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Tushar D

Another perplexing trait of the anti-American commenters is that they refuse to believe that other countries in the world have free will. Not everything that happens is a direct result of some real or perceived American action or inaction.

Josh

Who, specifically, has made all these claims?

Second, there is no tension between many of these claims. For example:

They complain that 'Saddam had no ties to Al-Qaeda', which is untrue, yet complain about a lack of action against North Korea, which truly has no ethic, religious, or geographic ties with Al-Qaeda.

The criticism is that part of the justification for the war was that Saddam had significant ties to al Quaeda. If the administration were to push for war with NK based on alleged North Korean ties to al Quaeda, a similar criticism would apply. Since he has not, the two cases are not relevantly similar. Your other examples show a similar fundamental failure to understand the nature of the criticism being levied.

usnjay

Great points. Nothing to add, just wanted to let you know your work is appreciated.

Josh, I'm sure GK will reply, but Bush never said Saddam had links to al Qaeda. In fact, he's said repeatedly there was no connection. So the two cases are related.

Bingo Bango Boingo

usnjay,

Please see the following from a Washington Post report dated 18 June 2004:

"President Bush yesterday defended his assertions that there was a relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, putting him at odds with this week's finding of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission.

"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda: because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," Bush said after a Cabinet meeting. As evidence, he cited Iraqi intelligence officers' meeting with bin Laden in Sudan. "There's numerous contacts between the two," Bush said.

and..

"Beyond the Sept. 11 attacks, administration officials have also suggested that there had been cooperation between Iraq and al Qaeda that went beyond contacts. Bush last year called Hussein "an ally of al Qaeda." Just this Monday, Cheney said Hussein "had long-established ties with al Qaeda."

In January, Cheney said the "best source" of information on the subject was an article in the Weekly Standard, which reported: "Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda -- perhaps even for Mohamed Atta -- according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum."

Happy to discuss, but it seems pretty clear cut to me.

BBB

GK

Josh,

Saddam did have ties to terrorists (note that terrorists can transcend organizations, just as workers can switch employers). He may not have had ties with Bin Laden, but did have ties with Zarqawi, Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, and was paying $25,000 to families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

Plus, don't leftists say that the war was based on Saddam's alleged pursuit of WMDs? Like the WMDs Iran and North Korea openly state they have/want?

Anyway, back to North Korea.

So, enlighten us on what your solutions are to North Korea at this point in time? Do the Democrats have a better solution to what Bush is doing?

And why do leftists rarely criticize Kim Jong-Il's crimes against his own people? Is it only because he was never a US ally, and thus that is not a useful angle for anti-Americanism? Not that you are saying this, but if you are defending this group, this should be answered.

Bingo Bango Boingo

No, GK. Leftists say that the PUBLIC reason for the Iraw war was WMDs/terrorism. Leftists say that the real reason was oil, blah blah blah.

It's also ludicrous to suggest that no leftist has ever criticised the current North Korean regime. Wake up!

Having said that, it's true that there aren't many options on NoKo, and that the Bush administration is basically doing the best they can. A war with North Korea is simply out of the question. I suppose the world needs to get the Chinese on board in a more serious way. One method is to get the Chinese to understand that Japan is likely to re-militarise if NoKo's antics go much further. Preventing the re-armament of Japan is probably the most important medium-term foreign policy goal for the Chinese.

Josh

GK,

I'll be happy to address your new assertions, but please address the critique I made of your article before introducing new issues that I did not raise. Best to take things one issue at a time in a logical fashion. To repeat, it is legitimate to criticize way the Iraq war was presented on the grounds that the Administration claimed al Quaeda had significant ties to Saddam which it appears did not exist. If Bush were to similarly falsely assert that NK and al Quaeda have significant ties, then "leftists" would be inconsistent for not criticizing him on those grounds. But since he has never made that claim, there is no inconsistency.

Also, please note that whether or not Saddam and al Quaeda did in fact have significant ties is a red herring, because the basis of the "leftist" critique is what Bush claimed about Saddam and al Quaeda.

Bingo Bango Boingo

GK,

I'm also not aware of Iran openly stating that they have/want weapons of mass destruction (as you assert above). Again, I'm happy to proved wrong on this one - it doesn't seem far fetched. Have you got a link?

Cheers
BBB

GK

BBB,

Ahmadinejad says that Israel should be blasted off the face of the Earth, that they have the right to nuclear technology for energy purposes (a nation with vast oil and gas reserves), and he is not allowing inspectors in.

It doesn't get much more obvious than that. Even France says Iran's nuclear program goals are about weaponry.

Josh

Ahmadinejad says that Israel should be blasted off the face of the Earth, that they have the right to nuclear technology for energy purposes (a nation with vast oil and gas reserves), and he is not allowing inspectors in.

None of that, of course, amounts to a statement by Iran that they want nuclear weapons, which is what you asserted. Nor does France speak for Iran. You have inferred from these things that they do want them, which is probably true, but it is sloppy to assert, based on these things, that they have said they want them. What they want and what they say they want are not necessarily the same things.

Brutus

GK has been banging the anti-American drum for some time now, childishly following the Republican rulebook on branding dissenters as anti-American (though stopping short of calling them terrorists). The legacy of American dissent is mixed, but the motivation is mostly aimed at improving ourselves by identifying our failures, a fact that seems to be lost on both sides of the aisle in pointlessly fractious pitting of one side against the other. Neither side is ideologically pure, so continuing to fan those flames really accomplishes very little by way of improving conditions (social, political, economic, etc.) for everyone, which really ought to be at the forefront of all politics. GK himself makes that point, but only after first miring himself in needless partisanship.

Several commenters have already shown GK's rhetoric to be flawed, to which he has basically responded with tangential taunts. It's not really necessary, then, for me to add my rejections to GK's arguments on a point-by-point basis.

I do want to say, however, that if GK holds back from spewing outright venom and hatred (which I think he does), the linked article by Victor Davis Hanson is more venomous, and some of the commenters in that forum are militaristic, nuke-em-all types. GK's endorsement of Hanson may reveal by proxy some terribly virulent attitudes. For instance, Hanson begins by referring to "this wider war against Islamism." Does GK believe, as Hanson does, and as the Bush administration probably does, that we're in the middle of a religious war? How medieval is that?

I offer this link, which provides a brief history of dissent: http://www.jhfc.duke.edu/fhi/events/director_theme/200304dissentseries.php

Perhaps some will find something there more worthwhile than reflexively smearing the opposition.

GK

Brutus,

You, like your ilk, are very light on specifics, and can talk only in vague theoreticals.

8-10% of US citizens are overtly anti-American. The Economist, a British Magazine, shows that 17% of Americans view their country negatively. I am saying that only half of those are overtly anti-American.

Several commenters have already shown GK's rhetoric to be flawed, to which he has basically responded with tangential taunts.

Where? I don't think you can produce an actual example.

It's not really necessary, then, for me to add my rejections to GK's arguments on a point-by-point basis.

Because you know you would lose the debate. As Sun Tzu says, the best victory is one in which the opponent retreats even without a fight, from fear alone. This is the ideal outcome.

There is such a thing as responsible dissent, and there is such a thing as phony posturing to undermine national security, while offering now constructive alternatives. That is what the articles discusses, and what you are doing.

So what is your solution to the North Korea issue? What would you do differently from this point on?

Does GK believe, as Hanson does, and as the Bush administration probably does, that we're in the middle of a religious war? How medieval is that?

er... I am not a Christian nor am I even white. That is obvious from just a bit of reading this blog. I simply think American society is far better than most others in the world, especially that of Islamic nations (which DO say this is a religious war, yet somehow you condone them).

I take it you don't agree.

GK

Josh,

You are taking the same approach Clinton and Carter did in 1994 with North Korea. They gave Kim Jong-Il full credibility and believed him when he said he would not pursue nuclear weapons.

Then, to the surprise of only leftists, he broke his promise and pursued them. Kim could trick them again, and they would fall for it again too.

So I pose the question again to you : Enlighten us on what your solutions are to North Korea at this point in time?

On Iran, for you to suggest Ahmadinejad does not have nuclear weapons ambitions despite the overwhelming evidence of this from his pattern of actions, is absurd.

Are you suggesting that he does not want nukes, despite his rhetoric? He'll feed you a little loophole in which you will jump to give him the benefit of the doubt that you are itching to give him, and then one day he'll conduct a nuclear test, like Kim has just done.

Nor does France speak for Iran.

Oh so France's opinion suddenly does not matter? Why, because they are on our side at the moment?

Josh

I'm not taking any approach to North Korea. I'm criticizing your claims about the basis of "leftist" critiques of Bush. Either defend those claims or retract them. What I think the appropriate solution to the North Korean situation is has absolutely no bearing on whether your claim that "leftists" are inconsistent in criticising Bush for making false claims about the nature of the relationship between Iraq and al Quaeda. Do you understand this?

On Iran, for you to suggest Ahmadinejad does not have nuclear weapons ambitions despite the overwhelming evidence of this from his pattern of actions, is absurd.

I never said he didn't have nuclear ambitions, as anyone who reads my comment would know. I said that Iran has never stated such. Do you understand the difference?

Please try to address the critiques of your article, rather than inventing strawmen to knock down.

Bingo Bango Boingo

Have to agree with Josh here, GK. You jump from conclusion to conclusion without really reading what people have written.

BBB

Brutus

GK writes: You, like your ilk, are very light on specifics, and can talk only in vague theoreticals.

Me and my ilk? The first thing you say in response is an ad hominem attack. Nice.

GK writes: 8-10% of US citizens are overtly anti-American. The Economist, a British Magazine, shows that 17% of Americans view their country negatively. I am saying that only half of those are overtly anti-American.

I looked for the Pew Research Center poll cited by The Economist but wasn't able to find the graphic you used (the one with the snarky title "Not Your Favorite Uncle"). It appears that the data might come from something called the Pew Global Attitudes Report. Whereas it's reasonable to collapse foreigners' opinions on the U.S. into one favor/disfavor option, treating the U.S. monolithically as we do them, I don't think it's fair to do the same when speaking of Americans' opinions about themselves (or their government, or their culture, or citizenship in the world, or ...). The Pew Research Center itself says in one of its reports that opinions about the U.S. are complex and contradictory. So a simple favor/disfavor opinion lacks useful meaning except as the most crude sort of snapshot.

Even if one grants that 17% of Americans view their own country negatively (crude, but specific), the 8-10% you say rise to the level of being overtly anti-American is unsupported. In your previous posts, you qualify that statement by saying that this segment is comprised of "active or semi-active fifth-columnists, who seek to undermine American strength and security, yet cannot bring themselves to openly admit this deeply held belief, nor move to another country" and "who view America as a force of evil, and truly are rooting for the terrorists." Beliefs, views, and opinions aside, the claim that so many Americans (24 to 30 million people!!) are actively undermining America and rooting for terrorists boggles the mind. That's enough for a revolution, yet there is a dearth of reporting on internal threats, much less open action to subvert the U.S. Your claim that 8-10% are anti-American (in the extreme) simply lacks credibility.

I wrote: Several commenters have already shown GK's rhetoric to be flawed, to which he has basically responded with tangential taunts.

to which GK responded: Where? I don't think you can produce an actual example.

Josh's first comment focuses on supposed links between Saddam Hussein and al Quaeda as a central justification for the Iraq war.

GK's response (in part) is this: "Plus, don't leftists say that the war was based on Saddam's alleged pursuit of WMDs? Like the WMDs Iran and North Korea openly state they have/want?

Considering Josh didn't mention WMDs, I would say your niggling questions are tangential. You go on with this:

Anyway, back to North Korea. So, enlighten us on what your solutions are to North Korea at this point in time? Do the Democrats have a better solution to what Bush is doing?

That introduces entirely new questions and is tangential to Josh's point. Josh recognized that and pointed it out in his subsequent comment.

GK tried the same thing in response to me and renewed the same questions with Josh. I note that GK does not offer his solutions to our current crisis with N. Korea, nor does he comment or analyze the Bush Administration's approach. It's out of the scope of the original post and the comments until GK himself introduces it and insists on it when no one bites. It's tangential, taunting, and the equivalent of saying "oh yeah? well then what about this, and this?"

GK wrote: "There is such a thing as responsible dissent, and there is such a thing as phony posturing to undermine national security, while offering now [sic] constructive alternatives. That is what the articles discusses, and what you are doing.

Going back into GK's previous rants against anti-Americans, he clearly believes that there is no legitimacy in raising an objection or disapproving of something unless one can offer a solution to the same. Pragmatism is the new idealism, in short. A solution (or the suggestion of one) is nice but is hardly necessary to validate dissent. I can lodge a principled objection to the use of WMDs without suggesting an alternative for killing one's enemies or waging war. I can categorically disapprove of torture without having to say how else information might be obtained from a detainee. In my sole comment on this thread, I never said that pursuit of sanctions against N. Korea is improper, nor did anyone else. Yet according to GK, I'm guilty of phony posturing and undermining national security for having the temerity to doubt him. Astonishing how a blog comment can accomplish so much.

If I dissent, it's not with the putative topic of GK's analysis (which isn't, after all, really about strategies for dealing with N. Korea; it's really a rant against leftists and anti-Americans, whom GK apparently believes are the same), it's with his bizarre litany of objections to leftist criticisms of America. GK concocted a series of straw men, juxtaposing issues in the Middle East and N. Korea that don't bear out clear or causal relationships, only to knock them down. Other commenters have pointed out a notable lack of relationships. I demurred.

I wrote: Does GK believe, as Hanson does, and as the Bush administration probably does, that we're in the middle of a religious war? How medieval is that?

to which GK responded: er... I am not a Christian nor am I even white. That is obvious from just a bit of reading this blog. I simply think American society is far better than most others in the world, especially that of Islamic nations (which DO say this is a religious war, yet somehow you condone them)

I don't care about GK's age, race, nationality, gender, or religion. It doesn't matter. Nor does it matter whether he's a toothless, bald hermaphrodite with six fingers on his left hand. Still doesn't matter. GK cited Hanson, who commits the most egregious error in calling current U.S. conflicts a war against Islamism. I dissented by asking if GK believes that rather than telling GK what he believes (as he did with me). Just as France doesn't speak for Iran, the Islamic world doesn't speak for the U.S. If they indeed believe it's a religious war, that's a perspective. Is that, then, by default, our perspective? I hope not.

GK, I rather like your posts on technology and I hope you continue in that effort. I'll continue to read them. When you stray into politics, it's like a Jekyll and Hyde transformation. You accuse anti-Americans of being a "cult ... detached from reality." I don't see it, and though you congratulate yourself for having documented it well, your claims do not convince me. I believe you misunderstand the nature of dissent and have adopted a view that any dissent is tantamount to treason. Wiser folks than any of us have recognized that principled resistance to the dominant view is actually a healthy thermostatic response to the unfettered accretion of power and influence. Seeing in that resistance not patriots but enemies is, IMO, detached from reality.

GK

Josh,

I'm not taking any approach to North Korea.

Well, isn't that the whole point, that you have no solutions, only criticisms? You still can't provide any solutions to the real-world problem of NK.

....whether your claim that "leftists" are inconsistent in criticising Bush for making false claims about the nature of the relationship between Iraq and al Quaeda. Do you understand this?

Bush said Saddam had ties to terrorists, which is what the article states. This was found to be true in the persons of Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal, Zarqawi, and Saddam's paying of $25,000 to Palestinian suicide bombers' families. As I said before, terrorists easily move from one organization to the next.

So precisely which claim is false?

And the long list of leftist critiques of the Iraq War are well documented. One just has to spend a few minutes on Daily Kos or The Nation to see all of the above items stated.

I see you have not commented on the other 4-5 examples given in the article.

Yet, again, you and Brutus have no solution to the North Korea situation, despite being asked repeatedly. This, ultimately, makes the difference between your position being worthy of consideration vs not.


JG

Hi GK, I was just wondering what your solution to the NoKo situation is as I couldn't find it in your post or comments; maybe I missed it? Sanctions or another Korean War?

Josh

Bush said Saddam had ties to terrorists, which is what the article states.

No, he said they had ties to al Quaeda specifically, as BBB pointed out above, and those ties turned out to be rather insubstantial. That is the basis of the critique. The basis of the "leftist" critique is that Bush justified the war, in part, by misleading claims about Saddam and al Quaeda. Since Bush has not made any claims about NK and al Quaeda, "leftists" are not being inconsistent, contrary to your claim.

I see you have not commented on the other 4-5 examples given in the article.

That's because I've been trying to get you to understand the first point. With some people you have to take things one step at a time or they get lost.

Yet, again, you and Brutus have no solution to the North Korea situation, despite being asked repeatedly. This, ultimately, makes the difference between your position being worthy of consideration vs not.

No, not really. What makes my viewpoint on subject A worthy of consideration is whether my observations on subject A are well-founded, not whether I have subject B to your satisfaction.

Once you can made an adequate defense of the claim I criticized, or admit that you were mistaken, I'll be happy to move on to discussion of how to deal with NK.

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