The Tempest and Mr. Bush

In a recent post, I likened the war in Iraq to a tempest and questioned the wisdom of not only doing battle with “the raging seas and the fierce winds� but also seeking to vanquish such intractable forces with increased troops. Yet that is precisely what the quixotic Mr. Bush has chosen to do. In his radio address to the nation today, he reiterated his rationale and then responded to his many critics: “Those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success. To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible.�

Mr. Bush is wrong. And his statements reflect a lack of tolerance for contrary points of view and a narrowness of intellect. Is it necessary to know that the square root of 100 is 10 in order to know and assert that it is not 6? Centuries ago, if an Aztec citizen happened to believe that the practice of human sacrifice was foolish and cruel but his leaders believed that the rising of the sun or the success of crops depended upon such barbaric acts, should he have felt obligated to offer an alternative before heeding his conscience and speaking out? If the President of the United States is convinced beyond all reason and argument that he can conquer a tempest, is it really necessary that “those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success�? What if success is unattainable? Or if the endeavor is little more than a fool’s errand?

Mr. Bush is also wrong—and shows considerable chutzpah—when he claims that “to oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible.� What is truly irresponsible is to instigate a war on the basis of flawed ideology and intelligence, to declare the mission has been accomplished prematurely, to conduct the war like a lumbering boxer long past his prime, and to have no clear exit strategy for the conflict. To oppose this folly of a war is not only responsible but a civic duty! Those who as a matter of conscience or practicality propose ending or curtailing U.S. military operations in Iraq deserve to have their views considered rather than dismissed. Mr. Bush ought perhaps spend more time opening his eyes and ears and less time opening his mouth. The skies are darkening. Another tempest looms.

10 thoughts on “The Tempest and Mr. Bush

  1. Wow!

    David, I thought you and I were on different ideological planes, but apparently we’re on different mental planes as well.

    I’m supposing the world you live in does not include people who hate democracy, Christianity, Judaism, freedom of speech, et. al. I’m also supposing that in this world, rose pedals and daffodils run rampant and you are able to run through the grass in an endless sun-filled glorious day.

    Wake up, man! This is the real world and we face real terrorism. Is it Bush’s fault that terrorists decided to fly planes into the World Trade Center? If you say yes, than it’s also Clinton’s fault they previously attempted to chuck a car bomb at the WTC?

    How you are able to continuously dismiss the president’s cures without offering your own solutions, is what is wrong. You say “Centuries ago, if an Aztec citizen happened to believe that the practice of human sacrifice was foolish and cruel but his leaders believed that the rising of the sun or the success of crops depended upon such barbaric acts, should he have felt obligated to offer an alternative before heeding his conscience and speaking out?”

    Uh, yeah. To call something wrong…you must think something is right or that a right is being subverted by a ‘wrong’. You call it his conscience, but if he had no alternative to what the masse of his people believed he could not hope for anything but to be called an idiot. It’s about context and context cannot be ignore. Peoples minds change through persuasion, through coming to a belief that what they believed was in error and that there is a better way.

    If all you have is “Bush, you’re wrong” then you add little to the dialogue. Bush – finally – can admit he’s made mistakes so it takes no rocket scientist to figure that out. So…as the tempest looms Mr. Jaffe…what should we do?

    Follow you and tell our leader ‘stop what you’re doing and doo….well….we don’t know…but…stop!!!” or offer alternatives? I prefer the latter. The tempest doesn’t loom, it’s already upon us.

  2. Mr Roach. With all due respect, I had a dialogue with you previously on your site–to which I have never returned. During the course of this discussion you said that a civil war between the Iraqis would not necessarily be a bad thing. In other words, you were content–dare I say pleased?–with the prospect of an escalation of the killing that grows ever more virulent in Iraq.

    Your attitude, Mr Roach, strikes me as fundamentally wrong.

    Also wrong is the continued and whimsical association of the war in Iraq with 9/11. That alleged connection has been disproved a thousand times over. Apparently, not even Mr RightRI has the courage to defend this ludicrous and malevolent assertion any longer.

    Our President and Vice President used this false equivalence to convince the American public that a pre-emptive war of choice was necessary. That is, they lied, by implication if not overtly. But that is the worst kind of lie because it shows the perpetrator knows he can’t win on merits, and lacks the courage of conviction to lie directly, so he employs rhetorical tricks while being able to state that he never said such a thing.

    Well, sir, it’s still a lie, and that is wrong.

    Mr Bush purports to be a leader. And he has been a leader with a compliant congress. However, his constant complaint is that the Democrats disagree without proposing an alternative. That, sir, is another rhetorical dodge. It is his responsibility to provide the plan, especially since he created the mess, and the Democrats have been in no position to implement any plan due to their minority status.

    For a “leader” to blame the minority for not solving the problems the “leader” created is wrong, Mr Roach.

    Iraq is not, and never has been about terrorism. It was an imperialistic and cynical attempt to control one of the largest known reserves of oil in the world. As ninjanurse pointed out, a deal was recently signed giving major American and British (BP) oil companies sweeetheart deals on Iraqi oil. Mr Bush himself, in an interview on Rush Limbaugh, stated that the purpose of the war was to maintain control of oil. Mr Limbaugh said this attitude was “visionary.”

    So, Mr Roach, claiming that we are in Iraq to eliminate WMD, or to stop terrorism, or to spread democracy, or whatever the rationale du jour may be, is wrong.

    Mr Bush foolishly and heedlessly enmeshed us in a terrible situation. Perhaps if he had sent additional troops–as his military advisors recommended from the outset–several years ago, this “strategy” may have had some benefit. But the fact of the matter, Mr Roach, is that there are no additional troops. The increase in numbers comes by extending tours of soldiers already there, and shortening the leaves of others before they have to return. That is not leadership, sir. Mr Bush is foisting the consequences of his mistakes onto the shoulders of a few brave men and women. If this war is so crucial to our survival, why didn’t Mr Bush take decisive steps to win it years ago?

    And so, the only conclusion to be reached is that continued involvement is wrong, Mr Roach. Unless you can convince a few hundred thousand of those who agree with you to enlist, this effort simply throws more lives after those already lost.

    The Iraqis need to solve this. Our presence there only exacerbates the problem. There are two options: the implementation of a draft and the occupation of Iraq by a half-million–or more–Americans. Are you willing to suggest that? The other option is a regional, negotiated settlement involving Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran.

    That, sir, is the alternative plan. It has the advantage of being a real strategy, not just a bumper-sticker.

    However, Republicans dismiss this sort of approach. It won’t work, they say. Well, neither will Mr Bush’s futile actions. Or Republicans dismiss diplomacy as unmanly. But, what is unmanly is Mr Bush’s adamant refusal to admit his mistake and to show the courage to attempt a real solution.

    That, sir, is wrong. After all, Baron von Clauswitz understood that war was an extention of diplomacy, not the other way around. Sun Tzu understood that the most effective war was the one you didn’t have to fight. These were military men, sir. I suggest you heed their advice–unlike Mr Bush.

    And, btw, terrorism is a police problem, not a military one. Aside from clearing Al Quaida from Afghanistan, our military cannot defeat “terrorism.” Also btw, we are at serious risk of losing all of our gains in Afghanistan because Mr Bush can’t admit he was wrong about Iraq.

    And that, sir, is wrong.

  3. Apparently, not even Mr RightRI has the courage to defend this ludicrous and malevolent assertion any longer.

    klaus, your obsession is starting to cause discomfort.

    Iraq is not, and never has been about terrorism. It was an imperialistic and cynical attempt to control one of the largest known reserves of oil in the world. …claiming that we are in Iraq to eliminate WMD, or to stop terrorism, or to spread democracy, or whatever the rationale du jour may be, is wrong.

    It’s comments like this that show what a fool you are. You want so badly to believe that America is wrong, that Americans are the problem, that George Bush is a liar, is evil, is only after self-interests.

    It is not about whether I am courageous or not klaus. You are so consumed by anger and hostility that it’s near impossible to have a conversation, even with someone else on this blog.

    Yes, I fully admit that President Bush has made some mistakes, and I have been frustrated by our missteps. I too want the crisis in Iraq to be solved quickly and with as little bloodshed as possible. But to suggest that the war is not about terrorism, or spreading democracy, disgusts me. America has demonstrated a commitment to fighting for freedom and democracy…in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, in Western Europe and the Pacific during WWII, in Korea, Vietnam, and yes, in the Gulf, where our involvement started when Iraq invaded the peaceful Kuwait.

    Disagree? Sure. But to assign the worst motives to our President, our military and civilian leaders, and to our soldiers, is highly offensive, and yes, in my mind, un-American.

  4. You know, if I come across as angry, it’s because the lack of logical, rational thinking makes me a bit bonkers. Calling me a fool, or angry, or whatever else does not address the facts at hand. If you would kindly stick to the topic, you will find that I’m a paragon of patience. Also note that I’m not the one who resorted to name calling; that was you. I pointed out where I believe the evidence shows that Mr Roach was wrong. Disagree? Refute me. With facts.

    First, are you saying that you do still believe that Saddam was involved in 9/11? Please answer. That’s a very simple question. And I’ve asked nicely.

    If he wasn’t, why did we invade Iraq? To eliminate WMD? That rationale was jettisoned ages ago. Are we spreading democracy? If so, then why wasn’t that stated up front?

    Again, these are simple questions. All you have to do is answer them.

    And I notice you offered no real rebuttal to the evidence I offered about the imperialist nature of our adventure. The contracts were given out. Mr Bush did say that he was doing this to control oil supplies. Mr Limbaugh thought that was “visionary.” (Yes, I repeat myself.) I point out what Mr Bush said, and you say I’m angry and hate America.

    Nor does the first Gulf War, the Cold War, or any of those other situations have anything to do with the present venture. They are off-topic and irrelevant. Again, I’ve asked you countless times: if this situation is so dire, why has not Mr Bush mobilized the country? Why has he given out tax cuts in the middle of a war? That is unheard of, and cynical beyond belief. Can you answer that? You’ve avoided doing so any number of times.

    And, I’m sorry if you’re offended by what appears to be the truth. So am I. However, rather than be complicit in what Mr Bush has done, I choose to be a real American and speak out. Remember: if the good do nothing, the bad guys win. If you don’t agree with me, present some evidence. Calling me names doesn’t solve–or prove–anything.

    And, btw, I do not blame the military. They are doing what they are ordered to do. This is all on the President and Vice President.

    The fact remains that we are less safe now than we were on 9/10/01. Of course, you will refuse to believe this, even if you cannot provide reasons why you do. Or, if you can, why haven’t you?

    See? Not angry at all. Very reasonable. Just answer the questions, if you please.

  5. Klaus,

    Why you keep trying to reduce my arguments to equating the Iraq War with 9/11 is beyond me. My only reference to 9/11 was to say that those who think 9/11 occurred because of Bush are as idiotic as those who purport it was Clinton’s fault for the attacks in 1993. Utterly ludicrous on both counts is what I say.

    Why you take that and address – and I use that term loosely – nothing else I say is beyond me.

    Your idea is to include other countries in the talks with Iraq. Ok, well these countries also have Muslim factions that don’t all like the factions in Iraq. If you saw the cartoon in the Projo today, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    The point of my reply to Mr. Jaffe was to say taking the approach of decrying the President’s solution while offering none is, for lack of a better word, weak and not productive.

    Again, my belief that a Civil War would put an end to much of the fighting in Iraq is based upon two things: 1. We can’t solve all the problems there. 2. Many of the problems, unfortunately may only be solved via bloodshed or someone like Saddam exerted extreme power there.

    Not my, daresay, desired solution no, but I’m a realist. Involving other countries is a nice, fluffy idea, but I believe won’t work due to the complexities of the situation. But, I’m glad you’re also looking for solutions to the problem as well.

    One thing I ask if you reply to this comment, please reply to the comment and not your usual strawmen rants about Iraq and 9/11 links that I just do not even come close to linking.

  6. Mr Roach:

    Please re-read your initial post.

    “…Is it Bush’s fault that terrorists decided to fly planes into the World Trade Center?…”

    From there, you launch into your complaint that Mr Jaffe had no “plan.” Based on the juxtaposition of the statements, and the structure of the comment, I think a reasonable person would conclude that you are implying that we need to be in Iraq because of 9/11.

    This is exactly the sort of rhetorical sleight-of-hand that the President and Vice President have been using for the last five years. And now you follow suit. And, when called on it, you claim that you never meant what was clearly the obvious implication. Is the denial technically correct? Sure. Is it right? I don’t think so.

    And, if you believe that “…We can’t solve all the problems there…” what will an increase in troops accomplish?

    My point is that there is an alternative, and that is diplomacy. Of course, it’s not macho–“fluffy,” as you called it. But it’s not like beating heads has been wildly successful over the last 3 years and 10 months, now has it? The failure of your approach is why we’re having this discussion.

    “The situation is grave, and deteriorating.” That is what your preferred military solution has brought us to. So how can you simply dismiss an alternative, and then complain that no alternative is offered?

    Look, we defeated the Soviet Union by 40 years worth of diplomacy. The countries I mentioned have a vested interest in a peaceful solution. Saudi Arabia doesn’t want an Iraqi/Iranian Shia superstate on its doorstep. Neither does Syria. Turkey and Iran don’t want an independent Kurdistan. The Iraqi Sunnis don’t want to be ethnically “cleansed” by a Shia majority gov’t. The Iraqi gov’t doesn’t want a continued Sunni insurgency.

    How are 20,000–or 120,000 troops going to solve those problems? Answer, they’re not. Your response: oh, but diplomacy is just too hard. So let’s just keep shooting and hope they settle down.

    And remember: there are no more troops. Got that? NO MORE TROOPS.

    The “increase” will be created by extending the rotation of troops already there, and sending other troops back sooner than expected. That is asking an awful lot of a few thousand brave soldiers, don’t you think? In short, President Bush is willing to risk destroying the finest army in the world because he’s not man enough to admit he was wrong from the get-go.

    Had we gone in with overwhelming force from the outset, this venture may have had some chance of success. Now, any military solution is doomed. What does that leave?

    Diplomacy.

    So, there, I addressed your specific objection head-on, although I find your complaint a tad disingenuous. And I’ve also shown that your complaint about a lack of alternative is just so much smoke. In the process, I have not called you names, insulted your patriotism, called your arguments “rants” or “strawmen” (although calling them “arguments is a stretch.)

    All I ask is that you do the same.

  7. klaus:

    I have to pat you on the back for insisting on measured and reasoned discussion of issues, which is sorely lacking in the American dialogue at this point.

    The main objection I have to Bush’s “logic” is that he puts the burden on those who disagree to offer an alternative — and then, the minute an alternative is suggested, the Rove attack machine goes into top gear and insults the public with smears like “cut and run.”

    If it’s up to dissenters to offer alternatives, then the burden is on Bush and his followers to actually consider them respectfully. But as you’ve seen in this post, respectful dialogue is perhaps the last thing that the Bush crowd will countenance.

    One other note: I’m so glad that the Dems are showing some guts and actually standing up to Bush on his escalation plan. The hair-splitting disagreements (Harry Reid’s nonbinding resolutions vs. flat-out denial of funding, for instance) just show how a political party is supposed to work — instead of blind allegiance, knee-jerk bumper-sticker rhetoric and sick smear campaigns, the Dems actually allow some room for negotiation and deliberate debate.

    To me, that’s the definition of America.

  8. First, I’m not part of the Bush crowd. Second, as I said Klaus you took one statement and ran with it. You didn’t note that my next statement was to cast blame on Clinton for the 1993 attacks equally ridiculous.

    Stop saying what my response is to things and stop saying what I am not saying.

    I said it was fruitless from Mr. Jaffe to not offer an alternative rather than just complain. Bush is making a proactive step regarding the war. If you agree, great. If you don’t then what do we do? If you don’t feel, as Mr. Jaffe seemingly does, that we need to answer the latter question, then I do not think you have the right to question the President.

    Why? Because you are not offering him anything else to look at, to review, other than your complaints of what he is doing.

    Most people on the left have taken to looking solely at troop increase. Indeed, you klaus seem to ignore the few paragraphs Bush spent talking about increased diplomacy.

    Again, I have no problem with you disagreeing with me Klaus, but disagree on the points I make not on the points you wish I would make to fit into your stereotype.

  9. One final note. You said:
    “From there, you launch into your complaint that Mr Jaffe had no “plan.â€? Based on the juxtaposition of the statements, and the structure of the comment, I think a reasonable person would conclude that you are implying that we need to be in Iraq because of 9/11.”

    That’s ridiculous. Let’s look at what I said:
    “Is it Bush’s fault that terrorists decided to fly planes into the World Trade Center? If you say yes, than it’s also Clinton’s fault they previously attempted to chuck a car bomb at the WTC?”

    No reasonable person would take that to read I’m about to justify our presence in Iraq because of 9/11. Indeed, really what I’m saying, using your logic, is that we should have been there since ’93 and da–it why didn’t Clinton get the job done.

    I find it inexorably frustrating that you are unable to attack my points on their merits alone.

  10. OK, let’s make this simple.

    “….Wake up, man! This is the real world and we face real terrorism. Is it Bush’s fault that terrorists decided to fly planes into the World Trade Center? If you say yes, than it’s also Clinton’s fault they previously attempted to chuck a car bomb at the WTC?Wake up, man! This is the real world and we face real terrorism.

    How you are able to continuously dismiss the president’s cures…

    What is the president trying to “cure”? From the juxtaposition, it sure seems like it’s “terrorism.” From which it follows that Iraq = war on terror.

    If it’s not terrorism, then what? You left out an important piece of information there.

    …I find it inexorably frustrating that you are unable to attack my points on their merits alone….

    What is your point?

    …The point of my reply to Mr. Jaffe was to say taking the approach of decrying the President’s solution while offering none is, for lack of a better word, weak and not productive…

    …I said it was fruitless from Mr. Jaffe to not offer an alternative rather than just complain. Bush is making a proactive step regarding the war. If you agree, great. If you don’t then what do we do? If you don’t feel, as Mr. Jaffe seemingly does, that we need to answer the latter question, then I do not think you have the right to question the President….

    My point is that several alternatives have been, from complete and immediate withdrawal to a negotiated settlement. I have also given several reasons why a negotiated settlement is the most viable solution. Nearly 4 years of killing people hasn’t worked. Why keep trying it?

    Oh, and I love the part about not having the “right to question the president.” Wow. What sort of country do we live in?

    My apologies, Mr Roach. I have answered your “point,” several times over. Your method has not worked, so continuing it is not apt to work in the future. As an alternative, I suggest diplomacy, which you complain is too hard. Perhaps for this president.

    If you have others points, then present them, and we will discuss them. And you’ve also revealed that you do not seem to believe in constitutional niceties like freedom of speech. I really don’t need to add anything to that. You’ve made yourself very clear.

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