November 09, 2006

Rummy: outta there!

That humming sound you hear is a hundred million sighs of relief.

Posted by Jame at 02:43 AM GMT

We'd better check with Sterling -- this might be treasonous. You being offshored and all might not exempt you from The List.

Posted by: 99 on November 9, 2006 05:18 AM

I've been On Notice for years. Mix with just a splash of vermouth and serve cold; olives optional.

Posted by: Jame on November 9, 2006 07:40 AM

Thank fuck. One less dumbass American for the world to worry about.

Posted by: Smurf on November 10, 2006 01:17 PM

I always thought Rumsfeld was rather cool, myself.

The "old-new Europe" and "knowing that we don't know something" comments were a refreshing change from the usual diplomatic blandspeak. But what sounds like direct plaintalking to me in Europe may sound different to you Yanks. The German papers are full of Schadenfreude about these elections and claim that now relations with the US will mysteriously improve - as if the Democrats "care" about Europe more than GWB. Fools.

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 10, 2006 01:40 PM

And now he cannot get weinerschnitzel in Germany.

Posted by: Gherm on November 14, 2006 01:47 PM

Oh, here's a related question for the List Maker: are we still winning in Iraq? Could you shoot us an update on the current talking points from Powerline? Let me guess: it's the fault of the Democratic Congress?

Posted by: 99 on November 15, 2006 02:15 AM


I take it you refer to this plan by leftist lawyer exhibitionists in Germany to indict Rummy for applying the screw to dirt farmers? Since 2002 you can be tried for "war crimes" in Germany even if Germany was in no way involved in said crimes. This is one reason I shall not be inviting Sterling over here any time soon:- Sterling has been rather more vocal in support of torture than Rummy ever was.

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 15, 2006 09:10 AM

It's a shame the Germans didn't have the stones to indict Rummy. I'm all for Western Europe making it as easy as possible for us to cut them loose. I'm all for the U.S. terminating any defense responsibility for Western Europe - at the rate they're going France will be calling for NATO aid to deal with its own Muslim intifada within a decade and I don't want any part of that.

I think Iraq is still going fairly well. It would be great if there was less sectarian violence, but U.S. casualty rates remain low and I have no sense that the the Iraqi regime is threatened.

It's difficult to imagine any post-Saddam scenario that would not involve this kind of violence, and I'm comfortable that it will end within the next few years. The success or failure of Iraq will not be apparent for a decade or more. (I've said this before, going back to the beginning.)

Most if not all of the people urging the U.S. to withdraw have been rooting for a U.S. loss from the beginning. The notion that this is what loss looks like is absurd. We can and will wait out Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Posted by: Sterling on November 15, 2006 11:04 PM

That's a comment so rich yet fragile in it's self-delusion, I'm afraid to disturb its perfection.

My favorite part is where Sterling conflates not supporting the invasion with hoping our soldiers die. Even though not supporting the invasion would quite logically, results in the fewest casualties.

But don't lose sight of the executive summary: we're still winning. And this, considered and penned a day after an entire ministry was kipnapped and senior police personnel are under suspicion of abetting.

Posted by: 99 on November 15, 2006 11:27 PM


This kidnapping thing you mention turned out to be a red herring and the police managed to free all the folks. Hooray for Justice and the Iraqi police!

Then again, you conflate two different subjects when you joist together on the one side- "no soldiers die when there's no war" (your insight, and unarguable) and "anyone who wants troops out of Iraq now was anti-war to start with" (Sterling's insight). Both of you are so frightfully right! Well done!


Yes, US may be better off severing defensive ties with (some parts of) Europe. I doubt the wisdom of seeing "Western Europe" as a single entity, though. It isn't. It betrays an auto-petard-hoisting-mental-mechanism for you to sugggest it, in fact.

As to the rest, I demand an apology alongside the grovel you owe me for totally getting wrong the "Gorgeous" George Galloway being indicted and fried by the Senate travesty.

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 16, 2006 12:00 AM

Huh, I guee 40 people still reported as missing will be a little disappointed then.

Posted by: 99 on November 16, 2006 02:03 PM

999 wrote: My favorite part is where Sterling conflates not supporting the invasion with hoping our soldiers die. Even though not supporting the invasion would quite logically, results in the fewest casualties.

Your ability to oppose the war and simultaneously be a loyal citizen ended when the invasion began. Now you should either support it or keep your mouth shut.

Claude: I am still waiting on the Galloway imprisonment.

Posted by: Sterling on November 16, 2006 09:28 PM

99 - Do you ever get the feeling Sterling would be much happier in North Korea or Burma where enemies of the state are dealt with accordingly?

Posted by: gherm on November 16, 2006 11:56 PM

I don't know that he already isn't, in a Jonathan Pryce/Brazil kind of way. I expect he fantisizes about our being tortured every day. I just hope he isn't rubbing one out when he does.

Posted by: 99 on November 17, 2006 12:21 AM

I'm partly with Sterling on this. I don't think Iraq is "going well" but I think the last thing to do is pull out, phased withdrawal, etc. All along critics of the war have argued that we went in with too few troops, which I think is true. What we need is MORE troops in Iraq, asap, not fewer. We need more troops in Baghdad. We need to clamp down on the place and stabilise it, and be seen doing so. Then we can talk about leaving.

Posted by: Jame on November 17, 2006 12:52 AM

You are with Stering, because you are as dim as him. I didn't know what we were talking about what is the best thing to do now.

I asked him if we were still winning. He, apparently, and contradicting just about every sentient being in the universe, thinks we are.

He claimed that anyone who opposed the war wished for the death of our soldiers. And now we have you, concluding that likewise, anyone who opposes the war is for immiedate withrdrawl.

This absence of lineral logic makes it seem like I was writing the posts.

Posted by: 99 on November 17, 2006 04:11 PM

the one and only thing Sterling is good at is subtly changing the subject, and doing it in a way that puts words into people's mouths.

Oh and by the way, looks like my prognostications were more accurate eh, Bobby S.?

Posted by: Sam G on November 17, 2006 07:20 PM

Some of you apparently don't remember this thing called the Cold War, where something on the order of 500,000 U.S. troops spent 45 years in Europe. How someone can call Iraq a failure after 3.5 years with a casualty total probably lower than we endured for 45 years in Europe, I have no idea.

We just have to stick it out. The violence will subside.

Oh, and 99, what are you wearing?

Posted by: Sterling on November 17, 2006 08:08 PM

(That's annual casualty total, btw.)

Posted by: Sterling on November 17, 2006 08:11 PM

Hey Claude, is this also a "red herring"?

Posted by: Sam G on November 19, 2006 11:43 PM

Sam G

Don't be so frivolous, man.

It only becomes a red herring when you wave it around and say that it proves the entire Allied policy is totally wrong (and as Poodle Blair has explained, far from being wrong, it's merely a "disaster").

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 20, 2006 08:34 AM

99, do keep up.
I would be curious to see my name attached to anything saying that people who oppose the war are traitors or wish for the death of our soldiers. I do recall supporting John Murtha's right to call for an immediate withdrawal on the House floor. Just because I think the right policy is to increase the troop presence doesn't mean I think anti-war people are undermining the nation. The fact that you can't seem to appreciate the nuance of agreeing with Sterling on a policy issue but disagreeing with him on other things shows that you're the one with the lightbulb that needs changing. So either get your facts straight and cite my alleged anti-liberal vows, or shaddup.

Posted by: Jame on November 21, 2006 12:50 AM

I think I'm doing just fine, thank you. I was just wondering how you intuited that I support withdrawal at this time. Up top I was only pointing out that there was no causation between opposing the war and wishing for the death or failure of our soldiers, and, as a side note, if one's preeminent concern for the well being our of men in uniform, then don't send them into badly planned wars (further, even current and ardent opposition does not mandate immediate withdrawal, it only signals that our strategic, tatical and diplomatic failures should be vigorously opposed domestically in hopes of finding a moral and just resolution to a situation we had a large hand in creating). I don't recall making any conclusions or recommendations on how to proceed from here. I firstly wanted to know if Sterling was the last person in America who thought we were winning (confirmed), and the rest was just puzzling over his typically impossible logic. If you want to talk about what we should do now, post something and I'll commment. Until then, I think you should stick to exegetical analysis, though I'm hardly offended when you are as simple-minded as Eurof and Sterling in your presumptions about me.

Posted by: 99 on November 21, 2006 06:11 AM

I'm not sure you're doing fine, bro. Where did I "intuit that you support withdrawal at this time"? Not in this thread. I didn't comment about you at all, when suddenly in post 16 you come snarling after me. All I've said is that I am in partial agreement with Sterling in that I think we need to maintain a vigorous military presence in Iraq. I think the idea of announcing a pull-out date is ridiculous. I would never, however, lump anti-war people or those calling for a rapid exit as "traitors". I'm not Dick Cheyne, for Chrissakes.

Posted by: Jame on November 21, 2006 10:28 AM

...I'm hardly offended when you are as simple-minded as Eurof and Sterling in your presumptions about me.

Presumptions? I'm not even sure which gender you are.

Posted by: Sterling on November 21, 2006 02:19 PM

that certainly explains #18

Posted by: 99 on November 21, 2006 03:26 PM

I'm partly with Sterling on this. I don't think Iraq is "going well" but I think the last thing to do is pull out, phased withdrawal, etc.

I guess I wasn't clear on how you were 'partly with Sterling on this'. Was it halfsies? Thirdsies? I was only asking if the party line was 'things are great'. Since he has this tendency to take an only marginally related tactical point and appending it to his ideological stance, he likes to create false parallelism (if you think things are going bad, you must never have supported the war, wished for soldier's deaths, are a traitor and should be tortured, etc.), if you are partly with him, maybe I thought it was that part. Not the torture, but the absurd extension. That is to say, since I was carping at him, I must think we need to cut and run. That's Karl Rove for Dummies, and I was surprised to see you might be partly for that.

Me, I'm not with him at all, since I don't think his support of the war benefits diplomacy, humanism, democracy, and worst of all, American service people or Iraqi civilians. He seems happy to watch all if it wither and die in blind obedience to fabricated rationalization.

What policy issue are with him on? If you feel you can't discuss a rational solution to the Iraq mess with ceding rhetorical ground to Sterling, that's your loss. I don't think it contradictory to say he's nuts and we should support the current state of the invasion and probably need a more susbstantial investment (troops, money and diplomacy) to make it work.

Posted by: 99 on November 21, 2006 05:27 PM

I've already given my armchair general opinion: boost the number of troops in Iraq, don't set a timetable for pulling out, do our best so the government is able to keep a lid on sectarian warfare by itself even if that takes a while. I'm all for discussions with Damascus and Tehran, although I fear the window of opportunity for a "grand bargain" with the mullahs has closed.

In the meantime, the US will not get far in the Middle East without returning its energy and resources to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Although I sympathise with the conservative and Israeli view that it's difficult to negotiate with the Palestinians at this stage, I also think that the Israelis have been given far too blanche une carte.

The lastest story in the FT this week is how Israeli government documents reveal that, contrary to Israeli claims, some 40% of the West Bank land seized for settlement is privately owned, which belies Israeli claims that these settlements cropped up in empty corners. It's yet another piece of evidence that a diplomatic solution that restores the 1967 border is the only way out of this problem. The longer we hesitate, the stronger will grow the calls of Palestinians and their backers not for a 1967 two-state solution, but a 1948 two-state solution, or worse.

Now, Mr or Ms 99, what's your great big fat idea?

Posted by: Jame on November 22, 2006 08:29 AM

I know it disappoints that everything isn't a cat fight, but I pretty much agree. I don't know that Sterling has a policy that extends much beyond torturing us and pasting in the latest Powerline posts, so I don't see much in common with him.

And it's important to distinguish my agreement with you from anything he says, because this Stratego-level conversation isn't that relevant, since we all sound rather similar at the macro level. It's been a tactical snafu from day one, ranging from Rumsfeld's overriding decades of experience to the plundering of our treasury and what little royalities for the Iraqi's for the benefit of Cheney's oil cronies.

So much is wrong with the execution of this entire affair, that isn't almost impossible to talk about how to fix or change it. At this point it makes more sense to withdrawal and re-invade. That's a little glib, but it's that bad. Sterling's entire take is driven by some bad psuedo Randian notion of agressive external effort to shore up vociferously inward focused self-interst. Given what we know our global resources, what we've done over the past century intervening illegally in other countries, and the increasing availability of powerful weapons for terrorists, the 'you broke it you bought' doesn't apply just to Iraq, but the entire world.

That doesn't mean we need to invade the whole world, that means we need to restructure the entire logic of our dipolmatic framework, one that recognizes competing ideologies and economic models and finds way to structure a dialog -- one that argues for the preeminence of democratic ideals (and nothing else -- we can assert the ostensbile benefits of 'free markets' but we can't mandate them as essential to democracy). That's miles from what Sterling proposes.

Posted by: 99 on November 23, 2006 05:55 PM

Actually I have been astonishingly bored throughout this tediously earnest conversation. A "cat fight" would be more interesting. So any glimmer of hope that you have reached some form of agreement and may be on the verge on ending this turgid series of ever duller anodyne exchanges of the bleeding obvious doesn't disappoint me at all.

Posted by: eurof on November 23, 2006 07:39 PM

Nato should make "nations" like Wales conduct their own exercises in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can wear your berets and wave your leeks in a threatening manner at the mujahadeen. Perhaps a bit of rugby behind the lines? Oops, that's not a football, that's a primed RPG. Ah, the rustics.

Posted by: Jame on November 24, 2006 03:53 AM

Eurof, you're right again! Any more of these po-faced bromides and we'll all fall into a profound Hayek-Friedmanian slumber.

And what HAS happened to those friendly Belgians one used to see about the place, at least they were unselfconscious about - even proud of - their idiocies and could be insulted in satsifying ways. Trying to insult someone like Jame is futile - he's Gone Native and has a sort of bland, noncommittal Oriental inscrutability into which one's poignards of malice dissolve like so many snowflakes on the Antarctic Riviera.

You´re a little askew though in thinking 99's comments "bleeding obvious", you fence-sitting, middle-of-the-road pseudo-conservative who fluked a Cantab First probably by bribery or s*cking the right academic c*cks. Yes, when 99 bleats away about "dialogue", "restructure the entire logic of diplomatic framework" etc he could be any Liberal-Piety Regurgitator on auto-pilot.

But what about "At this point it makes more sense to withdrawal and re-invade" or utter meaningless drivel like "the 'you broke it you bought' doesn't apply just to Iraq, but the entire world"? In such effusions, 99 is clearly stark, staring bonkers. I have noted before that 99 has a keen spiritual hunger made more embarrassingly obvious by his vocal yelps of distress at having it pointed out, but Sage 7's absence from these pages has removed an important moral compass, an absence best exemplified by Sterling's cynical Welshing on the "Galloway Will Fry" bet.

It would be better if you could all of you go off somewhere like St Maurice d'Agaune for a spiritual retreat for a while, and come back when you've been restored to a semblance of sanity.

A cat-fight is way beyond your powers, I fear, and your posts are not posts at all, but petards of preening intellectual vacuity with which you persist in hoisting yourselves. Your "Stalinists and Fascists Rule in Washington" petard was a peculiarly sterling example of this in practice, by the bye.

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 24, 2006 09:58 AM

I know y'all think it passes for wit, Claude and Eurof, but your preening, snarly proclamations of superiority make you look nothing other than tinpot Rumsfeld wanna-be's. What policies do you actually propose?

I do like the "your postulations are so juvenile we need not discuss them" tone and not discuss anything at all fall right down the Hitchens-Kissenger axis of 'great men' thinking (I'm really enjoying this 'Kissenger can save us' meme, because it will drive that turd Hitchens down the road of having to repudiate his charges against Nixon; that will be rich). It must sound so good in your ears, because it sounds completely otherwise everywhere else.

The resonance must be so thick in your head that you don't understand how much damage has been done to the professional classes of diplomats (and other goverment bureaucracies) in the US. Of course, one could say the fiascoes in Iraq and New Orleans are ample evidence, but that might require, I don't know, reasoning that entertains evidence from the external world. Go back to fucking sheep or whatever you do on that hillside, and remind yourself how superior you are. It will help us all, since it will keep you from talking to the outside world.

Posted by: 99 on November 24, 2006 08:28 PM

Noone weeps more clamorously than I to see "the damage (that) has been done to the professional classes of diplomats (and other goverment bureaucracies) in the US".

I am burning to hear your proposals to rescue these embattled abstractions.

The sheepshagging reference I presume is aimed at Eurof although I suspect little of that sort of thing goes on in Geneva, alas. Eurof may be a happily married man for all I know.

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 24, 2006 09:02 PM

These are my policy proposals:
- greater access for the handicapped
- a fair deal for single mothers
- trade which is free but also fair but also free
- social justice for all and the "turd way" as an irishman would put it

Claude you are an obdurate little oik. You completely confuse the core message of a perfectly sensible, even original, post on the amusingly obvious unfairness of proposed GWOT tribunals with the purposefully extreme rhetorical "hook" I used in the second line. You must be doing so purposefully and therefore dishonestly as I cannot believe you are so literal minded as to actually believe that I think proper honest to god Stalinists and Fascists Rule in Washington. It's when people like you descend to this jejune level of partisan discourse that makes me worried about the ability of the west to sustain itself.

I also happen to think that the only reason you would do this is because you have made it very clear you do not actually believe in the rule of law and due process yourself. Either you lack understanding or you may be so irrationally frightened for your personal safety that you are prepared to throw away all the traditions that underpin what the west is and give up the great advantages an open society can achieve for its inhabitants in the name of hopefully defeating a grubby, historically meaningless bunch of dead-ender religous nutcases. And it's of course beyond your limited understanding that the best way of actually frustrating and defeating them is using the example of our society and the advantages our openness gives us, to treat them with the due process they deserve as criminals. Your venerating them into enemmi numero un only empowers them and gives them what they want.

So I could call you a fascist running dog or something worse, but really it would be unfair. Instead I think you are one of those clever fools, who have enough wit to elegantly skewer some of the less intellectually secure amongst us, such as poor 99, yet lack the strength and wisdom to understand the forces around him and who will fall inevitably into error.

Posted by: eurof on November 24, 2006 10:20 PM

Jejune. Great word. I remember once when Ben looked it up in a dictionary, during one of his self-improvement drives. I think he went on to greatly expand his vocabulary but I stuck with jejune, like a true first love.

Posted by: Jame on November 27, 2006 02:04 AM

In my more optimistic moods I sometimes think that Muslims may be converted by the "superior example of the West", as you say, Eurof. It would be good, though, if the Pope and Sage7 and all the rest of them would take up the burden of the mass-coversions with a little more spunk.

But even if the religious get their fingers out, this strategy will not cancel out terrorists. Whether or not you subscribe to there being an actual "war" against terrorists, they can only be dealt with with what used to be called "extreme prejudice". And you must remember how well Dubya set out the case for a more aggressive pursuit of spreading the way of democracy, as being in the US interest, and replacing the more cynical "he's my bastard" line that suited Cold War conditions more than today's.

In your embarrassment at having been conclusively skewered by de Bigny's clinical blade, you bluster away that you didn't mean it when you wrote silly nonsense about commies and fascisti, but you persist in conflating two parts of what either you or the Pope refers to as "a grubby, historically meaningless bunch of dead-ender religous nutcases" - ie the "mainstream Muslims" who don't kill you for wearing a bikini or drinking a shandy, and the more sinister, evil, baby- and sister-killing minority.

To compare Dubya's difficutlies in bringing those suspected of the latter to book with show-trials aimed at destoying political opponents on trumped-up charges isn't so much "original" - as you deludedly fantasise - but kack-handed, inapt, inept.

99 - I support all of Eurof's policies above, and would add only:

Toleration for all - but intolerant of intolerance.

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 27, 2006 08:41 AM

I know y'all are so much smarter than me, especially becuase you bandy about Hayek's name with tiresome regularity (I had to google him -- you are so right about my insecurities Eurof). But since y'all are also so clever to avoid proscription, I'll assume you think our current strategic and tactical decisions about Iraq are the best way. Convenient that neither of you have to vote in the form of sending soldiers or anything.

Posted by: 99 on November 27, 2006 06:58 PM

I'd also like to bandy about a few fancy names. Like Jenna Jameson. Let the scintillating discourse commence.

Posted by: Jame on November 28, 2006 01:37 AM

"you persist in conflating two parts of what either you or the Pope refers to as "a grubby, historically meaningless bunch of dead-ender religous nutcases" - ie the "mainstream Muslims" who don't kill you for wearing a bikini or drinking a shandy, and the more sinister, evil, baby- and sister-killing minority"

This seems to be the key paragraph of your reply. I hope it doesn't mean what I worry it means. Otherwise no idea what you are saying here. Please say it again in different words.

"you must remember how well Dubya set out the case for a more aggressive pursuit of spreading the way of democracy, as being in the US interest, and replacing the more cynical "he's my bastard" line that suited Cold War conditions more than today's."

Was this meant ironically?

"I sometimes think that Muslims may be converted by the "superior example of the West", as you say, Eurof. It would be good, though, if the Pope and Sage7 and all the rest of them would take up the burden of the mass-coversions with a little more spunk."

I'm sorry, do you think I give a flying fuck whether Muslims convert to christianity or not?

99, that you look up Hayek at all raises you up in my eyes. As for your (not mine, I am not involved) tactical and strategic decisions about Iraq, I am not sure it matters any more. If it was a toxic stock, I would sell it double quick. But it isn't.

Posted by: eurof on November 28, 2006 06:41 AM

1. Re Jenna - it suddenly struck me that a brilliant name for a porn star would be "Sharia Law". Anyway, that's just an excuse to say, "if we were living under Sharia Law, that would be it for Jenna Jameson's career prospects."

2. Eurof - you've lost it, utterly utterly hoist.

3. 99 - Are you saying that citizens of countries who don't send soldier into Iraq should shut up? How very Sterling of you. As to Hayek - Selma Hayek's what I say.

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 28, 2006 08:49 AM

Claude: no, I wasn't implying that. Mostly commenting on the pattern that you and Eurof engage is, which sounds like frustrated TA's critizing undergraduate papers on history more than anything else. I'm surprised y'all don't get all grammar cop on me too.

I really doubt that you possess a level of decency that that considers that at the very end of of the your pronouncements is an underprivileged family sending up their children as playthings for your kicking the embers of British imperialism attitude. That's the only reason I mentioned it must be convenient.

Maybe I'm too mired in Bourdieu, but I have a hard time reconciling your (well, maybe Eurof moreso) dismissal of a phrases like 'diplomatic framework' as trite or quaint. Does that mean we only construct value or political might through force? That's odd, considering the past 50 years (for the US) have been mostly bereft of force (in meaningful places). I assumed any theory of liberal economy recognizes that discursive acts are a relevant, if not primary, since they are the primary means of establishing and regulating markets.

The dramatic revision of how we conduct our diplomatic affairs under the Bush administration, which is coincident with 9/11, but I would argue not strictly casual (meaning that it an existing, highly developed political ideology was hoisted onto a convenient event, and the peg/hole mismatch was as much as cause of the fucked up state of things as was the general outline of the thesis), is the most striking change in political dialog in a generation. Or maybe I just understand nuance better and see the day to day in a way that is impossible vis a vis the 60's or 50's, and I'm being alarmist.

It's not like the recent elections mean I have a dog in this fight, but I presume that prior to the mid-terms, the neocon mindset pretty much acted carte blanche, so picking at the edges was futile. What I say isn't any less futile now, but presumably we are returning to a point that the notion of a semi-public debate about how to proceed in Iraq, which also is timed with a nadir of current expedition, mean that I'm taking more of interest in how anyone sees the next potential step.

Posted by: 99 on November 28, 2006 04:59 PM


That 2nd paragraph is rather vile; I have soldier friends - not at all my "playthings" as you - rather Kerry-like - say.

My fear is that political debate now is so debased that involvement in it by me is unlikely to do good; I prefer to sneer satirically from the sidelines, supporting Bush and his democracy-spreading ways. I don't think there's a lot of options in Iraq. On a wider level, I certainly don't buy that political debate should be simply between single-issues - as Al "Environment" Gore and Mark "Demographics" Steyn proselytise, with disturbing quasi-religious doomsaying certitude. Neither of them has anything like the platform of specific "policies" you crave, and if they did, they would be frightfully boring and useless I would have thought.

For your next step I'd suggest a stiff drink, a joint, a meditation session or whatever. God will come in His own time, if you let Him.

As to grammar cop - you write about policies that were "hoisted" onto a convenient event - surely you mean to say "foisted"? You hoist a flag, sails, or a winner, or yourself on your own petard, whilst a neocon conspiracy to rule the world can only really be foisted.

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 28, 2006 06:54 PM

Claude I really honestly have no idea what you are trying to say in the key "conflating" paragraph of your reply. I mean it genuinely. I think it means that you think I think Muslims are bomb-throwing maniacs all, and there are no "good" ones, but that would seem improbable.

As to your democracy point, in the example of Iraq Dubya has gone a long way in advertising the downside of democratisation in the ME, ie it seems to degenerate into homicidal chaos and civil war. I don't doubt his good intentions, but what he has done is set back the cause he espouses by a generation.

99 I love diplomatic frameworks. What on earth ae you talking about?

Posted by: eurof on November 28, 2006 10:04 PM

Claude: you may not see a lot of options in Iraq, but that is cold comfort to the large number of Americans stationed there and larger number of Iraqi's dying. At the very least, we (America) have a moral obligation to all of them. However marginalized you might feel, sniping from the sidelines hardly seems to be the best course of action.

I am not playing coy when I say I'm baffled at you saying you see me as 'single issue'. If anything, I would expect you to level this charge at the mindless drones who see the Dubya project as the only road. It seems to be the most perfect form of single issue tunnel vision.

You can bandy about Kerry's name all you like. I've voted for exactly one Democratic candidate in the past 14 years. That it was Kerry was swallowing a massive amount of self-righteous indignation about the failings of the Democratic party. It's also the only vote I've made that I wish I could retrieve. Again, convenience on your part -- I fail to see where my comments imply alignment with a man who is incapable of taking an obsevable position on any issue.

Posted by: 99 on November 29, 2006 07:36 AM


Sorry that my ignorance of your voting record now obliges you to apologise for voting Kerry. All I meant was that your ref to soldiers as mere hapless "playthings" of armchair warriors and evil powerful politicians sounded Kerry-like, ie his joke about how being a moron means you end up in Iraq. I didn't mean to rip open old wounds. "Single-issue" referred to the tubthumping stance of folks like Gore and Steyn, not you. I have often felt that your sensitivity and spiritual longings make you quite multifacetted, actually.


I think in your assessment of the Ummah you conflate evil killing Muslims with the nice cuddly ones we all know and love. You reckon all of them can be "converted" to western values by example, if the west behaves as the west should (ie no torture and Stalinist trials). I think the world of due process and open society but if that's all you're betting on, your view is culpably naive. Behaving like well-brought up westerners may well "convert" nice cuddly Muslims, but won't save a single baby from being strangled by the evil ones.

To revert to a favourite analogy - the Roman Empire was a highly attractive example to many of the barbarians who ultimately destroyed it. Desire for the Empire's benefits undermined the conditions which made them possible. Something similar is happening today with regard to Muslims and their jihadists. Nice, cuddly barbarians/Muslims are attracted to the stability, rule of law, and prosperity offered by our western empire. Evil, baby-strangling barbarians/Muslims are attracted/repelled by the emanations of power - weapons, capital, the ability to boss large numbers of people around and make a splash on the world stage.

Dealing with the latter may occasionally involve embarrassments like Gitmo and the trials you eccentrically choose to call "show trials".

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 29, 2006 09:06 AM

So there are "Good" muslims, and "Bad" ones? The Good Ones are attracted to the nice aspects of our modern day rome, and the Bad Ones are attracted to the nasty aspects? The Good Ones are fine, the Bad Ones we can stick in holes without due process as it is the best way of getting rid of them, which we need to do jollyquick?

Hmm. That's completely batshit Claude. I don't really know where to start, it's so repulsive and idiotic as a world view, maybe it's best to ignore it.

I was talking purely out prosecuting Jihadist terrorists under the law using the traditions of due process. I have absolutely no interest in "converting" anyone to "Western values", I just want to live in a society that espouses them. I think the Jihadists we are talking about are basically nutjobs and would normally be a tiny, violent, but politically and certainly insignificant minority. I very strongly dislike them however, and would like to see all of them locked up or something horrible happen to them. The rules which have made our society successful do not permit that, however, because once you condemn a group to punishment for the ideas that it holds it is slippery slope time. One day, slightly unpleasant (and probably fat too) french neofascists may well be treated in the same way, as might cool, Hayekian good looking and reasoned portfolio managers, and then where would we be.

In trying to defend the west, you have to work out what it is you are defending. It's not actually lives and property, it's something much more important than that.

The great thing is, that by living up to principles in the face of danger, and prosecuting said nutjobs using the law, you actually a) have more of a chance of persuading otherwise moderate people who might under the right or wrong circumstances choose the Jihadist route not to do so, ie you keep their numbers down, and b) you annoy the remaining Nutjobs very very much indeed. Much more than torturing them does. Terrorists think they are fighters for a cause; the idea others think they are common criminals upsets them very much. It does not help in recruiting. IRA prisoners smeared their cells with shit and lived in them in protest at being treated as criminals rather than "political prisoners". Bobby Sands starved himself to death for it, and all power to him I wish more had gone with him, it was one of the better decisions of The Blessed Margaret.

The last chapter of The 1% Doctrine, by Ron Suskind, there's a fascinating bit with a lot of senior CIA antiterrorism officers assigned to Al Quada sitting glumly around a table at the end of Dubya's 1st term. They just heard OBL tell the US to vote Kerry. They knew better than most how meedja savvy OBL is and that OBL realised this would probably not be taken by Kerry as an endorsement that would help electorally. They realised what OBL had just done was invalidate their whole strategy, and all the work they had done since 9/11 -- he WANTED Dubya to stay in power, he wanted more of the same. Because it fit his strategy. And it was, Suskind notes, very depressing for them.

Posted by: eurof on November 29, 2006 10:26 PM

I think I've got to the nub of what makes you so deeply inept and unsatisfactory a commenter, Eurof.

First off, I am intrigued why you think the concept of "good" and "bad" Muslims to be a "repulsive and idiotic" worldview. There is no inherent reason, after all, for such a worldview to result in witty, tall, slim independents, stuck with a frog pen-name, being treated in the same way as hysterical, fence-sitting, ex-Tory Boy pseudo-Hayekians.

You prefer the term "jihadist" to "bad" Muslim. Well, fine, I'm all for it too. Due process of law. Democratic institutions. Accountability. Yes, yes, yes!

One part of you - the pantywaisted, handwringing wet trapped under the greying temples and expanding waistlines of many ex-Tory Boys - is uncomfortable with the distinction between "good" and "bad". Your squeamishness may do credit to your sensitivity, even if some might see it as mere quibbling.

But - and this is to your credit - the other part of you lashes out at your own mushy, supine pusillanimity to express itself with intemperate rhetoric. You choose to confront the "sweet reason" of your pieties with phantasmagorical "commies and fascists" (ie the ones you claimed in a spirit of subtle irony to be running Washington). Piffle and sophistry, Eurof. And you rather weirdly praise the Blessed Margaret for her "decision" to make Bobby Sands kill himself.

Then comes your moment of touching bathos: "In trying to defend the west, you have to work out what it is you are defending. It's not actually lives and property, it's something much more important than that." Pass us an onion, Eurof!

What's wrong with a government seeking to defend "lives and property" you mealy-mouthed, heart-on-your-sleeve Taff? And what precisely is "much more important" than lives and property? I worry that you (like the "bad" Muslims/jihadists you have no interets in "converting" to the western way) may secretly hanker for a government which promotes the moral health and perfection of its citizens. But that, to use your own telling term, is yet another "slippery slope".

You attempt unsuccessfully to claim the moral high ground using cheap playground taunts. This would be fine if you didn't persist in propagating such ineffably "debatable" propositions such as your view that OBL's endorsement of Kerry was a cunning plan to "depress" the CIA (!), or that your policy to "live up to our principles" will result in jihadists losing recruits and being jolly "annoyed" into the bargain.

A broader frame of comparison might free up your gut reactions and allow you to express yourself more effectively. Think on the Roman Empire, Eurof. Think of Putin if you want an example of a current world leader with hands rather dirtier than Dubya's. Think of the EU's financing of Palestinian terrorist propaganda if you want an example of tax money being spent against the interests of the west and its taxpayers. Think of the Nippons and Krauts interned in California, the UK and Indonesia at the start of WWII if you want some perspective on "innocents wrongly jailed" at a time of crisis.

You are too eager to kick out when you haven't a leg to stand on. This would leave you sprawling in an undignified posture in the gutter had you not perviously been hoist aloft by your own petard.

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on November 30, 2006 09:32 AM

No I find the implication that we already know which muslims are good and bad without having a fair process to determine their "badness" is repulsive and idiotic. I have no problem with "bad" and "good" if used properly and in context. I have good thoughts, you have bad ones. But I am content to let you have yours without shooting you, a courtesy you would not extend to me if I was swarthy and arab looking and did not express "good thoughts".

I am not a wet when it comes to an open society. I would definitely sacrifice life, certainly yours, to preserve it.

Preserving lives and property is a proper aim of government, but preserving the conditions whereby property and lives are best protected and life chances for everyone enhanced (an open society) is a more important aim of government. Sometimes lives and property have to be sacrificed to preserve this. Preserving moral health is not the business of government. Neither oral health. I don't even know what "moral health" means.

I don't necessarily view OBL's endorsement of Kerry as a plan to depress the CIA. I just know they told Suskind that they found it depressing. Do you think they were lying?

I think Putin would be a much worse, if more competent, leader of the free world than Dubya, and if he was leadre of the free world i would be jolly critical of him. Somehow I have lower expectations, like with Mugabe, no doubt another one of your favourites. Not sure what you mean by subsidised Palestinian propaganda. I think the interning of terrorist suspects without trial is reminiscent of Jap and German interning (did they intern Germans?) in WW2. It's the same sort of thing, just on a smaller scale.

Posted by: eurof on December 1, 2006 07:40 PM

Germans were interned in Indonesia by the Dutch colonial authorities in Batavia/Jakarta when Germany invaded Holland in 1940. Few of them are likely to have been plotting Holland's downfall or even active Nazis but still probably the right thing, locking them away for a bit.

Japs, especially in California post Pearl Harbour. Same sort of story - most of them innocent citizens. I wonder if Gitmo is all that different.

Anyway, the weekend beckons, 5 year old kids to be entertained along with the usual house-party guests' likely excesses. I am already well on the way (it's half ten). Inauspicious for pursuit of rhetorical vendettas. Cheers!

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on December 1, 2006 09:31 PM

I wonder if Gitmo is all that different.

Different in terms of duration or different in terms of the character of the detained?

Posted by: Sterling on December 2, 2006 08:21 PM

Well the Gitmo dirt farmers were captured in a theatre of war, whilst the Krauts and Nippons were not. The more you compare Gitmo to such similar events from the past, the less outrageous it appears. The "concern" expressed by people like Eurof about this and the "Stalinist show trials" strikes me as synthetic and bogus.

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on December 4, 2006 08:41 AM

Mr. Gates is an abonimable traitor to this country, today uttering a heinous lie meant to bolster the terrorists and undermine our nation's efforts, saying that we are losing the war in Iraq. He should be shipped off imediately to Gitmo and interrogated, he might know something useful.

Posted by: Rob Sterling Jr. on December 5, 2006 04:55 PM

Damn, Sterling's avatar beat me to it.

Posted by: 99 on December 5, 2006 04:58 PM


Posted by: Sam G on December 5, 2006 08:21 PM