March 16, 2004

I'm not James Webb, but I'll answer the questions...

Basically, the correct target is to hunt the terrorist organizations themselves. Attacking and removing a head of state should always be the action of last resort. Your fallacy (a rare failure, Maximum Leader) is in lumping Afghanistan and Iraq together. Afghanistan allied itself with and directly protected Al Qaida and therefore became a legitimate target. Iraq had no such links to terror, despite the continuing efforts of certain members of the administration (I speak of you, Mr. Cheney) to suggest otherwise in stump fund-raising speeches.

In fact, concerning Iraq's behavior leading up to the war, I think our ever-beloved Maximum Leader is remembering the propaganda and not the reality: Iraq did allow UN inspectors to return, and they had to be pulled out because the U.S. attack was imminent. In actuality, the George W. Bush administration (which I will henceforth refer to as 'Bush the Lesser,' or 'bush' with a small 'b') began planning an invasion of Iraq almost immediately after their election, and 9/11 was an opportunity to put these plans into effect. I suspect that this administration spent more time in the first year planning for another Iraq war than they did addressing the threat of terrorism itself (read Al Franken's book, even if you oppose his politics). Oops on them.

James Webb and the Army War College are dead-on in their asessment of the military situation and the war on terror (I also noticed, Maximum Leader, that you didn't address the Army War College report). The greatest assets of our military are technology and mobility. Combined, these factors give us an edge of our terrorist enemies, and yet neither is effective when our troops are stuck on the ground. Before the Iraq war, most anti-Americanism was theoretical, in the sense that even the people doing most of the hating probably weren't all that familiar with actual Americans. Now, much as the Israelis experience in their own occupied territories, our troops are an ever-present reality and, consequentially, provide a direct target for those feelings of hatred. And now if you want to kill Americans, you just have to set a roadside bomb or a sniper on a hill. As the Army War College concluded, we have opened a new front for terrorist tacks, and a front we are ill-prepared for. Our troops can't possibly defend themselves against all of these little attacks, and we don't know who to kill in response. And that situation sucks. While one or two or even seven dead soldiers a day won't change our military intentions, I don't think those youngs lives are worth it.

The deaths of our servicemembers are especially wasteful when victory in Iraq wasn't necessary for us to make our point. Our invasion of Afghanistan and the quick victory we achieved was all the example we had to show the world for the 'New World Order' we wanted to create. Iraq was already contained: the sanctions and inspections were working to prevent Hussein from developing WMD's, and while Hussein may have maintained illusions of grandeur, he was not a threat to even his neighbors. Libya (when was the last time they even uttered a threatening word?) has been coming around for years, and Afghanistan alone would have clinched it. I believe the same is true of Syria. Preemptive warfare is a bad doctrine, particularly when the threat is not imminent. Despite claims to the contrary by the bush administration, Iraq was not an imminent threat. America is the only superpower on the planet -- the only nation that has the reach and strength to change a government anywhere on the planet. Whereas 9/11 should have awoken all of us, there's a big difference between engaging the threat of terrorists in the world and invading and occupying whole countries. This administration has turned 9/11 into an excuse to do the latter. I think our Democratic Presidential Nominee will return us to a course of the former.

For the record, Maximum Leader, I think I prefer the short, pithy exchanges. Now I'm going to be tired at work tomorrow, and I didn't even get to talk about how the Bush the Lesser lied about the Medicare bill (please feel free to post the info, Smallholder). Perhaps we'll open up that front another day.

Update from the Maximum Leader: Here I thought my reponse to your post was short and pithy... But it appears as though both of those attributes are in the eye (fingers?) of the beholder. Your Maximum Leader will ruminate on this and post more.


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