My God! What If We Won the War on Terror!

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My God! What If We Won the War on Terror!

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:35 pm

The Only Thing We Have to Fear ...

If you set aside the war in Iraq, terrorism has in fact gone way down over the past five years.
Fareed Zakaria
NEWSWEEK
Updated: 11:49 AM ET May 24, 2008

You know that we are living in scary times. Terrorist groups are metastasizing all over the globe. Al Qaeda has re-established its bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hizbullah, Hamas and other radical Islamic groups are gaining strength. You hear this stuff all the time, on television and on the campaign trail. Amid the din, it's hard to figure out the facts. Well, finally we have a well-researched, independent analysis of the data relating to terrorism, released last week by Canada's Simon Fraser University. Its findings will surprise you.

It explains that there is a reason you're scared. The U.S. government agency charged with tracking terrorist attacks, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), reported a 41 percent increase from 2005 to 2006 and then equally high levels in 2007. Another major, government-funded database of terrorism, the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terror (MIPT), says that the annual toll of fatalities from terrorism grew 450 percent (!) between 1998 and 2006. A third report, the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), also government-funded, recorded a 75 percent jump in 2004, the most recent year available for the data it uses.

The Simon Fraser study points out that all three of these data sets have a common problem. They count civilian casualties from the war in Iraq as deaths caused by terrorism. This makes no sense. Iraq is a war zone, and as in other war zones around the world, many of those killed are civilians. Study director Prof. Andrew Mack notes, "Over the past 30 years, civil wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Bosnia, Guatemala, and elsewhere have, like Iraq, been notorious for the number of civilians killed. But although the slaughter in these cases was intentional, politically motivated, and perpetrated by non-state groups—and thus constituted terrorism as conceived by MIPT, NCTC, and START—it was almost never described as such." To take just two examples, Mack pointed out that in 2004, the Janjaweed militia killed at least 723 civilians in Sudan (as documented by independent studies). The MIPT recorded zero deaths in Sudan from terrorism that year; START counted only 17. In Congo in 1999, independent studies identified hundreds killed by militia actions. The MIPT notes zero deaths that year from terrorism; and START, seven.

Including Iraq massively skews the analysis. In the NCTC and MIPT data, Iraq accounts for 80 percent of all deaths counted. But if you set aside the war there, terrorism has in fact gone way down over the past five years. In both the START and MIPT data, non-Iraq deaths from terrorism have declined by more than 40 percent since 2001. (The NCTC says the number has stayed roughly the same, but that too is because of a peculiar method of counting.) In the only other independent analysis of terrorism data, the U.S.-based IntelCenter published a study in mid-2007 that examined "significant" attacks launched by Al Qaeda over the past 10 years. It came to the conclusion that the number of Islamist attacks had declined 65 percent from a high point in 2004, and fatalities from such attacks had declined by 90 percent.

The Simon Fraser study notes that the decline in terrorism appears to be caused by many factors, among them successful counterterrorism operations in dozens of countries and infighting among terror groups. But the most significant, in the study's view, is the "extraordinary drop in support for Islamist terror organizations in the Muslim world over the past five years." These are largely self-inflicted wounds. The more people are exposed to the jihadists' tactics and world view, the less they support them. An ABC/BBC poll in Afghanistan in 2007 showed support for the jihadist militants in the country to be 1 percent. In Pakistan's North-West Frontier province, where Al Qaeda has bases, support for Osama bin Laden plummeted from 70 percent in August 2007 to 4 percent in January 2008. That dramatic drop was probably a reaction to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, but it points to a general trend in Pakistan over the past five years. With every new terrorist attack, public support for jihad falls. "This pattern is repeated in country after country in the Muslim world," writes Mack. "Its strategic implications are critically important because historical evidence suggests that terrorist campaigns that lose public support will sooner or later be abandoned or defeated."

The University of Maryland's Center for International Development and Conflict Management (I wish academic centers would come up with shorter names!) has released another revealing study, documenting a 54 percent decline in the number of organizations using violence across the Middle East and North Africa between 1985 and 2004. The real rise, it points out, is in the number of groups employing nonviolent means of protest, which increased threefold during the same period.

Why have you not heard about studies like this or the one from Simon Fraser, which was done by highly regarded scholars, released at the United Nations and widely discussed in many countries around the world—from Canada to Australia? Because it does not fit into the narrative of fear that we have all accepted far too easily.

URL: http://www.newsweek.com/id/138508
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Post by JackC » Wed Jun 04, 2008 6:12 pm

It is perfectly obvious how this is going to play out. It will be impossible to "win" the war on terror, because it was a war announced by GWB.

If Islamic terrorism goes way down and eventually becomes an insignificant global threat, it will be attributed to other factors, certainly not any policies or efforts by the Bush administration to combat terror. Those efforts will ALL be said to have been counterproductive and actually have worsened the problem.

There is simply no way that this argument can be won any more than you can get any leftist to admit that Reagan's policies, or more generally US policy after WWII, preserved freedom and helped win the cold war.

I have a good friend that just a month after 9/11 told me that Islamic terror was no real threat. He said it was just a bunch of one-offs, what he called "pin pricks", that we will have to endure, can't stop and, in any event, should accept as being the "logical" result of US policy.

Well I don't consider 3,000 innocent people (no, not "little Eichmans") dead in just over an hour to be a "pin member." And I don't agree that the war or terror is an illusion or that there is no real signifcant threat. But the less than total clarity of the nature and strength and tactics of the enemy will always permit the left to deny the threat. To them the Soviet Union was never a real threat either.

Ted

Post by Ted » Wed Jun 04, 2008 6:16 pm

If you set aside the war in Iraq, terrorism has in fact gone way down over the past five years.
1) Tell us something we don't know
2) Except for the two attacks on the WTC, and variois international incidents like the Cole--all well spread out over time--terrorist attacks were and still are rare. Notice I mention the UK Tube incidents.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 04, 2008 6:21 pm

Ted wrote:
If you set aside the war in Iraq, terrorism has in fact gone way down over the past five years.
1) Tell us something we don't know
2) Except for the two attacks on the WTC, and variois international incidents like the Cole--all well spread out over time--terrorist attacks were and still are rare. Notice I mention the UK Tube incidents.
You can still salavage something, Ted, by saying that if we win it will be because of al Qaeda's ineptness in creating a larger death toll among Muslims than among westerners in general and Americans in particular. It kinda underscores that Obama's smartest move would be to pivot to embrace the successes in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than continuing to harp on his opposition to them. That would almost deprive McCain of his best issue.
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Ted

Post by Ted » Wed Jun 04, 2008 6:27 pm

CD writes:
You can still salavage something, Ted, by saying that if we win it will be because of al Qaeda's ineptness in creating a larger death toll among Muslims than among westerners in general and Americans in particular.
I thinkI know what you're trying to say....I might even agree***

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 04, 2008 6:34 pm

Ted wrote:I think I know what you're trying to say....I might even agree***
Wait while I get the smelling salts . . . :wink:
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Post by RebLem » Thu Jun 05, 2008 4:40 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ted wrote:
If you set aside the war in Iraq, terrorism has in fact gone way down over the past five years.
1) Tell us something we don't know
2) Except for the two attacks on the WTC, and variois international incidents like the Cole--all well spread out over time--terrorist attacks were and still are rare. Notice I mention the UK Tube incidents.
You can still salavage something, Ted, by saying that if we win it will be because of al Qaeda's ineptness in creating a larger death toll among Muslims than among westerners in general and Americans in particular. It kinda underscores that Obama's smartest move would be to pivot to embrace the successes in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than continuing to harp on his opposition to them. That would almost deprive McCain of his best issue.
What I hear is that Binny's approval numbers in public opinion polls are down in the single digits now in Pakistan. So, what do they think of Americans? Our poll numbers aren't very good, either. Why? They hate us, al Qaeda and democratically inclined Pakistanis alike, because we go around the world with our military, propping up unpopular, repressive governments because they are what's available, in order to pursue the fight against terror and other items on our agenda.

It looks to me, Corlyss, that your argument runs something like this:

1) We must fight terrorism.
2) We must have our troops all over the place in order to fight terrorism.
3) Propping up unpopular, repressive governments is, regrettably (or perhaps not) an unavoidable consequence of 1 and 2.

What you fail to understand--or more likely, simply refuse to understand by the exercise of an iron will--is that most terrorism exists in the first place because of items 2 and 3 above. So, it becomes a circular, self-perpetuating, never-ending cycle from which we cannot extricate ourselves until we abandon our commitment to item 3, and, in many cases, item 2 as well.

Posted on June 5th, 2008, the 1,862nd day after Shrub announced that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, the 154th day before the November 4th US general election, and the 232nd day before the end of the Cheney Administration. RebLem
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Post by keaggy220 » Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:27 am

RebLem wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
Ted wrote:
If you set aside the war in Iraq, terrorism has in fact gone way down over the past five years.
1) Tell us something we don't know
2) Except for the two attacks on the WTC, and variois international incidents like the Cole--all well spread out over time--terrorist attacks were and still are rare. Notice I mention the UK Tube incidents.
You can still salavage something, Ted, by saying that if we win it will be because of al Qaeda's ineptness in creating a larger death toll among Muslims than among westerners in general and Americans in particular. It kinda underscores that Obama's smartest move would be to pivot to embrace the successes in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than continuing to harp on his opposition to them. That would almost deprive McCain of his best issue.
What I hear is that Binny's approval numbers in public opinion polls are down in the single digits now in Pakistan. So, what do they think of Americans? Our poll numbers aren't very good, either. Why? They hate us, al Qaeda and democratically inclined Pakistanis alike, because we go around the world with our military, propping up unpopular, repressive governments because they are what's available, in order to pursue the fight against terror and other items on our agenda.

It looks to me, Corlyss, that your argument runs something like this:

1) We must fight terrorism.
2) We must have our troops all over the place in order to fight terrorism.
3) Propping up unpopular, repressive governments is, regrettably (or perhaps not) an unavoidable consequence of 1 and 2.

What you fail to understand--or more likely, simply refuse to understand by the exercise of an iron will--is that most terrorism exists in the first place because of items 2 and 3 above. So, it becomes a circular, self-perpetuating, never-ending cycle from which we cannot extricate ourselves until we abandon our commitment to item 3, and, in many cases, item 2 as well.
I love liberal reasoning. America's evil, not the terrorists stupid!
"I guess we're all, or most of us, the wards of the nineteenth-century sciences which denied existence of anything it could not reason or explain. The things we couldn't explain went right on but not with our blessing... So many old and lovely things are stored in the world's attic, because we don't want them around us and we don't dare throw them out."
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Post by RebLem » Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:54 am

keaggy220 wrote:
I love liberal reasoning. America's evil, not the terrorists stupid!
Don't put words in my mouth. Where did I say America was evil? I didn't, and you know it. Perhaps you have a guilty conscience. Perhaps you are evil, and thought I was talking about you.

But not America. America often goes into situations thinking only of its short-term national interest and not its long-term interests. Our actions seldom have evil motivations. They often have evil effects. And, what you propose is never being introspective and thoughtful and never examining the long term effects of our policies because spending money on anything--even the most disastrous of errors--makes money for consultants inside the Beltway, of who you have confessed to being one.

So perhaps YOU are evil. But not America.

Posted on June 5th, 2008, the 1,862nd day after Shrub announced that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, the 154th day before the November 4th US general election, and the 232nd day before the end of the Cheney Administration. RebLem
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Post by greymouse » Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:54 am

First I gotta say I've admired Zakaria for years! He's tried to be very objective about this war and his calmness is appreciated by many.

I don't think the war on terror can be won. It is like a war on crime, poverty, homelessness, or anything else. You never expect to eliminate it - you just want to see progress. Only individual war actions and battles can be won, but the mission has to be clearly defined. We haven't clearly defined the actions we're taking in the Middle East, and we're looking to heap even more on our plate with Iran? I think Bush purposely has been unclear about our objectives in Iraq because he wants the US to establish a permanent presence and a stronghold there, and it's unpopular.

Personally, I feel we should define victory and have it include us getting the heck out of there.

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Post by Barry » Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:27 pm

RebLem wrote: ... America often goes into situations thinking only of its short-term national interest and not its long-term interests. Our actions seldom have evil motivations. They often have evil effects. ...
And for some Americans, the inclination is more to withdraw from a difficult situation with only the short-term impact in mind. I know the motivation isn't evil in that case either, but the results will be.
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Post by Chalkperson » Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:41 pm

greymouse wrote:I think Bush purposely has been unclear about our objectives in Iraq because he wants the US to establish a permanent presence and a stronghold there, and it's unpopular.
From today's Independent...

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 40512.html
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

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Post by jbuck919 » Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:54 pm

A good lengthy discussion of changes of premise and meaning of terms, including victory, for the war on terror is a Terror and Consent, by Philip Bobbitt, which I am currently reading. I can think of one or two of you who are likely to be ahead of me on this, but oddly I get the impression that it would be enjoyable and edifying reading for a wide range of our readership no matter their politics.

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Post by greymouse » Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:03 pm

Barry wrote:
RebLem wrote: ... America often goes into situations thinking only of its short-term national interest and not its long-term interests. Our actions seldom have evil motivations. They often have evil effects. ...
And for some Americans, the inclination is more to withdraw from a difficult situation with only the short-term impact in mind. I know the motivation isn't evil in that case either, but the results will be.
This American wants to withdraw with a view to the long term. I hate this notion that going into countries clearly provoking war will be seen as a recipe for foreign policy success for future generations. I freely admit ... it strains my own categorical worldview too much. There is nothing we're doing that doesn't appear to be aggressive and imperialistic.

btw, if this has all been such a great idea, what are the next few countries we should go to war with?

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Post by RebLem » Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:22 pm

Chalkie, I have decided to just post your whole artice, because I think it is important for people to read it. It is my understanding, however, that Mr. Cockburn has one thing wrong--this is not a treaty, which requires US Senate ratification. I cannot believe that the US Senate, supine as it has been to the Cheney Imperium, would pass a treaty like this, binding the next president and all future presidents to a permanent war in Iraq, Deux ex machina, not just for a hundred years, but in perpetuity.

No, this is an executive agreement, which the Administration is under the impression it can compel succeeding administrations to enforce. The Administration is, essentially, behaving like a Latin American military dictatorship which agrees to step down from power and bow to "democracy" in return for permanent concessions to it, recognizing that it, the military, has certain powers above the political process which the President, Congress, the Supreme Court, and American voters, would be powerless to control or stop. This is the greatest threat to our liberty we have ever faced, if it is allowed to prevail, and it is important for people to understand what is afoot. RebLem



Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control

Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors

By Patrick Cockburn
Thursday, 5 June 2008 || The Independent


A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.


The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.

But the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.

The timing of the agreement would also boost the Republican candidate, John McCain, who has claimed the United States is on the verge of victory in Iraq – a victory that he says Mr Obama would throw away by a premature military withdrawal.

America currently has 151,000 troops in Iraq and, even after projected withdrawals next month, troop levels will stand at more than 142,000 – 10 000 more than when the military "surge" began in January 2007. Under the terms of the new treaty, the Americans would retain the long-term use of more than 50 bases in Iraq. American negotiators are also demanding immunity from Iraqi law for US troops and contractors, and a free hand to carry out arrests and conduct military activities in Iraq without consulting the Baghdad government.

The precise nature of the American demands has been kept secret until now. The leaks are certain to generate an angry backlash in Iraq. "It is a terrible breach of our sovereignty," said one Iraqi politician, adding that if the security deal was signed it would delegitimise the government in Baghdad which will be seen as an American pawn.

The US has repeatedly denied it wants permanent bases in Iraq but one Iraqi source said: "This is just a tactical subterfuge." Washington also wants control of Iraqi airspace below 29,000ft and the right to pursue its "war on terror" in Iraq, giving it the authority to arrest anybody it wants and to launch military campaigns without consultation.

Mr Bush is determined to force the Iraqi government to sign the so-called "strategic alliance" without modifications, by the end of next month. But it is already being condemned by the Iranians and many Arabs as a continuing American attempt to dominate the region. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the powerful and usually moderate Iranian leader, said yesterday that such a deal would create "a permanent occupation". He added: "The essence of this agreement is to turn the Iraqis into slaves of the Americans."

Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is believed to be personally opposed to the terms of the new pact but feels his coalition government cannot stay in power without US backing.

The deal also risks exacerbating the proxy war being fought between Iran and the United States over who should be more influential in Iraq.

Although Iraqi ministers have said they will reject any agreement limiting Iraqi sovereignty, political observers in Baghdad suspect they will sign in the end and simply want to establish their credentials as defenders of Iraqi independence by a show of defiance now. The one Iraqi with the authority to stop the deal is the majority Shia spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In 2003, he forced the US to agree to a referendum on the new Iraqi constitution and the election of a parliament. But he is said to believe that loss of US support would drastically weaken the Iraqi Shia, who won a majority in parliament in elections in 2005.

The US is adamantly against the new security agreement being put to a referendum in Iraq, suspecting that it would be voted down. The influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called on his followers to demonstrate every Friday against the impending agreement on the grounds that it compromises Iraqi independence.

The Iraqi government wants to delay the actual signing of the agreement but the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney has been trying to force it through. The US ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, has spent weeks trying to secure the accord.

The signature of a security agreement, and a parallel deal providing a legal basis for keeping US troops in Iraq, is unlikely to be accepted by most Iraqis. But the Kurds, who make up a fifth of the population, will probably favour a continuing American presence, as will Sunni Arab political leaders who want US forces to dilute the power of the Shia. The Sunni Arab community, which has broadly supported a guerrilla war against US occupation, is likely to be split.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 40512.html

Posted on June 5th, 2008, the 1,862nd day after Shrub announced that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, the 154th day before the November 4th US general election, and the 232nd day before the end of the Cheney Administration. RebLem
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
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"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

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Post by Barry » Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:42 pm

greymouse wrote:
Barry wrote:
RebLem wrote: ... America often goes into situations thinking only of its short-term national interest and not its long-term interests. Our actions seldom have evil motivations. They often have evil effects. ...
And for some Americans, the inclination is more to withdraw from a difficult situation with only the short-term impact in mind. I know the motivation isn't evil in that case either, but the results will be.
This American wants to withdraw with a view to the long term. I hate this notion that going into countries clearly provoking war will be seen as a recipe for foreign policy success for future generations. I freely admit ... it strains my own categorical worldview too much. There is nothing we're doing that doesn't appear to be aggressive and imperialistic.

btw, if this has all been such a great idea, what are the next few countries we should go to war with?
My point was that the only sensible approach for our policy-makers is to base the way forward on the current situation. Whether it was a good or bad idea to invade Iraq in the first place should play no role whatsoever in determining whether to withdraw in the near future IMO. I've read enough on both sides to make my judgement that withdrawing soon, as Obama claims he wants to do, would do damage both to our interest and Iraq's. As I've been saying on here, for all of Bush's past mistakes with regard to Iraq, he finally did the right thing when he put Petraeus and his anti-insurgency strategy in place. I further think he has again done the right thing by promoting Petraeus so that he is overseeing our military in the entire region and I hope Bush will continue to place a lot of weight on the general's opinion in terms of how and where resources and troops should be deployed in the region.
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Post by karlhenning » Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:44 pm

JackC wrote:There is simply no way that this argument can be won any more than you can get any leftist to admit that Reagan's policies, or more generally US policy after WWII, preserved freedom and helped win the cold war.
I'd like you and Barry to agree on a definition for this bogeyman "leftist"; you're sending mixed signals (which just may be a function of using it as code for "the contemptible people I disagree with, who are contemptible for the simple fact that they disagree with me"). For in fact (a) I happily agree that, generally, US policy after WWII "preserved freedom" (there's another vague phrase to sling around), and (b) Reagan in his way helped win the cold war (though I stop well short of the more effusive claims for Reagan on this point). Yet, Barry seems eager to pigeonhole me with "the leftists."

What about intelligent and respectful disagreement, rather than this self-congratulating practice of demonizing the fellow who holds a different opinion?

Just a thought.

Cheers,
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Post by Barry » Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:55 pm

karlhenning wrote: I'd like you and Barry to agree on a definition for this bogeyman "leftist"; you're sending mixed signals (which just may be a function of using it as code for "the contemptible people I disagree with, who are contemptible for the simple fact that they disagree with me"). For in fact (a) I happily agree that, generally, US policy after WWII "preserved freedom" (there's another vague phrase to sling around), and (b) Reagan in his way helped win the cold war (though I stop well short of the more effusive claims for Reagan on this point). Yet, Barry seems eager to pigeonhole me with "the leftists."

What about intelligent and respectful disagreement, rather than this self-congratulating practice of demonizing the fellow who holds a different opinion?

Just a thought.

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl,
If you had shown "intelligent and respectful disagreement" during your many Bush-Iraq related posts, I wouldn't be pigeonholing you with the left ("leftist" isn't a word I use that much since I tend to associate it with the types of radicals that actually take up arms against the government ... you know; people like William Ayers).
There is a very large segment of what can be considered the mainstream left in this country that are absolutely invested in our defeat in Iraq. They refuse to acknowledge the gains of the past year and can't wait to blast away with the first bad news they read; even if it's premature and turns out to be completely bogus (eg. the "disastrous" Basra campaign by the Iraqi army). They'd rather maintain the dialogue on the war in terms of us being in a hopeless situation that is beyond progress; first militarily; and then when that turned out to be a bogus claim; then politically. And now that's a bogus claim as well, so they focus on things like the coalition having gradually fewer member states. It's one of the many symptoms of BDS. You have fit into that club very consistently all along. If I was wrong that you are generally liberal or on the left aside from the Iraq war, I apologize.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by greymouse » Thu Jun 05, 2008 4:40 pm

The notion of "invested in our defeat" goes both ways though. Anyone who is currently claiming that citizens are "invested in our defeat" has an obligation:

if Obama is elected and we pull out of Iraq and the country doesn't fall apart and instead goes on to thrive then they must admit that it was okay to do so and give credit to Obama's judgment. This war is more complicated than many are giving it credit for. While I opposed the war, I refuse to say something like "It was better under Saddam" because it clearly isn't so. Good has come from this war as surely as bad has. I don't want to see the hawks getting twisted into knots if there is a successful exit strategy.

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Post by Barry » Thu Jun 05, 2008 4:46 pm

greymouse wrote:The notion of "invested in our defeat" goes both ways though. Anyone who is currently claiming that citizens are "invested in our defeat" has an obligation:

if Obama is elected and we pull out of Iraq and the country doesn't fall apart and instead goes on to thrive then they must admit that it was okay to do so and give credit to Obama's judgment. This war is more complicated than many are giving it credit for. While I opposed the war, I refuse to say something like "It was better under Saddam" because it clearly isn't so. Good has come from this war as surely as bad has. I don't want to see the hawks getting twisted into knots if there is a successful exit strategy.
Fair enough. I hope I'll be more fair minded than the Democrats who still refuse to give Reagan his due for the role he played in closing out the Cold War as soon as it ended should Obama win and the scenario go as you describe. BUT, remember that the full longterm consequences of both staying and leaving likely won't be clear for a number of years.

On being invested in defeat though, it's pretty obvious. I'm not exactly going out on a limb. The Democratic leader in the Senate was very open about pronouncing the war lost when there was talk of a surge. This board is full of people who would rather lose body parts than give Bush and Petraeus credit and acknowledge the surge was the right thing to do even with all the evidence to the contrary.
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Post by Werner » Thu Jun 05, 2008 4:55 pm

The answer to that still isn't in, Barry, and quite possibly we'll never have a straight answer.

More later, perhaps!
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Post by Werner » Thu Jun 05, 2008 6:57 pm

You're right in saying that the full consequences of whatever steps Dubya's successor - whoever he is - takes, won't be known for years, so let's not have any more "invested in defeat" quotations as the new policies emerge.

As for due credit, I'll agreee on Petraeus, and hope that whatever he has managed by way of improvement, and what happens after next January, will get us out of the mess, for whose creation - whatever sacrifices the soldiers have made and improved tactics Petraeus has brought about, Bush deserves only blame, not credit. It's Bush who kept Rumsfeld on for six years. It's Bush who lost the nation's confidence by deflecting the war against Osama Bin Ladenand Al Qaeda with the detour into Iraq, which was as incompetently managed as it was conceived.

It's about time that you and all the other apologists for a failed presidency got this one straight.
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Post by karlhenning » Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:34 am

Werner wrote:It's about time that you and all the other apologists for a failed presidency got this one straight.
What a brilliantly apt phrase, Werner: apologists for a failed presidency.

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Post by JackC » Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:35 am

Werner wrote:It's about time that you and all the other apologists for a failed presidency got this one straight.
Nice sounding phrase, but no real substance. By what measure is this a "failed presidency"? Sure, he is unpopular, but Truman was just as unpopular when he left, and not many people call that a "failed presidency."

It is perfectly possible that history will have a more charitable view of our invasion of Iraq, and Bush's "war on terror" generally, than is held at the moment. That will depend on what Iraq and the Mid-East end up looking like in the years ahead, which will in turn depend on what we choose to do going forward. It will also depend on what happens with Islamic teror over the upcoming years.

I am not prepared to accept as obviously true that a world in which the US continues to have many thousand of troops and large bases in Saudi Arabia and constantly flies missions to enforce "no-fly" zones over Iraq, while Saddam continues with his ambitions is necessarly better than the outcomes that are still possible for Iraq and the Mid-east as a result of his removal.

But that is a question that history will answer, based not only on what has happened to date, but also on what we do in the months and years ahead.

They sure won't get a real honest debate or answer in the heated atmoshere of a US presidential campaign.

Also, would Obama's presidency be a "failed presidency" if Obama were to pull out all the troops of Iraq, the country disintegrated into a terrible bloodbath/civil war, with large scale massacres of sunni and shia and then a fundamentalist religious theorcracy took over?? Or would you just say that he did a great job and that the horrible result was "inevitable" because of Bush' removal of Saddam?

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Post by Barry » Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:59 am

karlhenning wrote:
Werner wrote:It's about time that you and all the other apologists for a failed presidency got this one straight.
What a brilliantly apt phrase, Werner: apologists for a failed presidency.

Cheers,
~Karl
There is another perfect example of why I pigeonhole you as a liberal, Karl. I have criticized Bush in strong terms repeatedly on here. I simply refuse to allow his past mistakes to color my judgement of what the best way forward in Iraq is or draw the silly conclusion that because Bush made terrible mistakes before, everything he proposes from here on in must therefore be opposed as idiotic (and as I've said many times, while I fully agree with Jack's above statement on it being a number of years before we know how the Iraq war and even Bush himself will be viewed by historians, there is no point in denying that there were huge blunders in planning for the war; or underplanning as the case may be). Some of you have flat out lost your ability to think rationally where Bush is concerned.

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Post by pizza » Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:00 am

David Horowitz sums it up perfectly:

Party of Defeat

By David Horowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com | 6/4/2008

Most conversations about the coming elections focus on the question of which candidate is most suited to lead the nation as it confronts the challenges and threats ahead. A better question would be to ask whether there is one party– the Democratic Party -- which has demonstrated in word and deed that it is unfit to lead the nation in war at all. Criticism of government policy is essential to a democracy. But in the last five years the Democratic Party has crossed the line from criticism of war policy to fundamental sabotage of the war itself, a position no American party has taken until now.

Starting in July 2003, just three months into the war in Iraq, the Democratic National Committee ran a national TV ad whose message was: “Read his lips: President Bush Deceives the American People. This was the beginning of a five-year, unrelenting campaign to persuade Americans and their allies that “Bush lied, people died,” that the war was “unnecessary” and “Iraq was no threat.” In other words, for five years, the leaders of the Democratic Party have been telling Americans, America’s allies and America’s enemies that their country was an aggressor nation, which had violated international law, and was in effect the “bad guy” in the war with the Saddam Hussein regime.

The first principle of psychological warfare campaigns is to destroy the moral character of the opposing commander-in-chief and discredit his nation’s cause. Yet this is a perfect summary of the campaign that has been waged for the length of this war by the entire Democratic Party leadership, Joe Lieberman being an honorable exception who was driven out of his party as a result.

The one saving grace for Democrats would be if their charges were true – if they were deceived into supporting the war, and if they had turned against it only because they realized their mistake. But this charge is demonstrably false.

In fact, the claim that Bush lied in order to dupe Democrats into supporting the war is itself the biggest lie of the war. Every Democratic Senator who voted for the war had on his or her desk before the vote a 100-page report, called “The National Intelligence Estimate,” which summarized all America’s intelligence on Iraq that was used to justify the war. We live in a democracy; consequently, the opposition party has access to all our secrets. Democrats sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which oversees all of America’s intelligence agencies. If any Democrat on that committee, including Senator John Kerry, had requested any intelligence information Iraq, he or she would have had that information on his or desk within 24 hours. The self-justifying claim that Bush lied to hoodwink the Democrats is a fraudulent charge with no basis in reality.

The Democrats changed their views on the war for one reason and one reason alone: In June 2003, a far-left Democrat named Howard Dean was poised to win the Democratic Party presidential nomination by running on the claim that America was the bad guy in the war in Iraq, and he would get us out.

The charge that Iraq was no threat is another false claim of the Democratic attack on America’s war to defend itself. Typical of Democratic Party leaders, former vice president Al Gore now says that “Iraq posed no threat” because it was a “fragile and unstable” nation. But if this were true, the same argument would apply to Afghanistan on September 10, 2001. Afghanistan is half the size of Iraq and a much poorer and unstable nation; it has no oil and its government did not invade two countries and use chemical weapons on its own citizens as Saddam did. Yet by providing a safe harbor to terrorists, Afghanistan made possible the murder of 3,000 Americans in half an hour and allowed Osama bin Laden to do what the Germans and the Japanese failed to accomplish in six years of the Second World War: kill Americans on the American soil. That’s why in February 2002, a year before the war in Iraq, Al Gore was saying that “Iraq is a virulent threat in a class by itself” and that President Bush should “push the limit” to do what was necessary to deal with Saddam Hussein.

But the most self-serving and deceptive of the lies told by the Democratic leadership is this: you can support the troops and not support the war. No you can’t. You can’t tell a 19-year old, who is risking his young life in Fallujah and who is surrounded by terrorists who want to kill him, that he shouldn’t be there in the first place; that he’s with the “bad guys” – the aggressors, the occupiers, who have no moral right to be Iraq. You can’t do that and not undermine his morale, encourage his enemies, deprive him of allies and put him in danger. And that is exactly what the Democrats have done – and all the Democrats have done – in five years of America’s war to deny the terrorists victory in Iraq. Such a party is unfit to lead this nation in war. To place it in a position to do so would be to invite a tragedy of epic proportions.

David Horowitz is the author with Ben Johnson of Party of Defeat: How Democrats and Radicals Undermined the War on Terror Before and After 9/11, just published by Spence Publishing.

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Pr ... BB8023057E

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Post by Donald Isler » Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:24 am

I see nothing new in this David Horowitz article.

Democrats are essentially "traitors".

Yeah, right!

Fact is, everybody looks bad because of the lousy intelligence we had, and used before going into Iraq. Democrats who used it to support going into Iraq are distancing themselves from it, since it was so bad, and the Bush administration and its supporters have changed their rationale, after the fact, for going into Itaq, because their original reason had no substance.

No one in his right mind compares the war in Afghanistan with that in Iraq, since it was the people then running Afghanistan who attacked us. That's another ridiculous smear the right likes to trot out.

This kind of article won't win Republicans any more votes.
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Post by Werner » Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:30 am

The propaganda continues. Of ourse, the naysayers will properly resent today's NYTimes report (Page 1, above the fold, where it belongs) that a five-year Senate investigation concludes that Bush exaggerated available intelligence and ignored disagreements among spy agencies about Iraq's weapons programs and Saddam's ties to Al Qaeda in justifying the Iraq detour from what he should have done - namely to catch and stop Bin Laden, who is still at large.

But that's the calibre of the flackery that still labors at trying to justify the incompetence of this bunch. It does seem to say something about the competence or motives of these people. Not to mention the fact that the one war which Dubya keeps mentioning as his justification, WWII - the only "good" war? - was run by - yes! - a Democrat, who did manage to include some responsible Republicans in the team. There are still some of those left, even now.
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Post by pizza » Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:38 am

Donald Isler wrote:I see nothing new in this David Horowitz article.

Democrats are essentially "traitors".

Yeah, right!

Fact is, everybody looks bad because of the lousy intelligence we had, and used before going into Iraq. Democrats who used it to support going into Iraq are distancing themselves from it, since it was so bad, and the Bush administration and its supporters have changed their rationale, after the fact, for going into Itaq, because their original reason had no substance.

No one in his right mind compares the war in Afghanistan with that in Iraq, since it was the people then running Afghanistan who attacked us. That's another ridiculous smear the right likes to trot out.

This kind of article won't win Republicans any more votes.
He didn't say they're traitors. That's your spin. What he said is that they place party before country, and that they flip-flop on every important issue as most opportunists do when it suits their convenience.

The people running Afghanistan didn't attack us. They provided safe haven to those who did. Saddam acted as if he still had WMDs and flipped his finger at the world for 12 years, ignoring 13 resolutions requiring him to fulfill his truce obligations. How many more would you tolerate if it were up to you, Donald?

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Post by Steinway » Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:43 am

That article is typical right-wing crap. The"Democrats are weak traitors" garbage is a very shabby attempt that Republicans have been using as their theme song for decades to divert attention from the monumental failures of their leaders.

Let's get real, Pizza. The Bush/Cheney reign is almost over and their legacy will be a reminder to all Americans that we can and will do better in selecting someone competent to lead us forward.

I'm a Democrat and I resent anyone calling me a traitor. If I called you a fascist, would it annoy you? You are entitled to choose your path in these matters, but don't lower yourself by labeling those who think differently as traitors.
You have the Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Coulter, Malkin, Hannity crowd to speak on your behalf.

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Post by pizza » Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:49 am

As I mentioned in my previous post, nobody but Donald called it "treason". Apparently you feel obliged to join with him and add it to the left-wing hyperbole designed to obscure the shameful opportunism of the Dems at the expense of the national war effort.

And by the way, I don't need anyone to speak for me. I'm not at all bashful. As usual, the looney lefties always boil it down to who is posting rather than discussing issues.

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Post by Donald Isler » Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:02 am

As you know, Pizza, the UN team was still inspecting Iraq for weapons until Bush decided he wanted to start the war. Had they finished their inspections we might have found out what we know now; that they didn't pose the threat we were told they did.
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Post by karlhenning » Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:35 pm

Dubya was in an awful hurry, wasn't he, Don?

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Post by Donald Isler » Fri Jun 06, 2008 1:46 pm

I think there's no question that he wanted this war in Iraq. He thought it would avenge his father's humiliation, plus it would make him (Dubya) look good, because it would be so EASY a victory.

However things turn out in the end, I think his DESIRE for a self-serving war, which then went on for years because of mismanagement, will be among of the things that will be remembered in the historical record.
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Post by Mild Ed » Fri Jun 06, 2008 5:19 pm

You can't win the war on terror. Heck, you can't even fight it. "Terror" is an abstract noun. That's the brilliance and deception behind the phrase "war on terror." You can eliminate terrorist groups, but you can't eliminate terror.

Lest you think I'm engaging solely in a semantic argument, consider the article. The primary grounds of dispute are what constitutes a terrorist attack.

One data set assumes terrorism can't take place in a battle zone. By this definition, if every person in the world intent on carrying out attacks on civilians goes to Iraq as opposed to Pakistan, Spain, or the US, then their attacks don't count and the global count for terrorist actions would be "0". To conclude that there were no terrorist attacks would appear to be absurd. Therefore excluding Iraq skews the data as much as including it. The other data set assumes that attacks on soft targets within war zones is an act of terrorism, thereby deriving different data altogether.

The disagreement, then, isn't so much about the changing numbers of terrorist attacks as it is about what a "terrorist attack" is. Is it attacking civilians as part of an effort to evict an occupying power or is it a tactic employed only in nonmilitary contexts? Zakaria never gives us a definition by which he's concluding attacks have gone up or down except to say that if it happens in Iraq, it shouldn't be counted.

I really like Zakaria, but he missed some key issues. Primarily, he missed the issue that the administration has intentionally obscured: terrorism is an abstraction and without a working definition it cannot be fought, defeated, or even ennumerated.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jun 07, 2008 1:10 am

RebLem wrote:What I hear is that Binny's
Who?
So, what do they think of Americans? Our poll numbers aren't very good, either. Why?


Who cares? I don't know why you guys keep harping on this issue of what the rest of the world, or any country in particular, thinks of the US. It is irrelevant. If we offered them all, including the Pakis, visas to come to the US, they'd all become Americans and America-boosters in a heartbeat. That was true in 2001 before 9/11; it was true in 2002 after we destroyed the Taliban's grip on the Afghan state; it's true today; and it will be true tomorrow. Too bad we can't solve the problem of self-hating Americans as easily.

They hate us, al Qaeda and democratically inclined Pakistanis alike, because we go around the world with our military, propping up unpopular, repressive governments because they are what's available, in order to pursue the fight against terror and other items on our agenda.


Yes? Well that's a very one-sided view of what we do. That's their view of what we do. I will grant you that we should have stuck to the Bush doctrine, or what has come to be called the Bush doctrine, despite the fact that its elements have been part of our underlying tenets of US foreign policy since 1789.

Here's the survey that Rob alludes to. I commend its entirety to your attention rather than the few excerpts I quote below. I'm not saying he mischaracterizes what it says; I just prefer to link to the thing itself so you can read it for yourself.
Pew Survey wrote:But concerns about the United States go beyond any single policy. To a large extent, America is disliked in the Muslim world because of its power—and especially because of how it is perceived to be using it. Unrivaled since the end of the cold war and on the offensive since the 9/11 attacks, the United States is seen as a menacing giant, using its considerable strength without regard for others. When asked whether the United States takes into account the interests of countries like theirs when making foreign-policy decisions, only 14% of Turks, 12% of Palestinians and 9% of Moroccans said it does. Even in Kuwait, which after all was liberated by American troops in 1991, only 30% in Pew’s 2007 poll said the United States considers their interests a great deal or fair amount, down from 61% in 2003. * * *

ANTI-AMERICANISM IN the Muslim world thrives within a context of broader tensions between Muslims and Westerners. In 2006—after a twelve-month period punctuated by the London bombings, riots by Muslim youths in France and the controversy over the publication of cartoons in Denmark portraying the prophet Muhammad—the Pew Global Attitudes Project set out to explore these tensions and to gain a better understanding of how Westerners and Muslims perceive one another. The results from the 2006 survey reveal a clear consensus that relations between Muslims and the West are poor, and both sides do a fair amount of finger pointing.

As these findings underlined, Muslims often hold an aggrieved view of the West. They blame Western nations not only for the poor state of relations with Muslim nations, but also for the economic problems of many Muslim countries. Large numbers of Muslims characterize Westerners as selfish, violent and arrogant, while few see those in the West as generous, tolerant or respectful of women. And they don’t believe people in the West respect Islam. The cartoon issue was a good example of this tension—while Westerners felt this was a controversy driven by Muslim intolerance, Muslims tended to see it as an example of Western disrespect for their faith.
http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=17636
2) We must have our troops all over the place in order to fight terrorism.
As of 2005, we had 737 military bases world wide and don't think the countries that have them aren't tickled pink to be getting the money they represent. Whether you or anyone else likes it or not, the US has global responsibilities. At the moment, as long as Europe continues its self-gratifying navel-gazing, we bear practically total responsibility for maintenance of the international system as we inherited it from the Brits after WW2. None of that is going to change materially, no matter who's in the White House. The world would learn pretty quick how to sing the refrain from Big Yellow Taxi if the isolationist elements of this country got their way. As I've noted many times in these pages, the world despises us regardless of administration because we are the biggest kid on the block. The excuse de jour is merely a subtrefuge for underlying futile anti-Americanism. Hating America isn't going to affect the US' status in the world one nano-whit, no matter how frustrating that is to those who hate us, including our own misguided ignorant noisy left.
3) Propping up unpopular, repressive governments is, regrettably (or perhaps not) an unavoidable consequence
Yes, that is certainly the realist school's answer to the facts on the ground. You remember the realist school, right? Baker, Scowcroft, Bush 1, Powell, Kissinger, etc. Those guys are all big in the realist school.
Rob wrote:America often goes into situations thinking only of its short-term national interest and not its long-term interests. Our actions seldom have evil motivations. They often have evil effects.
Well, we agree on something! Yes, we do mess up occasionally in short-term. And yes our acts sometimes have bad results. I wish we hadn't panicked when Iran democratically elected a communist-leaning leader in the 1950s. I wish we had gone in to Cuba with the military and overthrown Castro in the 1960s. But we're human; we can't always be right. Bismark is supposed to have said, "God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America." We don't always get it right in the temporary frame, but over 232 years, we have turned out to be more right than wrong. And while we were going about our own private businesses, we've managed to provide more prosperity and democracy and security for more people for a longer period of time than any other nation in the history of the planet. I'll give us a pass on what we got wrong because on the whole we've been good for ourselves and good for the rest of the world.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jun 07, 2008 2:36 am

Donald Isler wrote:I think there's no question that he wanted this war in Iraq. He thought it would avenge his father's humiliation, plus it would make him (Dubya) look good, because it would be so EASY a victory.

However things turn out in the end, I think his DESIRE for a self-serving war, which then went on for years because of mismanagement, will be among of the things that will be remembered in the historical record.

The facts don't matter if they don't confirm your preconceived notions. - George Lakoff.

Don, you and Karl and Harris are veritible poster children for Lakoff's thesis. As I've said before, you shouldn't go flaunting your collective ignorance like you do.
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Post by Donald Isler » Sat Jun 07, 2008 6:50 am

Most people know I'm right about this, except for those who refuse to see it clearly.
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Post by RebLem » Sat Jun 07, 2008 2:00 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
The facts don't matter if they don't confirm your preconceived notions. - George Lakoff.
I have made the point on many occasions that ideology trumps reality, which is another way of saying the same thing.

One of the most egregious examples is that almost everyone who is eligible for medical care by the VA chooses it over other potential sources of medical care for which they are eligible. Even if they have an employer who provides a generous medical insurance package, for example. Many of the same people who make this choice are the same ones who rail against single payer and socialized medicine, even though the VA and the Indian Health Service are our two single payer, socialized medical systems.

As I say, ideology trumps reality.

Posted on June 7th, 2008, the 1,864th day after Shrub announced that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, the 152nd day before the November 4th US general election, and the 230th day before the end of the Cheney Administration. RebLem
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:31 pm

Donald Isler wrote:Most people know I'm right about this, except for those who refuse to see it clearly.
No, a lot of people here think like you do. There can be consensus on error. Look what happened to Newton's laws; look at global warming. What you think only means you follow the liberal herd mentality on the Bush and anything related to him. Ignorance is no impediment to opinion formation.

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. - Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:34 pm

RebLem wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
The facts don't matter if they don't confirm your preconceived notions. - George Lakoff.
I have made the point on many occasions that ideology trumps reality, which is another way of saying the same thing.
I like that. May I quote you from time to time?
One of the most egregious examples is that almost everyone who is eligible for medical care by the VA chooses it over other potential sources of medical care for which they are eligible. Even if they have an employer who provides a generous medical insurance package, for example. Many of the same people who make this choice are the same ones who rail against single payer and socialized medicine, even though the VA and the Indian Health Service are our two single payer, socialized medical systems.
Do you think that's a problem of lack of information? I mean, do these folks persist in choosing VA over others even after they have all the relevant information and compared the two options?
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Post by Steinway » Sat Jun 07, 2008 5:14 pm

Corlyss..

I'm getting annoyed at being called "ignorant" by you.

I prefer words like "misinformed" or little phrases like" lacking in understanding".

You, of course, are a "patriot" and believe that American leaders can do no wrong and shouldn't have to answer to the American people for their lies, deceptions and misplaced adventures.

I'm comfortable in the fact that I'm on the right side of these matters. :wink:

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