March 14, 2004

Rejoinder to Propaganda Minister.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was reading over the recent post from the Propaganda Minister and would like to comment.

You scored 15 points on the libertarian test! As Eddie Izzard would say in his great James Mason voice, "Great Jeezey Chreezey!" Your Maximum Leader had no idea. We do share a belief that military spending is rife with misplaced priorities. We do need to fund military benefits fully, we need to increase military salaries, and we need to eliminate big cold-war era weapons systems that we know don't really serve us well in the battles we will likely fight in the present and future.

(NB: Some may remember that a few weeks ago your Maximum Leader linked to a group that wants to build naval strength. Your Maximum Leader, in the broadest context, wants to do this. But building naval strength doesn't mean more supercarriers and accompanying battle groups. What we need are a new generation of ships that would serve as a "white water" (ie: near-shore) rather than "blue-water" (ie: deep ocean) navy. You can't get a carrier battle group - comfortably - into a near-shore situation. Like the Persian Gulf. We need smaller, smarter ships.)

As for social security. It is not just that your Maximum Leader would like to eliminate social security, it is just sensible to assume it will have to be eliminated. It is a glorified pre-tax ponzi scheme that will collapse very soon under its own weight. Your Maximum Leader agrees with his Propaganda Minister in so much as he is disgusted by the political process surrounding social security. No one of any political stripe is able to speak sensibly about social security. The other week when Alan Greenspan made those off-the-cuff comments about social security benefits needing to be cut, an older acquaintance of your Maximum Leader was in a panic the next day. She was sure that her social security was going to be cut and she was going to be destitute. And frankly, that is the environment in which we live where social security is concerned. No one can say anything, not even those things that need to be said, about social security without being vilified as one who would allow the elderly of America to rot on street corners. Alas, both parties are equally good at this type of demogaugery.

As for my comments on the September 10th vs September 12th people... Perhaps your Maximum Leader didn't make himself too clear. It was not that he was agruing in favour of taking an emotional response in our foreign affairs. Your Maximum Leader believes that a significant number of Americans are trying to retreat back to a Sept 10th way of thinking. The one typified, as the Propaganda Minister puts it, by a belief that terror attacks on the US only happened in the movies. The Sept 10th people want to deny, in your Maximum Leader's opinion, that it could happen again. This denial is made easier by the fact that there hasn't been another significant attack on American soil since Sept 11th. (And who could have predicted that? Surely not your Maximum Leader.) To the Sept 10th people, if somehow the US would try to develop a new approach to the world's problems (and the problems rife in the Islamic world) everything would be alright.

The September 12th people, on the other hand, realize that the world, and our approach to certain problems within it, needed to change. The policies that may have well served us in the past must be rethought and reworked. To the Sept 12th people, we have now had our wake-up call to the more pressing international problems, and need to take action.

As for the war in Iraq. As readers of this page know, your Maximum Leader was in favour of the war. He was in favour of the war for a number of reasons that were (and many were not) articulated by members of the Bush Administration. Your Maximum Leader is not too concerned that we have not found WMD in Iraq. What is significant is that Iraq had the capability to manufacture WMD, and had the inclination to give/sell/otherwise distribute them to others. By invading Iraq, we took an important step towards reducing the cooperation between states and terror organizations.

Your Maximum Leader will conceed that going into Iraq before completing our mission in Afghanistan, may not have been the wisest course of action. But by going into Iraq and Afghanistan, we have caused some significant other international developments. Libya's "warming" to the desires of civilized nations is a good starting point. Syria is laying low. And even the Saudi's seem to be taking baby steps towards clamping down on the terror groups in their kingdom.

Your Maximum Leader doesn't believe the war in Iraq is a distraction. And while he normally is inclinded to agree with James Webb in these matters, in this case he will disagree. In the passage that the Propaganda Minister cites, Webb says:
"Bush arguably has committed the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory. To put it bluntly, he attacked the wrong target. While he boasts of removing Saddam Hussein from power, he did far more than that. He decapitated the government of a country that was not directly threatening the United States and, in so doing, bogged down a huge percentage of our military in a region that never has known peace. Our military is being forced to trade away its maneuverability in the wider war against terrorism while being placed on the defensive in a single country that never will fully accept its presence." Webb added, "The reckless course that Bush and his advisers have set will affect the economic and military energy of our nation for decades. It is only the tactical competence of our military that, to this point, has protected him from the harsh judgment that he deserves."
Your Maximum Leader has a few comments and questions. What was the right target? This is an item that has come up quite a bit. (And in your Maximum Leader's mind, this question is akin to the "What would have been your plan Mr. Democratic Presidential Candidate for the war in Iraq?") What was the right target Secretary Webb? Was Iran the right target? Indonesia? Saudi Arabia? Egypt? France?

The phrase that deserves some direct comment is this one: "He decapitated the government of a country that was not directly threatening the United States and, in so doing, bogged down a huge percentage of our military in a region that never has known peace. " Iraq may not have been directly threatening the United States, but how long to we allow threats to go unchallenged in the post-Sept 11th world? It is a difficult question without a single or simple answer. If Saddam Hussein had allowed UN inspectors back into Iraq and had made some reasonable effort to comply with UN resolutions, your Maximum Leader believes that he would still be in power today and the US would not be in Iraq. But, because his regime refused to comply in even the smallest token fashion, Hussein helped build the impression that he was a gathering threat to the United States. This certainly is a signifcant contributing factor to the US invasion.

Of everything the Secretary Webb said, the key words, in your Maximum Leader's opinion, are "region that has never known peace." This is the crux of the matter. Your Maximum Leader firmly believes that the very fact that the Middle East has been so unstable historically is important. The combination of political instability, cruel regimes, and economic exploitation coupled with religion is the primary cause of Islamic terror. If invading Iraq and helping to establish a state that is reasonably democratic, allows a free-market (ie: allows citizens to acquire property and wealth), and allows some western ideas of toleration to take hold is able to break the cycle that has existed up to this point; then our actions have been worth it. At this stage what else is possible?

Many critics of the war in Iraq say we should be going after Osama Bin Laden, not Saddam Hussein. Your Maximum Leader says they are both part of the problem. It is naive to believe that the capture or death of Osama Bin Laden will eliminate the threat of Islamic terror against the United States. The only way to break the cycle that causes terror is to change the environment in which terror is bred.

If that makes your Maximum Leader a raving Neo-Con, well... Perhaps he is. (But scoring 49 points on the libertarain purity test should help deflect some of those charges.)

Carry on.


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