War, Terror, and Democracy

In yesterday’s Best of the Web, James Taranto makes great points about Hilary the Candidate’s latest pronouncements that she will end the war in Iraq if elected President.

Regarding the obvious inconsistencies noted in her having voted *for* the war in 2002, but now saying that she would not have done it if she were President at that time, James notes:

Whether or not you think the war was a good idea, it was indisputably the product of President Bush’s leadership. He rallied the country behind it, so that it commanded something like 70% support in opinion polls. Congress’s support was similarly strong, with 69% of the House and 77% of the Senate (including not just Mrs. Clinton but also fellow Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, along with John Kerry) voting in favor of the war.

Mrs. Clinton now says that if she were president in 2002, she would not have led the country to war. This amounts to an acknowledgment that her vote in favor of the war was not an act of leadership–that she was a follower. Was she following the president? This president? Obviously not. President Bush led the public to support the war, and Sen. Clinton followed the public. Now that public opinion has turned against the president and the war, so has Mrs. Clinton.

Why is this so important? If you care most about being on “the winning side” of public opinion, then you ultimately do not have any principled positions of your own. The ‘opinion’ of the public is quite fickle.

He continues:

So on Iraq, Mrs. Clinton stands resolutely on the side of public opinion, whichever side that may be in any given year. On Iran, about which public opinion is unformed, she is maddeningly noncommittal. This is fine for a senator, who merely casts one vote among 100. But the president–especially in times of international peril–needs to be able to make decisions in the national interest. Sometimes that means shaping public opinion, as President Bush did when he persuaded the public and Congress to support the war in Iraq. Sometimes it means defying public opinion, as Bush has done lately by resisting pressure to flee.

Were these decisions bad ones? History will judge, but at the moment most Americans seem to think so. Mrs. Clinton is seeking to become President Bush’s successor by countering his dangerous boldness with extreme caution. She is presenting herself as the candidate who won’t make bad decisions because she won’t make decisions–who won’t lead us astray because she will not lead.

But an excess of caution is itself a form of recklessness. Someone who won’t make decisions won’t make good or necessary decisions either. Therein lies the peril of a Hillary Clinton presidency.


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It’s quite sad to see just where cheerleading for defeatism can take a country. Today, we even have a newsflash from the Associated Press: Bush: ‘I’m the decision-maker’ on Iraq. You see – it seems that it’s coming as a surprise to many that Bush is actually the Commander in Chief. Hey, I get it — of course Congress controls the purse strings. But it seems that despite many people’s attempts to equate Iraq with Viet Nam, perhaps underfunding the mission may be the only close similarity should they go through with their plan.

But why not question whether being ‘Commander in Chief’ should be effectively taken away from Bush? There have been many reasons to jump on the Depression Express departing from all stations this week. We’ve heard the trumpeting of John Warner’s contention that he has been “misled” by U.S. military commanders on the Iraqi military’s ability to begin taking over security operations. New media drooling over Sen. Chuck Hagel, just because he’s a “Republican” who has renewed his opposition to the military mission in Iraq. And it seems the only ‘bipartisan’ work being done these days in Congress is related to exactly how strong of wording to include in the latest nonbinding resolution saying that they oppose don’t agree with kind of are unfond of a surge in troops.

I understand that most politicians who have risen to the level of national office are animals of instinct. They have a hard-wired urge to try to say what they think people like to hear, rather than to take a principled stand. Trying to ride the next wave of popularity because, like the brutal nature of American Idol, their very job depends on making the largest number of people happy with them. So when it seems that Americans are tired of hearing about Iraq, maybe it’s time to find a way to cover your own tail.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Let’s stipulate for a moment that all Democrats in Congress are against the war and perfectly happy to see the troops removed immediately. (I don’t actually believe this, mind you, but let’s just say that we won’t spend time trying to convince them of anything, because it seems like the most popular position within their base).

But what of the Republicans?

I encourage you run, don’t walk, over to sign the The RNSC Pledge.
(H/T: My Pet Jawa)

It states:

If the United States Senate passes a resolution, non-binding or otherwise, that criticizes the commitment of additional troops to Iraq that General Petraeus has asked for and that the president has pledged, and if the Senate does so after the testimony of General Petraeus on January 23 that such a resolution will be an encouragement to the enemy, I will not contribute to any Republican senator who voted for the resolution. Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.

I would extend that further… but, let’s say that it’s a good start. Let’s see where that kind of ‘popular vote’ takes us, when stacked up against the ‘opinion polls’ with just 100 respondants.

Let ’em know!

UPDATE: From Senator Johnny Isakson’s Weekly e-mail Newsletter:

The other major event this week in Washington was our debate on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the non-binding Iraq resolution. I opposed this resolution because it sends a dangerous signal at a time when the United States is committed in the global war on terror. The resolution expressed opposition to sending additional troops to Iraq and it passed the committee by a vote of 12 to 9. I offered an amendment to the resolution that stated: “It is not in the national interest of the United States for Congress to cut off funding for members of the Armed Forces deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom or to cap the number of troops available to our military commanders to be deployed to Iraq.” Unfortunately, my amendment failed by a vote of 8 to 13. Resolutions expressing the sense of the Senate are important in what they say, but they are equally important in what they do not say. The unintended consequences and misinterpretations of non-binding resolutions can be disastrous and I could not in good conscience support this wrong-headed agenda.

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Tonight, George Bush will deliver the State of the Union address to the nation. Is there really anything that he could say that will be viewed positively by the media? Not a chance. He could propose all of the same programs previously championed by Democrats (and no doubt he probably *will* do some of that tonight), and he will still be vilified. We will still hear in the morning that the latest opinion poll shows that Americans disapprove of Bush.

Neal Boortz summarizes it well today:

I believe that 9/11 transformed George Bush. I believe that since that date he has been completely dedicated to the purpose of protecting this country from further terrorist attacks.

How can he be blamed for acting against Saddam Hussein? Have we all forgotten that the official U.S. policy of removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq was adopted during the Clinton administration? Have we forgotten Saddam’s cat and mouse games with U.N. weapons inspectors? Have we forgotten that American intelligence officials have recovered documents and materials that constitute proof positive that Saddam was proceeding with a program to develop nuclear weapons? Hussein defied the U.N. He defied the international community. The proof is there … he had contacts with Al Qaeda. No, I’m not saying that Saddam was behind 9/11, but there were agents in Saddam’s government who had contact with those who did plan 9/11. Add the rape rooms, the mass graves, the use of WMDs to kill tens of thousands of Iranians and his own countrymen .. .and you come up with a despot that should have been left in power — in power to continue with his weapons programs?

Come on, folks. Either you’re glad Saddam is gone, or you wish he was still in power. Which is it? You can’t just wallow in your hatred of George Bush … you have to make a decision. Saddam or no Saddam.

And what of Bush’s goals for Iraq. What did he want. He wanted to create a country in the heart of the Islamic middle east with an elected government and a rule of law that protected the rights of each and every citizen .. no matter what Islamic sect that citizen belonged to. He wanted Iraq to be a demonstration project to show the rest of the Middle East what could be accomplished through freedom and representative governments. Was this such a bad goal? Do you think that Bush should have just gone into Iraq, destroyed Saddam Hussein, and then left? That has never been the way America operated. But that’s the way you wanted it to be this time? Or are we back to leaving Saddam in power.


Damn right he made mistakes. They’re easy to chronicle. But how do Bush’s mistakes compare to the Democrat Party plan to demonize George Bush? What do you think had a greater affect on the situation in the Middle East — the mistakes Bush made in the pursuit of a better way of life for the citizens of Iraq, or the Democrat’s determination to sabotage Bush’s efforts?

From where do you think the Islamic fascists have received their most encouragement? From the tactical mistakes made by George Bush, or from the weakness in the American spirit that has been fostered by the whining Democrats?

Even in the face of these depressing approval polls, Bush remains determined to protect this country from Islamic terrorism. Someday perhaps the American people will appreciate him for his determination, however flawed, to protect this nation, and will come to recognize the damage that has been done by the actions of the not-so-loyal opposition, actions that have convinced them that America is becoming weak in the face of the ongoing Islamic jihad.

Meanwhile, the posturing for the next Presidential race is in full swing, as evidenced in the announcements made over the weekend, so you can be sure to get plenty of sound bites from the various candidates pushed out into the press. And the various members of Congress all seem to be trying to craft some position in order to oppose a troop surge in Iraq.

Iraq=Vietnam. At first it was just a silly comparison. After being repeated over & over for six years, it just permeates the discussion today. Where will we as a country get the will to finish the work? Or else the terrorists are right – we talk a good game, but when push comes to shove, we are weak.

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It seems that Michelle’s additional questions to the AP regarding the now-underground Jamil Hussein/ Jamil Gholaiem Hussein / Jamail Hussein / Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim will continue to go unanswered for the moment, since she received the verbose response: “I have no additional information for you at this time.”

Thanks to the AP for clearing everything up.

On the ‘fake but accurate’ vein, Patterico wonders if the truth even matters anymore to people.

Meanwhile, there is a very funny piece over at WuzzaDem: Who Should You Believe – AP or Bloggers?. Nicely done! (H/T: Confederate Yankee)

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John Kerry is now on his way on his trip to the Middle East, visiting Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Israel. (Although Iran is not on his itinerary, he also said he’d be happy to go there “when the time is right”. I’d be happy to send him there as well!)

All ‘botched jokes’ aside, it does take a certain amount of guts to show up in front of the troops after his ‘botched joke’. He does explain:

“I’ve talked to plenty of guys who’ve come back from Iraq, who are there now, who understand exactly what happened,” Kerry said of his joke in a telephone interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. “They laugh at it.”

I wish they could explain it to me… but that’s another story.

Anyway, although Kerry says “Blame’s not where I’m at right now. Let’s get the policy right in Iraq.” … he’s now blaming Bush as soon as he landed in Egypt. I found part of that critique as reported by Reuters particularly interesting:

The U.S. administration of President George W. Bush has argued that high-level talks with Syria are pointless because the Syrians do not respond to U.S. policy requests.

But Kerry said: “That’s a mistake… It is nonsensical to set up not talking as some kind of reward/punishment barrier. I think we are shortchanging ourselves in that process.”

The senator also found fault with Bush’s campaign to make Middle East countries more democratic, which for a time was at the forefront of U.S. diplomatic rhetoric in the region.

I don’t think it’s been particularly effective, in fact it has been counterproductive in certain quarters. It’s created turmoil and uncertainty,” he said.

We will always be a nation that advocates democracy…but we need to be smart about the steps we take and the pace at which we demand people make transitions,” he added.

So Senator Kerry has asked a good question here. What should be the foreign policy of the United States? Do we actively promote democratic change in the region or return to a policy based on finding a strongman dictator to support.

We know which side outgoing U.N. honcho Kofi Annan would take. It was just the other day when he said he thinks life under Saddam must have been more pleasant:

In the BBC interview, Annan agreed when it was suggested that some Iraqis believe life is worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein’s regime.

“I think they are right in the sense of the average Iraqi’s life,” Annan said. “If I were an average Iraqi obviously I would make the same comparison, that they had a dictator who was brutal but they had their streets, they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back home without a mother or father worrying, ‘Am I going to see my child again?’

As James Taranto so accurately observed: “Annan isn’t just claiming that Saddam, though brutal, made the trains run on time. He is saying that Saddam actually looked out for the safety of the Iraqi people, the very people his regime was gassing, setting ablaze, tying to tanks, torturing and raping. Is Annan just ignorant, or is he depraved? We suppose it could be a little of both.”

But let’s get back to Kerry for a moment. He says the US should be a supporter of democracy. Except when it’s counterproductive. We should advocate, but not be demanding. We should approach transition, but not if there’s turmoil.

Which is it exactly? Maybe he’s saying he is for democracy before he was against democracy.

Reports of the death of the so-called “Bush Doctrine” have been circulating for years now. With the exit of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Iraq Study Group report, the pronouncements have been even louder.

You know, they say that the worst part of the ISG report is that it didn’t actually say anything new. In that spirit, I looked way back to May 2003 to a speech given by President Bush, when he discussed freedom in Iraq and Middle East.

So what do you think, is it feasible to even talk about increasing the spread of democracy?

A number of critics were dismissive of that speech by the President. According to one editorial of the time, “It seems hard to be a sophisticated European and also an admirer of Ronald Reagan.” (Laughter.) Some observers on both sides of the Atlantic pronounced the speech simplistic and naive, and even dangerous. In fact, Ronald Reagan’s words were courageous and optimistic and entirely correct. (Applause.)

The great democratic movement President Reagan described was already well underway. In the early 1970s, there were about 40 democracies in the world. By the middle of that decade, Portugal and Spain and Greece held free elections. Soon there were new democracies in Latin America, and free institutions were spreading in Korea, in Taiwan, and in East Asia. This very week in 1989, there were protests in East Berlin and in Leipzig. By the end of that year, every communist dictatorship in Central America had collapsed. Within another year, the South African government released Nelson Mandela. Four years later, he was elected president of his country — ascending, like Walesa and Havel, from prisoner of state to head of state.

As the 20th century ended, there were around 120 democracies in the world — and I can assure you more are on the way. (Applause.) Ronald Reagan would be pleased, and he would not be surprised.

That’s fine, you might say, but many of those countries were escaping Soviet rule. The Middle East is not like that. Democracy can’t work in a society like theirs.

Some skeptics of democracy assert that the traditions of Islam are inhospitable to the representative government. This “cultural condescension,” as Ronald Reagan termed it, has a long history. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, a so-called Japan expert asserted that democracy in that former empire would “never work.” Another observer declared the prospects for democracy in post-Hitler Germany are, and I quote, “most uncertain at best” — he made that claim in 1957. Seventy-four years ago, The Sunday London Times declared nine-tenths of the population of India to be “illiterates not caring a fig for politics.” Yet when Indian democracy was imperiled in the 1970s, the Indian people showed their commitment to liberty in a national referendum that saved their form of government.

Time after time, observers have questioned whether this country, or that people, or this group, are “ready” for democracy — as if freedom were a prize you win for meeting our own Western standards of progress. In fact, the daily work of democracy itself is the path of progress. It teaches cooperation, the free exchange of ideas, and the peaceful resolution of differences. As men and women are showing, from Bangladesh to Botswana, to Mongolia, it is the practice of democracy that makes a nation ready for democracy, and every nation can start on this path.

But, like Kerry and Annan, you might point out that removing the dictator was a dangerous thing to do. It caused turmoil. And, by the way, there are not guarantees. There’s risk involved.

Champions of democracy in the region understand that democracy is not perfect, it is not the path to utopia, but it’s the only path to national success and dignity.

As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics, or parliamentary systems. And working democracies always need time to develop — as did our own. We’ve taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice — and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey.

There are, however, essential principles common to every successful society, in every culture. Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military — so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite. Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selecting applying — selectively applying the law to punish political opponents. Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions — for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media. Successful societies guarantee religious liberty — the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution. Successful societies privatize their economies, and secure the rights of property. They prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people. They recognize the rights of women. And instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people.

Call me naive as well, but I think it’s worth taking a chance. Turmoil or not.

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Remember Longfellow’s poem, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere? It starts:

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

Isn’t it strange to think that it’s becoming more and more true that hardly a man is now alive who remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor. The young men who served in World War II and their families, and those at the home front — many have left us.

65 years ago war was waged. A war for civilization as we knew it.

We are in a different time and place in the world now. But think ahead 65 years from now. What will people be saying then?

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In the work of corporate espionage, they say that the best way to steal information is to infiltrate the office building cleaning crew. Usually a company will provide all sorts of sophisticated techniques to safeguard their information, but then a crew comes into their office space, accessing all parts of the office, usually alone and off-hours, and has access to anything that’s around.

So when we think of our airports, we can see the visible protection measures… including confiscating liquids and making everyone run around with their shoes off, as measures to protect us.

And I’m sure that those measures provide some chance of warding off trouble. But here we are with airport workers in a drywall crew with access to secure areas… including the tarmac.

And just yesterday, the ICE nabbed 6 workers at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport who had security credentials that were obtained so that their crew could do work. One problem – the six happened to be illegal immigrants. Now there’s no indication that any of these people had any malicious intent. But it shows just how much screening is done on work crews before issuing permissions to access secure areas.

From the updated AP report:

Federal authorities say six illegal immigrants arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport posed no specific security threat. But officials are concerned that the undocumented dry-wall workers from Mexico had badges giving them access to a secure area, including the tramac.

U-S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Marc Raimondi says the men are all from Mexico and all employed by T.C. Drywall, based in Alpharetta. Raimondi says they were arrested as they arrived to work at the airport.

Officials say the men had been hired recently to install drywall inside the airport’s secure area. They will appear before an immigration judge and face deportation to Mexico.

Kenneth Smith, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Atlanta, says that while immigration officials don’t believe the men posed a specific threat, the concern is that undocumented immigrants had obtained badges to a secure area.

Smith said the agency is aggressively pursing illegal aliens at the places where they work. Smith says “areas of critical infrastructure, such as airports, are especially important to national security.”

Since March 2003, immigration agents have conducted operations at 196 U-S airports and audited nearly six-thousand businesses. Raimondi says the effort has identified more than 58-hundred unauthorized airport workers and prompted the arrests of 11-hundred illegal workers.

This is not really an illegal immigration problem so much as a security issue. How easy would it be for someone who had malicious intents from getting onto a work crew like this? The answer seems to be… pretty easy.

The company, T.C. Drywall, seems to have pulled down their website. But a couple documents stiull exist (for now) like http://www.tcdrywallinc.com/TCDrywallInc.pdf. It seems that the company has had several contracts to do work at Hartsfield over the last three years. How many other workers have come in without being detected?

Doesn’t give a lot of confidence in the security process for airport workers!

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Straight from the Truth is Stranger Than Fiction Department: Hans Blix to serve on ski ethics panel. Yeah, this is the guy you want looking for evidence of doping in your ski program.

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From the Associated Press report:

International Atomic Energy experts have found unexplained plutonium and highly enriched uranium traces in a nuclear waste facility in Iran and have asked Tehran for an explanation, an IAEA report said Tuesday

I guess that the IAE experts aren’t paying much attention.

Ahmadinejad: No stopping Iran’s nuke drive

There is no stopping of Iran’s nuclear programme despite threats of UN sanctions, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told world powers on Tuesday.

“The great powers have tried to prevent our people from achieving their rights in nuclear material,” he said, while Europe and the United States move to impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambitions.

“Iran is completely mastering the nuclear fuel cycle and time is playing in favour of Iran,” he said.

“This year I hope will be able to have the great celebration of the nuclearisation of Iran,” he added, without elaborating.

IAE experts: There’s your explaination.

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Make sure that you thank a veteran on Friday (and every day that you can!) God bless all who serve our country!

From US Census facts:
Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day has evolved into also honoring living military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation. A national ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

The number of military veterans in the United States in 2004: 24.5 million
Female Vets: 1.7 million

See Veteran’s Adminstration Veterans Day Page including the 2006 Presidential Veterans Day Proclamation.

Also, a more comprehensive history of the observance from the U.S. Army.

Encourage a vet in your family to take part in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

Support the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

And most of all… say thanks!

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