March 23, 2004

Oh Yeah? Well, I'm Rubber and You are Glue!

Not so long ago, I was chatting with the Propaganda Minister on the telephone (or, telly, if you prefer, Foreign Minister) and he said that a friend of his believed that Bush has made the nation more polarized than at any earlier point in history.

My response?

“Your friend is a moron.”

Of course, I went on to cite the Revolutionary period, the growth of sectionalism leading to the Civil War, the conflict between workers and owners in the Gilded Age, the anger of the farmers that drove the Populist movement, the various anti-immigration campaigns, the Great Depression (Remember Father Coughlin and Huey Long, anyone?), and Vietnam. I even think Clinton might have led to a more visceral, gut-level polarization. While I dislike the Commander-in-chief’s smarmy insouciance, I don’t think my level of dislike approaches any reasonable facsimile of how the right hated Slick Willy’s guts.

But the Propaganda Minister couldn’t get past my first sentence. He thought the tone was all wrong, disrespectful, and that name-calling was all wrong.

Read the Propaganda Minister’s last few posts. Scroll down. I’ll wait.

The gap between the theory of political civility and the actuality can be easily explained.

The Propaganda Minister is the real Nimrod.

We have converted him to the bare-knuckle roundhouse fight that is blog politics.

I would like to thank the Maximum Leader for providing a forum where we can lay into each other. I hope the readers are entertained. In fact, I know some definitely are – I have received several responses to my offer of boxer short pics of the Propaganda Minister. Of course, Big Hominid only wants the pic so that he can photo-shop out the Maximum Leader’s undergarment.

But to get down to brass tacks:

Quoth the PM: “The Spanish Socialist party isn't going to make Spain isolationist. All they've said is that the war in Iraq, instigated and conducted by the United States, is a distraction from the war on terror. Since when has a refusal to follow the U.S. been enough to label a country 'isolationist?' Your chain of logic is still absurd.”

I’m not judging Spain on its refusal to “follow America.” I’m judging Spain based on the very clear message that Spain has sent to terrorists around the world. I was under the impression that the Socialist Party in Spain was isolationist in character based on the news reports I have seen. However, in a search of the web, I have been unable to verify that isolationism is indeed a major component of Spanish Socialist thought. So I have to (provisionally) doff my hat to the PM and withdraw the isolationist charge.

Side note: Are there any Spanish language speakers out there who are willing to peruse this site for statements on foreign policy?

The Propaganda Minister also calls me to task for not answering his question:

"if al Qaeda succeeds in bringing another major attack against U.S. soil, should all good patriots vote for Bush in November? Taking that logic one step further: even if another attack doesn't occur, should everyone vote for Bush because we don't want al Qaeda to think they've influenced our decision?"

Sorry; I thought that the question was rhetorical. Of course I don’t think that Bush is the only patriotic choice after an al Queda attack. But I do think that people might respond by choosing Bush. Probably because Kerry has been remarkably inarticulate about what exactly he would do about the Iraqi quagmire, aside from consulting with “allies” like the bloody French.

While I think Bush was unnecessarily abrasive to our allies prior to launching Iraq II: The Hunt for Saddam, I can’t take seriously the people who say we ought to have worked to get France on board. There was NOTHING that we could do to influence France to give up its oil contracts or its goal to provide an “alternative” to American leadership. Their default position is to resist and minimize our power. For an excellent discussion of our “ally” and her foreign policy, see:

Winds of Change

The PM’s criticism of the war as a distraction from the war on terrorism is a legitimate concern, particularly in light of the War College’s report. However, some of the other stuff is just, in his words, absurd. We frequently hear the left lay the troubles of the world at our feet: America created Saddam! He’s your fault! I think that the Foreign Minister has already laid waste to that fluff. I’ll just add the comment that if we have indeed created __________ (fill in the blank with the Taliban or any other bad group), then we have a GREATER moral obligation to fix the mess we made. In a reading of Confucius’ Analects in class, we recently went over a passage in which Confucius teaches that good men make mistakes like other men, but that good men endeavor to correct the harm of their mistakes.

Veering in another direction, the FM and PM exchange fire over nation building. Is Iraq analogous to Germany and Japan or is it more parallel to Vietnam? A very interesting question. Perhaps my blogging comrades will tackle this. Why were we able to create stable democracies out of the Third Reich and the Empire of the Rising Sun but stymied by Ho Chi Minh and his merry band?

Note to Foreign Minister: The next time some Vietnam Vet complains that them “damn hippies and politicians wouldn’t let us win,” drop this interesting factoid on them: We dropped TWELVE times more TNT on Vietnam than we did on Germany and Japan. What MORE would you have done. The war unwinnable, and our leaders knew that – check out MacNamara’s mea culpa documentary.

Smallholder’s prescription to make sure the Middle East doesn’t become Vietnam:
1) Kill all the guerillas dead, dead, dead.
2) Hold Middle Eastern governments responsible for policing their borders. If explosives are being shipped across Syrian borders, end Syria’s ability to produce explosives.
3) Take the moral high ground. The Islamo-fascists and genocidal Palestinians do not have moral equivalency to the west. We have to convince their own countrymen that their programs of terror and murder are morally abhorrent.
4) Repeal Bush’s handouts to the wealthy and use the money to build a MASSIVE new infrastructure in Iraq – the Muslim Marshall Plan. Schools, sanitation, telecommunications, power, etc. Admit to the American people that this is going to an investment of money and troops lasting more than a decade.
5) Integrate Iraq into the global capitalist economy so that the Iraqis see they have more to gain from engagement with the world than from killing themselves and us. Tom Friedman has an interesting point on Tim Russert the other night: None of the captives at Guantanamo Bay are Indian citizens. And India has the largest population of Muslims outside of Indonesia. Friedman argued that there are no apocalyptic Indian martyrs because India has become part of a global supply chain.
6) Immediately take steps to reduce our consumption of oil and gasoline. Let’s dry up the petro-dollars that fund the madrassas. Use tax policy to give the automakers incentive to produce more efficient vehicles. Invest government funds in energy research. Cold fusion SO kicks Saudi Arabia’s ass.
7) Refuse to yield the moral high ground in Europe. We should be publishing, complaining, and charging the French with propping up Saddam Hussein. We should be taking documents to the United Nations and asking for a censure of the French regime. France will veto it, of course, but we can’t keep letting France play moral superiority card to advance their Machiavellian designs. Winds of Change, in the article I linked for you above, says that the French public would be largely indifferent to evidence of their government’s duplicity. But maybe not. Maybe if the French population took a long, hard look at their foreign ministry, we might see a change in policy.
8) Level with the American people and explain that our succesful prosecution is going to require sacrifices, even from Americans not in the military. Bush's failure to prepare Americans for an occupation is a good example of his pattern of leadership failure.
9) What am I missing?

I would like to see the PM’s plan. Does he want us to withdraw from Iraq? What does he think the likely consequence of a withdrawal to be?


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