at more local annoyances.

I was actually dissappointed that Bacevich didn't argue that modernity is not without its flaws and so we should not be completely enthusiastic about its arrival, since I was under the impression that's the sort of conservative he is. Frum actually has something of a good point in saying that modern islamism is not traditional. It is the bastard offspring of modernization, and so we might imagine that further modernization might create more of it. I would disagree with both of them on the merits of democracy. "Democratic peace" is on empirically shaky ground. The end of monarchy in France resulted in civil war within and a prolonged period of mass-mobilization warfare across Europe. Musharraf in Pakistan may have been our best bet. The problem with Maoist China was not that it was "undemocratic", but that it was a revolutionary regime which brings about destabilization. Even without democracy, the passing of the old revolutionary generation has greatly improved things in China. Musharraf may have been our best hope in Pakistan. Deposing Diem was also part of a "freedom agenda" at one time. Many thought Fulgencio Batista, Chang Kai Shek, Kaiser Wilhelm, Emperor Alexander, Ian Smith and Shah Pahlavi were affronts to democracy, but their successors were even worse.
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  #6  
Old 11-19-2009, 08:44 AM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

I always find the dismissive attitude towards force as a tool to achieve an end interesting.

After all, why not just let people sort things out themselves. Who are we to barge in and FORCE democracy/tolerance upon them.


The irony is that the liberals are making this case today. That was not the kind of argument made about slavery, or the jim crow south. Were those liberals wrong to FORCE their notions of equality upon racist whites? Perhaps the North should have let the south succeed? Better that than resort to force to dictate to others how they should behave. Why sanction the civil war at all? Better to allow the institution of slavery to continue on for decades more than to resort to HARD power to end it.


Of course the petty creature will bring up the pathetic retort about being the same nation. Thanks, thanks for forfeiting the notion of human rights, the only ones worth defending are intra national, live a millimeter across border line, and all notions of human rights go out the window. How very tribal of you. Proud liberals. Expand the circle when it comes to soft power, contract it as it relates to hard power.



I get the practical arguments against, but I swear to all you so called liberals, I will NEVER get the attitudinal aversion to using hard power as a means to stamp out bigotry and wretched behavior. Rhetoric like FORCE modernity upon peoples betrays not simply a tactical aversion, but one of principle as well.





For gods sakes, I'd even be with you in the pathetic, self interested, not lifting a finger attitude if not for the fact that the cesspool of jihadism and its clashes spill out to the rest of the world. Not something so easily wished away or bottled into some sort of slave pit that we can contain and let fester.

So what are we to do with our tools? We do have hard power as well as soft, do you all think we should use that hard power at all? What would you do with it?

Remember guys, just because you are too dull to divine a solution to a problem using a certain tool, does not mean a solution does not exist. At least try and contain your own conceit that much.
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  #7  
Old 11-19-2009, 01:28 PM
Lyle
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

Amen. The 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry just passed a couple of weeks ago too. Great reminder of how violence is sometimes the only solution. The Civil War has got to be the one war Wonderment couldn't have said no to.
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  #8  
Old 11-19-2009, 01:43 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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Originally Posted by Lyle View Post
... The 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry just passed a couple of weeks ago too. Great reminder of how violence is sometimes the only solution. ...
I will now reduce my desk to toothpicks, with my forehead.
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  #9  
Old 11-19-2009, 02:01 PM
Lyle
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

How would you have freed the slaves sir?
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  #10  
Old 11-20-2009, 02:56 AM
T.G.G.P T.G.G.P is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

How would I free the slaves? Possibly with compensated emancipation, as the Brits carried out. I certainly wouldn't have gone to war with the Confederates, but of course that wasn't why the war was fought. We certainly didn't invade Brazil afterward to abolish slavery there. Lincoln said if he could preserve the Union without freeing any slaves, he would. He endorsed a constitutional amendment that would have protected slavery because he thought it might accomplish that. The American civil war is best understood in the context of the 19th century enthusiasm for nationalism and the unifications of Italy and Germany (Garibaldi even volunteered the help the Union, as did many German 48'ers). I am not a nationalist (I wouldn't terribly object to being called a neo-feudalist) and hold that war in a low regard similar to WW1. I would have endorsed the north seceding (as some, like Garrison endorsed, when the Fugitive Slave act was being debated), but I'm in favor of secession any time, any place for any reason. That's not to say I think it's worth fighting a war though, so I don't endorse the American war of independence. I don't oppose killing in all circumstances, but I think it requires a high burden of justification which most wars don't meet.

Baltimoron, which thesis of Huntington are you referring to? Clash of Civilizations? Crisis of governance? I don't think he said it was the task of the U.S to combat anarchy, and no reader of "Who Are We?" could believe that he's an evangelist for globalism.
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  #11  
Old 11-20-2009, 03:25 AM
Lyle
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

Right, but it came down to a War because all the talking and politics didn't work in the end.



Edit: And arguably the Civil War was about slavery since there would have never been a Civil War but for slavery. States Rights had to do with being able to extend slavery into new States. If this was no longer going to be legal, the slave states wouldn't be able to remain slave states for much longer when outvoted in Congress... hence the rational for succession.

Last edited by Lyle; 11-21-2009 at 01:03 PM..
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  #12  
Old 11-20-2009, 02:22 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
I always find the dismissive attitude towards force as a tool to achieve an end interesting.
I think you are overgeneralizing -- the idea that force is always a bad way to achieve an end is hardly a common enough view to justify a lengthy screed, especially one filled with so many other generalizations. At least, unless in a specific debate with a pacifist. I mean, I think Wonderment is a great voice to have here and his positions are interesting and worth taking seriously, but you seem here to be trying to set up a dichotomy in which "liberals" are supposedly basically pacifists that has no relationship to reality in the US.

If you want to respond to specific things Bacevich said, that might be interesting, but you go way beyond that.

Quote:
After all, why not just let people sort things out themselves. Who are we to barge in and FORCE democracy/tolerance upon them.
To start with, you pose this as if it describes the basic argument with regard to recent foreign policy, namely with Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, for the most part, no one has argued for the war in Afghanistan on the basis that we should impose democracy and tolerance, and that was not the official position in support of the Iraq War either, although I suppose you could read some such idea in the writings of such, including Thomas Friedman and plenty of other liberals -- nation building and all, you know. I think it's a bad idea, myself, because I'm too conservative to think it actually is likely to work absent unusual circumstances not present in either of these cases (or many others).

You may think this is a good reason for both of the interventions in question, but it's hardly the normal conservative reason given, and therefore the normal debate has been about quite different topics.

I'll also note that there's yet another reason occasionally given in support for military actions -- to prevent or stop a particular atrocity -- which also was not given here (although there was some discussion of past atrocities by Saddam, a rationale that doesn't fit). I mention this just to be clear that justifying wars on such a basis is a different and distinguishable rationale from justification based on "creating democracy," which seems to be the one you've chosen to support here.

Quote:
The irony is that the liberals are making this case today.
Well, before getting to the "irony" or lack thereof, this idea that war to create democracy is the crux of the debate between "liberals" and "conservatives" is simply wrong. It's not a conservative view at all to support war on such a basis, nor (again) is that what the debate about these particular wars has been about.

Quote:
That was not the kind of argument made about slavery, or the jim crow south. Were those liberals wrong to FORCE their notions of equality upon racist whites? Perhaps the North should have let the south succeed? Better that than resort to force to dictate to others how they should behave. Why sanction the civil war at all? Better to allow the institution of slavery to continue on for decades more than to resort to HARD power to end it.
Couple of problems with this, at least. First, despite your dismissal below, it's hardly only a liberal idea to distinguish between the concern that one has for laws in one's own state vs. those in other countries. For example, Congress and the SC took actions that made segregation in this country illegal and in some cases the power of the state was used to enforce those actions, against the will of particular localities. However, you certainly didn't see anyone -- liberal or conservative -- claiming that the US had the right to use military power to end apartheid in South Africa. We stuck to non-violent actions (those who thought we should do anything at all, mainly liberals). Similarly, I doubt many people, liberal or conservative, thought that other countries would have had the right to invade the US to get rid of segregation.

Also, of course, we didn't fight a war to end segregation or slavery (and under just war theory such a war by part of the country against another, given the availability of other means to achieve the goals, would likely not be justified). We ended segregation through such means. We were also using such means, off and on, about slavery, when the South seceded. The CW was fought regarding the right to secede, not to end slavery. (On the other hand, it's fair to say it was about slavery, as that's why the South seceded.)

Thus, the comparison to the CW just doesn't work.

As far as should we just have done nothing, of course not, but when you are talking about laws within a democracy, there are generally plenty of things citizens can do to challenge the law, as shown by the fight about segregation which eventually happened, however dreadfully late that it did.

Quote:
Of course the petty creature will bring up the pathetic retort about being the same nation.
Note that "the petty creation" who brings up this argument is bringing up an argument on which there's basically no disagreement between right or left, so again trying to suggest that this is the distinction that we are debating about or that it's a "liberal" argument is false.

You seem to be arguing (correct me if I'm wrong) that there's no distinction properly drawn between my interest in the laws of my country and those in the laws of other countries. I think few people would agree with you and, further, if you are talking about justifications for war (a different matter, as I could protest laws in other countries using non-violent means, just as I do, in fact, regarding laws in the US I dislike), I'm not aware of any -- including the just war arguments made within Christianity, at the US military academies, or by conservatives who have argued for the recent interventions -- that would agree with such an argument.

Quote:
Thanks, thanks for forfeiting the notion of human rights, the only ones worth defending are intra national, live a millimeter across border line, and all notions of human rights go out the window. How very tribal of you. Proud liberals. Expand the circle when it comes to soft power, contract it as it relates to hard power.
Again, misleading, as the argument you make is not one on which there is disagreement between liberals and others. Nor, of course, is saying that there's a distinction between US law and the law in other countries for a citizen of the US mean that there's no belief in human rights. And, nor, of course, are the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan being fought due to human rights justifications. Do I think that human rights justifications can be the basis for a war? Sure, sometimes (and this is a common view between some liberals and some conservatives and looked on more skeptically by others in both camps), but it would depend on specifics and you aren't addressing those here, in an effort to create a false dichotomy and relate it to situations to which it doesn't much apply.
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  #13  
Old 11-20-2009, 06:18 PM
Ray Ray is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

Wow.

Impressive dismantling.
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  #14  
Old 11-21-2009, 01:06 PM
Lyle
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

She dismantled a strawman. Haha.
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  #15  
Old 11-21-2009, 04:55 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

Quote:
Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
I think you are overgeneralizing -- the idea that force is always a bad way to achieve an end is hardly a common enough view to justify a lengthy screed, especially one filled with so many other generalizations. At least, unless in a specific debate with a pacifist. I mean, I think Wonderment is a great voice to have here and his positions are interesting and worth taking seriously, but you seem here to be trying to set up a dichotomy in which "liberals" are supposedly basically pacifists that has no relationship to reality in the US.

If you want to respond to specific things Bacevich said, that might be interesting, but you go way beyond that.
I do go beyond that, and yes it is very general. On the pacifistic strain, I think it exists within all people on a sort of sliding scale. I am trying to isolate why some people are opposed to the use of force for more aesthetic reasons as opposed to tactical ones. I see the rationales of many people as being more than being against force for purely tactical rationales. I think alot of the people against its use need a higher bar or threshold to cross before they would tolerate it. Pacifism in various strains was one candidate for the root cause of this. But it is probably not the only influence, I honestly don't know all the aesthetic causes. But whatever their ultimate cause, they have consequences. Had the US not been further along the use of force is tolerable line, how much longer would Milosevic have been left unchecked by Europe, who by and large seem to find the use of force more distasteful, in and of itself, separate and apart from the tactical considerations.


Quote:
To start with, you pose this as if it describes the basic argument with regard to recent foreign policy, namely with Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, for the most part, no one has argued for the war in Afghanistan on the basis that we should impose democracy and tolerance, and that was not the official position in support of the Iraq War either, although I suppose you could read some such idea in the writings of such, including Thomas Friedman and plenty of other liberals -- nation building and all, you know. I think it's a bad idea, myself, because I'm too conservative to think it actually is likely to work absent unusual circumstances not present in either of these cases (or many others).

You may think this is a good reason for both of the interventions in question, but it's hardly the normal conservative reason given, and therefore the normal debate has been about quite different topics.
Let me do some background on my position on Afghanistan and Iraq over time.

Afghanistan was simple, we were attacked, and so some response was necessary, even if it had no long lasting change, a message needed to be sent. End of story, done, no free lunch anymore on attacks, line drawn and all that.

Iraq. At the start I was against this war. Voted for Kerry (not that it mattered in California), was sad that Bush won, etc. etc.

At the time the arguments were being made about weapons of mass destruction, I was not swayed. My inclination was sort of, "so what?"

Many nations have weapons of mass destruction, so why isolate this one out as special? I needed a better rationale for why we were going in there to justify it, I did not get that from the wmd angle. I never went along with the notion that the only/main reason Bush Cheyney wanted to go in was because they wanted to steal their oil. That never made sense, it hasn't panned out because it was not true. It was a stupid, lick spittle, lefty conspiracy about the malevolent intentions of all things US. Even granting that they probably wanted more oil on the market with a "freer" Iraq, that is wholly different than going in like a violent thief bent only on stealing the resources of another nation.

So what swayed me? Precisely the topic of this diavlog. The "freedom agenda."

The enterprise Andrew think is a wholesale failure. The idea that we are brushing against a backwards/radicalized muslim world, and the way we should confront that is to change the game. Iraq was a piece in that game, Use hard power to go in and remove the dictator and turn over the control to the people. To create a a democracy in the heart of the muslim world, one that was not Israel that could so easily be dismissed as the "other" or western. A virus delivered to the muslim world with the payoff being less theocracy and more democracy and freedom.

Just as a concept, it struck me as both noble, and plausible. At the very least, worth a try. A problem which by Andrews own admission was a real one that needed to be tackled, even if he did not agree with this solution.

Turns out it did not go so smoothly, but we can say we changed the trajectory of Iraq.



Back to the topic at hand. I do not believe the people who were wholly dismissive of the project were doing so from solely a place of cold, hard, tactical rationales.

The people who dismissed the project from the start seemed to me to have an aversion to the use of force as a tool beyond the scope of "I just don't think it will work"


It can't work (can't? such divine and perfect knowledge)
It is an illegal war (as opposed to the legal dictatorship?)

-goal post shift

It will get worse and worse no matter what we do (violence went down)

-goal post shift


Then it was not worth the cost (is there any outcome that would make it worth the cost?)


If the answer to that last question is there is NO possible outcome that would justify the cost...

That betrays a problem with the use of force beyond the tactical. Does it not? It's like asking a mac fanboy what could make you think another brands laptop was better than a mbp, and the answer coming that that was not possible...

I seek to isolate the source of that thing undergirding the aversion to force, beyond the tactical. I wish someone better than me was interested that I was aware of because I am largely flying blind. I don't really know alot about what makes people tick, just vague guesses.

Quote:
...

Well, before getting to the "irony" or lack thereof, this idea that war to create democracy is the crux of the debate between "liberals" and "conservatives" is simply wrong. It's not a conservative view at all to support war on such a basis, nor (again) is that what the debate about these particular wars has been about.
The irony, at least in my view, is the freedom agenda, at its core, strikes me as a bleeding heart liberal rationale. At least classical liberal. It is NOT concerned solely with its own interests to the detriment of others like the isolationist aversion to getting involved in ww2 for example, it was a a project of mutual benefit, spending our own blood and treasure to accelerate a positive change in the muslim world, hopefully, one that would spread.

Granted, perhaps in modern liberal notions it is only truly liberal if the blood and treasure and sacrifice is given with no benefit to us. Mutual benefits using force not tolerable. But I view that as a more recent, and frankly, more left leaning take.

I still think the heart and soul of the argument, is a liberal one.
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  #16  
Old 11-22-2009, 11:08 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
I do go beyond that, and yes it is very general. On the pacifistic strain, I think it exists within all people on a sort of sliding scale. I am trying to isolate why some people are opposed to the use of force for more aesthetic reasons as opposed to tactical ones.
I'm just not sure who you think you are arguing with. You go on about "liberals", of whom I am one, but I'm certainly not a pacifist. I respect pacificism, but don't think it is common.

Quote:
I see the rationales of many people as being more than being against force for purely tactical rationales. I think alot of the people against its use need a higher bar or threshold to cross before they would tolerate it.
Sure, but doesn't this apply to just war theory? I'd argue that Iraq didn't meet the just war requirements, but I'm unclear whether you'd simply argue that all just war proponents are "liberals" and therefore irrelevant (so much for you, Pope Benedict!).

Quote:
Had the US not been further along the use of force is tolerable line, how much longer would Milosevic have been left unchecked by Europe, who by and large seem to find the use of force more distasteful, in and of itself, separate and apart from the tactical considerations.
Noting that the people who supported action against Milosevic and those who supported action against Saddam were largely different did not suggest that the issue was something other than a principled opposition to violence?

Quote:
Let me do some background on my position on Afghanistan and Iraq over time.

Afghanistan was simple, we were attacked, and so some response was necessary, even if it had no long lasting change, a message needed to be sent. End of story, done, no free lunch anymore on attacks, line drawn and all that.

Iraq. At the start I was against this war. Voted for Kerry (not that it mattered in California), was sad that Bush won, etc. etc.

At the time the arguments were being made about weapons of mass destruction, I was not swayed. My inclination was sort of, "so what?"

Many nations have weapons of mass destruction, so why isolate this one out as special? I needed a better rationale for why we were going in there to justify it, I did not get that from the wmd angle. I never went along with the notion that the only/main reason Bush Cheyney wanted to go in was because they wanted to steal their oil. That never made sense, it hasn't panned out because it was not true. It was a stupid, lick spittle, lefty conspiracy about the malevolent intentions of all things US. Even granting that they probably wanted more oil on the market with a "freer" Iraq, that is wholly different than going in like a violent thief bent only on stealing the resources of another nation.
Okay, so far I'm with you.

Quote:
So what swayed me? Precisely the topic of this diavlog. The "freedom agenda."

The enterprise Andrew think is a wholesale failure. The idea that we are brushing against a backwards/radicalized muslim world, and the way we should confront that is to change the game. Iraq was a piece in that game, Use hard power to go in and remove the dictator and turn over the control to the people. To create a a democracy in the heart of the muslim world, one that was not Israel that could so easily be dismissed as the "other" or western. A virus delivered to the muslim world with the payoff being less theocracy and more democracy and freedom.

Just as a concept, it struck me as both noble, and plausible. At the very least, worth a try. A problem which by Andrews own admission was a real one that needed to be tackled, even if he did not agree with this solution.

Turns out it did not go so smoothly, but we can say we changed the trajectory of Iraq.
I'd say go back and read Friedman, as you seem to be channeling his columns pre Iraq. I agree with you that this is the real reason we went in. I disagree, I guess, about it being a justifiable reason for war, a good idea, or pragmatic. It's also not the reason we were told we went in, and given that it's a big undertaking, I think if it was, popular opinion should have been solicited for it. Which it wasn't.

Quote:
The people who dismissed the project from the start seemed to me to have an aversion to the use of force as a tool beyond the scope of "I just don't think it will work"
A very few, not most opponents to Iraq.
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  #17  
Old 11-23-2009, 05:54 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
Sure, but doesn't this apply to just war theory? I'd argue that Iraq didn't meet the just war requirements, but I'm unclear whether you'd simply argue that all just war proponents are "liberals" and therefore irrelevant (so much for you, Pope Benedict!).

Just War theory can be defined in such a way as to rule out virtually any intervention, save blatant self defense. Which is why some people are so fond of it. In the end, interventions/changing the trajectory of nations needs to be argued about on their own merits.

Some people would say my use of the word intervention was misplaced about Iraq for example. Many objected to the entire idea of looking at the response in Iraq as a wider battle against a broader "war on terror."

Arguments arose about the fact that Iraq was not directly responsible for 911 (true), and in their view, the only tolerable cause for war is in response to direct aggression. That the war had a malevolent motivation (stealing oil), that the leadership deliberately lied about wmd to get involved (lied btw knowing they would find nothing... or at the very least try and plant something if they were truly that malicious... idiots anyone?).


But let me ask you, as a matter of principle, do you think the "freedom agenda" rationale for invading and trying to change the course of Iraq, as a method of turning the tide of radical islam was just? (if also tactically wrong)


Just in the sense that there was nothing wrong with the attempt, that the attempt was a reasonable thing to engage in. Or do you think that even the idea of such an invasion, for the purposes of the freedom agenda, even if you believed it could be successful, was an unjust act?


You see I separate the justness of an action with the tactical viability of an action. I want to know if you thought it was OK to invade for the freedom agenda rationale in principle, even if the tactical evidence you believed in would ultimately cause you to go against the invasion.



Quote:
...


A very few, not most opponents to Iraq.

You might be right on this, but the people against the war from the start who threw out rationals like lying about wmd, stealing oil (btw, these were VERY loud voices) seemed to be doing so from a place that was much more concerned with being against the war for non tactical reasons. I don't think the death toll had any bearing on THAT groups support or opposition to the war. I think those arguments were dishonest lies used as tools. Had the death tolls been half as great? a quarter as large would any of the ones pining to get out asap have changed their minds? That was the clearest case of deflecting their real rationales about why they wanted to get out/not go in the first place. I cannot describe how much I hate that. I hate it when people bring up debaters points, that have no bearing on their support or lack of support for a policy or action. I want to know the core, the heart of why they are for or against something. And I see the anti war crowd as a very mixed up bag. I do not treat the entire body as the same, treat them all as having the same reasonableness.


I agree that what turned most people against the war that supported it, was a combination of the lack of wmd and the continuing downward spiral of the war in terms of better prospects, the trajectory looked bleak for a long time. The death tolls were the clearest marker for this. Then came the arguments that we needed to just get out, that things could not get any better, certainly not while we were there. That the surge would be a wholly useless strategy. And when things got better, coinciding with the surge, arguments came that it had nothing to do with more troops or their change in strategy and bribes, it was all on the Iraqis almost totally independent of anything else.

The goal post shifts I was talking about are the people who showed that the violence levels, the tactical feasibility of the war, meant nothing to them. When things did get better, their resolve about the complete and utter failure of Iraq, about nothing good ever coming of it never wavered.


The argument changed again, even if it did turn out OK, not spiraling into the abyss, it was not worth the cost in lives and treasure spent.

Oh really? The entire trajectory of a nation was changed, we have no idea what the benefits or lack thereof will bring decades into the future, and people have perfect knowledge about it not being worth it, no matter what happens?


Do you see why I wonder if some of the objections from some are beyond the tactical, and sourced from something else?

Last edited by JonIrenicus; 11-23-2009 at 05:57 PM..
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  #18  
Old 11-23-2009, 06:06 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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...we have no idea what the benefits or lack thereof will bring decades into the future...
That's a hell of a defense for spending a trillion dollars and slaughtering untold numbers of innocent women and children -- to say nothing of the thousands of American families destroyed by the war.

If you're president someday, will you turn another country upside down and spill the blood of tens or hundreds of thousands on the promise that "decades into the future" "we have no idea what the benefits" will be?

Eight years into the catastrophe and this is the best the right can offer.
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Old 11-23-2009, 10:50 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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That's a hell of a defense for spending a trillion dollars and slaughtering untold numbers of innocent women and children -- to say nothing of the thousands of American families destroyed by the war.
Slaughtering innocents? Yes, that was the plan. Go out and slaughter innocents. That was not what we did. That you think it is shows your deranged view of both our intentions, and the reality.

It would be more accurate if you said we created the conditions by which the Iraqis began slaughtering themselves, with a sloppy ill conceived post invasion. There are plenty of valid rebukes, and yet you cannot contain yourself from the excess of saying we just went in, targets aimed at women and children bent on the slaughtering them. Cause that must have been what it was all about. At least it is in your twisted, warped mind. Probably one of the ones who thought we went in to steal there oil as well.



And on about the families whos lives were lost. Tell me, and please be honest. Would you have been for or against the war if less than 100 American families lost people in the war at this point? Zero?

Still against?

Is it true then, that the number of lives lost has absolutely no bearing on your support or opposition to the war?


Quote:
If you're president someday, will you turn another country upside down and spill the blood of tens or hundreds of thousands on the promise that "decades into the future" "we have no idea what the benefits" will be?

Eight years into the catastrophe and this is the best the right can offer.

Actually, I could do a bit better now, but I doubt that would matter to you. Let me ask another question. What outcome from the Iraq invasion would make the entire war worth the effort?

Worth the lives lost, worth the treasure spent?


I know the answer before your answering the question, don't I? Is the answer, nothing would make it worth it?

If so, thank you for establishing that the results, no matter what they may be, can never outweigh the costs.


That is not a utilitarian talking. That is the idea of an absolutist. Absolutist about what though? What is it that is always wrong, no matter the outcome? Is it the loss of innocent life? Is it the war to force democracy? What is it, precisely, that you are against no matter what?


I would guess you are not against some loss of innocent life for certain results. Would you have argued against the civil war knowing the costs? I suppose many would have. Six hundred THOUSAND lives. Devastating, and at a time of much lower population. If they only knew ahead of time the devastation. Was it worth it? What did all that loss of life buy? Semi freedom for blacks in the south until near a century later? But an earlier end to slavery.

Perhaps it would have been more practical to simply let slavery continue, especially if the main concern is loss of life like some of your arguments suggest. Or would it be combined with it being so expensive go to war to end slavery so soon?


Back to Iraq. Why was the invasion wrong?

Loss of life?

Expense?

So if there was little loss of life, much lower expense, you would have been OK with it?

Yes?

No? If no then explain why you were really against going into Iraq.

Last edited by JonIrenicus; 11-23-2009 at 10:54 PM..
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Old 11-24-2009, 03:41 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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Slaughtering innocents? Yes, that was the plan. Go out and slaughter innocents.
This is the first of several instances when you put these words in my mouth. I didn't say it was "the plan." It certainly did happen, though.


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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
That was not what we did. That you think it is shows your deranged view of both our intentions, and the reality.
This is the second time when you put words in my mouth. I never said it was our "intention" to slaughter innocents. But it did happen, and while I can appreciate your insistence that it wasn't our intention, I'm stunned that you deny it actually happened once our intentions went awry.



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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
It would be more accurate if you said we created the conditions by which the Iraqis began slaughtering themselves, with a sloppy ill conceived post invasion.
No. This would also be true, but it would not be "more accurate," because what I said is entirely accurate. If I say that 2+2=4, it is not "more accurate" to say 3+3=6, although the latter is definitely also true.



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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
There are plenty of valid rebukes, and yet you cannot contain yourself from the excess of saying we just went in, targets aimed at women and children bent on the slaughtering them.
This is the 3rd time that you have put words in my mouth. I never said anything remotely suggesting anything like this. How can you possibly make such a huge mistake, to think that I said this when clearly I did not?



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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
Cause that must have been what it was all about. At least it is in your twisted, warped mind. Probably one of the ones who thought we went in to steal there oil as well.


And on about the families whos lives were lost. Tell me, and please be honest. Would you have been for or against the war if less than 100 American families lost people in the war at this point? Zero?

Still against?.
I was against the war before it started. So, yes. But if you want to make up hypotheticals, alternate realities, and ask me if I would still hold out, I will admit: You could concoct a fantasy sufficiently different from reality that I would agree, "yes, under the conditions of your fantasy, I would support the war." That is possible. The problem is that you have been laboring under the delusion of fantasy for eight years, and you have based your foreign policy and political allegience on the basis of it. You should try to base your policy and opinion on actual reality, and not some pipe dream about "what the benefits might be decades into the future."



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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
Is it true then, that the number of lives lost has absolutely no bearing on your support or opposition to the war?

Actually, I could do a bit better now, but I doubt that would matter to you. Let me ask another question. What outcome from the Iraq invasion would make the entire war worth the effort?

Worth the lives lost, worth the treasure spent?
Some combination of low casualties and large benefits. Unfortunately, I didn't expect this before the war, and it didn't happen once the war started. Fantasy and conjecture aside, this means my judgment was better than your judgment. I knew it would become a nightmarish mess; you expected magic ponies. And you excoriate me. Funny!


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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
I know the answer before your answering the question, don't I?
Um, no.


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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
Is the answer, nothing would make it worth it?

If so, thank you for establishing that the results, no matter what they may be, can never outweigh the costs.
Straw man. You're arguing with your fantasy version of me.



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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
That is not a utilitarian talking. That is the idea of an absolutist. Absolutist about what though? What is it that is always wrong, no matter the outcome? Is it the loss of innocent life? Is it the war to force democracy? What is it, precisely, that you are against no matter what?
Dude, you're now completley off the rails. I'm not an absolutist, I'm not saying anything is "always wrong, no matter what the outcome," and I honestly have no idea why you are assigning these positions to me.



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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
I would guess you are not against some loss of innocent life for certain results. Would you have argued against the civil war knowing the costs? I suppose many would have. Six hundred THOUSAND lives. Devastating, and at a time of much lower population. If they only knew ahead of time the devastation. Was it worth it? What did all that loss of life buy? Semi freedom for blacks in the south until near a century later? But an earlier end to slavery.

Perhaps it would have been more practical to simply let slavery continue, especially if the main concern is loss of life like some of your arguments suggest. Or would it be combined with it being so expensive go to war to end slavery so soon?
I'm not an expert on Civil War history, but I fully support the decision Lincoln made to wage war once the North was attacked and invaded by the South.



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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
Back to Iraq. Why was the invasion wrong?

Loss of life?

Expense?

So if there was little loss of life, much lower expense, you would have been OK with it?

Yes?

No? If no then explain why you were really against going into Iraq.
Loss of life, certainly, and expense, certainly. But the real reason I was opposed to the war was because I expected it would make matters worse, not better. I expected it would become a permanent, festering sore and a constant source of resentment and irritation against the United States in the Arab world, much like the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It was a simple matter to see how much trouble had come from the Jewish decision to take land away from Palestinians by slaughtering them and stealing their land and to conclude that we were inviting the same set of problems but on a much larger scale for ourselves in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I understand you are filled with rage when confronted by people who disagree with you, but I would point out that my assessment of what would result from an invasion happened to be correct. I will grant that "decades into the future" "we have no idea what" might come of Iraq, but I won't be giving George W. Bush any of the credit for it. By the time we get to decades into the future, credit for any progress in Iraq will go to people who made decisions and took action long after the end of the Bush presidency. Think of Bush as the pitcher who was sent to the showers after giving up 43 runs in the first 3 innings of the game. Yes, it's possible the team will make a comeback in later innings and relief pitchers will keep us from giving up many more runs. But credit for the victory will never go to that pitcher who gave up the 43 runs.
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Old 11-24-2009, 05:27 AM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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This is the second time when you put words in my mouth. I never said it was our "intention" to slaughter innocents. But it did happen, and while I can appreciate your insistence that it wasn't our intention, I'm stunned that you deny it actually happened once our intentions went awry.

By your conception of "slaughter innocents," virtually every war, including "just wars" like Afghanistan is a case of slaughtering innocents.

Innocent people die in war, why is the rhetoric of slaughtering innocents reserved, or at the very least so highlighted with Iraq as opposed to Afghanistan or WWII or the gulf war?

It is an empty charge because it is a loaded description. There was no more targeting of innocent civilians here than anywhere else, as for the total deaths, most were not killed by American soldiers, not by a long shot, but I suppose the acts of a suicide bomber targeting civilians to disrupt the nation or death squads all gets chalked up to American slaughter in your view, no? A charge by the way strangely absent from wars with the same or more carnage you agree with.


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I was against the war before it started. So, yes. But if you want to make up hypotheticals, alternate realities, and ask me if I would still hold out, I will admit: You could concoct a fantasy sufficiently different from reality that I would agree, "yes, under the conditions of your fantasy, I would support the war." That is possible. The problem is that you have been laboring under the delusion of fantasy for eight years, and you have based your foreign policy and political allegience on the basis of it. You should try to base your policy and opinion on actual reality, and not some pipe dream about "what the benefits might be decades into the future."
Yes but some set the conditions so low that you virtually demand no casualties and Jeffersonian democracy though, that is the problem.

Bush/Cheyney/Rumsfeld/Casey/whoever else botched the post war badly. There was far more death and destruction as a result of that. My core disagreement with you and the view you share with many others, is that that was the only way it could have occurred to get to the more stable point now.

It seems the lesson you took was that such death and destruction and loss of life was inevitable, ergo, why would the surge make a difference. I took the lesson that this whole enterprise was nowhere near as easy as we thought it would be, but that it was not a hopeless effort, that what you did could yield better results. That was the lesson of Petraeus and the counterinsurgency strategy.

You seem to reject that last bit, and to the extent you might agree that we may have done "less poorly" it would not have been close to being worth it even then.



I took a further lesson. We should not invade nations like Iraq again. Not because I believe, like you and MANY others, that no good would come of it, that the net gain over time would not materialize, that the loss of life would be too great to justify the action. Because even if the benefits outweighed the costs, even if crises was averted, more deaths and treasure saved / stability gained by such an invasion, you would never know.

It creates a fork in the road where the other non intervention path can never be observed. People like you, will blame all the bad on the Americans, or as a result of Americas involvement, suicide bombers, deathsquads, Iranian infiltration and floods of terrorists, all malicious behavior and killing/murder of innocent civilians, will be transferred without batting an eye, to America.

Treat the deaths and killings as NO different as if Americans were holding the knives and doing the killings themselves.

All the bad, is on us, and all the good, their efforts. Surge was not because of us or increased troops or more bribes, they just decided to be calm independently of anything we did or could do.

Iraq or a nation like it could become the most prosperous and successful nation in the middle east, and even then it would not turn the mindshare for people like you, because you could never be completely sure it was our actions that made that possible, or the actions of others, and the inherent blame the US for the bad, deflect the good attitude that people like you have, will always weight things against such policies. Independent of the net results of the actual policy, we can never know the other fork in the road.

That is the problem with preemptive war for democracies. That, and the greatest factor that turned the attitude against Iraq during the high casualty time period. Success has a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan.


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I understand you are filled with rage when confronted by people who disagree with you, but I would point out that my assessment of what would result from an invasion happened to be correct. I will grant that "decades into the future" "we have no idea what" might come of Iraq, but I won't be giving George W. Bush any of the credit for it. By the time we get to decades into the future, credit for any progress in Iraq will go to people who made decisions and took action long after the end of the Bush presidency. Think of Bush as the pitcher who was sent to the showers after giving up 43 runs in the first 3 innings of the game. Yes, it's possible the team will make a comeback in later innings and relief pitchers will keep us from giving up many more runs. But credit for the victory will never go to that pitcher who gave up the 43 runs.

I am not angry, I assure you, and no, I am sure you would not give Bush any credit for any good that comes of Iraq and the different course he set it on.


I could make a (not so) wilder argument that Ralph Nader could be linked to Iraq, as the difference in votes in Florida in 2000 was less than a thousand votes between Bush and Gore, and Nader had tens of thousands of votes in Florida, which would have broken for Gore more than Bush. Even that slim (and likely) link changed the course of world history. But an entire war, started by Bush, changing the entire direction of a nation, nothing good could be linked to that action. Only bad now and down the road, nothing good.

Even as a simple pathway opened to make better decisions possible. I don't believe you when you suggest it is about the deaths and outcomes. I think it starts from an aesthetic revulsion to the use of force for non retaliatory reasons, and from that stems all the other settings on the equalizer of what is acceptable or not. But that is just a guess, I can never really know. Whether you affirm my suspicion or reject it.

Last edited by JonIrenicus; 11-24-2009 at 05:32 AM..
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  #22  
Old 11-25-2009, 10:44 AM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Just War theory can be defined in such a way as to rule out virtually any intervention, save blatant self defense. Which is why some people are so fond of it. In the end, interventions/changing the trajectory of nations needs to be argued about on their own merits.
Almost everyone (but pacifists) can work with Just War Theory, as it can both be used to rule out most (not all) interventions and to justify all. As I often say, humans can justify anything. However, given that just war theory is used by all from the Catholic Church to the military academies, to my knowledge, I think it argues against the idea that it's only "liberals" concerned about the particular distinctions it makes.

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Some people would say my use of the word intervention was misplaced about Iraq for example. Many objected to the entire idea of looking at the response in Iraq as a wider battle against a broader "war on terror."
I'm not sure I see how these are related. Clearly Iraq was an intervention, but also clearly it was not directly related to the war on terror. Indirectly, was the argument in favor (other than the disproven WMD argument for it).

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Arguments arose about the fact that Iraq was not directly responsible for 911 (true), and in their view, the only tolerable cause for war is in response to direct aggression.
You say "in their view" as if there's an argument between people who think Iraq (as you think it happened) was justified under normal rationales and those who think it wasn't. I'll ask you to identify the rationale under which anyone thinks Iraq as it happened (i.e., accepting that WMD did not exist in Saddam's control) was justified, because the only arguments for that I've seen (not convincing) were just war ones. You seem to think there's actually a debate as to some alternative justification, so I'm interested in what justification you are relying on and will likely ask later for your sources.

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That the war had a malevolent motivation (stealing oil), that the leadership deliberately lied about wmd to get involved (lied btw knowing they would find nothing... or at the very least try and plant something if they were truly that malicious... idiots anyone?).
Yes, I personally found both of these arguments dumb as stated (although that the gov't wouldn't have gotten involved if not an oil producing region and that the gov't was happy to believe in WMD because they had other desires from the war (the Friedman rationale, which seems to be yours as well) seems to me not dumb.

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But let me ask you, as a matter of principle, do you think the "freedom agenda" rationale for invading and trying to change the course of Iraq, as a method of turning the tide of radical islam was just? (if also tactically wrong)
I think it was not just because it (a) doesn't fit my understanding of the just war theory (we can discuss this in more detail), and (b) was so unlikely to succeed, which is part of the theory. I also think that for it to be a just rationale, it would, at minimum, have to be disclosed as the reason for war and preparations for what it entailed made, and it wasn't.

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Just in the sense that there was nothing wrong with the attempt, that the attempt was a reasonable thing to engage in. Or do you think that even the idea of such an invasion, for the purposes of the freedom agenda, even if you believed it could be successful, was an unjust act?
You are asking me about the Iraq War specifically, and under those conditions and circumstances in 2003, I think it was unjust, yes. I'm not saying that analogous arguments to those you want to backdate to that war now couldn't justify some other war -- we'd have to talk about the specifics.

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You see I separate the justness of an action with the tactical viability of an action. I want to know if you thought it was OK to invade for the freedom agenda rationale in principle, even if the tactical evidence you believed in would ultimately cause you to go against the invasion.
Again (a) that's not why we invaded, at least according to what we were told, and (b) I don't think it's possible to entirely separate the two rationales under any theory of just war that I'm aware of. Would I think it just to fight some war (for example, in defense of my country) in support of freedom even if doomed to failure? Sure. Does that mean that any war to make a country more democratic is justified? Obviously not, so let's talk about the rationales. I don't see any under which Iraq is justified and, again, the reasons given were simply WMD, because that's the only rationale which would really fit the normal justifications used. (Although even there it's debateable, obviously.)

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You might be right on this, but the people against the war from the start who threw out rationals like lying about wmd, stealing oil (btw, these were VERY loud voices) seemed to be doing so from a place that was much more concerned with being against the war for non tactical reasons.
In a way I agree with you, in that I was critical of the left from the beginning for letting the pacifists and anti-Bush at all costs people speak for them rather than laying out a more mainstream reason against the war. However, many did lay out such reasons (including Obama), and they simply didn't get the press or weren't focused on by the right, who quite successfully managed to lie about the reasons given by liberals who opposed the war (especially in that some large number of Dems of the elected variety ended up supporting the war).
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Old 11-21-2009, 04:56 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Couple of problems with this, at least. First, despite your dismissal below, it's hardly only a liberal idea to distinguish between the concern that one has for laws in one's own state vs. those in other countries. For example, Congress and the SC took actions that made segregation in this country illegal and in some cases the power of the state was used to enforce those actions, against the will of particular localities. However, you certainly didn't see anyone -- liberal or conservative -- claiming that the US had the right to use military power to end apartheid in South Africa. We stuck to non-violent actions (those who thought we should do anything at all, mainly liberals). Similarly, I doubt many people, liberal or conservative, thought that other countries would have had the right to invade the US to get rid of segregation.

Also, of course, we didn't fight a war to end segregation or slavery (and under just war theory such a war by part of the country against another, given the availability of other means to achieve the goals, would likely not be justified). We ended segregation through such means. We were also using such means, off and on, about slavery, when the South seceded. The CW was fought regarding the right to secede, not to end slavery. (On the other hand, it's fair to say it was about slavery, as that's why the South seceded.)

Thus, the comparison to the CW just doesn't work.
I know many people have that take, but I remember hearing a person who poured over the letters of soldiers in the civil war that had survived. The themes were not so sterile as many textbooks would lead you to believe, i.e. issues of states rights or simply the right to secede. Slavery, both pro and con was a major issue if not THE issue in their resolve. Lincolns prime motivation may have been preserving the union, but don't translate that same rationale to the common soldier, the common man.

Also, the emancipation proclamation was issued after the civil war began. The war, the hard clash of power, if nothing else, accelerated a change that would likely have lasted decades longer had it not been engaged in.



As to the issues of sovereignty, I think it is a harder case to argue invading a democratically elected nation is justifiable. However backwards their policies may be. On Apartheid in South Africa, I am glad no force was used in that case, it worked out better.


I am not making a policy argument here, making policy purely off what is justifiable or morally right, is insane.

I think it is perfectly justifiable and ethically sound to forcibly remove Kim Jung Il from power. I don't think it should be done, but not like some, because I think it would be WRONG to do so, but because it would lead to far more devastation than simply tolerating his tenure.


The entire freedom agenda principle was that the muslim world needed a sort of kick start to get the progress ball rolling. That simply staying out of the fray, in this case, would NOT yield the same results as say a more peaceful and non violent approach like in South Africa, that the problem of radical and backwards variants of Islam needed a different actor against it. More stick, less carrot.



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...

You seem to be arguing (correct me if I'm wrong) that there's no distinction properly drawn between my interest in the laws of my country and those in the laws of other countries. I think few people would agree with you and, further, if you are talking about justifications for war (a different matter, as I could protest laws in other countries using non-violent means, just as I do, in fact, regarding laws in the US I dislike), I'm not aware of any -- including the just war arguments made within Christianity, at the US military academies, or by conservatives who have argued for the recent interventions -- that would agree with such an argument.
Sure there is a distinction. Here is what I refuse to agree with. The sovereignty of all nations, no matter the government, is equally legitimate.

This is wholly false to me. I don't care what international Law says. There is no dictatorship on this earth that has more legitimacy than a freely (and justly) elected democracy.


That some people were so wantonly oblivious to the argument that invading a nation like Iraq, to REMOVE a dictator and turn power over the the population, is in no way different than doing so to Sweden, is absurd on a level that makes me doubt either the sincerity of the person or their intelligence.

The legalistic arguments against, were in my view, a joke. The vomit of piss poor thinking and minds grasping at straws to support their aversion to the invasion.

There is no comparison. And that so many were/are so confused at the distinction makes me think once again, there is something in their psyche beyond cold reason that leads to their aversion to the use of force or interventions.



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Again, misleading, as the argument you make is not one on which there is disagreement between liberals and others. Nor, of course, is saying that there's a distinction between US law and the law in other countries for a citizen of the US mean that there's no belief in human rights. And, nor, of course, are the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan being fought due to human rights justifications. Do I think that human rights justifications can be the basis for a war? Sure, sometimes (and this is a common view between some liberals and some conservatives and looked on more skeptically by others in both camps), but it would depend on specifics and you aren't addressing those here, in an effort to create a false dichotomy and relate it to situations to which it doesn't much apply.

Most of this was addressed above. If I need to explain further where I am coming from, I will later, this response took a long damn time. Had to break it into 2 posts, was two long for a single post due to word limitations, first time for that. I think it is bhtv saying I talk too much.
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:03 AM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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I know many people have that take, but I remember hearing a person who poured over the letters of soldiers in the civil war that had survived.
Sure, and I'd distinguish between the motives of people who fought (varied) and the rationale of the government. I personally have a bunch of ancestors who fought based on hatred of slavery even though they were Quakers and in theory opposed to war (and most often got kicked out of their meetings due to fighting). However, I don't assume from that that the reason the US gov fought was slavery -- it's clear that the US gov fought to preserve the Union but that the South seceded because they were worried about slavery.

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As to the issues of sovereignty, I think it is a harder case to argue invading a democratically elected nation is justifiable. However backwards their policies may be. On Apartheid in South Africa, I am glad no force was used in that case, it worked out better.
Precisely.

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I am not making a policy argument here, making policy purely off what is justifiable or morally right, is insane.
Which explains how we conduct our foreign policy.

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I think it is perfectly justifiable and ethically sound to forcibly remove Kim Jung Il from power. I don't think it should be done, but not like some, because I think it would be WRONG to do so, but because it would lead to far more devastation than simply tolerating his tenure.
I'd bet this is part of the calculation for everyone, though, which is why we have to talk about these issues specifically.

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Here is what I refuse to agree with. The sovereignty of all nations, no matter the government, is equally legitimate.
No one thinks this, though, which is why I think it's a strawman. I'm against knocking over the gov of Iran, but not because I think it's clearly as much an expression of political will as the US. (Although apparently Republicans have decided it is, in that that US election was stolen.) Same with NK, but even more so.

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I don't care what international Law says. There is no dictatorship on this earth that has more legitimacy than a freely (and justly) elected democracy.
When you say you don't care what International Law says (although I think you are inferring from it things that are not properly inferred), you are showing you are taking a position well beyond the opposition to American pacifists or even American Liberals, as the International Law principles you are talking about I think are widely accepted, even by mainstream conservatives. So back to the discussion about Just War, I guess.

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That some people were so wantonly oblivious to the argument that invading a nation like Iraq, to REMOVE a dictator and turn power over the the population, is in no way different than doing so to Sweden, is absurd on a level that makes me doubt either the sincerity of the person or their intelligence.
There are numerous dictators on earth. There needs to be a way of determining which ones we interfere with and which ones we don't, which is basically what Just War Theory does. Given that no one suggests we should knock down every dictator, I think the "Saddam was a dictator" argument for why we did Iraq reasonably disingenuous, without more. (And, of course, the administration did not rely on that rationale, but WMD.)
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Old 11-19-2009, 10:31 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

Oh, man. Great to hear Andrew again. He said more sensible things in this diavlog than has been said in just about all other Afghanistan-related diavlogs added together. It's been way too long since he's been on, and I hope we will not have to wait months for a third visit.

And if I could be granted a wish, he would also get the opportunity to sit down with President Obama for a few hours, too.

Glad to see graz and TGGP expressing a view I share: that at some point, we just have to accept some risks if we're going to live in the kind of society we want, in this modern world.

I would ask David, who is a good interlocutor, to ramp it down just a bit. As time went on, the frequent interruptions began to sound like defensiveness more than anything else. I'm not sure if it's guilt over being one of the architects of the current mess we're in, or a slowly dawning but still hard-to-accept realization that his instincts on how to deal with "the jihadist threat" are wrong, or what, but this sort of badgering does not make him look good and it's annoying to listen to.
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Old 11-19-2009, 03:30 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
I would ask David, who is a good interlocutor, to ramp it down just a bit. As time went on, the frequent interruptions began to sound like defensiveness more than anything else.
I was struck by David's accommodation during the first portion of the diavlog, allowing Andrew much time to lay out his views coherently. There was no badgering during that portion, only a few questions intended to help Andrew flesh out or clarify his position.
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Old 11-19-2009, 04:14 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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I was struck by David's accommodation during the first portion of the diavlog, allowing Andrew much time to lay out his views coherently. There was no badgering during that portion, only a few questions intended to help Andrew flesh out or clarify his position.
Good point. He did start off well, then got antsy.
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:23 PM
Baltimoron Baltimoron is offline
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

I agree with both of you. I thought this pairing was a necessary, brilliant idea. But, Bacevich seemed groggy in the beginning and much less articulate than during his first diavlog and when I've seen him on TV. At this point, though, Frum veered off into topics he shouldn't have touched. It's ballsy, I guess, to float a revisionist history of the Vietnam debacle with a Vietnam vet, although Bacevich sounded close to losing his composure too..

I'm beside myself with rage, though, that perhaps the single-most contentious discussion of East Asian and the PRC has to come unmarked at the end of a diavlog about another topic and, on top of it, not be very compelling. Next time: Bacevich v. Ackerman, or Bacevich v. Preble. bhTV needs more of Bacevich.
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Old 11-24-2009, 05:43 PM
Carney Carney is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
I would ask David, who is a good interlocutor, to ramp it down just a bit. As time went on, the frequent interruptions began to sound like defensiveness more than anything else. I'm not sure if it's guilt over being one of the architects of the current mess we're in, or a slowly dawning but still hard-to-accept realization that his instincts on how to deal with "the jihadist threat" are wrong, or what, but this sort of badgering does not make him look good and it's annoying to listen to.
Actually, I wish David had been far more forceful and assertive at getting a word in edgeways. Andrew's incredibly s-l-o-w, plodding speaking style not only hogged or even filibustered the discussion time, it clearly frustrated a nimble mind like David's, especially since Andrew chose to spend his time slogging through painfully cliched and familiar arguments and territory. For example, his smug dismissal of the domino theory carefully ignores the reality that it came true. Our loss of will to resist Communist aggression in Southeast Asia led directly to the loss of not only South Vietnam, but also of Laos and Cambodia, PRECISELY as the domino theory predicted. Furthermore the loss of Western will resulted in the Communists rolling up nation after nation throughout the late 1970s: Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, Rhodesia, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, and Grenada.

Harping on the Communist schism as an excuse for allowing allies to be invaded and conquered ignores the reality that both rival strains were virulent and a threat, just as both Saudi and Iranian style Islamism are.

Last edited by Carney; 11-24-2009 at 05:56 PM..
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  #30  
Old 11-24-2009, 06:40 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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[...]
Noted.

Sorry, but I don't often bother to engage with people who have views like yours on Vietnam, the Communist menace, etc.

And, as you probably have already figured out from my earlier comments in this thread, I consider Andrew a lot more worthwhile a thinker on these matters than I do David.

As someone once said, our views of reality do not sufficiently overlap.
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  #31  
Old 11-25-2009, 12:16 PM
Carney Carney is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

Wait, so you only go onto forums seeking affirmation, not engagement?

Interesting how that parallels Frum and Bacevich's conversation. Frum was curious about Bacevich's views, conceded flaws in the execution of his own agenda, etc. Meanwhile Bacevich simply smugly intoned from on high, never inquiring about Frum or even entertaining the possibility that he was anything other than metaphysically perfectly right.

By all means, insulate yourself from other opinions. Like Bacevich, you'd fit perfectly into a typical American faculty lounge.
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  #32  
Old 11-25-2009, 12:25 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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Wait, so you only go onto forums seeking affirmation, not engagement?

[...]

By all means, insulate yourself from other opinions. Like Bacevich, you'd fit perfectly into a typical American faculty lounge.
False dichotomy, Carney. There's a world of difference between only "seeking affirmation" and deciding that someone else's views are so ludicrous that it'd be a waste of time to engage. In fact, it is precisely because I'd rather spend my time in reasonable debate that I opt not to bother with people like you.

Your snide aside about "a typical American faculty lounge" only confirms my assessment.
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  #33  
Old 11-24-2009, 08:18 PM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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Originally Posted by Carney View Post
Actually, I wish David had been far more forceful and assertive at getting a word in edgeways. Andrew's incredibly s-l-o-w, plodding speaking style not only hogged or even filibustered the discussion time, it clearly frustrated a nimble mind like David's, especially since Andrew chose to spend his time slogging through painfully cliched and familiar arguments and territory. For example, his smug dismissal of the domino theory carefully ignores the reality that it came true. Our loss of will to resist Communist aggression in Southeast Asia led directly to the loss of not only South Vietnam, but also of Laos and Cambodia, PRECISELY as the domino theory predicted. Furthermore the loss of Western will resulted in the Communists rolling up nation after nation throughout the late 1970s: Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, Rhodesia, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, and Grenada.

Harping on the Communist schism as an excuse for allowing allies to be invaded and conquered ignores the reality that both rival strains were virulent and a threat, just as both Saudi and Iranian style Islamism are.
You know we won the cold war, right?
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  #34  
Old 11-25-2009, 12:11 PM
Carney Carney is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

No thanks to those like Bacevich.
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Old 11-19-2009, 01:13 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

Andrew started to say something about the downsides of worst-case reasoning in this diavlog. Here is a good post from B'head Robert Farley on that very topic.
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  #36  
Old 11-19-2009, 01:35 PM
BornAgainDemocrat BornAgainDemocrat is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

I wish Obama himself would listen to Andres Bacevich. I have no doubt our President could re-articulate these ideas just as persuasively to the American people, and that a majority would welcome them.

Of course Republicans would scream their heads off, calling him a chicken, a softy, and traitor to our military. As Prof. Bacevich remarks, it would take courage to stand up to those kinds of charges, a great deal of courage, of the sort that was lacking when Lyndon Johnson took us into Vietnam.

Last edited by BornAgainDemocrat; 11-19-2009 at 01:42 PM..
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Old 11-19-2009, 04:04 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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Of course Republicans would scream their heads off, calling him a chicken, a softy, and traitor to our military. As Prof. Bacevich remarks, it would take courage to stand up to those kinds of charges, a great deal of courage, of the sort that was lacking when Lyndon Johnson took us into Vietnam.
I disagree with this strongly!

Although the oft-heard title "most powerful man in the world" is very over-used and misleading, when it comes to directing the US armed forces in conflict, we Americans cede an enormous amount of authority to the President. This is a good thing, for while we may dither forever about domestic issues, the US can act in a forceful and unified way abroad. Everyone answers to the President. It's his job to do the right thing. He won the election. I can't think of any higher office to which he would aspire. Explain to me why he should cower to the whining rhetoric of the losing party?

As a former Bush voter, I can affirm that Obama inherited a mess. Now he's in charge. And with a sympathetic Congress, no less! History will judge him on the efficacy of his actions without regard for the complaints of others.

Make no mistake: If Obama ramps up the troop levels, this becomes Obama's War. From that time forward, it can't be blamed on evil warmongering Republicans.

I don't want to hear any more of this nonsense: that the Nobel Peace Prize winner doesn't want war, but is forced into it against his better judgment. There can be no better indication of his judgment than his actions.

Last edited by Simon Willard; 11-19-2009 at 04:12 PM..
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  #38  
Old 11-19-2009, 04:27 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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...
Make no mistake: If Obama ramps up the troop levels, this becomes Obama's War. From that time forward, it can't be blamed on evil warmongering Republicans.
...
That's almost fair, I think. The fact that he finds it in a significantly bad state, and has to make that strategic decision means that, while he certainly is taking ownership, it's clear that he's cleaning up someone else's mess - in this case "someone else" is the definitive "war-mongering Republican."
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  #39  
Old 11-19-2009, 05:55 PM
piscivorous piscivorous is offline
 
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

Like it or not he took owner ship in February when he originally ordered the switch from a counter terrorism strategy to a counterinsurgency strategy, changed theater commanders early and increased the troop levels by 17,000.
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Old 11-19-2009, 06:08 PM
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Default Re: Reassessing the Freedom Agenda (Andrew Bacevich & David Frum)

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Like it or not he took owner ship in February when he originally ordered the switch from a counter terrorism strategy to a counterinsurgency strategy, changed theater commanders early and increased the troop levels by 17,000.
Sometimes when you go in for the starting quarterback, down 7-0 with 1 minute left in the fourth quarter.... you gotta go long.

Especially when the last guy sent most of the team off to play a different game.

Sorry, I'm all into sports metaphors today, thanks for playing.
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