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Friday, May 25, 2007 - 11:25amSanction this postReply
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This makes a lot more sense and I'm glad you wrote it. While Paul's words were explanation rather than justification and I'm glad to see your comments about his likely total meaning, I agree his brief and somewhat awkward presentation during the debate wasn't ideal. There's not doubt from his other words, or as Bridget has pointed out, his votes, concerning pursuing al Qaeda, that he doesn't absolve the killers of responsibility. Many Objectivists and general population have mistaken the debate snippet as arguing for justification rather than just motivation, though.

If I may posit a simple explanation (if not justification :) ) of his words during the debate emphasizing primarily US foreign policy, I'd say it's due not to 'blame America', but this:
The moral culpability of the Islamic terrorists behind 9/11 isn't seriously in doubt by anyone except fringe America haters, while the role of US interventionism as motivating any terrorists is debated - hence I'd expect people not to have to spend as many words simply reaffirming the former. Apparently many don't see it this way, though, and Paul inserting obligatory 'of course the Muslim terrorists ultimately still bear responsibility for their murders regardless their motives' every few sentences would have allayed the 'blowback' to his comments.



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Friday, May 25, 2007 - 1:06pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks for this article. In spite of my outpouring of commentary about the meaning of Ron Paul's statements, I went home last night still wondering about his statement "They came over here because we've been bombing them". That line, taken by itself, does try to justify the 9/11 attacks.




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Friday, May 25, 2007 - 10:54pmSanction this postReply
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Mark wrote,
I went home last night still wondering about [Ron Paul's] statement "They came over here because we've been bombing them". That line, taken by itself, does try to justify the 9/11 attacks.
I don't think so. Suppose I said, "The reason the mugger shot him is because he fought back." Does that line, taken by itself, try to justify mugger's shooting? No, all it does is explain why the mugger shot him. A statement justifying the shooting would have said, "The reason the mugger was justified in shooting him (or had a right to shoot him) is that he fought back." Similarly, if Ron Paul had intended to justify 9/11, he would have said, "They were justified in coming over here (or had a right to come over here) because we had been bombing them."

- Bill



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Sunday, May 27, 2007 - 9:35amSanction this postReply
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Bill:

Suppose I said, "The reason the mugger shot him is because he fought back." Does that line, taken by itself, try to justify mugger's shooting? No, all it does is explain why the mugger shot him. A statement justifying the shooting would have said, "The reason the mugger was justified in shooting him (or had a right to shoot him) is that he fought back."



But the statement was made by Ron Paul as a justification to end the Iraq war. So to use your analogy Bill, it would be more accurately said "The reason the mugger shot him is because he fought back, so the victim should not fight back" Ron Paul's comments were intended as advocating an isolationist policy or really more accurately a policy of surrender.

Furthermore the absurdity of his statement "we were bombing them for 10 years" doesn't accurately reflect reality. The United States was bombing Iraqi military targets in an effort to keep the Shia and the Kurds protected from Saddam's army. This policy took effect after a Kurdish genocide and an attempted Kuwaiti democide. They weren't bombing Bin Laden or al-Qaeda. If al-Qaeda actually gave a shit about their fellow muslims, they would've supported those bombings.

His comments were off on so many levels, I don't think he deserves any benefit of the doubt on what he really meant. His comments were stupid nonetheless regardless of whether he justified al-Qaeda's actions or not.



(Edited by John Armaos
on 5/27, 9:38am)




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Sunday, May 27, 2007 - 2:12pmSanction this postReply
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Probably I should make clear that I have opposed the war in Iraq from way before it actually started, mainly on the grounds that the military of a free country ought to secure the rights of the citizens of that country, period. Of course, there are many complications in light of the fact that the US is only approximately free and its foreign relations are by no means those of a fully free country. Its alliances and treaties are all tainted by this. Nevertheless, regarding who is responsible for 9/11, there is no reasonable doubt that bin Laden and his gang shoulder it, if only because of their murder of 3000 innocent people who posed no threat to them whatsoever. Even if US foreign policy has been flawed and even amounted to some level of unjustified intervention against some Arab countries, none of that sufficed to warrant 9/11. (One might[!] make a case for the attack on the Pentagon but none against the Twin Towers.) The bottom line here is that US foreign policy did not suffice as a reason for 9/11 even if it was unsound on many fronts.



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Post 5

Sunday, May 27, 2007 - 10:02pmSanction this postReply
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ARI's Yaron Brook had initially defended the war in Iraq, but now says that it was a mistake and that we should have been fighting Iran instead. Of course, that'll never happen, so long as the Iraq war continues. I doubt that at this stage, the American people would support another war effort, especially since we're still in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban. The argument for the Iraq war is that the Islamic terrorists are a united front, and that they are as much of a danger to us in Iraq as they are in Afghanistan. But the greater danger to the U.S. would seem to be Iran with its likelihood of acquiring nuclear weapons in the next few years and its apparent willingness to use them, either directly or indirectly through the arming of terrorist allies.

Economics teaches us that the value of an action must be calculated in terms of both the costs and the benefits, and that we must look not just at the benefits but at the costs as well. The free market has a means of solving that problem. If the costs outweigh the benefits, the action will not be taken, because it is unprofitable, and any business that attempts it will go broke. But the state has no such mechanism for determining the desirability of a course of action. Cost overruns have never stopped the government, because it has a bottomless pit: the hapless taxpayer or the central bank from which it can borrow endlessly to finance its activities.

War is an excellent example. Were the benefits of the Vietnam war worth the costs? Nowadays, most people would say that Vietnam was a mistake, if only because we lost. But short of a clear-cut victory or an outright concession of defeat, are there any objective criteria for determining if a war is no longer worth fighting? No, because the government is running it, and the government has no practical budgetary constraints. The congress isn't spending its own money or sacrificing its own lives. There is simply no objective way to determine if we are pouring money and American lives down an Iraqi rathole or into an ethnic quagmire for which the costs outweigh the benefits.

If the American people were able to determine their contributions to government voluntarily, they would have some leverage over excessive military spending, and wars which they judged to be too costly could be halted by their refusal to continue financing them. But as it is now, there are no such constraints. Even the congress is no longer recognized as having the sole power to declare war. The president can now declare war any time he chooses and order as many troops into battle as he sees fit, regardless of whether or not he has any popular support for it.

This is not to say that the troops who have been fighting this war should not be hailed for their valor and dedication in opposing religious fanatics who would gladly place us under a theocratic dictatorship that would make the average communist state look like a democratic paradise. The brave men and women who have died fighting this war should be given the highest praise and recognition on Memorial Day.

- Bill



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Post 6

Monday, May 28, 2007 - 10:17pmSanction this postReply
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This is a good thread -- it has four angles on an issue that has troubled me since 9/11.

I was doing field work that day, staying at a campground and cooking for our crews. In the horror of the moment and the shut down of the internet and cross-border phones, I had no chance to talk to my Yank friends. I could only talk to the kids in our crews and the other folk at the camp.

One such fellow was named "Crow." He was happy that the towers had been hit. He said, more or less, "they got what they deserved," meaning the United States, and "now they know what it feels like," meaning unexpected civilian deaths visited from the skies.

I was not at all shocked by what Crow said, but was also not ripe for a skirmish as I worried about my Yanks. No fight with Crow was worth it at the time. He is still at the campground extending his own pinhead crow epistemology ("some people can keep 5 to 7 stupid ideas in their minds at the same time? Argh. I can only keep three: I am smart. America is evul." . . .)

The non-shock was not just because many Canadians fail to believe/d that the US lives up to its PR/promised ethic/slogans, nor because many doubt it should ever and always be our first and most important ally. Most non-shock was because Crow belonged to a class of thinkers I call, well, stupid and dogmatic and riddled with error. And, you know, I have met a few up here. Plus he is a fucking commie.

Anyhow, Crow's attitude is not rare. While most of us were like those in Gander, Newfoundland, immediately on deck to help in any way, others seemed to watch the televised horror as if it were a boring TV war movie that they had seen before. Bombs, cries, death . . . yawn. Click. Hey, Seinfeld . .

It took only a couple days to find out that my Yanks and families were fine. The first of my friends, 'M,' is a libertarian, the other, 'K,' a Wisconsin -- and thus mostly Canadian. M's second biggest worry was for US civil liberties, and her third thought was that her fellow Americans would once again stop thinking about America's 'place' and reputation in the world -- the 'out-there' perception.

For K, reasonably Wisconsin and all, she worried that any type of question like, "why would anyone consider us (USA) the enemy?" would be met with a "Because they are insane, you fucking communist. Support the TROOOOOOPS or we will sling you in jail!!" K said, 'Goodness, soon it will not be patriotic to wonder why these nutcases hate us so much . . . soon it will be patriotic to be ignorant of our shameful military/political history.'

Now, before you ask what the hell a Canuck is doing noting a minor Republican primary debate*, remember that like all mice who bunk with elephants**, I want to know what my bedmate is doing, thinking, preparing and debating. I have monitored Ron Paul mainly because I think, besides Giuliani, he garners the most support among my Randonaut friends.

That 'debate,' of course, is and was no such thing (no debate above highschool is free of thick traditional pageantry and rhetoric. If you mispeak, a hundred staffers rush your comments to the news hounds. If you don't misspeak, but say something 'iffy,' off to the hounds. If you say anything that implies you are a communist or traitor or that you want to have Osama's babies . . . like Ron Paul . . . the hounds and the noozsluts and the patriot-enforcers will make you seem a demon. Over and over and over again until some new fresh false outrage dominates the news cycle.

To my eyes, all the other Republicans in the debate (and their whores) tripped into 'you are a communist traitor, Ron." It is an old script, it appears in all the political pageant handbooks going back to Jeezus and the Disciples (First Fathers of our Glorious land) . . . and nothing can dumb down or deform your pageants any further).

I agree with all the sentiments and expressions in this thread except one strained analogy by John Armaos(and my objection is only that metaphors must illuminate, not obscure that which they evoke):

[T]o use your analogy Bill, it would be more accurately said "The reason the mugger shot him is because he fought back, so the victim should not fight back" Ron Paul's [is] a policy of surrender."

Bad Bill Dwyer is to blame for offering up the analogy John extends, so I will spank him very hard: Bill, best never use analogy in political discussions. Even if apropos, most are easily deranged, and thus can become false. In this case, John, I can't logicly fit my head around the 'They' in Paul's line and 'a mugger.'

(did Ron Paul state "They [bin Laden and others charged with the 9/11 terrorism] attack us because we've been over there, we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years," by the way? Who put in the bracketed 'what he meant'? Context? I don't have the video up)

I love me my Yanks, and I appreciate even those Randized to an extreme (and two of them are in this thread! smooch). Just because my politics are Ur-Canucki, it can't and doesn't make my Yank people any less valuable to me as human beings.

My heart ached then and it aches now -- for the state your nation has been led to by false patriotism, exemplified by the current federal administration.

I know Ron Paul has as much chance of winning la maison blan che as I do, but it disheartens me that in the larger discussion, such as it is (and I mean the debate of the hounds and punditti, not here now) . . . Ron Paul's meanings are and will always be countered with Jingo thunder: "Shut up you fucking communist. Support the TROOOOOOOOPS!"
(see the vile liberal blog Eschaton for a real commie take on Jingo. There you find the stay-at-home warmongers called 101st Fighting Keyboarders")

Understanding Tibor's point -- be aware that common use trumps specialized meanings in most communications -- has American come to mean, beyond the stay-at-homes and the media-whores, One Who Does Not Question America's Eternal Glory and Goodness?

So, poor Ron Paul, whatever did you mean? COMMIE.

Bad Bill, here also I don't agree: "Brave men and women who have died fighting this war should be given the highest praise and recognition on Memorial Day." Highest on Memorial Day. No. Every day until we bring their sweet asses home to momma.

Those who may have needlessly sent the brave to their deaths and maimings and Walter Reed, and those who equate 'American' with Mr Jingo -- gain my fear and contempt. Thank gawd I have a quaint three thousand mile fiction between them and me).

And I mean it.

WSS

(PS - those who wonder where the hell my collectivist ass has been for these months, I had family issues. Since I am mostly interested in the psychotic wing of Objectivism, and its wildest dementos, I have spent the last two week catching up at SOlo and O-living. But hello! Ed, Ted, Teresa, Bill)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++=

* since you are likely to be faced with a ballot choice between Giuliani's thirteenth psycho girlfriend and Michelle Obama/Bill Clinton as First Spouse, why should I bother? I don't know.

** from Trudeau's famous metaphor about the Canada/US relationship, and how Canuckis should behave: as if a mouse in bed with an elephant.
(Edited by William Scott Scherk
on 5/28, 10:33pm)

(Edited by William Scott Scherk
on 5/29, 7:49pm)




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Post 7

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - 7:25amSanction this postReply
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Re: William Scott Scherk

I'm sorry you were bothered by my post. I didn't think I said anything troubling nor do my comments mean to Bill Dwyer I thought he was a commie. I think too highly of him to think that. Putting aside your own rhetoric of accusing others of jingoism, of course the analogy given by Bill was correct in the context he provided. But unfortunately in the context of Ron Paul's beliefs expressed before and during the debate the analogy was not valid.

Regardless of your charges of jingoism leveled against me, you have to consider the following:

1) Al-Qaeda is known to be in Iraq at present. Terrorists who have declared war on all western nations and have continued to this day to try and kill westerners.

2) History has already happened, the Iraq invasion and subsequent US occupation has occured, we can't go back and change that.

Which leads to the following two choices:

1) We can leave Iraq as the Democrats suggest, scoring a victory for the Islamic-Fascists.

2) Or the United States can stay in Iraq and try to build up Iraq's army and squash the terrorists operating in that country.


If you have any issues with my analysis, please feel free to disagree and give a reasoned argument why I am wrong. But I'm not terribly interested in any thinly veiled insults.

I agree the other Republicans in their normal pandering manner trounced on an opportunity to put someone down (Ron Paul) in an effort to elevate their own worth. However Ron Pauls comments are essentially agreeing with the Democrats, that we should surrender to al-Qaeda. You can see how I came to that conclusion considering the reasoned analysis I made above no?

That he is offering an explanation why al-Qaeda attacked the United States isn't an explanation that makes sense. Read my post before on this thread as to why. The United States was helping muslims, not attacking them during the 10 years after the Gulf War. The United States defended Kuwait from an attempted democide, a democide no less that al-Qaeda would have no moral qualms over if given the chance to occupy a western nation. There is no reasonable explanation to explain the behavior of the delusional and insane. Why would Ron Paul think Americans would need an explanation for why criminals behave the way they do? I don't think we are interested in any psychological analysis of the criminal mind. So what is left? The reason for Ron Paul's comments are for his unabashed stance that the United States' interventionist policy is the reason why criminals and thugs attack this country, and the reason why we should leave Iraq, pack up, and isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. It's just as disgusting as someone blaming a rape victim for wearing a short dress, "just go home woman, put on some puritan clothing and don't tempt men to rape you". Now I would agree there are reasonable precautions one can take to prevent themselves from becoming a victim, but I fail to see how the United States did anything that could've foresaw 3,000 Americans to be ruthlessly murdered on 9/11?

A policy of isolationsim is a naively stupid point of view considering international terrorists and dictators have no such principle of non-interventionism and would not nor have they respected our sovereignty.

I respect Bill Dwyer's economic analysis of war in his previous post but I don't think we can apply this to the current circumstances the United States faces. I don't think there is a specific figure of cost one can objectively agree to that is reasonable to defend this nation. If there are barbarians at the gate waiting to slit our throats (literally) what cost is reasonable enough to stop them? I can understand that premise for the cold war, as a direct confrontation with the USSR would've meant 100 million plus Americans dead from nuclear ICBMs, but even then our nation was still fighting the cold war. People like Reagan recognized the Soviet Empire was evil, that it was not good enough that we just contain the spread of thier anti-life idealogy of communism but that we actively seek ways to topple that regime. Thank Galt people like Reagan exist and get elected rather than the Ron Paul's of the world.

In the case of Iraq, what has been the cost? I don't mean to make light of the deaths and injuries our brave men and women have suffered waging this war, but put this into perspective considering wars past. 3400 Americans have died compared to 55,000 Americans dead from Vietnam, 30,000 from Korea, 400,000 dead from WW2. Given the comparison, this war has not been anywhere near as costly.

Re Bill Dwyer:

Were the benefits of the Vietnam war worth the costs? Nowadays, most people would say that Vietnam was a mistake, if only because we lost.


I shall start a new thread on this question and attempt to answer it.









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Post 8

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - 1:59pmSanction this postReply
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You all understand that simply trading with western-minded peoples in the Islamic world is heresy?  The very peaceful, non-interventionist stance that creates a global community - dominated by free ideas and to some extent, American culture - THAT is the real threat.  Do you think guys who don't care about killing their own children give a shit if we bombed some village in durkadurkastan?  No - they care that our culture is "corrupting" the people.  Was any one of Osama's ilk personally hurt by the US?  No, they were not, and in fact we helped them free themselves in Afghanistan.  If anything, the lack of intervention leads them to believe, just like the Japanese and Nazis, that we are too soft.  The Axis powers were wrong, but the leftists have had 50 years to do their work and weaken the US, and while I don't think they are right this time either, they are much closer to the mark in 2001 than they were in 1941. 

Not only that, but Pearl Harbor, which was at least a Military attack against a legitimate Military Target - angered the US populace to a tremendous degree.  Contrast that to our tepid response since 9/11, which was a purely civilian target.




Post 9

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - 2:55pmSanction this postReply
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John Armaos, thanks for the thoughtful post -- William Scott Dwyer is one of my favourite, most challenging posters on this list. I may have to use a few more smiley's next time.

You may not wish to give me the benefit of the doubt, but I do believe that metaphors and analogies in political discussion are unhelpful. Metaphors and analogies are always 'as if's and I do not argue by analogy because of the logical pitfalls I noted above.


With regard to your two numbered choices, I disagree with your analysis:

1) We can leave Iraq as the Democrats suggest, scoring a victory for the Islamic-Fascists.

2) Or the United States can stay in Iraq and try to build up Iraq's army and squash the terrorists operating in that country.


Firstly, a very strong majority of Americans -- judging from recent credible polls -- want out of Iraq and consider the administration to have failed to do their job properly in Iraq. If it were only the Democrats who called for an end, and a withdrawal, sure, your analysis is close to the mark. But it ain't so.

Second, it isn't so plain to me that withdrawal (either the drawdown planned by Bush or varied plans on tap) means victory for anyone or surrender to anything but reality. It may just mean Iraq gets fucked up the ass for a few decades or more . . .

Thirdly, I don't accept (and I don't think you meant to imply) that there are only two choices as described -- e.g., defeat 'the terrorists'/be defeated by 'the terrorists' -- with regard to the fighting in Iraq.

Stay, go, sure -- these are desires, but we only have to look at a clear American victory (Grenada, WW2, etc) to note that leaving after one is finished the goal is often extremely difficult. We can also look at unresolved wars (Korea) to understand that a preferable settlement/peace can take a long long long time.

Here's what I have heard argued, and I think these points should be considered:

-- America and its coalition allies WON the war to topple Saddam's regime, but had no plan for the aftermath -- no concept of what Victory should look like.
-- the Bush administration botched the aftermath of victory.
-- unlike many recent standard wars, because no state was left standing, no surrender could be made and this was a military and strategic error.
-- it is tempting to call all the factions and all the fights in Iraq 'the terrorists.' Tempting but simplistic and not reflective of reality.

John, just dashing this off on a work-break. I shall return to your latter points anon.


WSS



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Post 10

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - 3:01pmSanction this postReply
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Gawd, I can't get my mind around Sherk's stream-of-consciousness blogishness. Willian Scott, if you're going to start with dropping hints at what you were doing "that day" for Christ's sake tell us where you were and what you were doing with your crew. Otherwise just leave it out. We only find out later that it was in Canada, and even later that it was in Gander. There is a way of expressing yourself in a logical progression so that your readers aren't always asking themselves questions.

Nobody in Canada except Englishmen calls Americans "Yanks" or Canadians "Canucks". I see from your profile that you're from Prince George (I spent several summers there) and Prince Rupert (I spent a year there on the Digby Island Airport) and grew up in B.C., but why would you wish to be identified as a "Brit?"

I guess what I'm really trying to tell you is that your supercilious, know-it-all, follow-my-every-mental-synaptical-connection style of prose pisses me off to the extent that I can't determine if you have anything useful to say.

Sam

Re-reading your post I see that you were referring to the massive assistance that was given to Americans in Gander, not that you were in Gander at the time. But you presume that all of your readers know or remember that the magnanimous assistance was given specifically there. Where were you?

(Edited by Sam Erica on 5/29, 3:17pm)

(Edited by Sam Erica on 5/29, 3:35pm)




Post 11

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - 3:47pmSanction this postReply
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William Scott Scherk:

Firstly, a very strong majority of Americans -- judging from recent credible polls -- want out of Iraq and consider the administration to have failed to do their job properly in Iraq. If it were only the Democrats who called for an end, and a withdrawal, sure, your analysis is close to the mark. But it ain't so.


The American majority do not vote to end wars. Only elected leaders can vote for that. And there is a clear distinction between what Democrats want to vote for and what Republicans want to vote for. By and large Democrats wish to pull the troops home immediately, not so the case with Republicans. So I find it irrelevant to the issue at hand here.

Second, it isn't so plain to me that withdrawal (either the drawdown planned by Bush or varied plans on tap) means victory for anyone or surrender to anything but reality. It may just mean Iraq gets fucked up the ass for a few decades or more . . .


Really? You don't think pulling out militarily from a region that is known to have active al-Qaeda operations to be considered surrender? I don't think I could persuade you otherwise if you don't consider al-Qaeda a threat to the US and the rest of the western world. If we can't agree with each al-Qaeda and other like-minded Islamo-fascists are at war with the US, we can never agree that the US should stay in Iraq.

And that we should be content with Iraq getting "fucked up the ass" as you eloquently put it, is rather a reprehensible idea to me. I find this kind of depraved indifference to the Iraqis to be a bit troublesome considering if the US is the reason they are in the current state of affairs they are in, do we not have an obligation to fix the situation?

Thirdly, I don't accept (and I don't think you meant to imply) that there are only two choices as described -- e.g., defeat 'the terrorists'/be defeated by 'the terrorists' -- with regard to the fighting in Iraq.


The choices are stay or leave. I guarantee leaving will be a defeat for the US. I can't guarantee staying would mean ultimate victory but it would be far better than abandonment. I won't argue that changing tactics or taking on a different approach to the war in Iraq is unwarranted, but I'm not a general, and to speculate on military strategy and how it should be altered in Iraq I think ought to be reserved to arm-chair internet generals. I'm not one of them.

-- America and its coalition allies WON the war to topple Saddam's regime, but had no plan for the aftermath -- no concept of what Victory should look like.
-- the Bush administration botched the aftermath of victory.
-- unlike many recent standard wars, because no state was left standing, no surrender could be made and this was a military and strategic error.


Too late already happened, no reason to not have a plan now and especially no reason to have a plan of abandonment.

-- it is tempting to call all the factions and all the fights in Iraq 'the terrorists.' Tempting but simplistic and not reflective of reality.


Whatever fraction of them that are terrorists still does not mean there are no terrorists to fight right William? What is the fraction? 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 of them are terrorists? I should think anyone that is content to blow up a marketplace full of innocent men, women and children could meet the definition of terrorist so I'm satisfied there is sufficient evidence to say they are there. So what relevancy then does that have to my stance that we ought to stay and fight those terrorists? I would hope staying should mean building up a pro-western Iraqi army that can eventually continue the fight for us and the establishment of a long term pro-western Iraqi government dedicated to rooting out terrorists instead of harboring them. The alternative is a country with a large oil reserve probably run by a Taliban-like government that I would think would undoubtedly harbor terrorists. I don't think that scenario is beneficial to anyone.





Post 12

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - 7:56pmSanction this postReply
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Sam Erica: Willian Scott, if you're going to start with dropping hints at what you were doing "that day" for Christ's sake tell us where you were and what you were doing with your crew.

The crew was a backpack herbicide crew, part of my company's silviculture workforce. See the Spectrum website if you are interested in more of what we do up here. Since 2003 I have been Human Resources Manager. Back then I was a camp cook.

[Y]ou presume that all of your readers know or remember that the magnanimous assistance was given specifically [in Gander, Newfoundland].

You're right, thanks for the note. I should have given a link to what went down in Gander** -- I'll edit the original to add the missing context. I forgot the central import of Trudeau's quip . . . generally speaking, Canadian events do not penetrate too far south of the border. The metaphorical elephant++ takes little notice of the mouse)

Where were you?

Near Chetwynd, BC, five hours north of Prince George Sorry to have left that unclear, Sam, and thanks for noting what could be a point of confusion. For Chrissakes.

: - )

WSS

++++++++++++++++===

**When US airspace was closed and all US & Canadian commercial flights were suspended on 9/11, many US-bound flights were without fuel to return to European destinations.

Gander, Newfoundland is on the 'Great Circle' air-route, and once made its living from refuelling long-haul international flights of an earlier era.

40-odd 9/11 flights landed at Gander, disgorging thousands of passengers (other flights were stranded in Halifax). Immediately, local communities organized food, shelter and support for the stranded passengers until the flights could resume. No surprise to any Canadian, knowing the down-deep East Coast hospitality. The only surprise was that some of the passengers thought the tiny Newfie communities were doing something extraordinary. In any case, many deep cross-border friendships were forged at the time. (subsequently our government reflected popular opinion and did not join the war on Iraq).

For a fuller story from the passenger's point of view, see "Home of the Gander Connection," a US-based site, or Google.

++ Trudeau's quote is from a Nixon-era speech to Congress: "Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt." Since then the analogy has grown and grown.





Post 13

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - 8:46pmSanction this postReply
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Ah yes - Gander was one of the places mentioned by Nevile Shute in his books......



Post 14

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - 9:17pmSanction this postReply
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John: You don't think pulling out militarily from a region that is known to have active al-Qaeda operations to be considered surrender?

Well, first -- I don`t accept the premise that Al Qaeda is the most important target of US forces, nor the administration's foremost justification for continued occupation of Iraq (to add context to that, John, yes, in my opinion Al Qaeda is truly an enemy of the West, and represents the same ugly fanaticism that Canadian forces fight in Afghanistan today).

Secondly, I don't accept that ending US military occupation in Iraq means pulling out militarily from the region. US forces and bases dominate the region and will continue to dominate, with overt bases for US forces in Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, & Pakistan, and in the Emirates, and with reputed further secret facilities in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Djibouti . . . not to mention the standing bases at Diego Garcia and in Italy, and the massive floating base of the US 7th Fleet.

If all US forces pulled out of Iraq immediately at 9 am tomorrow, the US regional presence would be still be awesome and thunderously powerful, in my opinion.

So, to answer your question, in context, no -- withdrawal does not simply equate 'surrender' to me (if you allow a comparison, should I consider Reagan`s 1984 withdrawal of US forces from Lebanon to be surrender -- even though the civil war there raged on for another 11 years?)

In any case, I hope you won't misunderstand me: this passage hits: "I find this kind of depraved indifference to the Iraqis [leaving them to be fucked up the ass for a few decades] to be a bit troublesome [ -- ]considering [that if] the US is the reason [the Iragis] are in the current state of affairs they are in, do we not have an obligation to fix the situation?

We? meaning we America, or we the West?

I struggle with this, John. I waver. I don't know a solution to your dilemma and suggest it is a false dilemma -- I observe that your president and his war policies have lost the support and confidence of the US people. It seems altruistic to 'fix' Iraq, to obey the truism 'you broke it, you fix it' . . . truly, my heart aches for the choices Americans face.

If it is true that, as you note, polls or referenda or surveys showing solid opposition to the occupation are meaningless to or ignored by your present leadership, well . . . what can that mean for American unity at home, and leadership abroad? You may ask yourself why GWB was not able to assemble the world's backing as was GHWB . . . and what this means to the moral power of the US mission in Iraq.


++++++++++++


Let me try to state my concerns with the term 'the terrorists' more plainly, John: I believe that 'the terrorists' such as you describe above are better understood by 'splitting,' not 'lumping' -- by naming and closely analyzing the strengths and weaknesses and aims and internal support for each of the armed parties in Iraq's civil conflict. Be they Sunni, Shi'a, Kurd, Al Qaeda, and so on.

Of course many utilize wanton and despicable terror against civilians, and are also enemies of the occupation forces, but if history is our guide, no external force can contain or repress civil war. I also don't know that US self-interest will sustain a decades-long commitment in Iraq (as with Korea) when the people under occupation who are NOT terrorists also want the foreigners out of their lands.


+++++++++++++++++


If I could ask you anything in this thread, it's that you read my messages over several times, and offer me linquistic charity, as I will do you ('linguistic charity' == accept the least noxious meaning of a conversation partner's utterances -- without the communication clues given by tone of voice, expression, and so on, we can often believe the worst, and take the worst implication as the intended meaning. I won't do that to your words if I can help it).

TTYL


WSS



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Post 15

Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - 7:41amSanction this postReply
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William Scott Scherk:

John: You don't think pulling out militarily from a region that is known to have active al-Qaeda operations to be considered surrender?

Well, first -- I don`t accept the premise that Al Qaeda is the most important target of US forces, nor the administration's foremost justification for continued occupation of Iraq (to add context to that, John, yes, in my opinion Al Qaeda is truly an enemy of the West, and represents the same ugly fanaticism that Canadian forces fight in Afghanistan today).


William, please help me out here, if you don't think al-Qaeda ought to be the most important target for US forces, but you still think they ought to be a target for US forces, what is your point?

Secondly, I don't accept that ending US military occupation in Iraq means pulling out militarily from the region. US forces and bases dominate the region and will continue to dominate, with overt bases for US forces in Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, & Pakistan, and in the Emirates, and with reputed further secret facilities in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Djibouti . . . not to mention the standing bases at Diego Garcia and in Italy, and the massive floating base of the US 7th Fleet.

If all US forces pulled out of Iraq immediately at 9 am tomorrow, the US regional presence would be still be awesome and thunderously powerful, in my opinion.

So, to answer your question, in context, no -- withdrawal does not simply equate 'surrender' to me (if you allow a comparison, should I consider Reagan`s 1984 withdrawal of US forces from Lebanon to be surrender -- even though the civil war there raged on for another 11 years?)


Pulling out of Iraq but staying in the region as an awesome power as you say is a red herring. It's still surrender. It would be surrendering to outside of Iraq's borders. If Iraq is left to be slaughtered by Islamo-fascists, and if al-Qaeda scores a victory from this, it doesn't matter that we hold a large military prescense in the middle eastern region. So I don't understand what you are saying here. What is the point to having a military prescense in a region if a country is unwilling to apply those forces to combat the enemy that is right next to them? And what if Islamo-fascists take power in Iraq? Would you be more open to the idea of US forces re-entering Iraq at that point? If you would answer yes to that question, then why? What would have been the point of leaving? Or would you be content with a regime taking power harboring terrorists and most likely committing a democide? I ask that rhetorically of course as I suspect you wouldn't want that to happen, but I hope you realize that is what abandonment would most likely mean.

In any case, I hope you won't misunderstand me: this passage hits: "I find this kind of depraved indifference to the Iraqis [leaving them to be fucked up the ass for a few decades] to be a bit troublesome [ -- ]considering [that if] the US is the reason [the Iragis] are in the current state of affairs they are in, do we not have an obligation to fix the situation?

We? meaning we America, or we the West?


Canada is a target for al-Qaeda as well. Muslim extremists hate you too and if able would slit your throat as well as mine. If the US loses, Canada loses. Canada cannot absolve itself from responsibility by choosing inaction. That Canada did not lend troops to support the US in securing Iraq will have consequences for Canada if the US loses. As I've stated before, if the US pulls out of Iraq, al-Qaeda or a like minded Taliban-like government will take power in Iraq. Everyone loses including Canada except the Islamo-fascists. As a free nation, Canada has a moral responsibility to stand with other free nations, as my hero Ben Franklin said, united we stand, divided we fall. But you bring up a good point, it is infuriating to me as an American that many Canadians stand by criticizing the US, when the people who are truly suffering are the Iraqis themselves. Why don't those Canadians who criticize the US help Iraq (help as in advocate to their government to mobilize the Canadian military to Iraq) and provide security if they are so damned concerned about what the US is doing? Why don't they step up to the plate and help make Iraq secure? The invasion already happened, all that these Canadians (the ones that seek US failure in Iraq) are doing is trying to punish George Bush for his arrogance, to teach him a listen in humility perhaps. But what are the consequences of teaching our President a listen in humility? Unimaginable slaughter for the Iraqis? A terrorist government ceasing power? Is it worth abandoning Iraq to that future if it is to just humiliate one man to the detriment of us all?

I struggle with this, John. I waver. I don't know a solution to your dilemma and suggest it is a false dilemma -- I observe that your president and his war policies have lost the support and confidence of the US people. It seems altruistic to 'fix' Iraq, to obey the truism 'you broke it, you fix it' . . . truly, my heart aches for the choices Americans face.


This is certainly a complex issue. But it doesn't absolve oneself from making a decision. While the issues are complex, the decision to stay or leave is simple. The consequences of either are foreseeable. Abandonment will most likely mean a terrible anti-west Taliban-like government will cease power, staying means hope for the future of a stable pro-west Iraq, which the latter is a far better alternative than the former. By fixing Iraq, the west will benefit. It is not an altruistic view as it is in our self-interests to make sure one of the largest oil reserves in the world is controlled by pro-west Iraqis and not al-Qaeda or some Islamo-Fascist variant. If a situation is made worse, and your self-interests have suffered, there is an obligation to fix that. Fixing something that is broken is not altruisitc, it is purely ethical considering that not fixing it means terrible consequences to yourself and to those around you. I'm glad you are wavering in your view, it suggests you have a conscience and you are realzing the reality of what abandoning Iraq will mean. You obviously have a soul (and I mean soul in the most secular non-religious meaning) and realize that the Iraqis don't deserve the fate they would most likely get from US abandonment. Depraved indifference to the world around me is something I can not personally live with and I suspect you feel the same way?

If it is true that, as you note, polls or referenda or surveys showing solid opposition to the occupation are meaningless to or ignored by your present leadership, well . . . what can that mean for American unity at home, and leadership abroad? You may ask yourself why GWB was not able to assemble the world's backing as was GHWB . . . and what this means to the moral power of the US mission in Iraq.


There is no doubt our leadership has failed us. But my intent is not to wallow in that failure but to try and convince others why punishing the President by abandoning Iraq only serves to the detriment of us all. I don't care if it is the Democrats that take power and continue fighting this war, so long as someone is committed to fighting it. That I am in the minority does not make my position wrong. That a majority of Americans want to abandon Iraq I would be skeptical of anyways as many polls tend to mislead the public. It depends how the question is phrased and how well the sample population is. All the opinion polls said Kerry would win the election as he had the majority but lo and behold he lost. So I'm weary of making blanket statements on what Americans think. Since it is a complex issue, many Americans have a variety of opinions on Iraq. But again it is not what the majority wants, it is what is right. To use an analogy (I know you don't like them but they help illustrate my point) If the majority wants to vote Communist, they have no right to vote in a government that would strip man of his rights. It wouldn't be the right thing to do. So a majority opinion isn't relevant to what a leader ought to do.

Of course many utilize wanton and despicable terror against civilians, and are also enemies of the occupation forces, but if history is our guide, no external force can contain or repress civil war. I also don't know that US self-interest will sustain a decades-long commitment in Iraq (as with Korea) when the people under occupation who are NOT terrorists also want the foreigners out of their lands.



William I would disagree that the majority of Iraqis want the US to leave. The elected government of Iraq has voted to allow for a continued US presence. A lot of polls I've seen have shown that the majority of Iraqis are confliced on this, they say they'd rather have the US not be there, but then the very next poll say they wouldn't want them to leave. So the opinion is they wish the US wasn't there, but they would like them to stay. A contradiction? Certainly but I think they understand what US abandonment would mean to them. They would just rather the situation be they themselves are self-sufficient enough to provide security for themselves.

In addition, it is a popular myth that insurgencies historically are militarily successful. When they have been successful it was due to a lack of morale by the forces fighting the insurgency. In fact historically according to a Pentagon study, only 41% of insurgencies have been successful. One very famous insurgency that was defeated (in yes a civil war) was the British defeating the communist rebels in Malaysia. Here's a link to the USA today article discussing this:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-05-08-insurgency-report_N.htm

This war can be won, it's been done before.


If I could ask you anything in this thread, it's that you read my messages over several times, and offer me linquistic charity, as I will do you ('linguistic charity' == accept the least noxious meaning of a conversation partner's utterances -- without the communication clues given by tone of voice, expression, and so on, we can often believe the worst, and take the worst implication as the intended meaning. I won't do that to your words if I can help it).


William no offense, but I find you often like to shift the argument to unrelated or irrelevant issues. You disagree with premises I make and restate them in a way that doesn't necessarily mean the conclusions I make are wrong. For example disagreeing that al-Qaeda is the number one target for US troops. Having this position is a red herring and just shifts the issue to a meaningless debate of who is the biggest threat to the US. A debate I honestly don't care to get into nor is relevant to the issue of Iraq. Attacking one's enemy is not a zero-sum game, we can attack several of them simultaneously.(If you want we can start a new thread on that issue) Or that pulling out of Iraq still means a large US military prescense in the Middle East also a red herring and a irrelevant to whether the US should stay or leave Iraq. In that case it seems you had issue with the word "surrender", but I don't know what would be a more appropriate term for withdrawing from a known enemy stronghold? Maybe retreat would be a better term?

I'll take your words William the only way I can, literally. And I will try to be as fair as I can in how I interpret them. All I ask is you try to keep focussed on the issue at hand and not shift the debate.



Post 16

Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - 1:58pmSanction this postReply
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The problem in Iraq is primarily that the US used the perfect military doctrine to vanquish the enemy, but has been unwilling to create a new doctrine that (will be) required to "rehabilitate" failed states such as Iraq.  This has been - actually - mostly successful in the Balkans, which is an area well known as even more brutal to occupiers than the middle east.  That and the loss of any support - in large part due to Bush being a poor diplomat - but also the blame lies at Europe's feet as well - have made it difficult to put the unrest to bed. 

That and the constant weakness and desire to lose on the part of leftists in the US - not people who disagree such as yourself, but true uplifters of evil, give heart to the enemy.  WOW imagine today - Iwo Jima, or even Guadalcanal or Kasserine Pass - presented by our leftists?  We would have never gotten past the first couple of battles in WW II before we gave up.  The enemy just has to survive long enough for our fifth columnists to do their work. 

The reality is - time for strategy 2 - split Iraq into 3 states - at least we can win 2 of 3.




Post 17

Thursday, May 31, 2007 - 4:53amSanction this postReply
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This sentence makes a point that has always puzzled me: "Economics teaches us that the value of an action must be calculated in terms of both the costs and the benefits, and that we must look not just at the benefits but at the costs as well." That's because economists also tend to be subjective value theorists, so what counts as cost or benefit is, by their account, entirely subjective. So how could one calculate anything from this viewpoint, other then some momentary decision and action? One economic agent's cost could be another's benefit and even a given agent's cost this moment could become a benefit the next. Beats me.



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Post 18

Saturday, June 2, 2007 - 4:11pmSanction this postReply
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This sentence makes a point that has always puzzled me: "Economics teaches us that the value of an action must be calculated in terms of both the costs and the benefits, and that we must look not just at the benefits but at the costs as well." That's because economists also tend to be subjective value theorists, so what counts as cost or benefit is, by their account, entirely subjective. So how could one calculate anything from this viewpoint, other then some momentary decision and action?
Entrepreneurs invest, or fail to invest, in a long-range project based on a consideration of its costs and benefits. If the rate at which they are able to borrow money prevents them from recovering the cost of their investment, then they won't invest in the project. If, however, they can borrow money at a rate low enough to make the project profitable, they will. Similarly, parents will save money for their children's college education, if they judge the education as worthwhile and can afford it. Here too, long-range planning is undertaken based on a consideration of costs and benefits. Economic calculation is not confined to momentary decision and action, but governs longer-range planning as well.

Are costs and benefits subjective? In one sense, they are – the sense in which each person must evaluate them according to his own knowledge, goals and interests. For example, I might value a new car so little that I'd be willing to spend only one-tenth of my income for it, whereas you might value it so much that you'd be willing to spend one-half of yours. On the other hand, because the effects of a person’s action are a function of objective reality, if he underestimates its costs, he will suffer the consequences. Values are not subjective in the sense that wishing will make it so or in the sense that reality must conform to one’s value judgments. According to Objectivism,
The free market represents the social application of an objective theory of values. Since values are to be discovered by man’s mind, men must be free to discover them – to think, to study, to translate their knowledge into physical form, to offer their products for trade, to judge them, and to choose, be it material goods or ideas, a loaf of bread or a philosophical treatise. Since values are established contextually, every man must judge for himself, in the context of his own knowledge, goals, and interests. Since values are determined by the nature of reality, it is reality that serves as men’s ultimate arbiter: if a man’s judgment is right, the rewards are his; if it is wrong, he is his only victim. (Rand, “What is Capitalism?” in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, p. 24, hb)
One economic agent's cost could be another's benefit . . .
True, and that’s exactly what occurs whenever a voluntary exchange takes place: one party’s cost is the other’s benefit. For example, suppose that you have a baseball glove that I would like to have, and I, a baseball bat that you would like to have. If we agree to trade one for the other, the glove that you give up is your cost for the bat that you receive; the bat that I give up is my cost for the glove that I receive. Your cost is my benefit, and my cost is your benefit. Moreover, observe that, as a result of this process, both of us are wealthier than before the trade took place, even though nothing new has been produced. We increased our wealth solely through a process of voluntary exchange.

In a voluntary trade, both parties receive benefits that they judge to exceed their costs; otherwise, they wouldn't make the trade. Therefore, every voluntary exchange of values, to use Rand's terminology, involves a trade "by mutual consent to mutual advantage." The difference between what a buyer has to pay for a product and what he or she would be willing to pay is an approximate measure of how much the benefit exceeds the cost.

For example, if I would be willing to pay $3,000 for a personal computer, but only have to pay $2,000, because that is the going price, then my benefit exceeds my cost by at least $1,000, the amount of the difference. Technically, it is more than that, because even if I had to pay as much as I'd be willing to pay, which in this case is $3,000, my benefit would still exceed my cost, for I would have valued what I received more than what I paid for it; otherwise, I would not have made the trade.

This principle applies to all economic transactions, whether they involve payment for services rendered or for goods received. Profit is perhaps a more familiar measure of the degree to which the benefit of an action exceeds its cost. Profit equals the entrepreneur’s revenue (i.e., his monetary benefit) minus his cost. But even an employee can be said to "profit" from the wages he receives, because they are worth more to him than the work he performs. If they were not, he would not perform the work in exchange for the wages. His "profit" is the difference in value between what he receives (his wages) and what he expends in exchange for it (his labor services). Unlike an entrepreneur's profit, however, which is the difference between his sales revenue and his business expenses, there is no precise, cardinal way to measure it, unless the employee receives a raise, in which case, his "profit" will have increased by the amount of the raise. Otherwise, one can measure his "profit" ordinally, by the value he places on it relative to the alternatives. He could value his current job more than his previous one, for example, and in that way, the job could be considered more "profitable."

- Bill




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Post 19

Sunday, June 3, 2007 - 4:57pmSanction this postReply
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Bill's use of economic analysis over when a war (or perhaps more precisely in what manner it should be fought) is correct and I don't think we ought to dismiss it because of the subjective value theory. It is precisely why the West did not confront a nuclear ICBM Soviet Union directly as it would've resulted in hundreds of millions dead in the west. But it did confront them in a cold war. It fought them indirectly, through proxy wars and arms build-up, as this approach was deemed as the best way to maximizing benefit. It is now precisely why I argue for continued action in Iraq because the cost the West would pay from abandoning Iraq would be too high.
(Edited by John Armaos
on 6/03, 7:15pm)




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