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The Right Enemies

[ 212 ] December 20, 2012 |

Even though I’d generally prefer not to appoint another Republican to Defense ceteris paribus, I’m now entirely convinced that he’s the best of the viable choices. By the way, did Jennifer Rubin actually take over for Fred Hiatt?

Comments (212)

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  1. Glenn says:

    I love the implication that what we really need is a SecDef who will move policy rightward from Obama’s current policy. How is that even possible?

    • rea says:

      How is that even possible?

      Weren’t you listening during the Romney campaign?

      • rea says:

        I mean, jeez, are you really claiming that Obama represents the rightmost possible positon on defense? Or did you think we were talking about the Hitler Administration rather than the Obama Adminstration?

        • But drones!

          There are security guards in Iraq! Obviously, there’s no legitimate reason to have a security force at an embassy.

          And drones!

          • Alan in SF says:

            It is hard to imagine what Romney could do that Obama isn’t already doing, but it sure wouldn’t be for lack of trying, and Romney would find ways to spend lots more money doing it.

            I’m not sure if Romney would have represented a turn to the right so much as a turn to incoherence and incompetence.

            • It is hard to imagine what Romney could do that Obama isn’t already doing

              Bomb Iran.

              Build the missile defense bases in Eastern Europe.

              Bomb Syria.

              Another $300 billion per year for DoD.

              Resume torture.

              It isn’t even slightly difficult to imagine what Romney would do that Obama isn’t doing.

              • Put terrorism suspects into indefinite military detention instead of trying them as criminals.

                Double Guantanamo.

                All of these things – except, I think, bombing Syria – are promises he made in the 2008 or 2012 campaigns.

                • Rob says:

                  As opposed to leaving the Guantanamo Gulag as it is.

                  What a choice!

                • As opposed to leaving the Guantanamo Gulag as it is.

                  Whose position is that?

                  Certainly not Obama’s.

                • Rob says:

                  I don’t care about positions. I care about results. The result is this: the Gulag is still open.

                • I don’t care about positions.

                  No, you care about trolling.

                  Go whine to your mommy.

                • Craigo says:

                  Oh, gotcha. It’s not enough to have the right positions, you have to magically make them into reality.

                  Every time Scott makes a Green Lantern post, people bitch and moan, but here it is.

                • I don’t care about positions. I care about results.

                  Then you no doubt laud Barack Obama for ending the Iraq War, and haven’t written a word about chained CPI.

                  And, of course, you have absolutely no interest in the progressive movement.

                  Not to mention, you don’t have a word of criticism for Obama signing the NDAA, because it hasn’t resulted in a single person being detained.

                  After all, you don’t care about positions, only results, amirite?

                • rea says:

                  As opposed to leaving the Guantanamo Gulag as it is.

                  If Obama had really wanted to close Guantanamo, he would have defied Congress and done it anyway, rigth?

                • People give George Bush too much grief over Social Security privatization. What harm did it ever do?

                  I don’t care about positions; I care about results.

                • Craigo says:

                  If Obama had really wanted to close Guantanamo, he would have defied Congress and done it anyway, rigth?

                  What the Bush years taught us is that’s absolutely terrible for a President to defy the law and political norms – as long as he supports things that I oppose.

                • Murc says:

                  To be perhaps overly fair to our troll, I don’t think, legally, there’s anything actually stopping Obama to order the guards at Guantanamo to open all the gates, unchain the detainees, and then step aside.

                  (Someone correct me if I’m wrong about this, by the way. Given that the guys at Gitmo haven’t been arrested, and its the position of the US government they aren’t POWs either, I don’t think there’s a legal barrier to just releasing them.)

                  But the practical and political fallout would be immense. Probably ‘impeachment’ immense. There’s an argument to be made that releasing people whom the Congress has determined will never, ever get the trials they ought to be entitled to might be the morally correct thing to do, but the consequences are so unknowable and frightening even I would think twice about it.

                • Anon21 says:

                  There’s an argument to be made that releasing people whom the Congress has determined will never, ever get the trials they ought to be entitled to might be the morally correct thing to do

                  Maybe there’s an argument to be made. I consider indefinite detention to be the greatest rights violation perpetrated by the federal government since maybe Japanese internment. (Am I missing something in between? Seems quite possible.) But I don’t know that releasing guys like KSM—guys who are dangerous and who we know would be convicted in civilian courts if Congress would get out of the way—is a morally acceptable option, given the likely consequences.

                • Murc says:

                  Am I missing something in between? Seems quite possible.

                  I would argue that the continuing terror-enforced apartheid regime we had going on until the 70s or so counts.

                  And you can’t fob that off on the states, either. The feds were complicit in their inaction if nothing else.

                • Visitor says:

                  Thank you Joe From Lowell… what do the kidz say, “Quoted for Truth!!”?
                  (take the quoting part as read)

                • John says:

                  I would argue that the continuing terror-enforced apartheid regime we had going on until the 70s or so counts.

                  I won’t argue about the use of the term “apartheid” this time, but I will say that this wasn’t conducted by the federal government.

            • DrDick says:

              Bomb Iran? That is just one of many more extreme positions Romney took.

        • Glenn says:

          Wow, didn’t quite mean to set off this firestorm. A very poorly worded comment on my part. It’s not that things couldn’t possibly be worse, but really, within the realm of defense policy options realistically on the table right now, in what way is Obama taking a particularly “left” position? He’s not advocating any drastic cuts that I’m aware of. He’s not advocating any particular limitations on the use of force, indeed has expanded certain options — yes drones. I really didn’t mean it as ZOMG Obama is HITLER or really even a criticism. It just seems to me that Obama has not taken any particularly “lefty” approach to defense issues.

          • Cody says:

            No Glenn, your comment was fine. Troll just going all extremist on us.

            Obama’s foreign policy is hardly to the Left. It’s correctly disturbing that Republicans want it to go “farther” to the Right.

          • It just seems to me that Obama has not taken any particularly “lefty” approach to defense issues.

            No argument with that. He’s on the left wing of the rough consensus that exists in Washington, but that makes him a center-left liberal at most.

            The point we were all making is that it is very, very easy to imagine how one could move rightward from a center-left foreign policy.

      • DrDick says:

        Really! It amazes me when people say stuff like this. Obama may be well to the right of my comfort zone on most issues, but the GOP is worse and generally much worse on every issue.

        • Warren Terra says:

          Heck, the median Democrat in Washington is probably worse than most of the results (word emphasized per Rob Obama has managed to achieve.

          I don’t think you’ll find many energetic people in the left blogosphere who aren’t to the left not only of the American political consensus but also to the left of the Obama administration; that doesn’t mean we have to be willfully stupid.

    • Kurzleg says:

      And what would that even mean?

    • How is that even possible?

      Were you born in 2009?

    • david mizner says:

      I dunno, I think Hagel’s probably the least bad of the people Obama’s likely to nominate (even if I’d prefer someone who wasn’t on the board of Chevron.) He’s spoken sanely about Iran and about downsizing the military. If you could name a likely nominee who, say, opposed the war in Iraq, I’m all ears.

      I’m pretty sure, though, that his stupid “Jewish lobby” comment will sink him, since even his buddy John McCain has criticized him for it. AIPAC wins again.

      • david mizner says:

        Rubin really unearthed a smoking gun:

        Mr. Hagel has elsewhere expressed strong skepticism about the use of force.

        Hippie peacenik!

      • NAM says:

        Wonder if Hagel knows Bacevich. As long as we are going with Republicans for the DOD might as well get the decent ones.

        • SamR says:

          I was thinking about Bacevich. Though this quote might not be so helpful for him, in comparing Bush v. Obama re Afghanistan:

          “Who is more deserving of contempt? The commander-in-chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause, however misguided, in which he sincerely believes? Or the commander-in-chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause in which he manifestly does not believe and yet refuses to forsake?”

          Harsh, and I’d say unfair. Everything Obama has ever said or done indicates he did or does believe that he was doing the right thing by continuing the war in Afghanistan. This may be a stupid belief, but it appears a sincerely held stupid belief.

          • Cody says:

            This seems like a “Green Lantern” type of argument if I’m using it right.

            The President could indeed order the end of the Afghanistan operation immediately. However, he is a political figure. He would take immense political pain for that decision, as Republicans filled the airwaves with how weak and pathetic he was for surrendering to those brown people!

            I personally think Obama would leave Afghanistan today if he felt it was politically safe, but unfortunately Americans elect a lot of people who don’t feel that way.

            • DocAmazing says:

              That’s not a question of inability, but of political expedience. Not a Green Lantern argument; simply an illustration of the profiles in lack of courage that rise to positions of political power.

              • Uh….basing your criticism on the President’s “lack of courage” is the definition of the Green Lantern argument.

                • DocAmazing says:

                  No. the Green Lantern argument is that “anything can be accomplished with enough sheer will”.

                  Surely you’re not going to argue that CINCUS has no input on the deployment of US military personnel? It’s not a question of an impossible task that would be possible given enough will, it’s a question of an unpopular task that no one wants to be responsible for.

                • Jeremy says:

                  No, it’s not. Assuming Obama has the power to do so, it’s not a Green Lantern argument.

                • No. the Green Lantern argument is that “anything can be accomplished with enough sheer will”.

                  …and, therefore, the failure to accomplish anything can be explained by not manning up. The drama in the movie is about whether the hero’s will can overcome his fear. You wrote “No,” and then agreed with what I said.

                  Surely you’re not going to argue that CINCUS has no input on the deployment of US military personnel?

                  Surely not. I’m just pointing out that you still don’t understand what the Green Lantern theory is.

    • djangermats says:

      Bomb, bomb Iran

  2. bradp says:

    Agreed. If Obama puts up any sort of a fight for Hagel or someone better, he will be on the quick path to proving me wrong about the meaningless of the election.

    • Cody says:

      I’m just disturbed that one of the more left candidates for SecDef is apparently a Republican?

      I don’t know much about Kerry’s foreign policy though.

      • John says:

        Hagel is almost certainly more skeptical about America’s role in the world than any Democrat Obama might plausibly appoint.

      • DrDick says:

        I think that just reveals what many of us have pointed out is generally a long standing (going back to Eisenhower or Truman) bipartisan consensus on defense and security issues. I don’t like it and want to change it, but this is not generally a partisan issue, except for the extremists on the right.

  3. c u n d gulag says:

    We wouldn’t need to worry about any killer comets or Mayan Apocalypses, if Kristol, Rubin, or Hiatt are ever right at all – let alone on the same day.

  4. Murc says:

    By the way, did Jennifer Rubin actually take over for Fred Hiatt?

    How would we be able to tell?

  5. First Bill Kristol, and now this.

    Isn’t it funny how Democrats who break from their party to the right, like Lieberman, are lauded for being bipartisan centrists, while Republicans who break from their party by moving left, like Hagel, are radicals?

    • John says:

      That’s not quite right. People like Olympia Snowe and John McCain are lauded as bipartisan centrists, too.

      The problem with Hagel is that he dissents from the bipartisan very serious people consensus on foreign policy.

      • Cody says:

        John McCain broke to the left?

        Did you skip 2008? I guess we could just view pre-2008 McCain.

        • John says:

          He certainly did in 2000-2004 or thereabouts. And that’s when he really built his rep.

        • Everyone views pre-2008 John McCain.

          He’s been riding campaign finance reform, normalization with Vietnam, and his callout of Pat Robertson for years.

          • sparks says:

            …and nobody remembers how close he was to Charles Keating.

            • Sherm says:

              And that was his goal when he got behind campaign finance reform.

              • SamR says:

                If you look back at McCain’s political life, two postulates explain basically his entire political career:

                1. A willingness to do or say anything necessary to become POTUS;
                2. A bitterness toward those he views as preventing him from becoming POTUS.

                The bitterness manifested itself against Bush, but has been stronger against Obama b/c Obama took away his last shot.

                • laura says:

                  Yup this is exactly right.

                • Cody says:

                  This makes sense. I liked McCain before 2008, but I didn’t exactly follow him closely at all.

                  I just saw he seemed to generally oppose Bush, but didn’t realize he was just doing it out of spite.

          • Craigo says:

            The problem with McCain is that his positions are generally calculated to oppose the person who has pissed him off most recently.

            And since McCain is the political equivalent of the guy behind you in traffic who curses and pounds on his horn within a Placnk’s time of the light turning green…

            • John says:

              This (and everything everyone else has been saying) is all true, but it remains the case that McCain got tons of good press for his breaks with conservative orthodoxy (motivated, certainly, by spite) in the early 2000s.

      • BigHank53 says:

        Look at John McCain’s voting record, not the crap that comes out of his mouth. Campaign finance reform may have been the only bipartisian thing he ever did, and half the reason was to try to get the stink of Charles Keating off.

        • John says:

          While it’s certainly true that McCain’s moderation was more perceived than real, he really did take a sharp left turn after Bush beat him, and then gradually turned right again starting in 2004. My understanding is that this is not mere perception, but can be seen in his voting record.

          This was, obviously, primarily out of spite rather than true belief. But it was real, and it was in this period that McCain became the darling of the press.

          Hagel, again, isn’t derided as a radical because he’s an iconoclastic Republican. He’s derided because his views on foreign policy are the opposite of those of the Very Serious People who praise centrists for breaking with their party.

  6. peorgietirebiter says:

    Jen-Jen is off the rails in praise of Boehner’s Plan B Kung Fu.
    I interpret her glee as a sure sign the president is about to make their year even worse than anyone thought possible. Meritocracy, the other white meat.

  7. Alan in SF says:

    Jennifer Rubin has always been the voice inside Fred Hiatt’s head.

    More importantly, and only slightly OT (propaganda, right?) — Did anyone note that Glenn Greenwald and Diane Feinstein today agreed on something? (pause as universe falls off axis; resume) RE Zero Dark Thirty: There’s fiction, and then there’s inventing a fake incident to prove the exact opposite of the truth.

  8. Cody says:

    We should start hyping Grover Norquist for SecDef until Republicans start bashing him!

    This plan can’t possibly fail.

  9. Shawn says:

    For a brief moment, I wondered if Boehner had something clever up his sleeve, but it disappeared when I read Rubin’s many blogposts about his brilliant strategy that has left Obama boxed in and hamstrung. I am looking forward to a post, after plam B blows up in his face and he’s deposed, to Rubin explaining how it was a terrible idea all along.

    I get why conservative thinkers praise conservative ideas. I REALLY don’t understand why she is flacking for such horrible strategic decisions so soon after her election coverage made her a laughing stock.

  10. Rob says:

    The difference between Obama and the GOP on foreign policy?

    Obama is competent American hyper-imperialism.

    The GOP is incompetent American hyper-imperialism.

    I’m not sure which is worse quite frankly.

      • Rob says:

        Obama may in fact lead to more dead over the long term–competent hyper-imperialism props up the US hyperpower superstructure of inverted totalitarianism much longer than the incompetent kind.

        And only God knows what opening the pandora’s box of drone warfare will lead to. Just wait until China gets drones (and they will). And then terrorist groups (and they will, too, eventually).

        • catclub says:

          Drones require air superiority first, unless they can act like fighters and take evasive actions, right? or are these drones also stealthy, with extremely small radar cross-section?
          Did not know we bothered with that, given air superiority.

          I can see drones operated by China and terrorists (barely) over Afghanistan and outlands of Pakistan. Over Iraq or Iran, not to mention Israel or Saudi Arabia, no.

        • Arouet says:

          Really? “Hyper-imperialism?” “US hyperpower superstructure of inverted totalitarianism?”

          I very much hope that is intended as hyperbole, because not a single part of it is true. Maybe you should take a good hard look about what actual imperialism looked like before you go crediting the U.S. with some sort of hyper-efficient form of it.

          • Rob says:

            You don’t think the US is a hyper-imperialist power? Or even an imperialist power really?

            • Arouet says:

              Imperialist? I tend to think not, but there’s a legitimate debate to be had there which really comes down to the definition of imperialism.

              Hyper-imperialist? Uh, no, absolutely not. If you can’t see the difference in kind between the type of even plain old garden variety imperialism of the 19th and early 20th centuries and what the U.S. does, I really don’t know what to say.

              • Rob says:

                Right because the USA can do no wrong right? Face it it’s an imperialist power. You might want to examine some of your white privilege.

                • Arouet says:

                  Where did I claim that the U.S. could do no wrong? The U.S. does plenty wrong, but there’s a ton of daylight between doing things wrong and being the HYPERIMPERIALIST UBEREVIL.

                  Also, why do I have to be white?

                • Malaclypse says:

                  You might want to examine the history of the Belgian Congo.

                • Craigo says:

                  Good question; he really should have stuck to some other revolutionary chic jargon, like “bourgeois.” Harder to go wrong with that line.

              • DrDick says:

                I do not think that there is any rel question that the US, or any other first world country, is neo-imperialist. That goes with the territory and has been clearly demonstrated in our interventionist (at the military, political, and economic levels) foreign policy since WW II.

                • DrDick says:

                  I would add that I do not think that the US is exceptional in that regard in any way. Pre-War Japan and Britain, for example, were much more so.

                • DocAmazing says:

                  Britain was serious about being, y’know, an empire, while the US pushed economic and military hegemony but never actually copped to imperial designs.

                  We’ve now handed much of that role to corporate groups.

                • DrDick says:

                  That is pretty much the distinction between classical imperialist and neo-imperialist.

                • rea says:

                  Although “neo-imperialist” isn’t a very useful term, ince it tend to mean, “what the US does.”

          • Rob says:

            Seriously if you don’t think the USA is a hyper-imperialist power dominating the whole world you might want to start examining some of your privilege because its blinding you to obvious facts.

            • Arouet says:

              I’m not entirely sure you could sound more like a first-year IR major who just had their first eye-opening look at the evils of U.S. hegemony. Examining my privilege? Seriously.

              You don’t advance the debate on any of this by using that kind of rhetoric.

              • “I’m not entirely sure you could sound more like a first-year IR major who just had their first eye-opening look at the evils of U.S. hegemony.”

                Heh, I was just going to say that it sounds like someone just had their Chomsky cherry popped.

            • mpowell says:

              I think you are mixing up your cliches. I wouldn’t recommend pulling out the ‘examine your privilege’ line in a debate about foreign policy.

        • Craigo says:

          “Open the box?”

          Yeah, because if Obama hadn’t personally invented drone warfare, it would never have existed.

    • Cody says:

      The one that results in more dead people is the worse one.

      • Rob says:

        Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

        Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.

        • Cody says:

          I’m assuming you meant “Iran” not “Iraq”, but I don’t see how you can put that blood on his hand.

          Did you see those people who died during Sandy? WHY DIDN’T OBAMA SAVE THEM!? DAMN IMPERIALIST!

          If Iran determines that spending money on their military is more important then saving their kids, blood is on their hands. We’re not way morally obligated to support them with external economics.

          Did you see people are starving in Darfur and dying? Obama refuses to give them enough free food!

          • Rob says:

            I am referring not only to Obama in particular but Democratic administrations in general. They show little more regard for non-American human life than Republican ones do in the end. They’re all worthless wogs anyway, right?

            • I am referring not only to Obama in particular but Democratic administrations in general.

              There’s such a thing as “Democratic administrations in general?”

              LBJ, Barack Obama. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton

              Same-same.

              • Rob says:

                On foreign policy matters pretty much which is my entire point.

                • Right. Lyndon Johnson’s foreign policy and Jimmy Carter’s are virtually indistinguishable.

                • Craigo says:

                  Hell, even Jimmy Carter’s foreign policies – plural – don’t look alike.

                • cpinva says:

                  i think your point, such as it is, is twirling down the drain. what year are you, sophomore?

                  you’ve probably just learned, to your shock and dismay, that your primary/secondary school american history textbooks kind of, well, sugarcoated things just a wee bit. oh, and the civil war? it was about slavery, period.

      • Rob says:

        Even if you just want to measure it in terms of dead Americans, Obama’s Drone Wars will lead to more 9/11s, not less. More bin Ladens, not fewer.

        • rea says:

          The history of the last 13 years has been that Obama has killed people by the dozen, while the Bush Administration killed them by the tens (or maybe hundreds) of thousands. You really can’t see the difference?

        • So where are they?

          Isn’t it funny how virtually all of al Qaeda comes from countries that the United States has never used military force against, while virtually none of them come from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, or other countries that been the subject of American military force?

          You said you care about results. Obviously not.

          • Rob says:

            Because it’s easier to get a passport from Saudi Arabia or Egypt than it is from Iran or Iraq is pretty much why.

            But they’re all Muslims. And when Muslims are killed, all Muslims will be enraged. The colonial borders drawn by the European occupiers have no relevance. They’re all part of the Ummah.

            • Craigo says:

              Because it’s easier to get a passport from Saudi Arabia or Egypt than it is from Iran or Iraq is pretty much why.

              Straight from the ass of a guy who has certainly never tried to get a passport from any of them.

              But they’re all Muslims. And when Muslims are killed, all Muslims will be enraged.

              They all look the same, too.

            • Cody says:

              This is shockingly sad. They’re all “Muslims”?

              That’s more insensitive then I can imagine. Do you think they’re one big group?

              I’ve got bad news, they’re hardly united. I severely doubt Muslims express much solidarity with the other sects.

              • david mizner says:

                Have you seen the poll numbers on drone attacks in Arab and Muslim countries (including those where they’re not occurring?)

                I’m always (slightly) surprised when liberals deny that American violence often leads to anti-American violence. It’s like denying that punching someone in a bar often leads to someone punching back.

                Where at the AQ members created by American violence? Yemen, for one place, where the AQAP is growing on the strength of new recruits and supporters radicalized by drone strikes.

                When I say American violence, I use the term broadly to include American military presence and violence committed by US ally-tyrants, because they’ve also shown to inspire anti-American violence.

                The United States will be dealing with blowback from Terror War till long after we’re all dead.

                • Cody says:

                  Thus proving all Muslims are just the same people?

                  I don’t contest the drone strikes are bad policy, but they’re better than full-blown war and not “hyper-imperialistic” if even “imperialistic” at all.

                • Once again, the initial troll was just about a comparison.

                  I’m always (slightly) surprised when liberals deny that American violence often leads to anti-American violence.

                  Who did that here?

                • Who did that here?

                  Seriously.

                  I didn’t even do that.

                  I stated – a position very strongly supported by the available evidence – that American military action* does not lead to anti-American terrorism.

                  *which is not the same thing as the miznerian term “American violence,” which apparently encompasses violence by other countries against their own citizens, even when the United States opposes it.

                • NonyNony says:

                  Wow. Mizner just got trolled by a fake liberal troll who went ahead and posted that all Muslims are the same.

                  I will admit a bit of Poe’s law here that “Rob” tripped into, but once you get to this:

                  But they’re all Muslims. And when Muslims are killed, all Muslims will be enraged.

                  You should really realize that you’re either dealing with a fake troll or an idiot, and you shouldn’t try to defend either one. Even if they are cutting and pasting other things that you might agree with.

                • david mizner says:

                  I stated – a position very strongly supported by the available evidence – that American military action* does not lead to anti-American terrorism.

                  Could I see some of that “evidence”?

                  Because there’s copious evidence that drone strikes have created terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen, and AQ in Iraq is, of course, a creation of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. There’s also testimony from terrorists saying they were motivated by U.S military action. Even the dead bete noir Anwar Al Awaki, by all accounts, joined AQ because of American military action abroad.

                • david mizner says:

                  Yeah, sure, I agreed the “all Muslims are the same.”

                  No, I pointed out the obvious: that killing lots of in a predominantly Muslim country might not do wonders for your image in others. Hell, I loathed the U.S. government because of its invasion of Iraq; imagine what people in the region thought.

                • Could I see some of that “evidence”?

                  Again?

                  I’m gone through this with you many times before, and you’ve even agreed with it.

                  Don’t you remember? I went through an exhaustive list of the al Qaeda figures you carried out terrorist attacks against the US, and the al Qaeda leadership, and virtually none of them came from countries that had ever been on the receiving end of American military action. They were all, furthermore, from countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia that were undemocratic American allies.

                  You agreed with this, David – your exact words were “That sounds about right.”

                  You don’t remember this? You brought up the idea of “American military presence,” and I gave the counterexample of Turkey, where we have a large military presence but there is virtually no anti-American terrorism. Do you need me to go back and find the thread?

                  Because there’s copious evidence that drone strikes have created terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen

                  No, there’s not. There’s copious evidence that the strikes have created military resistance, but there have been approximately zero terrorist attacks carried out by Yemenis and Pakistanis against the United States since the drone strikes began. I think you’re playing fast and loose with the definition of “terrorism,” and that is not a good thing. There were, btw, Yemenis involved in 9/11, and the people who bombed the USS Cole were Yemenis – both of which took place well before there was any American military action aimed at Yemen, while Yemen was an American ally.

                  AQ in Iraq is, of course, a creation of the U.S. invasion of Iraq

                  “Of course” is doing an awful lot of work in that sentence, because most of AQI consists of either foreign jihadis who were already anti-American terrorists (and who, once again, came from countries that were not subject to American military action), and the Iraqi component was engaging in military resistance during the occupation, and melted away when that occupation ended.

                  Even the dead bete noir Anwar Al Awaki, by all accounts…

                  …was an American, from a country that hasn’t been subject to American military action since the 1860s.

                  Once again, as you have already agreed, there is a very strong negative correlation between countries that have been subject to American military action, and the countries of origin of anti-American terrorists, while there is a strong positive correlation between Muslim countries that are undemocratic American allies and the countries of origin of anti-American terrorists.

                  C’mon, you must remember that discussion. I brought up Abdulmutallab, and pointed out that he was from Nigeria. Ring a bell?

                • Also, david, while I absolutely believe that all of the accounts you’ve allowed yourself to read about Anwar al-Awlaki indicate that he turned to terrorism because of war, there are plenty of accounts indicating otherwise.

                  When police investigating the 9/11 attacks raided the Hamburg, Germany, apartment of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, al-Aulaqi’s telephone number was found among bin al-Shibh’s personal contact information.[10][54] The FBI interviewed al-Aulaqi four times in the eight days following the 9/11 attacks.[1][50] One detective told the 9/11 Commission he believed al-Aulaqi “was at the center of the 9/11 story”. And an FBI agent said that “if anyone had knowledge of the plot, it would have been” him, since “someone had to be in the U.S. and keep the hijackers spiritually focused”.[50] One 9/11 Commission staff member said: “Do I think he played a role in helping the hijackers here, knowing they were up to something? Yes. Do I think he was sent here for that purpose? I have no evidence for it.”[50] A separate Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks suspected that al-Aulaqi might have been part of a support network for the hijackers, according to its director, Eleanor Eshoo (D-CA).[79]

                • david mizner says:

                  But that’s the point: you need not come from the targeted country to be radicalized by American violence, but in the case of Yemen and Pakistan, it helps if you do.

                • But that’s the point: you need not come from the targeted country to be radicalized by American violence, but in the case of Yemen and Pakistan, it helps if you do.

                  I don’t disagree that people have been “radicalized.” The issue being disputed, however, is more narrow than that – “creating terrorists.” The people who took up arms to resist the occupation of Iraq were “radicalized,” but they weren’t planting bombs in Times Square.

                  But even setting that aside, the observation that people can be “radicalized” by violence in other countries would be fine if we were talking about the sources of terrorism being evenly spread, but we’re not. We’re talking about there being a strong negative correlation between countries we’ve waged war in and the countries of origin of terrorists, and a strong positive correlation between countries we’ve never used force against and the countries of origin of terrorists. Claiming that country-of-origin could explain the lack of a pattern, but there is a pattern, and it’s a pattern that very strongly rebuts the connection between terrorism and warfare.

                • david mizner says:

                  Obviously the turnaround time for terrorism can be years, if not decades, so the fact that family members of drone victim in Pakistan haven’t set off a bomb in the U.S. hardly proves anything. What we do know is drone strikes are strengthening AQ in Yemen and elsewhere.

                  But this is semi-interesting:

                  There’s copious evidence that the strikes have created military resistance, but there have been approximately zero terrorist attacks carried out by Yemenis and Pakistanis against the United States since the drone strikes began. I think you’re playing fast and loose with the definition of “terrorism,” and that is not a good thing.

                  Much of the “military resistance” is put up by AQ. But you seem to be saying that AQ in these places pose not threat to U.S. national security. I’m largely inclined to agree, so perhaps you can join me in calling for end of the war against groups that focused on more local concerns.

                • Obviously the turnaround time for terrorism can be years, if not decades

                  True enough. We invaded Iraq in 1992, carried out occasional bombing campaigns while keeping it under tight sanctions for over a decade, then invaded again nine and a half years ago, and then occupied it until a year ago.

                  Iraqis are almost entirely absent from the rolls of al Qaeda, and from the rolls of those who have carried out terrorist attacks against the United States. We first invaded Afghanistan eleven years ago, and Afghans are similarly absent. Meanwhile, we have decades of al Qaeda attacks and organization to look at, and they are dominated by Saudis, Egyptians, Kuwaitis, and residents of other Gulf states.

                  I submit that this is rather stronger evidence than your reasoning that maybe there’s an effect that hasn’t shown up yet.

                  What we do know is drone strikes are strengthening AQ in Yemen and elsewhere.

                  Well, no. What we do know is that they have helped the recruiting efforts of al Qaeda-affiliated groups that are waging their own local wars. What we also know is that those strikes are decimating al Qaeda’s leadership and operational capabilities for international terrorist strikes. Looking at their overall significance, al Qaeda is a great deal less capable today than they were at the end of the Bush administration.

                  Much of the “military resistance” is put up by AQ. But you seem to be saying that AQ in these places pose not threat to U.S. national security.

                  I fear I have been gravely misunderstand. I am not saying any such thing. Rather, I am disputing your claim that drone strikes make that threat worse.

                  While we’re noting own-goals, however – when, exactly, did you start using warnings about the threat of terrorism to argue for your preferred policies? You sneer at anyone else who does that.

              • cpinva says:

                not unlike the jews, actually:

                I’ve got bad news, they’re hardly united. I severely doubt Muslims express much solidarity with the other sects.

                what the fanatics from both sides have just never quite figured out is, if they just did nothing, their enemies would implode.

                and rob, your facade is melting. would you like some nice pancakes with that? perhaps a bit of maple syrup too?

              • david mizner says:

                In other words, you want it both ways: you want a war on terror to combat terrorism and at the same time deny that AQ gaining in strength threatens Americans.

            • Because it’s easier to get a passport from Saudi Arabia or Egypt than it is from Iran or Iraq is pretty much why.

              Why would bin Laden, Zawahiri, or Khalid Sheik Mohammed need passports (you mean visas) to the United States? The high correlation between al Qaeda and American allies, and the strong negative correlation between al Qaeda and countries that American enemies, extends all the way through the ranks.

              Try again.

              But they’re all Muslims. And when Muslims are killed, all Muslims will be enraged. The colonial borders drawn by the European occupiers have no relevance. They’re all part of the Ummah.

              Nice racist theory, but answering a question about why there are vast differences between various groups of Muslims by asserting that they’re all the same is stupid even for a Gates of Vienna sock puppet like you.

            • rea says:

              But they’re all Muslims. And when Muslims are killed, all Muslims will be enraged. The colonial borders drawn by the European occupiers have no relevance.

              You don’t know much about Islam, do you? Sunnis vs Shiites, or Sufis vs Wahabbis, mean nothing to you? Not to mention the Alawites, or the Turks . . .

              • JoyfulA says:

                Here in Pennsyltucky, we have many Ahmadi Muslims, with a mosque, a section of highway to keep tidy, and a ladies’ committee that helps with volunteer fire company fundraisers and the like.

                • rea says:

                  Here in Grand Rapids, there are two mosques (the Bosnians don’t go to the same mosque as the Arabs) within a mile of my house. Just ordinary people . . .

    • Staying in Iraq: incompetent hyperimperialism.

      Leaving Iraq: competent hyperimperialism.

      Leaving Afghanistan: competent hyperimperialism.

      Staying in Afghanistan: incompetent hyperimperialism.

      Opposing Iraq War: competent hyperimperialism.

      Supporting Iraq War: exactly the same thing as opposing the Iraq War, except less competent.

  11. Joe says:

    I don’t think there’s a legal barrier to just releasing them.

    I would think we would have a legal obligation to provide some means of safe transit. Would it be legal just to let them die of exposure and lack of food? Realistically, I doubt everyone in there would want to just risk it all like Harold and Kumar leaving Gitmo. A few of them probably are unfit for travel without assistance. This would all require some funding, I’d think, funding Congress would refuse to provide.

    • Arouet says:

      Maybe they can do some “sponsor an accused terrorist” commercials, like the ones for the starving African children?

      I’m sure that will raise some funds.

      Actually, if they ran them in Peshawar….

  12. Ronan says:

    Can somebody please tell me..is HW Brands American Collossus (sic) worth geting (sic) or can they recommend something else about that era..hope this isnt off topic

  13. ironic irony says:

    Speaking of Republicans, Scott, I was wondering if you had seen these:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/fox-news-chiefs-failed-attempt-to-enlist-petraeus-as-presidential-candidate/2012/12/03/15fdcea8-3d77-11e2-a2d9-822f58ac9fd5_story.html

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/20/bernstein-murdoch-ailes-petreaus-presidency#start-of-comments

    …and what your thoughts are on this.

    P.S. You have my dream job. I was seriously considering going for a history Ph.D. but I have doubts about jobs afterward. :(

  14. Paul says:

    Jumping around some of the above I don’t really care about the Republic in the Pentagon thing – big deal. If his Republican-ness can get him in and he remains a sane voice on Iraq – rather than the group think bombing must happen vice grip that has consumed DC – that is great. Be honest no well established lefty or Democrat with the same record will get nominated.

  15. Eli Rabett says:

    LGM has always been at war with Crooked Timber.

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